Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by LanSluder: Impressed with Celebrity
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Impressed with Celebrity
Overall, I’m impressed with Celebrity. It seems a big step up from the mid-level lines like Royal Caribbean and NCL, though I’m sure it doesn’t compare with the super-premium lines such as Seaborne that get raves from our friends. I have only been on one other Celebrity cruise, a smaller ship, and that was about 10 years ago.
Our typical day on this cruise went something like this: Up at 7:30 or 8, have breakfast delivered to our stateroom veranda, then off to see the port of call unless it’s a day at sea, back in time for a salad for lunch, I work out for about 90 minutes in the gym, a cocktail or two in the quiet Passport Bar while reading a Faye Kellerman mystery, perhaps a short nap before dinner, pre-dinner drinks at the Martini Bar (my favorite bar, and I settled on the Bombay Sapphire gimlet, while my wife far preferred the Molecular Bar), dinner at 7:30 or 8:30 in either the main dining room or one of the specialty restaurants maybe part of a More show, perhaps a stop at the specialty coffee shop and nightcaps at the Martini Bar or Molecular Bar before bed.
I was surprised by the diversity of the passengers on this cruise, especially in age and in country of origin. I had expected an older crowd, due to the fact that this is a somewhat longer cruise, and had expected mostly U.S. citizens. In fact, though, the passengers ranged from a few families with young kids to a lot of 30-, 40- and 50-somethings, plus plenty of older cruisers. I'm sure there were some first-timers on board, but we never met a single one. Most of the people we met had been on 10 or 15 cruises, and some were up in the high double digits. There were many Celebrity fans, with elite Captain's Club status, but also many who had cruised repeatedly with Holland-America, NCL, RC, Princess and others. Carnival was universally disparaged ("we'll never do that again"). One of our dinner companions said she would return to Princess because "their ships have washers and dryers on every deck."
Although Americans outnumbered others on this cruise, it was not by much. There were over 300 Brits on board, a large number of Canadians (especially French-Canadians), and many Germans, Latin Americans, some Australians and a surprising number of Russians and Eastern Europeans. All in all a more cosmopolitan and well-traveled. I would say the majority of passengers were middle-class, with a sprinkling of obviously well-to-do retirees. With a few exceptions, passengers did dress "smart casual" on most nights, with most men wearing dark suits on the two formal nights. Perhaps 10% wore dinner jackets or tuxedos.
The food on board, as many have said, is generally quite good on Celebrity, though not of gourmet quality. We had dinner (Select Seating -- anytime) in the main Silhouette dining room about half the time, usually choosing to share a table. The rest of the time we had dinner had the specialty restaurants. The Tuscan Grill (Italian-steakhouse) we thought was quite good, as was Murano. We were not very impressed the two times we ate at the Asian fusion restaurant and would not go back there.
The buffet breakfast and lunch at the Oceanview was always excellent, but at peak times it was EXTREMELY crowded, with scores of guests with their plates wandering around trying to find a seat. Celebrity either needs to expand this venue, or change the system. Many groups had one person hold three or four seats and then went to get their food, or else sat for a long time after the meal, making it difficult for other guests to find a seat. On a couple of occasions, we had to take our lunches back to our stateroom.
At some popular bars, such as the Martini Bar, there was a wait for drinks, but other bars, such as Michael's, were almost always deserted. The Molecular Bar, which my wife loved, needs better branding and a higher profile location.
Entertainment? I didn't care for most of it. The shows had people with talent, but the production values were low. There was an excellent classical trio that we enjoyed hearing play many times. The Sin City comedy show I personally thought was not at all funny.
I do want to compliment Celebrity and its Equinox designers. We rarely had more than a moment's wait for elevators, and all the public areas were attractive and well-maintained. The Celebrity art collection is a wonderful idea. Less
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Cabin review: 2105
What's to say about Equinox staterooms. Except for the suites, they're all about the same size. They're on the small side, considering the price, but one adjusts, and there's plenty of room for storage. Our son, who had been on a similar class Celebrity ship a couple of years ago, picked out our stateroom (2105), and we loved the location. It was on Deck 12, near the pools, spa and gym, and just a single flight of stairs from the Oceaview dining, but there was never any noise. We were just steps from a bank of elevators and did not have to walk down a long hallway lined with staterooms as we would have on some other decks.
Port and Shore Excursions
I have written a number of travel and retirement guides to Belize, including Fodor's and Moon, and I have come to know Belize well over the past nearly 25 years. However, this was the first time I had arrived by cruise ship, and frankly I was surprised at how well the port area stood up to other ports on the ship's itinerary. The Tourism Village shops weren't anything special, and many items were grossly overpriced (Traveller's Three Barrel "Parrot" rum, formerly Duurley's and my favorite Belize rum) was selling for US$25 a liter in a shop in the Tourism Village. That's more than twice what you'd pay in almost any grocery in Belize.
However, we strolled around the Fort George area, felt entirely safe and weren't hassled at all. We had a Belikin and excellent ceviche at the Radisson Fort George bar. Other guests took tours and seemed to enjoy themselves.
Obviously I'm biased, but to me Belize City is a much more enjoyable stop than most of the other ports on this itinerary, such as Limon, Colon, Grand Cayman and even Cozumel. The downside is that you do have to tender in, and admittedly parts of Belize City are rough and certainly not representative of the most of the rest of the country, but still I'm proud of Belize and laud tourism officials for making the cruise experience there as positive as possible.
I had never visited Cartagena before, and I was impressed by both the modern city and the old walled city. However, I was much less impressed with the city tour we took. At best we just saw a few highlights briefly, and the focus seemed to be on getting us in and out of everything quickly (except the "artisan shops" that sold mostly junk.)
We first visited Limon in 1982. We took the old jungle train from San José to Limon (now there's just a short tourist train) and spent the night in this rough port town. Frankly, it hasn't changed much, and offers little for the visitor, but we did walk to Parque Vargas and once again were able to see a sloth in one of the trees, just as we did more than 30 years ago. For all we know, it was a descendent of the same sloth we saw in 1982!
I love Costa Rica, but much of what we loved years ago has been replaced, and prices for everything are 20 or 30 times higher than they used to be. On that first visit in '82, we paid 15 U.S. cents for a beer in the best hotel bar in San José, and the train ride to Limon was, as I recall, about US$2.