Sorry this is late, but I had a lot going on when we got home.
Ship: Celebrity Equinox
Dates: September 13—September 23, 2019
Ports of Call: Grand Cayman, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Key West (Labadee)
Cabin: 8269, Category 1A, Deluxe Ocean View with Veranda
Cruising History: 43 total, 7 with Celebrity
We began our day early on the 13th leaving out of Charlotte around 7:30 in the morning. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 9:30, grabbed our luggage and a taxi and were on our way to the terminal.
There are no sections for loyalty groups anymore, everyone sits wherever you can find a seat. They take your picture and that was about it since we’d already done everything else on line, so check in was easy. We didn’t wait very long before boarding began and they took those in wheel chairs first, then by loyalty status. We didn’t have to wait very long before our group was called. You go straight to your cabin and your card is outside your door. We last sailed Celebrity in November of last year and it wasn’t done this way. We were able to throw our carry-ons in the cabin, which was nice, and headed off to the buffet. We were on board having lunch by 11:00!
After lunch we began exploring the ship and it was very much the same as the Reflection, as it should be since it’s the same class ship. Later in the cruise we began to get the two confused when trying to find a certain lounge!
After exploring, we were able to go the cabin at 1:00. We met our Steward, Anak. He was the best! Even when I told him he didn’t have to clean our cabin, he did anyway. I swear he was hiding somewhere in the cabin because every time we left it was cleaned up when we got back! I had sent Special Needs an email before we left asking for a fan for my asthma so I could breathe at night. The temperature in the cabin stayed at 68 during the day, but at night it stays a steady 70-72 all night. I can’t sleep with it that warm and Anak didn’t know about the request. I had somehow lost my email reply from Special Needs saying they would provide one. At Guest Services I spoke with Adrianny, but of course she had no record of either my email or the one from Special Needs and said they didn’t have any fans to give me. I tried very hard to explain about how I couldn’t breathe without cool circulating air, but it fell on deaf ears.
Not long after we returned from the muster drill, Anak was knocking on the door and when I opened it, viola! He had a box fan for me! I sent Adrianny a thank you note, and I slept well since I could now breathe throughout the night.
Anak, Cabin Steward:
The Equinox is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed sailing on her. My review is in sections so you can read what you want and skip over what you don’t want to read.
Cabin: We had cabin 8269 with a balcony. The cabin itself was a good size, but I felt the desk area needed more drawer space. On the Reflection it had several more drawers which I liked because there were plenty of drawers for our clothes and plenty of drawer space for my makeup, brushes, etc., so I could keep the desk neat when not in use. There were two US outlets and one European outlet at the desk. I brought an adapter with two outlets and two USB ports for charging our cell phones. My adapter has three outlets, but once you use one, there is really only a space for one more to plug in. This came in handy at night when we were charging camera batteries and cell phones. Other than the bathroom, this is the only place with outlets. It also has a night light on it which helped when getting up during the night.
We had plenty of hangers in the closet for our clothes and room for our carry-ons; however, I kept one out between the sofa and closet just to sit things on, like tote bags, etc. The big suitcase fit under the bed with no problem. The safe is in a small cabinet above the refrigerator. Someone else had mentioned in their review that their safe wasn’t bolted down. I had never thought about that before and I checked ours, and it wasn’t bolted down either! Nothing was ever missing and I guess if anyone were to take it, everyone would see them with it!
There were two hooks on the wall which is where my husband likes to hang his pants, and I brought some magnetic hooks to hang things on like my purse, beach bag, etc. I also brought some magnetic clips to keep the important things safe like the “Today” paper, Cruise Critic and Loyalty invitations, itinerary, etc. This helps to ensure that we didn’t throw away anything important with all the “junk” papers you get every night. Note: the walls are not completely metal so you can’t hang anything heavy on the magnetic hooks. When stuck on the bathroom door, however, you can hang heavy items on the hooks.
Our balcony was a good size and the two chairs were the kind you could adjust the back to different positions. We had a small table as well. We used the balcony quite a bit since our side was always on the docked side at each port.
As I said earlier, the ship is laid out exactly like the Reflection, but with a few differences. The tree is different; on the Reflection, it’s in a pot with “roots” growing all around to the elevators. On the Equinox it’s in a beautiful mosaic pot. We saw it get a haircut one day and I would not want to be the guys who have to do that!
The Lawn is a little different and the glass blowing demonstration and classes are up on The Lawn. We watched a little bit of that on the first day. The glass blower puts a creative spin on the items so they are not your typical, perfectly blown items.
The Grand Foyer is pretty much the same and outside the Celebrity Central is an area where they do quick games each night before the 9:00 show in the theatre. Those are always fun to watch and participate in.
The Solarium is the same as the Reflection, and so are the chair hogs. We saw a woman saving 6 chairs one day and a man saving one for his wife. The pool guy put a card on the ones that had been empty for more than 30 minutes with stuff on them. When he got to the six, I guess the woman told him they were on the way. When the man’s wife came down, he showed her the card and laughed. She left and the chair stayed empty for most of the day. The 6 chairs were empty for another hour. Someone said something to the pool attendant pointing at the chairs and at that point, she gathered up everything and left. I don’t care if it’s a port day and everyone is off the ship, but on a sea day with lots of people walking around trying to find chairs, it’s just common courtesy.
Food: We had anytime dining, or whatever it’s called, and would go anywhere between 6:00-7:00. We had a good wait team, Eldho, waiter, and Woutlais, assistant waiter. Woutlais told me I said his name “just like my momma!” He is from Haiti and had a great sense of humor and could speak English quite well. He’s working his way up to waiter status and I hope he makes it.
Eldho & Woutlais:
For the most part, the food in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was good. There were a few nights that we had a hard time finding something we wanted off the menu, but we didn’t go hungry… We did not try any of the specialty restaurants, but we did get some tarts, cake, and cookies from Café Bacio, and of course the buffet was always plentiful. One night, the buffet had filet mignon and beef wellington! Unfortunately, we had just eaten and were not hungry.
Some of the appetizers I got were spring roll, crab cake, spinach and artichoke dip, creamy wild mushroom risotto, and of course shrimp cocktail. Soups were butternut squash, squash, yellow corn, chickpea-tomato, and wild mushroom and barley. My favorite was the butternut squash. It has a creamy smooth texture with a flavor that dances on your taste buds!
Yellow Corn Coup:
Bleu Cheese Souffle App
My favorite appetizer was the shrimp cocktail…you can’t go wrong with that. I can’t remember everything we had since my notebook disappeared out of my suitcase; it was in the outside zippered part, oh well…let’s hope my memory can hold out.
Spring Roll App
Butternut Squash Soup
Entrees we ordered were Beef Tornedo, Roasted Trout, Penne Primavera, Short Ribs, Beef Wellington, Lobster Tail, Prime Rib, Steak Dianne, Sea Bass, Beef Brochette, and my husband got the steak a couple of nights. I loved all of the fish and the Beef Wellington was very good, as well. The Steak Dianne was good and had a very flavorful gravy that would melt in your mouth! The lobster was tasty as well; the ones we had on the Reflection were dried out and tasteless. The beef brochette was the worst thing I had.
At the buffet:
As always, the desserts looked better than they tasted. I stuck with ice cream or sherbet most nights. I really wanted a soufflé and finally on the last night, the Grand Mariner was on the menu! It was worth the wait with that smooth, hot, creamy vanilla sauce…mmmm! I can taste it now!
Grand Mariner Souffle
We ate most lunches in the buffet and most of our breakfasts in the MDR. The first few mornings I ordered an egg white omelet and it was good, but the cheese made them too greasy and there was always too much omelet, so after the fourth day I ordered a Belgium waffle. Well that waffle was so tough, I couldn’t cut it with a knife much less chew it! The grits were okay, not made the way any proper Southerner would make them (with milk, not water), but they were edible. We had a card in our cabin asking for our feedback so I mentioned the waffle and that evening the Maitre d’ was waiting at our table with Woutlais and apologized profusely about the waffle and promised it would not be like that again. Later while we were eating, another Maitre d’ came to our table apologizing about the waffle. They DO read your comments! I can assure you that my waffle was perfect for the remainder of the cruise.
We also got a few things from the Spa Café and our free gelato. We got a hamburger one day from the Mast Grille that was good.
Sky Lounge: We had free drinks loaded onto our card as part of loyalty perks and we always went to the Sky Lounge for this. We sat at the bar every night and Riz was our favorite bartender. After the third night, he would have my glass of wine and my husband’s whiskey sour waiting on us. We made some new friends and enjoyed this time before dinner.
Entertainment: I have no complaints regarding entertainment, in fact, I think it was the best we’ve had on any ship. The first night was Fred Klett, a comedian. This guy is very clean, no cussing, not even a damn. He was absolutely hilarious! We went back the next night for his late night show and it was the same way. He is a really funny guy who should not be missed.
The second night was a show called Topper by the Celebrity singers and dancers. It was pretty good and I felt the singers and dancers were all very good. Fred Klett was the late night show.
Third night’s entertainment was an illusionist, Jason Bishop. He was very good and even sitting on the front row, we couldn’t figure out how he did some of his magic…maybe it truly was magic!
The fourth night was Elysium by the Celebrity singers and dancers. We started not to go because we’d seen it two years in a row on the Reflection, but I’m glad we did; it was completely different. It was darker, but very well performed. If you are on the Equinox and have seen it on the Reflection or another ship, do go, you will be surprised at the difference.
The fifth night was Stacey Kay. She was a contestant and maybe a runner up, on America’s Got Talent. We ran into her leaving the buffet that evening before the show. She had several plates of food and said she’d lost a bet with friends and she had to get food for everyone. I held one of the plates until she got to her floor. This girl can sing and has a great personality! You won’t want to miss her.
The next night we had Domenick Allen. He had formerly played with Foreigner and many other bands. He plays many different instruments and gave us a mini rock concert! This guy is so talented and having been a rocker, really lit up the stage! If you love rock concerts, you should see his show.
On the seventh night, we had comedian, Rich Aronovitch. Another comedian who has won awards, been on numerous TV shows, and Madison Square Garden, he also really delivered! He was one of the best I’ve heard and even his late night adult’s only show was not that bad. He wasn’t raunchy, but did cuss. He made fun of every culture, every kind of people, and kept us laughing the whole time! He didn’t leave anyone out, EVERYONE was made fun of! Oh…don’t go into his show late or leave early, just sayin’.
The next night was a group called Uptown. They were three men who sang and performed Motown songs. They were excellent and gave us another mini concert! By the time they performed the last song, everyone was on their feet dancing! If you love the Four Tops, The Temptations, and all those old Motown songs, you will not want to miss them.
Entertainment the next night was Darren Dowler, who is billed as an impressionist, but he has also sung with quite a few well known bands and is also an actor. He is very good and once again, gave us a mini concert. This night was also Rich Aronovitch’s late night adult comedy show.
And that brings us to the last night. The Celebrity singers and dancers performed a show called Life, Light, and Love. It was very well performed and the aerialists are some of the best I’ve seen.
We also listened to a band around the ship called On Shuffle that is really very good. We enjoyed listening to them and watching everyone dance. Another great band onboard was Dancing Town. In the Celebrity Central one evening was a show called “Lost Legends” with Michael Redden. He was really good, singing songs by artists such as John Denver and others who have left us too soon. I could have listened to him all night. They also showed movies in the Celebrity Central.
Grand Cayman: We have been to Grand Cayman many times and decided to stay on the ship. This was a very relaxing day for us spent at the Solarium.
Aruba: Although this is another port we’ve been to many times, we decided to get off and head to the mall for some free WiFi. We found Starbucks, just as we had left it in November. After checking emails and fb, we headed out to get some shots of places we already had shots of – oh well, they were still just as beautiful as we’d left them! We were here from 11:00 am. until 11:59 p.m., but didn’t go back out after dinner.
Curacao: Another place we’ve been to many times, but one of my favorites with its beautiful, colorful buildings and amazing bridge. We decided to get a day pass at the Renaissance Curacao Resort. This was a wonderfully relaxing day for us. The hotel has two pools, one that is sandy with salt water and feels like you are in the ocean, and a fresh water pool, both of which are infinity pools. The ship was docked practically at the hotel and it was such a nice view. We had free WiFi here, which was nice. We met Susie, a very sweet girl from Jamaica who was working as a massage therapist at the hotel. She will take good care of you. She had a 90 minute massage for $119. I really enjoyed this wonderful, relaxing day in beautiful Curacao. After we left the hotel, we walked around Curacao for a bit before returning to the ship. I also shot my postcard pic here!
My Post Card Pic:
Bonaire: Bonaire is the only port on this itinerary that we had not been to and were looking forward to it. We had rented a golf cart from Bonaire Cruisers and drove around the island. We had planned on going to the Donkey Sanctuary, but we started very early so we wouldn’t be in the heat too long, and got there too early. It would be another hour before it would open -- 10:00 -- and we didn’t want to wait that long. Everyone said we would see lots of donkeys along the roads, but we didn’t, not one. We saw lots of donkey do, but never did we see a donkey.
What we did see was a lot of desert with dying cacti (they haven’t had rain in months), and beautiful clear water. The water is a crystal clear turquoise blending into a darker beautiful blue which faded into the light blue sky. The water was so crystal clear that you could see the rocks at the bottom. Bonaire is known as a good place to snorkel and dive and we did see people doing just that. We also saw the salt pans, which are huge, and the flamingos! We saw the old slave huts, and a “rock garden” where people have made “sculptures” with rocks along the ocean side. Since we started early, we finished before it got too terribly hot and went back to the ship. We enjoyed our day driving around the island in a golf cart! We actually took both routes and had plenty of time to enjoy it all. If you want to do this, don’t wait too long to book as they do sell out. You can contact them via e-mail and read about them on TripAdvisor as well.
Key West/Labadee: Key West was scheduled as our last port, but because of weather conditions we were unable to go there and stopped at Labadee the day before our Key West stop. I was okay with this since I don’t really like Key West and love Labadee. The weather was beautiful for Labadee and we spent the day at Columbus Cove. My husband stayed in the ocean most of the day while I worked on my tan. Since this stop was not planned, lunch was only served at one location. We opted to walk around a little before we went back to the ship for lunch. I noticed that they have replaced the chain link fence with a concrete wall since we had been there last. Everything else is the same and I got some beautiful shots of the waves crashing on the rocks!
This night we had some rough seas as we had sailed into a storm. The lightning and thunder outside our balcony door was both beautiful and scary; I’ve never seen lightning that close to our ship before. I opened the curtains so I could watch the lightning light up the sky! We were out of it within an hour or so and on our way back to Fort Lauderdale on calmer waters.
Embarkation: Embarkation was very quick and easy. We had an 8:15 debarkation time and we found our luggage very quickly. Since we had nothing to declare, we just walked right through Customs without stopping and out the door! What an improvement!
Cruise Critic Meet & Greet: Our CC M&G was scheduled on the first sea day at ten o’clock. We made our way there and it was pretty crowded. They didn’t ask for our invitation so anyone could have walked in. We did have name badges, though, so I guess that was their way of keeping up with who was a Cruise Critic member and had registered for the M&G.
Tips & Suggestions: Café Bacio has plenty of sweet things that are free, but you have to pay for the coffee there.
We had 90 minutes of free Wifi and we used them the second to last night of the cruise. We actually didn’t even use all of them. On the Reflection, it took forever to get logged on and a lot of our free minutes were used up with that, but on the Equinox, it was quick and we had plenty of minutes to do what we needed to do. If you get free minutes as a perk, you should use them.
Consider taking some magnetic clips and hooks. The clips helped me keep all of our “Today” papers in order along with other papers that needed to be kept for reference. The hooks were good to hang extra towels on the back of the bathroom door, to hang my purse, and pool bag.
Terre’s Final Thought: I really liked the Equinox and hope to sail on her again. The ports were great, and if this is your first cruise, try different dishes, you never know what you will love. Check out the different venues and bands around the ship, and just enjoy yourself…you will never see these people again, so go ahead, make an idiot of yourself!
This ship is beautiful and there are many fun things all around the ship…do as much as you can, have fun and enjoy your cruise!