Celebrity Cruises Mixes It Up Modern Luxury Style With New Craft Cocktails
Modern luxury line Celebrity Cruises is shaking up the bar scene onboard by significantly expanding its selections of the beverage world’s favorite comeback kid – the cocktail – with a selection of 30 entirely new craft cocktails offered exclusively on Celebrity’s ships.
Already known for its popular Molecular and Martini Bars, Celebrity’s new craft cocktail experience was developed through an alliance with artisanal cocktail developers Hawthorn Beverage Group, founded by noted cocktail creator Josh Durr.
The new craft cocktails blend vintage-style liqueurs with fresh ingredients, organic juices and the finest artisanal spirits, resulting in a combination of new-school libations and updated old-school favorites. A new line-up of “zero-proof” (non-alcoholic) cocktails also will be introduced – ‘Sparkling Mint Lemonade’ or ‘Raspberry Fizz,’ anyone? – along with an assortment of fine wines by the glass. Celebrity’s current list of international beer selections will be expanded, too, to join Celebrity’s industry-first offering of craft beers in an even more well-rounded variety of styles, from pale ales and IPA’s to Belgian ales and premium lagers.
Celebrity’s guests will have the opportunity to indulge in the full, new craft cocktail experience across its modern luxury fleet by the end of 2013.
So what can you do when it feels like -54 degrees (this pun will make sense later in the blog) just after the New Year in New York City? That’s the question I posed to a friend and colleague when I was in NYC this past January. Having been a working actor in NYC in the early 90’s, I’ve maintained relationships with some very talented and resourceful players in the show biz scene there. But before I go too far, please allow me to digress for a moment and introduce myself…
I’m Eric Bohus, Director of Entertainment for Celebrity Cruises. I had the good fortune of performing on Broadway, off-Broadway, in National and International Tours and in several regional theater productions. I earned my MFA in Theater Arts from Carnegie Mellon U and eventually took to the high seas working onboard ships for 12 years as a Cruise Director and Hotel Director before heading shore side in my current position, 6 years ago. That’s the Readers Digest version, so we can revert to my NYC trip.
In my attempt to discover some hidden gem in NYC which would lead to an exciting new entertainment offering for our Celebrity Cruises guests, my friend suggested I check out 54 Below, a new Broadway cabaret venue creating quite the buzz within the Broadway community and beyond. So, I ventured across town to the theater district, descended the stairs next to the Roundabout Theater and entered a true musical oasis and what was about to become the inspiration for a new, exclusive partnership.
“This was the naughty room” says Andrea McArdle, the original Annie, as she recalled her memories of the cellar area of the legendary Studio 54, now the home of 54 Below, Broadway’s Nightclub.
On June 12th, in this elegant and hip New York City venue, Andrea McArdle and Adam Pascal (Rent) lit up the stage for a special event commemorating the new, exclusive partnership with Celebrity Cruises and 54 Below. In attendance were elite members of the press, trade and our valued Captain’s Club guests.
Nightly, in 54 Below, Broadway stars take to the boards and perform a selection of songs of their own choosing, stepping out of their scripted roles on the Great White Way.
So, how does 54 Below meld with Celebrity Cruises?
Currently, our guests enjoying their voyages from Bayonne, NJ to the island paradise of Bermuda, have the unique opportunity to experience 54 Below at Sea, where a lineup of Broadway’s best take to the stage of the Celebrity Theater.
Last month, Celebrity Constellation was brought to Freeport, Bahamas to begin its “Solsticizing” initiative, and we are happy to report that the revitalization is now complete! When passengers boarded the Celebrity Constellation last Sunday, they were the first to see the new additions and the full complement of Solstice Class-inspired features and attributes guests love on the ship’s three Millennium Class sister ships.
The trendy craft beer experience first introduced in Michael’s Club across Celebrity’s Solstice Class fleet is now also offered in Celebrity Constellation’s Michael’s Club. Here you’ll find a wide assortment of over 50 craft beers, with some pictured below.
The hip Celebrity iLounge has also been introduced to the Celebrity Constellation. Here, you’ll find state-of-the-art workstations featuring MacBook Pros and iMacs. You can take a class, check your email, surf the web or print a boarding pass. Certified staff will help you master the latest audio and video products. Learn how to get the most from tech devices, like the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and MacBook Pro. And, if you like, you can purchase some of these items on your cruise.
Along with full wi-fi throughout the ship, premium Reverie mattresses added to every stateroom, and the addition of 107 new AquaClass staterooms, our Mediterranean-themed “Blu” specialty restaurant has also been added (and is has complimentary access for AquaClass stateroom passengers.
To allow guests to share in the celebration of the additional Solsticizing of Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Cruises has launched an online “Memory Match” game through May 20, 2013, with the opportunity to win a copy of Celebrity’s sleek, hardbound “Excite the Senses” lifestyle book. Visit www.celebritycruises.com/matchgame to enter!
Celebrity Cruises recently brought Celebrity Constellation to Freeport, Bahamas to begin its “Solsticizing” initiative. For those keeping track, this is actually the 2nd revitalization since 2010, which will bring more guest-favorites which can be found on Constellation’s sister ships including the Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Millennium, and Celebrity Summit.
With all passengers fully disembarked on the Constellation on Monday, seven different contracting companies from across the world boarded and immediately started to work on the ship. Giant plastic sheets covered all aspects of the ship, from all floors, to the gym and casino equipment, to every chair in the theater and dining areas.
This was my first dry dock experience, and I got to see a first-hand look at the scene that takes place once the last cruise itinerary has finished. When the Celebrity Constellation left Miami and was headed on its way to Freeport, contractors immediately began work on the ship, protecting all important fixtures by covering them in plastic, or simply moving them out of the way.
When the ship arrives in Freeport, it pulls into a special dock, where the water is drained, and the entire ship is out of the water. This allows crews to work on parts of the ship which are normally below the water line, and allows giant cranes to easily move cargo containers on and off the ship. Work at this point is being done nearly 24/7.
Almost every area on the ship has some work being done, from new carpets and tiling, to completely renovated areas – like adding a new craft beer section into Michael’s Club, or new Reverie mattresses which are being added to every stateroom on the ship.
Celebrity Cruises: Meet Our Senior Traveling Corporate Executive Chef
As Celebrity’s Senior Traveling Corporate Executive Chef, I have worked with and met fellow culinarians from around the world. Because I have so many friends and colleagues across the globe, I use social media to keep in touch with everyone. I genuinely enjoy sharing photos and stories of my travels because I’m so passionate about my work.
When Huffington Post’s Food Informants asked Celebrity for a chef to give them an insider’s view of working at sea, I knew it was the right assignment for me. I jumped at the opportunity to share details about our onboard environment, processes and service with even more people.
Most people don’t realize just how much goes into creating a modern luxury dining experience at sea. When Tavia from Celebrity’s public relations team asked me to create a “diary” of one of my weeks onboard, I was excited. It was a lot of work, and English isn’t my first language, but together, we created a story that will enable readers to experience this journey with me. Better still, maybe they’ll even be a little bit hungry when they’re done reading, hungry enough to come onboard and taste for themselves how much we care about providing a culinary experience like no other at sea.
To read the Food Informants piece about a week in my life, click here.
Celebrity Cruises: An Insider's View of Itinerary Planning
My name is Marc Miller, and I am the Manager of Itinerary Planning for Celebrity Cruises and for our sister brand, Royal Caribbean. I have been with the company for almost 10 years, 7 of which have been spent on the itinerary planning team. I love what I do and it is a dream job for me because I love learning about destinations and interacting with people from many ports from around the world. I believe that itinerary planning is one of the most important roles within the company, as the decisions we make have a direct impact on our guests’ satisfaction and the company’s performance.
It’s an exciting area because things are constantly changing and determining where to send our ships is a continual effort. We start planning our itineraries many years in advance, but typically finalize those decisions 18 to 24 months in advance of the sailings. Several factors impact our decisions; most importantly, guest preferences as to where they want to sail, as well as the ever-changing operational costs.
Another fascinating part of my job is learning about the many amazing destinations where we deploy our ships. One of the new destinations we will offer this year is the Black Sea. Starting in September, Celebrity Constellation will offer a series of 12-night itineraries, round-trip from Istanbul, Turkey. One of the highlights of this itinerary is the overnight call in Odessa, Ukraine, which allows guests to explore the city by day, and at night, guests can view a performance at the restored National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In addition, in less than one year, all eyes will be on this region as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Sochi, Russia, along the coast of the Black Sea. In the coming weeks, we will announce our new European itineraries, which will include Sochi as a port of call for 2014.
At the end of the day, we have to make difficult tradeoffs, because there are typically more destinations and regions that we would like to offer than we have ships to send. As we finish this round of deployment, we start all over again for next year.
Over the centuries, cruise ship dining has changed immensely. Starting with Nordic Vikings transitioning all the way to modern cruise ships, one thing has always been true: a sailor’s gotta eat! Mess hall may aptly describe the conditions aboard some early ships. But things have changed in cruise dining options. While galley slaves probably subsisted on gruel (with garlic cloves thrown in for a treat), today’s high sea diners experience 5-star global cuisine with white glove service and an impressive wine list. Take a look at the progression of maritime chefs and dining over the ages in this infographic. And, remember…calories don’t count at sea!
Our new Celebrity Reflection cruise ship has been launched, named, and sent on her inaugural sailing for the 2013 cruise season. The entire process brings to mind all the intriguing maritime customs involved in building a new cruise ship. From placing good luck coins during the keel laying to the champagne bottle crashing against her big, blue funnel, it’s been a fun journey filled with all kinds of customs, superstitions, and milestones. There are even a few tricks up our sleeve to ensure the champagne bottle breaks as it’s supposed to. Read on and find out more about inaugurating a cruise ship.
Celebrity Cruises: A Holiday Message from Michael Bayley
To Our Celebrity Followers:
The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends, and reflect on “auld lang syne.” In that spirit, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of Celebrity Cruises in 2012. Whether you sailed with us or considered sailing with us, you have my appreciation.
I’m also very appreciative of our exceptional officers and crew. They are the people who deliver the modern luxury vacation experience that keeps guests like you coming back. And while I may be biased, I believe that they are simply the finest group of hospitality professionals in the world.
As I reflect on 2012, I am amazed by how much took place. I had the honor of accepting the role as President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in July, and immediately began reaching out to our travel agent partners and guests like you to gain invaluable insights to benefit our brand. I’m very grateful for your interest in Celebrity.
We took delivery of our fifth stylish Solstice Class ship, Celebrity Reflection, on October 9. Then, we embarked on the ship’s inaugural European season prior to crossing the Atlantic to arrive in the cosmopolitan cruise capital of the world – Miami, Florida – where we formally named the ship on December 1.
We were honored to have four Godmothers presiding over the ceremony – each of them being members of our own Celebrity family whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. The four Godmothers are: AquaSpa Manager, Jovanka Goronjic; Hot Glass Show Artist, Megan Mathie; Community Relations Manager, Helen O’Connell; and Special Events Manager, Rosey Rodriguez. Following the naming cruise and another celebratory two-night cruise, Celebrity Reflection embarked on her inaugural Caribbean season, offering 7-night sailings roundtrip from Miami.
Earlier this year, we completed our ambitious, $140-million “Solsticizing” initiative. This initiative incorporated many of the venues and experiences our guests love most on our Solstice Class ships onto our four already popular Millennium Class ships. Now, our fleet of 11 stunning ships and our spectacular crew are poised to provide you with genuine modern luxury vacation experiences in all seven continents of the world.
It’s been a very exciting year, and I know 2013 will be, too. We’ve just completed the most rapid period of growth and momentum in Celebrity’s history, and now, we have the opportunity to focus on refining our product to ensure the Celebrity brand remains “the” premium cruise vacation of choice among upscale consumers.
We’re committed to ensuring our culinary experience remains the best in the business. We’re going to further enhance our entertainment offering. We’re going to share more about our family-friendly programming. And we’re going to present the most compelling itinerary portfolio and destination experience in our history.
We’re going to do all of this to ensure that we have the pleasure of your business for years to come. Thank you again for your support of Celebrity Cruises in 2012. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you again in 2013.
I wish you a very merry holiday season, and a Happy New Year!
Celebrity Cruises: Q&A with Jovanka Goronjic, One of Celebrity Reflection’s Godmothers
Jovanka Goronjic joined Celebrity Cruises’ AquaSpa staff in 2009 after working with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity’s sister brand. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and endured several rounds of treatment. In tribute to her mother and the cause, Jovanka donated her hair for the creation of wigs for cancer patients. With support from Celebrity, she arranged time off to be with her mother at critical times during her treatment. Her mother has since defeated the illness, and Jovanka is now AquaSpa Manager on Celebrity Solstice. We recently sat down with Jovanka to ask her a few questions about the honor bestowed upon her.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born on January 1, 1979, and was raised by my mother. In 1997, I graduated with a degree in Business of Economy, and then continued my studies in the health and beauty fields. In 2004, I started working on ships as a massage therapist. Currently, I am the AquaSpa Manager aboard Celebrity Solstice.
I love animals, and I love taking care of people. I believe that overall well-being is crucial to leading a full and rewarding life. I try my best to be a good listener, while always being available for any advice, support, motivation, or inspiration.
How did it feel when Celebrity selected you to be a ship’s Godmother?
I was delighted, thrilled, emotional, and proud, all at the same time. I’m not sure that it has fully sank in yet, but it will when I¹m onboard for the naming ceremony next month.
What are you most looking forward to with this honor?
I really hope to help the Breast Cancer Research Foundation by raising more awareness and giving support to people that are dealing with the heartache of this illness.
What preparations have you made for the ceremony? What do you plan to wear?
I have prepared a short speech for the ceremony. On the special day, I plan on wearing a formal black dress with pink details, which serves as a small reminder and connection to breast cancer awareness.
Are you nervous or excited about the naming ceremony?
I’m both nervous and excited. My emotions are supercharged about this whole experience. I’m glad I’ll have three other women to share this moment with.
Can you tell us about something that is dear to you?
As an only child, growing up without my father, I am very close to my mother. Even at the age of 34, while working on ships and being away from home, I would call her every other evening just to wish her a good night, hear her voice, and tell her that I love her.
What do you plan to do onboard Celebrity Reflection? Are there venues or people you are looking forward to seeing?
I am currently on Celebrity Solstice, but I will be transferring to Celebrity Reflection to become their AquaSpa Manager. I can¹t wait to see the enhancements to the spa that are only currently available on this new ship, including the enlarged Persian Garden, the Hammam, and the hot and chilly Sensory Circuit. This career change happened suddenly, but I am so happy to have been given the honor of being one of Celebrity Reflection’s Godmothers.
Who has been most proud of you receiving this honor?
My family, my friends, my work colleagues, and, probably most of all, my mother.
The four Godmothers of Celebrity Reflection will preside over the naming of the ship in Miami on December 1. In true Celebrity tradition, they will be joined by the Godmothers of each of Celebrity Reflection’s sister ships.
Megan Mathie is a glassblowing artist in the Hot Glass Show aboard Celebrity Solstice®, and she previously performed the same role aboard Celebrity Eclipse®. Earlier this year, Megan was informed that both her sister and her mother were diagnosed with breast cancer, and she flew home to spend time with them. As time passed, however, both convinced her to return to the ship and to continue her work. Determined to support the cause, Megan and her team now host a “Hot Pink Glass Show” on every sailing. There, she shares her story with her audience through her artwork, in honor of her sister and her mother. At each cruise’s end, she auctions a one-of-a-kind pink glass creation to raise funds for Celebrity’s charitable partner, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®.
We recently caught up with Megan for more insight into her touching story.
In December, I scheduled my second contract working with Celebrity Cruises for the Corning Museum of Glass. I couldn’t have been more excited to come back and immerse myself in a body of artwork, while sharing the wonder of glassblowing with new audiences. I feel like the Hot Glass Show is a job I was born to do and this opportunity feels like such a gift.
In my life, I have been so, so fortunate.
In March, everything in my life stopped. My big sister Jen, who was just 32 years old, was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. It took my family out at the knees. Jen did everything right; she had health insurance, she always had her annual exams, and she was a mom to a five-year-old and a 10-month-old. Her medical team thinks she had her cancer for 7 to 10 years, and we don’t understand how they didn’t find it sooner.
I live in Columbus and Jen lives in Cincinnati, which is two hours away. Upon hearing the news, I dropped everything and started spending four days a week at Jen’s house, looking after my little nieces and taking care of Jen’s laundry, meals, and her home. I left my work, my new house, and my husband to be there for my sister. Jen’s network came together; she found a nanny, and everyone stepped in to love her and our family. Eventually, though, Jen put her foot down and told me to go on my contract on the Solstice, and that she did not need me in Ohio. She promised me that she would be here when I came home. She told me that cancer is something that we will be fighting as a family for years to come, and that we needed to live with cancer and not die from it.
I resolved that I would go. Then, just weeks later, we received another blow. In May, my mom, who had just turned 60 years old, was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer. I was in disbelief and I was so angered by this. I thought to myself, “Mom is a nurse. She does everything right. She has had her annual mammograms like clockwork.” Yet, there we were, less than 90 days after Jen’s diagnosis, and we found out that Mom was sick, too.
I am the baby in my family – the youngest of three girls. Never mind that I am 28 years old, I need my big sisters. I need my mom. I can’t describe to you the fear that this struck in my heart that they are fighting for their lives. But, they are FIGHTING.
I told my mom that I was going to stay home and that I didn’t want to go on the ship. Then, she, Jen, and my husband, Chris, told me that I had to go. They didn’t want me crying in the hospital. They wanted me to take this opportunity and dive into my artwork. They wanted me to travel and they wanted me to share my stories. I protested, I cried, and they sent me on the ship anyway. I was so scared. I still am so scared. What if something bad happens?
On Tuesday, July 17, Mom had a double mastectomy surgery. That Wednesday, I had lunch with my mom, my dad, and my two big sisters in Mom’s hospital room. On Friday, July 20, I left Ohio for Barcelona to embark on Celebrity Solstice. I was ready to be sad and homesick for three months. I was ready to be lonely. The thing about cancer, though, is that it comes with some pretty incredible gifts. Cancer shows us love. My sister calls it crushing love. And it is. I needed support. I needed love. And from the moment I came on board this ship, I have felt loved.
My family is good, with an ache in the word good, and I miss them so much. Nonetheless, we know that geography has nothing to do with how close we are to one another. Here, on Celebrity Solstice, I also have another family. One that is brand new and full of energy, warmth and caring hearts. This family doesn’t know Jen or my mom, but they are sharing my journey and holding me up. On Jen’s birthday in August, just a week before her double mastectomy surgery, the Ringmasters, our a cappella quartet, sang “Happy Birthday” into my phone at 1 a.m., so that Jen could hear it at 7 p.m., in Ohio. When we received scary news about Jen’s cancer-fighting drugs damaging her heart, my dear new friend stayed up with me all night while I cried and processed my fears. My Solstice family hugged me and held my hand when I saw a photo of Mom with no hair for the first time. My Solstice family also has a celebration and a toast with every cancer milestone: when Jen finished chemo, when Mom started chemo, when Jen survived her surgery with clear margins. They follow Jen’s blog and they follow Mom’s blog. They ask about Mom and Jen every time they know I have had a phone call home. The friendships came fast, but they are real and they are loving.
My glass team has a Hot Pink Glass Show every cruise, where I get to make a special vessel that tells my cancer story through my artwork. I get to talk about my family, talk about how important it is to be vigilant and look for this disease, and I do my very best to embody living with cancer and not dying from it. I invest so much love into that artwork. I literally shed tears while making each one the most beautiful glass I’ve ever blown. I do it for Jen and I do it for Mom. At the end of each cruise, I get to auction that pink vessel away for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which has a partnership with Celebrity Cruises.
The best part is that when I share my family’s cancer journey, I make connections. Every cruise, there have been people sharing their story of survival or loss with me, and more and more people loving Mom and Jen. Crushing love.
Here I am, so far from home, but helping. In a real way. A way that will keep them alive, healthy and beating cancer for years to come. The medicine in their lives is so essential, and I get to contribute funds so directly.
The doubts I had about whether I was meant to be here on this ship went away when I learned that I would get to make this glass, tell this story, and help fight this fight. I get to be an artist who’s surrounded by loving hearts at sea, I get to feel my family loving me from across the ocean, and I get to fight cancer.
Celebrity Cruises: Q&A with Helen O’Connell, a Celebrity Reflection Godmother
Celebrity Reflection is set to arrive in Miami on Dec 1. As part of her inaugural ceremony she will be christened by not one, but four Godmothers this time.We’re proud of our ship godmothers, the strength of character they all possess, and their incredible support in the fight against breast cancer. Prior to the launch of our newest ship, we recently interviewed each of these amazing women to hear what they have to say.
As an eight-year employee of Celebrity Cruises, Helen O’Connell manages Community Relations and has a clear and contagious passion for serving her community. She works tirelessly to accommodate those in need and to help the non-profits that serve the many communities in which our corporation operates. She is widely lauded, internally and externally, for leading the corporation’s annual “G.I.V.E. (Get Involved, Volunteer Everywhere) Day,” and events leading to it in South Florida, as well as in many of the company’s offices and ports of call around the globe. Additionally, she serves as the corporation’s liaison with Make-A-Wish Foundation and Breast Cancer Research Foundation, overseeing the planning and implementation of numerous fundraising events each year.
When Helen commits to a project, she sees it through to the very end. She’s committed to seeing that our hard work as a company continues to make a difference in the lives of others. She firmly believes that once Royal Caribbean Cruises, or one of the brands’ names, is stamped on a project, it is always ongoing.
On a more personal level, Helen is the youngest of four girls. Her parents are from Ireland and she grew up in Whitestone, N.Y., in the borough of Queens. Helen loves volunteering and being involved in various organizations, from foster care to clean-ups and revitalizations of urban environments. Helen also helps her mother and sisters take care of an ailing, widowed aunt in Ireland, so she makes trips quite often to manage the situation.
In late September 2008, Helen’s father was diagnosed with bone cancer. She traveled to NYC every weekend to help her mother and sisters take care of their father at home, where he died on December 1, 2008. Then, on December 1, 2009, during the inaugural of Oasis of the Seas, a ship on Celebrity’s sister brand, Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She worked through her treatments and scheduled her surgery during the holidays, so her two-person team could manage the workload at a quieter time of year and her family wouldn’t spend their first Christmas without their dad worrying about her surgery. This year, on December 1, 2012, the naming ceremony of Reflection will take place, a day when Helen will celebrate, rather than grieve.
We recently sat down with Helen to talk about her history with Celebrity and her excitement about her new honor.
How did it feel to be selected to be a Godmother?
When I heard that Michael Bayley wanted to choose employees who have been touched by breast cancer to be the Godmothers of Celebrity Reflection, I was so proud to work for an amazing leader and company. Then, to receive a call from our Chairman, Richard Fain, who extended the invitation to be one of the Godmothers, was overwhelming. I was truly taken aback by our conversation with him and it left me a bit stunned, actually. I started to babble and it didn’t begin to sink in until a few minutes after we hung up the phone. I still don’t think it has sank in fully yet. Our partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation reinforces our company’s dedication to important issues in our employees’ and guests’ lives. I love my job and I am so proud to represent Celebrity Cruises in the community on a daily basis. To now have this accolade on top of that is just fabulous! I truly feel blessed and honored to be one of Celebrity Reflection’s Godmothers.
What are you most looking forward to with this honor?
One of the best things about this honor is sharing this role with three other amazing women. Better still, Rosey Rodriguez, one of the three women, is such a special friend to me who just recently battled breast cancer.
What preparations have you made for the ceremony?
I currently have hair and nail appointments scheduled. One of my friends is also doing my makeup for the naming ceremony, so I will be all glammed up!
What do you plan to wear?
I am a New Yorker, so it’s always a challenge to branch out from my black uniform. I have been shopping for dresses and I have been looking at wearing navy, chocolate brown or charcoal gray – that’s as crazy as I get with colors!
Are you nervous/excited about the naming ceremony?
Rosey and I have had the pleasure of attending several naming ceremonies. We’ve been behind the scenes as worker bees, so it will be strange to be in the spotlight this time. On a day like G.I.V.E. Day, I am very comfortable talking to large groups or directing people, but I’m not so comfortable talking about myself or being the center of attention. I am a bit nervous about the naming ceremony, but I’m very excited to meet my Goddaughter – Reflection! I am actually a Godmother of two young girls, my niece, Jane and my roommate from college’s daughter, Brittan. That being said, Reflection is in good company.
Can you tell us about something that is dear to you?
My dogs and my cats. I was never an animal lover. In fact, I’m allergic to cats! But then, because of my boyfriend, I became an animal mom to two dogs and two cats!
What do you plan to do onboard Celebrity Reflection?
I am looking forward to relaxing with my family! This is the first time that my mom, my sisters and I have been together since my father’s funeral in December 2008, due to everyone’s busy schedules. It will be nice to celebrate and spend time together.
Are there venues or people you are looking forward to seeing?
I can’t wait to sit in a chair at the Lawn Club and enjoy the ocean breeze. Also, Celebrity Cruises is hosting a charity fundraiser for United Way of Miami-Dade on this inaugural sailing, so it will be nice to see many of our community partners. It’s a chance to chat with many friends and neighbors.
Who has been most proud of you receiving this honor?
I know it is my father, who I am sure is looking down from Heaven. I have his work ethic and his drive to help people and make our communities better. He would be so proud of this achievement. My mom, my sisters and my friends are also very proud of me.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Reflection’s Atrium Tree
Like our other Solstice Class ships, Celebrity Reflection will have her own living, suspended tree in a uniquely designed vessel. We spoke with art consultant, Mariangela Capuzzo, Curatorial/Artistic Director at International Corporate Art in Miami, who chose the artist to create the container. Then, we caught up with Bert Rodriguez, the artist himself.
How is the artist chosen who creates the art installation for the tree?
We reach out to established artists whose work is conceptually and aesthetically strong and complements both the existing art collection and our brand. First, we establish a curatorial direction, an umbrella, for the selection of the art collection. In this case, the curatorial direction on Reflection explores the “Seductiveness of a Reflection,” where artworks capture and reveal the magical sense of wonder created by Reflection.
How far out from launch do you start the process of selecting the artist?
The process begins a year and a half from the launch.
Where do you search to find the artist?
We have over 20 years of experience in the art world and our international network of artists affords us with a wide range of options to select from. We stay current with the pulse of the art market by traveling to art fairs and exhibitions all over the world.
Why was this artist chosen for Reflection?
Bert Rodriguez’s installation, Reflections, perfectly juxtaposes the conceptual with the magical. His proposal for Reflection was above and beyond what other artists presented.
What made his submission/vision uniquely right for Reflection?
Bert Rodriguez’s stunning installation in the Upper Grand Foyer consists of a tree reflecting upon itself. The tree above is a living, natural tree and below, hanging upside down, is a tree made of cast aluminum and electrical lighting. The combination of both the living and the crafted tree, and its reflective composition, creates a mesmerizing demonstration of grandeur and brilliant engineering. Its scale and magnificent sculptural elegance draws the viewer’s gaze up and down the vertical to ponder not only how this piece was created, but also what it symbolizes.
By using physical reflection, shiny surfaces, and a living tree mirrored by a man-made tree, the notion of accessibility is addressed. The artist’s intent is to allow viewers an easy entry-point into a more complex investigation of their own self-reflection or willingness to learn more about their fundamental essence, purpose and nature.
Bert Rodriguez earned critical acclaim for his appearance at the 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York. He is known for his conceptual and performance-based artwork, subverting art world conventions, poking fun at himself and notions of Celebrity through his provocative oeuvre.
Next, we spoke with Bert Rodriguez, the artist himself, to find out more.
What was your inspiration for the creation of the art piece for the Atrium tree on Reflection?
Well, I basically took the name of the ship, “Reflection,” and started from there. The fact that the ship had included a living tree as a pre-requisite element within each of the Atrium projects also was also a point of departure for me. The first image that came to mind was what it looks like when a tree is mirrored in a still lake and it doubles the tree. I also really liked what that means as a metaphor for self-reflection. The order of all the ship names in this particular fleet seemed to suggest some process of lunar or solar phases. I wanted this piece to include that, as well, as a means of tying all of the ships in the fleet together somehow. So, I took that idea of the tree reflected in the water, but changed the bottom tree so it could have a life as the sun goes down on the ship. The living tree on the top grows and comes to life while the sun is out and the bottom tree, with each of its branch ends housing lights, comes to life as the sun disappears and becomes a sort of ghost chandelier doppelganger of its living reflection above.
What went into the creation process? Please describe for us.
I started out with several really simple sketches of what I imagined it could look like, and then worked with an architect to take my basic idea and refine it into a realistic rendering of what I initially imagined. After several revisions, as well as feedback from engineers and the shipyard, we came up with a final design. It still kept the core elements and themes of my initial concept, but it was also realistically possible given all of the variables that need to be taken into account when creating something for a moving vessel.
Were there any challenges or restrictions you had to deal with?
Creatively or conceptually? Never. But when it came to physically translating those concepts into a workable and stable object that could withstand the constant motion of a moving ship, yes. There were certain fabrication techniques that are common on land that just cannot work on something that is constantly moving and shifting. There were certain materials and paint finishes that I thought the piece could be made of that just weren’t suitable for the highly corrosive quality of ocean air. A lot of adjustments and modifications had to be made to make it right for that environment. Some things just couldn’t be done and the piece itself had to be changed a little. It was a challenge to allow for all those changes, but still find a way to maintain the work’s conceptual integrity. In the end, I think it came out stunning.
What inspired you to become an artist?
It’s been so long now that I’ve been making work that I’m not even sure I remember. It sounds a bit silly and stereotypical, but I think I’ve always been one. I think maybe things changed when I realized that you could make a living being an artist, which happened when I was in high school. I had a really great teacher who was very encouraging and exposed me to the idea that you could be a professional artist. She taught me how to archive and photograph my work, write a C.V., and how galleries and museums functioned within that process. It gave me a great deal of confidence.
How do you feel knowing this piece will be featured in the Atrium of Reflection?
It feels great! Frankly, this is the first work of this kind that I’ve ever made and it was an incredibly humbling and exciting learning experience. It’s opened my practice to a whole new level of possibilities. It’s given me an opportunity to grow and added a completely new approach to making work using materials and solving problems I never would have considered otherwise. It’ll be on Reflection conceivably for years, and it will be a part of so many travelers’ experiences for years to come. I owe many thanks to everyone who worked on this and helped me realize this piece.
Celebrity Reflection is officially a member of our fleet, and we couldn’t be happier to share photos from her preview sailing out of The Netherlands. For months, you’ve followed us on this incredible journey and enjoyed an insider’s view of the development process. Now, take a look at the finished result – a world-class ship that will dazzle you with luxurious suites, state-of-the-art amenities and unrivaled cruise dining options.
Enjoy a floor-to-ceiling view of the ocean in the relaxing, new Reflection Suite.
Unwind in the Spa and enjoy a circuit of sensory experiences.
Savor just-made fare at The Porch just off The Lawn Club.
Need alone time? Escape to the adults-only Solarium.
Relax, eat and gaze out over the green grass at The Lawn Club Grill.
Explore the Art Gallery.
Start the evening off with a soothing backdrop of instrumental or vocal sounds in the Ensemble Lounge.
Enjoy music, dancing and drinks at the Sky Bar.
Experience a whole new level of relaxation in the Spa.
AquaClass® guests can enjoy dining at Blu, where “clean cuisine” is on the menu.
As a first time blogger for Celebrity, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Ivonne Paris and I am preparing to celebrate my 8th anniversary with this fine organization. I often have a hard time explaining what I do as Manager of Product Development, because the list is so long and varied. My friends and family think my job is fun… and it certainly is!
Game On, one of my favorite all-time projects, has just come to life aboard Celebrity Reflection. Nothing is as exciting to a creative mind as to be given a blank slate with which to dream. So, when our team was assigned this project… Well, let’s just say our painter’s palette went Technicolor!
The journey began way back in the summer of 2011, when it was announced that the space known as the Card Room was to get a revitalization with something vibrant and exciting to mirror the modern direction our brand was going in.
Step one was to gather a group of brilliant minds and put them in a conference room for a couple of hours with nothing but white flip pads and markers. The ideas started to flow and I attempted to capture them all. We had so many amazing concepts, from a Man Cave outfitted with its very own beer bottle vending machine to a Ship Navigation Simulator and beyond. Then, the ideas were vetted for feasibility.
First filter – Will our guests love it? Second filter – Does it mirror Modern Luxury? Last filter – Can we execute consistently in a shipboard environment?
Several weeks later, We Were given the green light to proceed with the following direction: Create a state-of-the-art, interactive, digital environment where guests can play on their own or socialize with friends.
Our blank slate consisted of this floor plan on Deck 9.
We turned to our design team as a source of inspiration and were delighted to find that their concept boards were a magical assortment of deep, rich colors with a fanciful motif.
To build this creation, we chose to go with a company in Hamburg, Germany, that had done similar installations. We collaborated with their team to develop game offerings that would provide a balance of nostalgic games in a modern digital platform. We also included others geared to offer hours of fun with the side benefits of stimulating the mind and improving cognitive abilities.
In April of this year, we sent out an invitation to a broad group of colleagues and received fantastic participation in, what we dubbed, The Game On Lab. It’s amazing the kind of results you get when you invite a group of adults to come play games and enjoy refreshments in the middle of the afternoon!
From this exercise, we determined that people’s taste in games is about as varied as their taste in art, which meant that in order to be able to please the largest amount of guests, we needed more games. These eight made the cut:
Bumpers - A modern twist on the traditional game of marbles, where you cast your game piece onto a moving platform to earn points. Bump your opponents out along the way, but watch that you don’t end up falling in the void.
Snag ‘Em - A fast and fun game for up to 4 players, where the object is to collect like colored gems in the allotted time. Having five of a kind earns you more points. Bonus rounds let you steal from your opponents and add to the frenzy.
Checkers - You have to jump a couple of frogs before you become crowned prince in the digital version of this classic favorite.
Team Draw - Find your inner Van Gogh as you challenge your opponent to interpret your art on the screen.
Word Power - Sharpen your mind, expand your vocabulary, and challenge yourself to solve a puzzle with this innovative, interactive, and addictive play on a classic word search game.
Memory - The Memory Game works your brain with spatial layouts and pattern recall. You must take a quick mental “snapshot” of the grid so you can select the correct squares. Speed + Accuracy = Success!
Think Faster - Race against the clock to improve your reaction time, increase alertness and awareness, and enjoy the benefits of faster cognitive processes. It’s as simple as matching the current symbol to the one before it… or is it?
Moving Puzzle - A visual brain twister awaits those who dare attempt to put the pieces of these fast moving videos back together again.
And, yes, you can still play a basic card game here if that’s among your favorite pastimes.
Next, we set to work creating the storyboards that would animate these games. Taking from the whimsical tone set by the ship’s designers, we were inspired to frame them in such as way as to be reminiscent of an old time amusement park juxtaposed with the high-tech, touch-screen environment of the tables.
As the programmers began to bring the games to life, we received delivery of our very own touch-screen setup, so that we could commence testing them and developing the instruction screens. It’s great to know that we have so many friends at Celebrity who are willing to help me out!
Now that the ship is completely finished, we’re pleased with the final installation of this fun, new space.
As you may have surmised by now, I’ve got about the coolest job anyone could ask for. However, my favorite thing about what I do is coming back and watching all of you have fun and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Now you know the secret of why I am always smiling.
The seminar begins with the 250-year history of the Riedel family, highlighting their deep roots in, and connection to, glassmaking, as well as their incredible passion for it. Further on, participants in the seminar will enjoy four grape varietals, drinking them from an assortment of different glasses. These steps truly show what a great impact a specifically designed varietal glass has on the taste and aroma of the wine.
By being the first in the wine industry to discover that the size and the shape of the glass influences the taste and aroma of the wine, Riedel has the privilege to introduce participants to a first-hand experience and take their wine appreciation to a different level. It’s a great seminar, as you’ll never approach a glass of wine in the same way again.
Q: What are the highlights of the various wine packages available onboard?
A: The various wine packages available onboard offer guests the opportunity to enjoy a great, worry-free wine selection that our Cellarmaster put together to match various tastes. The wine packages also offer a great value when compared to the regular wine list price for the same wines individually. Wines can be enjoyed in many locations onboard, and the various forms of the Classic and Premium packages are tailored to suit shorter or longer itineraries. We even offer a “Build Your Own” wine package, where guests can create their own package (range of $75 and above per bottle).
Q: What are the best wines that Celebrity offers?
A: The best wines that we offer come from the major wine regions in the world. The winemakers that we host on our crafted wine lists are boutique wineries, renowned chateaux, or signature brand names. We also try to offer a great selection of the destination wines, so our guests can enjoy a taste of the places that they are visiting while still being onboard. Some of our wine highlights are ones from Super Tuscany, Burgundy, and Bordeaux – and, of course, the leading Cabernet Sauvignon from California - Screaming Eagle.
Q: Where did you develop your love of wine?
A: Coming from a country where the hospitality business flourished, fine dining and wine are an inevitable part of it. My passion for wine started the moment I stepped aboard one of the Celebrity ships 15 years ago, and this love is still growing. I developed a true commitment to treat our guests as gold, and knowing, understanding and appreciating wine was an important chapter. And now, through our vast array of wine events, we try to help our guests develop a greater appreciation for wine, as well.
Q: Where did you train?
A: All of my training and development came from a lot of seminars, training sessions, and winery visits sponsored by Celebrity Cruises.
Q: What are some surprises about wine that cruisers might not expect?
A: Onboard, we have some wine treasures that will be appreciated by wine lovers from around the world. We host classic grape varieties, along with some lesser known varieties that will capture the attention of passionate wine lovers and get those excited who would like to try something new.
Another surprise for our long-time guests may be the wine-by-the-glass program. We’ve enlarged its selection, and it now offers the opportunity to taste different wines and change the selection of the wine during each dinner course.
Another great surprise is our Wine Bar – the Cellar Masters, where wine lovers or guests that would like to discover more things about wine, on their own, have a great wine treat. Fantastic selections are constantly changing and there’s an abundant tapas menu to complement their picks.
Q: What is your favorite flavor profile and pairing?
A: When it comes to food and wine pairings, there is such a broad spectrum of choices that it would be hard to name just one. Among them are the fantastic pairings of a goat cheese soufflé with white Bordeaux, or the outstanding match of blue cheese (the cheese board selection in Murano) and dessert wine, like Klein Constantia or even Sauternes.
Q: What is the meaning of the wine tower? What does it symbolize?
A: The wine tower is a wonderful architectural piece that emphasizes the great commitment of Celebrity Cruises toward delivering a fantastic wine experience, as well as an outstanding food selection in our restaurants. Being the central piece of the dining room, it draws the attention of our guests to wine as an important part of the dining experience. You can see it from anywhere in the Main Restaurant and its bubble motif symbolizes Champagne and the Champagne wine region.
Q: Is there an order to the wine arrangement in the tower?
A: The arrangement in the tower is done by grape varieties. All of the pinot noirs that are from Burgundy/France, Oregon, and New Zealand, for example, will stay together, making them easily identifiable during busy service hours. The very high-end wines, on the other hand, have a separate section and encompass different grape varieties. Guests visiting the tower have the opportunity to see what a large variety of wines we accommodate onboard.
Q: So, how many selections of wine do we have onboard?
A: With the latest wine list from all countries, we have a total of 487 different labels. We’re the only cruise line in the world with such a vast selection of wines from all different appellations.
Q: What are the greatest challenges to managing the guest wine experience?
A: The greatest challenge is accommodating guests who request what they consume back home, which sometimes is not available on our wine list. Of course, we are always there to assist with a suggestion for something similar. It takes a lot of professionalism and great communication skills to convince those guests to try something new and different. However, when some of our guests discover a wine that they like (after a sommelier recommends it to them), they stick with that particular one.
Q: What is your recommendation for cruisers to select the best wines for their dining experience?
A: All of our guests need to have full confidence in our certified sommeliers who will guide them to try new wines and help them expand their comfort zone. Explain to the sommelier what wines you like, so that they can recommend something similar. Trust their taste and knowledge, and open yourself up to try new grape varieties. Look for food and wine paring recommendations either in the menu, or ones expressed by your sommelier.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Reflection Leaves the Yard
By the time you’re reading this, Celebrity Reflection will have made her departure from Meyer Werft and be on her way down the River Ems (backward, mind you) and out to the North Sea.
Yesterday was an exciting day for me. I arrived at Meyer Werft on Sunday around 9 a.m., and with it being a bright sunny morning, Celebrity Reflection shone just as bright.
It was great to see Nick Weir at the gangway as I boarded the ship. Nick and I have known each other since Celebrity Solstice, when he was our first Cruise Director on our Solstice Class ships. Nick has been filming for us during the building of Celebrity Reflection. Once produced, we’ll share some snippets with all of you.
On Sunday morning, I made my way around Reflection and posted some updates and photos on the Celebrity Cruises Facebook page. I was able to catch the Lawn Club getting her first mowing. The greens keeper was thrilled that we were going to be leaving the yard, as certain parts of the lawn were not getting sun while docked.
While on the Lawn Club, I was anxious to see the changes made to one of my wife’s and my favorite places – the Sunset Bar. Upon first glance, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. Our new build and design team made a great spot even greater. An elliptical bar is now in the center of the aft deck with all seating having great vistas. As before, the Sunset Bar will provide some of the best “Kodak” moments for our guests.
View from the River Ems lock at Meyer-Werft
After walking around the ship, I ventured off to the narrow lock that Celebrity Reflection needed to pass to start her journey from Meyer Werft. So many people had come from all over Germany to see her off; I even met a couple who had driven 400km (250 miles) from Frankfurt just to witness the event. While at the lock, you could see that the water had risen several feet since the morning and we were getting closer to departure.
Many of us went up to the aft end of the Lawn Club to take it all in. Above us, we saw our friend, Nick Weir, on scaffolding hanging from a crane, getting some final filming from a bird’s-eye view (a cuckoo bird’s, if you know Nick).
Around 3:30 p.m., the excitement began to build as those visiting were told to leave the ship. Around the same time, the tugs arrived outside the locks. The event was about to begin.
The locks lowered, the tugs tied up to Celebrity Reflection, and we began our conveyance. I positioned myself down on Deck 5, right at the aft of the ship in Tuscan Grille. It was like sitting behind home plate. The tugs lined the ship up and we began to “thread the needle” of the lock. In roughly 30 to 45 minutes, the tugs had safely taken us through the lock and we began our journey up the River Ems. The crowds cheered and, in the early evening as we progressed, we were greeted by the town of Weener, where a train bridge had been disassembled for the ship to come through. We then continued through the bridge in the beautiful town of Leer as I ended my day.
The photos here are but a few. We’ve posted many on our Celebrity Cruises Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/celebritycruises, and we will continue to add more there, as I swap photos with my colleagues on the ship.
Today, it’s another sunny day. We have just passed the town of Emden and we continue to make our way to Eemshaven, The Netherlands. The tugs are no longer with us, and we’re being piloted out to sea.
Brian P. Powell Associate Vice President, Marketing Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises: Exclusive Updates on Celebrity Reflection
Since this is the first time I’ve had the honor of being the author, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brian Powell, and I have the pleasure of working for Celebrity Cruises in the marketing department. I’ve been with Celebrity for over eight years, leading our revenue management team for two years and working with our marketing team in various leadership roles for the last six-and-a-half years.
On many levels, I’m thrilled to have been chosen to do this assignment. First and foremost, I’m on my way back to Papenburg, Germany. It brings me back to my very first role within the marketing department, when I was a part of a very special team that helped develop and deliver Celebrity Solstice.
Tomorrow, I’m leaving London after a quick visit with my UK colleagues to head over to Papenburg, and join Celebrity Reflection as she leaves the Meyer Werft shipyard early Sunday morning and makes her way up the River Ems to the North Sea.
For today, I wanted to share some personal photos from my first trip to Meyer Werft during the summer of 2008, when I saw Celebrity Solstice while she was still being built. This trip was made for two reasons – for the ceremonial “start up” of the ship’s engines and for the “chair show.” The “start up” of the engines is self-explanatory, while the “chair show” warrants some description.
The Chair Show
The “chair show” is the first viewing and testing of the seating on the ship. By testing, we mean that our Celebrity Solstice development team sat on, and provided feedback on, every single seat that was to be used by our guests and by our crew from the ship. It was my first time participating in a “chair show,” so it was novel to me. Afterward, it was clear that you can’t judge a chair by its sexy legs or its seductive, silky look and touch. The “chair show” just reiterated to me the level of detail we go to, as a brand, to ensure that our guests are comfortable… always.
Please take a look at a few of the photos. You’ll see some of the chairs we tested, which you may recognize; The Lawn Club, before the grass was introduced; Celebrity Equinox already being assembled by the side of Celebrity Solstice; the first AquaClass, five-head shower setup in the stateroom mock-up; the actual build-out of our innovative adjoining stateroom setup; and lastly, a picture of me standing at the stern of the ship. The last photo was taken to prove to my friends that I really was there, to show my kids that “Papa” had a pretty cool job, and, most importantly, to serve as a keepsake, so that I could always remember being a part of something extremely special.
The First Lawn Club
Celebrity Equinox being built next to the Celebrity Solstice
The first AquaClass Stateroom Shower
A new twist on adjoining staterooms
Inside with Celebrity Solstice
Thanks for joining me on this quick walk down memory lane. I’m going to go and try to get some sleep prior to my flight to Germany tomorrow. I’m feeling the same sense of excitement as I did a little over four years ago when I made my very first trip to see Celebrity Solstice at Meyer Werft. I can’t wait to see the wonderful evolution that Celebrity Reflection has made, and then share it with every one of you.
Brian P. Powell Associate Vice President, Marketing Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises: A Q&A with our Executive Chef, Steve van der Merwe
We recently sat down with Celebrity Reflection's Executive Chef, Steve van der Merwe, and asked him the questions that we've all had on our minds. Have a look at his responses and find out what kind of culinary experience you can expect on our latest ship. Plus, learn how Steve discovered his passion for cooking.
What can we expect from the Main Dining Room on Reflection? From the breathtaking, two-story wine cellar to the beautiful chandelier, the main dining room feels warm and welcoming. This, coupled with unparalleled service from our waiters and Sommeliers, as well as world-class food and flavors, will welcome you into a truly unforgettable culinary experience. Celebrity Reflection’s main dining room is fittingly named “Opus,” which means “work of art on a grand scale.” The room itself is like a work of art, as are each of the thousands of meals we will serve there each day.
Are there updates being made to the menu items offered? Our culinary team has added 80 new dishes to the main dining room menu. Our goal is to take our guests on a culinary journey and to help make their vacation memorable. At the heart of the changes is a focus on beautiful simplicity, the center of the plate. Of course, we have also taken nutritional and dietary considerations into account – our guests care about what they eat and where it comes from. Overall, we have kept some favorites, but also added new flavors and dishes from around the world.
Where do you source the staff that will open the ship? We have an exceptional core team in key supervisory and managerial positions that have opened many of our new ships (some have even been with us for all five Solstice Class launches, including this one, and some have been on our Millennium Class ships, as well). These form the foundation of our core opening team. We, then, divide the crewmembers across the fleet, some with opening experience and some without. We also see new ship launches as an opportunity to bring new crew members to the Celebrity team.
How long do you take to prepare the room for the first serving? The dining room is set before each and every dining time. We can turn the entire dining room around in under 45 minutes between the first and second seatings.
What are the fun things your team prepares for the guests? We’re all passionate about cooking. It makes the job inherently fun. Of course, some aspects of our jobs are more interactive, which adds an extra layer of enjoyment. When we do live cooking in our Oceaniew Café, for example, our cooks get to interact with our guests throughout the day as they prepare anything from fresh eggs to tasty stir-fries, with the guests watching, learning, and talking to them. Then, there is the Lawn Club Grill, where the guests can experience hands-on cooking next to their very own chef, with endless views of the sea all around. It’s pretty special. I can’t forget all of our cooking demonstrations, and our very own “star chefs” competition, where guests get to compete against each other on stage in front of a live audience. It’s great fun, and many laughs are had by all.
How many meals are prepared each night? On average, around 4,500 meals are served for dinner. This includes our very important crew; they have their own dining area, as well. Celebrity Reflection will produce, on average, just over 14,000 meals per day.
How many chefs are in the kitchen? On Reflection, we have a total brigade of 166. They are divided into various positions, as well, and are easily identified by different color neckerchiefs. Yellow neckerchiefs represent the junior positions, which are the 4th and 3rd cooks. Next, there are red neckerchiefs, which are 2nd cooks, followed by green neckerchiefs, which are our 1st cooks. The next highest position is the chefs de parties, who wear blue; these are the first of the supervisory positions. Next, we have our junior sous and sous chefs; they each have a black neckerchief with a silver toggle. The executive sous chefs are next in the ranking, wearing black neckerchiefs with a gold toggle. The executive chef is the only person in the culinary department that does not wear a neckerchief.
What are your favorite dishes on the menu to prepare and to eat? Also, can you tell us a little about yourself? For example, who cooks at your house? I enjoy braising and roasting meats. Prime rib is an all-time favorite of mine, and of course, braised short ribs, too. I enjoy eating these dishes as much as I enjoy preparing them. When at home, I like to cook for my loved ones and friends. I’ve noticed, though, that there is never really anyone wanting to rally to the kitchen. I must be doing something right at home I guess, since they want to leave the cooking to me.
I started my career in a takeout pizza joint by the local neighborhood pool in South Africa. It’s simple: I fell in love with preparing food and working with people. The rest, as they say, is history!
When at home, what do you like to eat? How did you become interested in becoming a chef? I enjoy making pizza back home in South Africa, in my wood-burning pizza oven. I love to eat braai (South African barbecue) and enjoy cooking it just as much. I enjoy cooking food when it becomes a social event; cooking pizza and barbequing brings people into the whole experience of preparing food. Sometimes, they will even want to get involved and help. If they’re lucky, I’ll let them in on a few tricks I have up my sleeve. Nothing brings people together better than great food, good company and good wine. My Gran always cooked good food and I guess this is where it all started. Of course, nobody can beat Mom’s cooking, either.
Where were you trained? What was your first chef job? I trained in South Africa at a major hotel chain. I started off working during my school holidays for free, just to learn and to understand what it meant to work as a chef. I was then offered a part-time job at the same hotel. As a result of my hard work and dedication, the company offered to pay for my studies and I took on an apprenticeship with the company. This entailed working and studying at the same time. We had to complete weekly assignments and then, once a year, we had the opportunity of attending a hotel school where we got into the theoretical side of things – learning about wine, marketing, accounting, industrial law, etc. My first assigned position as a qualified chef was to run the room service section of a small five-star hotel in Umhglana Rocks in Natal.
How many refrigerators are in the kitchen to hold all the ingredients? In total, there are over 350 refrigerators onboard Celebrity Reflection. This is for food only and does not include bar refrigerators or even the housekeeping pantries.
What’s the best compliment you ever received about your cooking? That is a difficult one. I guess I’ve been most honored when a guest asks for the recipe for a particular dish. It means that they would like to take that dish home with them and share it with loved ones, or perhaps even relive the memory. I cannot say that there is one specific compliment that stands out, but asking for the recipe… I think that’s up at the top!
How is it prepping for brunch as opposed to prepping for dinner? Brunch is an event for us, when we transform our dining room into a culinary showcase. We have so much talent onboard, and this is a chance to show some different aspects of that, like ice, fruit and vegetable carvings. Our chefs love the interactive experience with guests when working at the live stations for eggs, omelets and crepes. And of course, the chocolate fountains with freshly prepared fruits make everyone smile! Prepping for dinner requires all hands on deck. The culinary team has to work together to achieve the highest quality of food for our guests. The main dining room has two seatings, and we cater to approximately 1,300 guests per seating. The balance is made up with guests dining in one of the many specialty restaurants onboard.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned as a chef? Clean as you go!!
Can you share a favorite recipe we can publish? It’s a simple burger, and it reminds me so much of home. It even requires you to grill it – one of my truly favorite pastimes.
Braaied Boerewors Burgers Chef Steve van der Merwe, South Africa Corporate Executive Chef, Celebrity Cruises
Ingredients: • 1 lb lean ground beef • 1 lb ground pork • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted, pounded and sieved • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice • 1 teaspoon brown sugar • 1 tablespoon malt vinegar • Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
To serve: • 6 slices cheese (cheddar or Jarlsberg) • 6 hamburger rolls • Shredded crispy lettuce, sliced tomatoes, gherkins, mayonnaise and chutney
Method: 1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef and ground pork, the coriander seeds, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, sea salt, and freshly milled black pepper until well combined.
2. Using a scale, divide the mixture evenly into 6 portions – each should be about 7 oz. in weight. Form into patties about the size of the rolls. If you are going to braai them (barbecue them over charcoal), put the burgers directly above the white coals and turn them every 30 seconds until the patties are cooked. There should be no pink juice running out of them.
3. Just before they are done, place a slice of cheese on top of each patty and allow it to melt.
4. Toast the rolls lightly. Place the patties in the toasted rolls and garnish with the lettuce, tomato, gherkins, and chutney.
What chefs inspired you? That’s a tough one. I guess the chef that has always inspired me is the first executive chef I worked with. He helped build the foundation of my culinary experience. I even recall occasionally having a little competition to see who could de-bone a leg of lamb the fastest. Strangely, I could never beat him.
Favorite food to cook with? I enjoy cooking all kinds of meats, but most of all the wild game that we have in South Africa, such as springbok, wild boar, kudu, etc.
What’s a typical day in the life of an executive chef? A typical day onboard starts at around 7 a.m., with a walk through all the outlets that are open for breakfast. The executive chef will check with the sous chefs to find out whether there were any challenges during the night shift. After a food-and-beverage department meeting in the morning, the chef will conduct a meeting with the team of chefs, to brief them on changes and to discuss the upcoming day’s events. An inspection of all the store rooms will also be done, together with the provisions master, to stay on top of the status of provisions. The executive chef is also a personality onboard, interacting with guests and hosting a variety of cooking demonstrations and events throughout the voyage. The executive chef also will conduct various tastings in all outlets to ensure the quality of the product is at the highest standards. The chef’s responsibilities are not only limited to food, but also include safety, which is of critical importance – the safety of our guests and crew, and, of course, food safety, too.
The executive chef on our ships is like the conductor of a finely orchestrated symphony, ensuring that all the pieces and parts flow together harmoniously, resulting in the service of delectable, made-from-scratch cuisine that helps make our guests’ vacations unforgettable. It’s simple, really. It’s what modern luxury is all about.
Celebrity Cruises: Reflection Spa in Progress Look Book
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the spa on Celebrity Reflection as it’s being developed. Before long, this space will be transformed into an enhanced sensory experience, allowing our guests to revel in the hottest (and coolest) spa innovations.
The spa area is coming along. Looks spacious, no?
The Relaxation Room area with floor-to-ceiling views.
Lower level of the AquaSpa circular stairway.
Upper level of the AquaSpa stairway and wall treatment.
The enlarged Persian Garden will hold more heated tile lounges.
Soothing color scheme of the Persian Garden.
The Fitness Center will soon be filled with high-tech equipment.
Celebrity Cruises: The Updated Celebrity Reflection Spa Experience
After having designed the spas on all of the other Solstice Class ships, creating something new for Celebrity Reflection was a welcome challenge. The most exciting part for us, as designers of the spa for Reflection, was the rethinking of the original program, the guest experience and, thus, the layout of the spa. Not only have the spa and the Persian Garden expanded in size, both also have new, unique-to-the-fleet guest offerings and features: a Cold Room, Infrared Sauna and Hammam. The Persian Garden is a sensory playground where guests can spend an afternoon and leave feeling invigorated and renewed.
The fitness component of the spa has grown, as well. Individual studios no longer share space with the main workout and cardio area, and now offer spinning, Pilates, and Yoga classes simultaneously.
As a designer of many spas at land and at sea, Reflection’s spa has one of the most varied and comprehensive spa and fitness experiences anywhere.
Greg Walton AIA | NCARB | LEED AP | Vice President RTKL
Spa Updates and Facts:
The AquaSpa’s expanded, 883-square-foot Persian Garden will allow for six more in-demand curved, heated tile beds (15 total) with soothing sea views, and six entirely new experiences:
1. The Hammam: A modern twist on a traditional experience, the Hammam is a cool, calm and quiet space designed to loosen muscles and joints while relaxing on a heated stone slab.
2. Infrared Sauna: Infrared heat offers distinct advantages over traditional steam heat saunas, as it provides many of the health benefits of natural sunlight without the dangerous effects of solar radiation.
3. Aromatic Steam Room: Warm steam and aromatherapy combine to melt away muscle tension and toxins, relax the mind, and leave the entire body feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
4. The Cold Room: You can ‘chill out’ completely in this space, whose seats, walls and floor are icy cold (52 F). The room is designed to tighten pores that were opened and cleansed previously in the infrared sauna and aromatic steam room.
5. DIY Scrub and Salt Bar: This new do-it-yourself bar allows you to create custom “body cocktails” or scrubs from an array of salts, sugar and herbs.
6. Sensory Showers: You can complete your journey through the Persian Garden by selecting either warm, tropical rain infused with mild, fruity fragrances, or an arctic cold mist enlivened with eucalyptus essences. Soothing sound, scent and light will further tantalize the senses.
There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass when you’re miles out to sea. When we first launched Celebrity Solstice in 2008, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a glorious half-acre of green grass growing on top of our beautiful, new ship. Much like Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, I muttered to myself, “They did it…I don’t know how, but they did it.”
As is the case with anything new, we knew it would take us some time to really understand this wonderful innovation. How much traffic can it handle? What possibilities exist to take the experience even further? How will it stand up to the weather, climate, and itinerary changes? All of these questions and many more came to be answered as we progressed through Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Eclipse. As Celebrity Silhouette approached, due to the amazing work of our marine operations team in keeping the grass growing under almost all conditions, we decided that we could bring even more guest engagement to this one-of-a-kind area.
From the moment I saw The Lawn Club, I dreamed of the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill venue at sea. It was just something that seemed to be a natural extension of that environment. All around the world, there are beautiful parks where groups of people go for fun, highly social barbecues. So, when we were issued the green light to create a restaurant adjacent to The Lawn Club, this was our inspiration. From the onset, we agreed to keep the concept simple and approachable. The goal was a high level of interaction, friendliness, and, above all else, enjoyment of the unique ambiance of open air in a park-like setting. The Lawn Club Grill was born.
Generous proteins, steak, seafood, pork, and lamb would be the focus, accompanied by do-it-yourself flatbreads and a bountiful salad bar. And, to achieve the perfect grilling experience, we designed and installed unique, ventilated grills to ensure perfectly grilled pieces of meat. Initially, we were concerned that the concept was almost too simple. Would people really want to grill their own meat? Would they understand what we were trying to accomplish? Thankfully, from the moment it launched, it resonated with our guests. We are thrilled to be able to open the second installment of the Lawn Club Grill on the Celebrity Reflection cruise ship.
The Lawn Club on Celebrity Reflection will also feature our second installment of The Porch, a “Hamptons-esque” casual eatery featuring made-to-order Panini, soups, salads, and desserts. Offering exceptional views, friendly service, and casual fare, The Porch is a one-of-a-kind destination for breakfast and lunch.
In addition to the Lawn Club Grill and The Porch, Celebrity Reflection will also feature an expansion of The Alcoves, our series of for-rent private retreats set amongst the grass and offering expansive sea views. Much like the Lawn Club Grill and The Porch, The Alcoves help take The Lawn Club experience to another level, offering exceptional intimacy, service, and amenities in a destination unlike any other at sea. With an iPad loaded with favorite magazines, books, and music, it’s the perfect place to relax. Pre-order a picnic basket or use the phone to order afternoon cocktails. There are even spa services you can order in, so you never have to leave the comfort of the alcove.
Then, there are our Adirondack chairs. As my colleagues say, “A playful way to stop and take in the lawn.” These oversized chairs offer a unique perspective and a nice place to watch the activity on the lawn.
Whether it’s the smell of freshly cut grass, the lingering aroma of the perfectly grilled rib eye, or that first sip of an ice-cold beer as the sea breezes blow through your hair, The Lawn Club is an experience like no other.
Scott Steenrod Associate Vice President Food & Beverage Operations
Celebrity Reflection: Experience the AquaClass Suite
If you’re someone who likes the service and spaciousness of a suite, and you just can’t vacation without plenty of pampering, then you’re going to love what Deck 12 aboard Celebrity ReflectionSM has to offer. She’s the first ship in our fleet with an expanded AquaClass offering—the AquaClass Suite. Here, we’re blending all your favorite spa-inspired extras of AquaClass with the upgraded service and extra room of a Sky Suite—300 sq. ft. with a 79 sq. ft. veranda.
Longing to get away and have a European-trained butler at your service 24/7 to attend to your every need? Want to sip a cappuccino in the morning, dine on your veranda by sunset, or have a bottle of chilled champagne awaiting your return from a shore excursion? Your butler will be there to make it happen. Effortlessly.
Perhaps it will be Sabino, who likes to surprise his guests with meal suggestions that are uncannily perfect for them. Or, maybe it will be George, who creates an unbelievable candlelight dinner on the balcony of your suite; he prides himself on knowing what will make your time not only memorable, but unforgettable. George is also an experienced guide and can help you navigate the ship like an expert.
“My mission is the enjoyment of our guests,” he promises. Claudiu adds, “Every guest is special in a different way. My job is to make their cruise excellent in a way that’s perfect for them.”
As an AquaClass Suite guest, you’ll have priority access to the AquaClass specialty restaurant, Blu. With sculpted, white rose walls and sapphire blue accents, it’s a serene and beautiful place to have breakfast or dinner. The cuisine at Blu is not the typical “spa restaurant” expectation; rather, it is an imaginative way of preparing popular dishes without fussiness. So, tender filet is served with flavorful truffle vinaigrette, instead of a heavy béarnaise. We call it “clean cuisine.”
Then, there’s the AquaSpa itself. Enjoy complimentary access to the Persian Garden’s heated tile loungers or the Relaxation Rooms’ wide, comfortable loungers. In the AquaSpa, you can enjoy a soothing massage, a rejuvenating facial, or even get acupuncture and visit the aromatherapy steam room. You can take a Chilates class or run on a treadmill in the Fitness Center, all the while enjoying a spectacular ceiling-to-floor view of the ocean. Best of all, everything can be arranged for you by your AquaSpa Concierge.
Back in your AquaClass Suite, you’ll shower in a bathroom that mimics those found in any fine hotel on land. The Hansgrohe® shower tower features a rain showerhead and body spray jets, and it comes with Bulgari body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
At night, you’ll sleep on premium Reverie bedding dressed in soft, Celebrity eXhale™ cotton linens and plush duvets. You can even pick your pillow firmness from our pillow menu. You will undoubtedly awaken refreshed and ready for a new day.
In the AquaClass Suite, it’s all about the details: fog-free bathroom mirrors, fresh flowers, an aromatherapy diffuser, and an afternoon savories delivery – just to name a few. It’s these little things that will make the AquaClass Suite something you’ll want to replicate in your own home.
You asked for a new level of luxury. We think you’re going to embrace the ultimate relaxation and opulence of the Celebrity ReflectionSM AquaClass Suites.
Celebrity Cruises: Exclusive Updates on Celebrity Reflection
We’re happy we were able to share all the behind-the-scenes details that went into the recent Solsticizing process of our Millennium Class ships. We refurbished Infinity, Summit and Millennium with popular Solstice Class features and venues, such as Blu, Qsine® and Michael’s Club… and you watched along. The work could not have been completed without a host of committed partners and crewmembers. The support and feedback we received from cruisers and fans like you was truly heart-warming.
While we have not finished efforts to Solsticize the entire Millennium Class of ships, we are turning the focus of this blog away from those activities for right now, in order to bring you behind-the-scenes updates on the fifth and final ship to join the Solstice Class line of ships—Celebrity Reflection.
Many of our dedicated staffers used their most creative and innovative thinking to bring enhancements to Celebrity Reflection that will make her the highlight of her class. From the stunning views of the one-of-a-kind Reflection Suite to the custom entertainment shows, there are many modern luxury details we plan to share and give you exclusive access to.
Over the next few months, as we countdown to her inaugural sailing in Europe and her arrival and maiden voyage here in the U.S., we want you to join us in celebrating her milestones. Reflection is the latest effort in our commitment to delivering an extraordinary vacation experience to every one of you. Join us here in the journey to watch Reflection come to life and to hear from some of the partners who participated in her evolution.
Celebrity Cruises: The Persian Garden and Our Alaskan Journey
Enjoyment of the Persian Garden is another perk that is free for AquaClass® guests and is available for a surcharge for others. To gain access, simply show your room key to the spa services desk. Lockers are available, as well. If you’d like to use one, just exchange your room key for a locker key.
Upon entering the Persian Garden, we instantly drifted away as we took in the decor and inhaled the aromatherapy-filled air. Heated ceramic loungers lined one side of the room and, while we must admit that they didn’t look very cozy, they were incredibly comfortable and cathartic. There were also three large specialty sauna/steam rooms: a very hot Turkish bath, a dry steam room, and an Aromatherapy steam room. After spending time in each, it was hard not to feel recharged.
The cruise up the Inside Passage was extremely calm and, with land always in sight, we got to enjoy the natural scenic beauty of British Columbia. Our first port was Ketchikan. Here, we had the opportunity to try out our rain jackets, as the weather was not in our favor. Luckily, though, this was the only day of rain during our trip. There were many things to do in Ketchikan, especially if you enjoy shopping. We decided to try something different, though, and opted to snorkel. Don’t worry; they supplied wetsuits. Overall, we highly recommend this adventure because it not only provides great memories, but it’s also an excellent conversation starter when you mention that you went snorkeling in Alaska.
The next port of call was Icy Strait Point. We decided to check out Hoonah, a local town with a unique culture and countless fun activities. Here, nothing is written down and everything is told through storyboards. Fortunately for us, we learned that there was a carving project going on upon our arrival. At the event, three Native Americans carved a 30-foot by 15-foot storyboard and two totem poles. After listening to their story, we wandered around town before heading back to the ship.
The next stop was Juneau. Here, we took a Mendenhall Glacier and city tour. The city has lots of history, plenty of jewelry shopping and, of course, the world famous Red Dog Saloon. The highlight of our tour, though, was visiting the glacier and walking up to the falls. We got so close to the glacier that we were able to fully appreciate the immensity of it. The waterfalls were also spectacular.
On to Skagway next.
Unfortunately, the White Pass train was full, so we ended up taking a bus tour instead. However, even the tour bus driver said it’s worth taking the train; so if you do have the opportunity to visit Skagway, we suggest booking the train early. The bus followed the train route as far as Fraser and we crossed into Canada and continued on our way to Emerald Lake. We were lucky that it was a sunny day, because we were able to watch how the lake turned emerald. You cannot see the northern lights in the summer, so the local Native Americans have a legend that says they reside in the lake then. After that, it was back to the ship. This is a fairly long tour, so we just made it back to the ship at last call.
The last stop was the Hubbard Glacier. All we can say is ‘Wow.’ The Captain was able to get the ship extremely close to it; better yet, the ship did a 1800 so we were able to see the glacier from all angles.
When we weren’t out on land, we were enjoying everything that Celebrity Millennium has to offer. With all the planned events going on, we could stay as active or relaxed as we wanted. Of particular note, the nightly entertainment was above par and thoroughly enjoyable.
We would like to thank Cedric from the I-Lounge who helped get us set up and going on this blog. We would also like to thank Claudia, Kate and Sylvia, who made all the arrangements and did everything first class. Last but not least, we would also like to thank the Captain’s Club hostess, Juliana, for doing everything in her power to make us feel like VIPs.
Of course, we also have to thank Celebrity for putting on the contest in the first place. Just remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter the contests.
Thank you all for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Today’s blog is about the Blu restaurant. This is a specialty restaurant that is open primarily to guests staying in AquaClass® staterooms and is located on Deck 5. It’s a smaller dining venue that is open for breakfast and dinner.
When you enter Blu, you immediately notice the ambience of the room. The whole back wall is dominated by pristine white on white roses. The opposite side has windows to enjoy looking out at the snow-capped mountains of Alaska, and we took advantage of the beautiful view every morning. Even though most of the tables seat two, the design of the room is such that you can easily talk to the adjacent tables. We had no problem meeting people and engaging in a lively conversation.
To have a truly fine dining experience, you must have great service, and they do not disappoint at Blu. Our waiter Michael and his assistant Fabiola were truly fabulous. We found them engaging, warm and energetic. They made wonderful recommendations and seemed to know exactly what we would like. We also have to mention the maitre’d, Jovel. He was professional, courteous and accommodating to all of our requests. There is also no fixed time for seating at Blu, so you don’t feel rushed and have time to relax and enjoy your meal.
The whole concept of Blu is “healthy choices,” but this definitely does not mean bland food. The breakfast menu does not change daily, but it is quite extensive. One of my personal favorites was the muesli, which is prepared right at your table. They also have a variety of smoothies, which are both healthy and flavorful. I would absolutely recommend trying the blueberry smoothie.
The dinner menu offers new selections every night along with a few classics that remain on the menu nightly. When the meals were served, we were blown away at the presentation of the food.
We have tried everything from fish to filet mignon, and have found each dish to be full of flavor and cooked to perfection. We would highly recommend the grilled mushroom Napoleon appetizer as well as the French Onion soup, which is available every night. Some of our favorite entrees included the short ribs and filet mignon.
Desserts—where do we start? You can’t go wrong with any of the choices. We have sampled all of them, which was not too hard to do. One of the desserts we would highly recommend is the coconut crème brûlée with Mango curry.
The portions are a perfect size; we never left feeling hungry or overly full.
The overall experience of dining at Blu restaurant has been such a positive experience, that it has spoiled us! Other restaurants will find it hard to compete with this unique, delightful dining experience.
Our sailing date has finally arrived, and we are extremely excited to fully experience AquaClass® on Celebrity Millennium. The check-in process was so surreal as we were given VIP status and were whisked through all the checkpoints. Before we knew it, we were entering our room.
Today’s blog will be about the AquaClass rooms, which are located on the 11th deck. As I’m sure everyone is aware by now, the AquaClass concept is spa-inspired. The cabin itself definitely looks updated and upgraded. The room is spacious and warm, with lots of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The layout of the room is very functional, and the closet space is more than adequate, with plenty of drawer space inside the closet as well. There is more cupboard space provided below the desk, and there are two nightstands beside the bed with even more drawer space. There is even one completely mirrored wall that makes the room feel brighter and more open.
The private balcony contains two comfortable chairs and a table that is perfect for having breakfast, sitting and relaxing, and admiring the fabulous view. What truly sets the room apart from others are the spa elements infused into the stateroom experience. As soon as we entered the room, we noticed the fresh spa-like atmosphere. In the larger-than-average bathroom, we immediately took note of the unique double-doors for the shower. The shower contains a Hansgrohe “shower tower,” which can be used as a rain shower and/or a full body shower. The controls do take some getting used to, but once we figured it out, it was worth the effort. Also included were Hydro-Minera’le aquatic spa therapy bath products, which included lip balm, face and foot mist, body wash, shampoo and lotion. Another nice touch to the bathroom was the plush AquaClass Frette bathrobes and slippers.
There are also plenty of other in-room amenities that help enhance the spa “experience”. A pillow menu is available for you to choose your perfect pillow, and there are daily deliveries of both bottled water and a pitcher of tea. There is an extended room service selection that includes healthy menu option, and a wellness channel with On-Demand AquaClass programming is also available. One of the most important features of any room is the bed, and our AquaClass bed was so comfortable that we had a fantastic night’s sleep. Now we can’t wait to experience the rest of what being in AquaClass has to offer!
Celebrity Cruises: Solsticizing the Millennium Class
As the Director of Hotel Development and Housekeeping, I oversee all new build and revitalization projects, including the Solsticizing of our Millennium Class. In my 15 years with Celebrity Cruises, I have overseen nine new ships and six revitalizations from the set up and operational side. This includes an endless list of details such as crew movement, on board signage, and the selection of many items you see on board. One of the most important responsibilities I have (for both new builds and Solsticizing projects) is to conduct our Practicality Studies. Before we introduce any new concept, venue design, fabric, or piece of furniture, we study it to see how it might impact the hardware, the crew, and the guest experience.
The AquaClass stateroom concept received no less focus. I was involved in creating and implementing the AquaClass stateroom experience when we introduced it on the Solstice Class. As you heard in an earlier blog, when we later began thinking about Solsticizing our Millennium Class ships, the Operational teams rallied to determine if it was feasible to include the AquaClass concept in the Solsticizing scope. While Blu restaurant, one of the core experiences offered, was challenging to implement for my fellow F&B colleagues, converting the staterooms was much easier. With some special modifications like the addition of the Hansgrohe® shower panel and fog-free mirrors, our custom blended bath products and spa inspired amenities, and design changes to the carpet and upholstery, we were able to easily convert the staterooms.
I’ve traveled in AquaClass during my own vacation, and I find that the spa-inspired amenities and services, Blu restaurant, and access to the Persian Garden create a uniquely relaxing and therapeutic way of traveling. AquaClass staterooms have been a welcomed addition for our guests who have recently sailed on the Solsticized Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit, and I have no doubt our Celebrity Millennium guests will feel the same way!
Roswita Arnet Director, Hotel Development & Housekeeping
Celebrity Cruises: Captain's Club Members Experience The Newly Solsticized Celebrity Summit
As a part of our ongoing series to showcase our newly Solsticized ships, the Captain’s Club team hosted a day tour for several Captain’s Club Members from the New York area onboard Celebrity Summit on May 6th at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. After a great tour of the ship, we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the main dining room. It was great to spend the day with some of our wonderful members and share the latest Celebrity innovations with them in person. If only we could have stayed on for the cruise…
Impressions from one of our members:
My companion Ron Williamson and I were fortunate enough to receive an invitation from the Captain’s Club to tour the “NEW” Celebrity Summit; this turned out to be an exceptionally educational experience. During the tour, we were able to visit various suites and staterooms. We noticed that the addition of balconies to the Celebrity Suites and the addition of the Aqua Class staterooms were among the various improvements made to the ship. Celebrity also enhanced the ship by making some additions to the common areas such as Bistro on Five, the Martini Bar, Cafe al Bacio, Blu Restaurant, and my personal favorite, Qsine.
I am a frequent cruiser (having taken approximately 30 cruises), and I have to say that the Captain’s Club is one of the best loyalty programs at sea. Whether it’s during the reservation process or once you are on the ship, the staff of the Captain’s Club is always there to make your experience more enjoyable.
I am also a travel agent, and when any of my clients ask me about cruising and what my favorite cruise line is, the answer is always the same—Celebrity!
Thank you for the opportunity for me to express how I feel about Celebrity,
Set sail with Celebrity Cruises for the chance to experience Solsticizing. You could win a 7-night Caribbean cruise for two.
Exactly what is Solsticizing?
It’s our $140 million initiative to blend the iconic, award-winning features of our Solstice® Class ships with the best aspects of our Millennium® Class ships. Because we believe every moment of your vacation should be measured by just how far it takes you from the ordinary. That’s modern luxury.SM
Enter our sweepstakes to learn more about Solsticizing and the chance to win a Celebrity Caribbean vacation for 2 in AquaClass, our spa-inspired staterooms with exclusive benefits.
Plus, we’re awarding instant win prizes, like an iPad® or a gift card of up to $100 to places like Crate & Barrel, Wine.com, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and more.
As I walked on board the ship, wonderful memories of fantastic friends that I have made here and all of the exciting places that we have been came flooding back to me. I have spent nearly 5 years of my career with Celebrity on Celebrity Millennium, starting in the year 2000 when I was a part of the opening team that brought the ship out of the yard in St Nazaire, France. I have done contracts here as an Assistant Maitre D’, Food and Beverage Manager, and Hotel Director, covering itineraries in Northern Europe, Mediterranean, Alaska, Caribbean, South America, New Zealand and Australia. This will be my fourth dry dock on this ship after having done previous ones in Palermo, Sicily, Sydney, Australia and Victoria, Canada. So as you can see, I am very happy to be here and to be a part of a new chapter in Celebrity Millennium’s life.
So far, Celebrity Millennium’s dry dock has been extremely successful. This has been achieved through our usual dedication to planning, communication and support for one another. It is really a great experience to be a part of the Celebrity family; everyone’s voice is heard and all feedback is considered so that we can move forward with positive momentum.
Recently I was telling one of my colleagues a wonderful story of how one crewmember’s keen eye for detail contributed to enhancing the beauty of Celebrity Summit during her Solsticizing: I was walking around, speaking with the crew on fire watch, and this particular crew member stopped me and asked if a portion of the ceiling was going to be painted, as it did not fit in with the new décor. I relayed that concern back to the design team, and the very next day scaffolding was being erected and the ceiling was painted. Amazing!
The ship left Miami on April 21st for the short trip to the Shipyard in the Bahamas. Captain Alevropoulos and his team of bridge officers did a great job of getting the ship into the dry dock under very challenging weather conditions. The lifeboats were lowered into the water and were taken away to be completely overhauled and repainted. The remaining water was then drained, leaving the ship high and dry on the blocks. Although some of the Solsticizing work began shortly after leaving Miami, this period is the time when the gangway is placed and the remaining contractors come on board, which means full steam ahead.
It is great to see that most of the people involved in this dry dock are the same from Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Infinity’s dry docks. Everyone is familiar with each other as well as the ship, and they are all absolute professionals. I am looking forward to keeping everyone updated over the next few weeks as we work through to completion and welcome our guests on board in Miami on May 12!
Sheldon Thompson Hotel Director Celebrity Millennium Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Chefs shine at James Beard House Dinner
Being part of Celebrity’s public relations team means telling people what makes our cruises so special. One of the most exciting stories to tell is that of our Solsticizing initiative. For me, a large part of what makes this story so fantastic is the fact that each revitalization includes the addition of more restaurants; this means more ways for you to enjoy our award-winning, made-from-scratch cuisine and authentic, personalized service. With the addition of Tuscan Grille, Qsine, Blu and Bistro on Five to our Millennium Class ships, you can expand your culinary journey through a much richer variety of flavor combinations, textures, pairings and other taste worthy delights.
The same team of chefs who bring these restaurants to life through the development of modern luxury dining concepts, menus and service recently made history! Earlier this month, Celebrity was the first cruise line to have its chefs featured at the prestigious, historic James Beard House in New York City. Once the home of American culinary pioneer James Beard, who laid the groundwork for America’s gastronomic excellence, the James Beard House is today regarded as a culinary performance space.
I had the opportunity to witness our chefs in action that week, as I was overseeing a video shoot aimed at sharing the James Beard House dinner story with you (the resulting piece is below). The chefs’ excitement was palpable as they prepped at the New York Marriott Marquis kitchen (thanks to Executive Chef Armando Monterroso and his incredibly hospitable staff), sourced ingredients locally, finished prep at the James Beard House, and then presented an amazing dinner that dazzled and delighted everyone who attended.
Some people believe that the practice of public relations is all glamour, no substance. That couldn’t be further from the truth. But if that’s the perception, it means we do a good job of making sure people see what we want them to see: the polished finished product, not the hard work that led to it. At Celebrity, what we really want everyone to see is how passionate we are about delivering unforgettable, luxurious vacation experiences. My job is to tell that story, to explain how we create truly restorative vacation moments and to invoke curiosity and eagerness about how a Celebrity Cruises experience is unlike any other at sea. And a large part of what makes Celebrity so special is the food we serve onboard.
Seeing our team of chefs—the chefs behind the made-from-scratch food we serve onboard—shine at the legendary James Beard House, one of the most prestigious culinary performance spaces in the world, was an honor and a privilege.
And shine they did! Scallop tartare with sea urchin emulsion and pickled ginger. Alaskan King crab nage with ramp panna cotta, Osetra caviar and Kumamoto oysters. Baby lamb rib with morel mushrooms. Toro tacushi with sesame-soy emulsion, in wonton “taco” shells. Grand Marnier soufflé. These are but a few of the delectable items that our team concocted for the guests at the dinner.
Our director of culinary operations and James Beard Foundation Award-nominated Chef John Suley led the team of chefs who cooked at the Beard House. Together, they represent six countries across five continents: John is American; W. Thomas Szymanski, Senior Traveling Executive Chef, is from Poland; Rufino Rengifo, Corporate Executive Chef, is from Venezuela; Steve Van Der Merwe, Corporate Executive Chef, is South African; Executive Pastry Chef Thierry Houlbert is from France; Traveling Pastry Chef Ronald Sioson is from the Philippines.
Izabela Wojcik, The James Beard Foundation’s Director of House Programming, said, “We selected Celebrity Cruises to cook at the James Beard House because the culinary journey offered on their ships truly is outstanding. The incredible creativity of Chef John Suley and his team is the reason why Celebrity’s guests have the opportunity to delve into an extraordinary range of globally influenced flavors and presentations.”
“The James Beard House dinner not only reflected our individual styles, but also the diversity of influences that shape our work,” John said. “With a team approach, we bring this same synergy to Celebrity’s onboard culinary experience every day, and hope that our passion for cooking amazing food adds an element of the unexpected, of adventure, even of astonishment, to our guests’ vacations.”
Just as teamwork and collaboration are at the heart of the success of Celebrity’s James Beard House dinner, they’re what make our onboard service so extraordinary, on every ship, every day. That’s a story I personally love to tell, and I hope you enjoy experiencing it firsthand.
Click here to see our chefs put modern luxury on the table in New York City (and bring your appetite when we next see you onboard!).
Tavia Robb Manager, Public Relations Celebrity Cruises
Bringing Blu to the Millennium Class: It’s All About the Galley
Shortly after the launch of Solstice, it became clear that Blu restaurant (and the Aqua Class experience) was a big hit with our guests. We also knew it would be a welcome addition to the “Solsticizing” of the Millennium class ships. However, as is often the case with complex projects, the question of “How do we do this?” was a bit tricky. As it turned out, it was all about the galley.
We consider each of our restaurants to be a “unique destination unto itself.” As a result, we typically require both a dedicated “Front of the House” (dining room) and a “Back of the House” (kitchen or galley) space to make a restaurant a success. The highly refined and detailed nature of the cuisine in Blu requires a dedicated galley space, so the idea was originally discussed for the Constellation “Solsticizing.” However, the idea was abandoned when, after multiple attempts, we couldn’t find a solution for a dedicated galley. And believe me, it wasn’t for a lack of trying! So, as we began discussions for the Infinity “ Solsticizing ,” we rallied the team and once again asked the question, “How do we do this?”
It is often said that those closest to the problem have the best solution, and this situation is a perfect example of where this rings true. It was actually our shipboard team of Chefs and operations managers—led by our Corporate Food and Beverage Operations Manager, Edi Kevorkyan, and our Senior Traveling Executive Chef, Thomas Szymanski—that came up with the solution to dedicate a section of the main galley for Blu. They were confident that, with a few simple equipment modifications, we could execute the entire Blu menu on the Millennium class just as we do on the Solstice class. And while there were some hesitations amongst our team, we decided to give it a shot.
Not surprisingly, it has worked beautifully; as a result, the process has continued on Celebrity Summit and will move on to Celebrity Millennium later this month. Every member of our team has a voice to help us solve our problems and deliver solutions. After all, “All of us are smarter than any one of us.” And now, many more guests will be able to enjoy the Aqua Class experience, and Blu, as a result.
Scott Steenrod Associate Vice President Food & Beverage Operations
Celebrity Cruises: Constantly innovating for your comfort
You recently heard from my colleague, Scott Steenrod, who shared the story of how Qsine was brought to life. He mentioned that one of the most exciting things we do here at Celebrity Cruises is create new concepts, and as the Director of Product Development, I couldn’t agree with him more.
Creativity and innovation are at the core of everything we do, whether we’re working with the Food and Beverage Team and our talented chefs to bring our lifestyle book, Excite the Senses, to life, developing exciting new concepts for Celebrity Reflection—our newest ship debuting in October—or finding the perfect name for a new program or venue that can capture its very essence. But, not everything we do is about creating new products. Often times it’s about taking a guest’s experience from “good” to “exceptional.”
For example, when we introduced “eXhale”℠, our luxurious sleep bedding, we thought, “how can we make it an even better experience?” With pure Egyptian cotton linens and plush duvets and pillows, the only stone left unturned was the mattress. But not just any branded mattress would do. So, we set out to not only find a new mattress, but also a manufacturer we could partner with to deliver the most innovative product on the market. After some research and visiting hotel trade shows around the country, we discovered Reverie®, a not so well known yet innovative manufacturer in the field of luxury bedding and adjustable bases.
We worked with them to create a custom mattress for our staterooms that would feature their unique air cylinder technology, plush pillow top, and bamboo mattress cover to keep you cool and comfortable while you sleep. Reverie named this exclusive design, ‘Reverie Dream Lite’. For our suites, we selected their top of the line ‘Reverie Dream’ mattress. Not only did this mattress have their patented technology, but also—with the help of suite butlers—the firmness of the mattress can be customized according to preference.
These new mattresses represent one of the single largest “Solsticizing" investments we’re making on the Millennium Class. I’m so happy the decision was made to move forward because rejuvenation is such a big part of the vacation experience, and we think there’s no better place to start than a good night’s rest. What I am most proud of though, is that these mattresses are made of natural, raw materials farmed in a sustainable manner and are almost entirely recyclable!
How do we maintain the creativity needed to continuously innovate? We utilize the canvas of our beautiful ships devised by our amazing architects and designers. We collaborate with teams across the company to develop the experience that brings the concept to life. We get input from the crew and staff onboard. But, first and foremost, we look for inspiration from you and your feedback. We can’t wait to hear what you think of the new mattresses onboard the newly Solsticized Celebrity Millennium!
Dominique P. Bonavita Director, Product Development
One of the most exciting things that we do at Celebrity Cruises—particularly in our food and beverage department—is create new things. We are constantly pushing the limits of our guests’ experiences further and further from what they would normally expect on a cruise vacation. We find great joy in the “a-ha!” moment where we’ve revolutionized expectations of what dining on a cruise ship can be like.
And, I will admit it—I’m probably the least creative person on our team. This is why the opportunity to be surrounded by the creative minds of Chef Jacques Van Staden and the other members of our team everyday is so much fun for me. I simply never know what they will come up with next!!!
Never was this creativity more alive than when Jacques developed Qsine. With amazing support from our leaders and a blank slate to work with, Jacques literally locked himself in his office (aka the culinary laboratory) with a collection of sketchbooks, an open mind and an iron-will to develop a restaurant that people had never seen before. For him, the opportunity to break through all misconceptions of cruise ship dining was the perfect calling. For several months, he divulged little about his plans to me. He really only consulted me to provide occasional glimpses of prospective service items or to bounce a quick idea off of me about possibilities.
Finally, Jacques emerged like a mad scientist that had just made a new discovery. As we spoke, he quickly rattled off idea after idea—“We call this the food palate pleasers. There are no courses. Guests are taking a culinary journey. The music will be vibrant and upbeat, the ambiance a bit whimsical and mysterious…. And it’s all about the food. Not avant-garde cookery, but real food delivered in ways that most people haven’t seen before. And when it’s all done, we turn your perception of dining upside down.”
The brilliance of the concept was instantly visible, and as Jacques spoke, my enthusiasm for Qsine grew. And, it was all a bit terrifying. Would the guests like it? Was it too creative? Would our crew embrace and understand what we were trying to accomplish? However, from the moment we welcomed our first guests into Qsine on Eclipse, we knew these fears were unfounded. Not only did Qsine represent a breakthrough restaurant concept, but it also came to represent a new standard in creativity and innovation from Chef Jacques and our Food and Beverage team. What’s interesting is that the first guests in Qsine were the senior management from Celebrity and the shipyard, Meyer Werft, dining together at the large communal table in the center of the restaurant. I will never forget how I watched them go from skeptics to believers, particularly as they shared their “palate pleasers” and finished their experience comparing the cupcakes they’d decorated.
With this instantaneous success on Celebrity Eclipse, we were thrilled to be a part of the decision to not only include Qsine on all future Solstice class ships, but also as part of our Solsticizing efforts on the remaining Millennium Class ships. And with our first Millennium Class Qsine on Celebrity Infinity, we saw the restaurant take on an even more dramatic presence amidst the two-story, top deck setting.
It’s a thrill that even more guests will now get to enjoy the “Uniquely Unordinary” experience that is Qsine. And for our team, it’s powerful reminder of how Chef Jacques’ creativity and empowerment leads us on our “Uniquely Celebrity” journey of delivering treasured guest food and beverage experiences with pride and imagination.
Scott Steenrod Associate Vice President Food & Beverage Operations