Upon Reflection, People are Special

Quite by accident — or by failure to follow directions — we enjoyed our most pleasant evening on the Celebrity Reflection in the company of a junior waiter, a waiter and a sommelier. This is typical for us. We make more friends among cruise ship staff than we do passengers, which means either we enjoy working class folks, or we're anti-social, or both.

This was in the main dining room on the ship, called Opus. We were supposed to arrive at the Deck 3 entrance as part of a group, but we mistakenly went to Deck 4 and were seated in the section manned by our three amigos, so in the end we formed our own group.

The most animated was the junior waiter, whose name is Paramanandham Jayakumar — Param for short — and not all junior waiters are so outgoing. He came to Reflection from the Millennium, a favorite ship of ours, and we ran down a list of people we both knew. Yes, staff people. Param (right) is from Mumbai, India, and two of the nicest cruise-ship people we have ever met are from Mumbai. No, they didn't know each other (only 12.5 million people live there).

The sommelier was Sandeep Naik (left), who's from Indonesia. If you're surprised that a sommelier is from Indonesia, don't be. There are many, and Celebrity specializes in having lots of sommeliers. Eloquent and wine-wise, Sandeep knew two other Celebrity sommeliers we'd enjoyed on the Eclipse, only one of whom was from Indonesia. Sandeep recommended a wonderful California cabernet to go with our dinner.

And don't think, just because there are specialty restaurants which charge extra on cruise ships that you're getting a second-rate meal in the dining room. One of us had decided on seafood until our waiter, Suparsa ("Call me Superstar") recommended beef tournedos from that evening's fare.

The beef tournedos — in fact, the entire dinner — was outstanding. Just like the people in our group.

Note: We're also covering the North American debut of the Reflection for our colleague Phil Reimer this week. You'll find more from the new ship at www.ports.andbows.com.

Holland America Volendam
14 nights
March 4, 2013
Kobe, Nagasaki, Busan, Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $57

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