Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review by Dom G
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Veranda
We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before our cruise and took the hotel shuttle to the Hyatt Place on 17th Street, near Port Everglades. We took an Uber to/from dinner on Los Olas Boulevard- about $8 each way. Many restaurants and bars in the area to choose from.
On departure day, our hotel offered shuttle service to the port, I believe it was about $10 per person. We took an Uber for $8.50 total, plus tip. Our Uber driver dropped us off by the luggage porters, just after 10:30am. I gave one of the porters a tip and he took our bags right from the trunk of the Uber. We didn't have to touch our bags again until they were outside our cabin a few hours later.
Check in was flawless. We did all the registration online months ago, so Celebrity already had our passports, photos, credit card info for onboard charging and all other necessary items. We showed our passports and express passes and headed for security. Surprisingly, my bag wasn't physically inspected. I had two bottles of champagne in there, a medium sized bottle of Listerine and my electronics bag- full of wires, plugs, battery packs, and a 6 outlet USB hub- which was perfect for charging all of our electronics. We then took a seat and waited to board the ship.
I BELIEVE the suite guests boarded right after they went through security, but everyone else started boarding at 11:00am. Priority boarding, like the airlines, based on class and Captain's Club status, so we were towards the bottom. We were greeted on Deck 5 with a Kir Royale and headed to our cabin to drop off our backpacks, pick up our seapass and head to lunch. We were in the lunch buffet line by 11:30. It was crazy, but there was plenty of seating available. The lunch buffet was very good and has many options- pizza, deli sandwiches, fresh fish, Asian, Indian, Mexican....
For the sailaway on Day 1, we were on deck 15, in front of the basketball court. This was a great view. We also watched a sailaway from our balcony, Sunset Bar and we were invited to the helipad for a sailaway. My personal favorite view was from the Sunset Bar. We both agreed that the Helipad view was really nothing special compared to the other views, even though it is an invitation only event.
Dining- We booked Tuscan, Sushi on 5 and Murano in advance a few months ago. We LOVED the dinner on our first night at Tuscan. Appetizer portions are small and are sized for one person, so sharing a few apps was great and not overfilling. Entrees and dessert are delicious and Tuscan had a nice selection of Italian wines to choose from. On the second night we went to the main dining room. While the service and food there is very nice, it wasn't for us. It's a BIG room, loud, bustling, but has good quality food. However, we had a small, quiet, intimate dinner the night before at Tuscan with high quality food and service. We decided to book more specialty dining for the rest of the cruise. So on day 3, we saw one the specialty restaurant people outside the buffet. They saw our other reservations and gave us a package for reduced rates to cover the remainder of the cruise. I know some people think it is a waste to spend money for specialty dining when the MDR is already included, but it was well worth it for us. The value and quality of food we received in the specialty dining was far greater than what we paid. We like the quiet, fine dining experience and service. The MDR is great when traveling with family or a large group, but the specialty dining made a trip for just the two of us much more enjoyable. Day 3 we had dinner at Le Petite Chef. Yes, it's a gimmick, but it's unique gimmick and the food was delicious. Check YouTube for Le Petite Chef to see what it is if you don't know. We saw the 4 chef competition- Spanish, Italian, French and Japanese. Day 4 we went to Sushi on 5. Great service again, super fresh tasting fish, great variety. I had the premium drink package, so I was able to enjoy PLENTY of Junmai Daiginjo sake at no additional charge. Day 5 we had a second dinner at Tuscan. We ordered different items than we had on Day 1 and were equally as impressed. That leaves Murano, which we did on Day 7. Wow! Impeccable service and food. We both started with a soup and then shared a Lobster Murano, prepared tableside, and Chateaubriand for two, also prepared tableside. Phenomenal! My ONLY complaint about Murano was the wines. While they have an extensive wine list, the by the glass selections was basically the same as the other restaurants. There was ONE high end French white- Joseph Drouhun Chablis, Premier Cru. It was $29 a glass. (we paid the $14 difference plus tip difference from our package to drink a wine that matched the food quality). When the wine arrived, we were told the Drouhin was out, but they would pour us the Faiveley Chablis Grand Cru for the same price. That's like ordering a Cadillac, but getting a Mercedes instead. GREAT wine. But then for reds to have with the Chateaubriand, the only two French wines by the glass was Mouton Cadet and Bertrand- a used Ford and a Chevy. We had Decoy Cabernet instead- a very good wine, but not at the same level as the Chablis or the entree. It would be nice to have some higher end French reds by the glass, or higher end red wines in general. Overall, specialty dining could use a wine list (BTG specifically) overhaul and be unique to the restaurant and separate from (or in addition to) the main dining wine list that the corporate office has contracted.
Captain and Crew- They were all great. Capt Kate was very visible and interactive with guests. But most importantly, I always felt the ship was safe and in capable hands. She is definitely someone for young girls (and boys) to emulate. Maarten Breuls, the Cruise Director, was born to do that job. Entertaining, engaging, self deprecating, enthusiastic- all the while coming across as genuine and not cheesy at all. The rest of the crew, starting with our cabin steward, Ariel, restaurant servers, bartenders, etc. were extremely helpful and courteous. Regardless of what I asked for, I was never told "no". It may cost extra, but if you request something within reason, Celebrity staff will accommodate.
My favorite places on the ship. The Martini Bar. The bartenders made it the best bar and most fun place on the ship for us. They are friendly, entertaining and helpful. It was also in a perfect location for us when headed to dinner (forward cabin, aft dining, martini bar in the middle) or to an after dinner show in the theater. The Sunset Bar was my second favorite bar and favorite sail away location. The Sunset Bar is also the only place to have a cigar while onboard- on the port side. Cafe al Bacio was great for a morning pick me up espresso, afternoon pick me up espresso and evening sweets. I also enjoyed the Sky Observation Lounge. It was a nice quiet place with a great view to read a book, catch a break from the heat of the pool deck, grab a quiet drink or play trivia. And I loved my cabin for an afternoon nap or sitting on the balcony watching the waves or having breakfast room service.
Entertainment. The highlight shows for us were the two comedians who did two different shows each- Phil Tag and Rich Aronovitch. Both had a family friendly show that we attended. They were both hilarious while being clean, so we returned for their late night adults only show. Even funnier and really not that dirty of shows. We also saw two musical shows. One was what I would call a singing impersonator and a Frankie Valli tribute group. They were both entertaining, but neither was my music style. I think they had more appeal for an older crowd.
Ship WiFi. I completely understand that on a steel ship with many decks and many walls, it is difficult to get a good signal, but for the price that Celebrity charges to have WiFi, they need to make it better. I don't know if WiFi repeaters are the answer, but something needs to be done. I paid $80 for the seven days to have an internet surfing package for one device- my iPad, which was left in my room. I had it to communicate with my kids, check sports scores, internet, social media, Cruise Critic, etc. I didn't put it on my phone because I wanted to be cut off from work and to relax. It was SLOW. Dial up slow, or never loading slow. Maybe the full internet package was better, but I wouldn't spend more money when even checking emails of Facebook in my cabin took 5 minutes to load.
Celebrity phone app. It's really not much before or after the cruise, but while on the cruise it was fantastic and had so much more information loaded onto it than you can see when you're not sailing. You can use it at no extra charge with the ship's WiFi and your phone on airplane mode. My wife and I were mostly together, but we found the texting on the app to work well- although you need to check the app to see if you have a message. Your phone won't ding if the app is closed. And again, because the ship's WiFi is weak, messages were delayed sometimes if you weren't in a good location. I LOVED the daily calendar and being able to move the things you want to do to your own calendar. It was nice not to have to carry around the paper list of activities. I just wish there was a reminder notification- because I did forget about a few things that I wanted to do that I put on my calendar. Specialty dining and excursions booked through Celebrity are automatically added to your "My Calendar".
Disembarking. Like embarkation, disembarkation was flawless and painless. My account was setup with a credit card to pay for onboard charges, so we didn't need to see guest services to check out. We had a 12:15pm flight out of FLL, so we weren't in any hurry to leave. We left our suitcases outside our door the night before and they were taken off the ship the next morning for us. We left our cabin about 8am and waited in the Equinox Theater for about 40 minutes. We scanned our sea pass cards, said good bye to Capt Kate and got our luggage and headed out the door. I looked at taking an Uber or Lyft to FLL, but by this time, a great number of passengers were already off the ship and both apps said there would be a wait for a car and the cost would be about $16. So we walked to the taxi line and took a taxi. It was $20 plus tip. We were at the airport before 9:30am.
Would we cruise Celebrity again? Absolutely.
I didn't mention excursions because I thought this was already lengthy and I think others cover that well. But we weren't too impressed with the Beach Day in Costa Maya. Not a very pretty beach. We loved the tour to Tulum from Cozumel/Playa del Carmen. We did the Tulum tour through a private tour company, set up by our travel agent. The tour was great, but we got back to the ship at 3:17. All aboard was 3:30. I didn't like cutting it so close. We had to take a ferry back from Playa del Carment to Cozumel. Then get off the ferry, wait in a taxi line, go through Cozumel traffic and get to the ship. Many opportunities for something to go wrong. So check the return time when using a private tour. It may be worth the extra money to use the ship's excursion.
Lastly, although there was two us, we did spend some time apart on the ship. I can't speak for someone who traveled as a single, but I always found someone at the bar, buffet, Cafe al Bacio, pool deck...who was friendly to talk to. If I was to go on a ship as a single, I could see this ship as being very fun one for a single traveler. But that comes from my limited experience of a few hours here and there.
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Ample storage under the bed for 2 large suitcases and 1 small carry on. Drawers are very limited, but there is storage above the bed and a shelf in the closet. The Equinox went through a shortened "Revolution" in June and it was obvious that no work was done in our cabin- other than new balcony chairs and new bedding. Nothing was dirty, but the carpeting, sofa and chair had wear from age. Our cabin steward emptied the honor bar on embarkation day as we asked. We brought 2 bottles of champagne, but our fridge never got cold enough, so we had to request ice to chill the champagne. Our cabin steward brought it every afternoon until the Champagne was gone. Great service.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BeachNot a very pretty beach.View All 335 Beach Reviews
TulumGreat tour. Just check return time. We went straight to the ship when our excursion ended. We boarded the Equinox at 3:17pm. All aboard was 3:30pm. Any travel delay and we would have been in trouble.View All 122 Tulum Reviews