After a brief flirtation with P &O Azura, we returned to our Celebrity family for a Greek Islands cruise on the Equinox sailing out of Barcelona.
These last two cruises have certainly confirmed to us that we definitely much prefer the smaller ships. We realise that there are much bigger ships than these two that we have recently experienced, but really they are too big for us, and we can't wait to return to the beautiful Celebrity Century before it is decommissioned. It's important I say this, as it really puts into context what I say about the Equinox, it's not a bad ship, it's just too big for my wife and I.
As always, the embarkation process with Celebrity was hassle free and speedy, and the cruise terminal at Barcelona was one of the best we have encountered. Footballing rivalries, and the fact that we have a villa in the beautiful region of Valencia means that I am unable to give you an unbiased view of Barcelona, but all the Americans we spoke to, loved the place.
Our balcony cabin was of the usual high standard Celebrity set, although we didn't seem to have enough drawer space, and as a non lover of technology, I would have preferred a TV which you just had to switch on to get a TV channel, rather than have to be a rocket scientist, but that's just me.
Continuing on the subject of technology, regular readers of my reviews will know I have a special interest in ship's gyms, and as you would expect, the gym on the Equinox was large, clean and very well equipped. However, the touchscreen technology on the treadmills, bikes and cross trainer was extremely frustrating as it was often unresponsive. To be fair to guest relations, when I mentioned this to them, they did investigate the problem, and the feedback I received was that the glass covering the screens was too thick. Typical technology, the more advanced it gets, the more problems arise.
As for the rest of the ship, as I previously stated, essentially, my wife and I prefer smaller ships, so we felt the Equinox lacks character and seemed really crowded on sea days, although I loved all the famous quotations in the men's restrooms, which as usual with Celebrity were always very clean and free from unpleasant odours. One area of the ship we really did like, was the layout of the buffet, with its individual food islands and ample seating areas.
The food as you would expect, was in plentiful supply, but as Celebrity regulars, we are beginning to find the menus a tad boring and repetitive, and certainly the Classic menu could do with updating. Also, it really is about time the cruise lines offered far more healthy options and certainly, as a vegetarian, my wife really struggled on this cruise, although to be fair, the waiter who looked after us in the dining room in the evenings did try to help with the vegetarian options, but the company really need to increase the choices available. Anna our Assistant Waiter was particularly good.
Also, a number of people we spoke to during the excellent Captain's Club events told us that the ship had run out of slimline tonic just three days into the cruise, and though we don't drink it, I would have thought it was a basic drink to have available in the bars. Later in the cruise, the ship also ran out of English Breakfast Tea, another staple beverage I would have thought. One other minor gripe we had was the lack of presence of the ship's officers, but again, we may just have been spoilt by our times on the beautiful Celebrity Century, though the Equinox guest services staff were a match fir the excellent staff on the Century.
Generally, I think that Celebrity's customer service ethos is one of its' strengths , I love the way they always sort out a problem if you have one, and their can do attitude is second to none. Although we also cruise with other companies, the attitude of Celebrity's on board staff will ensure we always return to what we regard as our Celebrity Family. The company's loyalty programme must surely be one of the best in the industry, and we love the Captain's Club events where we always meet and continue to remain friends with fellow cruise lovers. Rossy, the Captain's Club hostess on this ship was excellent, always cheery and ready to help, as were Jann, the Guest Services Manager, and Josue one of her staff.
With regard to the entertainment available we never bothered with any of the shows, but people we spoke to seemed to enjoy them. As usual there was a band on board,a solo guitarist, and classical musicians, although unusually there was no pianist on this cruise.
We chose this cruise particularly because of the itinerary and we were not disappointed. At last as part time Spanish residents we can say we have been to Barcelona where the ship set sail for Citavecchia, Italy where we took one of the ship's excursions which included a visit to Lake Bracciano, and a winery, and there were also plenty of tours to Rome.
We also took a Celebrity tour excursion the following day, which included a cruise along the beautiful Amalfi Coast on a motorised launch stopping at Amalfi. This together with the next port of call, the stunning and picturesque island of Santorini, along with Piraeus (Athens) were the undoubted highlights of the cruise for us. Other ports of call were Kusadasi - Turkey, Mykonos - Greece and Valetta- Malta.
A couple of things to bear in mind which you may not be told. You can get a water taxi from the ship dock to the town in Mykonos for 2 euros, and in Piraeus, there are those open top hop on hop off buses. Because of the traffic, I wouldn't recommend a taxi, as Piraeus is 30 mins from Athens.
So hope this is helpful folks, please look at for my next review of P&O's Arcadia which hopefully will appear in January.