My wife and I are cruise "samplers", picking destinations and ships with care, and price is always a concern. For our twentieth anniversary we decided to spend some cash on a cruise through the Mediterranean departing from Rome, and heading as far east as Istanbul. A year previous, we had encountered some passengers freshly returning from a Celebrity cruise in the Ft. Lauderdale airport when we were returning home after a dismal experience on Holland America's Statendam (first time we ever couldn't wait to disembark). The Celebrity passengers were raving about their cruise, the food, the service and most importantly the atmosphere of the ship in general. We had sailed past the Silhouette at anchor on our way in to port, and at that time I thought the ship was stunning. So after chatting with the passengers, my wife and I agreed that Celebrity would be our next cruise.
As it happened, the Equinox was operating in the Mediterranean this season, and we booked it for June. Best cruse dollars I have ever spent! Cabin was a little smaller than those we had been in on other ships, comfortable and well maintained; but snug. Storage above the bed was nice but the closet was tight. The Aqua Class therapy shower was a nice touch, as was the daily replenishment of fruit, bottled water and iced tea. Food was superb throughout the vessel, especially in the boutique restaurants. We frequented Blu for breakfast and occasionally for dinner. We ate once in the upscale steakhouse and were treated like royalty - particularly when we mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary.
For the duration of our cruise, I can not recall a singe person on board that did not greet us with a smile or ask us if they could be of service. This prevailing attitude seemed to infect the passengers as well, giving rise to pleasant chats at dinner or on shore when you encounter other folks from the cruise. Defiantly a boost in the overall experience and kudos to Celebrity management for cultivating this attitude among the staff.
I was impressed with the level of detail and organization given to daily operations. Shore excursions were managed with military precision and often were able to depart earlier than posted to allow extra time at various venues. When you returned to the ship, after walking among marble ruins in 100+ degree temperatures, you were greeted dockside with a cold face towel, cold water or juice, a covered place to sit if you chose to do so (where you could watch the passengers of other ships stand in a hot crowded line waiting to get back on board).
The cruise was not without typical constant marketing of drinks, spa treatments, merchandise etc. But these things were not aggressive or invasive and we expected this to take place. At times food was slow to arrive at our table in the main dining room, but the quality, temperature and flavor accommodated for the wait. The "experts" who were on board were lacking in expertise - especially when it came to art history, so we only attended one offering from each, and used that time to relax in the adult-only solarium pool area complete with poolside health food.
Public areas were spotless, lots of places to be private and a variety of activities to get involved with if so chose. Evening entertainment was top notch, and we elected to sample all of it.
All in all, this was a great time and has built lasting memories for us. We will book again with Celebrity.