My wife and I did the 7 night Greek Odyssey cruise (Istanbul - Rome) July 19 - 26 on the Celebrity Equinox. We have only taken a cruise once before (Princess Caribbean Princess 10 years ago).
We both agreed that we found the Celebrity offering much better than Princess (and we had really liked Princess). We found the stateroom bigger and nicer (including a larger bathroom), the food better, the overall organization really nailed down and the overall look and feel of the ship more upscale.
We were very happy and satisfied with our cruise. We would definitely cruise with Celebrity again.
In more details :
Embarkation : We arrived at around 3h00 pm in Istanbul (limit was 4 pm). We were on the ship 15 minutes later. A bit of confusion with the local porters, but the rest of the process was a breeze. As soon as we stepped in our stateroom, our friendly attendant showed up to explain all the details and present himself. Luggage made its way to our room within 20-30 min.
Stateroom : We got room 1285 (concierge). Loved the room. The bed was by the patio door. When in bed we were facing FWD. The room felt much larger and roomier than on Princess and we were both impressed by the size and feel of the bathroom. For once, you get a decent sized shower. We never felt cramped or uncomfortable in the room. The balcony is of an ok size. We actually enjoyed it much more than the one we had on Princess. The soundproofing is amazing. We did not hear a thing. As for storage space, we made use of the space under the bed to put our luggage. The wardrobe and various drawers (plus the cabinets above bed) were more than enough for us. TV system with access to the onboard account, photos, maps, etc. is quite good and useful. Our cabin attendants were very nice, efficient, polite and resourceful. They quickly caught up with our habits and preferences and adjusted accordingly. As this was a concierge room we got a few perks. Had a nice bottle of bubbly on the ice on embarkation day (gooood). We also would get a little plate of munchies late afternoon almost every day (olives, chips and varying dips/hummus, etc.). This was a nice little touch as we were happy to have something to nimble on as we were coming back from excursions before going down to diner (usually enjoy it on the balcony while the ship departed). Also got a little tote bag and were given binoculars and oversized umbrella for our personal use. As we payed for Concierge Guarantee (i.e. not more than regular balcony room) we taught it was a good deal. If we would have paid full concierge price... I would still be on the fence for paying the extra for concierge (but we did enjoy the perks).
Food : We really enjoyed the food. Ate 6 nights (out of 7) at the Silhouette main dining room. We were on Celebrity Select Dining (no set time and table) and never waited more than 15 min to get a table for two. The food was really good and we found it was getting better as the cruise proceeded. The menus on both formal nights seemed to be a tad more upscale. The food was good, fresh and presentation was nice. No disappointment and a few dishes we still remember (and we are a bit of the foodie/picky type). The night we ate at the buffet it was fine. We wanted a quick small diner and it was perfect. The selection was good (typical of an upscale buffet you would expect on a cruise or a good resort). We found the selection at the main dining room to be good enough for not to need to go to the other restaurants. FOr breakfast we went to the buffet all mornings and were happy with the selection. I could not see how one could complain :-) We had room service breakfast one morning. Delivery was bang on and the food was still hot and good with generous portions. We did have a few bites to eat off-hours and the offer was good (maybe having a selection of fruits always available at the buffet would be a nice touch).
Ship amenities : The ship is very nice, clean (spotless) and upscale looking. We did prefer this over the Princess (eventhough our cruise on Princess was on a brand new ship that was a month old). There was a lot activities on offer and all installations were 1st class. As we did excursions at every port of call, we did not use the ship capabilities at its fullest. We did go to the gym a few times. We found that going past 5 pm got you a better chance of having machines available. The pools were nice, especially the solarium which is adults only (very quiet despite its proximity to the other pools). Please note that the solarium area (pool and jacuzzis) is air conditioned. Which, in the hot Mediterranean summer, is quite nice.
Entertainment and activities : We did not really participated in many activities or seen many shows. But from the little we have seen, it was of good quality and well organized.
Shore excursions : As mentioned before, we did take shore excursions at every port of call. All were booked through Celebrity. I have to say we were pleased. One has to keep in mind that those tours are with larger groups so you need to adapt your expectations. The whole organization and logistics of the Shore Excursions was amazing. A very well oiled machine. We would never wait. No issues. Got what we paid for and all. Kudos to the folks taking care of this. Our preferences went to Mikonos (Delos island) and Taormina/Etna in Sicily. Others were also very nice, but those two excursions really marked us.
Disembarkation : We were given a little survey sheet on day 2 or 3 asking for our preferences for disembarkation. We had asked for coming out as late as possible as we had a transfer to Rome scheduled for 10 am. We were finally given a 9h30 departure time. The whole process was again super smooth. 15 minutes and we were out of the ship with our luggage ready.
Cruise : the whole cruise was very smooth expect for the few hours before arriving in Malta and half a day after leaving Malta. During those few hours, the ship experienced slightly more rolling movement. The waves were parallel to the ship which made it rock a bit more. It did not make us sick, but it felt a bit odd (nothing dramatic though and no movement of plates on tables). We never felt harassed or pressured into buying things/packages/photos. Actually we felt like everyone minded their own business while being polite and nice to be with.
So we were very happy with our cruise !!!