My husband and I were on Celebrity Equinox’s Oct 25th transatlantic crossing, leaving from Barcelona, going to Cartagena (Spain), Agadir (Morocco), Lanzarote (Canary Islands), Tenerife (Canary Islands), and ending in Ft Lauderdale. This ... Read More
My husband and I were on Celebrity Equinox’s Oct 25th transatlantic crossing, leaving from Barcelona, going to Cartagena (Spain), Agadir (Morocco), Lanzarote (Canary Islands), Tenerife (Canary Islands), and ending in Ft Lauderdale. This was our first transatlantic crossing! We chose this itinerary because of the exotic ports and also because it was relatively affordable, even with the double open-jaw airline tickets. We booked directly with Celebrity for the cruise and air package. The airline tickets came out much cheaper than if we had booked on our own. We chose an Aqua class cabin for the exclusive dining at the Blu Restaurant and for the spa access.
We flew out of NY on American Airline on Monday afternoon, arriving at Barcelona airport at 7AM on Tuesday, the day of embarkation. I purchased Euros at a counter near the luggage carousal while my husband waited for our luggage to arrive. The rate there was rather expensive. Next time, I’ll try the ATM machine.
I made a reservation prior to leaving home with World-Airport-Transfer.com for our ride to the port (22.50 euro for 2.) They sent me a voucher and it was a matter of finding their booth at the airport to pick up their shuttle van. Since it was early in the morning, we were the only passengers going. The van driver didn’t speak English, so it was a quiet ride. We hit the Barcelona morning traffic and took 45 minutes to get to the port.
We were part of the first group of people to arrive at the port and found nothing was set up yet. We waited for the personnel to arrive before we can drop off our luggage and go through the check-in process. We wanted to visit our favorite tapas restaurant near La Rambla after we checked in, but it started to rain so we abandoned the idea.
Our room was on the port side of the ship. It was cozy with a decent balcony. There weren’t too many storage spaces, however. For shorter cruises, this wouldn’t be a problem, but for a 2-week cruise, we found it rather insufficient. We end up using the little cubbies in the bathroom for smaller personal items and also used our luggage as storage (which slides easily underneath the bed.)
Bathroom came with the Gilchrist & Soames amenities – shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap, and lotion. Toilet seat should be replaced. It had seen better days. Shower was great with different jets, but with a tiny shower shelf. Bathroom had dim light, so the room wasn’t completely dark at night.
There were two robes and two slippers in the closet. The room also had an umbrella, binocular, hair dryer, and a make-up mirror for guests to use. We also received a plate of hors d’oeuvres and a carafe with flavored tea as part of the Aqua Class services. A bottle of Champagne awaited us as we entered the room, as well as a complimentary Celebrity bag. (We used to get three bags, but now it’s only one.)
Our room stewards were Rod and Neven. They were both very efficient and thorough. We never had to wait too long to have our room turned up or turned down. If we needed to communicate with them, we just leave a note on the table and it’s done. Mini fridge had lots of fee-based drinks and snacks. (The drinks inside are not part of the drinking packages.) We asked to have everything removed so we can put our own drinks in there. (I bought my own bottles of Long Island Iced Tea from home.)
After the mandatory safety drill, we were off!
1) Book your shore excursions and drinking packages (or anything else for that matter) before leaving home. It’s cheaper than booking onboard.
2) Bring extension cord with UBS port for all your electrical needs -- outlets are limited in the room.
3) Bring hanging closet organizer from home.
A large number of passengers were senior citizens – all sophisticated travelers. My husband and I enjoyed talking to them and found the conversations entertaining and informative.
Interestingly enough, there were SEVEN (!) time changes on this trip! After the third time change, I stopped changing my watch.
Entertainment – the Cruise Director was an energetic Argentinean named Alejandro Tortorelli, who got kick out of making fun of his own broken English. (It wasn’t THAT bad!) Nightly shows were 7PM & 9PM, with some afternoon shows. This was the first time we heard Jayne Curry sing and we fell in love with her voice and her lively personality! We also found the 7-member Equinox Band to be one of the best we have ever heard in any cruise ships! Each and every one of the musicians was very talented! Other than singing, there were the acrobats, magician, contortionist, pianist, and a violinist. We attended most of the shows, but not all.
There were also enrichment programs with special lecturers, including one given by the Master of the Ship, Captain Costas Nestoroudis, who told us everything we need to know about Equinox. He took many questions from the audience, who were obviously avid sailors because they asked very specific questions.
We all cheered when Alejandro announced that we could watch the final game of the World Series on TV! What a pleasant surprise since we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!
Shopping- sales were offered frequently but with limited quantity; thus creating frenzy atmosphere with the passengers. You need to be there early to get any kind of deal. I was very happy with my purchases, but walked away when people began to shove.
Dining – Blu only served breakfast and dinner. For lunch, we ate at the buffet, which was surprisingly very good! We never got tired of it, even after two weeks! My favorite was the variety of pizzas offered, which were made fresh every day. My goal for lunch was only to take a slice of pizza along with salad, but I always end up with pile of meats and fish on top of it – oh, and French fries!
Gym – it was very crowded, especially in the mornings, but we never had to wait too long for one of the machines to become available. There was also a yoga room in the back, but a class was always in session so I can’t use that space.
Spa – limited facilities, but they provided sandals, which turned out to be a blessing since my husband’s sandal from home broke halfway through the cruise. If you want to use the facility, request a robe, a locker key, and a spa keycard at the reception desk.
Pools – there were indoor and outdoor pools. We only used the indoor pool, and the temperature was warm enough to swim throughout the trip.
Weather – we had a few rainy days, but thankfully not on the excursion days, so we can’t complain. Average temperature was in the high70’s -- very pleasant.
What to Pack -- there are no formal nights, just “Evening Chic”. You have a choice of wearing your evening gown or just a cocktail dress. The dates are posted on the “Welcome Aboard” embarkation newsletter and also on top of the daily newsletter underneath the sunrise info. Casual wear and t-shirts is the standard outfit onboard. Don’t forget your swimsuit and fitness wear. Laundry service was offered for a nominal fee.
Cartagena, Spain – we booked a Panoramic Cartagena tour with Celebrity, but really didn’t need to. Near the port is the region’s famous Roman Theater – very easy to walk there on your own. There are many cafes and shops – all within walking distance from where the ship is docked.
If you want to see Gibraltar and Morocco at the same time, it would be in the early morning of the following day – 6 AM to be exact. But since the sun didn’t rise until much later, it was still very dark outside. From our balcony, we saw a line of ships moving very slowly through the Strait of Gibraltar, but not much else. We were too lazy to dress and go to the upper deck, which would’ve provided a better view.
Agadir, Morocco – you need to take a shuttle bus here ($10/pp r/t) and you need to pick the time of departure. We were informed that it would take about 30-minute ride from the port to the city center, but in reality, it was closer to 15 minutes. This port was very industrial and not very appealing. We booked a Market and Medina of Ancient Tasroudant tour with Celebrity in the morning. In the afternoon, we visited a local spa in town. (We booked our appointment before leaving home.) The spa facility’s driver picked us up and dropped us off near where the shuttle bus was located. We had plenty of time left before going back to the ship. This was our favorite port!
Lanzarote, Canary Islands – is one of the seven Canary Islands and close to Morocco. This island is our second favorite stop on this cruise! Here we booked a Camel Ride and Fire Mountain tour with Celebrity and had a wonderful time! The camel ride was a lot of fun, and a visit to the Timanfaya National Park is a must stop for this island.
Tenerife, Canary Islands – this is the largest of the Canary Islands. Complimentary shuttles are provided at the port, but it’s a pleasant 10-minute walk to the city center. There is also a beautiful promenade running alongside the harbor. In the morning, we took the Celebrity’s shore excursion to the Pyramids of Guimar. In the afternoon, we walked along the promenade because it was going to be a while before we see land again. After Tenerife, it was seven straight sea days crossing the Atlantic Ocean!
We arrived at Fort Lauderdale at 5 AM, Monday, November 7th. We were assigned a color code a few days earlier to let us know when we need to vacate our stateroom. We all waited in the theater to leave the ship. Immigration was smooth, even if the lines were long. Plenty of taxis were outside for our short ride to the airport ($13 before tip, metered.) Our Delta flight home to NY was on time.
While my husband and I enjoyed this transatlantic cruise, I don’t think we’ll be doing it again any time soon. Don’t get me wrong -- we had a wonderful time throughout this two-week cruise! But towards the end, I could feel my patience wearing thin and my husband getting bored. It’s not the Celebrity’s fault. There were certainly plenty of activities and things to do and we bought magazines/books to read. I suppose it’s watching the same scenery day in and day out while crossing the Atlantic that wore us down. I’m still giving this review a 5-star rating because Equinox delivered on service, food, entertainment, and itinerary. For all that, kudos to Celebrity! Read Less