This was our 17th cruise, but our first with Celebrity. Previous cruises have been with NCL, RCI, and Carnival. I will share some of my observations and make a few comparisons to my past cruise experiences.
Prior to the cruise, we drove from Mississippi and stayed one night at a Holiday Inn Express in Ocala, FL and two nights at the Hilton Marina in Fort Lauderdale. The Holiday Inn Express in Ocala was a new hotel and perfect for a good night’s sleep. The Hilton Marina in Ft. Lauderdale was a great pre-cruise hotel for us. Although the hotel is older, the location, the view from our balcony, the pool, and the water taxi made it a super choice for us, and we would definitely stay there again in the future.
On the morning of our cruise, we left our hotel at 10:00 and arrived at the terminal by 10:20. It was pouring rain. We checked our luggage then proceeded to park. There was no shuttle from the parking garage, but we trudged through the rain to the terminal. Being concierge class, we were called promptly and found out that we could go to our cabins to drop off our carry-on bags and get our seapass cards. Waiting for 1:30 wasn’t necessary as we’ve always had to do in the past with other cruise lines.
Upon boarding the ship, my first impression was that there was this wonderful fresh smell……NO SMOKE. We had a veranda room on the ninth floor, and we were pleased. In comparison to Carnival and RCI, the bathroom on Celebrity wins hands down! There’s a shower with a door that allows you to turn around without bumping into a waving shower curtain, and there’s ample space for shampoos, etc. As for cabin storage, I feel that Carnival wins this with three closets. Beds on Carnival and Celebrity are far better than RCI and NCL. Our bed on the Equinox was not too soft, and not too hard. In a word – PERFECT! The balcony was a nice area, and we enjoyed it very much. We had excellent housekeeping service twice each day.
The Equinox is a beautiful ship! It’s elegant, clean, and inviting. The fourth of July decorations were great!
Our first meal was the Concierge lunch in the Silhouette Dining Room. This was quite a treat. I’ve never experienced such peace and quiet at a boarding day lunch. Have I mentioned that the ship had a wonderful fresh smell? We had all of our evening meals in the main dining room except for one night. We wanted to try the stir fry in the buffet one evening, and we enjoyed it. The dining room ambience and food were a notch or two above other cruise lines. We had select dining and we were able to have a table for two each evening. Some of our dining room favorites were French onion soup, Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, shrimp Louis, spring rolls with sweet chili sauce, smoked tomato bisque, prime rib, lobster, shrimp scampi, Mediterranean seafood medley, cheesecake, and the Grand Mariner Souffle.
Breakfast most mornings found us in the Oceanview buffet. We enjoyed the fresh made-to-order omelet stations, bacon, fresh fruit, and juice. My husband was disappointed that there was no chocolate milk offering any day, and it didn’t make sense to us. So many choices, so why not offer chocolate milk? We went to the dining room for breakfast one morning, and we had a pleasant experience there.
Lunches on Celebrity Equinox didn’t offer the choices that we enjoy on Carnival. No Guy’s burger, BBQ, Wok, or Deli. The choices on port days were Oceanview Buffet or Mast Grill. The Mast Grill burgers were fair, and the buffet had some good food, but crowds and confusion were a daily affair at lunch.
We enjoyed a few visits to Café Al Bacio. Coffee was great, but the pastries were dry and overrated. Service was wonderful. We never tried the cakes.
We were on the Western Caribbean voyage. We purchased two excursions. In Key West, we rode the Old Town Trolley. I highly recommend it. It was an excellent opportunity to see many Key West attractions. In Grand Cayman, we rode the Jolly Roger, and I don’t recommend that one. We didn’t see much more than flora and trees. We chose this because we had previously seen the stingrays, the turtle farm, Hell, and the rum factory. We likely would have enjoyed exploring on our own more.
We were invited to the helipad for sailaway from Costa Maya – a really cool experience. We also received an invitation to a galley tour on the last seaday. Both of these were special events that were a surprise to us.
Captain Kate is a main attraction of the Equinox and quite charming. We enjoyed her daily announcements. She’s certainly a money maker for Celebrity, and yes, we bought our picture with her too. She also has her own jewelry line onboard, and no, we didn’t purchase.
The popular outside spots were busy during the day, but there were always chairs to be found. We enjoyed the solarium one day – peaceful and relaxing.
Evening entertainment for us consisted of nightly casino visits, a show, and two comedian nights. We especially enjoyed the comedians. They were perfect for our age group! Sashi was an amazing solo entertainer.
When we received our luggage tags for debarkation, our number was 24. I went to guest services and explained that we had a long drive ahead of us and they quickly exchanged them for 11. Facial recognition made Customs and debarkation extra swift. We picked up our luggage and were in our car by 8:30. So easy!
Celebrity employees are trained to be courteous, smiling, and efficient. We didn’t see a bad attitude the entire week, and the service was top notch. This is another way Celebrity stands above Carnival, RCI, and NCL. As for patrons, I didn’t notice much difference except for fewer children.
Have I mentioned that the ship had such a pleasant smell?
This was our first Celebrity cruise, but it definitely won’t be our last.