My husband and I are frequent cruisers and have been on 30+ cruises on many different cruise lines. This was our 4th Celebrity cruise and 2nd on Equinox. We have no loyalty to any line so I hope to give a non-biased review of this sailing.
Getting on the ship was relatively quick once I was able to open my Xpress Pass inside the cruise terminal. For some reason it was difficult to bring up on the App on my iPhone and was somewhat an annoying way to start the cruise. Once on board we were handed a half glass of pink sparkling wine and were told we had to drink it in the Grand Foyer.
Went to our cabin and dropped off our carry ons and picked up sea passes. This was a great feature and allowed us to start enjoying the ship right away.
Headed to Spa Cafe to check out their lunch offerings and the small plates were not enticing so went to Ocean View for buffet. They definitely have lots of choices but as I personally find most buffets have more quantity than quality. There is a nice salad bar sandwich station with cheeses, cold cuts, tuna, egg and chicken salad so I am happy. There are Pasta and pizza, Mexican, Indian, Asian and Grill stations available everyday along with vats of hot items that remind me of school cafeteria food. Lots of desserts and ice cream station too. In general the lunch buffet on Equinox is above average compared with
other non- premium lines we have been on- RCCL, Princess and HAL.
The Muster Drill was awful. They crowded our group into Qsine where there was not enough seating and I had to stand for 1/2 hour on my incredibly painful feet!
We had the Classic Drink package and did not feel the need to upgrade to Premium.
Had one issue with one bartender at the Martini Bar who gave me attitude and said he would not charge me “this time” for my Tito’s and splash of cranberry served “up” but would next time because “this is a Premium Bar” and I didn’t have a Premium package even though my drink is included on the Classic package. Never a problem getting this drink at any other bar on the ship so we never went back to the Martini Bar! Not a lot of bar service at the tables at any bar and few bar waiters on pool deck and Sunset Bar. You just had to go to the bar to get your drink which I found below average from other non- premium lines where bar table service was more readily available. We did not have a problem with bar service at lunch or dinner in any dining venue. Loved the Ensemble Lounge! The bartenders were delightful and there was live music by a duo every night. Sunset Bar was crowded and lacked music- would greatly benefit from a Steel-drum Caribbean vibe.
Nightly shows ranged from very good to awful! Both comedians were very good. The ABT Pas de Deux from Nutcracker was excellent but really just a very short act and X should have more dancers or have more performances by these dancers as they advertise their exclusive affiliation with ABT. The violinist was good, the Magician/ Comedian was good. The Journey Tribute band was bad- singer was awful! Elysium was horrible- IMHO!
Celebrity needs to upgrade their entertainment! Way below average compared to HAL and RCCL- especially RCCL which I think has the best entertainment at sea! The other live music on the ship was average at best. My husband actually thought they were doing Karaoke when it was one of the ship’s bands.
Food is subjective but it is important to me on choosing a cruise line. I won’t compare the food on Equinox to that on Oceania and Crystal Cruises as there is no comparison! Azamara also has better food than Celebrity in my opinion. So compared to Princess first-
In general the food is better in the MDR and
Specialty Restaurants on Celebrity. Princess has a better outdoor grill and much better pizza than Celebrity.
Compared to RCCL Celebrity is better but the Equinox lacks in variety of restaurants.
The Petit Chef concept is not at all interesting to me as I prefer a fine dining experience. I hope Celebrity will rethink this venue and change it as soon as possible!
RCCL ships have many more options although not all of them are good!
HAL and Celebrity are close when it comes to buffet and MDR. I like that they serve the food at the buffet on HAL so everyone’s germy hands aren’t touching the tongs. Much more sanitary! Quality of the food at the buffet pretty much the same. Service in MDR on HAL has deteriorated. Service in MDR on Celebrity is better and I like the everyday escargot and onion soup on Celebrity. The menu choices on HAL in MDR are better. I don’t often eat in MDR for dinner on any of these ships. Usually 2 times on a 7 night cruise as I prefer the atmosphere of Specialty dining and don’t mind paying for it. The Asian restaurant on Koningsdam is excellent! I did not try Sushi on 5 as the menu was so limited. Koningsdam has a sushi bar within their Asian restaurant but the menu is Asian Fusion, food very tasty and the service excellent!
Sel De Mer on Koningsdam is very good and Equinox does not have anything like it so I have to give HAL the edge here. They also have a bagel deli which turns into a sandwich and pizza space at lunch. It is free and very good. The Dutch cafe on Koningsdam is free and has great pea soup and Dutch specialty dishes. Celebrity has nothing like this. Celebrity charges for wings and bar food at Craft Social- score another for HAL. Outdoor grill on Celebrity- love the grilled onions, mushrooms and fries but are those burgers really meat??
I bet they have filler in them and are not 100% beef! More choices at grill outside on HAL. So many more free options on HAL at least on Koningsdam compared to Equinox. Murano was excellent! In fact we had dinner there 3 times on this cruise. It beats the Pinnacle Grill a 100 times over! Fantastic service and loved the table-side preparations! Highly recommend the rack of lamb, Lobster Murano and Dover Sole for main courses. Lobster bisque and pear baked in phyllo for appetizers. I would have rather had dinner there twice but the lack of choices on Equinox prevented that. Dinner at Tuscan Grill was a mixed bag. The service was OK, nothing compared to Murano! In fact our waiter poured our wine because we had the Classic package. The sommelier only came to our table when my husband ordered a glass of wine not included on our package. The Caesar salad was terrible- wilted romaine and watery dressing. My husband said he made himself a better salad at the Caesar station at the lunch buffet! Crab cake was shredded crab and breadcrumbs and the accompanying sauce was not good. Average at best! The filet mignon was delicious and mine was prepared perfectly medium rare! My husband’s was over cooked but he ate it anyway. They made a mistake and put my husband’s au jus on my plate but quickly corrected it. Spinach and mashed potatoes were good but nothing special. So we only ate here once. We don’t eat at HAL’S Italian restaurant but the quality of meat at Tuscan is better than meat at Pinnacle Grill. Breakfast buffet on Celebrity very good with omelette and eggs Benedict stations. Lines moved quickly for both. Very good variety for breakfast at buffet- wish it stayed open to 10:30 on sea days! Lastly, I found the baked goods, especially cakes, were bad on Celebrity. They were lacking in both flavor and texture. Did not find the cakes any better at Cafe Al Bacio. I guess it was a good thing I didn’t like them! The ice cream and creme brûlée were better dessert choices. The breads also looked better than they tasted- with the exception of the brown bread and baguettes in Murano.That’s it for dining!
Stateroom attendants were good on Equinox- I don’t need towel animals when I come back to my cabin but those hanging monkeys do make me smile!
Other than trivia ,which we love, we don’t do too many shipboard activities. I do like the fact that there are less kids on Celebrity than Princess and RCCL. There are equal amounts of kids on HAL and Celebrity. We sail the Caribbean every year at Christmas so the amount of kids may be different during the rest of the year. We always sail on Premium lines in Europe-Usually Oceania or Crystal. Only did HAL in Europe twice. We did sail on Celebrity in 2006 to Alaska on the Summit- it was the worst cruise I have ever been on! I swore I would never sail Celebrity again but tried it after S Class ships came out and liked them.
We did our own thing in ports. Had dinner in Old San Juan at Marmalade- I highly recommend! Went to Coki Beach on St. Thomas by group taxi. One of my favorite beaches in the Caribbean- can rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for $15. They have beach bars with good drinks and Caribbean food. On Tortola we took a $16 pp round trip group taxi to Cane Garden Beach. $15 for 2 chairs and umbrella. Had drinks at Pussers. Lovely beach! Stayed on the ship in Nassau- no desire to go there again. Wish Celebrity had a private island beach day instead of going to Nassau or just did another day at sea!
Bottom line was I enjoyed my cruise on the Equinox! I especially liked that the crew, for the most part, were pleasant and seemed to enjoy their jobs. I think if Celebrity upgraded their entertainment and their food program, especially including more free and Specialty dining venues, they could be #1 in the non- premium market.
Happy New Year and Happy Cruising!