Let me preface this by saying that normally when I read negative reviews I often sit there and think "Oh this person must be such a snob, or impossible to make happy." My husband and I are neither of these things, but we do have certain expectations when we go on vacation. I never expect perfection, that's silly...but I do expect fantastic customer service, good food, and solid entertainment. On this cruise, unfortunately out of those three, we really only got the good food...
We were on the sailing leaving from Fort Lauderdale on February 10. We arrived at the port at around 11:30, and embarkation was fairly quick. They had some minor issues checking us in (we both appeared under my husband's name for some reason) and they fixed the issue and got us on our way (we found out the next day they hadn't in fact fixed it, but bypassed the issue, so my drink package didn't work properly until I went to guest services to get it fixed). Now on to the review...
In general, although we were prepared to be in the "younger crowd" on the ship (we're 36 and 30), the demographic was a bit different than I expected, and not due to age...more mentality. The average age was likely around 65 or 70, but it was a more "stuffy" older crowd than I expected. People who wore "slacks" (I hate even using that word) at 10 AM just to go to the buffet, and who are happy to go to art auctions and lectures on nice sunny days at sea.
Don't get me wrong, it was a great cruise due to the itinerary, but the ship experience itself left me nothing to be "wowed" by. It seemed like any generic all-inclusive experience (except it was far from all inclusive by the time I paid for the 5 night specialty dining package and the premium non-alcoholic drink package for two of us). The ship is very pretty, but with nothing that really sets it apart in an industry so filled with variety.
The entertainment, for me, was pretty awful, with the exception being the comedian and the juggler. The three "broadway type productions" were pretty terrible. The dancers and singers were OK, but the production and choreography gave them nothing to work with! In particular the Remix show made me shudder at parts. It was just a random assortment of singing and dancing, with pretty terrible choreography. One of my favorite styles of dance is Bollywood, and I was cringing during the entire portion of the show. It was clear that the choreographer knows nothing about the style of dance, and likely just watched a few youtube videos to get the hang of it. I'm a huge believer in sticking to what you do well - it seemed that the cast didn't really get to shine in one particular area because they tried to cram every style of dancing and singing into these shows. It ended up seeming very disjointed and bizarre to us. The exception were the specialty acrobatic dancers who appeared during every show and totally stole it each time, even though by the third show they were simply re-using tricks they'd done in the first two. They were both absolutely amazing, especially to do what they did on a moving boat!
We also had a few minor issues with guest services, and they were just not handled in the best manner...they seem to think that giving complimentary wine fixes problems...but for a 4 months pregnant person who doesn't even drink when not pregnant, wine fixes nothing. A sincere apology and desire to do better does everything, and those were lacking. My favorite was when I went to the guest services desk for the second time regarding the same issue (drinks charged to our room that were not ours, after the first time I went to report them they still did not get removed) on the last day, the reply was "Well, today IS the last day of the cruise, things get hectic around here..." I have worked in customer service my entire life. This is NEVER an OK answer. It's not the paying customer's fault that you're too busy to do a job properly. I paid for an 11 night cruise....not a 10 night with a "we're too busy to help you" last day! There were three staff members at the desk, and not one of them apologized that I had to come down for a second time to get it taken care of. All they did was make excuses as to why it hadn't gotten fixed.
Anyways, before you start to think I'm just a crazy person ranting, there were some great parts too...
-As stated, easy and fast embarkation
-Buffet food was good for the most part. Hot plates, good variety, and easy to get to each station with little to no wait.
-Drink package (premium non-alcoholic) forced me to really drink lots of water and perrier as I wanted to get my money's worth!
-DELICIOUS fresh mint lemonades
-The Equinox is a beautiful ship, and very clean throughout
-The pools are amazing, and there were surprisingly few people in them much of the time, even on sea days!
-Specialty restaurants were amazing, and MDR food was very good too
- A few staff members went above and beyond...Aries in Bistro on 5/Tuscan Grill and Carla in Silk Harvest were both amazing
-Ping pong tables set up every day - plus a daily tournament too! My husband had a great time and we met some very cool people
-Stereo Girls were great for live music out an around the ship!
-THE ITINERARY! It was amazing - we saw some truly stunning places. The panama Canal was one of the highlights of my life - it was so amazing to see!
-I ate eggs benedict every morning and not once did they get a good medium egg. They were either raw (which I can't eat) or solidly hard
-Perrier and red bull not available at many bars, and very slow service at some of the bars. We heard lots of people say that since the introduction of the drink package this has been seen more and more frequently.
-Juice bar in the morning at the buffet was staffed by a lady who appeared to just not like her job very much. When it's morning, and she's one of the first people you encounter, it kind of sets a bad tone. Twice she served me fresh orange juice in a filthy glass...not just a few water spots, like dirty...
-We noticed with many staff members, they just seemed to be "phoning it in" - either they don't love the cruise industry or they were all having bad days! They just seemed like staff members that you would encounter at an average hotel, not on a more upscale cruise line!
-Very limited movie selection on TV, and no ability to hook our laptop up to the TV to watch our own
-Entertainment was severely lacking, shows were just OK...
-"Live music" around the ship was often played over a track. My husband is a huge fan of live music, and there is nothing worse than watching the band stop playing and the music continuing. The calypso band by the pool could be GREAT if they were simply playing their own music!
-Issues with specialty dining reservations - they mixed up the nights I asked for, then when I went to get it fixed they said it was fine....then we showed up for our reservation on the last night and they didn't have record of it. Luckily it was early so they got us in. Wouldn't be a big deal, but when you pay an extra few hundred dollars to eat in specialty dining, the expectation for experience goes up
So in a nutshell, we don't regret the trip, it was saved by the fantastic experience of wandering around Old Town Cartegena, seeing live monkeys and sloths in Costa Rica, and watching ships pass through the Panama Canal. But our next cruise will not be on Celebrity. We're just not their type of cruiser I guess...