Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by ozeannie
- Sail Date: October 2012
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
We used airportshuttle.it to get between the airport and the hotel. I would not recommend this company for too many reasons to list.
We caught the local free port shuttle from near our hotel to the ship, rather than pay for the Celebrity shuttle. Both leave from the same place and drop off at the same place. Both had the sign "Equinox" on the front windscreen. The difference is one you pay, the other you don't.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
This was all organised very efficiently. Be aware that depending upon where you go you may need to hand your passport in to expedite clearance in some ports so bring a couple of photocopies with you, which we always do in any case. A lanyard is handy for your cruise card which you can have hole-punched onboard at Guest relations. A money tip is to have 2 credit cards -- one which you will use to register for the onboard expense account initially -- against which they will "hold" the balance of your account -- and another which you use for your onshore purchases -- this way you can better preserve the credit limit on both cards. We then indicated the day before the tour ended that we wished to pay for our onboard account with the other card as it had better transaction fees associated with it than the one we registered initially.
The ship & stateroom
This is a fairly new ship so looks clean and in good shape. It was a good size -- large enough to afford several areas for people to spread out but not so large as to be a day's walk from one end to the other. Our outside cabin on deck 8 was a good size and well appointed. The only disappointment was not having tea and coffee making facilities in the room which seems really a basic service to supply. Having said that, room service was available at no fee but you hardly want to call for room service at 6 in the morning, and it is seems a trivial thing to use for room service. The bed was extremely comfortable and we had no trouble sleeping with the gentle rocking motion of the ship.
All were very affable and very eager to please. Every single person said good morning or good afternoon as you passed them. There were a lot of activities planned which involved interaction between officers and guests but participation in all of these was voluntary. There is obvious pride in the crew which they demonstrated on several occasions.
We only ate in the main dining areas as we didn't see the point in paying extra for the specialist restaurants when the food served in the other areas was quite good. We ate in The Silhouette Restaurant for breakfast and dinner most days, as I think you stand a better chance of getting the dreaded bug if you use the self-serve buffet. However there was the odd morning when we needed a quick getaway or the odd night when we got back from shore so late and tired that the buffet was the best solution. Food at both was of a very good standard. We enjoyed the dining experience of sitting at a set table and meeting other guests over a "proper" meal too rather than the hurried cafe-style of the buffet in the Oceanview Cafe.
If you want non-alcoholic drinks in the Dining room the only free ones are apple juice, iced tea and lemonade (and of course still water). We found all the wait staff to be very pleasant and the service was quite good considering the number of guests to be served. The food consistently got to the table at the right temperature and cooked to perfection.
I guess this is very personal because everyone has particular tastes but you would be hard pressed not to find something to enjoy onboard given the wide range of activities from sporting to trivia and games, to demonstrations such as glassblowing (worth watching, very impressive), and lectures on everything from fine jewellery to fine art.
We used the gym and it is well equipped and there were both free lessons (Stretch class, abs class) and fee-classes such as boot camp. The spa/sauna area (Persian garden) looked lovely but again attracts an extra fee. We didn't try any of the extra services such as facial/massage/teeth whitening/ hair etc.
The library didn't seem to have a lot of well-known best sellers in it but what was really lacking was a librarian to assist. It appeared that you just took a book and returned it at will - no sign out system was evident so I wonder if all the best books had gone walkabout?
It also seems a shame that these days there seems to be no church services offered, Ecumenical or otherwise, and no prayer room.
The Equinox singers and dancers were good without being great. There were individual acts, some of which were a standout and others a big miss. An excellent violinist, a female star of British muscials, and a rather hilarious magician/comedian were the best.
I cannot comment on any of the ship's tours as we did our own thing. We joined up in a freelance style with other cruisers on CruiseCritic.com and signed up for private tours. These were cheaper, we were able to pack more into the day, and in smaller vans we were able to access places that the larger tour buses just can't reach, such as high atop Positano and the fabulous La Tagliata restaurant. If doing this for Santorini or regardless of what you do in Santorini, it is good to get the earliest tender tickets possible. We got on one of the first tenders and consequently we didn't have too much trouble getting the cable cars. We returned well before the last tender was due back and so again though there was a bit of a queue it was not too long to wait and we made it back in good time. Also in places like Mykonos and Athens you will be advised to purchase tickets for the ship's shuttle service. We had read up before we went and knew the local bus prices. As an example, the ships return price for the shuttle to Mykonos was 8 Euro. We got the local shuttle which was 1.60 Euro each way. We were told there would be a huge queue for the local shuttle but of course everyone bought tickets for the ship shuttle and they had a queue, we didn't. Just make sure you check the times that the local shuttle run as when you are coming back to the ship you may get an awkward surprise if for example you plan to come back at 4.30 for a 5.30 sailaway and you find the shuttle runs at 4 o'clock and 6 o'clock -- which is what happened to us in Mykonos. Fortunately we had come back before 4 o'clock so we were fine. In Athens were just caught the train -- be warned though it is about a half hour walk from where the free shuttle drops you to the station. We didn't mind the walk though as we took in some of the sights along the way, and the train was just 4 Euros for a 24 hour ticket which could be used over and over again on the various lines.
Well you choose the itinerary to suit yourself, but having said that we immensely enjoyed this itinerary. There was a good balance of port days and sea days though there was one stretch where we had 5 port days in a row which got quite tiring towards the end! The timing of docking can make a big difference and it was good that in most cases we arrived early morning and had most of the day available. It was good to have the overnight in Istanbul to properly enjoy this fascinating city and the afternoon arrival and late evening sailaway in Santorini allowed us to witness the famed sunset (though in our case it wasn't quite there sadly!).
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Athens (Piraeus)We had previously been to Athens so we just did our own thing and caught the train in to the city and went to Lycobettus Hill for a 360 degree panoramic view over the entire city. We had an enjoyable walk around Anafiotika and Plaka but a rather disappointing lunch. Athens is essentially a large city like any other large city but there is some good shopping to be had if you know where to find it. I've rated it down a little because we only had a day stop there, and it's not long enough to see it properly so anyone who had not seen Athens before would be a bit disappointed I think in what they were able to achieve in the time frame.View All 1,227 Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Reviews
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IstanbulWe just did our own thing on foot and it was easy and less expensive than a ship's tour. The trams are a breeze to use and very cheap. I was under the impression that there was free wifi to be had at McDonald's and/or Starbucks but this wasn't necessarily the case. We eventually found a regular turkish cafe that gave us free wifi after we made a purchase. We skipped the Grand Bazaar because we thought it would be too pushy but we enjoyed the spice markets which were actually not just spices but clothing and a variety of other goods as well.View All 403 Istanbul Cruise Port Reviews
In the streets around the spice markets you can pick up very cheap clothing and accessories as well.
Everywhere warned about having head coverings for the Mosques and though I had also read scarves would be provided for ladies I took my own. In the end I just wore a hat and was dismayed and the large number of women not bothering to wear any head covering at all. I believe we should show respect in another country's culture. However no-one seemed to be bothered about it.
They did however insist on removing shoes though plastic bags were provided to carry these around.
Be warned you may need to pay for toilets as in many Eurpoean cities.
View Cruise Critic's Istanbul Cruise Port Review
City TourThis was the second of 3 tours we organised via Cruise Critic peers. Our guide was Tan, and he was fabulous. I was particularly impressed because not only was he good with his historic knowledge, he was a good guide logisitically. He anticipated needs and possible problems and always gave us 3 or 4 important tips at each stop before we started, including clear instructions on when and where we would meet, toilet facilities and any other special information that would ensure an enjoyable unhindered tour for everyone. He paid particular attention to getting our group into shaded areas for each of his talks, an important point at Ephesus as so much of it is exposed out in the sun.View All 11 City Tour Reviews
The van was clean and comfortable and air-conditioned. We visited Ephesus, the Terrace houses (a must, don't miss these, they are the highlight of the Ephesus site and if you don't see these, you haven't seen Ephesus IMHO), the house of the Virgin Mary, and the Basilica of John the Baptist, plus of course some excursions through the towns that lie in between these. There was also the one remaining pillar of the Temple of Artemis but as it stands sadly alone in a paddock of weeds it is a rather feeble hurrah to say you have seen it.
An absolute highlight though was our Ottoman lunch. Sadly I don't recall the name of the restaurant but it was out in the country and we had a smorgasbord of goodies and it was all delicious.
I think the guide did a great job and covered everything really well and allocated time well to each place. A most enjoyable day.
MykonosA fascinating place, you can't take a bad photo here. So picturesque. There is a dual-edged sword here however. There are a plethora of shops everywhere with the most wonderful treasures but it almost gets to the point where Mykonos seems to exist for the tourist shops and nothing else. I can imagine before the souvenir shops took over it really was heaven on earth.View All 1,031 Mykonos Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Mykonos Cruise Port Review
NaplesCan't really rate Naples as we didn't do anything but pass through it en route to Sorrento, Positano and the Amalfi coast. However we did visit Pompei on the outskirts. This was as part of our tour to Sorrento and further south. Naples itself is a busy industrial port, nothing glamorous in that although I believe it has some good shopping. Pompei was one of those things you "have to see", and it was worth seeing, but after having seen the Roman ruins and the Acropolis and Ephesis the impact starts to get lost.View All 1,394 Naples Cruise Port Reviews
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Island TourWe went on this tour as a "blind date" with 8 other people from Cruise Critic. We had basically the same group again for 2 other tours and despite the misgivings of whether it would work or not, on this occasion everyone got along really well and it was definitely the better option over a ship's tour.View All 98 Island Tour Reviews
We were to meet Dimitri at 3pm, however we got a very early tender and were able to get to the top at 2.30 - our group leader rang ahead and Dimitri was there not too long after us. We had a good overview tour of the whole island which included Santos winery, Ana's homemade stall, the Black sand beach and of course Oia. We didn't see too much of Fira at the start as we took off more or less straight away.
One of our group was an older lady not as sure on her feet and there was a bit of a steep walk down stairs to where the van was parked, but she managed with help. Be aware that all the streets are uneven and there are many stairs everywhere.
Dimitri was very affable and gave good local inside information on the workings of the island. The van was very new, air-conditioned and extremely comfortable.
We felt though that we probably spent a bit too much time in getting to Oia which is after all the highlight of the trip. It was already getting dark when we got there and whilst we were wanting to see the sunset, it would have been good to have arrived a little earlier to get some brighter pictures as well.
The only thing we would change would be to request more time in Oia. We then returned to Fira but not really with any time to see it or do any shopping before going back to the ship. Would like to have spent more time in both places.
If you are coming via cruise ship, try your best to get one of the early tenders. Dimitri's wife had another group and they didn't start their tour until a couple of hours after us as they got a much later tender off the ship. They basically went straight to Oia as there was no time for anything else, at least I assume so as they were already there when we arrived.
Amalfi CoastBest tour of the cruise. Sorrento and Positano are just breathtaking and the shopping is excellent. Places we would definitley go back to see again as the time we had was just not enough. We had a beautiful meal on top of the Positano cliff at a restaurant that coudl only be reached by minibus, not a tour bus as the roads are so narrow and twisty. LOVED this place!View All 19 Amalfi Coast Reviews