A nervous month was spent pre cruise waiting to see if BA cabin crew would strike and disrupt our London-Miami flights booked through Celebrity. Thankfully the courts intervened. Flying directly to Miami was a benefit as we did not get ... Read More
A nervous month was spent pre cruise waiting to see if BA cabin crew would strike and disrupt our London-Miami flights booked through Celebrity. Thankfully the courts intervened. Flying directly to Miami was a benefit as we did not get delayed by the snow storms in NE USA which affected Cunard passengers for example. Flight on time and amazingly got through Miami immigration in a few minutes - no queue at all and staff polite! Celebrity air and hotel arrangements took us to Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina Hotel which was fine with ground transfers working well. Nearby Bimini Grill excellent for dinner.
Check in at port and boarding was quickest ever partly because of booking Aqua Class. Staterooms were not ready until 1.30pm so lunch at buffet first. Bags arrived by 4pm. Aqua Class cabin was excellent differing mainly from others with the six jet shower. The real benefit of Aqua Class is dining in Blu Restaurant which we found outstanding both in food and service - breakfast and dinner there every day except one night in Murano's -again top quality dining. Open dining in Blu is settling in and we settled on 7pm virtually every night. The food was memorably good with only occasional odd menu items such as polenta with the pork chop and macaroni cheese with chateaubriand! We did not partake of the Persian Gardens (heated benches and steam rooms, sauna etc) which are an Aqua Class benefit. We used the gym every morning before 6.45 as by 7am none of the many treadmills were available. The Aqua Spa cafe which we used daily on Millennium ships was not the same on Equinox being located in a corridor almost and subject to ingress of smoke from one of the (few) smoking areas. We usally had lunch in the buffet restaurant which was varied and of a good standard although very crowded at times.
The three main shows in the theatre were good although the Cirque de Soleil type 'Equinox -the show' may not be to everyone's taste. Other acts were varied and of pretty high standard although we did not try the late night adult comedian. The Cruise Director Gary Walker (English) was very approachable and open and available to all. The internet service seems slower than on the Millennium class ships and failed completely the night before docking when check in for flights was needed.
We are not major sun bathers which was lucky as 3,100 pax filled all loungers very early indeed on sea days. Activities seemed well organised and attended. The New Year party on deck was good fun and the large crowds generally very well behaved -only a handful of drunk teenagers.
This was a Western Caribbean cruise and the ports were mixed - Grand Cayman - fine for snorkelling and stingray watching - not much history. Our Cartagena tour was cancelled - twice! We had done a city tour there before so stayed on the ship. We did a monkey watching tour in Panama which was fine - we have done a canal transit in the past -so fun to speed along part of it. In Costa Rica we visited the Sloth sanctuary -well worth while and in Belize did an airboat tour of the swamps to view wildlife. Apart from the airboat breaking down and torrential rain it was fine. The five mile tender into Belize City must make it vulnerable to weather. All these tours were organised through Celebrity and yes were more expensive than direct booking or picking one up on shore. However past bad experience has left us wary of these local tours in this part of the Caribbean. On Cozumel we had booked a hire car from Avis on line and it worked well. Difficult to get in a days driving however on such a small island!
Immigration at Fort Lauderdale was tedious but relatively efficient and by 12.15 we were at Miami airport after efficient bus connection. Thankfully we were on the 5.10pm BA flight as we understand the second flight went technical and left the following day. We made our connection to Belfast at Heathrow on time just before the snow arrived to disrupt many flights.
An excellent cruise with Celebrity Equinox proving an outstanding ship and Aqua Class proving a fine experience thanks to Blu! Read Less