Just returned last week from our amazing trip on the Celebrity Equinox. We arrived a week early to spend some time in Switzerland and Florence. After spending time schlepping bags from train stations to hotels and back again, we were more than happy to park our bags under our very comfy bed on deck eight and enjoy our time being pampered. We had sailed a few years ago on Azamara (a much smaller ship) and were worried about the crowds. Shouldn't have wasted a moment worrying. The ship is so well designed that we never felt like we were sharing our vacation with three thousand people.
The Equinox is awesome. It's only a couple of years old and everything is beautiful. Someone is always cleaning something and the ship literally sparkles. Our stateroom was roomy with plenty of storage and the bathroom was a revelation - big enough for two with a shower with actual doors on it! Huge mirror with lots of drawers and cabinets and pretty glass tiles on the wall. Totally a ten!
Food was mostly excellent. As in all buffets, keeping food hot was a problem but the quality and choice were good except at dinner. Since the ship is designed for passengers to eat in the MDR (or specialty restaurants), there isn't much choice in the buffet if you opt to go more casual. We never tried room service but that might be a way to go if you don't want to do one of the formal nights. Breads were especially yummy. Croissants, brioche and crusty breads to die for; something different every day. Desserts were also good.
After reading pros and cons of the Equinox's unique feature, the upper deck lawn, we weren't sure what to expect but we loved it. It was a perfect place to set down a blanket and enjoy a Bahama Mama as we were sailing away from one of the fabulous ports of call. One night they even had a wine and cheese party on the lawn complete with blankets, pillows and string quartet. There was a fee for this but it was beautiful and romantic.
Hot glass show is also another unique feature that we enjoyed. They made different pieces every day and it was fun to see what they came up with. Great way to relax after a long day of playing tourist.
Didn't take any of the ship's excursions. We prefer to do research and use local transport. We did use Ephesus Shuttle in Turkey and can highly recommend them as being punctual, informative and reasonable. Otherwise, use Rick Steves excellent new book about Mediterranean Ports. He gives lots of tips how to use local transport. The train from Civitavecchia to Rome is only four euros and the Metro from Pirraeus to Athens is only two. Compare that to a limo or taxi!
The Equinox is always jumping with activity. The daily guide is a great way to plan your time. There were experts lecturing about the ports, games, shows, cooking demonstrations, etc. Also, a beautiful library where you can grab a book and head for a deck chair (my activity of choice). Speaking of deck chairs, they're plentiful even on at sea days and the indoor pool area was great if there was a chill in the air. The Cruise Director, Que, and his staff were upbeat and fun. In fact, the ship's entire staff couldn't have been friendlier or more helpful.
Didn't buy any of the beverage packages. You have to REALLY drink to justify those. With soda at $2 and wine from $6-10, it's easy to indulge a little and not run up too big a bill. You can also bring on two bottles of wine at embarkation (and pick up soda at the ports to put in your stateroom fridge) to use in your room.
Ports of call were great. Mykonos, Messina and Rhodes were beautiful and Santorini would have been if not for cold and rain. Our Captain even made a change in our itinerary hoping to avoid the continuing strikes in Athens. Unfortunately, we still missed the Acropolis (transportation running but sites closed due to strikes) but that leaves something for next time.
Summing up, Celebrity is a wonderful cruise line and the Equinox is an amazing ship with something for everyone. We can't wait to book our next trip!