Spring Break 2012 brought us back to the Caribbean, and our 1st cruise with Celebrity after cruising previously with HAL. We flew from the Pacific NW into Miami a few days early to visit with friends we had met on 2010 cruise. What a great way to start a vacation! They drove us up to Port Everglades Monday morning, and the very 1st thing that impressed us was how fast and easy it was checking in. We were in Concierge, and having an expedited check in was very nice.
Our Port Side stateroom did not seam that much larger than previous Veranda staterooms on HAL, although when our Stateroom attendant, Maria, took the barrier between our veranda and my brothers room down, having the larger deck was very nice. We took advantage of Room Service for breakfast every sea day, and service was prompt and orders correct. We also sat out on deck for evening hors d'oeuvres, a very nice touch. The Equinox holds more passengers than the Noordam and yet, we felt we had more open spaces and very little crowding. A very well designed ship.
When we chose to eat in the MDR, our Wait Staff was friendly and helpful. We were seated with a very nice couple from Florida, although one evening, we were seated elsewhere, even though we ate at the same time. We chose to eat in Specialty Dining twice: The Tuscan Grille and Silk Harvest. The Tuscan's service was outstanding, the food excellent, and very reasonably priced. Silk Harvest was also a great value for the money. When we ate casual in the Oceanview Cafe, the food was okay.
What was different from HAL was the totally International Flavor of the crew of the Equinox. Wait Staff, Bartenders, Activities personal were from Europe, North America, South America, as well as the Phillipines whereas on HAL, the crew was pimarily Filipino.
We only went to three shows: A Comedian (waste of time), a Magician (faily entertaining), and Celebrities "Equinox-The Show" which is their "Cirque" type show. This was the highlite of any on board activity. The performers were fantastic. The Solstace Class ships of Celebrity feature the Lawn Club on top deck. Having live grass and lawn games available was an interesting feature. The Corning Glass Show was interesting to watch.
We chose 4 Ship Excursions and 3 Private excursions. We chose the ship's for our Panama Canal tour and were excited that we went through all 3 locks and ended up in the Pacific Ocean. We went private on Roatan, and Grand Cayman for snorkeling and Sting Rays, as well as Zip Lining and Jaguar Recovery Center in Costa Rica.
Debarkation went very smoothly, and unfortunatly, due to tornadoes earlier in week, our travel plans going home were disrupted, and we made it home 10 hours later than expected, so it wasn't too bad.