Beautiful ship, great ports: Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by gluey

Celebrity Equinox 5
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

Beautiful ship, great ports

Sail Date: July 2010
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
Ship: Celebrity Equinox Sailing: July/August 2010 Itinerary: Eastern Mediterranean Ports: Santorini, Mykonos, Istanbul, Ephesus, Athens, Naples

Cabins: Cabins were extremely comfortable. Ours was on Deck 6, with an Oceanview balcony (considered "obstructed" because you could see the lifeboats below, which we did not mind at all). Remarkably quiet, though a friend staying on Deck 3 had trouble with some sounds from the nightclub at night. Very impressive design. Thoughtful storage space throughout. Bathrooms are large, and the shower has great water pressure and constant temperatures. Very much appreciated the shower's glass doors, which made it feel spacious (we called it the "Barbie" box shower). Great beds with rounded corners.

Dining: Highest marks to the Main Dining Room, the Silhouette. There were so many fantastic options every night we never felt the need to try the other dining venues. We had the early seating, and our exceptional headwaiter (Gary from More Jamaica) and assistant waiter (Damir from Croatia) really made dining here so memorable (We miss you!) Seriously, I got choked up our last night, saying good-bye. The only off meal we had was a dish we requested to have modified; perhaps their operations make this difficult. Fish and vegetarian options were especially outstanding. Creative appetizers.

Silhouette Seated Breakfast - menu at breakfast is the same daily, which got old. Service at breakfast here, with "open" seating, was not nearly as warm as at dinner. We did not have occasion to eat here for a seated lunch.

The Oceanview Cafe - the buffet - was a solid option. Impressive variety. Even at its busiest, easy to maneuver. Turkish buffet is especially good. The afternoon mini-sandwiches and mini-desserts were great in lieu of lunch, especially if getting back late from a day in port. Areas for buffet improvement - eggs and egg dishes (keeping them hot), coffee, and the pastries, which look pretty but are sadly terrible.

The "healthy alternative" AquaSpa Cafe needs some work. Some of the fruit offered (rock hard papaya, sour berries in the yogurt parfaits) should simply not be served to guests. Nice, quiet space in the morning, though.

Beverages: We did not opt for a beverage package, and were glad we did not. The tap water on the ship was just fine. Everyone was drinking it. We did bring a case of water and Diet Coke onboard without problems. And we brought some back from individual ports. The only package we had considered was a non-alcoholic classic package. We did the math after our trip, and it would not have been a cost-effective decision. I considered doing the $5/day fountain drinks package, but the soft drinks are not self-service; you do have to go to a bartender for refills.

Service: Main Dining Room service - exceptional. Again, our headwaiter - Gary from Jamaica - was not just a great waiter, but a great person. Housekeeping - excellent. Guest Services - very good; Ana Hora (from Serbia) was especially outstanding. Online - poor. Stateroom attendant - pleasant, but not great.

Ship: Beautiful. Still felt brand-new. Design is classy, but not too formal. Everything clean and polished. The cabins themselves are the best feature. The adults-only solarium is another favorite. The pool area itself did get too crowded during the primetime sunning hours at sea. This was the only time and area where we felt there were too many people around.

Fitness: The fitness center is situated at the front of the ship, with floor-to-ceiling glass and nearly panoramic views. Very crowded at first, but most people decided to slack off by Day 3. ? Good cardio equipment and adequate weight training equipment. $12 surcharge for most fitness classes, which did tend to fill up. The fitness class room is small, and not completely closed off. They should provide some type of water for guests in the fitness area itself. Not too many "active" sports activities other than a few dance class offerings.

Entertainment: Piano player was the standout performer. The theatrical productions need some work. We attended the theatrical "Remix" show on the first formal night, and this was beyond awful. Like bad Miss America performance meets amusement park cheese. Not entirely the fault of the performers, as they are singing and dancing as if their lives depend on it. I hear the other theatrical shows were much better, but I could not get my party to attend anything else produced in-house. The comedian was so-so. The Turkish dancers were a hit. Various bands and singing groups were very good.

Online - this was the only consistently negative and disappointing part of our trip. Considering the high standards Celebrity has set elsewhere on the ship, both the technology and the service here are way off the mark. If you only need to check a few emails, it may be fine for you. However, a few words of warning about packages: First, the wi-fi on the ship is NOT high-speed. We were not told this until after we purchased a package and experienced trouble. Second, the minutes of your package will tick down, whether you are connected or not, whether your computer is powered on or off. Log-off from their log-off window only. The center was inundated with unhappy people trying to get some or all of their money back from this service. The manager of the online center does not have the guests' best interests at heart. He even clashed with the guest services team, who were trying all week to sort out issues. If you need to work remotely at all while at sea (and I hope that you don't), find Internet cafes in ports.

Ports - I will do extended reviews for this in the Ports section, as we did not take any of the cruise-sponsored tours. Overall, getting on and off the ship was always extremely efficient. Waiting your turn for the tenders to get over to Santorini was painful, but went as smoothly as possible.

Embarkation/Disembarkation: They do not have a system for giving receipts for luggage when they whisk the bags away to your room at Embarkation. But we were given assurances that they have never lost a bag. Do keep your passport on you, though - you will need it to board. Disembarkation was simple.

Travel to/from port - Celebrity was charging $91 per person for transportation to/from the port. We booked independently for less, and had a private car. Less

Published 10/08/10
Helpful? Thank gluey

Cabin review: 08 Ocean View

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Port and Shore Excursions

Athens: We booked with Athens by Taxi (Paul), and Paul’s nephew, Konstantine, was our driver. Excellent choice. This was our first time in Athens. I can’t imagine having had a richer, fuller, more enjoyable introduction to this great city. Konstantine met us at the ship on time. The car was a very comfortable, clean and air-conditioned Mercedes taxi. Konstantine is delightful. We enjoyed his company as much as the actual tour of the city. I think that this is the best part about booking private tours in ports. Not only are you whisked out first, and have control over what you see. But you get a chance to really get to know some good people. Konstantine took us to major sites like the Acropolis, the Agora, the Olympic Stadium, the changing of the Guard, etc. We loved the little restaurant he directed us to for lunch – great, cheap gyros! All with “no-stress.” ? Definitely ask him to play his CD for you (he is a musician, too). The traditional Greek guitar music sets the tone for the whole experience; if we had known earlier, we would have played it all day! Konstantine will make the day whatever you want it to be. But if you do no research ahead of time, you can leave it entirely in his hands and he will deliver a great experience. I really loved our time here.

Istanbul: We booked a private 2-half days tour with Ekol Travel. Great experience and I highly recommend them. They were professional start to finish. It is easy to book with them over email. They will answer any questions you have, and let you customize your tour if you want to add or substitute sights. Our guide, Hidayet Motuk (Hido), was excellent. He, along with our own driver, met us promptly at the ship. The vehicle was a clean, air-conditioned mini-bus. Hido’s English was great and he was extremely knowledgeable; even when sitting in some Istanbul traffic, he had plenty to share. Also, he moves fast! He will zip you around efficiently from place to place, and coordinate with the great drivers to make sure pick-ups at sites are fast. Hido also works independently, and can help with booking other tours, hotels, etc. He is a cool cat. We were able to see the major sites – Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Spice Bazaar, the Grand Bazaar. There is so much to see in Istanbul. And next time, we will leave some time for Turkish coffee and people watching! Both tour days ended with a presentation – Turkish carpets the first day, and pottery the second. These were low-pressure presentations. If you do not want to attend, speak up. If you don’t mind attending, I am sure the guides get some sort of kickback. We went into both, but only stayed a short time.

Read 403 Istanbul Reviews

Kusadasi/Ephesus: We also went with Ekol Travel for Ephesus. Wow. Again, this was a first-class experience all the way. Our guide, Bulent Soysal, has to be the best in the business. He literally knows the ruins inside and out as he worked as an archeologist there for many years, and is also a professor. He has perfect English, gives incredibly detailed information, and is just a lovely person. He made the day what it was. I had debated whether to do the Terrace Houses at Ancient Ephesus (there is an additional charge). Do it. It is very interesting. But more importantly, it is shaded (the site is covered). Our day was blazing hot and sunny, and the relief that this detour provided was very welcome. There was a carpet presentation at the end of this day, too; we saw the silk-making process and exited the facility fairly quickly. If you are heading to Turkey, check out Ekol, and try requesting Bulent.

Read 614 Kusadasi Reviews

Mykonos: Another beautiful island. This one has more of a beach town/marina feel to it. We did this island on our own as well. Easy to do. Do take advantage of the transfer, though (about $10/person roundtrip). The coaches take you from the ship to the edge of town. We only had about a half-day here, and did not want to waste time. For a relaxing day, wander the streets and shops, have a coffee at any of the cafes on the waterfront. Or find the lovely “hot pink table” place slightly in from the main drag. It is also worthwhile to walk over to the Little Venice area. It is near the five windmills and the Panagia Paraportiani.

Read 842 Mykonos Reviews

Naples/Amalfi Coast: We again opted for a private tour. There are so many ways you could spend your day in this port, choose wisely (options include Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi Coast drive). We had considered three operators – Drive Amalfi, Francesco Marrapese, and Marcello Moresca of See Sorrento, ultimately opting for Marcello as he was a bit cheaper (all the Italian tours seem pricey), and had great personality in his email communications. However, as others have noted, he talks too much. But this does not tell the whole story; I was expecting him to be engaging in conversation, or giving information on what we were seeing. No. He extols the virtues of his own tour, and puts down the other tours and even the tourists. The same phrases, over and over and over again. It is incessant and strange. The restaurant for lunch is divine – world-class view and amazing food. However, he is still there, standing over your shoulder, talking. This tour is mainly driving, and you will see a lot of the beautiful Amalfi Coast. But you will only drive by/through the towns, and there will be a lot of commentary about the stupid tourists and their expensive coffees.

Read 1174 Naples Reviews

Santorini: Such a beautiful, dramatic island. Not much time on this island, so we explored on our own. The difficult part is simply getting started. We arrived at 2 pm; our tender departure was around 3:15 (passes are distributed for the tenders; some guests lucked out with earlier passes, some guests were later). Then, the funicular line took about 45 minutes to get through, and you are standing in the exposed sun the entire time. Next time, I think we will take the donkeys up the hill. I hear they are smellier, but the line was definitely shorter! The area right around the funicular is touristy - lots of shops and cafes. We found the local bus stop, and for a few Euros, took one over to Oia. Highly recommend doing this. The buses are air-conditioned, luxury coaches, and the drivers know how to maneuver around the windy cliffs. Oia is as you would imagine Santorini to be - the blue domes, white buildings, dramatic cliffs. There are plenty of restaurants with scenic views. Great photo ops. Too many tourists, but with the number of cruisers in port, it made sense. We left Santorini wanting to return, book a room for a week, and experience the place when it is quieter. With more time, we would have explored the back streets, and gotten off the main drags a bit more.

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