We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on the day before our cruise and stayed at the Cambria Suites. This was a fairly new hotel with a bar and an $8.00 breakfast buffet. Our room was spacious and the bedding was very comfortable.
We arrived at the port about 11:00 am. Check-in the was a breeze, if you have all of your documents in order. After check-in we went to a waiting area. After about 30 minutes, they began calling for boarding. Suite guests went first, then Aqua Class, Concierge Class, etc.
The ship was beautifully decorated with lots of bright and earth tone colors. She was clean almost to the point of immaculate. Our cabin was in Aqua Class (handicap accessible)only because we could not book an available H/A cabin in Concierge Class. The cabin was tastefully decorated in contrasting colors of beige and browns. Mu rented mobility scooter was in the cabin waiting on us to arrive. There was plenty of room for my scooter to be charged and extra room for us to maneuver around the cabin. There were no electrical receptacles in the bathroom except for an electric razor. There was one receptacle at the vanity dresser and one receptacle on both sides of the bed. Drawer space was limited to only five drawers. One large and four small so we had to 'cram' a lot of things together keeping in mind that this was an eleven day cruise and not the standard seven day one that we had grown accustomed to. The bathroom had plenty of room to maneuver around also. The shower had a wrap around curtain and was large enough for a wheelchair. It also had a pull down shower chair, and two shower heads (one stationary and one that slid up and down which was removable. To our room stewards credit, we did not meet him until the third day and then only because we ha to call for some washcloths.
We found the food, overall, to be very good. The desserts were rich and delicious and the menus varied. The dining room was large but very crowded. Our waiters were nice, courteous and professional but were obviously overworked. There definitely was not enough staff to guest ratio. People were seated very close together and each evening I had to run a gauntlet of guests and employees with my scooter just to reach our table assignment. There was no room at our assigned table for my scooter and I had to be park it outside the galley area and walk to my table. The menus varied on one could choose his/her meal from the current day's menu or the standard Celebrity menu. They kept the dining room and most of the ship's temperature very warm most likely because most of the guests were older. It made dining very uncomfortable and some diners did not come back to the dining room because of the 'heat' or lack of 'adequate air-conditioning'. I would give the Dining room a C (only because of the temperature) the food an A, and the service a B.
As far as specialty restaurants go, we ate at the Tuscan Grill once and the Bistro on Five twice. The Tuscan grill went beyond our expectations at all levels. The food was delicious and magnificently prepared and presented. The service was impeccable almost to the point of overbearing. The room lighting was dimmed and there were large windows surrounding the dining area. I would compare it overall to some five star restaurants. I would rate the Tuscan grill an A+. The Bistro on Five served salads, dinner crepes and dessert crepes. The crepes themselves were prepared as you entered the restaurant. You could choose from a breakfast crepe, a hot and spicy chicken crepe or an array of other delicious crepes. The dessert crepes were also good but our favorite was the Italian crepe stuffed with sliced bananas and slivers of pistachios and covered with chocolate Nutela. YUM, YUM.
If you are a smoker, there were plenty of areas set aside for smoking. While we missed not having a morning cigarette on our veranda, it was not the end of the world. Smoking areas were: Two areas with seating on deck 5 port side, the entire port side of deck 12 next to the pool, deck 15 aft at the Sunset Bar and deck 14 port side forward. This area was inside next to a bar with comfortable seating and where karaoke was held. We give kudos to Celebrity for these areas as we had heard that smoking was very limited on Celebrity's ships.
If you like your specialty coffee's as I do, the Cafe' Bacio was the place to be. It was on deck 5 and I could get my cappuccino and drive my scooter right outside to have my coffer and cigarette. Jose' and Mikelah took good care of me and always new what I wanted without me asking.
The staff on the Equinox were very nice, courteous and helpful. Everyone always had a smile on their face and greeted us when we passed. Being a member of Cruise Critic and registering for and attending the on board 'Connections' party proved to be advantageous. Out our get together we were addressed by Que, the cruise director. He told us how important our cruise reviews were and that Celebrity definitely read them all. In his closing statements, we were invited to a Bridge Tour later in the cruise. This was first for us. We received our invitation and met as a group. Security was tight and photography was not allowed. It was amazing to see what it takes to maneuver a large sea going vessel from point A to point B. Thanks to Celebrity for this rare treat.
The ports of call ranged from great to not so great depending on what excursion you had signed up for. As we had been to Cozumel before, we decided on the Bar Hop. We had a blast visiting the four bars and definitely drank too much tequila. "Coconuts" was by far our favorite bar and we recommend this tour to anyone who likes have a good time and get away from the 'touristry' stuff. In Roatan, Honduras were booked a private tour with Cynthia's tours. We wanted to see the diversity of people so our driver took us to the poor and disadvantaged part of the city and then to to middle and upper class part of the city. Then we went to several photogenic spots to take pictures of the ship in port and finally to a beach bar called Bananaramaville. Great place to relax, eat a great meal, listen to music and play in the water. We highly recommend Cynthia's tours for this port. Costa Rica was a disappointing port for us. We docked in the industrial side of Limon and took a ship sponsored tour. We went to the Del Monte banana plantation, took a canal ride by boat and then a train ride. As nice as this was, we would have preferred to see the rain forests and the beaches but a ship excursion took 10 hours. In Panama, we took another ship excursion. This was a lot nicer as we went by bus to Gatun Lake, boarded a small boat and cruised around the lake. Then the bus took us to the Gatun Locks where we stayed for app. one hour. We got to see two cargo ships going through the locks at the same time which was a treat for us. The entire tour lasted about three hours. In Cartagena, Colombia we took a private tour through Claudia's Tours. We were picked up dock side and taken to the Monastery, the Fort and to the 'Old City'. There is lots of history here with many photogenic spots for pictures. I got to take my scooter on this tour which proved to be a Godsend. PLEASE NOTE-While Cartagena is a fairly safe port of call, there are pickpockets mulling around everywhere. The city is very crowded and everywhere you go there are vendors trying to sell you something. Take only what money you think you will need for souvenirs and food or drink plus one credit card as some of the stores welcome credit cards. Leave your jewelry in the safe in your cabin. Take small bill - ones, fives, and tens to barter with (no large bills) and never pay what the vendor is asking. You can get a $20.00 shirt for $5.00 and a $40.00 silver bracelet for $10.00. Just walk away if you can't bargain with the vendor. Keep your cash in your front pocket or better yet carry one of the credentials holder with the lanyard and wear it around your neck. Sailing from Cartagena to the Cayman Islands was rough traveling. It was very windy and the ship "rocked" for about 20 hours. We were told by the crew that this was a common occurrence. If you are prone to being sea sick, plan ahead and take something as you leave Colombia. We did not get off the ship in the Caymens as we had been there before. This is a 'tender' port and I could not take my scooter. But if you do not have a major disability, there is definitely lots of stuff to do. Snorkeling, diving, para sailing, sunbathing, jet skiing, boating or shopping might be to your liking.
Back in Fort Lauderdale, disembarkation went smoothly. Those in wheelchairs went to the front of the line through customs and no problems were encountered.
We definitely would recommend this cruise, this ship and this itinerary to anyone. This was our first Celebrity cruise and we were very impressed with our overall cruise experience. We definitely plan to cruise with Celebrity again. We took over 400 pictures of the ship, our handicap access cabin, some of the food and the ports of call. If you would like see a certain picture please email us at: email@example.com as our email has changed from that listed above.