We just returned from the 16th June sailing on the Equinox to the western Caribbean. The cruise was a birthday present for my older (and mentally disabled) brother.
Our experience was outstanding! A few highlights:
* Kudos to Alyson at the the Celebrity special needs desk! We had expedited boarding because of my brother's anxiety in crowds. From entering the terminal building to walking up the ramp, it was less that 10 minutes.
We were onboard a little before noon, and if I recall correctly cabins were available just before 1pm.
* We had two adjoining concierge class cabins on deck 9. The cabins were immaculate, and there were no issues or gotchas with things missing, not working, etc.
* Our cabin stewards were Felix (9344) and Bregon (9346). Celebrity, I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful they were with my brother... as busy as they were, they ALWAYS had a few minutes to stop and say hi, and have a talk with him if he was excited to tell them about something!
* On most nights, we dined in Silhouette for the early seatings. Our waiter was Yusuf, with his assistant Rexon. Our drink server (providing my brother with virgin pina coladas) was Jaya, and the sommelier who expertly took care of my needs was Sarvan. In short: the BEST main dining room team we have had on any of our three cruises.
* We did dine in Silk Harvest on the first night. Our waiter was John - and he did a tremendous job along with maitre d' Amir. The food was great, and John offered us another night at the same discounted price... so we took him up on it! BONUS: on the second night, by brother's drink server was Jaya from the MDR, who came down to cover for someone who had become ill.
*We enjoyed the OceanView Cafe for breakfast every morning except for the last, for lunch on sea days, and for dinner one night. The food was fresh and hot (a pet peeve of mine in buffet settings). Kudos to Gail who took care of us for the first few days - but then she disappeared. I hope she didn't become ill or sign off the ship!
* I enjoyed the location of the Mast Grill - away from the pool crush, but close enough for the music.
* Cafe al Bacio met my caffeine needs - but no cinnamon syrup? C'mon, gang!
* Topper: not a bad show!
* Elysium: not so much.
* Visiting act: Horizon (a MoTown group). Great!
* Ship musicians and bands: generally pretty good. I was amazed at the depth of their playlists.
* An excellent massage from Nicky, and some much needed facial maintenance from Stephanie. For the second time, I paid for Persian garden, and underutilized it; it was nice, but I won't repeat that mistake again.
* Key West: I love it, so I'm biased. No shore excursion here; it was my brother's first visit, so we just walked around.
* Costa Maya: I struggle with this one. It's almost like Mexico and the state of Quintana Roo wanted their own private island... and build it at least an hour from everywhere. The little shopping mall is... well, limited at best. Prices are higher than other areas of Mexico (we go to Cancun and Playa del Carmen every year). We did the Mayan Ruins combo tour, visiting Kolhunlich and Dzibanche. The ruins are amazing, but I can't recommend the tour - too much time on the bus, with only an overripe banana & cookies, a ham & cheese sandwich, and a few bottles of water (no meal stop). I think it would have been better to tour one site that offered a stop for eating, the beach, etc. One bright spot: our tour guide, Luis Tellez.
Cozumel: no excursion here. We took the ferry across to Playa del Carmen to walk around and have lunch at our favorite place (Karen's). PRO TIP: go to Karen's! Great food, great prices, and a section with air conditioning!
Grand Cayman: We did the Land / Sea tour. This didn't seem well coordinated; even though we got off the boat on time, we had to wait for almost an hour for the tour to start. My brother liked the sea portion (a semi-submersible) - I was underwhelmed. The land tour visited Hell, then went on to the Turtle Farm - with a stop for rum cake in between. Our guide and driver was Glennford Scott - very knowledgeable about the island, and very entertaining!
* Small but adequate. We didn't spend much time here, although my brother was the top winner in our Roll Call's Slot Pull! He had a blast.
* About 300 kids on board, and I was amazed at how well behaved they seemed! Kudos to their parents for raising 'em right, and to Celebrity for keeping them entertained.
* We saw a little wear and tear, but I'd expect that. The ship goes into dry dock next spring. One thing that was disappointing: it was hard to find seats in the theatre and Celebrity Central that hadn't been "sprung". This was particularly bad in Celebrity Central; in some of the seats, you would have to lean forward onto your legs to keep from slipping off the cushion! C'mon, Celebrity... you should be able to address this before dry dock.
* We used the Avis shuttle to go pick up a car from downtown Miami. This was aggravating; the shuttle pickup area outside of the terminal building is a poorly organized zoo, and the rental office was not owned by Avis - it was a franchisee whose computers were down. Next time, I'd take a cab to the Avis airport location.
The Bottom Line:
* I'd recommend this cruise!
* Select your Costa Maya tours wisely.
* If you end up in Playa del Carmen, eat at Karen's. :-)
* The best part of the cruise was seeing my brother have a great time.
* We booked onboard for next year - the eastern Caribbean itinerary, sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale.
Quiet cabins, in good shape. Attendants Felix and Bregon were exceptional!
The ruins were spectacular, but too much driving time let to limited time at the sites, along with limited food / water detracted from the trip. I'd recommend picking one set of ruins and staying away from the combo tour.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We love Playa Del Carmen. If you go, eat at Karen's!
The Sea portion (semi-submersible) was meh. The land portion was pretty good; I almost would recommend sticking with a land tour only, and spending more time looking around the island.View All undefined undefined Reviews