Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by Cruisin' Forever!
- Sail Date: March 2015
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
- Cabin Type: Inside Stateroom
First to the Pros:
1- Food aboard Celebrity Equinox was, without exception, a 10 out of 10! This included food in the Silhouette Dining Room (the Main Dining Room or MDR for this review), in the Oceanview Café (the buffet), the Tuscan Grille (surcharge) and the Silk Harvest (surcharge). None were a disappointment where food quality, variety and preparation was concerned. The food at the café was so delicious, one was tempted to forgo the MDR and head there for dinner. We did not eat at Muranos on this trip.
2- Cabin 1100, an inside cabin just forward of the library on deck 10, was superb! Excellent space! We didn't miss the balcony at all! Our cabin steward, Tomas, and his assistant Lesley, were always available. We thoroughly loved this inside cabin. Plenty of space around the bed and a vast space at the door. Ample storage.
3- The itinerary which was billed as "Ultimate Caribbean" was the most exotic one we've done in a long time. We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale R/T to Grand Cayman, Cartagena-Columbia, Colon-Panama, Puerto Limon-Costa Rica, Belize City-Belize, and Cozumel-Mexico. Although we'd been to Grand Cayman and Cozumel on numerous Western Caribbean sailings in the past, all of the rest of the ports were new! Loved the itinerary even though we missed out on Costa Rica (more on that below)
4- Persian Gardens... definitely, definitely worth the cost for the full use during cruise. There's no gardens to speak of... this location is just a large room with nine heated tile loungers in an array facing floor to ceiling windows looking out on the ocean or port (depending where the ship is). This is the ultimate in relaxation and quiet and stunning vistas. Treat yourself to at least a day pass if you can't afford it for the full cruise. (Note: if you are in an Aquaclass cabin, this place is yours for free!) There's also great Rainforest showers and Steamroom and Sauna (all coed, so bathing suits are a must) in this same location.
5- Captain's Club... their CC events for us Elite members were superb! It's so nice to have a loyalty program like that found at Royal Caribbean/Celebrity.
Now to the Cons:
1- Select Dining: what a dismal failure. We had open seating before on cruises... most notably on Celebrity Silhouette in Blu (Aqua Class) and last year on Explorer of the Seas, and both times seating was flawless and service was outstanding! But on Celebrity Equinox, in the MDR, it just didn't work. Hostesses at the entrance would smile and nod when you made requests for a table or area, then send you off to a totally unacceptable spot... often shoehorned into tight spaces while you passed by plenty of empty tables that were "on hold"! When you asked how to hold a table, you were told that you couldn't. On 7 of the 11 nights (1 night we ate at the buffet and another we ate at the Tuscan Grille) we were placed at tables that only had haggard assistant waiters who seemed disinterested or lost... no explanation of the night's menus, no follow-ups, nothing. Several just walked up to the table and said "what do you want?" or "I didn't know I was supposed to wait on this table... are you ready?". This is abysmal... I've had far better service in diners back home. On one night, the night of my wife's birthday, I asked the smiling hostess to have them sing "Happy Birthday" to my wife. I saw her put the notation into the computer. Then we got one of those assistant waiters again, and I thought it prudent to mention it to him since he looked like he was having trouble figuring out how to pour water into a glass. As you can probably guess, my wife's "surprise" birthday song never came. She eventually got up and left. Terrible. Just terrible. Had it not been for the superb food (At least something was done right in the MDR), this cruise would have been awful from a dinner dining perspective.
2- Shore Excursion, Panama Canal Tour. Before I say anything else, this tour was awesome! You cruised in a ferry from Lake Gatun to the Pacific through the canal locks and then rode back to Colon in a bus! I'd highly recommend this tour. But, no matter what you do, DO NOT eat the food on the ferry. The food all tasted fine, but many people, including my wife, became seriously ill with diarrhea! Although this was food poisoning, according to the ship's doctor, she still had to be quarantined for 24 hours per CDC rules. Now, while we don't have a problem with that, what I do have a problem with is the fact that since this is a Celebrity sponsored tour, you would think they would vet the company in Panama to make sure the food being served was not contaminated. At the very least, we should have gotten our money back for that tour. Her illness and confinement meant that we missed out on Costa Rica, a port we were very excited to see. (Shore Excursions DID refund this tour per the Medical department) Diane was released without problem from her quarantine the next day.
3- Canyon Ranch Spa... so my wife said I ought to see how awesome a pedicure was... personally, for a man, my feet are always in pretty good shape... so I've never been interested in this. But she knows I'm more adventurous on cruises. So I went to the Canyon Ranch Spa, and explained to the gentleman behind the counter that I'd never had a pedicure before, and I wanted the cheapest one they offered to men. He immediately said I should book the one with foot massage for $108 (or was it $104?). I said, "what about the one for $69 called 'Gentlemen's Pedicure'?" on the menu. He grimaced and said, "You don't want that". I then told him that a friend of mine on this cruise got a pedicure, and his only cost $69... and again, he grimaced. So I walked out. Later in the week, I saw a nice young woman named Gabby behind the desk, and she booked the exact pedicure treatment I wanted. It was a great pedicure, but my "Nail Technician" added a $25 surcharge to my bill for a paraffin treatment that I thought was part of the procedure! I know Canyon Ranch instructs its employees to upsell... but there's a right way and a wrong way to do this... being in retail myself, I know what I'm talking about. Canyon Ranch is a place I will avoid on all future Celebrity Cruises except for access to the gym and Persian Gardens.
4- Soda package... On Royal Caribbean (Celebrity's sister company), you are given a large covered plastic glass that you can refill at certain locations aboard. No more hassle of going to a bar (although the bars happily refill this for you). These aren't given out on Celebrity. Further, on Royal, you just have to flash your card and it's soda sticker to any waiter or bartender and they get your soda for you... in fact, they generally get to know you and smile and ask if you want your soda. Not so on Celebrity... every time you want a soda, you still have to hand over your card (which can often go for an extended walk with the waiter) to wait for your soda to come while your food gets cold. It always has to be swiped. This really eats up your time.
5- Steamer confiscation... what? We always take a mini steamer with us and it's never been questioned. But they took ours right away saying that it's not allowed aboard. Now, in their literature, they do forbid (and I agree with them) candles and irons from coming aboard... but a steamer? No mention of this in the literature. Come on... I've even had cabin stewards on various lines get me supplies (ours needs table salt to work) for it. They also tried to confiscate my wife's heating pad, but they relented as it's for her chronic back pain. (Of course, this was useless as there are NO plugs near the bed)
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