This was my 2nd cruise with Celebrity, the first being a 14 day Alaska adventure on the Infinity from San Francisco to Vancouver. The Equinox is a fabulous ship, far better than the Infinity in every way. It wins the award for being the best in the Celebrity fleet for the last 3 years in a row and they (the crew) want to keep it in first place and it shows! I have about 476 days of cruising on 16 different ships and this ship has the best food, the best service and the best entertainment of all the ships I've been on.
The Equinox is beautiful! Most everything was clean and shiny and new looking. I looked everywhere on the ship and it looks as if its brand new even though it's been out sailing the high seas for at least 3 years. We put together a back to back to back 37 day adventure starting with 10 days in the Caribbean, then crossing over to the Mediterranean and then continuing on to Venice, Montenegro and Croatia. The Itinerary was great, we had 5 ports in the Caribbean and 12 throughout the Med. We booked a balcony for the entire cruise because the price was little more than an ocean view cabin on all 3 legs. The balcony cabin was clean and well maintained and the cabin steward was great.
Since I have food allergies I usually eat both breakfast and lunch at the buffet every day and the buffet on this ship is huge with a wide variety of delicious things to enjoy. The ship also has the Aqua spa cafe which is next to the indoor pool and serves up delicious healthy "lite" food and its usually not crowded. For breakfast we went there every morning and I usually have fruit and hot cereal of which there is always an abundant supply of. The fruit was always fresh, ripe and delicious. For lunch we went to the Oceanview Cafe and had the stir fry (of which you choose your ingredients) and the guy stir fry's it up while you wait, then we went to the salad bar and piled on some more veggies and some balsamic salad dressing for an amazing lunch. They always had the usual hot food of which the roasted turkey was juicy and delicious! We usually ate out on the back of the ship of which has both covered and open tables. It was usually full of people although we always found somewhere to eat out there. There are plenty of drink stations and the lemon aid was great. On the cooler days we sat inside of which there is plenty of inside seating.
For dinner we ate in the Silhouette restaurant at the early seating. Since we put together 3 cruises we wanted a table for 2 of which can be difficult to get. So on the embarkation day we went to the restaurant and spoke with the Maitre d, his name is Dragisha. He looked us up on his computer and we told him we would like a table for 2 next to a window if possible. I think the phrase "ask and yea shall receive" works well on this ship. Dragisha said, "yes I see your here for 3 cruises, how about a table on the second level right next to the window for the entire 37 dinners!" Remember, the service on this ship is the best in the business all day and all night, everyday bar none.
All of our dinners were amazing every night. We always started with our own salad of mixed greens, avocado (of which was always perfectly ripe every time), tomatoes, red cabbage and cucumbers with a balsamic dressing of which the waiter served on our salads as soon as we got them. The service at every dinner was impeccable, they always knew and remembered what we wanted. The chefs on this ship really know how to cook, we enjoyed a wide variety of grilled fish, lamb chops, lamb shank, roasted lamb, a great lemon herb chicken breast, roasted turkey, veal shank along with some sautéed broccoli, peas, carrots and a baked yam. This ship has the best food of any of the ships we've been on every night, there were no exceptions. Since we were on 3 cruises we had a change in the waiters 3 times and they were all amazing! The bar is set very high on this ship. For desert we enjoyed the best apple pie I have ever had, some amazing chocolate that I would dip some berries and pineapple into, the cheesecake was perfect as were all the other deserts. With all this perfect food and service we did gain a few pounds!
Once again we found the staff to be extremely friendly and helpful it seemed like every time I turned around there was someone with a name badge asking if they could get me something. Everyone from the Passenger Services Desk to the Deck Crew was willing to go the extra mile to help. They want us to be very happy! Our cabin steward had our cabin clean and well stocked all the time and they were always around most every time we were going to or leaving our cabin. The cabin steward also made a point to ask us if there was anything we needed or if something needed changing, they wanted to know if anything wasn't perfect for us. Since we were on 3 cruises we did change cabins 3 times. We got the ships cart and loaded our things and off we were to our next cabin with the help of our steward. One of the cabins had a smell to the carpet of which was quickly taken care of with a good carpet shampooing the same day we told the steward about it.
Another great thing about the staff is that the officers from the Capitan on down were always walking around the ship or they were involved in passenger programs. We saw them every day out and about on the ship chatting with the passengers, giving lectures or helping out with some sort of activity. I have never seen that level of officer involvement on any other ship.
The Equinox Singers and Dancers were top notch and the special singers, comedians, magicians, musicians were all top notch as well. We went to every show and they were all outstanding. Typicality on long cruises there is always some entertainment that isn't that great. On the Equinox its always great, every night. The cruise director was great as well, always making sure we were entertained to the max!
We went to the gym almost every afternoon and it is nice and big with lots of cardio equipment as well as machines and free weights, everything is very clean and it all works well. The one thing about these Solstice class ship that I miss is the Promenade deck for walking. On all the Princess ships, the larger Holland America ships and the Queen Mary 2, the promenade deck allows you to walk around the entire perimeter of the ship of which 3 laps is usually about a mile and your close to the water. On the Equinox there is a "jogging" track on the top deck that is quite short and crowded as it is lined with deck chairs and people walking everywhere.
I booked tours through Celebrity for peace of mind regarding schedules and getting back to the ship on time. If it's a Celebrity tour, they'll wait for you if it's late getting back to the ship. We were always right on schedule, arriving spot on time at every port. We were given assembly times for our pre-booked tours and they were orderly and we got off the ship without too much delay. All in all the process was organized and smooth. the highlight of the cruise were the ports of Kotor Montenegro, an overnight in Venice (with a fantastic sail in and out) and Dubrovnik Croatia, both Kotor and Dubrovnik have amazing old walled cities to climb around on and in. In Kotor you have to take the hike up to the old fortress on the hill, the view is amazing! And Dubrovnik has a walled city that looks new as if it was just built, even though it was founded in the 7th century, it's a must see! For 12 Euros you can walk the entire 2.2 kilometers on top of the wall that surrounds the entire city for some amazing views. Fortunatley for us the weather was never a problem with mostly sunny days and mild temps and the crossing was smooth with sun the first half and some clouds the last half. The only place we encountered any waves was going from the Canary Island to Lisbon where we were heading into a breezy north wind.
On the mornings of disembarkation We usually get up eat breakfast and find a nice lounge chair either on top deck if it’s nice or down on the promenade deck and wait there for our time to disembark. We got off the ship, got on a bus and twenty minutes later we were at the Barcelona airport checking our bags. Our final flight home from Newark NJ to San Francisco was an hour early getting in! We booked our flight home through Celebrity and the price was great, the time was perfect, (they charter their own planes so we can get to the US and catch the flight to SF) and we had the peace of mind that Celebrity was in charge of getting us home.
Being on the ship for 37 days was exceptional. Every day was a pleasure whether we were on a sea day or at a port. We couldn't have asked for a better time! This ship gives you a premium service experience and it's number one in the Celebrity fleet for a reason.