We were visiting Miami from Northern Ireland. We took our flight from Dublin direct with Aer Lingus to Miami 5 days before the cruise, this allowed us a few days to explore the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area. We picked up a hire car for ... Read More
We were visiting Miami from Northern Ireland. We took our flight from Dublin direct with Aer Lingus to Miami 5 days before the cruise, this allowed us a few days to explore the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area. We picked up a hire car for our stay before the cruise then returned it to MIA on the embarkation day. TIP - the taxi drivers are a bit crazy and the set fare seems to be $27 from the airport to Port of Miami. I recommend an Uber - this works out at around $14 and a much comfier ride - head to the car rental ground transportation level and your Uber will find you.
Moving on to the cruise, we arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:30am, at this point hopped out of the taxi and had a very awkward greeting from a baggage collector who moved our bags away and immediately turned to us and said "We will load your bags for you, so I will accept tips now and ensure your bags arrive safely". Being a British tourist in a foreign country I gave him $5 for our 3 bags as I wanted to make sure they would definitely get on the ship. TOP TIP – have some small cash handy when you get to the port, by chance I happened to have a $5 in my pocket or it would have been awkward.
Next we walked through a quick security check, nothing much to report, just a standard TSA like check but not as strict and then a very quick visit to receive our XpressPass cards and a check of our passports. We have British passports however there were no visa requirements for the countries we were visiting (obviously just ensure you have an ESTA for landing in Miami!).
We then proceeded into the ship and did what anyone else would do, headed to the buffet. We skipped breakfast so were very ready for our buffet lunch. The range of food the Oceanview Café had was excellent, pizza stations, carvery’s, Indian and meat stations.
We found a nice area out at the back with lovely views of Miami, including the AA arena and the Miami Causeway. Whilst we were eating an announcement came over to PA to say rooms were ready 45 minutes ahead of schedule, we were excited as we had booked a balcony room, number 7125.
After 2 or 3 lunches each we decided to check out the room, the Atrium of the ship is incredible, I have previously sailed with Princess and NCL, I was told Celebrity were one of the best and they didn’t disappoint.
Being from the UK we have been beat up financially by Brexit and the exchange rates so any opportunity to save money was welcome, we ended up booking a balcony room through a US company cheaper than an inside cabin on the Celebrity Website. I won’t go into huge details about the room but it was a decent size, big sofa that was used the whole week to hold the cases, an extremely comfortable bed and the balcony which was used for about 2 hours every day, my happy place. Room pictures are attached.
The first stop was Key West, we booked a Trolley tour for $25 each which was nice to see around however with the benefit of hindsight we would have just hopped off the boat and walked up Duvall Street.
Next was a day at sea to explore the ship, we visited the iLounge, being an Apple fanboy this delighted me. We also headed to the front of the boat where it was quieter to sunbathe (this is up 2 floors and I don’t believe there is a lift). You have more space here compared to the poolside however food is further away….burns a few calories I guess.
Costa Maya – this stop was kind of poor and we had been warned about this. Our initial intention was to visit the Mayan ruins however when we began researching it showed that we were over 2 hours away. We decided we would go on shore; it was odd as we left the ship around 10am and already a lot of people were walking back to the ship telling us “not to bother”. We took a dander around the town and it was ok for souvenirs but it seemed the general consensus was that it is a stop that should no longer be on the route, this came from crew and guests.
The following day we visited Cozumel, we were told this was the better Mexican stop out of the 2. Our initial intention was to go to the beach and explore from there however my wife kept asking about the excursions. In the end we decided to go to Dolphin Discovery and swim with the dolphins. I liked this area as the dolphins had loads of space in the sea to swim. The cost was $89 and it is treated like a dolphin swim with a beach area afterwards. The one thing that really grinded my gears was during the experience there is a huge push on photographs, one single photograph was $80! I thought it was pesos at the start when I first read the sign. TOP TIP – if you do this experience ask them for the online link and you can buy the photos for up to 2 weeks afterwards, they are approximately 75% off. A CD of photographs was $165 which is atrocious. The beach area was pleasant and it included food & beverage whilst at the facility which was just ok but all in all we were very pleased at the experience only costing $89. We took the bus back to the port and explored a few of the shops in the port; this was a lot nicer than the shops in Costa Maya.
The next day we were in Grand Cayman, I had been there about 15 years before. We walked off the boat and purchased a bus trip for $25 each which took us around the island. TOP TIP – we wanted to Jet Ski at 7 mile beach and it was $100 for 30 minutes at the port to book. When you get to the beach most of the vendors sell this for $40 - $50 for half an hour so better than half price.
The bus took us to Hell and a little shop of novelties; it let us see around the Island a little and gave us a good history of the Island. We hopped off the bus at 7 mile beach to stay there for a few hours and it was genuinely the best beach we have ever experienced. We have been to California, Hawaii, Portugal and Spain however this beach had the clearest water and it was the prettiest beach we have been to. After jet skiing we swam for a while, some snorkelling and sunbathed for a while.
About 2 hours before we had to be back on board we started to look around for how to get back to the boat, luckily all the taxis and busses meet up at the beach car park, we were taken back to the port for only $2.50 each. There are small stalls at the port again for souvenirs and drinks; we felt the prices were pretty good too.
Leaving Grand Cayman was sad as it was our last stop on the cruise; we still had a day at sea ahead of us before we got back to Miami. When we got back to Miami it was a very civilised process, we left the hefty luggage out the night before and we were given our “waiting area”. We did not go to the meeting area, we went to get breakfast first and at that point our number was called so we wrapped up and headed off the ship. We picked up our luggage and got in the queue for immigration, this was very slow. The CBP conduct a “light” check of the passports and didn’t ask many questions but we did notice those that requested porters at the luggage area walked to the front of the immigration queue. We grabbed an uber at that point and headed to MIA.
In regards to entertainment there was a stand-up comedian, a puppeteer, a Paul McCartney tribute show and the ship’s crew show. I hope I don’t offend anyone but I felt the ship’s crew show was poor, we really didn’t enjoy it, and it felt like a super budget restrained Cirque performance. The performers are trying hard but we couldn’t help but feel that another stand-up comedian or perhaps a varied music performance would work better. The stand-up comedians were excellent, genuinely brilliant and usually a full house. The Paul McCartney performance was very well played, a little dull at times and a lot of empty seats however the guys were very talented.
The Oceanview café was the most impressive buffet we have used at sea, the food variation was excellent. It was nice to have Indian & Chinese dishes (even proper British bacon at breakfast!). The evening meals were at Silhouette, the service was wonderful and the food was delicious. There are static items on the menu and then one or 2 dishes per course are changed daily, a little more variation would really help but that’s a very minor thing as there were plenty of options.
As a British couple we really enjoyed afternoon tea every day between 3pm and 430pm I believe it was, the scones and cakes were delightful.
On our last cruise we had an inside cabin on the NCL Epic, so this room was a big upgrade for us. The balcony has very comfortable recliner chairs and a table which is nice for breakfast (menu is left on the door handle with your time preference) and our door locked tight so we didn’t have any outside noise at night. The bed was very comfortable and there was significant space underneath the bed for suitcases, the sofa was sizeable however I would assume most use it to hold their cases if not unpacking. A sizable wardrobe, safe, fridge and TV, the TV channels are enough for background noise, mostly news channels for some reason but best not to sit in the cabin watching TV on a cruise! The bathroom was very spacious, a good shower and plenty of storage.
I enjoyed all the stops except Costa Maya; perhaps it is my own mistake but I just didn’t enjoy it. Had we been able to go to the beach it could have been excellent however they are having a big sea weed issue at the moment so a lot of the beaches smell bad and you are unable to go in the ocean.
Key West is a wonderful first stop, I hadn’t been there for over 18 years and had a great time, Grand Cayman was superb for the beach alone and the locals are very friendly.
I could write a huge piece on this but my general impression is that EVERY staff member went above and beyond. Having worked in service delivery for 10 years I value this trait highly, Celebrity impressed on every single level. The waiters in the dining room were world class and the room attendants were friendly and thorough. I could write a long list of names but the whole crew is superb, the head Chef from Bergamo in Italy introduced himself to us one night. I congratulated him on the excellent display of his staff and food.
The Celebrity Equinox ship has been in service since 2009, we were told that the ship is due for a refurb sometime in the near future. I wouldn’t say that it would be overly necessary, I would say that the equinox has another 2 or 3 years before that would be required. The rooms are still in good form, the pool area, gym and shopping areas are very modern, the foyer is beautifully designed with glass elevators and the ship is very easy to navigate. Read Less