Having a child who is eight years-old means the only time you can take holidays now is when our boy is off school, so we booked a holiday in February this year for half-term. It was perfect, because after a hectic beginning to the year at work, I was ready for a complete break.
Winter sunshine is something I hadn’t enjoyed in a while, so I wanted to go somewhere hot. It being February, that ruled out the Mediterranean, so the Caribbean was our destination of choice. I also wanted somewhere I could just chill out; a place where we could have some real quality family time, and a Celebrity Cruise ticked every box.
We caught an early flight out of Dublin to London, from where we flew American Airlines to Miami, which was a great experience. The service was outstanding, and space on board fantastic. We stayed overnight the four-star Grand Beach Hotel in Miami, which is exactly three miles from the beautiful Art Deco area.
It’s a super hotel with a very funky reception, sunken bar in the lobby, and an area to order coffees and snacks. The pool was amazing, and seeing the sun on the beach just a stone’s throw away was one of those moments in life that I felt so grateful for.
The next day we took an uber to our cruise ship. From the moment myself, my partner and our son, Cian, boarded the awesome Celebrity Reflection, we were looked after like royalty. The porters took our bags and told us we’d have them back by the evening. (A good tip is to keep your swimsuit and sun cream in a piece of hand luggage, and anything else you may need in the interim, so you don’t miss out on pool time, or reading time, once you get on board.) The check-in was relatively speedy and we were good to go. Celebrity Reflection is one of the Solstice class ships and the best way to describe it is ‘chic stylish Miami hotel’. Very cool!
It never ceases to amaze me how many passengers are on board these ships. They’re designed in such a way that you feel like you are with just a few other fellow cruisers instead of many. There is so much to do on board, or you can nothing at all, if that is what you fancy. We tried to get to the gym most days, as a bit of exercise goes a long way when you’re eating so much good food. The gym is right at the front of the ship, so you always have a good view when you’re burning the calories, and it’s extremely well kitted out.
If working out isn’t your thing, or you like a post work-out chill, the on-board spa offers you everything from facials to massages. We opted to go for the Persian Spa Package, which allowed us to use the saunas, and cold rooms, and steam rooms along with the thermal loungers every day.
As I might have mentioned, the food on board is second to none and it’s all-inclusive in your price. As we had a balcony room, we opted for room service in the mornings, which gave us a chance to take in the new sights of the day with a cup of coffee in hand. At lunchtime we went to the buffet where there was a vast array of choices, from Italian to Indian and everything in between. In the evenings, when we didn’t go to the main dining room, we treated ourselves at three of the speciality restaurants on board. Our favourite was the Lawn Grill, where we had amazing steaks cooked for us on an outside BBQ alongside a real lawn. It was really special, and delicious.
Our eight year-old tried the Kids Club one day, but he actually preferred hanging by the pool, playing basketball or table tennis, or going to the arcade. There were a number of children on board and plenty for them to do, no matter what age they were.
The cruise we went on took in San Juan, St Maarten and St Kitts, all beautiful islands in the Caribbean with their own unique history and people.
As much as I needed the break I couldn’t resist going without the Internet for a week, so I indulged in the internet package which cost $249. It was fast and you could send videos, but I felt it was a little expensive.
On our final day we disembarked at around nine in the morning and our flight wasn’t until nine that evening, so we decided to get a day room in the Hilton Airport Hotel. This was a great idea as we could use the pool, gym, shower and restaurant facilities, and it provided a perfect wind-down.
I came home a new woman, and as did my partner, and our son wants to know when we’re going on our next cruise! Between the winter sunshine, the outstanding luxury on Celebrity Cruises and the service on American Airlines, it was a joy from beginning to end.
To find out more about Celebrity Cruises, visit www. touramerica.ie or www.cruiseholidays.ie, or call Tour America’s travel experts on (01) 817 3562
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