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This review is a review of life on board one of Celebrity’s Solstice class ships and, as such, only describes our experiences on board ship. It does not contain any port information. This was our third time on Equinox and we are well into double figures with Celebrity overall and we know and like the product or, should I say, we knew and liked the product. This cruise was significantly different to all the others we have been on and, sad to say, standards were lower than we expected in almost all areas to the point of disappointment. It started with embarkation which was dreadful but, in fairness to Celebrity, they sent letters to everyone apologising. There were several large Royal Caribbean ships in Port of the Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and we were relegated to one of the older more cramped docks which was absolutely gridlocked. We had driven to the port which meant we had to queue for ages just to drop luggage and then queue to get out and go to the original terminal to park and then get a shuttle bus and queue to get back in again. It was carnage! Once in the embarkation area, they had segregated passengers into Elite Plus Captains Club, Elite CC, Concierge, Acqua Class, et al. Unfortunately, non of the ushers knew which section we should queue in. We opted for CC Elite and, when we got to the desk, they said we should have gone to Concierge. Our friends in Elite Plus waited longer than pretty much everyone else, only to find out they were in the wrong area too. It was a fiasco. Once on board we went with friends to coordinate our speciality restaurant bookings and ended up opting to take “ultimate Dining”. This means you can eat in any of the speciality restaurants on any night and also eat lunch in Bistro on Five. It costs $30 per person per day and is only offered to very few passengers and only once you are on board and request it. we were going to have 5 nights anyway so it did not work out too much more and we had OBC to offset it. On our 9 night cruise it was interesting to try it out but, due to the fairly limited menus it would not be suitable for longer cruises. (by the time we had eaten in Tuscan 4 times, it was enough). This means that there is no review of the main dining room. However, we did notice that one side of the MDR was blocked off for suite guests and their new exclusive dining room. Given that the top floor dining area is now dedicated to select dining, this leaves very little left for mainstream dining. Food in the Ocean View cafeteria was good for what it is and the selection was, as ever, very varied and interesting and there should be something there to suit everyone. Our only complaint was struggling at times to find a table as there seemed to be way too few staff clearing up (more on that later). Also, food was often not as hot as we would have liked. Our biggest complaint which applied to the whole ship was the lack of bar staff and we had constant problems trying to get a drink. Previously on Celebrity there were hoards of staff constantly asking if you want a drink and, if you declined, they would put a paper napkin down to show that you had been asked (or put the menu on its side). Those people were sadly lacking. In the bar on the open part of the Ocean View, the bar tender was waiting tables and going back and making drinks. Unheard of on past cruises. In every bar there were just way too few staff. We queued at the Martini bar on a couple of evenings and, in the end we got frustrated and left and went to the ensemble. There were only two bartenders working this busy bar and no waiters working the tables. This was the first time in years that we have not had martins at this iconic bar. Our conclusion is that, having sold us the drinks package (sorry, having given us a free drinks package then put the price up by the actual cost) and then encouraged us to upgrade to premium to be able to have the drinks we would normally choose when we did pay as you go, they now have your money up front and want to dissuade you from drinking. Sitting on deck on sea days we hardly saw a waiter and we had to go to the nearest bar and stand in line. When we did get served we were often told that certain things were not available. At least twice they did not have the ingredients for drink of the day or were having to modify drinks to suit what they did have. My wife ordered a particular cocktail which had sparkling wine in it. when she tasted it she complained it was not the right drink. When I took it back, the bartender apologised and said he did not have sparkling wine so used Sprite. This pattern was repeated throughout the ship. Wines and bottled beers on the menus were often not available and we were offered substitutes. We even struggled to get drink refills in the speciality restaurants as the sommeliers were few and far between. I actually brought it to the attention of guest relations and suggested that I be accompanied around the ship to count how many waiters we could see and how many were in each bar area or even to check how long we could sit in a bar before we were served. They declined. Each time we went to the theatre, we failed to get served before the show started. This just seemed a blatant attempt by Celebrity to maximise profits by minimising consumption. I would much prefer to go back to the old price structure and pay for my drinks as I go and get good service. We had a concierge cabin because of an offer linked to on board credit when we booked. However, this was the last time we would bother. The only reasons to book Concierge were the larger towels and the footstools on the balcony. Sadly, the larger towels are no more (they have been withdrawn) and one of our footstools was broken and took several days to be fixed. Everything else is not worth the extra cost. The sparkling wine is redundant due to the drinks package (if you can get a drink!), we didn’t order the canapés as we were never in when they were served and the binoculars are pretty poor quality. My advice would be to give Concierge a miss unless there is a very good offer. One thing which could have caught us out is that we did not get beach towels delivered to our room in the first port (but fortunately we didnt need them). When I asked the steward why we did not receive them, he said that they are now on request only. How were we supposed to know?? On the subject of towels, on one day we got very threadbare almost worn out towels and one was badly stained. We asked the steward to look out some better ones, which he did for the rest of the cruise but, once upon a time, that would not have been necessary. That trend was continued around the ship. Soft furnishings were visibly worn and stained (even in Murano) and carpets were worn and stained in some areas. It was very disappointing to see such a change in the standards which we have come to expect and enjoy. There also seemed to be a reduced entertainment program. We always go to the Sunset Bar for sail away where there would normally be entertainment (often the solo singer/guitar player). This time round we rarely had outdoor entertainment except at the main pool area. Perhaps the most surprising thing was the complete lack of contact from the Captains Club Host(ess). We never saw her or heard from her during the entire cruise. We have always had the premium non-alcoholic package before the onset of the “free package” as we like San Pelegrino water and particularly like the Tee Forte in Al Bacio. Unfortunately, due to the number of people who now have the drinks package, Al Bacio was constantly full and we often struggled both to get a seat and to get served. Worse still (for us as tea drinking Brits), the constant strain on the equipment meant that the water was often not hot enough to brew the tea. Also, the “house” milk was from the firm Hershey and tasted like liquid milkshake. We got round this by going up to the cafe and getting a small carton of milk. This was not just our complaint though as the barista said it was awful stuff as it didn’t foam for coffee (which we do not drink) and we heard a fair number of people complaining about lukewarm coffee. Of course, as ever, there were good moments and some of the staff were lovely to meet and to interact with. The overall standard of food was excellent (as you would expect in the speciality restaurants) and our cabin staff were excellent. We saw and heard much more of the captain and enjoyed his banter. However, at the end of the cruise we just felt let down and that, from Celebrity’s perspective, it had all been about maximising profit money by cuts to bar staff and availability of drinks and ingredients. Sadly overall, we came away feeling disappointed with life on board. Hopefully this trend of cutting back staff choices will not go unnoticed by others and, given the competitive market, Celebrity will reinstate some of their previous standards.

What are Celebrity thinking???

Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by MacH

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2016
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Concierge Class
This review is a review of life on board one of Celebrity’s Solstice class ships and, as such, only describes our experiences on board ship. It does not contain any port information. This was our third time on Equinox and we are well into double figures with Celebrity overall and we know and like the product or, should I say, we knew and liked the product. This cruise was significantly different to all the others we have been on and, sad to say, standards were lower than we expected in almost all areas to the point of disappointment. It started with embarkation which was dreadful but, in fairness to Celebrity, they sent letters to everyone apologising. There were several large Royal Caribbean ships in Port of the Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and we were relegated to one of the older more cramped docks which was absolutely gridlocked. We had driven to the port which meant we had to queue for ages just to drop luggage and then queue to get out and go to the original terminal to park and then get a shuttle bus and queue to get back in again. It was carnage! Once in the embarkation area, they had segregated passengers into Elite Plus Captains Club, Elite CC, Concierge, Acqua Class, et al. Unfortunately, non of the ushers knew which section we should queue in. We opted for CC Elite and, when we got to the desk, they said we should have gone to Concierge. Our friends in Elite Plus waited longer than pretty much everyone else, only to find out they were in the wrong area too. It was a fiasco.

Once on board we went with friends to coordinate our speciality restaurant bookings and ended up opting to take “ultimate Dining”. This means you can eat in any of the speciality restaurants on any night and also eat lunch in Bistro on Five. It costs $30 per person per day and is only offered to very few passengers and only once you are on board and request it. we were going to have 5 nights anyway so it did not work out too much more and we had OBC to offset it. On our 9 night cruise it was interesting to try it out but, due to the fairly limited menus it would not be suitable for longer cruises. (by the time we had eaten in Tuscan 4 times, it was enough). This means that there is no review of the main dining room. However, we did notice that one side of the MDR was blocked off for suite guests and their new exclusive dining room. Given that the top floor dining area is now dedicated to select dining, this leaves very little left for mainstream dining. Food in the Ocean View cafeteria was good for what it is and the selection was, as ever, very varied and interesting and there should be something there to suit everyone. Our only complaint was struggling at times to find a table as there seemed to be way too few staff clearing up (more on that later). Also, food was often not as hot as we would have liked.

Our biggest complaint which applied to the whole ship was the lack of bar staff and we had constant problems trying to get a drink. Previously on Celebrity there were hoards of staff constantly asking if you want a drink and, if you declined, they would put a paper napkin down to show that you had been asked (or put the menu on its side). Those people were sadly lacking. In the bar on the open part of the Ocean View, the bar tender was waiting tables and going back and making drinks. Unheard of on past cruises. In every bar there were just way too few staff. We queued at the Martini bar on a couple of evenings and, in the end we got frustrated and left and went to the ensemble. There were only two bartenders working this busy bar and no waiters working the tables. This was the first time in years that we have not had martins at this iconic bar. Our conclusion is that, having sold us the drinks package (sorry, having given us a free drinks package then put the price up by the actual cost) and then encouraged us to upgrade to premium to be able to have the drinks we would normally choose when we did pay as you go, they now have your money up front and want to dissuade you from drinking. Sitting on deck on sea days we hardly saw a waiter and we had to go to the nearest bar and stand in line. When we did get served we were often told that certain things were not available. At least twice they did not have the ingredients for drink of the day or were having to modify drinks to suit what they did have. My wife ordered a particular cocktail which had sparkling wine in it. when she tasted it she complained it was not the right drink. When I took it back, the bartender apologised and said he did not have sparkling wine so used Sprite. This pattern was repeated throughout the ship. Wines and bottled beers on the menus were often not available and we were offered substitutes. We even struggled to get drink refills in the speciality restaurants as the sommeliers were few and far between. I actually brought it to the attention of guest relations and suggested that I be accompanied around the ship to count how many waiters we could see and how many were in each bar area or even to check how long we could sit in a bar before we were served. They declined. Each time we went to the theatre, we failed to get served before the show started. This just seemed a blatant attempt by Celebrity to maximise profits by minimising consumption. I would much prefer to go back to the old price structure and pay for my drinks as I go and get good service.

We had a concierge cabin because of an offer linked to on board credit when we booked. However, this was the last time we would bother. The only reasons to book Concierge were the larger towels and the footstools on the balcony. Sadly, the larger towels are no more (they have been withdrawn) and one of our footstools was broken and took several days to be fixed. Everything else is not worth the extra cost. The sparkling wine is redundant due to the drinks package (if you can get a drink!), we didn’t order the canapés as we were never in when they were served and the binoculars are pretty poor quality. My advice would be to give Concierge a miss unless there is a very good offer.

One thing which could have caught us out is that we did not get beach towels delivered to our room in the first port (but fortunately we didnt need them). When I asked the steward why we did not receive them, he said that they are now on request only. How were we supposed to know?? On the subject of towels, on one day we got very threadbare almost worn out towels and one was badly stained. We asked the steward to look out some better ones, which he did for the rest of the cruise but, once upon a time, that would not have been necessary. That trend was continued around the ship. Soft furnishings were visibly worn and stained (even in Murano) and carpets were worn and stained in some areas. It was very disappointing to see such a change in the standards which we have come to expect and enjoy.

There also seemed to be a reduced entertainment program. We always go to the Sunset Bar for sail away where there would normally be entertainment (often the solo singer/guitar player). This time round we rarely had outdoor entertainment except at the main pool area.

Perhaps the most surprising thing was the complete lack of contact from the Captains Club Host(ess). We never saw her or heard from her during the entire cruise.

We have always had the premium non-alcoholic package before the onset of the “free package” as we like San Pelegrino water and particularly like the Tee Forte in Al Bacio. Unfortunately, due to the number of people who now have the drinks package, Al Bacio was constantly full and we often struggled both to get a seat and to get served. Worse still (for us as tea drinking Brits), the constant strain on the equipment meant that the water was often not hot enough to brew the tea. Also, the “house” milk was from the firm Hershey and tasted like liquid milkshake. We got round this by going up to the cafe and getting a small carton of milk. This was not just our complaint though as the barista said it was awful stuff as it didn’t foam for coffee (which we do not drink) and we heard a fair number of people complaining about lukewarm coffee.

Of course, as ever, there were good moments and some of the staff were lovely to meet and to interact with. The overall standard of food was excellent (as you would expect in the speciality restaurants) and our cabin staff were excellent. We saw and heard much more of the captain and enjoyed his banter. However, at the end of the cruise we just felt let down and that, from Celebrity’s perspective, it had all been about maximising profit money by cuts to bar staff and availability of drinks and ingredients. Sadly overall, we came away feeling disappointed with life on board. Hopefully this trend of cutting back staff choices will not go unnoticed by others and, given the competitive market, Celebrity will reinstate some of their previous standards.
MacH’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Service
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Cabin Review

Concierge Class
Cabin C3
Our cabin was in better condition than the public areas of the ship although the balcony furniture was very tatty and one footstool was broken (but late repairs)
Sky Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins