Reviews about the food on this ship had it rated as excellent, best of almost any cruise ship. I didn't find it that great, but maybe my expectations were set to high because of our EXCELLENT experiences previously on another Celebrity cruise ship. I am not a gourmet, but I would rate the food aboard the Equinox as average with a number of areas in much need of improvement.
Most of the onboard staff left much to be desired. The exceptions were our dinner waiter, assistant waiter, and cabin steward who went out of their way with their service and attitude. It seems that the wait staff and cabin steward were assigned more tables and cabins than the wait staff and cabin steward on our previous cruise. They worked hard but were always courteous, cheerful, and helpful. On our previous cruise our matre d' visited our table every day, but on this cruise (other than in passing) we only saw him two or three times during the entire cruise.
The seventh-level, forward-facing, Ocean View staterooms (Category 7?), are probably ones to be avoided. When docking or undocking the mechanical noise and vibration is horrible. It is unbelievably loud and probably rates a significant score on the Richter Scale, making it difficult to carry on a conversation or hear the television. It is at the level of the helipad, so the next level up may provide a better view (but when you're at-sea, it probably doesn't make much difference). At least it was quiet after we were docked in port or while we are at sea. Wish we had known about the noise in advance.
Getting around the ship was easy, EXCEPT for the elevators where there always seemed to be a waiting crowd, especially before and after mealtimes and when the shows let out. There were only 12 elevators in two areas of the ship to serve a 2,850 passenger capacity (compared to 12 elevators in three areas serving 1,950 passengers on another Celebrity ship).
Most of the Guest Relations staff were polite and considerate, but they often had incorrect information and once, when trying to correct an error on our on-board account, I ran into a person that really had an attitude.
Most of the shows were well worth the time to go. The crew talent show was amazing, they really have some talented crew members. The Corning Glass Blowing demonstration was really interesting, even though the weather was a bit nippy during some of their demonstrations. The crew provided blankets for those chilly shows.
Celebrity's internet rates have increase dramatically since my last experience six months ago. They didn't offer debarkation day specials on their internet packages because they "have lowered their prices," I was told. What a lie! The same package that cost me 35 cents per minute six months ago (including a debarkation day discount) now cost me 48 cents per minute. Starting the cruise this way didn't help my attitude.
Visits to the bridge and/or the engine control room were, previously, a no-cost benefit for the asking are now part of a $75 and $150 per person tour. It was also disappointing that, at one port of call, it cost $25 for a shuttle from the pier.
By the end of the trip there were a lot of passengers coming down with a cold or flu and we did too (not a great going home present). Staying in our cabin and miss some of the activities probably didn't help our mood. Disembarkation was a zoo. It was almost two hours from the time we were supposed to be at our meeting point until our group was actually called.
Despite my disappointment in the actual cruise and ship-board experience, the overall trip was great. The time in Rome before the cruise, and the visits at the various ports of call were great. The weather certainly cooperated and the only rain occurred on an at-sea day.
This ship was much bigger than our previous cruise (passenger capacity of 2,850 vs. 1,950); but bigger is not necessarily better.
Toulon, France (our 3rd port, but not listed in the drop-down selections for a review):
Not happy about the $25 that the cruise ship charged us for the bus to get to and from the pier/dock. We probably should have checked out a local taxi. None-the-less, this was a great visit and we enjoyed just wandering around on our own. A lot of the buildings and architecture were interesting and the very large street market was an experience.
Cartegena, Spain (our 5th port, but not listed in the drop-down selections for a review):
This was a leisurely port of call where we took a (very short but inexpensive) double-decker bus tour and wandered around the areas close to the docks. Unfortunately we found an "everything for â‚¬2" store where it was almost like the mad Christmas sales thatyou see in the movies. Despite the crowds in the â‚¬2 store, this was a nice relaxing day (and we probably got a bargain or two).
Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal (our 6th port, but not listed in the drop-down selections for a review):
This was the only port of call on this cruise where we took a shore excursion offered through the ship. It was most enjoyable. My mind set about growing pineapples was make right after the visit to one of the local pineapple plantations and the view at the Sete Cidades Crater Lakes was great although the weather blurred the color differences of the two lakes at the bottom of the crater. The guide/escort for this tour was great. She provided a lot of information about the attractions that we visited, as well as for the many point of interest that we saw along the route. Our only difficulty noted was that walking through the Antonio Borges Botanical Garden is a little tough on those visitors who were a little less mobile and required a cane or walker.