We recently returned from Celebrity's Equinox after our first Transatlantic Cruise. We are fairly experienced cruisers, having cruised some 21 times with 8 different cruise lines. Most of our experience in the past 10 years has been with Celebrity and we are Elite Captain's Club Members with them. We were fortunate to have been part of the Equinox Hobgoblins ( our Cruise Critic Roll Call) and this was just a wonderful group of people to with whom to travel. Ir was a true pleasure to meet them all and to be part of the group.
This was our second cruise on the Equinox.
We found the Equinox to still be in like new condition; everything worked in our stateroom and our outstanding attendant kept everything spotless. The public areas in the ship are well designed, colorful and pleasant, albeit a bit nosier this time. Despite the fact that there seem to have been reductions in the crew, the ship itself is immaculately clean, and the crew continues largely to be pleasant although busier.
We were in a 1B veranda cabin, located close to the elevators. We found that the sliding glass doors to the elevator lobby were very effective in preventing noise and the cabin was very quiet and conveniently located. As I mentioned, our stateroom attendant and his assistant were outstanding, despite having more cabins to take care than did our Attendant on our March cruise.
We ate all of our breakfasts in the buffet restaurant and found the choice of dishes and preparation to be excellent. The coffee was strong and tasty. By and large, I find the layout of the Solstice Class Buffets to be superior to the M-Class ships and it is easy to select your meal and find a table. We also ate lunch in the buffet and enjoyed the fresh salads, soups, and hot options. Celebrity's Ice cream continues to be superior. Dinner in the buffet, which we did when we wanted a quieter, lighter meal than offered in the main dining room was also good. The sushi, while excellent, was more limited in variety than before, and it appeared that servers in the buffet were some of the less experienced staff members. Still and all, the evening buffet is a viable alternative on the Equinox.
We also ate in two of the specialty restaurants, Silk Harvest and Murano, and enjoyed both very much. Their menus are on a level with what Cruising used to be all about and are very much up to the best of Celebrity Standards.
We elected to do Select Dining in the MDR rather than eat at a fixed time, early seating being too early and late seating being too late for us. This turned out to be a mistake as Select Dining was crowded, noisy, understaffed and over-subscribed. The main priority seemed to be turning the tables over; water glasses were often unfilled, the waiters and assistants clearly had too many tables to supervise. It was not unusual to have one waiter take your order, and a different waiter to serve each course. Because they were too busy clearing or setting tables, the Maitre D's had little time to check on food quality or to speak with diners as they have in the past.
There has been a noticeable decline in quality and choice in Celebrity's Main Dining Room, in my opinion. There are fewer choices, portions are smaller ( this is a good thing in my opinion), food is less likely to be hot and I had one terrible main course that was simply inedible. No, I didn't starve, and I don't want to be misunderstood, but historically, Celebrity has made its reputation on it's cuisine, and I have to say that it simply is not what it was six months ago, let alone several years. Bad food, No. Not as good, yes, unfortunately. There has clearly been some effort at cost containment and it does show.
The first part of the itinerary was very nice, only Livorno and Barcelona were repeat ports for us although we had been to Nice by car some years ago. We found something interesting everywhere we went and did enjoy that part of the trip very much. We arranged four private excursions, taking no ship's tours this time.
This was our first Transatlantic Cruise and we wondered how we would handle seven consecutive days at sea. The answer is that we both had readers, we read a lot, enjoyed our veranda and went to most of the lectures and the Hot Glass show. We did find that the scheduling of the various events could have been much better: there were too many conflicts where you had to pick and choose between equally attractive options, and with seven days at sea why are the Captain's Club events being held in the mornings? But overall, the weather was warm, the ship was nice, and you can't complain when someone cleans after you and puts chocolate on your pillow at night, can you?
Disembarkation was the worst we have ever experienced. The ship was assigned a berth at one of the smaller Port Everglades Terminals, the "new" ( cheaper)luggage tags don't stay on the bags as well, there was not sufficient space for the luggage and it was overall scrambled as though either the stevedores either could not read or did not care. There was no one from the Ship on the pier who was in charge of the operation and there should have been. It took us two hours from the time we left the Departure Lounge until we were in the line for a Cab to the Airport. I view this as unacceptable.
Overall, a good cruise, not a memorable one.