Just finished up a week on the Celebrity Equinox- Eastern Caribbean Itinerary and it was, overall, a great experience. However, I would be less than honest if I didn't also state that the cruise fell a bit short of expectations. ... Read More
Just finished up a week on the Celebrity Equinox- Eastern Caribbean Itinerary and it was, overall, a great experience. However, I would be less than honest if I didn't also state that the cruise fell a bit short of expectations. Following is my effort to provide an honest and fair assessment of the Equinox and our experience on her.
For reference- my wife and I are 50's/60's and have sailed on Carnival, Norwegian, Princess and one previous Celebrity Cruise (Mediterranean). Wife is from Scotland, I'm American, but have lived in UK and traveled a fair bit, mostly in Europe.
The Equinox Itself is a beautiful ship that is generally well laid out and easy to navigate. Cabins are very nice- Ours was an aft balcony which we really enjoyed. It was a pretty long walk to the elevators & stairs, but we didn't mind. For those who may have health or mobility issues, a more mid-ship location would probably be advisable. Although we generally try to use the stairs to help burn off calories, there were ample elevators and although the ship was full, the wait times were never long. The ship was well maintained and clean, and there were plenty of hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship which we appreciated.
THE CREW/STAFF & ENTERTAINMENT
We found the crew to be very friendly and helpful. Bartenders were often busy, but worked hard to accommodate everyone. The Celebrity Song & Dance crew were quite good and we enjoyed their presentations, particularly 'Topper'. The House Band was excellent and the other entertainers did a good job, as well. We also felt Maartin (Cruise Director) did an outstanding job. Overall, I'd rate the entertainment at an 8 out of 10.
This is one of the areas where we felt Celebrity has 'fallen off' a bit. While the Silhouette Main Dining was Good, it wasn't Great. The service was excellent, but Celebrity has clearly elected to decrease it's food costs somewhat as compared to our last cruise with them. In fairness to the company and as a restaurant owner, I can understand the huge challenges they must face when attempting to feed so many people with varying tastes and still maintain profitability. However, I really hate the fact that Celebrity, as well as most of the other cruise lines have elected to push the extra-cost specialty restaurants so heavily. It's quite obvious they are using a lower grade of beef and seafood in the main dining room and only serving 'Prime' or upper-level 'Choice' in the specialty venues. That would be easier to accept if the cost of dining in the specialty venues didn't run $50+ per person per meal. I just believe that is a bit excessive for most cruisers.
The Oceanview Buffet food was very good and equalled or exceeded that of buffets on our past cruises with a myriad of choices MOST of the time. Unfortunately, this venue was more or less shut down during the afternoons and after around 9 to 9:30 in the evening; offering only pasta and pizza at those times. Late-night dining options were very limited, although free room service was available until midnight. Apparently, the 'Midnight Buffets' are a thing of the past?
Burgers, fries, hot dogs, etc were available at the Mast Grill, but I'm not sure on the hours of operation.
We chose not to eat at any of the specialty restaurants, but heard generally positive things about them.
PORTS of CALL
This was really our biggest disappointment with the Equinox's Eastern Caribbean itinerary- Not so much the Ports-of-Call themselves, but more the timing. The stops (in order) are San Juan, St Thomas (USVI), Tortola (BVI) & Nassau. We elected to take this cruise primarily because we wanted to see San Juan and Tortola. Unfortunately, these were the two ports in which we had the least time (basically, only a half-day). I've been to St Thomas a few times and am not a big fan (although it does offer one of the best beaches in the Caribbean). Given its close proximity to San Juan & Tortola, I would much prefer to have concentrated more on those ports.
As is the case with every cruise I've been on, Celebrity 'pushes' those activities which provide them with extra profit- Art auctions, shore excursions, shopping in certain stores, etc. To their credit, their promotion of these things is not in the least obtrusive (as it sometimes is on Norwegian and Princess). My only complaint here is with their "Shopping Programs". The 'Shopping Guide (Michael) and probably the cruise line itself obviously has some sort of 'arrangement' with certain stores in each of the ports. It's fine that they offer recommendations for shops that sell 'genuine' & legitimate merchandise; however, these 'shows' are a bit misleading in that the great deals they go on & on about are not really that great. I priced some rather expensive watches that were supposedly 'Duty and Tax Free' making them a great bargain, only to discover I can buy them just as cheaply back home.
But, my real complaint here is that maps they give you of each port, show ONLY the shops they are promoting.
I will definitely sail with Celebrity again. In spite of the areas above where I have outlined a few issues, I still believe they are one of the best, if not 'the best' of the mid/upper-level cruise lines. I've read some pretty negative stuff another reviews and have a hard time believing these people were being objective. For example, one reviewer of a March, 2019 cruise made the comment that the smoking areas around all of the bars bothered he and his wife. Hogwash! There ARE NOT smoking areas around all of the bars. Equinox has 4 designated smoking areas, 2 of which are locate on the starboard-side of bars- One completely aft and the other on the top deck forward. All one has to do at either of these, is sit on the port side where it's smoke free. None of the other bars allow smoking.
Another cruiser complained about embarkation, I honestly do not see how it could have gone any smoother. I thought Celebrity did an outstanding job of getting everyone on and off the ship smoothly. Read Less