We sailed twice with Mercury, a much smaller ship but a warm crew we loved to be with. So we can't help but make comparisons. Equinox is a beautiful huge new ship. Crew is pleasant, but we noticed they don't go out of their way to smile and say hello. Even the sales staff can hardly break into a smile as you are buying something! The rare Exceptions were so appreciated!
We did have a really terrible cruise director, unfortunately, but at the last show, she announced it was her last cruise. She was shrill. We fondly remember Stewart from Celebrity Mercury, he had humor and warmth and easily won us over. It is an art, not everyone has it.
That's it for the negatives.
We walked a lot, but had a cabin midway, so venues seemed close. (We made up for any weight loss with fantastic 3 course meals).
Excellent entertainment and programs, and lovely music in the different venues all over the ship. The shows were as good as Broadway, cables brought acrobatics over the front rows of the theater in Cirque Du Soleil fashion. Just amazing!
Celebrity is quiet where it needs to be and we love this cruise line for that. They don't interrupt the peace in your stateroom with announcements and only a few poolside.
Equinox had an excellent program about the state-of-the art bridge, explained by an impressive and articulate crewman. He explained that 4 Senior crew members are on deck at all times and also the marvelous technology to guide the ship, the captain can use his pinky to guide the ship! Also, a lot of the time they are on autopilot but it's carefully watched The captain can be called for any problem, night or day. They give this program every cruise so I don't think it was in response to the Costa tragedy. In fact, they didn't mention it. Lots of programs and not enough time to take it all in.
We did take in the backstage tour, which was offered to repeat cruisers. Fun to see the costumes, their repair area, the dressing rooms, the stage elevators, lighting and meet the dancers/singers, hear about how they are chosen, etc. Fascinating! a comment was made that the sound level in the theater is too LOUD! this is quite true!
We made sure to see "Top Shelf", wherever they appeared; a fine group of four men who sing acapella. Great style and each one has a beautiful voice and rhythm, nice combination of talent. We watched for their different venues in "Celebrity Today", the daily news. Fine musicians in areas around the ship, a pleasure to listen to.
We took a couple of tours off the ship, this one was privately booked: a 5-hour sail in Barbados on a catamaran, swimming with turtles and snorkeling (Silver Moon). We loaded on the sunscreen for that one and didn't get burned. The turtles were amazing to watch, they enjoyed being fed the small fish. You could touch their shells, but no flippers allowed. Water was a bit cooler than last time we cruised in Nov., but very salty and buoyant. The highlight of this tour (besides the turtles) was speaking to the 2 mates who are locals. They were sincerely interested in us and went out of their way to make us comfortable and were happy to answer our questions about Barbados. Very pleasant, made the trip quite special.
We also toured St. Thomas and had a 2-hour stop at beautiful Magen's Bay. Water was cold there! A cold front had moved in. We were told a Mr. Fairchild had donated 56 acres of this land to St.Thomas, the area never to be developed, Magen was the donor's daughter's name. It is gorgeous there, sunny and shady trees both. Lots of pelicans diving head first into the water.
We hired a taxi to take us around St.Maarten/St.Martin (Dutch and French) Disappointing how bad the roads are and how poor most of it is, their port is nicely laid out and up to date, so it was surprising. The nicer homes are more hidden in the hills. Nude beaches are the norm in many areas, kinda interesting.
Chose "Select dining" sat upstairs where it is not as noisy, made some nice friends, enjoyed meals together, had the best waiters and staff, Joseph and Ashley - Natalie at the door. It was always fine dining and service in the Main Dining Room, we never ventured to the Specialty restaurants. Chef Eddie is a delight to speak to and his lamb, well, I had it 3 times on the ship. Just melts in your mouth. His Caribbean buffet was extra special, too. I only had to say I wanted English tea during my meal and it was always there.
This large ship has Corning Hot Glass Show on-board, on the open deck at top (a lawn is up there!). We enjoyed watching the creation of a glass item from start to finish. I won a raffle at the end, they gave me a bowl that had been made there. These folks sign on for 6 months, travel all over and make (beautiful) glass. They do love their jobs. They have closed circuit TV covering the oven and the the glass blowers so you don't miss anything...a live running narrative by these highly knowledgeable folks is not to be missed.
We also attended a kitchen prep event in the galley. Watched them make the sous chef foods and carve pretty flowers out of foods. Spoke a little to a man carving a cantaloupe. He also carves the wonderful ice displays. We heard about how they can prepare for work on cruise ships and they receive an education for these services. We were surprised that the atmosphere in that galley was so calm, everyone going about their jobs skillfully, quietly. Got some samples of marzipan and choc covered strawberries as they were making them. as if we NEEDED that!
The stateroom was lovely, larger than on Mercury, the beds are rounded at the ends, so you don't bang your legs going around them, clever. The bath area is roomy enough with drawers. I found the step up and down to the bathroom a little bit lower than on Mercury and was happy about that, my knees held up better. The shower is a lovely lexan paneled curved one, no shower curtain, which is nice.
Loved the balcony, would not do without it. It's a beautiful place to read, eat and snooze. All good things must come to an end...10 days is a good length of time for this trip. We will sail further south next time...Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Love that warm water!
Embarkation and Disembarkation were a necessary hassle but done the best they could.