My husband and I just returned from a fabulous 11-day Ultimate Caribbean Cruise on the award-winning Celebrity Reflection. This was our third cruise with Celebrity, and once again, it didn’t disappoint!
In this post, I’ll show you our highlights and give a few tips for planning your next cruise. I’ll also tell you how I almost blew the trip!
Days 1 & 2: At sea
In my opinion, beginning a cruise with a day or two at sea is a great start. Why? Because you get to wind down from a day of travel (a 4-hour flight for us), unpack, and have ample time to explore the ship. That’s exactly what we did!
Larger vessels, like the Reflection, are massive floating resorts with multiple venues, hangouts, and onboard activities. This ship has 16 decks (Whaaat? I know!) with multiple restaurants, bars, and lounge areas, boutiques for shopping, a state-of-the-art fitness center and spa, cozy hideaways, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a casino, and even a freshly manicured lawn on the top deck.
➡️ TIP: Explore the ship ahead of time by looking at the deck plan online. If you don’t, you’ll likely miss some pretty cool areas.
Our spacious stateroom located midship on deck 12
Enjoying the sea air and sunshine!
Outfit links: lattice tank || shorts (similar) || sandals (ultra comfortable!) || purse || earrings
Day 3: Cartagena, Colombia
Neither of us had been to South America, so we were excited to step onto another continent and explore a new place!
We decided to skip the organized excursions, and instead, we grabbed a taxi and had the driver bring us to the places we wanted to see: a scenic overlook of the city, the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most complete and well-preserved military fortifications in South America), and Cartagena’s walled Old Town (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Our arrival in Cartagena before sunrise and with a full moon overhead
Upon disembarkation in Cartagena’s cruise terminal, visitors make their way through Port Oasis and admire parrots, flamingoes, iguanas, howler monkeys, and other species from the region.
First stop: Overlooking the city
Outfit links: tank || shorts || sneakers || purse || hat || pearl necklace
Historic, walled, old town
The Palenqueras of Cartagena are women who wear colorful dresses and balance bowls of tropical fruit on their heads. They make money by posing for photos with tourists.
The colorful Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint Catherine of Alexandria (completed in 1612), located in the historic, walled city center.
Days 4 & 5: Oranjestad, Aruba
Aruba is the westernmost Caribbean island, located just 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and is a very clean island with friendly people. We had two days on this beautiful island…one for shopping and exploring the town, and the other, a beach day.
The white sand and turquoise water of Palm Beach, Aruba
Outfit links: swimsuit || hat || link necklace || coin earrings
➡️ TIP: For a fee, some island resorts offer day passes, which include the use of chairs and towels, food, drinks, and non-motorized water sports. I recommend researching beforehand. Just give yourself ample time to get back to the ship before sail away. If you’re not on an official cruise excursion, they will not wait for you if you’re late.
Day 6: Willemstad, Curaçao
We learned that Curaçao, along with Aruba and Bonaire, has three official languages: Dutch, English, and Papiamento, a creole language spoken in the Dutch Caribbean.
This was the most beautiful port city of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) in my opinion.
The colorful city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its Dutch colonial architecture.
Queen Emma Bridge: a pontoon, pedestrian bridge connecting two of the city’s quarters
Day 7: Kralendijk, Bonaire
The sleepiest of the three islands, Bonaire is a top snorkeling and diving destination.
The vivid colorful streets of Kralendijk – pronounced CRAWL-en-dike, which comes from the Dutch word meaning coral dike.
I took a sailboat excursion with a small group and snorkeled in this amazing turquoise water.
Days 8 and 9: At sea and Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Due to stormy weather, we elected to stay onboard the ship in Georgetown and enjoy a movie and the ship’s incredible cuisine.
Smoked salmon with hash browns for breakfast, and a seafood tower for lunch.
➡️ TIP: Skip the prepaid drink packages to save money and calories! If you do purchase one, be prepared to drink at least five alcoholic beverages a day for it to pay off.
➡️ ALSO: Take advantage of the specialty restaurants; they’re worth the extra charge! They fill up fast, so book them prior to your cruise or right away once on board. I like to reserve the nicest restaurant on the evening-chic, or formal, night. When you prepay for a specialty restaurant package, you’ll get a discounted price.
Day 10: At Sea
On our final sea day, we were invited to join a small group for a tour of the ship’s navigational bridge. What a memorable experience! After clearing a security screening and going over the rules, we got a tour and had an informative Q & A session with one of the ship’s officers.
Second officer, Damer, from Montenegro, and the view of the ship from the bridge.
We really enjoyed this beautiful ship and the itinerary, as much, if not more, than our last year’s cruise on the Celebrity Summit. In fact, we’ve already booked our next two cruises with Celebrity!
So how did I almost blow the trip? I forgot my passport! 🤦♀️ I realized right when I got to the airport in Denver, and thankfully, our dear son rushed over to our house and overnighted it! Still can’t believe I did that.
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! It was a long one! I really appreciate you stopping by and reading.
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Oh this is a beautiful colorful vacation! I want to go now!
All beautiful places! Hope you get to go.
What a wonderful cruise Lisa! It looks like you had a fantastic time and the pictures are beautiful!
Thank you so much, Lisa! It was great 😉
Your son saves the day!! Wowza!!
What a wonderful trip. Right now we are on our way to Barbados on Celebrity. We think this celebrity cruise is head and shoulders better than our last one.
Can’t wait to see your pics, Jodie! It really is a great cruise line. We love them!
I thoroughly enjoyed this article. The photo of the pretty island girl putting a pineapple 🍍 on your head made me laugh…. GREAT tip to get day passes to resort areas. I didn’t know that was an option. (I’ve learned so many great travel ideas from you!)
I felt so touristy getting the pineapple picture! 😂 It makes me happy that you’re finding useful tips here.