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LIVE BLOG! From the EQUINOX - AUG 25th Sailing - CHICAGOPAUL

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Cheers Cruise Critic! It is that time again; Edward and I are boarding our next cruise tomorrow and we are excited to bring you all on board with us. It’s my hope that each live blog I write is better than the last and also easier to read so I will do my best to categorize everything for you. This way if you don’t want to read something you can easily skip forward! Feel free to ask questions and comment on anything!

 

For those of you who have not followed me before or have no idea who in the world I am (which is probably most of you!) my name is Paul and I’m 31 from Chicago. My partner is Edward and he is 36. We’ve been cruising on Celebrity for roughly 8 years and this will mark cruise number 15 with Celebrity.

 

Per the usual I will be posting our daily activities and a minimum of 10 photos on here that will help recap our day whether it is our activities in port, what we had for dinner, or even the onboard entertainment. I’ll be sure to post restaurant and bar menu photos along with the daily activities guide. I will also go into detail about anything we purchase and will give you full pricing details so you know what we’re paying so you can use that information for your future cruise. I’ll even discuss our flight details, cab costs, hotel costs, etc. I know some of these topics may be considered bit “taboo” but at the end of the day it is important information so why not share it! So without further delay lets dive into the details of this cruise and then starting tomorrow all the fun food, drink, more drink, more drink, food, and ship photos will follow.

 

If you’d like to follow along for extra photos not posted on here feel free to follow my Instagram. My Instagram account name is: PaulKBlackburn

 

Ship: Celebrity Equinox

Sail Date: August 25th, 2018

Itinerary: 9 Nights

 

Day 1: Miami

Day 2: Key West (7am to 5pm)

Day 3: At Sea

Day 4: At Sea

Day 5: Aruba (8am to Midnight!)

Day 6: Curacao (8am to 8pm)

Day 7: Bonaire (7am to 4pm)

Day 8: At Sea

Day 9: At Sea

Day 10: Back in Miami :(

 

Cabin: Concierge Class (C3)

Price: $1,765 Per Person INCLUDING GO BEST

 

Just to remind everyone in case you forgot (which is easy to do with all of Celebrity’s different promotions!) the GO BEST gives us the following: Premium Drink Package, Pre-Paid Gratuities, $150pp onboard credit, and Unlimited Internet

 

Airfare

 

We booked through Choice Air (or Flights by Celebrity as it is called now right?). The pricing was virtually the same as if we booked direct with the airline but since you get the choice air insurance it made complete sense to book through them in the event there is an issue. Hopefully we don’t have to worry about that, but better safe than sorry.

 

Airline: American Airlines ORD to MIA, nonstop

Price: $518 Round Trip, Per Person, First Class

 

The first class pricing you just could not beat. Southwest who we fly often was only marginally cheaper than AA first class and AA economy wasn’t much cheaper after you factor in baggage fees, etc.

 

We did not plan to take a cruise in August as our next cruise was already booked for November on the Reflection. However, when we looked at the total pricing for everything from the GO BEST to cabin class to the flights we felt it was too good of a deal to pass up. These are some of our favorite ports as well in the Caribbean (especially Key West, there is something very….nostalgic?).

 

Our flight leaves at 6:30pm Chicago time today, Friday and we arrive roughly at 10:30pm in Miami. We’re staying at the Intercontinental and hopefully will have a view of the port when we wake up in the morning. Our hotel was a pretty good deal having only used 11,000 Chase Rewards points for the night. We were booked at the Kimpton originally but ended up switching to this hotel since it has a bar open until 2am with a full dinner menu until midnight. This way if we want to unwind a bit with a little food and a cocktail then we have that option.

 

Cruise Insurance: One topic that some of you have asked me about in the past is cruise insurance. Do we purchase it? We don’t purchase typical cruise insurance which covers cancellation, etc. Instead we utilize our Chase Sapphire Reserve card (Visa Infinite) as they give us triple points on travel but also because their travel coverage is phenomenal. Lost baggage is covered and even trip cancellation. What we do buy however is travel medical insurance which covers any medical issues and of course medical evacuation. Technically Chase and even our Amex Plat has some of this coverage but it is not nearly sufficient enough so we still opt for purchasing the medical insurance for the trip. For this trip the cost was $74.00 total for both of us and it included very generous medical coverage. The plan is through AIG.

 

OK! Now that we have all those boring mundane details out of the way it is time to have some fun. I’m going to get back to packing. If you want to see who I am in person just click on the video link below for a video of me rambling for a few minutes talking about this cruise. The next photos you should see will likely be our airport photos.

 

As always thank you all so much for following along and feel free to ask any questions at all that you may have!

 

Here is all the above summed up in a YouTube video.

 

 

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[emoji51] love your live forms and just saw you posted on Instagram so I hopped right over! Enjoy. We will be embarking Reflection as you disembark in November. And we’ve sailed the Equinox several times. Great itinerary you have also.

 

 

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YAY!!! So excited for this! It was great meeting you last year on the Presidents Cruise! Love your vlog style and your pictures! Wanda

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Paul, glad to see another post from you. I like that you mention the prices for others to use as reference. Your medical insurance seems low. Did you cover the total price of the trip so any preexisting conditions would be covered?

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Can't wait to follow along with you! We are on the same itinerary in Sept for 10 nights with an additional stop in Grand Caymen. Thanks for the info about the medical insurance.

 

Michele

 

Also I could not load the video...

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Hey Paul, just stopping by to say hello to you and Edward! Will be following along! Talk soon xo

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Thanks Paul! I love your style and I can't wait to follow along! Have a great cruise!

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Yay! Paul! We are doing the November Silhouette TA - Boston, NYC and Bermuda - based mostly on your cruise along, it sounded like y'all had a great time and sold us!

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Wonderful! I love following your cruise adventures. I hope you and Edward have a fabulous time:)

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I have been waiting all month for this. I will not be on the Equinox until 2/16/19.

Can you see if the glass blowing show will still be going on in Feb? It was okay once but its like watching grass grow for me. Who is working in the Martini Bar?

Most of all I hope you and Edward have a wonderful time!!!

Norma

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Looking forward to reading about your cruise! I have before, and in my opinion you do the best job of this!!! We would love to cruise with you 2 sometime.

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Following along, we will be on Equinox in November so looking forward to an advance peek at the good times to come.

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Thank you to everyone who has already commented. I’ll check on the glass blowing Norma! Regarding our travel medical insurance I need to double check but I do believe it included pre existing provided it was prior to 60 days before the cruise? Keep in mind it’s just medical, no cancellation or even cancellation on the event of medical.

 

So far things are off to a great start. We ordered an Uber Black just before 3pm. Within 45 seconds it arrived. Literally 45 seconds. The benefit of living above a hotel! There was some traffic getting to ORD but i was able to read your comments and take care of some work emails.

 

We checked our bags with AA and breezes through TSA precheck. We’ve found ourself at a bar a few gates away from our gate. Sipping on Ketel One on the rocks right now. We still have over an hour to go before boarding. I always enjoy getting here early and relaxing. I hate to rush. Though if I traveled for work I’m sure it would be the opposite.

 

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Count me in as another who's very happy to see another one of your reviews and will be watching for updates with photos, prices, descriptions etc etc! We're on Reflection in Jan for 14 nights, not sure if it's the same itinerary as yours in Nov but I'll def be looking forward to that blog as well!

 

As for the cost of the medical insurance, I'm sure a huge factor is your young age!! The older you get the more the cost goes up and up!!

 

Enjoy your flights and your cruise and thank you for taking us all along!!

Cathy

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Hi Paul

I'll certainly be reading your posts.

Will you exceed 85,000 views again ?

Have a great cruise.

Peter

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Wonderful! We’ll be on Equinox the cruise after you!! So I’ll be avidly following!! Is Captain Kate onboard for your cruise?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Greatly looking forward to your live blog! You do such a great job I feel like I’m sailing with you and Edward. This November we are in Key West for the first time during our sailing on Infinity. Look forward to your recommendations!

Edited by levramosis

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Hi Paul

 

I'll certainly be reading your posts.

 

Will you exceed 85,000 views again ?

 

Have a great cruise.

 

Peter

 

 

 

Fingers crossed! Thanks for following along again! Hope you’re doing well. Which ship is your daughter on now or is she enjoying a nice break?

 

 

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So we had another drink at the bar and it’s starting to hit me. Currently waiting at the gate as the previous flight deplanes. I am going to start with champagne and then maybe to white wine? Haha

 

In all seriousness thanks for all the wonderful compliments. Keep any questions coming!

 

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Looking forward to your posts. They are always informative and very enjoyable to read. Enjoy your cruise.

 

 

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Can’t wait to read again about your adventures we are doing the same itinerary in October (minus Key West). Bon Voyage!!

 

 

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Following along. I'll be getting on the ship as you're going home.

Other than Luminae and Michael's the thing I'm most excited about is SLUSH. I've never been on a ship which had SLUSH even though I've cruised Equinox several times. Please have one of every drink on the Slush menu and report BACK w/ your recommendations! :D ;)

Hey it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it!

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We were on the Equinox last month, and will be back next year. I love reading live threads, so following.

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Good Evening, errr early good Morning Everyone.

 

Our flight was scheduled to board at 6pm and depart at 6:35. We boarded at roughly 6:30 due to a mechanical issue, however they boarded us by accident because the issue was not resolved. So half the plane sat boarded while the other half sat outside the gate anxiously waiting to get on board.

 

The delay was due to malfunctioning door on the plane used for catering. Upon closing the door the food service staff notice the door did not latch and alerted the flight deck. It took just over an hour to fix. I will credit AA that they made an announcement every 10 minutes not only apologizing but explaining in detail what was happening and how they were fixing it. Our captain did the same and she was fantastic.

 

Thankfully they fed us lots of liquor while we waited.

 

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Our meal was pretty decent and while there were a couple quirks in service, overall the flight soft product was solid.

 

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We landed around 11:17pm, almost an hour past our scheduled time. Luggage came out immediately (thank you priority first) and there was no one in line for a cab. We had a great cab driver who knew exactly where he was going and we were at the Intercontinental (at Biscayne and the river) quickly. Taxi total was $26.50. With tip we gave him $32 in cash.

 

Check in was quick. There are lots of steps in front of the hotel. One of the Bell man saw us with luggage and helped. I can’t complain given the price of the hotel but it is important to note the service to expect at different hotels. Here I don’t mind grabbing my luggage. But at a 5 Star, think Four Seasons, Ritz, Mandarin etc. I don’t even want to have to open my car door let alone touch a piece of luggage. Though expectations need to coincide with the price point. For 11,000 chase points I’ll carry my own luggage up 5 stairs!

 

Check in desk was extremely friendly. We’re in room 2718 in case any one of you want to send flowers or bars of gold.

 

We decided to stop by the bar for a late night bite and of course a drink. The restaurant here is Torotoro. Food here has always been consistent. We split a burger and tuna tartar tacos. The burger was cooked very good but the tacos, while miniature, were excellent. Pricing was good. Compared to the hotel we live in, it was cheaper here even before what our resident discount would be in Chicago. After those two items plus a couple martinis our bill was $68 including an automatic 18% gratuity.

 

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So now we are back in our room and will update you in the morning!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Good morning Paul (and everybody else of course),

it's great to follow another blog of yours! We did nearly the same itinerary last october on the Equinox, just one day more. I loved Bonaire most where we took a watertaxi to Klein-Bonaire (small protected Island just like paradise; there is nothing on it, no bar, no shop, no nothing, which fortunately seems to keep many people away ;) ). We snorkled there and just enjoyed the perfect turquoise water and stayed there for half a day. I can only recommend it.

 

Enjoy your trip; Looking forward to your reviews. Will be a nice daily "to-do" again. ;)

 

Regards from Germany

Christine

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Edited by Chrissi3010
picture added

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We had a similar experience on British Airways. We flew from Amsterdam to LHR to MIA . We were all boarded nicely on time at Schiphol when it was announced that one passenger had decided not to travel after checking in his/her luggage. Had to wait for ground staff to locate and remove before we could take off. Delays are always a concern, especially with connecting flights but safety must come first andhappily all went well.

We were also fortunate to get through Miami airport smoothly. Did you also have to be checked by a sniffer dog by the way?

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Looked forward to following along! We board the equinox in February. Enjoy the martinis and the martini bar!

 

 

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Just love your live blogs!! Looking forward to your stop at Aruba as it’s a place we’ve wanted to visit for a while so are looking at a celebrity 2020 cruise to visit. Have a great cruise! 🥂

 

 

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Good morning, Paul. I'm so excited to see another Chicago Paul review. We did this cruise last September, with the addition of the Cayman Islands. This was just days after the hurricane, so Falmouth was substituted for Key West. I think that most people were just so excited that the cruise was actually happening that losing a day in Key West was only slightly disappointing, considering the grand scheme of things. Did you get the Go Best package through a promotion? We had that also on Equinox, but I haven't seen it in a while. I always enjoy your reviews. Thanks so much for taking us along .

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My first time following your cruise blog and totally enjoy your vibe! Love all the drink photos and can’t wait to see what interesting things you do at the various port stops. We have been to several of the ports you will be visiting but not all!!

 

 

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We will be on the Equinox next month with basically the same itinerary with the addition of Grand Cayman. We did the same cruise last September and loved it so much that we are doing it again. Hoping to get to Key West this year. Hurricane Irma made sure we didn’t get there last year .......can you please let us know who the bartenders are at the martini bar? I am friends with a few on Facebook and know that they aren’t there, but wondering if any will be there that were also on board last year. Thank you! Have a great cruise!

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I admire all of the effort that you’re putting into this thread. It’s my first time following your reports. I’ll be interested in finding out what you guys do in the ABC’s as we’ll be there in February. Bon voyage! [emoji568]

 

 

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Fingers crossed! Thanks for following along again! Hope you’re doing well. Which ship is your daughter on now or is she enjoying a nice break?

 

 

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All good here thanks Paul.

Valentina is on a break and due to fly out to the Celebrity/RCCI HQ mid September !

I'll try and watch your sail away later 🤞

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