Our extended family of eight thoroughly enjoyed the Eastern Mediterranean cruise on the Equinox that started on Aug. 3 and ended on the morning of August 13 when we returned to Rome. This was our third European cruise with Celebrity, and it was our third successful vacation with this cruise line.
We used GTA for our transfers services while in Rome, hosted by Rosa. They were punctual, friendly, informative and safe. We recommend GTA for shuttle services both from Leonardo Di Vince Airport into Rome and from Rome to the cruise ships at Civitavecchia.
In contrast, Vastours provided poor service for our Vatican Museum/St. Peter's Basilica tour. In short, the excursion was disorganized and poorly run. We wasted time at several points that morning, and apparently this is not unusual for this company. We suggest fellow travelers avoid Vastours until they develop a reliable, punctual tour.
Both embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and efficient. A pleasant surprise.
The Equinox looked to be in good shape, with the public areas wearing well. We had four cabins, all veranda, spread around on decks 8, 9, and 10. There was adequate storage for our large luggage. Our cabin on Deck 10 was clean and in good order when we arrived.
The Cruise Connection party Sunday morning provided us with a chance to meet fellow cruisers and to make the acquaintance of nice, knowledgeable travelers.
Our cabin attendant Josephino, along his assistants Alfredo and Edi, kept our cabin clean and orderly. Josephino quickly responded to all our requests, and he along with his co-workers offered smiles throughout the cruise. We enjoyed the minor perks of concierge class veranda cabins: we took advantage of the laundry coupons and coupons for the casino. Although a snug fit, we hosted our family four times for pre-dinner during the cruise.
The dining room staff really shone on this cruise. We had chosen to do Select Seating and chose to arrive at a fixed time, and we were fortunate to have a team in Ibrihim's section. Our waiter, Camillo, and his assistant Nikola, quickly learned and took care of our preferences. Likewise, the sommelier, Dragana, guided our wine choices within her understanding of our preferences accompanied by dashes of wit and humor. We also had a table one night in the section served by Casius and Angele, who provided good service. The menu offered variety and consistent quality. After learning the layout, we found the Oceanview Cafe to be navigable and a good buffet.
The only Celebrity excursion we took was the Acropolis tour at Lindos on Rhodes. We cannot recommend this excursion. The guide, Olga, was pleasant and knowledgeable, and the bus was clean and well driven. The view from the rocky promontory is beautiful. However the dangerous overcrowding at the archeological site was unacceptable, especially in light of the uninteresting ruins. Due to demand and profits, the cruise lines continue to overload some of these wonderfully small islands, which spoils the experience for everyone.
We also used the Celebrity bus to ride into Athens and as a shuttle in Roda. We chose the Celebrity bus in Athens due to concerns about taxi services, and felt the convenience outweighed cost issues. In Roda, Celebrity had dropped their shuttle price from 10 to 7 E, and made the choice more attractive versus taking a local bus. Some of our party easily took the train to Pompeii while in Naples and the watertaxi while in Santorini. Getting the ferry to Delos while in Mykonos was uncomplicated (allow sufficient time for this large archeological site, we only budgeted 90 minutes). Walking around Messina, the Plaka in Athens, across Thira in Santorini, in central Naples were easy and all were navigable. We hired a tour through Celsus Travel while in Kusadasi, and our guide Haluk adjusted the schedule to provide a full and varied itinerary that include Ephesus, a trade post school, and nice open-air restaurant.
Cruise Director Patti has a Mid-western affability and the activity staff we spent time with in trivia contests (Dan, Caroline, and Faye) were friendly and humorous. The evening shows were average, with the exception of a very talented singer-songwriter, who impressed almost everyone who attended her performance. Sadly, I didn't attend and don't have her name at hand.
The exercise room was spacious and well kept, with some complaints about malfunctioning electronics on the elliptical machines.
Casino staff was courteous and kept the various games moving. Some might say the craps and black jack games moved along too quickly. Nonetheless, the gamblers in our party enjoyed their time at the tables.
The bar staff was pleasant and provided good service to our group.
We enjoyed access to the forward view on decks 12 and 15. Although some guests clearly enjoyed the Lawn area on deck 15 aft, we didn't use this unusual ship feature. Otherwise we did enjoy strolling the upper decks at night and early morning.
It is both fascinating and pretty to move through the Aegean islands at night, the town and village lights shining out of the darkness.
Throughout the our Eastern Mediterranean cruise, the ship's crew was friendly and helpful. We appreciate all of their efforts to make the Celebrity Equinox an positively memorable experience.