I had a fantastic time on the Equinox. It was as laid back as I had hoped for and I met some great people, both Crew and fellow cruisers.
Embarkation: Very smooth. I got to the terminal about 11am. I zipped thru the terminal and was on board picking up my glass of sparkly as I boarded to kick things off by 11:20. After a quick walk around, I headed to the MDR and enjoyed a nice lunch with some veteran cruisers. This is included in concierge cabins. The food was very good. And the conversation was engaging; a very nice start to the week.
Got into my cabin on deck 10 right at 1pm. I quickly unpacked. There was plenty of storage and hangers. However, I will note, I was traveling alone. So if there are 2 of you, you may need more hangers, but I hung everything up, including my t-shirts, which I had enough for every day plus a few extras and shirts for dinner with pants to go with them.
For sail away, I headed up to the sunset bar and met a lovely fellow cruise-critic traveler and had a really nice sail away with a great beverage ( thank you Mario from the Sunset bar, you made me great drinks ALL cruise. ). And thanks Mary Beth for hanging with me and chatting as we started our vacation.
The first night, I ate in Silk Harvest. This was the only specialty dining I did. The food was very good. I am embarrassed that I forget how to spell my server’s name, but Rodel ( yikes) was great at helping me select things to try. I learned that you can try many dishes. I had the Miso Soup and Satay from the small plates. Both were very good. From the large plates I tried Orange chicken, chicken silk fried rice and Chinese pepper steak. This sounds like a lot of food and it was, but, each individual portion ( other than the fried rice ) wasn’t huge. I actually got a 2nd orange chicken and asked for it to be much more spicy. And they fired it up. It was great ! I was too full for desert.
Throughout the week I ate in both MDR and in the Ocean View Cafe. MDR was really really good. Bi thanks to Orly and Resa; they were a fantastic team making really good suggestions for dinner and sometimes bringing a 2nd desert along with what I ordered because they thought it was so good it just had to be tried. They were right! MDR was so good, I didn’t see a reason to pay extra and go to the specialty places. I think this is appropriate too. I am glad the MDR is very good. The specialties should, in my mind, be for special treats, not somewhere you need to go to get excellent food on a cruise.
Ocean View was a very nice surprise. I had planned on getting room service for breakfast and eat on my balcony every morning. But I went to OVC the first morning just to try it. I never considered room service for breakfast after that. There is every thing on the buffet. I had eggs Benedict every morning and they were REALLY good. They have several variations on that theme that you can get at the station along with all the standards and a few other surprises each morning around the buffet.
Lunch and Dinner in OVC was really good too. They had themes but also items that were always available. Their Indian fare was quite good. The Biryani was awesome. Another surprise was the pizza. I snuck back for a mid afternoon pizza slice most every afternoon around 2:30 and several nights after 10. Another treat was the Jamaican Chicken Patties, a little bite to them and darn good ! But there is a lot of variety on the OVC and most of it was tasty.
I will admit, the only production show I saw was the Broadway Review, and cast singers have some great voices. I enjoyed that show on the last sea day. It was a matinee.
I saw all the guest entertainers.
Phil Tag - comedian - very funny and fun
Andrew John Diessner - singer - he has an amazing voice, and well worth spending the time to see
Rich Aronovitch - comedian - Absolutely hysterical both is primetime show and his adult show. See him.
Uptown - 3 man music show - see it. Enough said. They are high energy, funny and hella good singers
I want to add, the Equinox Orchestra is fantastic. They are musically tight and honestly a lot of fun to watch. Their drummer just bops and you can tell he is having fun. The same goes for their trumpet player; you can tell he is really enjoying playing with this great group. I was very impressed by this group of musicians.
This wasn’t as smooth. The announcements in the waiting lounges weren’t always announced so you could hear thru the whole area. I almost missed my call.
Once we started down the gangway, we ended up standing on the gangway for almost 20 minutes. The lounges are pretty comfy, but standing on the gangway isn’t. There were some more elderly folks that were a bit uncomfortable standing on the gangway for this time frame.
Make sure you take note of what your tag number is when you get your luggage tags. Looking for those tag numbers is the only way you will know which of the 3 carousels to go to and pick up your luggage to go thru customs.
On a side note: the lounges ( I was in the MDR ) are comfortable. Head to your waiting lounge as soon as you can; give your hard working room stewards a little extra time to turn the rooms for the oncoming guests.
Things to do
I have to say one of the true highlights of this cruise was the Hollywood Hot Glass glass blowing. Torie and Mandie are really talented artists. But, they are also very patient instructors. I spent hours sitting up on the deck watching these two very personable and genuinely positive and happy folks guide people thru making some very very nice glass pieces. There was one couple that made 7 pieces, all as Christmas gifts; those pieces were beautiful. I can’t recommend giving this a try strongly enough. AND, I met some really nice fellow cruisers up there and we always warmly greeted and chatted all over the ship throughout the cruise after first meeting at the glass studio.
If you book this online, the base price is for the paper weight or the flower. They have much more you can make, but each is a different price. If you choose one of the other cool object d’art you will just pay the difference if you booked online. Also, some folks didn’t realize you actually get to make the item with the considerable help and guidance of these awesome artists/professionals. You get to actually make the item, choose the colors you use…. It’s awesome. You need to book a time slot , even if you booked online; just go see them and book your time slot at the studio. There were people coming up to book slots fri morning only to find out that all the slots had been booked. Book early. Also, if you book and decide to NOT use your slot, please call and let them know. I know on Friday there were 3 people that didn’t show up for their time slot and there were people there who hadn’t gotten a time slot and didn’t get to experience glass blowing because some folks signed up and then didn’t show up.
Mixology 101. The World Class Bar makes some of the best drinks on the ship. They have a unique list of drinks. The two master bartenders at this bar, Pedro and ( I am so embarrassed cause I can’t spell her name ) Latla share some of their great knowledge of mixing drinks in this Mixology class. Its a limited signup, but I recommend it. I tasted things I never thought I would like, and really enjoyed what they presented. PLUS, these two are so friendly and all smiles they make just hanging at the bar a very fun time any evening you swing by.
Trivia - yeah yeah yeah I know, trivia. I enjoyed it. Rachel, one of the activity staff was awesome. Her trivia was always a great mix of ‘oh I know that’ to ‘dang, where dd she come up with that’. Add to that how personable she is;nanytime I saw her around ship, she always had a few minutes to chat, AND she was a wealth of info on the odd trivia questions I had about the ship.
Things I learned
I booked concierge class solely for the points, and I cruised alone, so I got double. But, I did send a question to my concierge and never heard anything back from him. I don’t think concierge is worth the extra cost over a balcony unless you are trying to build status points OR you want a specific location on board.
Valet Luggage - I didn’t read closely and so I wasted some time on disembarkation. If you use the Luggage Valet service, don’t look for your luggage on the carousels. You won’t seen your luggage again, after you set it outside your cabin, until you get to your final flight destination. Also, very importantly: look at your luggage tags and the boarding passes you get. Make SURE they accurately show your final destination. Mine didn’t include my final destination. The airline tags I got would have left my luggage in Atlanta and not sent it the rest of the way home. Now, Guest Relations was great about this. I called them and they reprinted everything for me, for expediency, I picked the tags up myself, I wanted to go see Uptown 🙂 But, check that, and if you get a new luggage tag, even though it may LOOK the same, replace it with the new one they give you, the barcode will change to get your luggage home
Transfer to airport - I sailed from Miami but the flights out of FLL were much cheaper for me, so I flew in and out of there. I decided to spend the $30 to just have it taken care of. What I wasn’t told when I purchased the transfer - keep your transfer receipt and have it in hand when you go out to the busses. They don’t have a list that is easily at hand to check and Celebrity doesn’t take you out to the transfer busses as a group. The transfer company was great about getting me on board. But, it would have been far simpler had I known to keep that transfer receipt with me.
I loved this cruise. The Equinox is a darn nice ship. The staff and crew were incredible. Yes, it’s their job, but you can tell when someone likes their job. From the folks at embarkation, to my room steward, to the dining staff, to the activities and glass studio; everyone was genuinely happy, helpful and interested in making sure this was a great experience. Oh and by the way, Jill, the hotel director, just exudes genuine fun, happiness and kindness.
I will cruise with Celebrity again, and I will return to Equinox when I can. It’s a great ship.