This was our third sail on Celebrity and overall we had a great time. DISCLAIMER: We're going to point out a few things Celebrity can do better, but do not let it discourage you from taking this cruise on the Equinox. Celebrity is our ... Read More
This was our third sail on Celebrity and overall we had a great time. DISCLAIMER: We're going to point out a few things Celebrity can do better, but do not let it discourage you from taking this cruise on the Equinox. Celebrity is our favorite cruise line and we had an absolutely fantastic vacation!
The most helpful part of our experience was talking to other Cruise Critic members! Go to the Meet and Mingle! Talk to people. You will learn so much.
We flew in to Fort Lauderdale the day before sailing and stayed at the Hyatt Place. Nice room, noisy lobby, within walking distance of several restaurants. We walked to Gregorio's, an informal Italian eatery. It was marvelous. The hotel had a shuttle, but we did not use it. We went straight to the valet, and in two shakes we were in a van with another couple and on our way to the Equinox.
Embarkation was AMAZING. We love Celebrity's online check-in. We showed our Xpress Pass boarding passes and walked on at 11:00 a.m.! I strongly advise you to download the Celebrity app for your smart phone. You will not even need the paper copies of your Sea Pass, as you can access them from the app. The app also has interactive deck maps, a handy personalized schedule, a way to view your Xpress Pass account, and the ability to book reservations at specialty restaurants.
We went directly to our cabin (a great aft facing Concierge room) and dropped off our hand luggage, and stowed some things in our safe. It looked like our cabin wasn't exactly ready, so we went for some lunch in the Oceanview Cafe. We found out later that the security team thought the contents of our safe belonged to disembarking passengers, and raced all of it to the cruise port -- but then figured out we had just checked in. We felt bad about it, but were impressed with their thoroughness.
Before embarkation we had purchased the soda package. We had done the math 10 different ways and could just not see how we would drink $59 worth of sodas and alcohol per day. During our first lunch, Evan in the Oceanview gave us a deal: 50% off our second Classic Drink Package. That tipped the numbers in our favor, and we did it. Although he was very busy, Evan patiently explained the program and answered all our questions.
Our overall impression of the Equinox? A spotless, well-run ship with a happy crew. We cannot recall one single time in which a crew member was less than cheerfully helpful. Even if they had answered the same question many times that day, crew members were always glad to share their knowledge. We were less than pleased with the excursions, but more on that later.
Abdul, our room steward worked tirelessly to see that our cabin was made up to our wishes. We certainly appreciated his efforts and small touches. We booked a Sunset Veranda (SV) concierge class cabin. After many cruises, we knew this was the level we wanted, and were not disappointed. We had a large family in the corner suite next to us, and were worried at first about the noise they would make, but except for a little good-natured giggling each afternoon before dinner, we had no problems.
Dining experiences aboard the Equinox are plentiful and varied. We ended up eating all our breakfasts in the Oceanview Cafe. Good food, good variety. Helpful staff. I must make a special note of the "Toast Guy". He was by far the most cheerful member of the crew and I enjoyed chatting with him while waiting for, "the best toast on the ship" each morning.
Lunch at the Oceanview was hit and miss. The key to a good experience was arriving early. On one port day many passengers arrived back on board about 2:30 and it seemed all of them headed for the Oceanview, only the Oceanview was getting ready to switch to dinner, and there were very limited choices and even fewer seats. It's not like this is a surprise to Celebrity: This must happen each time at that port.
A true disappointment on the Equinox was the lack of sugar-free desserts. I know his sounds awfully petty, but on our last cruise (Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas) we had many sugar-free choices each day. Celebrity, you need to up your game! You know the average age of your cruisers, and that they will appreciate these choices. One dessert on the buffet was labeled, "no sugar added" but after one bite, we were positive it had sugar. We both have to be very careful about added sugar, and were sad that we had to be on guard for the rest of the cruise. If you need a couple to be on a sugar-free taste-testing panel, we're your team! This is not a reason not to cruise on the Equinox, but as my husband said, in this day and age there should be many more choices available than just the sugar-free jello on some days.
Dinner for us was in the Silhouette Main Dining Room each night. This was a planned decision, and it worked well for us. We asked for a two-person table, but when we booked none were available. We were seated at a ten-person table, in the farthest left hand section of the Silhouette. At first I was very disappointed. It was like getting put at the kid's table at Thanksgiving. On the second day we left a little early to get to the show, and saw how shockingly close the tables were in the main section of the dining room. From then on we appreciated our quiet little corner. We found it strange that everyone at our table had an aft-facing cabin and that we all had Abdul as our steward. We hope someone can explain this thinking to us. Overall, we enjoyed the food at the Silhouette. We had a great waiter. The sommelier started off slow, but grew to know our tastes. The appetizers were very good. The entrees were pretty good except for one very tough steak Diane on the second night.
We did eat at two of the specialty dining restaurants. Once for lunch at Sushi on 5. Meh. We have a great sushi restaurant here in our hometown and it was nothing extraordinary. The other time was for a "Progressive Lunch" at the Tuscan. It. Was. Fabulous! We will do this again.
Most frustrating was the wait to get a drink at a bar counter. Several times it was approaching 15-20 minutes. With that number of people and the number of staff, it's just, well, inexcusable. They know when, where, and how much people drink. Get it together, Celebrity. A personal request is maybe stock some diet tonic water.
We really enjoyed the main evening shows. The production was of a higher quality than we have seen on any other cruise. We had so much fun at the Silent Disco nights and wished they had them every night. Cruise Director Maarten put on one heck of a party for the final cruise of his contract. So much fun! We were a little disappointed in the number of music choices around the ship, such as combos or quartets.
We booked all our excursions through Celebrity. Okay, Celebrity, we think we know why you are so vague in your online descriptions of your excursions. If an excursion doesn't work out, you can claim that a third party had control of it. But in the end, it comes back on your reputation. We have a few limitations, and frankly felt we had to settle when it came to excursions. We did not book an excursion in San Juan because of the riots the week before. We went on the Kayak, Hike, and Snorkel in St. Thomas. It was crowded, a bit unorganized, and across the bay from a garbage dump. In Tortola we went on a beautiful beach day, but the hike between the two beaches was much more strenuous than described. Lots of bending through caves, etc. You must be very physically fit to be able to do it. In the end was it worth it? My husband and I disagree. It was the most beautiful beach we have ever seen (and we've seen a lot), but the hiking part of it let me down. My husband believes that the excursion was worth it, and not to be missed. We did it because we paid for it and we weren't sure we'd ever be back, but it will reflect on the way we look at --and trust-- excursions with Celebrity. In Nassau we took the Sea and Sea tour. The tender out to the glass sided submarine included a narrated tour past some stars' homes and villas. It was interesting. The submarine was better than one we had been on before. But the bus ride up to the fake straw market and fort was cheesy. It was not worth the $80 we paid.
Departure. Ugh. While on the ship we bought the "Post Cruise Pier to Airport Transfer". We knew we would have to grab our luggage with the help of a porter to get to the bus. The bus ride itself was $16 each and we felt at the time that it was a bargain. Oh no. Once off the ship we headed to the bus. At no time during the purchase on ship did anyone at the guest relations desk tell us to KEEP OUR RECEIPT! Guess what, at the bus, they demanded our receipt before they would let us on. And when I said demanded, I mean it. The bus personnel did not give a rat's ass if we missed our flight or not, but they were not letting us on without proof of payment. We even had specially numbered tags on our bags that showed we had purchased the transfer. Finally I scrambled to dig in our Celebrity app and found our purchases (another reason to get the app!) and she accepted it. Just after we got on, the bus lady argued loudly with a man in a wheelchair who also did not have his receipt. It would have been a scary experience if I could not have found it and we had missed our plane. One of the bus personnel just sat in a luggage cart staring at her phone instead of trying to help us. What a shocking difference between Celebrity and this company.
A special warning about the Fort Lauderdale Airport. We had someone on the ship tell us that you cannot check your bags more than two hours before your flight. We did not believe her, as we have never in over the 100 flights we have taken ever ran into anything like this. But when we got to the airport it was true. We had to literally sit on our luggage with hundreds of others for two hours until we could check in. Absolutely ridiculous. You can check your luggage all the way to your final destination from the ship for $25 per person. DO IT! It is the best bargain on the ship. Then take a cab to lunch and then to the airport. Learn from our experience.
In all once you cruise with Celebrity you will not go back to lesser lines like Carnival ever again. This is beautiful ship with an outstanding crew. Go out of you way to sail on her! Read Less