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2 Southampton to Europe - Western Mediterranean Celebrity Equinox Cruise Reviews

As usual Celebrity received their newest ship the Equinox a bit early and was able to do a 7 day cruise prior to the official inaugural cruise. (not that we ever knew we were on an inaugural as their was never anything special mentioned or ... Read More
As usual Celebrity received their newest ship the Equinox a bit early and was able to do a 7 day cruise prior to the official inaugural cruise. (not that we ever knew we were on an inaugural as their was never anything special mentioned or done to indicate such). The embarkation was very well run - Kudos to those port employees in South Hampton who really had it all very well organized. just like that we were whisked on board. The ship is stunning and I must say very much like a high end inner city luxury hotel with it's Martini Bar and wine tasting venues. snazzy nooks and crannies to relax and enjoy. One thing for sure is that you'll notice the furnishings as they are all varied and quiet stunning. A lot of attention to detail on making the ship less "shiplike" and more like a resort. Take the lawn for instance - It's huge and covers 90% of the top aft deck of the ship. It's size alone will make you stop and pay attention to it. Cruisers took full advantage or croquet and bocci ball tournaments and I found myself just taking my shoes off and walking on it. An underused and barely noticed giftshop sells Lawn club merchandise and opposite that is the Hot Glass exhibit. We found that fun to watch for 10 minutes but felt it lost its luster after one viewing. All the way aft is the Sunset Bar and you must spend time there. It's a great place to watch sunset. Several nights we ordered a bottle of wine ( which the staff keep on ice in a bucket next to our chairs). The even have tables that light up in the center and make you feel like you are sitting around a fire pit. Cool! Down one deck is the Oceanview Cafe and this is the new style of buffet dining with stations rather than trays and lines. Always a good selection and of particular note was the incredibly high quality of produce and fruit served here. Huge berries, the freshest ingredients like heirloom tomato salads. Being the ship was in Europe about half the guests were from europe so there was a lot of English dishes on the buffet as well. The traditional pizza taco bar and forward of the cafe is the Burger Bar ( as we called it) with onion rings fries, nachos and the like. We would try to do healthy once or twice during the cruise but the burger bar was a favorite! We were on deck 9 in a Concierge Class cabin. Lovely! Be sure to note the storage ABOVE THE BED (two huge hidden shelves) Had it not been for those I would have been upset about not having enough storage. Closet is good but drawer space is limited. The bathroom is gorgeous and well thought out down to a foot rest in the shower for women to be able to shave their legs. Love the lighting over the artwork - makes for romantic mood lighting. The main dining room was pleasant and you feel like you are in a South Beach restaurant. Very impressed with the service but somewhat underwhelmed by the food itself. Sadly having been on Celebrity years ago I do feel that the main dining room food has dropped a bit. To make matters worse the specialty restaurants are SO good that it pales the main dining room food even further. If you are thinking about skipping the specialty restaurants because of the $20 or $30 service fee (cost depends on restaurant) DON'T!! Each is unique and impressive. A must is Tuscan Grill. Situated on the very aft of the ship it has table to ceiling glass windows looking out over the ocean. The food is impeccable and we left filled to the brim. Silk Harvest is a must and the Sushi alone was worth the cover. Murano, the most expensive and the high end dinner spot on board was good but the other two will wow you for the unique ambiance and food preparation. We've been in a Murano like setting on other ships so didn't find this quiet as novel. Oh yes - Bistro on 5. Amazing crepes and panini's - We ate their only once but loved it ( $5 cover) A couple of negatives- On our Cruise(Aug) kids seemed to take over way to much of the ship. Karaoke turned into a nightmare and the ships staff did nothing. Also the pool is WAY to small for this many passengers. I worry what it will be like when the ship gets to the Caribbean. Wine prices are crazy high and need to be evaluated. We did like that there was a lot of wines available by the glass however. The production shows really are not very good (there were three) Having seen RCCL and Carnival production shows previously these really look amateurish. The production singers really tried and they were great ( good solid voices) it was just that the material and show construction wasn't good- at all! Celebrity needs to invest in this area and should really pull these shows as soon as possible. Ports- Took the bus into Paris from Le Havre. When they say Paris on your own they mean it- The guide on board handed out a map told us where to be at 4pm to load back up and that was it. During the 2 1/2 hour bus trip she didn't say a word. Cherbourg- Stayed aboard and caught up on sleep Gibraltar- Walked around town- a bit touristy but a nice sunny day Lisbon-Took the ships walking tour guide was good. $47pp was a bit steep for what we got Vigo Spain- Why? Categena Spain- National Holiday - Everything was closed-Why do cruise companies do this? Can someone look at a calendar to determine that maybe it might not be a good day to be in X because of this or that. Barcelona- Sunday and guess what? Everything in Barcelona was closed - we knew it would be so we hopped a train from Sant station and headed to where everyone from Barcelona escapes - "Sitges" A lovely beach town just a 33 min train ride away. Here the stores were open and cafe's were all a buzz. When we got back to Barcelona as expected it was full of tourist meandering around with nothing much open. Rome- Do yourself a favor- Take the port shuttle to the entrance of the port - FREE and walk the 3 blocks to the train station. The train from the port to the airport was less than $20 euros for both of us. The ship wanted $123 USD per person for the same transfer. If you wanted a bus from the ship to the train station they wanted $23 just for that. Crazy! Overall the ship itself gets an "A' the itinerary was not so great but we had a wonderful time and you will too on the Equinox. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We booked this cruise 18 months in advance, knowing it was our anniversary. The itinerary was incredible, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.We did it all on line, our only contact with real people was with custom air to finalize ... Read More
We booked this cruise 18 months in advance, knowing it was our anniversary. The itinerary was incredible, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.We did it all on line, our only contact with real people was with custom air to finalize our flights to and from Chicago. We believe we did a smart thing in leaving for London a day early. We arrived in London on Friday, after an overnight flight. We stayed at the Hilton Heathrow Airport Hotel, which was walking distance from the airport. By doing this, we were able to recover from the jet lag caused by the flight. On Saturday, we returned to Heathrow, where we were greeted by Celebrity personnel, and had luggage stowed and escorted to a very comfortable bus for the trip to Southampton. Everything was very well organized, and timely. The trip to the port was only about 1 hour, and uneventful. Embarkation was quick and easy since we did all required paperwork on line prior to leaving. It seemed like just minutes before we were walking on to this absolutely gorgeous ship, handed a glass of champagne, and we begun our exploration. This ship is huge, but you had the feeling you were in a five star hotel and not aboard a ship. The dEcor was subtle, but if you paid attention, the detail was amazing. The hotel staff, headed by Captain Simon Wier, was a well oiled, customer service team, doing everything they could to ensure that everyone had the holiday of a lifetime. Activities: If anyone gets bored, it's their own fault. You do not have to hang out at the pool to find something to do. We enjoyed cooking demos, wine tasting, hot glass shows and a fantastic program about music with a visiting professor. We did enjoy the pool on port days when most folks left the ship. Service: This was out of the ballpark. From the pool butlers, to the food servers, to the stateroom attendants, everyone went out of their way to smile and make you feel like you were their only passenger. It was absolutely heartwarming. Shore Excursions: We only did three, and we will give you our opinion of the three. Just a note - you will not need your passports to enjoy the tours, but you will need your ship card and a photo id to return onboard. That will save you a marathon run back to your cabin to pick up your id before you leave the ship. The staging of the tours is in the theater, which is in the bow of the ship (the pointy end). When you have to run back to the stern to get the id, you realize just how big this ship is. 1. Paris and lunch on the Seine: A great trip, but you are on a bus for 2.0 plus hours to get to Paris, and then you stay on the bus and drive past all the historical and tourist sites. Our tour guide was very well versed in French history, and was very informative. Lunch was good, but crowded and rushed to see the sights and get you back to the bus. A stop was made at the Eiffel tower, where you finally got off the bus, this was welcome, however the crowds were shoulder to shoulder, with one hand on your camera and the other on your billfold, watching for pickpockets. Again, it was a full 2 hours back to the ship. We really felt sorry for the folks who flew into England on the day the ship departed. They were shot, and cranky, and did not have a good time. 2. Gibraltar upper walking tour: Very good. A great guide, lots of knowledge of the history of the country, and the fort built inside the rock. Unfortunately for us, it was too windy to use the cable cars to get to the top of the rock. Awesome to see Africa and Spain while standing in English territory. 3. Barcelona - Tapa tasting: Again, another great tour. It was not advertised as a short city tour, but we did end up with a short history of Barcelona, with a stop at great tourist sites. The restaurants were prepared for us. We received three Tapas, and a glass of wine each at each of the three different restaurants, which gave a great idea of what Tapas and life is Spain is all about. Stateroom: We were able to book a room on the stern of the ship (the round end, not the pointy one). The view was incredible, quiet and an easy walk to everything. Bernadeth was our stateroom attendant, and she was just incredible. We were Concierge class, and the amenities are worth the extra cost. It made the stay in your cabin extra special and more enjoyable. We are also members of the Captain's Club, which also is well worth joining. The extras perks from them add to an overall incredible experience. This was our sixth Celebrity cruise, and we felt this was the warmest and most enjoyable of them all. In your stateroom, there is a mini fridge, which you can ask your attendant to empty out, leaving a fridge for your own personal use. There is room service menu in the room, but your attendant can provide you with that night's menu from the main dining room, and you can call room service and have that nights dinner brought to your room to enjoy on your veranda. We did this one night, and it was just so special. We always give an additional tip to the person that delivers the meal to our room. The flat screen TV is really a computer, so when you turn it on, count to 10, and then see what happens. It is not instantaneous like your TV at home. Be sure to let them take your photo as your board the ship - you will have a surprise on your TV set in the room. The rooms are well laid out, with lots of storage. Do not overlook the bins above the bed. The safe has been moved out of the closet (like it was on the Solstice that took so much room) to above the fridge, which works very well. The bathroom is large, lots of storage, and the shower is very roomy, even for a 6 foot 200lb plus guy. Amenities in the bathroom are great, and the fresh rose on the counter every day is a very nice touch. Having a bottle of champagne for Concierge class was a nice welcoming touch. Bed was very comfortable, as you would not realize it was two twin bed put together to make a queen size bed. Linens were always fresh, well ironed, and the room was kept immaculate. Dining: We had a great table for two in the main dining room. Celebrity has rearranged the table from the Solstice, and the Maitre was very happy about this. On the Solstice, he looked suicidal with people trying to get better seating assignments. Our waiter and assistant waiter were great, again, always smiling and want you to have the time of your life. The food was very good, considering they were feeding probably half the passengers at one time. We had early seating, and never felt rushed. The wine list is extensive, especially as you look at the two story wine tower, and bit pricey. However, you can order a bottle of wine for dinner, have two glasses, which is half a bottle, and the wine steward will recork your bottle and serve it to you the next day. This really helps to keep costs down. It makes it much more cost effective than buying it by the glass. For those who have not been on a Celebrity ship, if the choices do not appeal to you, they do have a menu of items that are always available, which includes shrimp cocktail, salads, steaks and assorted desserts. Ocean view Cafe: Always an unbelievable array of choices. The food "pods" work great, and the lack of trays does cut down on the gluttony factor of many of the passengers. Remember, you can always go back for more. Specialty restaurants: Do not miss out on these. The Murano is extra ordinary. We enjoyed the pairings menu the night we went. You have five courses to choose from, and each course is paired with the wine that goes specifically with that food. As foodies, we enjoyed having two different items on each course, and trying the different wines, and actually seeing that the pairings does make a difference. Truly a memorable meal. Again, it is an extra cost, but the taste experience and the atmosphere makes it all worthwhile. The Tuscan Grill is just great. We enjoyed this on the Solstice, and chose this for our anniversary dinner. We are from Chicago, which is famous for the stockyards and steak houses, and we cannot find a better steak in town that we can there. The Filet is great, and the rib eye was over the top. Caesar Salad prepared tableside, and a great view off the stern of the ship. It was incredible to watch sunset over Sardina and Corsica as we ate. Let the wait staff take care of you, and you will have a dinner that you will never forget. We enjoyed the Silk Harvest on the Solstice. As a frequent traveler to Southeast Asia, we had some trepidation about the meal. Our waiter took full control of ordering for us, and there is no food in Bangkok or Ho Chi Min City that is any more authentic than this. If you are not a frequent traveler, trust the wait staff, they will take care of you. As a side note, when talking with the staff of the specialty restaurants, we found out that the management of Celebrity was not endeared to the idea of these spots. As it turns out, these restaurants are full every night, and obviously very successful. Do enjoy them - it is worth the extra cost. If there is a special occasion, book these restaurants on line four weeks out prior to your departure. It ensures that you have a table and makes the special occasion perfect. Children's programs - did not use. Entertainment: Anyone that has seen a Circe de Soleil show will appreciate the performance called Exocudus . To have these performers flying over the audience's head was truly phenomenal. These young people work so very hard in rehearsal to put on these performances, and then you will find them giving dance lessons or helping with tour departures during the day. Thank God they are young - they are the only age that has that kind of energy. The four man singing group was great. They performed at night, and also had shows throughout the ship which were very enjoyable. Again, a very hard working quartet of young men. Disembarkation: We have been on so many cruises and this in the thing that spoils the cruise. This was so different, and such a welcome relief. Before getting to port, we filled out paperwork about our post cruise plans, and we were delivered luggage tags with numbers and a letter as to where to wait. As it turns out, we went to our departure area, and things were moving ahead of schedule. Each number was assigned to a bus that was going to either the airport, Rome central, or the hotels associated with the post cruise packages. All luggage was orderly arranged, pickup was easy and on to the bus we went. No fist fights like we have seen in the past and absolutely no stress associated with getting off the ship. Thank you so much Celebrity. It was so bad in the past. Summary: With so many of the Solstice personnel transferring to this ship, the maiden cruise was flawless. Simple mistakes were more of a funny than an irritant. The people that work on this ship are the most dedicated to making the experience for their passengers the ultimate cruise experience. They work very hard, and deserver the gratuities that we give them. Our compliments to the officers and crew of the Celebrity Equinox You rock! Hey Simon - say hi to Nick for us. We miss you both. We will be sailing with you again in Aug 2011, with the 11 night in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Celebrity Equinox Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.3
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.3
Family 4.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.5 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.3

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