Caribbean Cruise: Celebrity Equinox Review

All good things must come to end, and so it goes with this cruise. But…long story, short: It was great!

I posted this review to CruiseCritic to thank members for the information I gleaned from the site. This was our first cruise on Celebrity and first cruise to the Caribbean. Now with two cruises under our belt, we have a better sense of what we prefer going forward.

Embarkation
Arrived just before 11am in pouring down rain. I’m not sure we will ever beat the 11 minutes from curbside to ship. We simply got lucky.

Stateroom
Inside cabin, deck 7, room 7304. We felt it spacious for an inside cabin, with lots of lighting. Bed was comfortable. Room featured two soft chairs and a desk chair. No couch. Plenty of storage space. Shower worked well. Room was next to a crew stairwell but we never heard any noise. It was quiet. Easy access to elevators and stairs. We spend most of our time outside the cabin, so inside for us is not a big deal.

Photo Dec 09, 12 05 10 PM

Inside cabin, Celebrity Equinox

Service
This is where we thought Celebrity excelled. It was top-notch. From waitstaff to the steward to the cleaners, everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Even though we were mere “plebs” in an inside cabin, staff made everyone feel special.

Food
Average to excellent. I know food is subjective. We had four nights in the specialty restaurants and that spoiled us! Murano was absolutely wonderful. That rack of lamb is to die for! Tuscan Grille: I thought I might have to loosen my belt, hah!

We ate in the Main Dining Room for two nights and it’s pretty much what I expect from banquet-style food. That’s not a complaint; just a fact of institutionally serving such a large quantity of food. We liked Oceanview Cafe (the buffet) for breakfast and lunch and we were impressed by the various options and spaciousness of the set-up. Lunch on Friday was particularly nice, with large carved turkeys, peel and eat shrimp, and a chocolate fountain. OVC didn’t feel like a struggle to find a spot to eat. Also, one of us has a gluten allergy and we appreciated the alterations that could be made in the specialty restaurants and MDR. We were also impressed with the options in the OVC, including have more than a couple gluten-free desserts to always choose from!

Facilities
We loved all the different spaces on the ship and felt it easy to navigate. It’s classy and elegant. The word “refined” comes to mind. It has a touch of sparkle, but it is in no way garish. Also, it’s clean…like sparkling clean. Housekeepers were always polishing, painters were always painting. We did notice large air dryers set up on the carpet all week down the hall from us, pointed at a couple balcony cabin entrances. I wondered if there was a leak of some kind?

Favorite places to lounge outside: besides the usual pool area, we appreciated the solarium on the first day (weather was a tad cooler and drizzly), the chairs up on the Lawn Club, the chairs on the Deck 5 promenade. Inside: for quiet, we liked the Library (duh!) and the seating area by the elevators on Deck 7. We’re not big drinkers, but we liked the Martini Bar for inside and Sunset Bar for outside.

Negatives: I thought there was an overabundance of smoking spaces–one side of the Deck 5 promenade, one side of the pool bar, one side near the Mast Grill by the jogging track, one side of the Sunset Bar/Lawn Club. We would see open seats in those areas, go to sit down, and then realize…”oh, it’s a smoking area…that’s why no one is here.” I also missed self-service laundry facilities. Heck, we never even got a “stuff the bag” offer either. I also wished the deck 5 promenade was entirely accessible around the whole of the ship–I minor quibble, I know.

Photo Dec 16, 6 07 40 AM

On board Celebrity Equinox

Onboard Activities
The shows were good, but we went in knowing the musical-type shows here generally don’t have a plot. Mostly singing and dancing. There were two particularly good female leads. We loved the acrobats! The comedians weren’t our style, but others were laughing heartily. The hot glass show was fun to watch.

We found daytime activities to be lacking…or at least very little that caught our eye. It’s not that we got bored, but we would look the “Celebrity Today” daily newsletter and just go “meh.” There seemed to be an overabundance of “medical” type seminars (botox, dental implants, joint pain). Went on the galley tour but really missed a cooking demo like we had on our Alaskan cruise on Princess. The library was well stocked and I read a couple books during some “down” time.

Photo Dec 09, 8 57 51 PM

Equinox Theater

Disembarkation
Almost as easy as embarking. From ship to our shuttle, it was about 15 minutes to get our luggage and proceed through Immigration. Super simple!

Ports…

San Juan
Old San Juan looked better than I expected despite all the news we had seen about the hurricane damage. Vibrant buildings, friendly people. We walked on our own from the pier to El Morro and explored the fort. Enjoyed a self-guided walking tour. Wish we would have had more daylight hours at this port.

Photo Dec 11, 12 50 11 PM

Sailing into Old San Juan

Saint Thomas
Ship docked at Crown Bay, not Havensight. We took the $4pp shared open-air taxi into Charlotte Amalie. Still a lot of hurricane damage in town and many shops closed. Some that were open, had lost power on our day there. Made the mistake of not booking an excursion (either through Celebrity or independently). We just walked around Charlotte Amalie. We’re not into jewelry, so this port didn’t have a lot to interest us.

Photo Dec 12, 8 24 39 AM

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts was our favorite port for relaxing. Booked a “beach break” through Celebrity to Cockleshell beach. PERFECT!

Photo Dec 13, 9 23 27 AM

Cockleshell Beach, Saint Kitts

Miami
Booked an Everglades eco-tour and FLL airport drop-off through Celebrity. Enjoyed the airboat ride and appreciated not have to worry about luggage/arranging travel to the airport.

Photo Dec 16, 9 03 04 AM

Gator Park, Everglades

So what did we learn?
The biggest thing: We realized we prefer port-intensive cruises, so this one probably wasn’t the best match for us. Don’t get me wrong; it was still a ***GREAT*** vacation! This was only our second cruise, so we’re still testing the waters. But the three sea days was one too many for us. However, that’s what I like about cruising: There are so many options/itineraries to pick from! You probably won’t ever see me on transatlantic or Hawaiian…but ***now*** we know what we prefer.

The Celebrity experience provided excellent service in classy surroundings. We would definitely consider sailing Celebrity again, but we also tend to not be loyalists; preferring to shop around instead. We liked Princess on our Alaskan cruise and would consider them again too.

And escaping a week’s worth of winter in Wisconsin (like the alliteration?), we now think a December or January cruise could become habit forming! However, the are other times of year and areas would we would consider exploring: Mexico, west coast, Alaska (again), Mediterranean, New England/Canada.

Bottom line: What we like about cruising is that it’s pretty hassle-free: Once on board you have your hotel, your dining, and transportation to exciting ports of call. For us, that makes for a relaxing and valuable experience!

Here are some pics from the cruise:

For more photos, check out my Flickr album.

2 Comments on “Caribbean Cruise: Celebrity Equinox Review

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