My wife and I have sailed 7 times in the last 6 years and our favorite ship is the Equinox. The athmosphere, service, and friendliness of the staff outshines any other ship that we have sailed on. The ship is beautiful and well maintained and was as spotless as it was when we disembarked from her a exactly a year ago to the day in 2012. The weather wasn't the best during our 11 days - cool for the most part, with lots of rain, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Embarkation was flawless - 16 minutes from the time the airport shuttle dropped us off until we ordered our first drink at the poolside bar.
Staterooms - my wife's aunt and uncle were travelling with us and, being their first time on Solstice class, were very impressed with the size, storage capacity and layout of the room and of course, the excellent spacious bathroom.
Dining - Oceanview Cafe (main buffet) is well layed out - multiple stations so long lineups are avoided, although can be chaotic at times (think of Dancing With Plates). Food is average buffet - however, Indian lunch is excellent, and the pizza is some of the best I have ever had.
Masthead Bar/Grill - excellent hamburgers
Tuscan Grille - good dining, however not as good as previous sailings
MDR - Excellent, ate there 7 nights and every meal was superb. We were seated with a lovely scottish family that were a pleasure to be with. Our wait staff was amazing (table 254).
Entertainment - We don't usually do the shows in the theatre as show times conflict with set dining. However, there is always something going on during the day thanks to the excellent Activities Manager David. There were 2 dance parties at night on the upper decks that were a lot of fun. For the ladies there was a jewelry fashion show, and later that night, a Glam Rock dance extravaganza in the main atrium that was a blast. Every night there was a happy hour at the Passport Bar with music and dancing provided by Southside. Adam Westcott provided excellent music - Spanish Guitar - thanks, Adam.
Excursions - Grand Cayman: we booked a catamaran tour (private excursion) to Stingray City with snorkelling at 2 other stops. Most excursions in Cayman do not have alcoholic refreshments included, but the trick here is to pick up a six pack at the liquour store where the tenders stop.
Cartagena: We had been here before, so instead of booking an excursion we picked up a cab at the cruise terminal (very new, very nice) and went to the walled city (Ciudad Amurallado). Taxi fares are standard - $20 for 4 people each way. We went to the stores at Los Bovados, walked around the city and churches, and ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe. (note: if you don't like fast, suicidal taxi drivers - take an excursion).
Panama: We took the Shaping Of Panama tour (off the ship). Very disappointing. We have been in Panama City many times and wanted to show it off to my wifes aunt and uncle - we knew more about the city than the guide, who's idea of a tour was to drive around and point, or walk to a park and point at buildings, and then give you 5 minutes free time to explore.
Colon: We booked a tour off the ship with YourLuckyTour - amazing zipline and tortuguero canal tour (7 hours) that was half the price of the ship's excursions. Well done, Eduardo!!
Belize: It was raining so hard we just stayed on the ship. The tender takes 35 minutes to get into town.
Cozumel: Took a taxi around the island - very flat and not much to see.
Ships staff: Excellent - friendly and accomodating. Thanks to: Noreen - our room steward, Wait staff at table 254 - Outstanding!! Germann, Rodolfo, and Murat. Suni - Sommelier at Cellar Masters. Good conversation and very funny. Shiv - Waiter at Sunset Bar - never had to go to the bar, he was always there with a refresher. David - Activity Manager. Thank you so much for everything that you did!
All in all it was a wonderful time - only exception was disembarkation back in Ft Lauderdale - 3.5 hours - but not Celebrity's fault.
P.S - I hope Captain Panos has taken lessons on weather forecasts!!