This is our first cruise with Celebrity but it’s our 10th cruise. We have cruised with Holland, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and Cunard. Our last cruise was with Holland America on the Eurodam, so I think it is fair to compare Holland directly with Celebrity as they are competing in a similar market segment.
Embarkation was delayed for a few hours as this is the Eurodam was just returning from a season of cruising in Europe so the extra custom and immigration clearance was understandable. We don’t have any problem with getting on and off the ship in the whole trip. You have to get a tender ticket to get off the ship early for the port that requires tender. If you booked tours on your own, we suggest that you pay attention and obtain your tender ticket early. If you booked tours with the ship, then they will take care of it for you. Overall, everything flowed smoothly. On returning we were on an early flight and was able to get leave the ship early and our luggages was waiting for us as expected, no problems at all. We did not have any problem on our cruise with Holland either, so it’s a tie here.
The Equinox is a beautiful ship with tastefully decorated and spacious public areas. We always like multi-story atrium and the Equinox’s is impressive. Everything is clean and well maintained. There is no rock climbing wall or water park, but we did not miss those at all; everything has an air of elegance and except for some peak times (breakfast) in the Ocean Cafe, we did not feel crowded at all. Our cabin, 8042, was in a perfect location; close to many things. The room and the balcony was very nice and well laid out. The bathroom was roomy for a cruise ship and the best we have seen. Celebrity Equinox wins here.
The crew was courteous and eager to help. They welcomed us with a glass of drink when we first got on the ship. They offered us a cold face towel and water/juice when we returned to the ship from the shore excursions; very nice touch (same as Holland). Our room steward is not as unobtrusive as others on our previous cruises. He did not make any animal towels or fill our ice bucket. I am not sure it’s Celebrity’s policy or just our bad luck. Our waiters in the main dining room was very nice but seemed a bit inexperience. They accidentally gave us the menu in German a few nights into the cruise. It could be our bad luck, but we have to give Holland a slight edge on this one.
The entertainments and onboard activities are fine. However for a few sea days we find ourselves looking for something interesting besides bingo and trivia. We ended up watching the glass blowing demonstration more than we thought we would. For this class of cruise, we think Holland has more variety and more enrichment programs.
The foods in the main dining was a bit disappointing. It’s not bad, but not as good as we had on Holland. The selections in the Oceanview Cafe stayed mostly the same for the 11 nights! We expect more variety every night. We did ate at a specialty restaurant, Silk Harvest, one night and the foods and service was great. Overall Holland wins here.
Our conclusion is that Celebrity has shifted their priority to the special restaurants. The best foods and waiters are focused on the specialty restaurants at the expense of the main dining room. It’s is understandable as the specialty restaurants generate more profit for the cruise line. They pushed you pretty hard to sign up for the specialty restaurants from the moment you enter the ship. They also set up kiosks at various public area and solicit you fairly aggressively. It is sad but we are seeing the cruise lines going this way more and more. Think of it as your cruise price is just a base price. You will have to budget an addition of about $50 per night for two people to have a good meal. They will soon charge you for additional luggages - it’s not if, it’s when. In the mean time, our suggestion is to budget a few extra hundred dollars for the special restaurants; or chose a ship with fewer specialty restaurants as they hopefully still take good care of the “freeloaders” in the main dining room :).
Here is summary score:
* Ship: Equinox
* Getting on/off: tie
* Services: probably tie, but we put Eurodam ahead based on personal experience
* Entertainment: Eurodam
* Foods: Eurodam
It’s a long review and I hope it’s useful for others. I ran out of energy to review to ports we visited, but please contact me if you have any questions!