We decided to go to Venice and Florence for a pre-cruise vacation prior to embarkation. Venice was as magical as we remembered and our stay at the Locanda Orseolo was perfect. This was our second stay, and the owners and staff are the consummate hosts. The hotel is in a great location being in a quiet area right off of St. Marks Square. Florence was a nice stay at the Hotel David. The hotel is a very good value, extremely clean with lots of hospitality touches. The location is a little off the beaten path. It was fine for us because we are avid walkers, but it might not be for those with mobility issues.
The train ride from Florence to Civitavecchia was easy. Upon arrival in Civitavecchia we caught a cab to the port. Embarkation was smooth. There was a separate line for guests in Aqua Class, but it seemed that all lines moved efficiently. We were a bit concerned about having to check our passports with the ship, probably more out of fear that we would lose our claim checks than of the ship losing our passports. We always travel with multiple copies of our passports, so in the event we would have to get replacements it might help. Since our itinerary included stops in Egypt and Israel, we understood the reasons for the passport collections.
Our first impression of Equinox was WOW! The ship is stunning;every attention to detail was made. The ship is sleek, modern, sophisticated and has an understated elegance. The centerpiece of the atrium is a huge tree suspended in a gorgeous colorful crystal planter. It combines art and nature and it made me smile every time I rode the glass elevators and read the signage "Here Comes the Sun".