After two cruises within the year on RCCL large ships which left us fatigued from all the activities we decided to take it down a notch with Celebrity. In terms of a entertainment we found it many steps downward but service and food were definite steps upward. This was our fourth time on Celebrity having taken a 7 day cruise to Bermuda and two eleven day cruises previously.
We chose Aquaclass instead of a suite due to only corner aft sky suites available at booking. While many love this location we do not share the affinity for the location. Our cabin 1523 located forward ship and under the gym and spa was perfect for us and one we wouldn't hesitate to book again. We found the cabin pretty narrow and storage a challenge but we made it work. However, the only benefits of Aquaclass I consider rave worthy are the shower and Blu dining room. Since we consume lots of water and told that bottled water would be provided daily in aqua cabins we skipped checking in our usually duffel bag full of Deer Park. The ship provided water but it was the reverse osmosis water served anywhere on the ship and rebottled in recycled brand name bottles which was disappointing. The dining room Blu isn't so much about the food as it is the size of the dining room--a more intimate atmosphere alleviating us the need to book a specialty restaurant.
Our shipmates on the cruise were pretty mature with seemingly a high number requiring physical assistance or scooters. This cruise also had a high percentage of non U.S. residents that were engaging an quite friendly. Diners in Blu were also very friendly and we often engaged in conversation with the tables in close proximity. This made for the entertainment that was sorely missing on this cruise. I can only conclude that Celebrity directed monetary resources to the staff and services and not to entertainment. New Year's night was the most exciting with free champagne to toast even before midnight.
Not to be missed on Equinox is the Molecular Bar where the bartenders are mixologists with drink prices of $12.00. We found the bartenders and staff at the Lawn Club great but I am convinced the alcohol is watered down-probably due to the drink packages available.
Gym and equipment also get high marks. We tried our hand at the Casino out of sheer boredom and lost like most passengers reported. Overall ship service was absolutely great provided by a staff that appeared fairly relaxed and extremely courteous. Special shout outs to the staff of Blu and Celebrity's "Loyalty Ambassador."
Weather in Dec-Jan was perfect and we made all the ports. In each of the ports we acquired tours from the locals with no major regrets.
Cozumel- Been there done that so many times I wish it wasn't a stop. Hubby took advantage of this being the first cruise stop and went into "town" for a full body massage for $50.00 while I gem window shopped. Massage suite was air conditioned with only two massage tables/areas. It apparently IS the place to dump spouse to allow peaceful assessment of the stones.
Costa Maya - Somehow we've missed this port on other cruises but we really enjoyed it. Recommend skipping the golf cart rental(60.00 for two hours) walk outside the gate and pay $2.00 each for a taxi to the beach area. Many beach cafes where a chair/umbrella and internet access is free with purchase of food/beverage. Beach great-bathrooms clean what else could you want? Many passengers stayed in the port area to swim with the dolphins and shop the vendors in the area-very Americanized.
Costa Rica was also a great port and the place I considered the best for shopping on the entire cruise. Locals at the port "tent straw market" are not aggressive and are very courteous. This is the port for coffee, massages, manicures/pedicures (ladies take your favorite color) and other touristy items such as T-Shirts. Prices are considerable higher at other ports.
In Colon, we were able to tour the Gatun locks, tour Colon the city, drive to Panama City visiting the old and new cities, and a stop for shopping on the way back to the ship. Negotiated cost was $150.00 for two. A highlight was that our tour guide drove us to two additional locks and across/back the two main huge canal bridges which gave us a great view of the canal in both directions. I recommend skipping the taxi "cartel" that will accost you in the terminal and instead find one of the "red polo shirts" tour guides at the bottom of the escalators. Initially we negotiated a tour to Miraflores Locks and Panama City with a taxi service paying the first $35.00 to the cartel with $115.00 to be paid to the driver upon completion. The cartel then will appoint a driver for you. However in our case the driver did not wanted more than $115.00 for his services. After arguing with the cartel and then telling us that he needed $5.00 more we terminated the arrangement, received our initial deposit back, and obtain the services of a "red shirt tour guide."
Cartagena- $20.00 per person bus tour acquired from vendor. A mistake--other passengers will not respect the meet-up time and therefore some sites are skipped. Also the tour guide's main job is to get you into an assigned jewelry store to purchased oil dipped resin filled emeralds. Street vendors are really, really aggressive and are all selling the same made in China souvenirs. Picked up Columbian coffee and costume jewelry at cruise port. Internet Cafe available at port for $3.00/hr.
Caymans - Had the privilege of tendering ashore to join the passengers from four other boats in port. I've always wondered why this is such a major cruise port. Bought $7.00/bottle beer at local cafe, taxi to Seven Mile Beach and back, and very amused at jeweler trying to convince me to purchase a "yellow diamond" without proper papers for 8 grand. I rewarded his efforts by buying a $25.00 rainbow topaz that I set in an empty setting. I spent days viewing the "yellow emeralds" better known as golden beryl onboard the ship--didn't purchase-but the salesperson offered to buy us champagne to think about it. She also visited us at the Molecular Bar to inform us we only had two hours left to make the purchase.
Cruise recommended for those whose prime objective is relaxation and can self entertain.