This was our first time sailing on Celebrity and it definitely exceeded our expectations. While we were only one of the few couples under the age of 30, we appreciated the calm and relaxation brought forth by a more mature clientele. This 10-day Caribbean cruise certainly wasn't geared towards a 20-something(much less 30- or 40-something) crowd, but we were able to find plenty of activities to fill our time, if we desired. Overall, the crew was exceptional -- always friendly, helpful, attentive, and professional.
-Embarkation -- We sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale and arrived around noon. There were lines but everything went quickly. Getting the glass of champagne once you step on the ship is a perfect welcome. We explored the different decks and grabbed some food before our room was ready around 1-130pm.
-The Ship -- The ship is beautiful! Always clean and well maintained. Even on the sea days, it never felt too crowded and if you looked around, you could find a chair by the pool. The pool staff does a great job of removing left over towels so people can't reserve chairs for hours and hours. The solarium was perfect for relaxing and reading if you didn't want the loud, lively pool atmosphere or direct sun. We also really loved the lawn. It was never crowded and always a favorite place to walk around, play bocce or watch the sunset. Many reviews praise the Martini bar but we found it too crowded so we opted for the Ensemble Lounge or Cellar Masters. I have to note too that the public restrooms were spacious and always clean.
-The Room -- We had a veranda room on deck 7. The view was great, but we wished we could have been a little higher up. Balcony was a good size and felt private. The room was a nice size and the bathroom/shower was a bit more spacious than we were used to. Not a lot of drawer storage in the room so we really couldn't unpack and organize like we had in the past. We were near the back of the ship so we had to walk down a long hallway every time we went to/from our room. We would try to be more centralized next time. No towel animals - that made me a little bummed but it's probably not a Celebrity thing. Our room steward was fantastic. He was always around and making sure we were well taken care of.
-Entertainment -- We attended most shows and enjoyed them all. There was a good mix of talent for the specialty acts; a violinist, a pianist, a juggler/magician type, a comedian, a singer. The cirque style show at the end of the cruise was also very impressive. The Hot Glass Show was always crowded but it was very unique and interesting, definitely something to see. There was a special 'Science of Glass' show near the end of the cruise that was really neat. Being younger, we really enjoyed hopping around and listening to the daily acts on the ship -- A Cappella group North by Northwest, Candace and the After Hours Jazz Quartet, and singer/songwriter Owen Stevenson. All were incredibly talented and entertaining. They had a variety of music that would appeal to any crowd and they took requests. The ship does get pretty quiet at night so we tended to be among the last few walking around after midnight. If you are looking for late night dancing/drinking/etc., this is not your ship.
-Food -- I enjoyed all of the food on board, but I'm not the pickiest or snootiest eater. We did get a little bored with the choices in the Oceanview Buffet but we were always able to find things we liked. We also loved grabbing a burger from the Mast Bar. Apparently, they were looking for a new escargot supplier or something so there was no escargot on the cruise. That was one thing we missed. We ate one night in the specialty restaurant, Murano. The food was excellent(especially the Lobster) but surprisingly our service for this meal was the only disappointment of the cruise. I'm not sure if it was just fluky, but it took over 40 minutes for us to even put in our order and our water glasses went dry on a couple occasions. It just seemed odd given the upcharge and intimate style of the restaurant. Our Silhouette wait staff was really extraordinary so maybe we were just accustomed to a different pace. Nonetheless, when we did receive attention from the Murano staff, it was excellent. Having them cook table side is definitely a treat!
-Ports -- Our itinerary was great-- 2 sea days, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica, St. Maarten, 2 sea days. All of the ports were very nice. St. Thomas and St. Maarten were our favorite. We did 1 excursion and that was in Dominica -- River Tubing and Emerald Pool. We were glad that we did an excursion this day as we heard Dominica isn't known for it's beaches. Our tour guide, Crisca, was very informative and excited to tell us about the island. The water was low in the river but we still enjoyed the tubing portion(just be careful as it is easy to run into/over rocks). It does require some physical ability as there's hiking up/down steps to the Emerald Pool and there are some rapids in the river. There was an older gentleman who flipped out of his inner tube and bumped his helmet on a rock but escaped unharmed.(and yet he felt compelled to share that he also nearly lost his swimming shorts in the incident!) Overall, it was fun and was worth the convenience of being taken around the island. We also got tiny little cups of rum punch. The 'tiny' part was not an issue as the punch was delicious and quite potent! Every other port day we took taxis to different beaches. St. Thomas - Magen's Bay($8pp taxi each way, $4pp entry fee), St. Kitt's - Cockleshell($7pp taxi each way), Barbados - The Boat Yard(we walked there, $12pp entry fee includes drink, umbrella, chair and ride back to the ship), St. Maarten - Maho Beach aka Airport Beach($9pp each way). The best part of returning back to the ship each day was the Celebrity tent with water/fruit punch and cold towels upon arrival. They literally roll out the red carpet for their guests at every opportunity.
-Disembarkation -- certainly the saddest part of the trip but it was, as everything else, very easy and convenient. We left the ship about 930am, found our luggage and waited in line about 20 minutes to get through customs.
Overall, we found the perfect balance of entertainment and relaxation on board the Equinox. We couldn't have been surrounded by a better crew and group of fellow cruisers. Thanks for a wonderful vacation full of great memories. We will definitely be cruising with Celebrity again!