Prior to this cruise all out Celebrity experiences have been superb and they were our cruise line of choice. However, our experience on Equinox has caused us to question this in future.
Equinox was a lovely ship, it has been well maintained and was very clean and well presented. Having enjoyed Solstice and Eclipse in the past, we also enjoyed Equinox. The Solstice class ships are amongst the most modern and they provide a great cruise environment. If there is one drawback it that this design has only two stair wells and there is a shortage of lifts which results in some serious waiting at peak times. Deck space is also at a premium on sea days, which is probably to be expected with so much space taken up by the lawn club.
The food product and the service however fell well short of expectations.
Overall we had a reasonable cruise experience but nothing better than we had on Royal Caribbean. We enjoyed the destinations and had a good break but we feel that Celebrity may have been making some serious cut backs.
Looking at the food first. The Ocean View cafe provided much the same choice every day. The variety from day to day was poor and the quality of the meats used was at times very poor. For example, most of the chicken dishes were on the bone. Some of the beef was very tough and there was a lack of interesting theme buffets that we have experienced before.
The menus in the main dining room were very disappointing and again the quality of meat was at times very poor. The quantity of food was also lacking on some days and the variety and amount of vegetables was laughable, one main course had a single small carrot cut in half. Many of the signature dished were also disappointing. The brunch buffet was however excellent and a great demonstration of what can be done.
The pool side grill on Solstice and Eclipse used to offer a great range of dishes including nachos and tacos. Equinox was just burgers and hot dogs.
Having enjoyed them before, we booked into all of the speciality restaurants, however after our experience in Silk Harvest we cancelled the rest of the bookings. We had great memories of Silk Harvest on Solstice, but the experience on Equinox fell well short. The service was slow, the quality of the food poor and the nice touches that used to be offered have all gone.
There appears to be less staff and those that are on board do not appear to be as courteous and well motivated as in the past. Have there been cut backs? Has the new gratuity policy taken the incentive out of good service? We were also surprised at the lack of visibility of the ships officers. In the past they have been very visible and hands on. Perhaps the poor service was down to a lack of leadership?
Our previous Celebrity cruise was on Constellation in October 2011. It was absolutely superb in every way and comparable to, or better than, our experiences on Cunard and Ociania. We now have a dilemma, have Celebrity dumbed down their offer across the fleet, in which case they are no different to the other main stream lines, or was this a problem isolated to Equinox?