April 2017 - Celebrity Equinox to Caribbean
Just off the Celebrity Equinox for our 11 day Ultimate Caribbean Cruise. Before I write my review, it's important to know that we had a wonderful time. When we booked on Celebrity, we had not sailed Celebrity since 2004 but had sailed with them on 6 sailing up to that point. We have been on Royal Caribbean since 2004. What we remembered was the white glove WOW factor of Celebrity Cruise Lines so when we saw this itinerary, we booked it. Much to our surprise, the WOW Factor and white glove is no longer as obvious as it once was. That is fine as Royal Caribbean is an excellent cruise line and does not have the white glove treatment either. With the one exception, Celebrity is more expensive so the expectations were that for that price, we would be upgrading to a higher level of service, etc. Sadly, that was not he case. Now we had a wonderful time but it was equivalent to Royal Caribbean and not an upgrade. So before you chose to spend the extra money over the pricing of Royal Caribbean, make sure the following issues are not important to you. 1.) First thing we noticed is that on the port days the ship is approximately 90% shut down. If your not getting off, you will struggle finding something to do. Of course the pool and the pool bars are open as is the Oceanview Cafe but the pool and pool bars are outside so if you want something to do inside the ship, forget it. All inside bars are closed! We were not used to that and had a difficult time with the total "shutdown" of all things onboard. Oceanview is fine and has a bar but it's not a comfy place to sit, have a cocktail and visit. 2.) Staffing was slim at most of the bars when open inside. 3.) Cocktails were small and we had to ask them to fill up the glass more than half full. They changed the Classic package prior to boarding so what we thought was included was no longer included and got charged. 4.) You have to monitor your onboard account from your cabin. There was several times we had issues. Easily resolved but historically, we never have had issues with that. 5.) The cabin that I was in had drapes that were awkward but more importantly, they were torn and rotting from the extreme heat. They need to be replaced. 6.) The beds need upgrading or swtiched out. I had trouble getting comfy and getting sleep. 7.) The balcony has the glass railing that has a rubber gasket to seal it. The rubber gasket was falling off the railing and needed to be repaired. 8.) Tables in the cabin and on the balcony are worn and need to be replaced or refinished or upgraded. It's time! 9.) The beautiful bowl sinks in the bathroom are gorgeous and not practical at all. We all found them awkward to use yet beautiful to look at. 10.) The cabin designs are nice but huge cut backs in storage and counter top space in the cabin. The closets are small and tight to use because they are by the bed. Two people would be hard pressed to fit their clothes in that closet for a 11 day cruise. 11.) The ship screamed of cost cutting measures which I understand but wasn't expecting given their reputation and cost over and above Royal Caribbean. 12,) Specialty Restaurants are ok but not sure worth the money as the dining room was wonderful. 13.) If your going to see Costa Rica ...DON'T! That is a pathetic port of call. Filthy and zero to do there unless you want to zip line or see animals Not sure why they go there but I don't recommend getting off the boat unless your a zip liner. NOW THE GOOD NEWS: 1.) The staff was wonderful. Everyone was sweet, accommodating and as nice as they could be. Our room attendants were the best we ever had. Our waiter in the dining room was wonderful. 2.) We received the Class Beverage Pkg and $500 onboard credit for this cruise so our out of pocket expenses was close to nothing. Wonderful! 3.) Guest Relations and Shore Excursion Staff is wonderful. Very accommodating and willing to work with us on any issue we had if it was within their ability to do so, and all our requests were addressed. 4.) Cartegena is outstanding. Clean, nice people and very successful large city. Great 2 day agenda and it's highly recommended as the primary port to visit. 5.) Disembarkation and Embarkation was smooth and very comfy. 6.) HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE LUGGAGE VALET SERVICE IS YOUR QUALIFY. IT IS WELL WORTH THE MONEY EVEN IF IT WAS DOUBLE THE PRICE!!!! IN SUMMARY: We booked two more cruises on Royal Caribbean for 2018 and 2019 and the Future Cruise Staff was very nice. Got home to find we had one missing reservation for our group that caused some issues but I think we found the problem and can get it fixed if they still want to go. Booking a future cruise group onboard is apparently challenging. But we had a wonderful cruise on Celebrity just will reconsider before we spend the extra money moving forward. If Celebrity is going to cut back on the WOW Factor but keep pricing high, we can get that same level of service on Royal Caribbean for less. Constructive criticism is all and not major complaints, just observations on changes in the past 10+ years.