We are 2 married couples, ages 54-58, and this was our 8-10th cruise, my 10th. Our general line of choice is Princess and this was our first cruise on Celebrity. We spent one night pre-cruise at Embassy Suites on 17th Street near the port. It was a $15 cab fare from the airport to the hotel and we took a shuttle to the port in the morning for $7 each. Embassy Suites includes a great breakfast in the morning.
Embarkation was the best ever! Simple, fast, efficient and we were on the ship in record time. Lunch in the buffet was congested and difficult to find a table, which is not unusual on embarkation day. We got into our cabin around 1:30pm. The cabin was very nice. We especially liked the bigger bathroom, including storage AND a shower door! Much nicer than the Princess bathroom. We also enjoyed having the sofa so all 4 of us could visit comfortably in one cabin. The furniture on the balcony was nicer than Princess, too. We had 2 teak chairs (reclining) and a small table. Our cabin Steward (Renato) was great and took very good care of us. He worked in tandem but I don't remember the other gentleman's name. They were awesome. The ship is beautiful and exceeded our expectations. The furniture around the pool areas is so comfy with pads and small living room-style seating areas, creating a cozy ambiance. Bar service around the pool area was fine.
We chose select dining, and for the most part, had no wait at all to dine, even in the busier dining hours. We found the dining room to be a bit crowded in areas, where tables are almost touching. A bit uncomfortable at times, not really sure if we were dining with our neighbors or not. The service was superb. Our waiter (Kerim) could not have been better and they work very very hard. However, although the waiters are practically running back an forth, working hard for everyone, the average dinner was between 1 1/2 to 2 hrs, which is too long for us. The food was absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed every meal, even though they were lengthy.
The buffet is large and there is plenty of variety, including hand-dipped and soft serve ice cream/yogurt/sorbet all day long. Breakfast and lunch at the buffet was great, although often a bit difficult to find a table. Dinner time at the buffet was sadly lacking and didn't meet our expectation. The choices were the same as lunchtime every night and varied very little the entire cruise. We would have enjoyed the dinner buffet much more had it mimicked the dining room menu more, which Princess does. Also, the lights were very dim in the seating area, almost as if it was closed. If the dim lighting was to create ambiance, they missed the mark. In fact, overall they missed the mark at the buffet for the dinner hour.
The entertainment was superb. We enjoyed every show. My one criticism is that there was a lot of entertainment activity in the Grand Foyer, which extends several decks and is quite beautiful. However, there is very little seating in this area and it is very difficult to see anything. We missed a lot of good entertainment in there because it was so crowded and lacked seating. They need to move some of that activity to another venue where more people can sit comfortably and actually see what's happening.
We tendered in Belize and Grand Cayman. Celebrity's tendering organization is a good concept. One day went much more smoothly than the other.
Our shore excursions were booked through Celebrity and, for the most part were what we expected and were pricey but good. However, we had one mishap that was notable.
Our other excursions were: Limon, Costa Rica: We took a boat ride down a river, sightseeing for wildlife. It was very nice. We then ate local fruit which was delicious. Our last stop was a banana plantation. We learned the process of cleaning, staging and shipping the bananas. Our tour guide was very good, informative and very nice. We were also lucky enough to see a deadly poisonous snake called a fleur de lance that had just been killed by a local man working in a field. It was at least 6 feet long very dangerous to the fieldworkers. It was something we will probably never have the opportunity to see again. We all enjoyed this tour. In Panama we took another boat ride on Gutun Lake. The boat was small and had a lot of people on it, but we saw a lot of animals. Many people were soaking wet when we returned from the wind blowing water up into the boat. The tour also included a trip to the locks. It was fine. In Colombia we took a private tour, which was a mistake. There were approximately 30 of us, from 4 or 5 different ships. The tour operator told different people different things, including how long the tour would be. Several people were in danger of missing their ship because they were told our tour was going to be 2 hours, and it turned into 3 1/2 hours. The tour man took them off and got them a cab back to their ship. I hope they didn't miss their ship. They were very upset. We spent a short amount of time at a beautiful old monastery, a fort, old town, and a shopping area.
Sea days were nice, with plenty to do for those who desired. Lots of games, etc. I was impressed with the interaction the officers had with the passengers, often participating in games and other competitions on the beautiful lawn deck and around the ship.
We missed the "do it yourself" laundry that Princess ships offer. Celebrity overcharges to send laundry out and I've read they're not very careful returning it in the same condition, including shrinking clothing.
Overall, this cruise was great and we loved Equinox. I wouldn't hesitate to sail her again.