We spent one night in Venice and four nights in Rome pre-cruise. Since we had been to Italy several times before, we rented an apartment in Rome rather than stay at a hotel. We took a water taxi from Venice Airport to our hotel, and included a tour of the Grand Canal, and it was worth every penny of the 130 euro cost. I arranged this through Venice Link and highly recommend it.
The nine of us traveled to Civitavecchia in a Bob's Limousine bus which dropped us right at the ship. There were 35 people just waiting to help us when we arrived at noon, and we were on the ship in less than 10 minutes, which was SO NICE!
Equinox was every bit as gorgeous as I'd expected. We had planned to eat lunch at Bistro on Five, but since the buffet was almost empty and looked great, we stayed there instead. We took tables near the large windows and chowed down. Everything was excellent. We were still there when they announced cabins were ready at 1:30 PM.
We had an adjoining cabin with our two friends and our wonderful steward, Antonio, soon removed the balcony divider for us. Our sofa was near the balcony rather than the bed near the balcony and I preferred this to the bed being near the balcony.
The TV was amazing. You could order room service, check account balance, watch about 20 movies for free or pay for many more, or watch about 20 channels of TV. My husband was in heaven.
That night was 2 for 1 in the specialty restaurants and we didn't want to miss sailaway with our 6:15 PM dinner time, so we went to Silk Harvest at 7:30 and watched the sunset as we ate. The service was over the top and they kept bringing us food to try. It was all very good.
The icy cloths and cold drinks were so welcome throughout the cruise. It was very hot and dry for the ten days - which we're used to, being from Florida - but that welcome back to the ship was always exquisite!
Our waiter in the MDR, Orville, was another fantastic addition to our experiences. The food was very good. We also tried Aqua Spa Cafe, Bistro on Five, Cafe al Bacio, and Tuscan Grill during the 10 days and enjoyed all of them. But honestly, I see no need to spend the money for specialty dining when the food is as good as ours was in the MDR.
The adult pool was an oasis. I also used the fitness center often. Out of 17 treadmills, 3 were broken for the cruise, but I never had trouble getting on one.
Of course the cruise was full of kids, and unfortunately it seemed many of them had the run of the ship with no adults in evidence. When a Jazz, Port, and Chocolate event was held at 10:15 one night, those of us expecting an adult function were horrified to see children running all over the place, monopolizing the chocolate fountain and ruining everyone's evening. I will never cruise again during school vacations!
I was also amazed to see how frantic people were at the buffet some mornings. People who would practically tacke you to get to a counter before you. However, the buffet was always very well done and the food was very good.
The casino slots seemed to pay off pretty well but as usual the trick was to walk away when you made some money. The shops didn't have much to offer but they did have lots of sales. I can't comment on the entertainment because I didn't go to any shows, but there was plenty of live music around the ship.
One very annoying thing was that people were smoking on balconies and ashes landed on our balcony frequently. Also, as hard as it is to believe, we also had someone's toenail clippings rain down onto our balcony.
Since we were going to my daughter's after the cruise (she lives an hour outside Venice), we had asked for the latest departure and were given 9:45 AM. Well, it was jammed and a long walk from the ship to the luggage. Since a Costa cruise was disembarking at the same time, it was very crowded. We finally made it out of the building and walked away from the chaos as quickly as possible. We walked to the new people mover, took it for 1 euro, and dragged our suitcases over the new bridge to get to the train station.
And before we knew it, our wonderful 10 days were over.