Equinox, December 2012 Holiday Cruise
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
I don't have a whole lot of cruising experience but we were very satisfied with this trip.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale a day early to help avoid weather related delays. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport North Cruise Port. This hotel is not located at the marina, but they do have a free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the marina. We had to schedule the shuttle for the next day upon our arrival and then had to wait almost 40 minutes after our scheduled time for the shuttle to actually arrive to take us to the marina. One slight problem but I would stay there again!
The ship is monstrously huge. It is bigger than previous ships I was on but the design is very similar to the Celebrity Summit (sailed in 2011). It is a beautiful ship and everything was very easy to find. One issue is that this ship can carry more passengers than the Summit, but the pool area, etc is the same size as the Summit. Seems strange with More
carrying 800+ more passengers.
We enjoyed the entertainment on the ship and some acts were better than others but we enjoyed them all. The circus act was hands down the best act on the cruise though and Lemon Squeezy was awesome. It helped me seeing things through my 13 year old daughter's eyes and watching her fascination with the shows!
We didn't really partake in any of the other on ship activities as my daughter was not interested in going to the kid's club alone. There did seem to be a lack of activities for the kids, especially since this was a holiday cruise and there were a lot of families on board. I would suggest any families travelling on this ship to bring their own games, etc. so there is something to do when the ship is at sea. We had very cold weather when we first left Fort Lauderdale and were not able to use to pool so we had to search for things to keep us busy for those two days. The glass blowing exhibit was great but again it was outside and it just wasn't pleasant enough to see it the first two days.
The service was outstanding and we were pleased with all aspects of it. Our cabin steward was great. The only complaint I have about the cabin is the drawers and floor of the closet were filthy. Thankfully I saw it before my daughter started putting her things in the drawers. I wiped them out myself, but this should be spotless when someone comes on board. We had the select dining option (prepaid gratuities)and were very happy with this option. We usually showed up for dinner around 6 and it wasn't so busy then and we were seated by the window and got to witness some great sunsets. Our waiters, Alvarez and Marcos, were awesome and paid special attention to my 13 year old daughter's needs even bringing her Caesar salad after a few nights without the tomatoes because they noticed she picked them out of her salad each night. That, to me, is that extra bit of attention that makes for great service!
Overall we had a great trip and would sail again on the Equinox if I was travelling with other adults. If I travelled with my daughter, then I would probably select a cruise line that had more things for teenagers to do. Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Equinox
The location of 7303 was almost the last cabin at the rear of the ship. It is an odd cabin and when I looked inside other cabins as they were cleaning it seemed to be smaller (narrower). The veranda was small and had two chairs and a table but it was plenty big enough for the two of us. A downside is there was a constant smell of cigarette smoke when we were out on the veranda. Very disappointing since Celebrity states that there is definitely no smoking (including verandas) any where on the ship except in the few designated areas.
We had the beds separated because it was my daughter and I travelling but it didn't impact the space we had. There is a couch, flat screen t.v., and a vanity/chair. If you have not been on a cruise before, please note that most cabins do not have very many electrical outlets. I always travel with an extension cord because I have a medical device that needs to be plugged in. A 15 foot plug reaches from the nightstand to the outlet located at the vanity but I had to run it under the bed. The closet was large enough that we both had enough room for the items we needed to hang. The bathroom was quite roomy for being on a ship and had a far sized corner shower and lots of cabinet space.
Port and Shore Excursions
Aerial Trek & Zip Line Adventure (BB09)
I found this tour to be an overall disappointment. We met the crew at the front entrance to the pier shopping building. Guess the shuttle driver didn't get paid any extra for pointing out any of the local attractions etc. After about 1/2 boring drive we arrived at the zip lining place. We were given a short safety talk and our belongings were locked up in a secure storage cabinet they have. For safety reasons, you are not allowed to bring anything with you when you go zip lining but I did see one person in our group with a small camera. After the safety talk we waited...and waited...and waited. After about 45 minutes we finally put on our safety equipment and then we waited again. They told us they were waiting for a large group to finish up. After waiting for 1.5 hours we were finally taken to the zip line course and waited again. There were WAY too many people in each of the groups...we had 30 in total which is just too many for this at one time. I had never been zip lining before and once we got started really didn't find it that amazing...probably all the waiting took the adventure out of it. Once they got people started on the zip line then it seemed to move along fairly well. My daughter and I were at the end of our group so we were the last to finish up and I had just enough time to gather our belongings and the bus driver was beeping the horn for us. Didn't even have enough time to check out the pictures the crew took of us on the zip line. Very disappointing and wouldn't waste my money on this tour again.
I love Dominica and would go back there again. We did the Downstream River to Ocean Kayak (RO14).
I did this tour two years ago with another adult and we had a very good time. This time however wasn't as good but it was not the fault of the tour company. The river/landscape got severely altered last year when there was a very large landslide from the mountain. They were still dredging the river when we were there but we hit a lot of rocks and sandbars on the way to the ocean. I didn't find this very much fun although my daughter still liked it but she had never been kayaking before. I also felt that they rushed the tour and that might have been because of the rain. We had a quick swim in the ocean...maybe 20 minutes and instead of kayaking 1/2 back up the river, we walked a bit to an area that where our meeting place was. I assume this is done because of the overall difficulty kayaking because of the rocks, etc. We were given juice and/or rum punch and then tasted some local fish dish. The rum punch and fish were excellent. Then we waited over an hour for our bus driver to return. We were told he had been sent on another errand which is why he was delayed. The bus driver finally came back and I will say that the bus driver was very informative on both the trip to and back from the kayaking spot. He did apologize for the delay and I did give him a tip because he did take the time to point out different things...even pulling over to pick some lemon grass for us all to smell. But, based on the condition of the river, I would not do this excursion again but definitely would love to go back to Dominica.
We did the 4X4 Island Safari & Beach (KT94) at St. Kitts. This was an informative tour and we got to see different areas of the island. There is a beach/swim stop at the end of the tour and we were there at the beach for just over an hour. The driver was friendly and thanked us for choosing that tour very nice tour and would do this again.
We did the Sea Trek St Maarten (SMA1)tour in St. Maarten.
We had a bit of a problem finding the crew on the pier and finally found them after asking different people. We had to walk down the pier and over to the water taxis so catch a ride to the Sea Trek excursion. It was a short boat ride and we were taken to a floating dock/building where the excursion was. The crew was very knowledgeable and I felt very safe with them. This was a small tour...only 10 of us so it seemed to be more intimate. We were split into two groups and one group went snorkeling while the others were taken down for the sea walk. The head gear weighs 75 lbs but they don't place it on you until just your head is above water as you climb down the ladder at the back of the dock. They are very patient and allow you to climb down at your own speed to allow you to pop your ears as you descend. You are taken down about 20 feet but there are divers there with you at all times. The underwater walk takes about 20 minutes and the crew takes pictures of you while you are down there (I don't think I could have taken any decent photos even if I thought my own underwater camera would survive at that depth). They sell all the photos which includes everyone who was on your walk for $30 on a usb memory stick. I think it was well worth the price because the pictures are awesome and I couldn't have taken such great photos. This excursion isn't for someone who has diving/snorkeling experience because there wasn't too much to see except for the fish that gathered as the crew fed them. But, I would definitely do this again and felt it was well worth the money!
This was the St. Thomas excursion BOSS Underwater Adventure (STB8).
This for me was like someone who is afraid of flying trying to get over their fear by taking a flight. I hate fish. Hate them around me, near me, touching me. So, to please my 13 year old daughter we booked this Underwater Scooter excursion. This was one of the best excursions that we went on. The crew meet us right on the pier and we had a bit of a walk to get to the excursion boat. The crew on the boat were friendly, entertaining, and funny. The number of people on this excursion was about 20 people and there were people from other ships. It was a short boat ride to the location where we were going to snorkel and ride the scooters. We were split into two groups. One group did the scooter ride and the others went snorkeling until it was their turn to ride the scooter. I quickly got over my fear of the fish when I mentioned this to one of the crew and he said there was nothing that would hurt me. So, I went in the water and the crew member threw fish feed in the water and I was swarmed with fish. Terrified at first, but then laughed so hard realizing that there wasn't anything to fear. I don't think this excursion is for someone who has experience diving or snorkeling as I didn't see too much while we snorkeled (except for the fish that were there because of the food they were throwing from the boat). The scooter ride was fun but I didn't see much while down there because I was afraid of running into someone. But it was still fun and we ended up with some great pictures. The scooters are down about 8 feet and I had an underwater camera with me but decided to buy a disposable one for $20 that they had for sale on the boat. At first they stated we would be going down 20 feet and I knew that my camera was probably only good for 10 feet. Then after we were done I realized they probably over stated the depth in hopes of selling the overpriced disposable under water cameras. Got me hook, line, and sinker. But that was o.k. because it was all worth it. I would definitely do this excursion again but next time I will use my own camera (the crew take your pictures while you are on the scooters).