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We have been on many cruises in the Caribbean and Western Mexico, but this was our first European cruise. I had been to three of the destination cities more than 40 years earlier, as a teenager, and my husband had never been to Europe. It needs to be said that you are at best "sampling" the cities, as virtually every port deserved more time than the 8-12 hours we had in port. If your primary interest is Italy, don't do it by cruise ship. Both Florence and Rome are 1 1/2 hour train rides, each way, from the port. Within those limitations, this was an incredible cruise. The ship was excellent. They had had a novo virus outbreak the trip before ours, so they did an extra thorough cleaning of the ship, and the hand sanitizer brigade was waiting for us every time we re-boarded or walked into a dining room. Food was excellent, and attempted to mirror some of the local cuisine. The ability to do "anytime" dining was a great plus (only available if you pre-pay gratuities). We used a local travel agent and Cruise Critic's roll call boards to organize shore excursions. Joining some fellow cruisers on the roll call message boards to share costs on private tours was great. The "Hop on, Hob Off" bus tours were also excellent, and available at most of our ports. The biggest disappointment is that Celebrity pulled the full-day Istanbul in-port, and spent an extra day at sea, due to some security concerns. Since we had 1 1/2 extra days in Istanbul, this was not a problem for us, but many on the ship had little chance to see Istanbul.

Excellent Mediterranean Sampler

Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by Jesscorg

Trip Details
We have been on many cruises in the Caribbean and Western Mexico, but this was our first European cruise. I had been to three of the destination cities more than 40 years earlier, as a teenager, and my husband had never been to Europe.

It needs to be said that you are at best "sampling" the cities, as virtually every port deserved more time than the 8-12 hours we had in port. If your primary interest is Italy, don't do it by cruise ship. Both Florence and Rome are 1 1/2 hour train rides, each way, from the port.

Within those limitations, this was an incredible cruise. The ship was excellent. They had had a novo virus outbreak the trip before ours, so they did an extra thorough cleaning of the ship, and the hand sanitizer brigade was waiting for us every time we re-boarded or walked into a dining room. Food was excellent, and attempted to mirror some of the local cuisine. The ability to do "anytime" dining was a great plus (only available if you pre-pay gratuities).

We used a local travel agent and Cruise Critic's roll call boards to organize shore excursions. Joining some fellow cruisers on the roll call message boards to share costs on private tours was great. The "Hop on, Hob Off" bus tours were also excellent, and available at most of our ports.

The biggest disappointment is that Celebrity pulled the full-day Istanbul in-port, and spent an extra day at sea, due to some security concerns. Since we had 1 1/2 extra days in Istanbul, this was not a problem for us, but many on the ship had little chance to see Istanbul.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    We came into Barcelona a day early, and quickly wished we had at least one more day. If you are going, get tickets ahead of time to see the Sagrada Familia. We had a hotel in the Gothic Quarter and could walk to most things in the Quarter. The Barcelona subway got us to Sagrada Familia, and was very easy to navigate. If we had more time, we would have explored more of the city by subway.
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  • Statue of David, Duomo, PonteVecchio
    Florence we did on our own. We took a cab (with another couple we met getting off the ship) to the train station in Livorno, it was an easy and inexpensive transaction to get train tickets, and the station was near everything we wanted to see. Get tickets in advance for Accadamia (Michelangelo's David) and Duomo. The Ponte Vecchio was overrated - a lot of jewelry stores on a bridge. Google maps helped us navigate in the city.
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  • Private tour of Vieux Port, Cassis, winery
    I was not expecting much in Marseilles, based on Cruise Critics Port review, but found the Vieux Port area charming. We had a private tour organized by another passenger that we met via Roll Call, which included the Notre Dame de la Garde Basillica, a walking tour of Cassis, and a visit to a local vineyard. The Basillica was beautiful and the views of the Mediterranean were wonderful. Cassis was charming. We had a wonderful day - much better than I had expected.
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