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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LIVE Onboard the Celebrity Reflection: Day 7 of My Cruise

What do you do on your last day at sea on a cruise ship?  Some people sleep in or sleep off a hangover, but not me.  I am up and early to soak in the last of the sun's precious golden rays before heading back to freezing cold temps back at home.  Lots of other passengers on the Celebrity Reflection are also feeling the same way as you can see the pool deck is pretty packed.  Capt. Pagonis announced that the outside temperature was 75°F, that we are 24 miles off the coast of San Salvador, and the ocean depth is 15,000+ feet.

Aqua Spa Café breakfast menu
Every day we were walking by the Aqua Spa Café on deck 14 on the way to somewhere else, but if you are interested in what they have to offer, you can take a peek at their breakfast menu here.  It's a small selection of food and they aren't always open, but they do serve lighter fare.  They serve a light and healthy breakfast from 7 or 7:30 - 10 am (depending on whether it's a port or sea day) and a healthy alternative lunch buffet from 12 noon - 2:30 pm.

Goodies from the Oceanview Café
Anna went back to the gym while I tried to catch up on work and before we knew it, lunch was fast approaching.  A quick visit to the Oceanview Café and Anna even indulged in some goodies.  I found a selection of sugar-free desserts for her.  Her available choices included a piece of pineapple upside down cake that is sugar-free, a sugar-free cookie, a chocolate dessert that is sugar-free, and tiramisu (not sugar-free). I am so proud of Anna as she has dropped weight and has been successful at keeping it off by eating sugar-free and almost entirely carb free except on this cruise.  I think I have been a bad influence on her!

Zumba class
Feeling guilty? Why not take in a free Zumba class up on the pool deck?  Plenty of people participated while others were content to simply watch from their lounge chairs.  We found a great corner above the pool where there was less traffic and we hung out there and talked all afternoon.  Some may think all I did on this cruise was eat and drink and lay out in the sun, but I also got to spend quality time with a good friend and that is what made this cruise extraordinarily special for me.  As much as you can talk, text, or catch up on FaceBook, nothing beats quality time in person away from regular everyday life.

Sky Lounge
After a day of lounging in the sun, we went back to our cabin to start packing and to prepare for our last evening on the Celebrity Reflection.  Nothing starts the evening off better than a quick visit to the Captain's Club social hour in the Sky Lounge.  If there aren't that many Captain's Club members onboard, they might hold the event in another venue like they did on the Celebrity Summit.  It was held in the much smaller Michael's Club on that ship.  I've been hearing some grumblings about the longer transatlantic cruises and no Captain's Club event and the disbursement of coupons instead.  Captain's Club members are getting one coupon per day to use during the designated time period of the event.  Let's just say that's not meeting with much approval or appreciation by long time Captain's Club members.

Deck 14 with the new suites next to the Sky Lounge
On a side note, I didn't see the issue that some have had with the Sky Lounge being smaller since the addition of the Signature Suites and the Reflection Suite adjacent to the Sky Lounge.  It's still big and light and bright with those amazing floor to ceiling and beyond windows.

Are they looking at us? 
Be prepared to show your card to prove you belong here unlike the first night we went and there was no one at the entrance.  I thought it was strange, but we still walked in and tried to find an available seat.  The place was packed and yet, there were no servers on the floor.  Finally, one came by with food and Anna grabbed a few of the meat appetizers while I went up to the bar to get a drink.  I asked what were the drinks on the Captain's Club menu.  The bartender looked at me and said, "That's tomorrow night.  This is a private party." We had crashed a private party!  You should have seen the two of us slinking out of there! No wonder why people were looking at us like we were party crashers because we were party crashers.   This night, however, we were supposed to be here and we met up with a few of our new cruise friends to have a drink or two and a few appetizers.  My favorite quote of the night comes from one of the servers, Floyd.  All the appetizers were meat and when someone asked if there were any that weren't meat, Floyd quickly ran off to get another tray. He came back with one that had cheese on it and when asked what kind of cheese it was he said, "The kind everyone likes."  Adorable!

Michael's Club
From the Sky Lounge we made our way to our private farewell social hour in Michael's Club.  Now ladies don't get scared away from the dark walls, TV screens with ESPN playing, and the beer, bourbon, and whiskey on display.  This is a fun place to relax and a great place to deposit your significant other if you need to go to the Spa, for example.

Cosmo
You'll feel comfortable here, too, I promise! How do I know?  Just order a Cosmo and be quiet already.  Ok, just kidding!  Great drinks and snacks here, too.  They have an insanely great spicy breadstick, caramel corn, and potato chips in those little white bowls behind the drink.  We devoured them all and then some.

Michael's Club
But really, you will feel like you've been in Michael's Club before as it is laid back and comfortable without being the slightest bit stuffy.  It doesn't get loud and crazy, but considering the lack of places to let loose on the ship, this is one where you can have fun for sure.  Now if they would only reconsider having Quasar on the Reflection, I would be genuinely happy!

Mr. Right: Opus One
Before dinner we ran to Cellar Masters as Anna had about $20 left on her wine card.  She was just going to grab a glass of the Malbec she had before, but I had heard about a $200 bottle of wine there.  She could try a taste and maybe enjoy that more.  I finally convinced her and you would have thought she had met Mr. Right on the cruise!  Yes, she was in love with Opus One! The best part was that she was able to taste this and still have another glass of wine.  Love those wine cards!

Cream of corn with mussels
We sauntered over to Murano for our 9 pm reservation and the maître d took Anna's wine glass and transferred it to one of their wine glasses.  We were seated at our table and presented with menus.  The first taste for the evening began with a cream of corn soup with mussels.  I didn't try it, but it was beautifully presented in a small shot glass type cup.

Warm Goat Cheese Soufflé
Next up was the starter, which for me was the Warm Goat Cheese Soufflé served with smoked tomato coulis, parmesan cream, and basil pesto.  Also classically presented on beautiful plates, the soufflé was good, but not as good as the one in the Opus dining room that I previously had.  Strange but true!

Heirloom Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Salad
Anna tried the Heirloom Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Salad with Granny Smith Apple, Cantaloupe Micro Basil & White Balsamic Emulsion.  She said she enjoyed the similar salad in the Tuscan Grille a little bit more and didn't think the apple went with the salad, but you might think differently.

Châteaubriand served table side
The table near us was enjoying the Murano Lobster, a cognac flambéed warm water lobster tail prepared table side with fresh basil, Applewood smoked bacon, and dijon-cream.  Not to be outdone, Anna's Châteaubriand for Two, which was prepared for one for her exclusively, was served table side.

Châteaubriand before the Béarnaise & Cabernet sauce was added
Her meal was served with a fricassee of baby vegetables and also a Béarnaise & Cabernet sauce. Unfortunately, the side vegetables were extremely salty and Anna was not going to mention this to the server. Never one to shy away for asking for what I want, I did explain to him the issue and he immediately apologized profusely and then brought out freshly made vegetables that were cooked to perfection and perfectly seasoned.  Celebrity Cruises prides themselves on their service to their guests and they can't do anything to correct a situation if you don't bring it to their attention.  They did a wonderful job of resolving the issue so kudos to them!

Châteaubriand with the Béarnaise & Cabernet sauce
Here is a pic of the Châteaubriand with the sauce, which she liked very much.  I don't think I have ever been around so much meat in my life.  Dining on a premium cruise line like Celebrity means higher quality meat and seafood so if that's what you like, then you'll enjoy the offerings.  Gloria said she eats most chicken at home, but was enjoying her fair share of lamb chops and red meat on this cruise.  Bad girl Gloria!

Porcini & Morel Risotto
With a heavy meat and seafood entree presence on the menu, my options were limited to the starters.  I asked for the Porcini & Morel Risotto as an entree and I was a little disappointed to see it served in the same fashion as the starter, but it was still quite good.  The truffle foam on top made me think I was enjoying a cappuccino!

Les Six Etoiles du Murano for Two
Dessert, yes there was dessert.  Although we were never asked if we were interested in the cheese course, it was probably good because we would have turned it down.  Instead, we opted to share Les Six Etoiles du Murano for Two and coffee.  The cotton candy on the first dessert was painfully dried out, but the other little desserts were too die for and I think we may have.  These are great for tasting and sharing, but I could have consumed the entire presentation by myself.  All were perfectly sweet without being too sweet and offered a great variety from chocolate to fruit to wine with strawberries (number 2 on the tray).

Truffles!
Not to be outdone was the accompanying truffles, which I would have skipped all of the meal just to devour. Can you say, "Beyond incredible?" I'm sure people saw us fighting over these, but we didn't care.

Everyone was to meet up in the Sky Lounge for Karaoke Idol, but we needed to get our suitcases out by 11 pm. A quick run up to say our goodbyes and then we need to finish packing.  I cannot believe our cruise has ended so quickly!  Tomorrow we arrive back into the port of Miami and I will return to my regular life.  Say it isn't so!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com

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