Our first cruise and having checked out reviews, we decided on the Caribean with Celebrity Equinox.
The ship itself is great - very impressive, clean, lots to do, good food and service. I would highly recommend it (though as this was our first cruise I have nothing to compare it to).
We originally booked an inside cabin but were offered a very last minute (as we flew out from London) upgrade to a guarantee verandah cabin at a cost of Â£150 extra each. We decided it was worth it and were delighted to get a 1B class of cabin for this extra cost. That said, I originally booked direct with Celebrity (online) and I don't think we got a particularly good deal - no obc etc. Having spoken to other guests, I wouldn't do this again, I'd book through an agent or try phoning Celebrity to get a better deal.
I found Celebrity's administration pre-cruise to be not particularly good. Information is limited and sent in a haphazard way and this is an area they could improve. Their website is also poor and not user friendly.
In particular when deciding to choose a drinks package they were very coy about revealing drinks prices onboard. Why? I emailed several times and got a couple of drinks lists, but from a different ship plus never a complete list and never very up to date. [once onboard we found that the drinks offered on the Equinox were different to some of those on the menu we'd been sent (from I think the Eclipse)- doesn't leave a good impression of Celebrity's organisation].
In the end we booked a premium alcohol package for my husband and a premium non alcohol package for me. We kept a running tally and we did get our money's worth and more, but we were having freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast and specialty coffees and teas throughout the day, as well as the drinks in bars and with meals. You could do without the package if you wanted to save money(though their standard, free coffee is pretty revolting)- we valued the package primarily because we didn't have to decide whether or not to get a coffee or a drink (i.e. the all inclusive feel). The drinks menus onboard could be better. Non alcoholic drinks were hardly ever listed and many n/a drinks existed which were not on any menu in any bar. We had to ask the waiters/bar staff and they suggested drinks.
Their communication on board was haphazard - we missed the Cruise Critic meet because it was scheduled for 10.15am on day 1 of the cruise (the first full day on board) - a note was left outside our cabin somewhere after 11pm the night before (we'd already gone to bed) and because we only left the cabin at 10.30am, we didn't see the note and we missed the meet. Ok, the ship staff are busy on sailaway day, but this was disappointing. Our first excursion was cancelled due to swells in the sea and again, we didn't receive a voice mail on the phone until 30 minutes before the time given to meet for the excursion on the pier - we'd already left the cabin for breakfast and so spent some time looking for our excursion meeting point on the pier and then disappointed that it was cancelled, having to go back onboard the boat to try to book another excursion. Excursion staff need to manage this sort of thing better. The message had been left with them the evening before by the tour company, they supposedly get into work at 7am, but they didn't leave the message with us till 7.35am. Small things like this spoil the overall experience to some extent.
In summary - I'd highly recommend the Celebrity Equinox, but Celebrity need to improve:
1. their website - make it easier to find information.
2. their pre-cruise information sent out - we had the same information emailed several times, (as attachments needing to be printed), but in different formats (16 pages colour print out) - once I'd printed it was clear that though the documents were presented differently they contained exactly the same information. Waste of my time and printing and made the whole thing confusing.
3. The information they are prepared to give out re drinks prices - why are they so secretive?
4. Their communication on board.
5. Their non-alcoholic drinks menus (particularly non-alcoholic cocktails and smoothies available)