We arrived into Fort Lauderdale two days early, staying at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale beachfront hotel. The weather unfortunately was the coldest of the season so visions of pre-sunning at the pool or beach were dashed. There was a CVS within walking distance to stock up on water to take on the ship. The hotel did not provide complimentary shuttle service but arranged a 4 person van for us to take us to the pier at 11 am.
Embarkation was a joy. The people at the embarkation desk are so friendly and helpful. We were staying in a suite and our parents in a concierge class room which would have had us splitting up to separate sides of the room to do check-in. They allowed us to bring them to the suite line with us and check them in so we could stay together. That was much appreciated. We were checked in to the ship within 15 minutes.
We immediately went to find a seat at the Oceanview Bar as we knew from past experience on the Equinox that seats are hard to come by More
when the staterooms aren't ready. We toasted with Corona's bucket of beers to a great time! We had a relaxing lunch and staterooms were ready by 1:30 pm. Luggage was delivered shortly thereafter and we were unpacked and ready for the muster drill by 3:00 pm.
The stateroom (Sky Suite 2155) was spacious and a godsend as my DH came down with a cold in Fort Lauderdale and we ended up spending more time in our stateroom than normal. There was so much storage in the sky suite that we didn't even use it all. A couple complaints - one was the location of the safe, for me to see into the safe I had to drag a chair over to get on as it was on top of a shelf in the closet. Even DH who is 5ft9in couldn't see into the safe without a chair. The bathroom and shower/tub combination was very modern and I loved the feel of the tile on my feet. The veranda had an overhang that kept the sun off of it mostly which was nice. I would not recommend the location of the room as it was below the Oceanview bar and if you take naps like we did, you could hear chairs scraping the entire time, ice being thrown into a sink, and subsequent water running down a drain. Had to wear earplugs a few times to get through the noise. At night the noise was better since nights on our cruise were a little cool and windy so the bar wasn't used as much.
Our butler, Manuel, and stateroom attendant did an amazing job. Our room was always promptly serviced and they did little things like make a towel animal friend for my Eeyore stuffed animal, put out an all points bulletin when Eeyore accidently got rolled up in the sheets and put in the laundry, and other things that left us feeling special. We had breakfast in our room almost every day and it was always hot and delivered promptly and correctly. Manuel was most accomodating to our nap schedule always willing to bring me cappucino even though coffee service had already been completed.
The dining menus at the Silohuette dining room (and other ships for Celebrity) are due for an overhaul or need more rotation. I felt like the menus were very similar to the last two Celebrity cruises I have been on and I could figure out what was coming next. Food quality and presentation was excellent since our waiter Akindar and Jorge always gave us the scoop on what was particularly good or to stay away from. Jose, our bar service always called us by name and remembered our drink orders.
For lunch we ate either at the Oceanview cafe or the Pool Grill area. Food did not vary day to day except for the hot section and carving station other than that the choices were pretty much the same. Food was OK, don't really have high expectations for buffet meals though.
The pool area was well supervised by the pool butlers and hoarding of chairs was discouraged. We found pool bar attendants to be attentive (sometimes too attentive). There were plenty of towels to wrap up with.
Loved the Zumba on board, it was always well attended. There were plenty of activities to do if you wanted to do them. We didn't participate in too many as I was more content to read 5 of the 6 nook books I had downloaded.
Shore excursions we booked through the cruise line were well organized and in Belize, we were delayed in leaving for our excursion which meant we were late coming back. Celebrity held the ship as they must for a sponsored excursion and we were on one of the last two tenders to leave. Our only complaint was the tendering process in Belize, instead of the ordered process that was used in Grand Cayman, all shore excursions were dismissed at once and we walked past angry people being held back with priority tender tickets who couldn't get off the ship.
Entertainment was varied in the locations and a couple bars had nightly happy hours with 2 for 1 drink specials. I really miss Michael's club with the piano bar, I wish Celebrity would bring that back. The shows, we only went to a few, the entertainers had wonderful voices and I enjoyed the dancing.
This was our 7th cruise with celebrity and it won't be our last. Less
Celebrity Equinox Cruises to the Western Caribbean
Cabin 2155 Sky Suite 1 was spacious and inviting.
Location was not! Noisy with chairs scraping and noise most prevalent during daytime. On the fantail and the view was fantastic.
Being high up and at the end of the boat seemed like more movement than used to.
We went cave tubing in Belize City. The caves were very interesting and the water was "surprisingly refreshing". There was another 1hr 20 minute ride through the country side to get to the Cave Tubing place. The cave tubing itself took 1.5 hours. There was more walking and up and down stairs that should have been stated for those with restrictions, thankfully my father in law cancelled this tour the day before as he would not have been able to do it.
I didn't like the nickel and diming that occurred on this shore excursion. You had to pay extra to store your belongings in lockers so for the 3 of us that went that was $20 WE DIDN'T KNOW WE NEEDED. No food was provided and this tour was during the lunch hour, food was available for a price post tubing while we waited for the bus to take us back. Once again, no flip flops so a lot of people had to rent water shoes for $5.
Our tour guides also left one person behind that the last bus had to bring to the ship. We were late leaving and about 15 minutes past the last tender time but since it was a sponsored tour the ship had to wait for us.
I enjoyed the carriage ride through the old town immensely but would have liked some time to explore the old town shops we drove by. Did not like the constant pressure of people shoving hats, t-shirts, table cloths, and jewelery in your face to buy.
The trip also went to the fort for photos only, and to a dungeon that really was just another place to be pressured to buy souvenirs.
Didn't book an excursion and didn't feel safe to go out on our own past the few spot shops. There was a grocery store at the port so we were able to restock on water. We must have been asked at least 50 times (no exaggeration) as to whether we wanted a taxi for a private tour.
We took a carriage ride around the town (about 1 hour ride) they were lined up along the street at the pier. Our driver, Carlos, was informative and knew everyone it seemed. He let us off to visit the Catholic Church and if I asked I am sure he would have let us off downtown for a few minutes.
Tips: Ask around and negotiate, our first carriage driver told us $45 per person, Carlos gave us a $65 rate.
Excellent time, a 1.5 hour ride through the country side of Costa Rica driving by banana plantations and sodas. The rafting took about 1.5 hours which was followed by a Costa Rican lunch of rice and beans, plantains, chicken, and salad. The rapids were fun and not too difficult to maneuver and the guides were playful.
Tip: No flip-flops allowed. Bring a water proof camera and water shoes.