Celebrity's heavy focus on dining means that there's an abundance of options to select from any time you feel peckish. The two fee-free options on offer are the Silhouette main dining room and a lido deck buffet called the Oceanview Cafe. There are also exclusive dining rooms, Blu and Luminae, for use only by AquaClass and suite passengers, respectively. All for-fee dining is conveniently consolidated on Deck 5. Dining packages are available for bundles of three meals minimum, and save foodie passengers on restaurant covers by buying in bulk.
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Silhouette Dining Room (Decks 3 & 4): For dinner service, the Silhouette Dining Room -- with lofty ceilings and numerous table configurations -- offers passengers a choice of two set meal times: early (about 6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.). Those who prefer a flexible approach can opt for "Celebrity Select Dining," which lets them dine any time between 5:30 and 9:15 p.m. Passengers choosing the flex dining option can pre-reserve space (online up to four days before sail date or while onboard) or walk in at any time during the allotted hours and wait for a space to open up (rarely more than a few minutes).
Dinner menus are arranged in the traditional manner: appetizers, soups and salads followed by entrees and then desserts and cheese. Quality ingredients cooked and presented well make the main dining room experience consistently enjoyable. Expect a varied menu that changes regularly with the basics -- red meat (lamb chops Provencal), poultry (jerk chicken or Cornish game hen), seafood (sesame-encrusted seared ahi tuna) and vegetarian dishes (stuffed portobello mushrooms) -- covered. If nothing on the rotating menu suffices, "always available" choices, from soups to desserts, include escargot, Caesar salad, French onion soup, steak, chicken, salmon and creme brulee.
Dishes are indicated as vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and no-sugar-added with symbols on the menu. The best way to ensure you have your dietary restrictions looked after each day is to pre-order (gluten-free pancakes, for example) the day before.
Different wines are featured on the menu each day, and a sommelier will make his or her way around to take drink orders or make recommendations.
The expansive Silhouette Dining Room is open seating for breakfast daily and lunch on sea days; on port days, however, the dining room is closed for lunch. Classic dishes like eggs Benedict and made-to-order omelets are served for breakfast. The lunch menu offers soups (including a chilled option), salads and hot entrees. Passengers can also order items like burgers from the grill.
Luminae (Deck 3): Exclusively for suite passengers, Luminae is an open-seating, modern dining room serving breakfast, lunch and dinner made from only the best ingredients onboard -- think dashes of truffle and a dedicated dessert cart.
Blu (Deck 5): Featuring seasonal fare in a soothing venue (there's a lovely rose motif), Blu is the dedicated restaurant for AquaClass passengers. It's open for breakfast and dinner only, serving up dishes that focus on fresh, regional ingredients like local catches and seasonal vegetables.
AquaSpa Cafe (Deck 12): AquaSpa Cafe, in the adults-only Solarium, serves healthier fare (think small salads) for breakfast and lunch. The cafe also offers Greek yogurt parfaits, although those cost extra.
Oceanview Cafe (Deck 14): A casual eatery, Oceanview Cafe serves food until 1 a.m. It functions as a multi-station buffet for breakfast and lunch, and an open-seating, casual buffet alternative to the main dining room for dinner. Oceanview gives passengers the option to plate up hot entrees, pizza and pasta (including gluten-free), sushi, Indian curries, sandwiches, extensive salad offerings, ice cream and late-night snacks, all without additional charge.
Celebrity's buffet, featuring an excellent range of international cuisine and American standards, is one of the best in big-ship cruising that we've encountered. In the morning you'll find made-to-order omelets and eggs Benedict, yogurt, fresh fruit and pastries among the offerings; lunch is a mix of hot items like jerk chicken and cold pasta or bean salads, a full salad bar, sandwiches, cold cuts and vegetables; dinner includes themed entrees (Mexican night had enchiladas, for example) along with a carving station and plenty of vegetarian dishes, plus with desserts and ice cream. The best feature by far is the sunny, open-air deck situated at the aft section of the restaurant. The area is generally not crowded and includes patio-style seating and the Oceanview Bar.
Mast Grill (Deck 14): One deck up from the pool is the Mast Grill for hamburgers, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, hot dogs and fries, free of charge. The food is mediocre and the steel bar it's served from is a tad clinical, but it makes for a quick lunch or snack in between meals. There's separate seating on Deck 14, or you can bring your burger back to your lounge chair. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Room Service: A range of food items is available to order to your room, free of charge (a $4.95 fee is incurred between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.) Choose from pasta, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, salads, soups, cheese and fruit platters, cake and cookies. Lemonade, iced tea, hot tea and coffee are also included. Continental breakfast items such as fruit, a plain omelet, cereal, pastries, juice, toast, bacon and more, are also complimentary.
Murano (Deck 5); $50 per person (dinner); $30 per person (lunch): The only fine dining restaurant on Equinox is the elegant French-Continental Murano. Luxuries like lobster cooked tableside, chateaubriand for two or a traditional French cheese plate and a custom wine menu make Murano a romantic spot for special occasions. Vegetarian options like porcini and morel risotto are available. A lunch is available on a sea day once per cruise with a scaled-down version of the dinner menu.
Tuscan Grille (Deck 5); $45 per person (dinner); $25 per person (lunch): Italian steakhouse Tuscan Grille offers one of the best meals onboard. A nice wine menu and selection of Italian cocktails complement crowd-pleasers like choice cuts of meat and pasta made on premises. The antipasti, which serves two to four people, is not to be missed. Ask to be seated by the windows when you make your reservation; the spectacular views of the wake make the meal all the more special. Tuscan Grille hosts a lunch at least once per cruise, on a sea day with a menu that is a scaled-down version of the dinner menu.
Silk Harvest (Deck 5); $35 per person (dinner); $20 per person (lunch): Choose from Thai soups and curries or Chinese char siu pork at pan-Asian Silk Harvest. The menu is much lighter than the other specialty restaurants, and the space is also much smaller. Tables are adorned with bonsai trees. If you're not sure what to try, order family style and split entrees. A drink list includes sakes and beers from across the Asian continent. If you come for anything, the lemongrass creme brulee is a must-order item. A scaled-down lunch might be offered during your cruise on a sea day. A dining event called Silk 'n' Soul ($79 per person) is held once per cruise and offers a tasting of various dishes from across Vietnam, Thailand, China and Japan, and includes a Champagne cocktail and live music; reservations are required.
Sushi on Five (Deck 5); a la carte: One of the best-kept secrets onboard, Sushi on Five has an excellent selection of hot pots, noodles and sushi at reasonable prices, but it was rarely busy on our sailing. Set right on the atrium, you can hear the live band playing on Deck 3 at night. Lunch is also served here, and a fun bonus is that Sushi on Five provides to-go lunch boxes for, say, a picnic on the lawn, or delivery right to your stateroom. We regularly saw 20 percent off total bill promotions.
Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria (Deck 5); a la carte: Cafe al Bacio is the place to see and be seen during the day. Patrons sip for-fee espresso drinks and pots of specialty teas with their complimentary pastries from gorgeous yellow high-back armchairs. The desserts here are seriously good with offerings like berry tarts, German chocolate cake, Nutella croissants and even sugar-free and gluten-free cookies. The Gelateria across the way charges just a few dollars for gelato in a waffle cup. There's also a menu of spiked coffees and for-fee dessert items like a gelato sandwich or sundae.
Chef's Table (Deck 5); $199 per person; $279 per couple: Held in Murano once per cruise, Chef's Table is a multicourse culinary experience, paired with wine, guest starring the head chef onboard.
Room Service; a la carte: Hot breakfast items like steak and eggs or custom omelets come at a cost (about $7 each), as do entree orders like filet mignon or sea bass (about $20). Any alcoholic beverages or special drink orders also carry a fee, plus gratuity.