I decided to post my kind of review, kind of survey, kind of my "thinking out loud" here on Celebrity Forum, because Carnival or Norwegian Cruise Lines' guests don't care what is going on with Celebrity.
The cruises completed:
March 16 - 7 nights - Equinox - Eastern Caribbean
March 23 - 7 nights - Equinox - Western Caribbean
I will be brief on some categories and will put more words where I was really impressed or disappointed.
It started really well. No lines whatsoever. Or maybe it's because I didn't stick to the schedule Celebrity sent us a week prior to the cruise. I always like to arrive early and to be in the first group to check in and be on board by 11 AM. Like I said, the check in process took probably less than 5 minutes. But then the port security routed every single guest to the waiting areas based on their Level/Class/Stateroom category/height/weight or God knows what else without any explanation. I always like to know why certain things happen. The answer "Go there and wait there" is not a valid answer for me. Am I being difficult? And I don't mind waiting for 15 minutes, and may be even for an hour if the reason is good and if the waiting area is comfortable enough. For God's sake, why does it have to be so freaking cold in the Terminal? The passengers were prepared for the Caribbean cruise and we all wore shorts, light blouses, dresses, t-shirts. The temperature in the waiting area was probably 51 F. It was the worst 45 minutes of waiting. I was trying to hide behind the poles, chairs… I didn't know what would come first: my cruise or my cold.
Welcome on board drink:
Thank you Celebrity for a nice beginning of the cruise, but regular Prosecco is gone. It was just OJ and Kir Royale (which was basically cranberry juice with a splash of Prosecco). I am not complaining, but it's just one of the items that disappeared (permanently! - And I will get back to the list of items that are gone later in this review).
The ship is getting old and really needs some maintenance: lots of rusty spots on the balcony, the carpeting is getting old. Equinox is going to a dry dock in 4 weeks so hopefully it will be fixed. However, the crew did a great job keeping the ship absolutely clean! The staff at the Oceanview Café was doing a great job! I never saw dirty dishes or tables left for more than a few seconds. The cleaning staff was all over the ship constantly wiping, cleaning, disinfecting! Great job with hand sanitizing!
My biggest disappointment was that ALL land excursions in port of Cozumel were cancelled by Miami office a week before the cruise. I know that for some guests it was once in a lifetime opportunity to see Chichen Itza. Miami office didn't even give a reason why it was cancelled. The itinerary (or the order of ports) was changed on the second week and as far as I see we had less time in George Town. The rest of ports was exactly what I expected: I know what I was booking so no complaints here.
Excellent! I am always impressed by the hard work of the whole crew and staff team! They never disappoint! And when people ask me what was the highlight of my trip, I always say that it's people I met on board!
Future cruise sales:
While on board I always book a new cruise (or two, or three :-))). And I did it again! However, most likely all three bookings will be cancelled. I know it's been discussed so many times here, but I will add my 2 cents to this discussion. The prices! How does Celebrity come up with these outrageous prices for any cruise you book? Before there were different "categories" of cruises based on itinerary and class of the ship. The price was higher or lower based on these factors. "Exotic" itineraries (Australia/South America/Mediterranean, Asia, etc.) were always the most expensive. Caribbean cruises were always kind of in the mid category. The "budget" cruises were always Transatlantic or repositioning cruises. Not anymore! I booked three cruises in every category (the number of days/nights is the same). The price was almost the same. The difference is so insignificant (just a couple of hundred $$$ higher or lower) that all of them fell into the same group: UNAFFORDABLE! Why is it happening? My dumb guess is that we are paying for the new ships Celebrity is building. Because I don't see any improvement in food or service. As a matter of fact food got so bad that I will put more words than I probably should in this review. Another catch of Celebrity is the perks they "give" when you book on board. They look so tempting! But… Do they think we are stupid? Yes, our price is a little higher, but we give you "so and so" OBC ($550 for veranda stateroom), and two other perks (Bev Package or Internet or Paid Gratuities). If you calculate the cost of all the perks they give the $$ amount is pretty impressive. But do I really need them? Now I am stuck with Bev Package and have to drink their cheap liquor. And I am stuck with OBC that I need to spend on board buying all the crap they sell at the stores or I lose it. Many years ago we didn't have Bev Packages. I am not a big drinker: just a glass of prosecco in the morning and a glass or two of wine at dinner. Now you are "forced" to drink. And speaking of drinking… Another thing that Celebrity staff is pushing on board is an Upgrade to a Premium Bev Package. But (since I am a wine drinker) the only place where you can get a premium wine is MDR. All bars around the ship carry only wines that are in Classic Bev Package. Once after two or three stops at different bars I ended up at Passport Bar on Deck 3. On my request to give me Malbec that was in Premium Package the bar attender said that only cheap Malbec was available. I said I wouldn't leave until I get what I paid for. Needless to say I was his worst enemy. So you pay for premium but drink only cheap stuff. Hello, Celebrity!!!
Disembarkation: Probably the fastest and easiest I ever had! The Immigration and Customs Line was moving so fast we hardly slowed down. It was a very organized process with luggage groups and exiting the ship.
And my favorite topic: FOOD! It's like the cherry on the cake!
First, I've never seen so many carbs in one place (Oceanview Café). Bread, Danishes, muffins, bagels, donuts, turnovers, tarts, cakes - they occupied almost all the isles in OV Café. You can hardly find grilled tomatoes. There were only two trays with bacon and sausages. But carbs were all over the place. The carts and trays with pastries were moving around the OV Café non-stop. Of course, bread is cheap. And it fills your stomach really fast. And in 5 minutes you are hungry again. And then you go for the second round of carbs! Very smart, Celebrity! The choice of food items in the OV Café was very-very basic, poor and limited.
Now I get to the list of items that disappeared from the OV Café menu or MDR menu. My recent cruise was not long ago - just three months ago on Eclipse. And even this short period of time was enough for many items to be gone. And I am not talking about food items/events that went to a Black hole years ago. I am talking about the changes that happened in three months since my previous cruise.
1. Frog legs - GONE! Last December I asked F&B Manager about it. His answer was really cute: there were only 1 000 English speaking guests on board. That is why they removed frog legs from the menu. Really??? Since when non-English speaking guests don't eat frog legs? And since when English speaking guests are treated as a second class?
2. Frozen berries for breakfast - GONE!
3. Prunes - GONE!
4. Cottage cheese - GONE! I saw it I think only twice during 2 weeks cruise.
5. Hashbrown - GONE! I saw how the managers of OV Café were bringing hashbrown for some guests from the MDR. It was probably a special request. Celebrity, it's just potatoes! Fried potatoes! Bring it back, please!
6. Freshly squeezed OJ in Premium package - GONE!
7. Parfait in Spa Café - GONE!
8. Precooked stir fry in Asian section - GONE!
9. Paper cups with lids in OV Café - GONE! Not a food item, but still… GONE.
10. Theme lunches or dinners - GONE. Once in two week period we had "Latino" lunch and dinner.
11. Bread pudding with the choice of two sauces as a desert for lunch - GONE! They have it now at 4 PM for a mid-day snack. And of course it's not the same bread pudding as it was before.
Well, feel free to add more items to this "GONE" list.
But my question is: What is next? Celebrity, do you need ideas what else to remove from the menu?
Here we go:
1. Eggs benedict - I am pretty sure it's coming (or going away).
2. Waffles - way too fancy for OV Café.
3. Escargot - once Celebrity tried to remove or substitute it with stuffed mushrooms. We didn't buy it. But they can try to remove it again.
4. Cute biscotti they serve at Café al Bacio. Celebrity already removed small chocolates from Café al Bacio years ago. Now it's biscotti time to be GONE. We can stuff ourselves with cakes.
I don't know what to recommend to remove from the MDR menu. Because we are close enough to be stuck with only two items on the menu.
I hope I am not the only one who notice these things and is not shy to speak about it.
And I don't want to hear "If you are not happy than choose a different cruise line!". I think we deserve to get what we pay for. If the price went 200% up then we should expect a better quality product.
Happy cruising everyone! 😃