This was our first time cruising and did not know what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. We had a very early start, as we live in the North of Scotland and had to travel by car to catch a flight from Aberdeen to Frankfurt, then another flight to Rome (Leonardo de Vinci). We were met by Celebrity staff at Rome Airport where we picked up our luggage from the carousel and left it at a drop off point (the next time we saw our luggage was when it reached our cabin). We were then shown the way to the coach and an hour later we arrived at the port of Civitavecchia. We were processed through registration and security and probably less than 20 min after arriving we were on board and being shown to our cabins.
On arrival in our cabin we were greeted by our cabin attendant. We had been booked dinner for the first sitting, and asked the Maitre De if our party of four could be seated together. We were allocated a table for 4, without any fuss. The VIP treatment continued at dinner where Hamza, the head waiter for our section, along with the assistant waiter, Ronald and Karin the Sommelier, introduced themselves.
We found the food in the MDR to be first class throughout the cruise, the menu was split into two, on the left hand side it was a fixed menu for the whole cruise with French onion soup, chicken and steak as the main dishes. On the right hand side the menu changed every night, but one could mix and match.
For breakfast and the odd lunch we used the Seaview Cafe where a wide choice of food was always on offer, the cafe was always clean. Eating was a delight on the Equinox; the food was always beautifully prepared and presented.
Entertainment and bars... we tried most of the bars on the ship at least once and also liked listening to the bands. We also went to the shows every night, we found them varied and well worth watching.
I thought that as it was a large ship it would be hard to find your way around, but it was no problem. There was always plenty of room in the bars and lounges and in all the other areas of the ship. Other than the 2 days at sea, there was no problem in getting hold of a sunbed. There was a great mix of ages on board with folk from as far away as USA, China and Japan, and everyone was very friendly.
Ports... As the temps were very high (40 +) we tended just to do local walkabouts in Messina, Athens (Piraeus), Kusadasi, Rhodes and Mykonos or used the local city tour buses. We took a Celebrity shore excursion and chose Santorini, which involved a journey by tender to the quay where we were met by our tour guide. We started off with a visit to a winery including cheese and wine tasting. Our next stop was at the very pretty village of OIA where we had about 1.5 hours of free time to wander and take photos, probably one of the most photographed villages in the Greek isles. We then drove to Fira where the tour ended and we had to make our own way back to the cable car station, involving a long walk. There were no queues for the car and we handed in our tickets and boarded the cable car. After a short trip down the mountain we were greeted by Celebrity staff with a cold drink and a much needed cold towel. We boarded the tender for the trip back to the Equinox. This was a tour that our party really enjoyed and was not to be missed.
Naples was a bit of a disappointment. Not what we were expecting, dirty and shabby, not what the pictures in the brochures depict.
Disembarking....We were booked to leave the ship at 0930 and told that we should remain in our designated area until our group was called, when we proceeded to the gangway where we were quickly passed through ship security. We then proceeded into the baggage hall and immediately spotted our luggage, The journey to the airport took just over an hour and we were met by Celebrity staff who informed us of our check in desks.
Conclusion...Our party of four had boarded the Equinox with slight apprehension as this was our first cruise, but these fears were soon dispelled and I can only say that we were amazed at the superb organisation shown throughout by Celebrity.