We are a family of three, including a nearly 9 year old daughter who is a very experienced cruiser. We haven't been on Celebrity in five years (can't say why...) but were keen to try a Solstice class ship and see if Celebrity is as good as we remember it. Because of school schedules, we were restricted on when we could travel and the timing of this trip worked out perfectly for us. We are not interested in the "fun ships" and prefer a more upscale, classy experience than other family friendly lines offer. We do consider Celebrity to be a cruise line that is welcoming to families and would happily recommend them to other families too.
We flew to Florida to meet the ship from our home in California, arriving 2 days early and taking a rental car to the port. Check in and embarkation was fast and smooth and we were on board quickly and in our cabin before we knew it. We thought the cabin was on the small side, but soft and welcoming and beautifully appointed. We had an angled balcony near the midships "indent" and were very close to the elevators. By now, the lack of storage in the cabins is well known. We definitely found there to be a lack of drawer space and shelf space overall and think that could be improved. The bathroom was contemporary and of a decent size. The bed was lovely and it was such a pleasure to sleep with the balcony door open listening to the sounds of the waves outside. I was surprised to find no outside light on the balcony. I agree with a previous reviewer on the quietness of the cabins. There was no noise transference at all between cabins, little corridor noise and none from the adjacent Card Room on Deck 9 at all. Perfect!
We ended up on a table for six in the dining room, alongside another couple with their son and it worked out very well for all of us. We generally enjoyed the food very much and had excellent service all around. I thought the Oceanview Cafe was one of the best buffets I have seen on a ship (35 cruises and counting) because it was spacious, well laid out, with plenty of room to sit and had a large variety of good food which actually had TASTE. Croissants were flaky and flavorful, not the usual dried out tasteless variety common to many cruise lines. Fruit was ripe and juicy. We went to Silk Harvest one night and thought it was wonderful. There were so many food choices on the ship we ran out of time to sample them all.
Overall, we thought the ship was spacious, contemporary, modern and made great use of glass and light. It never felt crowded to us and we loved the styling and design of the public areas. The exception to this is, of course, the pool deck, which is too cramped and jammed with loungers, but this is well known by now. The Lawn Club chews up valuable space but is a marvelous concept on a ship and there's nothing like walking on grass in your bare feet when out to sea. Just delightful. I hope the Lawn Club stays, despite it not being the most practical use of space.
A big issue for us is the kids club on a ship. We travel with a very social, busy only child who craves activities and other playmates. We thought the Fun Factory met her needs perfectly and are so grateful to the hardworking staff up here for their great attitudes, friendly manner and obvious love of working with children. They were flexible and welcoming and made the cruise more fun for both our daughter and us. They run a full program every single day, including port days and are also open for lunch and dinner parties. The kids had story time with the Captain, went to the Hot Glass Show, did Easter games... There were plenty of things to do. Between that, the shows, the glass show and the pool, there was no time to even realize the ship didn't have a rock wall/ice rink/bowling alley etc...Do not let anyone tell you Celebrity is not a family friendly cruise line! They are wonderful and the Fun Factory girls absolutely rock!
We also enjoyed the Fitness Center very much and appreciated the spaciousness of that and the fact machines were not crammed in next to each other. The cardio equipment was all Life Fitness and top of the line and I loved the fact I could hook my iPod up to the machine and see my entire library of music on the screen in front of me.
Celebrity has done a marvelous job on the Solstice class ships and we loved our time on the Equinox. We'd love it even more if a Solstice class ship was based on the west coast... We're going on the Eclipse in July to the Baltic and can't wait for that. We're Elite Princess cruisers but it's going to be very hard to go back to Princess after the Equinox. This is 21st century cruising all the way and I find myself echoing the sentiments of so many reviewers before me in raving about this ship. It isn't perfect, but it's not far from it and sets the standard for most of the other mass market cruise lines to follow.