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Just off the 9-17-21 Equinox - BEST CRUISE EXPERIENCE EVER!


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Celebrity Equinox 9-17-21

 

We left our home in Stuart at 9:40 am to stop at our friend's in Jupiter. We consolidated all our luggage in their vehicle and headed towards Ft Lauderdale, making one stop in Lake Worth en route. We parked the car at “Park by the ports” at the casino and they quickly brought us to the Equinox. Dropped off at the Equinox at 12:28 PM for our 12:30-1:00 boarding window.

 

We walked right up and made it through the various document checks and were on board and in our cabin before 12:50. We dropped off our carry on luggage and headed to the Oceanview cafe for lunch. We made immediate use of our beverage package and met up with our other friends for a great beginning to this nine night cruise.

 

After lunch we headed down to the dining room to have our dining table corrected. For some reason, even though our reservations were supposed to be 'linked,' they did not have us dining together. This was taken care of promptly. We also took care of DW's special dietary restrictions at the same time.

 

We made our first visit to Cafe El Bacio and enjoyed a cup of tea. Heading back to our cabins all luggage was delivered and we unpacked. I took some time to enjoy my 'private pool and hot tub' which was delightful. In addition the pool bar made me an Orange Crush. Headed back to the cabin to get ready for the evening events.

 

Tried attending the sail away party at the pool but for some reason this didn't happen. We were on deck for the sail away and just as we passed the beach the skies opened up with a typical Florida shower. Next we found some really nice music and relaxed enjoying the guitarist/singer. We have a late dinner in the Tuscan Grill with our friends. At the end of the meal we found out that 1066 guests were onboard. That is just 36% of the 2960 double occupancy capacity of the Equinox. The meal was incredible and very much enjoyed. That certainly made for a very full first day.

 

Saturday 9-18 – at sea

 

After a good sleep (except for the hard pillows) we were up and about 8:45 headed to the Elite coffee hour in the Tuscan Grille. This is a nice event especially for those who qualify who don't have a beverage package. We may not go back this cruise. We texted our friends on the Celebrity AP and met up with them at Cafe El Bacio enjoying some great tea.

 

Next we headed to Future Cruises to book the 6-2-22 Charleston/Bermuda cruise from Cape Liberty on the Summit. The Future Cruise consultant was very helpful. The ladies wanted to peruse the shops and the men enjoyed some conversation at Cafe El Bacio. Just as we were ready to leave the ladies came back with their treasures.

 

Everyone agreed to some pool time and our cabins had been refreshed. Our great cabin steward, Carmen, left us feather pillows as we requested. No trouble at all finding six chairs together in the shade. We really enjoyed our couple of hours as the combination of temperature, breeze, and shade was just perfect. We took a break for a light lunch in the Oceanview and returned for some pool and hot tub time. The DJ and the band kept us entertained and we were just the right distance for the volume to be ideal. Just as we went into the hot tub a brief shower began. Really, it was like, three minutes, but it cleared out everyone sitting in the open and they just left.

 

During lunch we noted some nice round tables in the Oceanview so we agreed to meet there for a round of Catan, our favorite game which we brought with us. We had a really nice game with terrific service from the Oceanview bar while we played. The game ended exactly one hour before our dinner reservation so it was time to get ready for dinner.

 

On the way to dinner, the band was playing in Celebrity Central and they are terrific. We listed to the Duo at one of the lounges and had a nice time. We then went to our fixed dinner in the Silhouette restaurant. We met our wait staff and they seem terrific. The wine steward let DW try a couple of different wines. Enjoyable meal and a nice pace. The dining room seems rather empty and that is a little surreal.

 

After dinner we were headed to the “Yes or No” show and got waylaid at one of the shops. DW needed to go back to get her earlier receipt to take advantage of a promo. Then we did make it for part of the show. We listed to the really good band (Kickstarters) in Celebrity Central until it was time to go for the main show, Topper. This is a very talented cast and quite a production. The showroom was less than half full. By that time the show was over, our feather pillows were calling us so we called it a night.

 

Sunday, 9-19 – at sea

 

We had made plans to meet friends at the Silhouette dining room for breakfast. As it turned out, we both left our staterooms at the same time. It was an enjoyable breakfast. The tea in the dining room is very weak and I need to remember to ask for two tea bags in the future. After breakfast we stopped at Cafe El Bacio for some good tea. The ladies did some exploring including observing the hot glass class for a while.

 

The men decided on some pool time while the ladies explored and attended a craft session. The hot tub was really nice and the loungers we found very comfortable. Shortly after noon we were all together again and enjoyed a lite lunch in the Oceanview Cafe. Four of us decided to play some Catan in the early afternoon and I set up the game on that same round table. One of us won Catan for the first time ever! The waiters made us several offers to book a meal in Murano. We finally took them up on their offer for $30/pp for the following (Monday) evening. I walked around the ship a little. All in all, this was a very pleasant afternoon before getting ready for the evening Chic night.

 

The meal in the Silhouette dining room was very enjoyable. We came out to find the band playing in Celebrity Central. We found seats (which would never happen on a full ship) and not two minutes later the cruise director began introducing the senior staff. Our timing was incredible and this was a really nice 35 minutes watching the proceedings and enjoying the band. We stopped by the casino bar to get a couple of drinks to bring to the show. Jared Freiburg and the Vagabonds was a terrific show. Feel this is the closest I will ever get to seeing “Jerry Lee Lewis.” The music selection was outstanding and his piano performance truly remarkable. After the show it was time to call it a day.

 

Monday, 9/20 ARUBA (day 1)

 

We had an early tour scheduled with “Trikes Aruba” so it was an early morning. We ended up leaving out stateroom exactly as our friends and had breakfast together in the Oceanview Cafe. Back to the cabin to get everything together for our day and we were off the ship at about 8:10. We walked the distance to the port gate and I nice resident pointed us to the waiting area in front of the Harley Davidson store.

 

Shortly the van pulled up and we piled in for the short ride to Trikes Aruba. We quickly filled out their form, paid as agreed, and received a quick lesson on the trike operation. Then we were off!

 

First stop was the Alto Vista Chapel, a very pretty spot overlooking the north coast. Pilgrims walk the well spaced ten steps of the cross barefoot each Easter to reach the chapel. Next we visited the “California Lighthouse,” on the far northwestern corner of the island. One of our friends climbed the lighthouse for photos. The name comes from a nearby shipwreck of a ship “The California.” Leaving the lighthouse we changed the order of our three trikes and headed back to Oranjestad.

 

We had to stop en route due to construction equipment taking up the entire road. Afterwards our Trike would not start. When the guide did coax it to start, we could get it to throttle at all. I was offered the manual transmission trike from the rear guide, who waited with the broken trike. Driving the manual was a bit of a challenge yet enjoyable.

 

We had a photo stop by an “Aruba” sculpture and continued on to the Murano glass works. We were able to watch a glass blower creating a masterpiece. In talking with him, his family is actually from Murano, Venice, Italy. Other tour groups also had a lunch here, but that was not part of our tour. Another change in sequence and we were now in front.

 

No additional stops were made as we drove the northern route back to their home base. We were driven back to the port arriving at about 12:45. We were all more than ready for some cold beverages and lunch which was enjoyed in the Oceanview as the dining room was not open on this port day.

 

After lunch, the three ladies all went for a shopping walk in town. The men enjoyed the pool and hot tub or simply relaxed. Dinner was in Murano. Service and atmosphere were wonderful but it all honesty the food was a disappointment, especially the Lobster entree, which three of us ordered. We missed the Silhouette dining room and our incredible waitstaff of Christopher & Viacheslav. We were all too tired after the day's adventures and skipped the main show of Elysium.

 

Tuesday, 9/21, ARUBA day 2

 

Yes, we are docked in Aruba for the second day. We all agreed to simply stay on the ship as our next two days (Curacao and Bonaire) promise to be very active and busy. We got it a little pool time and then we all participated in a “Digital scavenger hunt” at 11:00. We were two teams, the ladies and men. We did not win as one other team completed everything within the allotted 20 minutes. We missed two photos as we simply ran out of time. 😞 Still, it was a lot of fun going all over the ship.

 

We had lunch in the Oceanview and played Catan. All too soon (time goes faster on a ship, I am convinced!) it was time to get ready for dinner. It was just DW and I in the Silhouette this evening as our friends all wanted to try Sushi on Five. They enjoyed their dinner and ours was amazing and so much better than Monday's in Murano.

 

We caught the second half of the early show of Chad Chesmark and found it mildly entertaining, but not enough to return at 9:00. We walked around and enjoyed an African Solstice tea at El Bacio. Then we enjoyed the full moon sail away from Aruba from the aft deck behind the Oceanview before calling it a night.

 

Wednesday, 9/22, CURACAO

 

For some reason, Equinox was scheduled to dock at 9:00 so I made our car reservation with Avis for 9:30. We docked early and the gangway was open at 9:00. We were at the Avis office just off the pier at 9:15 to find the door locked. I called and they said someone was on their way as the reservation was for 9:30. It was 9:50 by the time we were in our rental. At least we were upgraded which we did appreciate. We drove following the GPS to Shete Boka national park on the northwestern corner of the island. Here we went into the sea cave, saw the natural bridge, and the various 'mouths' (Boka in the local language) where the sea crashes into the island. On this coast there are no beaches due to the constant wind.

 

After getting quite hot walking the trails at the national park, we headed to Grote Knip beach. While the beach is the same as our previous visits, it has sure become more popular! The water was delightful regardless and the snorkeling along the rock formations was super. After as much sun as we could tolerate we returned to the car to head to the Jan Kok salt flats to see the flamingos. Sure enough, they were there and we were able to take some zoom photos, not knowing we would have better flamingo viewing the next day.

 

From there we headed back to the ship, stopping for $12 worth of fuel along the way. We were happy to be back onboard with cool beverages as it seemed really hot on land today. Our friends who have not been to Curacao before headed back out to see the floating bridge and the town while we stayed onboard. I took a dip in the Solarium pool before getting ready for dinner.

 

Dinner was in the Silhouette and was another “10.” With a very early start and a full day planned for Bonaire we did not stay up for the show of Claire Gobin but rather called it a night.

 

Thursday, 9/23 – BONAIRE

 

An early alarm woke us and we met our friends at 6:45 in the Oceanview for breakfast. With a 7:00 arrival and a 7:30 meeting time with our tour with “Adventure Makers Bonaire” we ended up being the first group off the ship. Our tour guides Nike and Jon were waiting for us and led us to our vehicle for the morning tour, a former German military Mercedes open air truck. Thank goodness it had a canvas top for shade! By the end of the morning it was getting hot, but for the early tour it was a great way to see the southern end of the island.

 

Our tour took us along the coastal road and we stopped to see the salt production facilities. These are huge and the mountains of crystal white salt are impressive. We also saw the White, Blue, Red, and Orange Obelisks along the road. There were signs to ships for the various loading areas in the sailing days. Two sets of “Slave huts” are preserved as well as an automated lighthouse on the southeastern point. We also saw multiple groups of flamingos as well as donkeys. The guides pointed out that the eastern beach is rough as the wind drives the waves there. There is a lot a debris that washes up on these beaches, much of it all the way from Asia due to the currents. Some of the residents gather up debris and turn them into artwork along the way.

 

We made a restroom stop at a resort on a beautiful bay. The guides said we could get our feet wet but none of our group wanted to get sandy feet this early into the day. We cut that stop short and continued on to the Flamingo sanctuary. There we saw White flamingos. Flamingos are born White, after two years of consuming pink shrimp, their skin turns pink. The dirt road to the sanctuary was quite an experience in the German truck!

 

We drove back to Willemstad and our guides pointed out various sites before bringing us to Epic Tours, our snorkeling tour provider to Klein Bonaire. While Epic has a set schedule of taking folks out, for the six of us they took us virtually immediately. A 15 minute boat ride took us to the drop off point for our “Drift snorkeling” outing. They told us to expect to be in the water 60 – 75 minutes and to just let the current take us along to where they had shelters set up on the beach where our towels and gear would be waiting.

 

This was absolutely the best snorkeling experience we have ever had. Never have we seen such an abundance of various types of coral, and the number of fish of all sizes was incredible. I was very pleased with how well my Olympus waterproof camera battery held out as I shot a lot of video clips as well as many stills with the fill in flash operating. We had a great time and a few times I even doubled back to get a second look at a few areas.

 

After about an hour, one of our group somehow had a fin come loose. This regretfully led to them having a bit of a panic attack. DW and I helped him as best as we could, guiding him along towards the beach shelters. At one point, with the shelters in sight (but still some distance off), he said that he simply needed to stand and broke away towards the shore. Part of our group was on shore so I was able to yell that help was needed. One of the Epic representatives, Laura, came running along the beach and came into the water along with one of our group to assist. They sent one of their boats and we helped our friend onto the boat. Not taking any chances, they immediately took him to shore and had an ambulance waiting. The paramedics worked on him and took him to the hospital to be checked out.

 

In the meantime, the Epic crew on Klein Bonaire kept us informed as to what was going on. Needless to say his wife was very concerned. They sent a boat to bring us all back to shore and the captain kept us informed on the 25 minute ride back. The owners of Epic, Michel & Inka were waiting for us on the pier. They brought us to a shady spot to report that Gus was being well cared for at the hospital. Inka took his wife to the hospital while the rest of us spoke with Michel. We then headed back to the ship.

 

Upon arrival at the Equinox, we went directly to guest services to offer any assistance needed should their cabin need to get packed up. Guest services was already aware of the incident. Celebrity sent a representative to the hospital. In the end, everything stabilized with our friend and he was released just in time to return to the ship with the Celebrity representative just before the gangway was brought up. Ship's medical went over everything with them and except for a “No alcohol for two days” medical order they were free to continue the cruise. Great support from both Epic tours Bonaire and Celebrity on this entire incident is acknowledged.

 

Back on board, I enjoyed a short time in the shady pool and hot tub, and then got ready for dinner. It was really great to have our friends at dinner with us. Today was certainly a day that will always be remembered, but despite all that happened, I would love to go back to Bonaire to see the North part of the island and do some more snorkeling.

 

After dinner we perused some of the shops and attended the Broadway Cabaret show, which was very enjoyable. We now have two sea days ahead of us returning to Ft Lauderdale.

 

Friday, 9-24 – at sea

 

We really enjoyed out sea day today. I picked up tea “To go” at El Bacio. Once we were ready for the morning, we went to El Bacio for additional tea while waiting for our friends. All six of us enjoyed the dining room breakfast. During breakfast I worked with our very happy to be with us friend to send notes back by e-mail to Epic Tours for all their help the day prior.

 

After breakfast the ladies wanted to peruse the shops and the men went up to the pool deck to find shady chairs overlooking the sea. After the last two days we don't need any additional sun! DW did find me a “Gaiter” in Bonaire and I tried that to shade my head when I went into the pool. It is something to get used to I suppose, as I will need to use that on our November trip to the Galapagos. The ladies found us and we went for a light lunch in the Oceanview Cafe followed by an “Express” game of Catan, with our fully recovered friend being the champ today.

 

We all attended the special 2:30 matinee performance of Jared Frieburg & the Vagabonds. This was another terrific performance made even more special by the fact that this was a 'volunteer' performance by them over and above their contract. This was another “10” of a show and the theater was certainly more occupied than any of the evening shows (yet still with plenty of empty seats). A unanimous standing ovation finished the show.

 

Next we wondered the shops and I looked at a few items as we still have OBC to spend. I found something attractive and we decided to have a cup of tea at El Bacio while signing in to the internet to see if the price really was a good deal. Well, no, it's not; in fact the “75% off” sale price was still double what a two minute search found the same item on Amazon. So we will find another way to spend the OBC tomorrow.

 

It was time to get ready for the second “Chic night.” We all agreed to meet at the photo gallery at 5:15 to have group photos taken. That went well and we hope one of those photos will be the winner tomorrow to be a wonderful memory of this incredible trip. Dinner in the Silhouette dining room was terrific and the lobster was apparently both larger and more tasty than the Murano entree the other night. A 'better wine' covered by our beverage package had been discovered over the past day and our wine steward Noah arranged to have that wine available for a few of us. This was greatly appreciated as well.

 

We found very comfortable seats in “Craft social” where we could hear the band in the main foyer. When the band's set was done we headed to the theater for the evening performance by Laura Wright. We enjoyed the show and it was well done. After the show we decided to take a look at the 'late night buffet' in the Oceanview cafe as we had not been to one. We just looked and took a few photos before calling it a night dreaming of another terrific sea day to follow.

 

Saturday, 9-25 – at sea

 

Another beautiful sea day on the way back to Ft. Lauderdale began with a run to El Bacio for morning tea. We met our friends for a dining room breakfast with Christopher taking care of us. We split up for much of the morning, with the ladies generally 'shopping' and the men mostly relaxing. Three of us did take in the 10:15 theater presentation on behind the scenes at sea, which was quite informative. What I found very encouraging is that since restarting operations RCCL corporation has had over a half-million guests with less than 150 cases of Covid. That almost seems mathematically impossible with all the media Covid stories and also suggests the safest place to be these days may be aboard a cruise ship.

 

The Oceanview pulled out all the stops for this last sea day lunch. Carved to order Roast Turkey, Roast round of Beef, and barbecue chicken wings were among the food options. Dessert? All those no calorie chocolate fountain items were sure tempting! Three of us played two rounds of Catan after lunch. At the end of the cruise, each one of our group of six had won one game. What are the odds of that happening?

 

We finally spent down the last of our on board credit and ended up with a bill of about $16. We arranged to meet at 5:15 at the deck three bar to share digital photo files, which took about an hour, so that was finished in the dining room. Tonight the Prime Rib was simply amazing, another '10' meal in the Silhouette dining room. At the end of the meal we gathered our team together for photos and to hand them 'extra gratuity' envelopes. We truly appreciate the efforts of Christopher, Viacheslav, and Noah in making our cruise spectacular.

 

Back to our cabin to pack (sad face) but finishing in time to go to the photo gallery to pick up our special green background group photo we ordered, a drink for the showroom, and then one last theater production show, “L.I.F.E.” This was a really good show and a terrific way to close out a super cruise.

 

After the show back to the cabin to catch up the log, call it a night, and be ready for disembarkation day tomorrow.

 

Sunday, 9-26 - disembarkation

 

We woke before our alarm. El Bacio was open so I was able to bring tea back to the room. We were ready and with two of our friends went to the Silhouette dining room for our last breakfast with Christopher. As we were finishing breakfast our number (5) was called so we headed off the ship. On the way out, the cruise director and hotel manager wished us safe travels. Our luggage was ready for pick up, a quick facial scan, and we were on the curb waiting for our park by the ports pick up.

 

SUMMARY:

 

What more can I say? I've rated all our cruises based on the on board experience with five stars being “Perfect.” This cruise on the Equinox was 5+ stars. The live music experience was terrific and reminded me how much I've missed that over the past year and a half. The main dining room meal was a '10' all but one night, and that wasn't bad at all. The Oceanview Cafe always had nice selections and the food was delicious. The only meal that was a disappointment was Murano and that was likely due to a poor menu choice.

 

We had such an incredible time that we booked the Edge to leave in just six days. We've not been onboard Edge before so it will be all new to us.

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Thank you for sharing your excellent review!  I really enjoyed reading about your experience and for a bit I was living vicariously through you and your friends.  So glad that your friend had a speedy and complete recovery.  Sounded very scary!  You will, I’m sure have a wonderful cruise on Edge and I look forward to reading that review, too!

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Definitely a fantastic review!  I understand your friend Gus.  I do not enjoy snorkeling or the feeling of suffocation I get.  I get mild panic attacks, nothing too serious.  I only go to make my husband happy.  I prefer land activities.

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7 hours ago, StartrainDD said:

Celebrity Equinox 9-17-21

 

We left our home in Stuart at 9:40 am to stop at our friend's in Jupiter. We consolidated all our luggage in their vehicle and headed towards Ft Lauderdale, making one stop in Lake Worth en route. We parked the car at “Park by the ports” at the casino and they quickly brought us to the Equinox. Dropped off at the Equinox at 12:28 PM for our 12:30-1:00 boarding window.

 


Hello, neighbor--we're also in Stuart!  We'll be on Edge in two weeks, and this is our first cruise as FL residents.  Can you provide info on the "Park by the Ports"?  Thank you!

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10 hours ago, hiccups said:


Hello, neighbor--we're also in Stuart!  We'll be on Edge in two weeks, and this is our first cruise as FL residents.  Can you provide info on the "Park by the Ports"?  Thank you!

Our friends have used them for years for both cruises and flights from FLL.  This is the website, they do want payment in advance however our friends have never had an issue with refunds if they needed to cancel.  Fort Lauderdale Parking & Shuttle to Cruise Port Canaveral (parkbytheports.com)

 

Hope this helps!

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On 9/27/2021 at 8:11 AM, StartrainDD said:

Our friends have used them for years for both cruises and flights from FLL.  This is the website, they do want payment in advance however our friends have never had an issue with refunds if they needed to cancel.  Fort Lauderdale Parking & Shuttle to Cruise Port Canaveral (parkbytheports.com)

 

Hope this helps!


Is the area they use for parking gated/secured?  Do you need to leave your keys?  Thanks for any information you can provide  🙂 

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Thanks for the review!  We can't wait to get back to cruising!! I'm so glad you took the Aruba Trykes excursion.  I'm looking at that for our April cruise with two other couples.  Did you book far out? I'm curious if it's best to do the early tour or if the later tours would work too considering temps and wind?  TIA

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13 hours ago, hiccups said:


Is the area they use for parking gated/secured?  Do you need to leave your keys?  Thanks for any information you can provide  🙂 

The parking is part of the oversized lot for the Dania Beach Casino.  That said, it is fenced in.  Not sure about locked gates as I believe the Casino is open 24 hours.  Seemed to me to be a fairly safe neighborhood.

1 hour ago, NBliving said:

Thanks for the review!  We can't wait to get back to cruising!! I'm so glad you took the Aruba Trykes excursion.  I'm looking at that for our April cruise with two other couples.  Did you book far out? I'm curious if it's best to do the early tour or if the later tours would work too considering temps and wind?  TIA

Aruba Trikes used to book up a year out on cruise ship days.  We missed going with them on previous visits as we tend to book after final payment (at least pre-covid we did...)  I would go with the earliest hours you can; it gets hot as the sun is higher in the sky.  Also, I didn't think of this, put sunscreen on your hands and wrists.  The wind pushes the sleeves up.

 

Have each couple book separately as if you book three trikes together they will want a deposit.

 

Good planning all!  We are off on the EDGE tomorrow!

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23 minutes ago, StartrainDD said:

 

Aruba Trikes used to book up a year out on cruise ship days.  We missed going with them on previous visits as we tend to book after final payment (at least pre-covid we did...)  I would go with the earliest hours you can; it gets hot as the sun is higher in the sky.  Also, I didn't think of this, put sunscreen on your hands and wrists.  The wind pushes the sleeves up.

 

Have each couple book separately as if you book three trikes together they will want a deposit.

 

Good planning all!  We are off on the EDGE tomorrow!

Great advice!! I was hesitating because of the $50 deposit per bike.  

 

Cheers to another awesome cruise! We were on the Edge January 2020 and really enjoyed it! If you haven't been on it before, check out the Eden Cafe for lunch - we liked the options there for something different.  Nice area to sit in outside.

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