6th Cruise on Equinox; One of the Best Ever!: Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by Kirsten T
Overall Member Rating
6th Cruise on Equinox; One of the Best Ever!
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Embarkation: crowded at 11:30AM but moved fairly quickly and was trouble-free. We were onboard at 12:15. Possibly because it was busy, the port personnel were using two gangways, fore and mid-ship instead of just the mid-ship. We were sent forward, where there were no staff - we just walked onboard to an empty promenade deck, which was weird. We walked down the Promenade to the other gangway to get our red carpet welcome, hand sanitizer and More cheap champagne (and to grab one of the many wait staff trolling the area so we could make a reservation at Tuscan - 30% off.) Rooms were ready shortly after 1PM.
Cabin was 9292, a 1A Veranda on the aft side of the "hump", near the atrium elevators. This is a GREAT cabin; quiet, huge covered veranda, sheltered from the wind, some forward view if you stand at the railing. Everything was in good working order. Cabin attendant Kimberle was friendly and super efficient. Very convenient to everything; we booked it again for January 2019.
Dining: Tuscan was great as usual. We like to eat there the first night, to avoid the chaos in Select dining. They've cut some things from the menu since last year - I missed the gelato trio in the cookie baskets - but the filet mignon was a great as ever, and they now make their own pasta onboard and it was fantastic. The goat cheese and arugula salad, calamari, beef carpaccio, filets, tiramisu and creme brulee were all excellent, and they end with Celebrity's house made Limoncello. Service was excellent, from all the wait staff and the sommelier.
Main dining room was very good; we made a standing reservation for 6:30 online and it was honored with no issues. We found a great table all the way aft in a quiet section with fantastic wait staff, and were able to dine there every night. If you've cruised Celebrity often, you probably know the menu - we'd love to see them change it more often! But there did seem to be a few changes some nights, so the choices weren't all familiar. The menu, like Tuscan's, is shorter than it used to be, but we never had trouble finding something we liked. Pastas were excellent; beef was great as well, but usually cooked one shade rarer than we'd typically expect shore-side (so if I wanted rare, I ordered medium-rare and that worked pretty reliably.) I wasn't wild about the salmon ("always available") but all the other fish was good. Portions are modest compared to the usual American restaurant; we enjoyed it, as it let us have a real 5 course meal without feeling stuffed. Sometimes we'd order a pasta dish "for the table" along with two entrees, a request that was always "no problem at all." Ice creams were particularly good, and on this cruise the cakes were as well, and I'm not a real cake fan. The chocolate and carrot cakes were excellent (especially with some of the aforementioned ice cream.)Service from Marlon, Rattakan and Madelina were outstanding - best main dining room staff ever. They made every evening very enjoyable.
Sushi on Five is visually lovely; the food is good, mostly, and we ate there twice for lunch (lots of onboard credit to spend.) It's ala carte pricing and if I'd paid 8-12 bucks for a sushi roll that was good but not great, I would not have been as satisfied. But for a free lunch (with onboard credit) on 2 sea days, it was a nice change and the gyoza, tempura and spicy tuna rolls were good. The shrimp and scallop "Dynamite" hot pot wasn't as good; a creamy honey sauce just didn't seem to go with seafood. We did notice a difference in the food quality between days; the first lunch was noticeably better than the second. They were offering discounts right up to the last day; don't be afraid to ask. It was never that busy .
Oceanview Cafe - we love the cafe. So much better quality than Princess buffets... we typically ate breakfast just after 7 and lunch right around noon, and never had a problem with crowding. Breakfast: Omelets and cooked-to-order eggs, even poached, were always great. Not a fan of pre-cooked bacon, but they offered turkey sausage and often ham cut from the bone, and both were good. Lots of fresh fruit - the last couple of days, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries appeared along with the usual melons, bananas, pineapple, apples and oranges, as well as some canned and previously frozen fruit. Croissants and bread were outstanding. Oatmeal was watery but they had about 6 cold cereal choices, plus house made muesli. They had soy, Lactaid and almond milk available next to the yogurt selections. Also had prune and cranberry juices in the same location, and we enjoyed fresh squeezed OJ with our beverage package (that comes from the bar; grab a roving drink server. They’ll also deliver espresso drinks from the bar.) At lunch I took advantage of the salad bar, with a ton of veggies,cheeses, nuts, some pre-made salads... top it off with a slice of fresh bread or crusty roll, heaven! Indian curries were outstanding - they pack some heat, consider yourself warned. Pizzas were also terrific - thin crust, cheese and pepperoni always available, plus 1 or 2 other kinds. Never had the pasta bar but the choices were extensive. You could make your sandwich or have them do it - they could do panini, which required a wait but the one I had was very good. Hot and cold soup, Asian, a grill, a rotating menu of hot choices (sometimes there was a theme, like Mexican or French or American) and a Caesar salad station... plus ice cream and a hot dessert in one section, and a selection of cookies, pastries, pudding etc. in another section. There was also a Gluten Free dessert section. The last day they pulled out all the stops, with a huge dessert spread including a chocolate fountain. We loved to sit outside at the stern at both breakfast and lunch, watching the waves.
Entertainment: we're not "show people" and saw only a couple of solo entertainers. A comedy-juggler was very funny, and another comedian was as well. The music groups were good; wished the "Celebrity Orchestra" players had done more shows, they were great the one time they played big band music in the atrium. The Passion guitar duo played nice easy-listening music, and the solo guitar player was also good; he played a nice mix of 60s to current songs. The "jazz" quartet didn't really play jazz,; they were more of a quieter band than the party band. Unlike on previous cruises, there was music basically all evening in various locations, so we could always find a lounge with music. There was also a nightly movie in the conference center "Celebrity Central", although it was late (10-ish) for us. A couple of nights the glass blowers did a show with one of the music groups and we enjoyed that concept. They did a movie on the lawn and a couple of party nights in the Lido pool area. Celebrity's not known for a lot of night life, which is a good fit for us. We often had a nightcap, watched a movie in the cabin and just chilled.
Service was really excellent all over the ship. The officers were very visible and friendly, and even the maintenance staff and painters were smiling and greeted us when we walked by. A couple of the bartenders were a little less outgoing but overall we were very happy with the friendliness of the crew - and a lot of them were outstanding, particularly the dining room, Cafe Al Bacio and housekeeping staff.
Fitness Center is pretty good; all the aerobic machines were working, which is a first for us. The seas were pretty rough many days and being at the top of the ship at the bow, working out was a challenge with the ship moving so much. The weight machines are in pretty good shape but be aware that the weights are marked in kilograms, not pounds. The floor area was available when they weren't running classes, and there were mats, foam blocks, bosu balls and free weights as well as the usual Life Fitness weight machines. Two rowers and a universal gym also available. Plenty of towels and antiseptic wipes around, and a cooler with cold wet towels are along one wall, which was nice in the Caribeean (the center could get pretty warm.) One fitness instructor was usually around if needed. Just don't expect normal "gym etiquette" from everyone, because a lot of people clearly weren't regular gym rats. One afternoon they politely removed a guy using a recumbent bike wearing nothing but flip flops and a Speedo bathing suite. No, he didn't clean the machine when he left. Ewww.
We mostly did the ports on our own, but did the ship's Gatun Lake Eco Cruise in Panama and it exceeded our expectations. The boat ride on the lake was in a fairly small boat that could get very close to the shore, and we saw toucans, a caiman, a tiger heron (beautiful!), sloths, snail kites and heard a lot of information about the lake and the area from a very engaging guide. A short bus ride brought us to the locks - the guide used the Marine Traffic app to tell us exactly what ships were coming and going, and we were lucky to see a post-Panamax cargo ship going through the new locks. We simply crossed the new locks, very slowly, and spent an hour at the old Gatun Locks visitor center, watching a car carrier and a Panamax cargo ship transit from Gatun to the Caribbean. Then it was a short ride back to Colon and the ship. It was a very enjoyable 4 hours.
Disembarkation: We took the "self assist" early option (you just sign up at Guest Services now, instead of filling out a form.) You keep your luggage with you, carry it off the ship yourself and get to be first off. We were the only ship in port which always helps, and we were off the ship about 7:45AM. The new Mobile Passport app was problematic; we'd downloaded it before the cruise, and had not trouble completing the form on our return but it was very slow to accept the data, and when we got to the terminal there was no separate line anyway. You could hold your phone against the scanner in all lines, but it didn't work for us; the officer said if the connection is too slow the scanner times out. We'd filled out the paper form because I'm a cynical IT professional, but if we'd relied on the app we would have been in trouble. No problem getting a cab to the airport and we were checking in for our flight by 8:20AM.
So - a great cruise all around. We loved the ship, the crew, the food and the service. The Celebrity board tends to dwell on how things have changed for the worse, and sure, some things have changed since our first Celebrity cruise in 2001. But the basic product is still very enjoyable and a good value, and we loved this particular cruise. The laid back atmosphere works well for us. We’d do it again in a heartbeat! Less
Cabin review: 1A9292 Deluxe Veranda
1A Veranda cabin 9292 is on the starboard back side of "the hump" with an oversized veranda. We loved this cabin! Close to the mid ship elevators/atrium/stairs but far enough away to not hear noise. Loads of storage, good shelter from the wind on the huge veranda. There's a housekeeping closet outside but we never heard anyone in it. Wish there were more than 2 outlets in Celebrity cabins but other than that, this was a terrific cabin.Read All Deluxe Veranda (1A) Reviews >>
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