Celebrity Reflection is the newest and last ship in Celebrity Cruises' award winning Solstice class. After a brief season in Europe, she came across the Atlantic in late 2012 for her first North American season. During her introduction to this most competitive of cruise markets, the person overseeing those aspects of the ship that most immediately impact guests was Hotel Director Julian Brackenbury. In his organization, in charge of entertainment, was Cruise Director Paul Baya. Both Mr. Brackenbury and Mr. Baya are veterans not only of other Celebrity ships but of other unaffiliated cruise lines.
The difference in Reflection
The Solstice class has evolved over the course of the building of the five ships that make up the class. While each ship is similar in design, new ideas have been incorporated into the design with each new vessel. This evolution has continued with Celebrity Reflection.
“The biggest difference is that the Reflection is very slightly bigger than the other Solstice class ships.” In fact, Reflection is 14 feet longer, two feet wider and 4,000 gross tons (recall that gross tons are a measure of volume, not weigh; see detailed explanation) larger than the previous ship in the class, Celebrity Silhouette.
“They have raised the middle of Deck 12 to create another deck for the Aquaclass suites, that is the main difference. On the other Solstice class ships, the two outdoor pools and the Solarium are on Deck 12. Then the unbroken upper deck is on Deck 14 and the Lawn is on Deck 15. [There is no Deck 13]. What has happened here is that we have a new category of stateroom, the Aquaclass suites, and they are on Deck 12 where the pool is on the other Solstice class ships. So we have added an extra section in the middle and raised the pools up one deck.”
In addition to creating space to accommodate these new staterooms, this change has made the passenger flow on Reflection's top decks better. “If you imagine on Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse or Silhouette, you come out of the Oceanview Cafe, you have to walk down the steps to the pool deck, then back up the steps to get to the Sky Lounge. Here, the Oceanview, the pools, the Solarium, and the Sky Lounge are all on the same deck. The flow on the upper decks, in my opinion, is much much better because now the buffets, the pools and the Sky are all on the same level. In addition, the Lawn is on the same level as the upper open deck whereas before if you were on the upper open deck you would have to go up another staircase to the Lawn. If you go on Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse or Silhouette, the Lawn is kind of by itself whereas here it is part of the top deck, which is really good as the Lawn gets more use.”
The Aquaclass suites are suite versions of the Aquaclass staterooms on the previous Solstice class ships. As such, they have enhanced access to the ship's spa and the guests dine in the more intimate Blu dining room.
However, the Aquaclass suites are not the only new category of suites to premiere on Reflection. There are also five new Signature suites and a single ultra-luxury stateroom called the Reflection Suite.
“The Reflection Suite has become the new top tier stateroom. It is amazing - - two bedrooms, a living room, floor-to-ceiling glass. The entire suite is controlled with an iPad - - the lights, the volume, the music, the curtains. There are two bathrooms, one is a big shower room and then you have the other one with the overhanging shower.”
“[This] shower overhangs the ocean with a glass floor and it is a completely glass walled shower. You can literally see the whole ocean. It must be the most amazing view in the world from up there.”
Above: Reflection has a slightly different profile than her sisters.
Of course, if you can see out, people can see in. However, Celebrity has taken that into consideration. “You could in theory shower with everyone watching you. But there is a little keypad and you can have it on partially private or completely private. In between the glass - - it is like double glazing - - is filled with polarized crystals. When you press the button, it polarizes them and they turn into like a cloud. When you press it again it de-polarizes them and it becomes clear. Partial privacy, it polarizes the panels around but not the one in the middle so you can still see out. That is still a private view. No one else can see you.”
The Reflection Suite and the Signature suites are located forward on the port side of Deck 14 occupying some of the space that is occupied by the Sky Observation Lounge on the earlier Solstice ships. “The Sky Lounge is basically half the size of what it used to be. The other half is taken up by the Reflection Suite and the five Signature suites. “
“The observation lounge is the most prime real estate aboard the ship. If you are looking for the area with the best view, the most space, the most quiet, that is it. But when it is not being used for an event, it is redundant. So [from a business perspective], it was we have the best piece of land and we are not using it. To do what we have done made complete sense.”
“Apart from the suites, there is nothing drastically different. Up in the gift shops, we now have the Brietling and Omega shops, which are where on the other ships, the art gallery is. We've put the art gallery down on Deck 4 between the casino and the shops. We do not have the Quasar nightclub. That is now conference rooms on here. The Sunset Bar has been totally redesigned. It is a really, really special place.”
Mr. Baya noted one other new venue. “ There is a section of the game room called 'Game On' with table top games. So [it is not the traditional] game room with a box of checkers. Now we have modern technology, modern luxury, with interactive games.”
Technology is also being employed in Reflection's performance entertainment offerings. For example, “we have an interactive theme party called 'Totally 80s' where we have iPads that are configured with all the popular video games of the 1980s. Instead of just having music, [we are] reaching out to the technology that is available and adding new bells and whistles to these theme nights, adding to the entertainment and the feel.”
Along the same lines, Mr. Brackenbury pointed out: “We are the only cruise line that is an authorized Apple reseller. There are iPad docking stations in each of the suites. We are very much pushing down that path of modern luxury branding. The whole modern luxury branding, the iPad image, we are trying to appeal to that crowd.”
Cruise ship interview - Celebrity Reflection - Celebrity Cruises - Hotel Director Julian Brackenbury, Cruise Director Paul Baya