My 8 days on the Celebrity Equinox was the best cruise I have yet experienced. The quality of service, the beauty of the ship, the entertainment, and the food were top notch. We chose this cruise first for the itinerary and timing, and secondly because we enjoyed the last cruise on Celebrity Summit in January, 2018. The three ABC island ports were sandwiched between two sea days, which turned out to be very relaxing. With 2850 passengers, it is not small, yet there is a contemporary grandeur to the Equinox. I was awestruck by how stunning the ship was! It is filled with contemporary art in all of the public areas, including interesting little touches like quotes in the men’s restrooms throughout the ship. The shopping areas are like an upscale mall; the lounges are clean and luxurious, and there are plenty of little nooks to find a private space to read or gaze at the views.
Service was fantastic—a five star service experience almost everywhere. There were very few lines, generally a few people waiting for coffee at Cafe al Bacio in the morning, and only once did we wait for 10 minutes for a table in Blu. However, when we were called with the pager, we were seated at prime location at the window. The only nit about service would have to be focused around the staffing at the pool bars on pool days or coming back from port. There could be a bit of a wait to order a drink then, but it was never more than 5 minutes. There were just a few strolling waiters around the main pool. We never saw a waiter in the solarium. I noted that the Slush Bar for custom blended cocktails open generally from noon until 5 was minimally staffed. However, the attitude of the staff was universally professional, accommodating, and just great to be around.
Dining in Blu was exceptional. Maitre d' Anitsa and her colleague Linda were amazing and friendly. Our waiter Suliana with his assistant Dwight was right on the spot for service and remembering our names, food, and water preferences. Even the sommelier Alexander never made us wait for his recommendations for our choices. The food variety and quality were great in Blu from breakfast and dinner. Nothing was ever bland and meats were cooked perfectly to temperature. We ventured on night one to Murano and were once again blown away by the service and ambiance, especially by our waiter Ljubchek. In Murano, they offer tableside preparation for the lobster, chateaubriand, Dover sole, and strawberry crepe balloons. We liked it so much, we went back again to try different items. We also tried Sushi on 5 for lunch twice. Service again was amazing. While the nigiri and maki selections were not exotic, the taste across everything we had was delicious. I also liked the special beer and sake options available there. For the first time ever, we tried freshly made wasabi as a little splurge and did not find it much different from the standard stuff taste-wise. We ate in Asian fusion restaurant Silk Harvest on the last day. The ambiance in Silk Harvest is modern and urban, a different vibe from the rest of the ship. The food was completely memorable. The menu descriptions seemed like traditional Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or Japanese items, but they were prepared to fuse the flavors across regions. For example, the miso soup looked ordinary, but had the taste of Vietnamese pho. It was like no other Asian restaurant I have ever eaten in. We tried the Horizon Cafe a couple of times for lunch and once for breakfast. The layout was easy to negotiate; the food quality was surprising and very fresh. There were little surprises among the choices like freshly made guacamole and mini red velvet churros for the Mexican theme, omelets and pasta dishes made to order with minimal wait, and even a delicious full English breakfast station due to roughly 30% of the cruisers among us hailing from the UK. We would often order room service for an early breakfast of coffee, tea or toast. It was always on time. We tried a ‘la carte breakfast once on a port day to avoid rushing and were very pleased with the steak and eggs as well as the smoked salmon omelet with caviar.
I have a couple of notes about the bars. The World Class Bar had interesting craft cocktails, but exclusively makes cocktails from the menu at the bar plus an occasional Sazerac since they hold absinthe tastings there in the in late afternoons. This confused and frustrated many cruisers who would wait for the one or two bartenders to take their order only to be told they do not serve beer, wine, or regular drinks. The Gastropub has the best beer selection of any bar I have ever seen at sea. It is no joke if you if you are a beer connoisseur. The place was a lively sports bar in the afternoons for football games, and it was also the place we had the Cruise Critic officer’s party on the morning of day two where we got to meet all of the senior officers including Captain Kate. The bartenders at the Sunset bar on the back of the ship were excellent, and definitely superior to those who worked the Pool and Mast bars.
We noted that the clientele on the ship were a bit older than previous cruises we have been on. While I am in my mid-fifties, I would say that the average age of person on the ship was probably 65. That is not a big difference, but younger couples aged 20-40 were few and far between. Also, there were practically no children on this cruise. I counted less than 10 the whole week. Perhaps it was the season or the length of the cruise, but this manifest included many Brits, which was surprising. We spotted quite a few kilts on the men for Evening Chic nights.
Entertainment was much better than on the Summit from January. We had excellent singers, including one finalist from the Voice and the weird, psychedelic show Topper. They had to cancel the final show on the last night Elysium due to technical difficulties. We enjoyed the late-night Marriage Show and the Frisky Feud. The Marriage Show, however, had no contestants participating younger than 70. We participated in multiple trivia contests and won few. You collect tickets to be redeemed on the final day of the cruise which we traded in for 2 t-shirts and a Celebrity branded towel. We had a blast at the first silent disco in the Sky Lounge. It was really fun! Cruise Director Dan France was on point, but we truly enjoyed getting to know Rachel who ran most trivia contests. She was genuinely nice.
With so many sea days, it is important to note that finding a lounger around the outdoor pool or in the solarium could be a challenge. There was A LOT of chair saving, plenty of clips holding towels on the loungers, and certainly no one there for hours in the mornings. There were no roving pool butlers which I could see to help someone find a place, either. Both times I found loungers, we had to get to the solarium by 9AM and the outdoor pool by 7:30AM to snag a prime spot. We would leave for up to thirty minutes to get a bite to eat or get a drink, but this is something to keep in mind if you want to spend your day in a prime lounger around those pools.
Nevertheless, everything just worked. It was the most relaxing cruise I have ever been on. The crew is amazing. The ship is utterly gorgeous. I want to go again!
We stayed in an Aqua Class cabin 1518. Despite the fact that the cabin seemed a bit smaller than those on our previous cruises, there was ample storage in the bathroom, in the cabinets above the bed, and in the dual closet. Our cabin steward was flawless. What was surprising was that we never interacted with him. We had service two or three times a day for turn-down with chocolates and to refill the ice bucket, afternoon canapés delivered between 2 and 4pm, and cleaning the room in the morning to make the bed and replace towels in the bathroom. One nice amenity in the bathroom was a shower with glass doors on a track, not the cheap plastic curtains from Princess or Carnival. There were plenty of plugs, but pack a euro to US adapter if you want to use all three of the plugs on the vanity in the cabin.
Blackstone Treasures UTV Tour was a blast! We drove in a caravan of 10 UTVs into the rugged outback along the spectacular northern coastline of Aruba for three hours to see the natural bridges and jump off the shorter cliffs to explore a hidden water cave. Bring a kerchief for your face and water shoes for climbing the cliffs. It's fun, and the scenery is breathtaking.View All 24 ATV Rental Reviews
We booked a three hour snorkeling tour through owner Anton. Although the tour can accommodate up to 6 people, we two were the only ones making it a private excursion. We left with Mosje in his van to Tugboat and Director's Bay where we snorkeled from the beach to some of the most beautiful reefs I've ever seen. Moshje was a super chill guide, and directed us to see some interesting sea life along the coast, at the tug boat and under the pier. Our tour included some melon and water for lunch and a couple of beers after the trip.View All 52 Snorkeling Reviews
Woodwind Bonaire leaves within steps of the cruise port to a catamaran which holds the group of 20 snorkelers who separate into three group based on experience. There are 4 staff plus a photographer on board. Everything is included, from gear even with corrective lenses, unlimited drinks, beer, and water, protective sun shirts, a meal, and small groups off to explore the gorgeous reefs of Klein Bonaire. The photographer sold sets of amazing pictures of us on deck, under the water, and of the beautiful sea life for $40.View All 171 Snorkeling Reviews