Wining and dining is an integral part of any cruise. Such was the case aboard the Celebrity Reflection. Bending over backwards to indulge the needs of all 3000 passengers is a feat in itself but Celebrity Cruises does it in style.
Onboard the Celebrity Reflection there are seven specialty restaurants, the main dining room and the Ocean Café, a cafeteria styled eatery. Trying three of the specialty restaurants, Luminea, The Lawn Club and the Tuscan Grille as well as attending a special Mediterranean dinner, having lunch in the Ocean Café and dinners in the main dining room there was not a meal that could be complained about.
Executive Chef Tato Garcia runs an incredible kitchen. The food is superb and you will never go hungry. With fifteen galleys, 174 cooks and 80 cleaners, it is amazing to see how smoothly everything is run. Then there is the serving staff, which is run under a different department. The servers go overboard to pamper each guest’s needs.
Having dietary restrictions, it was astounding to see the length the kitchen staff goes to insuring your needs are taken care of. In fact there is a special station in the kitchen for those with allergies and other restrictions. One must order the night before so your food is properly prepared but what was really fun was to see what dessert they would concoct each night. Not being a big dessert eater, the pastry chef must have liked being creative with my dietary needs. This was the one surprise on the menu and that never failed to astonish me.
Now one cannot have dinner without an excellent paired wine accompaniment and it was surprising to discover the knowledge and education of the Cellar Master. Cellar Master Mike Pereire is considered the top in his class. His expertise is utilized to set up all the wine programs on the various Celebrity Cruise ships so it was fruititous that he was on the Celebrity Reflection. He oversees 23 sommeliers; 8 in the upstairs dining room and 9 in the downstairs, 1 in the Cellar Masters wine bar where there are Enomatic wines by the glass dispensing system allowing passengers to try some of the wines available on the ship and 5 sommeliers in the various specialty restaurants.
Mike’s background is he study cater management in college. After working at a Marriott hotel he joined the ship in 1990 as a bar tender. Mike’s introduction to wine was on this ship. As his passion for wine grew he began studying and taking classes on wine. Mike became a sommelier and in 1997 he became a Cellar Master
To become a Sommelier on the Celebrity Cruise ships one must complete a specially designed program with an 85% score. It is four-month training program that includes practical training, history and learning about the various regions.
Wines are chosen by the demographics of each particular cruise and the destinations. Several months before the ship departs Celebrity Cruises examines those passengers booked to take the cruise and where they are from.
The most popular white wines on Celebrity Reflection are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Rosé. In the reds it is Pinot Noir, Syrah and Bordeaux.
Most passengers purchase some form of a beverage package and the most popular and best bet is the Premium Package, allowing the passenger a wide selection of hard liquor, wine and non-alcoholic beverages.
Wine education for the passengers is important so the Celebrity Reflection offers on days at sea wine tasting seminars. Our cruise had several tastings including the World of Wine and a Riedel Wine Glass Tasting. The Riedel Tasting is well worth it. Being able to explore the differences of a wine served in its proper glasses versus the improper type of glass one sees the difference in the quality and taste of the wine.
You cannot take for granted what goes on behind the scenes of a cruise line like the Celebrity Reflection. Catering to the passengers is foremost and quality of the food, wine and accommodations are hallmark.