On February 24, 2012, my wife and I left on a 10-day Celebrity Equinox cruise out of Ft Lauderdale. We stayed in a balcony room overlooking one of the lifeboats. We knew about the restricted view so that wasn't really a surprise. Before I go on I'd like to state that overall, the cruise to St Thomas, St Kitts, Barbados, Dominica and St Martin was mostly nice. While this was our eighth cruise, it was our first on Celebrity. With the exception of two items, one serious and the other cautionary, I'd have recommended Celebrity and the Equinox wholeheartedly. In particular, the entertainment was better than we'd experienced before on Royal Caribbean, Princess and Oceania. The food in the main dining room was as good as we've experienced on other cruises with the exception of Oceania which is a class above the other ships we've sailed. Our cabin was larger and more comfortable than we've had in the past although we've mostly opted for the cheapest cabins so we may not have a good basis for comparison.
Nevertheless I feel compelled to write about a few items that should give one pause before booking on this ship. As is usually the case, we had a muster before we left port. Certainly, given the recent incident with the Costa Concordia, it would be reasonable to expect that Celebrity would want to make sure that this activity would instill confidence in the passengers. This was unfortunately not the case. We were told to gather without our life jackets in one of the common areas of the ship. As we entered, our names were checked off a list of those who sere supposed to be at that station. In our case it was "B" which we were told was shown on the back of our stateroom door. We then listened to a presentation on wide screen displays around the room. We were packed pretty close together. After the presentation, we were told to wait until told to leave. At that point, some names were called out but no one gave us any instructions on what was happening and why we were waiting. The crew didn't appear to know what it was doing nor did it have any answers to questions we had about what was going on. One can imagine how this would have played out if this was a real emergency. Finally we were dismissed. The experience was not a confidence builder.
It was interesting that we were told during the muster that if there was an emergency we should take directions from the crew and not use our cell phones. As you may recall, the fact that there was something wrong with the Costa Concordia was only known on shore after someone was alerted by a passenger's cell phone call. In this day and age, for passengers to be instructed not to use their cell phones in a time of emergency is simply delusional.
Shortly after the muster, my wife and I had reason to get our SeaPass reissued. It conveniently has on it your muster station. Unfortunately, when my wife's SeaPass was reprinted, it showed muster station "A" not "B". The crew member told my wife not to worry and just to go to muster station "A" instead even though she didn't know where it was. She finally got a correct card printed with muster station "B" shown. You have to wonder how serious the crew takes all of this if they are so lax about the rules to be followed in case of an emergency.
So much for safety. The other caution to note about this ship has to do with food. There appear to be more options than there really are. As is usually the case, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room and partake in a nice breakfast and lunch buffet on deck 14. While breakfast is extensive, don't expect any changes over the course of the cruise. There is a grill that serves hamburgers, hot dogs and fries at lunch but nothing else. There is a small eating area near the spa that has a few self-described healthy items for breakfast and lunch that are of some interest. There is a buffet for dinner if you don't want to eat in the dining room but don't bother. The one night we went it had little more than leftovers from lunch and not even very many of them. Mostly, the buffet area was shut down for dinner. Of course there are 3 other restaurants you can visit but each costs from $25 to $40 a meal. I suspect most of us wouldn't spend that much if we were home unless it was a special occasion. You will also find two other places to go for food where you have to pay. We have not been on a ship before in our 7 previous cruises where the venues for food that comes with the price of the cruise have been so limited.