Review of the Equinox Jan 17th sailing
It would be good to start with a little bit of info about who is writing this review. We are in our 50's and have cruised Celebrity a bunch of times over the last 10 years. I am an Italian trained Chef and a certified Sommelier. My wife of almost 30 years is disabled.
We arrived in Ft Lauderdale a day early so we could enjoy our first day on the Equinox and not be tired from the flight. Embarkation took a whole 20 minutes from dropping off the bags to being on the ship. I was impressed. We went to the Aqua Spa Cafe for a light lunch. I then headed to Murano to make dinner reservations. The wife unpacked the carry on and I went to explore the ship. We normally cruise M class ships so the exploring was important. I did not want to get lost. It would be embarrassing to have to have the Coast Guard rescue me. All of the luggage came but 1 so I went to Guest relations and was told that they were holding the bag because there was a restricted item in the bag. As it turns out the wife had packed a travel iron. I filled out the paper work and was handed a claim ticket stating that I would get the iron back some time after 10pm on the last night. It was delivered by a security agent right on time.
We enjoy watching the sun rise in the morning with a light bite to eat. Some berries, melon and hot water to make our own coffee. On the first morning the wrong food went to the wrong cabin. When I called they were very apologetic but the second time the order was still wrong 1 hour later we got the correct order. All was well up to the second to last morning when it was wrong again. This time it was corrected within 5 min.
I think it was the second night and we wanted to experience Blu. We were in cabin 1524 Aqua class so I felt that if we are paying for it we should try it. I was not impressed. I felt rushed. I had not even finished ½ of my glass of sparkling wine and the appetizer order came and the sommelier was pouring my glass of white wine. I do not recall the appetizer dish but the salad was beyond belief, a celery salad. I could have had 3 of them and not done the entrEe. Speaking of the entrEe it was a well presented lamb rack. It was cool at best. I sent it back and got another one. It was just a bit better and still not hot. I was hungry and did not want to make the wife wait so I eat it. I commented on the way out to the asst. Maitre d' and I was given excuses. I do not want excuses just an apology and a resolution to the opportunity. Being a sommelier I want my wine served at the correct temperature. I was served a nice glass of Sancerre that must have been 40 degrees. 48-52 would have been correct. When I asked the sommelier I again got excuses.
We enjoyed breakfast 3-4 times and everything was great. I had the Muesli that is made table side every time and had a different smoothie. All were good. As I see it, the difference between Blu and the main dinning room is kind of like the difference between going to a wedding for a 1000 and going to one of your better neighborhood restaurants.
On a whim we thought a little bit of pasta might go well. We made reservations at Tuscan Grill. Things got off to a less then stellar beginning when the Sommelier did not know the difference between the different growing areas where Prosecco is grown. It does make a difference because different areas can have different levels of sweetness. Even though the wine came from a less then outstanding area it was surprising good. My compliments to the buyer. We had a great Antipasti served to us shortly after we sat down. It was good but the prosciuto had all of the fat trimmed off. If you know prosciuto you know the importance of the fat. I am sure that this is a liability issue but a pitted kalamata olive is no where as good as an olive with the pit. I know I am being a bit picky but you have to understand my back ground. Yes it does make a difference.
I had eyed a 2003 Barolo at the Cellar Masters wine bar and asked my sommelier if I could have a glass. I was told that I would have to go get it my self one deck down and forward. I did just that but I was not happy about it. I was afraid that my steak would be setting at my place getting cold. The entrEe I had was a New York steak with vegetables and a paper cone filled with potatoes. It was to die for. It was correctly cooked and so hot I had to blow on it to cool it down. The night prior in Blu the potatoes were limp and cool. I thought I was going to get the same thing. I took a bite of the spuds and burned my mouth. On our return visit the Maitre D' offered to go down to the Cellar Masters wine bar and get any of the wines I would like. The Proscuito issue had been corrected. The main dish the Mixed grill had great flavor but very cool. The pasta portion served on the same plate was hot and tasty. Later that same evening I ran in to Chef Eric and he asked me how everything was. I told him about the prosciuto and he got out his phone and contacted the chef in The Tuscan Grill and the problem was solved.
We have been big fans of the M class specialty room for years. Murano did not disappoint us. I think we had 5-6 meals there and the quality of service went from outstanding to totally over the top. The assistant Maitre d' Christian had served us on the Millennium and was now at Murano to guide us through every meal. The room is drop dead gorgeous, the menu is improved and the wine list outstanding. Our Sommelier had no issue with opening a bottle of wine that was not on their list even when I only ordered 1 glass.
One night I asked Executive Sous Chef J.P. if he would be kind enough to expertly prepare a special dinner for me. I told him what I was looking for and it could not have been better. If you truly enjoy and appreciate a fine dinner and outstanding service please go to Murano. One word of caution. If your idea of sea food is fish and chips you will probably not enjoy your experience. Many people have questions about the profitability of the specialty restaurants. I asked the Food and Beverage manager this question and was told that Celebrity looses money on them but gains so much more in guest satisfaction it is worth the loss. Speaking for my self, the Murano level of dinning experience is what brings us back to Celebrity cruise after cruise. We have never had the same level of excellence in either the Sterling Steak house or the Pinnacle Grill.
On our first night I had ordered a bottle of a 1996 C Château d'Yquem. My intent was to have some with my seared duck liver and a little bit more with dessert. That happened but I was not able to finish the bottle. The bottle lasted me 4 nights and traveled to 4 different venues and was served beautifully.
As for the $35.00 charge I added up what a comparable meal would cost in Las Vegas and it would be about $200 just for the food. At $35 I feel we get a great value.
There were 2 high teas served in Murano I had a massage going on for the first one but attended the second. The cost was $21.00. If you have ever had a real true High Tea you would appreciate this one. The scones were warm, the tea sandwiches fresh and the Champagne was all you wanted. Louis Roderer.
I got the latest on the attire question. On formal night, formal attire is required in the main dinning room. All of the specialty rooms except sport casual on formal nights.
Bistro on 5
What a great venue. We had lunch there after doing my second massage. The food is light with the majority of the dishes being crepe based. You can see the crepes being made as you walk in. Even though there was a line to get in the service was fine and the food was hot. Try the vegetable lentil soup and the Cowboy Crepe. There is a $10 cover charge
Aqua Spa Cafe
This is another reason we cruise Celebrity. All of the offerings are first quality and good for you. The Cafe is staffed by the same folks that run Murano so the service is top notch. Although it is set up as a self serve venue, we ended up being served most of our meals. They offer a number of freshly grilled selections for lunch that they do not advertise and an egg white only omelet for breakfast. They serve the normal selections of cereal, yogurt parfaits, smoked salmon and fruit. For lunch try the marinated fruits and there 4-5 different sorbet that make a great dessert. There is no cover charge
Besides Murano this was the best dinning experience we had. We were greeted warmly and sincerely by all of the staff. We did not order off the menu. The Maitre d' ordered everything for us. We were not rushed and they kept my Sake flowing like water. We must have had 5 courses. The most unusual was the ice cream wrapped in a rice shell.
They were so wanting to please they asked us 4 times if we wanted coffee. We declined each time.
Ocean view Cafe
I only eat there once and I had pasta with a meat sauce. It was good and hot. Although Celebrity listens to their guests and now offers a scaled down dinner buffet, I miss the casual dinning offering they had on the M class ships. The servers were very new and tried really hard to please. The food was always hot, the service very caring and you did not have to carry your own plate. We would eat and watch the sun set.
I had never had a professional shave before and because I like to try new things I gave it a go. The cost was $45. When it was all said and done I felt it was a value. The only down side was the sales pitch for skin products. If I would have taken the bait I would have spent $800 for a 6 month supply.
I had 3 massages all on port days. One was with a Facial. Something I had never done before. Jana did all 3 massages and they were all outstanding.
I thought it would be a good idea to help out the wife with her bad knees and back ache. We had Martha the Acupuncturist see if she could work some magic. The wife had almost instant relief. I do however question a professional Acupuncturist getting an automatic 15% gratuity for services rendered.
For me, this was a super venue. The prices for a 5oz pour of wine ran from $10 to almost $40. There were more reds then whites and the offerings did not change during the cruise. You can get a glass of wine at any time and use you sea pass card to charge it. I do recommend that you use the machine when it is staffed by one of the Sommeliers. If there is a problem they can take care of it right then.
Wine tasting events
I attended 4 of the 5 events that were an extra charge. I find that I do not learn too much from the free ones. All of the tastings were informative and a good value. The Riedel tasting still blows me away. Every one that enjoys wine should attend this event. It will change the way you enjoy wine forever.
Wine and cheese on the Lawn
This event was one of the most inventive ideas I have seen in years. On the lawn area on deck 15 the staff sets out about 10 square sheets and anchors them with wine buckets filled with ice and water. They then put out a bunch of pillows on each sheet to sit on. You can then order either a glass or bottle of wine from the sommeliers. They did this twice on our cruise.
I stopped in twice after dinner to have a quick Cognac. The prices are reasonable and they have a wide selection ports, single malt scotch and a grappa. Great piano player that was a real hoot.
I have had my share of drinks in my day but ever have I had any thing like the drinks here. They are a fusion of food and alcohol. The bartender Ivan spends much of his day just preparing the different concoctions used in the drinks. Each beverage is $12.00
The Disabled cabin was great it was 297.6sf and the veranda was 82.7sf . We had ample storage room but the closet to hang up clothes was a little bit narrow causing clothes to get a little bit squished. I enjoyed the different flavored ice tea every day. The auto open and close cabin door was a God send. Our cabin attendant Newton was on top of everything. He was instrumental in helping me pull off my wine tasting party. I think we had over 20 tasters in the cabin. A good time was had by all. There was some comment about the different shower head configuration in a disabled cabin. In our cabin there were 2 shower heads on was a hand held and the other fixed. Both had adjustable spray patterns. The shower it self was of good size and you no longer flood the bathroom like you do on the M class ships. The beds were much better then what I remember on the M class ships. They seem to have had a pillow type cover over the mattress. There was a small issue with the auto close door. If you have the veranda door open, the air pressure can be so great that the door will not open.
During a galley tour I had the chance to talk to corporate executive traveling Chef Eric. I asked him about the coffee served and was told that Celebrity serves a blend of both Arabica and Robusta beans. This explains why I do not like the coffee. I am an Arabica kind of guy.
The food competition show
After chatting with the F&B director a few times he asked me if I wanted to be a judge at the competition. I said yes and had a great time. The team I voted the best did not win. What a bummer.
I was totally transfixed during the whole demo. I believe they put on 2 shows a day. If you have time go to deck 15 and see what they do. You will be amazed.
With the wife in a scooter we did not find a lot of trips that would be able to accommodate her needs and our and wishes.
A special thank you to:
Ismail Kahveci Maitre D' Murano
Cristian Baluta Asst. Maitre D' Murano
Bojan Radulovic Sommelier Murano
Adhi Wicaksono Maitre D' Silk Harvest
Newton Rodrigues Stateroom Attendant
Edwin Adlawan Asst. Stateroom Attendant
Ivan Djurovic Molecular Bar
Saloshnee Night time cleaner
Giorgio Di Pietro Food and Beverage Director
Mustafa Karaca Front waiter
Luis Rodriguez Asst. Waiter
Jon Pilling Concierge