We sailed on the Celebrity Equinox Jan 31-Feb 10, 2014, and had a fantastic time--probably the best ship we have been on, although it was not much different from the Silhouette or the Eclipse. I usually summarize my reviews as The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, but I have to add another category, The Excellent, for this cruise.
The Excellent: Beautiful ship, very friendly crew from the Captain on down (every one of the crew that we met in the halls, dining room, or lounges met you with a smile and a "hello"). Celebrity has a no-smoking policy in the cabins, verandahs, casino, lounges, and theater. Best food we have ever had on a ship because the selections were varied and plentiful, and the food was always cooked to perfection--both seafood and steaks.
The Good: Huge towels in the bath, soft linens and plush pillows, nice amenities for concierge level (champagne and fresh flowers in your cabin). Great itinerary, embarkation was smooth and quick, good educational programs in the Celebrity Central theater, most of the main shows were very good. Lots of activities, although many of the ones we wanted to attend conflicted with others, but that is just the way it is. Very smooth sailing although we did have some pretty high waves in the Atlantic. Our cabin was very quiet.
The Bad: The tour we took in St. Thomas, called "A St. Thomas Island Tour" was not good. Everyone on the tour we talked with thought this was a total rip-off. DO NOT take this tour. We were supposed to take an island tour, but instead the driver, Dennis, took us to three high view points where we could look down on the terrain/sea. This wasn't so bad but he never explained much about the island. Each viewpoint had a "tourist trap" where they tried to sell you overpriced goods, mostly made in China. The tour was supposed to last for 2.5 hours, and it was over in 2 hours. Megan's Bay has one of the best beaches anywhere and we did not even go there. A major rip off for $32/person.
Debarkation is normally very smooth, but not so this time. We, along with another 200-300 passengers, opted for "early debarkation" where you take your own luggage off. We love this option because you can be one of the first off the ship. Celebrity told you to be on deck 5 at 7:15 am; we got there about 6:40 am because we have learned from past experience that you had better be there early. We were probably 30-35th in line even at that early hour. For some reason which we still do not know, debarkation was delayed and Celebrity made no announcement as to what the problem was. It may have been a problem with the machine that you put your cabin key in when you get on and off the ship, but we do not know that for certain. Anyway, we finally were allowed to get off about 7:45 am. Going through customs was a snap because we were in the front part of the line. We were amazed that there were only 2 custom agents to handle 3000 passengers; sure glad we were not at the back of the line!
For some unknown reason, our dining request has never been correct--not only on Celebrity, but on other lines as well. We want a table for 2, but instead we got a table for 6. We got that corrected the next night. The problem with the S class ships is that most of the tables for two are just 6-8 inches from another table for two, so you have no privacy. Fortunately the next table had some really nice people, and we enjoyed talking with them. The Constellation has much better arrangements for dining for two.
Bartenders in the Martini Bar were very arrogant. This bar has happy hour from 4-5 pm where they sell you half-priced martinis, but you only have a choice of 4 of them, and they all had vodka and some other stuff which we did not want. We had the beverage package which gave you $8 drinks for free, but all martinis were priced at $11 and up. No problem at happy hour where they were $5.50. All we wanted was a simple gin/vermouth martini over ice, and they would not let us have one because it was not on their list. Totally absurd in our opinion. We were on the Constellation in Dec 2013 and the bartenders in their Martini Bar did not do this. We quickly learned that we could go to any other bar or lounge and order gin on the rocks with a splash of vermouth, and had no problems.
The Ugly: Nothing
Now if you are still interested, I will give you some details. Since we live in Tampa, we drove to Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday, Jan. 30, and stayed at the Rodeway Inn on SR 84. We have stayed there several times before. The manager, Izzy, does a fantastic job in arranging the transportation to and from the port, and we are able to leave our car there for no additional charge, and they pick you up when you return.
Friday, Jan 31, 2014
We opted to pay the extra $2/person to get to the cruise port early, and it was well worth it because we were among the first to board. Since we were Concierge level and Select members, we were among the first--only Suite, Elite, and Aqua class passengers got in front of us--no problem since it was early, and there were not many of them. We boarded about 11:20 am. When you board Celebrity ships, they give you a glass of champagne--a real touch of class! We immediately went to the buffet on deck 14 and had a great lunch. The cabins were ready by about 1 pm, so we checked out our cabin. We were disappointed that the champagne was there, but it was not in a bucket of ice. We talked with the cabin steward, who said there was a problem with the ice buckets being delivered, and he got us an ice bucket. This was a problem with many cabins, not just ours. We had not experienced that problem on previous Celebrity cruises.
We got our luggage about 4 pm or so, and were able to unpack before the life boat drill. The life boat drill is a joke, and I have complained about this on every review I have written for the past few years. You go to a lounge or theater and they tell you what you should do. Hello, you learn by doing, not by watching. If the ship is going down, you can bet I am not going to a lounge--I am going to the lifeboat. They do not even take you to the lifeboat. Can't believe that the Coast Guard approves this.
Great dinner in the main DR--salmon was fantastic. The comedian in the theater was good. We could not stay awake any longer, so missed the late night show.
Sat, Feb 1:
At sea on our way to St. Thomas. Great breakfast and lunch at the buffet. We went to the free wine tasting offered to Select and Elite members, and it was informative and OK, but the port and sherry they offered were not good, in our opinion. The chardonnay and pinot noir were very good. Celebrity had some great musicians--we especially like the "Stereo Girls". This was our first formal night, and most everyone dressed up in formal dresses and suits. Dinner was fantastic with cedar plank salmon and tournedos of beef--cooked to perfection.
Sun, Feb 2:
Another sea day. Fairly smooth sailing although we had some pretty high waves in the Atlantic. We took the Galley tour--Celebrity does it with a real touch of class--they give you a glass of champagne when you enter.
The past guest party was somewhat of a disappointment. When we went on the Silhouette last year, they had many stations offering shrimp, all sorts of pastries, and of course free drinks. This year they had no stations--instead waiters and waitress brought you the drinks, and a little container with one shrimp in it. Guess Celebrity is trying to cut costs.
Dinner in main DR was great--trout was delicious. This was super bowl night, so no show in the theater. We had 20-30 mph winds, and it was a little rough, but no big problem.
Mon, Feb 3:
We opted to take the "A St. Thomas Island Tour". Do NOT take this tour as I have outlined above under "The Bad". When we returned, we just walked around Havensight Mall, and then went back to the ship. We had lunch at the buffet and had excellent grilled salmon. We just sat out by the pool until we sailed at 3 pm. Dinner was great as was the show in the theater.
Tue, Feb 4:
We docked at St. Kitts about 7 am. We had breakfast in the main DR, and it was good. We just walked around downtown since we have been there before and have taken most of the tours that are offered.
I won the putting contest and got a Celebrity X medallion and a Celebrity pen!! We had an excellent lunch and just sat out by the pool until we sailed at 3 pm.
Great music by the musicians in the lounges, dinner was good as usual, and the main show was ok, but we were tired and left early.
Wed, Feb 5:
We arrived in Barbados about 9 am and took the "Essence of Barbados" tour; it was excellent, much in contrast to the tour we took in St. Thomas. We visited the rum factory, Heritage park/Sunbury plantation, and the mahogany factory. The tour took over 4 hours, not the 3.5 hours as listed. They were just closing the buffet when we returned, but we did get something to eat (not exactly as if we would die if we missed a meal!!)
Thursday, Feb 6:
We arrived at the dock in Dominica right on schedule at 8 am. We did not take a tour, but we should have based on what some of our fellow passengers told us. We just walked around the shops and flea market area adjacent to where you get off the ship. They do have some reasonably priced locally made jewelry.
After a great dinner, we went to the Senior Officer reception for Select and Elite members. We were surprised that not many people were there, but then it was no big deal. You got free drinks, but since we had the beverage package, we had free drinks anyhow. The officers were very friendly.
Friday, Feb 7:
We docked at our favorite island, St. Maarten, about 8 am. We took the water taxi downtown; price had increased to $7/person round trip, a buck higher than last year. We just walked around and bought a few things, but no expensive jewelry. Alcohol is 30-50% cheaper than it is on the ship. Had a great time at one of the casinos--played nickel slots for over an hour and got free drinks--sure can't do that anywhere else. We went back to the ship about 1 pm and had a great lunch at the buffet. Dinner was also great with fish and prime rib--both cooked to perfection. The show featuring David Lucas was very good.
Sat, Feb 8:
At sea on our way home. A great brunch at the Silhouette dining room. We were surprised that it was not advertised, just listed in the schedule under "Culinary Delights".
It was not as good as we have had on previous Celebrity ships. For the first time, they had no shrimp--a major disappointment for us.
Since we were Select status, we got to go on a backstage tour offered for Select and Elite members. It was a very nice tour, and we got to talk with the production manager and some of the singers, dancers, and acrobats. They gave us a presentation on who they were, and how they got the job, then answered questions for 15 minutes. It is amazing that they can change costumes in as little as 30 seconds, and have several changes per show.
Saturday was the second formal night; had lobster and beef wellington for dinner--both cooked to perfection. We went to the show in the Equinox theater-good but not great, but they do have a lot of very talented singers and dancers.
Sun, Feb 9:
Our last day at sea--sorry to have to pack and go home after such a great cruise. They had the final round of the golf putting contest, but I did not do well! I went to a presentation by the chief engineer Christos on the propulsion system used on S class ships, and it was excellent. Meals were excellent as usual. The last night show was very good.
Mon, Feb 10:
Debarkation day; I have already explained the less-than-happy experience with this.
However, nothing is always perfect, but we look forward to our next cruise on Celebrity in December.