We did a lot of research for our cruise and decided on the March 16th, 2012 sailing on the Celebrity Equinox. Our cruise was called the Ultimate Southern Caribbean. We were very happy with our choice from the moment we boarded the ship.
Our group of 4 arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:00 am and were immediately told to proceed through Immigration. We were carrying our allotted bottles of wine and went through security with no problems. Since we were Concierge class we were sent to the Concierge lineup, which had about 2 people in front of us, and were checked in and given our Seapass cards immediately. We stopped for our standard boarding photo and boarded. Our room number was taken for the first picture and this ship uses face recognition to match up any other pictures taken on the ship. You are able to view your pictures and purchase them directly from your television in your room throughout the week as pictures are taken in port and in the other venues on the ship. A great way to do things.
We were greeted with a welcome glass of champagne and some smiling crew members. Our first view of the ship was wonderful and we were excited to see the rest of the beautiful Equinox.
We headed up to the Oceanview Bar at the back of the Oceanview Cafe. The Cafe was due to open at 12 noon. I must say this is the best buffet layout I have seen on a cruise ship. This was our first Celebrity sailing having sailed on mostly Royal Caribbean ships, and one Princess cruise. The food stations were well laid out and there was lots of room in between each station to move around. A great variety of food was presented, and it was very good. Always fresh and appealing to all in our group.
After we had lunch, it was announced that our rooms were ready by 1:30 PM. We proceeded to our rooms and we were very happy with our pick of staterooms. Our room was # 9350 and our friends had # 9352 on the Starboard side Aft. We were not that far from elevators and we enjoyed the layout of the cabins. Our room had the leather coach by the window and our friends had the coach by the closet. We had our stateroom attendant open our balconies so we could visit back and forth. Each balcony contained a larger size table, great for breakfast trays, and two lounge chairs complete with foot stools. A good size balcony and a great size room. Our luggage came quite timely and we immediately unpacked. We had picked up a 12 pack of water and a 12 pack of pop and put it in a grocery bag with our luggage tags attached. This was delivered to our stateroom after security checked to make sure it was ok.
The closet holds a lot of clothes and there are ample hangers both for pants and tops. The upper cabinets over the bed held miscellaneous items. Lots of storage in the bathroom for toiletries, with little drawers for makeup, etc. The bathroom has a good size shower stall, with glass doors and for ladies, a little foot rest to hold your foot up while shaving legs. This is the best shower stall we have had on any cruise line.
Concierge class has lots of little touches, such as fresh flowers in the stateroom, and a fresh rose in the bathroom, nice toiletries, including shampoo, cream rinse, body wash and body lotion, q tips and makeup remover pads. These are replenished daily if you use them. Also you receive a fresh fruit basket daily, as well as canapes nightly unless you advise your stateroom attendant you do not wish to have these. A welcome bottle of champagne, and a large ice bucket in the room. If you have wine that needs to be chilled the stateroom attendant will make sure you have a full bucket of ice and keep your wine chilled. Ice in the ice bucket was replenished three times a day. The fridge is well stocked and the prices are reasonable for a cruise ship fridge. The little coffee table is bigger as well in these cabins than we were used to and the coach appeared to be full size. There is a keyboard you can use with the television if you want to use your internet package on the tv, although I had trouble with this and didn't end up using it.
The TV is very interactive; you can order room service on it, check your location of the ship, watch tv/movies, order and view pictures taken of yourself, and lots of other items. Very modern rooms, clean style, and larger than most cabins we have had on other cruises.
The ship layout is great and it was easy to find our way around. Like the Royal Caribbean ships, with the Centrum in the centre, the Celebrity Soltice class has a similar layout with many of the restaurants being on the 4th and 5th floors. The Silhouette Dining room is on Deck 3 and 4. Very beautiful dining room with a two story glass wine storage unit. The theatre on the 3rd and 4th floors. Everything on the ship appears very new and well kept. Ship is 3 years old and has a very modern design.
We spent time at Cellar Masters wine bar, Crush, and the Martini bar. Loved Hector and his martini flite samples. What a great show. We also enjoyed the Silk Harvest restaurant one evening and had a great meal here. On the last day I managed to fit in a gelato from the Gelateria.
We had two sea days, then 5 ports of call, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Basseterre, St. Kitts, Bridgetown, Barbados, Roseau, Dominica, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Then two more sea days and back home again.
We enjoyed all of our ports and took advantage of taxis to the beaches in each port to snorkel and swim. We did two excursions which were booked prior to sailing. I would highly recommend both of these excursions. The first excursion was Magen's Bay Beach Getaway. The open air bus picks you up very close to the ship and you go up into the Mountains and get a great view of Magen's Bay as well as Charlotte Amalie. Then a trip to the beach. Our bus driver was great to stop and let us get out and take some pictures before we went to the beach. Magen's Bay is a great beach. It was very calm the day we were here, and we enjoyed it a lot. The second excursion we did was the Fun Cat Adventure in Dominica. We had a great driver once again, and a good tour of the countryside on the way to the place we picked up our Fun Cat boat. The two gentlemen who were our guides on this adventure were great. I recall the older man's name was Jefferson, but can't recall the younger man's name at this time, I think it may have been Cory. They were both very friendly and helpful. We were able to lock up our belongings in their office, and there was a cast iron grill over the door with a large lock to secure things. Our van driver also stayed on shore close by to wait for us. We boarded these little Fun Cat boats which are electric driven by two buttons. We were all advised that lifejackets were a must. We sailed over to the other side of the Bay almost to where the Atlantic side meets the Caribbean side. We were in 1200 feet of water which had a shelf that broke off to go to a depth of 2000 feet of water. Wow is all I can say. The clarity of the water, and the pretty fish we saw were awesome. Our younger guide was in the water with us for safety and to also show us different species of fish while we were snorkeling. After a good 45 minutes of snorkeling we headed to our boats again. Getting back on the boats was a challenge as you take off your fins, and then you have to pull yourself back on the boat using a small rope. Glad there was no video here. Sailed back to shore. We were given a bottle of water during the trip back to shore. When back on shore, we proceeded to a bar at the dock. About 1.5 hours later, one of our party realized that he had left his drivers license, credit card and Seapass card in the taxi/van. His wife went back to the ship to notify the ship, and the security at the pier also helped. He was able to describe the taxi, and the driver and the lady who checked us in earlier that day. Within 45 minutes, the cleaner of the taxi at the depot brought back my friends ID cards. We were very happy and relieved. The cleaner found these and returned them immediately. We found Dominica to be a very friendly country, and we enjoyed meeting all the people and seeing this country.
All in all, we enjoyed our cruise with Celebrity and have to say I'm probably a Celebrity convert now. Even though I will still sail Royal Caribbean having almost reached Emerald status, my heart will probably belong to Celebrity Soltice class of ships. There is just that little extra here that goes a long way in making the customers happy. The interaction with the officers of the ships, the food items, the layout of the ships, the cabin size, just have that extra touch that makes me want to sail again with Celebrity. At the Mast Grill, the hamburgers and hotdogs are great, fully cooked yet juicy and favorable. A nice little meal if you don't want to go to the buffet. The dining room food was fantastic, always well presented. We only had one meal we didn't like, which was a planked salmon as it wasn't real salmon. The salmon on the regular daily menu in the dining room was very good. We had select dining and were able to secure the same wait staff each night with a window seat. Our Maitre d and Sommelier were fantastic as well as the young lady who checked us in at the doors of the dining room. Our bar waiter was a lovely young gal and although this was her first contract with Celebrity, went out of her way to ensure everyone's drink orders were correct and delivered in a timely manner.
I would highly recommend anyone to try this Soltice class of ships.