I truly have so much more to write about Celebrity Reflection, St Thomas, St John, Puerto Rico, and St Marten. I have been extremely busy with the holidays. Our 11 year old cousin who you've seen throughout some of our excursions is staying with us over the holidays. It's very fun having her here but it does limit my online time. We have been busy visiting family, cooking, baking, opening gifts, and venturing out for activities. In addition to this Greg and I have been trying our hardest to ward off the flu. It is running rampant in Massachusetts and so far my sister, father, mother, and several friends have it.
Greg turned into the cleaning and medicine crew Christmas eve when we realized that my father had a 102 fever. The minute the family left our house we were told to take aleve, wash our hands, lysol the house, and wash anything from the living room lol!
As soon as things slow down I'll write more from our trip to the Caribbean. We're also hoping to have some new details on Wagamama, Market Street Lynnfield, J.P. Licks, Frost Ice Bar, and more from New England.
I hope everyone enjoys a Safe and Happy New Year!!
Neither Robyn nor I slept very much so we decided to get up and take a walk through South Beach for some exercise. After stopping at Starbucks we all got ready to head to the Pier to board Celebrity cruise lines newest ship Reflection.
I need to preface my entire cruise review with how poorly trained the staff on this cruise was. I will note this a lot through the review. We had heard about how Celebrity was a step ahead of other lines, how they were willing to go the extra mile, how they could accommodate food allergies, etc etc etc. Come to find almost every staff member was new and this was their training session. Sadly we definitely suffered and all voted this our worst cruise ever. In face Celebrity devotees stated to us that there was a noticeable difference between this cruise and all of their other cruises they have enjoyed with Celebrity. In addition to this their was a large group booking on this cruise. We have no complaints about the Pied Piper group at all. We met so many nice people and enjoyed watching some of their parties. However it appeared Celebrity was ill prepared for the number of people on this ship. I don't understand how you run out of ingredients when you know before hand how many people will be on the cruise, how many people are partaking in the drink package, and
where activities will be taking place.
The traffic heading to the pier was pretty bad. Miami is the most congested pier we have yet to visit. We went through security, headed towards the Aqua Class line, signed our documents and headed to the gangway.
Upon boarding the ship we were offered Mimosa's or a glass of Champagne. Naturally we accepted a glass each. We wandered around the ship looking at all of the sitting areas, restaurants, bars, etc. With our food allergies (mine dairy and Robyn's gluten) we were very limited to choices for lunch. Bistro on 5 makes crepes which aren't dairy free (apparently they do have a gluten free version but we never saw this). The Porch has sandwiches (bread and cheese) so that was out too. We decided to go to the buffet even though it's our least favorite place on a ship. Eating at the buffet was acceptable but tricky. Nothing is labeled for food allergies and when you ask the staff about the ingredients they have no idea what you are talking about. Supposedly others have talked to the Maitre d off the buffet but none were apparent to us.
Side note: This is the first cruise that I didn't gain any weight from food. Thanks to my dairy allergy and Celebrity's lack of food allergy knowledge I hardly ate on this cruise.
Our rooms were delayed a bit and around 2:00 pm the announcement was made that they were ready. We headed down to our rooms 1521 and 1519. The room was well laid out, our bed in 1519 was closest to the bathroom. The bathroom was large and the shower was adequate but does have an amazing shower head! The couch and vanity area were nice and the balcony was of good size. The downfall to the Aqua Class Room is definitely the storage space. I've read how others brought collapsible cubes for the top shelves (above bed) but even so who wants to live out of cubes for a week. More drawers please!!! Our stateroom attendant Paz knocked on our door to introduce herself. She told us about the canapes that would be coming, the Champagne on Ice, Complimentary 2 waters per day, and the fresh brewed tea daily. Paz is very nice and very efficient (but a lack of training was discovered in a few days - more later).
We ventured back out for some drinks thanks to our Premium Beverage Package. Finally it was time for Sailaway. Then things turned downhill for me. With a storm over Cuba, a storm over the Caribbean, and rough currents all along the Florida coast our ship was rocking and rolling! This was the first cruise I have ever been sick on! I was pale, green, cold, shaking, and dizzy. I had to cancel drinks and dinner plans with our friends. I headed back up to bed. I took two Bonine's (thank god I brought this as a precaution), drank ginger ale, and ate a few french fries. Our friends dined in the Qsine specialty restaurant and stated that some of the items were good but nothing was memorable. After a good nights sleep I finally felt better in the morning. The next day Paz also had a tip that a Green Apple will help with the seasickness.
Side note: the ship definitely rolled a lot all throughout the entire cruise! I took a Bonine at least once a day sometimes twice and Robyn also had to start taking them half way through the cruise. We heard from a staff member that the Captain only put the Stabilizers out on the first day as to not use too much fuel.
The nigh before our flight we went online to check in for our American Airlines flight. We were beyond excited to be offered the chance to upgrade to First Class for hardly anything! I called our friends traveling with us and sure enough they received the same offer.
We booked car service with Valley Coach of North Andover for the 4 of us to be picked up at our house at 6:45. The car service was a little late and when it showed up it wasn't the right car. Apparently something happened to the original car and we were left with an SUV that seated 3 plus luggage. Our friend Tom took a leisurely ride while resting on the floor. I wrote an email explaining the situation and asked that the return pick up would be better suited. I'll write more about our return pick up later but I did want to state that Valley Coach of North Andover got back to us appropriately and on the return trip informed us that there wouldn't be a charge for the mix up. Excellent customer service!
After checking in for our flight and headed to the nearest Starbucks for some beverages. We were the first to board our flight and the seats were roomy and the service was friendly. However, on the 757 from Boston to Miami it's an older plane, no individual tv's, and you are unable to tell them if you have a food allergy. Needless to say with my dairy allergy the only thing they were able to offer me was fruit (I'll be offered a lot of fruit all through Miami and the cruise as well...grrrr).
We landed in Miami and hopped in a cab to the South Beach Marriott. It was still pretty early so we correctly assumed that our room wouldn't be ready. The hotel held our bags for us and we headed out for some lunch. Sadly it was a cloudy, windy, and cold day in Miami so that meant the beach was out.
The four of us decided on Joe's Stone Crab. The restaurant was extremely busy and by the time we got done the lunch service was over and so I think the service suffered a bit. We enjoyed the shrimp cocktail, stone crabs, nicoise salad, ribs, and lobster blt. The shrimp were a bit over cooked for my taste but everything else was delicious and seasoned beautifully.
After lunch we headed back to the South Beach Marriott and our room was ready. Before heading up the room the staff offered us a complimentary Mojito. That is the way to start a vacation!! We decided to share a room since it was just one night and the room was perfectly appointed. The room was bright, airy, and modern with two full size beds, a view of the ocean (no balcony but did have a sliding window), counter top, chair, coffee maker, refrigerator, shower, and large bathroom.
My friend Robyn and I decided to go walk up Collins Ave and do some shopping while the guys hung out and got some beers. After noticing the time we hurried up and ran back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at Zuma.