We were expecting an experience much classier than the Carnival, but were rather disappointed. We are going to give Celebrity another channce, as we had already booked on The Solstice for April, even before this Equinox December 2011 cruise, so hope some of these problems will not occur again..
Embarkation: Booarding was slightly delayed, as it was just off a repositioning cruise, and they had a bout with Noro Virus, and the ship also had to be inspected by customs. Very easy check-in, but probably because we were in concierge class, and they had a seperate check-in for concierge and suites. Welcome champagne and mimosas onboard. Were able to proceed to our room right away.
Cabin: Here is where Celebrity excels. Cabins were lovely with big screen tvs, wonderful linens, and a roomy balcony with comfy furniture. Some say the storage space is limited, but we had no problem, and empty suitcases store under the bed. The bathroom is 2 die 4 for a cruise ship! Big enough for 2 people to dress, shower is great and roomy, thick towels. Fresh flowers the whole time we were there, also champagne awaited us on arrival with fresh fruit, which was brought every day. Very comfy and accessable cabin! Our steward was Ana Marie, and she was really nice, and kept the room clean and ice filled. Canapes served every afternoon, but they were not very good. Ordered cheese and crackers instead of the canapes, but that wasn't good either.
Dining: We were expecting much better food, from what we had heard. Most of the food in the MDR was mediocre, except when we had filet mignons, which were excellent. Encountered a very rude assistant waiter one night, and changed our preference of where to sit. We had select dining. Reservations are recommended to avoid standing in line.
The buffet was good and bad. I love the way it was laid out, but many times the food was cold, or bland. I would recommend the fajitas. On an 11 day cruise, though, the food became rather repititious. The menus don't change a whole lot.
Sad to say, but the Carnival had better food, and also had 2 main dining rooms, as we always felt crowded next to people in the one MDR on the Equinox.
Room service was ok. Breakfast room service was pretty good. Expanded menu for concierge. There was a good assortment of items to choose from.
Excursions: All expensive!! In Costa Rica, we booked a trip that was advertised as an extensive tour by bus, boat and train. As we waited to board our tour, the weather was turning worse and worse. I assumed they would cancel it and we would receive a refund. No, we were sent on. (we found out that right after we left, they cancelled all the other tours, as ours should have been)
The bus was the 1st part and we went on about a 40 minute ride stopping at a Banana Plant (Del Monte). Too bad of weather to see much. Then we came to a place where we were to board a boat for a river wildlife cruise. Some fruit was served here. They debated calling off the trip again and finally decided to take us on the river. You could not see a thing out of the boat because the plastic sides were down, and it was pouring rain. No wildlife seen. We thought, well, the train ride through the jungle will be nice, and maybe we will see wildlife on that.
After the boat ride, though, we were told the train ride had been cancelled, and were immediately taken back to the ship. Tents the ship had set up had been all mangled by the storm that had gone through, and were thrown around. The tour guide said no refunds, because it was weather related.
We went to the excursion desk and there were a lot of angry people, including us, wanting a refund. We ended up getting about 1/3 back after much arguing. We felt really cheated.
We were so upset over this trip that we cancelled out expensive tour of the Panama Canal, because the weather was supposed to be just as bad. They argued, and argued, but finally let us cancel it and issued a refund.
The Cartagena tour was ok, but WAY too rushed! Took a bus and saw a few sites but no time to enjoy. Entered the Old City and had the carraige rides, but not very long and no time to stop or shop. many needed to use a restroom and thry took us to a 1 potty room where we all lined up and spent anout 30 minutes of our little bit of time standing in line. Rushed back to the bus and back to the ship. Would have been nice, had it been leisurely.
Decided to take another chance, and booked the stingray swim at Grand Cayman. They cancelled that, after we had taken tenders ashore. Do not know why. Could not get answers. We were talked into booking another, a tour and beach break, that SOUNDED good. HORRIBLE! First, taken to a place with overpriced stores for about 40 mins for "shopping", then to the "rum cake factory"..another "shopping" trip with buses pulling inand out of a miniscule parking area, constantly. AWFUL! Then to "Hell", which is another "shopping" opportunity and is a joke of a tourist trap! All of these places are not worth wasting time on, except to get tourists there for "buying" opportunities.
Finally to the beach break which we had been told included lunch, a mixed drink, snorkel gear, and 3 hours at the beach. After arrival, we were told that no lunch was included after all, and no snorkel gear. The "drink" was koolaid (I assume) out of an orange cooler in a plastic cup. Snorkel gear was $10 per hour per person to rent (we didn't),but we were hungry so we SPLIT a hamburger, bought 1 drink, to split, and this was $36!! Could not wait for the bus to come take us back!! No refunds for this excursion!
AVOID Celebritys excursions until they get some control over them, get better itineraries, and better tour guides. I will take my chances on private tours after this! It wouldn't take any effort to put Celebrities tours to shame!
Entertainment: did not care for the cheesy acrobatic show, but the Broadway singing and dancing show was exceptional! The glass blowing show was fascinating. Enjoyed the solarium and the whirlpools. Like that they have towels always available!
Casino: Not very exciting, would only open minimal, tables and betting minimums too high, which is silly. SOME gambling is better than NONE gambling, you would think.
OTHER: DO not forget toothpaste, hairspray, etc. Cannot buy any on the ship! When you sign your charge tickets, rewrite the amount at the bottom and draw a line through the extra tip area, as we had some extra tips added, without us authorizing it.
Going to try Celebrity once more and hope this time was just a bad time, after repositioning. Celebrity should certainly outdo Carnival, but they did not on this cruise, at considerably more money!