Having only ever cruised with Carnival and Princess, this was an elevated cruising experience for us. I liked it so much, I cancelled a cruise planned for October on the new Carnival Horizon in a Havana cabana, and rebooked to join trailblazer Captain Kate McCue on the Equinox to the ABC islands. I hope my next cruise lives up to this wonderful experience. Celebrity is awesome.
5 out of 5
Embarkation was simple and fast at the Pan American pier. As an Aqua Class guest, we had an expedited check in line, and were through the line at 11:30AM in five minutes from drop off to getting our welcome complimentary glass of sparkling wine.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
Food overall was very good. We dined in Blu almost exclusively and I found the service to be the best I've ever experienced on a cruise and on par with any top quality restaurant on land. We had a team of people to serve us from the manager and hostess Alisa, to our head waiter Roy and assistant waiter Chedli, to the sommelier, to the bar waiter Nathasha, and even the backup staff who'd take away plates, serve us coffee in the morning for breakfast, or bring around the tray of pastries. Food quality was better than I've experienced before, if not Michelin star quality. The food itself looked great presentation wise and tasted very good. My only nit was that sometimes it was a bit overcooked: my ribeye and veal loin both ordered medium rare came more medium. It's good to know that the menu from the main dining room was also available, and we could mix and match from the two menus for any meal. The staff knew us by name by the second day.
Room service for breakfast was always on time and great. The room service menu from Aqua Class was better than anything on Carnival or Princess. Made to order omelets, pancakes, multiple types of meats, any type of breads or pastries, juices including fresh squeezed were also complimentary.
We tried specialty restaurant QSine on the first night. They were offering a discount of $35, but I waited until later and spoke with someone at the host stand in the restaurant around 5PM and got a discount to $30 per person. QSine overall was fun, food quality was generally great, and service was also five-star. We ordered 10 different options and shared them over the course of about 3 hours which included a break on the first night for the compulsory muster drill in the Rendezvous lounge. When we mentioned that we didn't particularly like one dish, the waiter then talked to the kitchen and got us special courses which weren't even on the menu. The dishes were a lot more circuses than bread, but the experience was amazing.
We skipped Sushi on Five because they offered no special deals to eat there after the first night and everything was a ‘la carte. The Tuscan Grille menu, heavy with pasta and red meat didn't appeal to us, either.
3 out of 5
My major disappointment with the ship would have to be the activities and entertainment overall, especially compared to Carnival and Princess. As for enrichment activities, unless you count our beloved trivia, there were none I noticed. We enjoy trivia and played twice. The first time, there was no prize given. We play an Eighties late night name that tune group game in the Revelations lounge one night and this was an exception. We had a blast attending this.
5 out of 5
The smaller ship size made it feel generally less crowded, although the main pool area could get busy and loud on sea days and after returning to the ship. My preference was the solarium with the two hot tubs, thalassotherapy pool, padded loungers, and air-conditioned enclosure. It's quieter here with nice views of the sea and soothing music. Access to the bar was close-- just through the doors to the pool area.
Canyon Ranch Fitness
5 out of 5
Fitness in the gym was great. The gym had towels, water and very up to date TechnoGym cardio equipment for running, biking, recumbent biking, and elliptical trainers. It was never crowded.
3 out of 5
As for the evening shows, I would say that the onboard talent was better than Princess or Carnival, but the shows had no cohesive productions. They were basically vehicles for sequential musical numbers which got a little boring. There were two very good aerialists, however. We missed the magician, who I heard was good the first night, but the pianist was boring, the comedian bombed unless you were over 75 years old, and I'm not old enough to want a Beatles or Motown review. The live singers and performers were okay to good, with the best one being the band performing in the Revelations lounge and in the main pool deck on sailaways. The string duo were anemic.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The best part about the experience was the overall service level of the staff on this cruise. With small exception, service quality was all five-star. The crew were concerned about how well we liked everything. We had a small problem on the first day with the toilet flushing and on the second day with our sink leaking, but these things were fixed within a few hours. In each case, we got calls to our room to confirm that the problem was fixed and that we were satisfied with the resolution. We even got calls to our room after we had room service deliver our breakfasts to confirm our satisfaction with the food and the order.
Our stateroom attendant, Suzannie, was fantastic. She'd visit our room two or three times a day, delivering beach towels for our excursions, dropping off afternoon canapés, getting us our sparkling wine when we ordered it, replacing our pillows with memory foam ones, and even replacing our beach back pack when I requested.
5 out of 5
There were a lot of things to love about this ship. The decor and artwork were much more contemporary than any Carnival or Princess ship I've ever cruised, and that's a huge plus to me. While other reviews mentioned that the ship shows its age, I really didn't notice this. It's very well attended.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The Aqua Class experience was so nice, I'd prefer this or better on future Celebrity cruises. We had expedited embarkation, free tea, pillow choices, very nice bathrobes and slippers, a complimentary bottle of wine, fruit choices, access to Blu, binoculars and an umbrella, and access to the thermal rooms in the spa area, which were very nice, but I don't think anyone was policing who could use these and were open to the ship. They were mostly empty in any case. There were some unfortunately uneven choices for canapes delivered every day to our room. These are a great idea when properly executed; but on some days, we'd be served couscous, hummus, or an olive tapenade with no utensils or any bread or crackers to eat them with. This made no sense to me.
Because they had difficulty filling the ship with the hurricane out of Puerto Rico, we got our cabin upgraded to an A1 on deck 11. I preferred this over the A2s with the overhang on deck 9. Our balcony was the biggest we've had compared to spa cabins on Carnival and a standard balcony on Princess. One nice perk was the full sized, dining height teak table between the two reclining chairs.
The bed was comfortable, there was adequate storage (not including the stacked drawers in the closet which were too small), and the bathroom was kept full with shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bar soap, and lip balm. I also liked that our shower had an actual door on it, rather than a flimsy curtain. I missed a bathroom electrical plug.
We booked a 4 hour private tour to Bathsheba beach and to the exotic north coast of the island including the Animal Flower Cave. This was a great deal, since we shared the cost with another couple, and saw some amazing scenery. It was breathtaking!
We spent most of the day in the bus driving to Soufriere through the exotic tropical rainforest of St. Lucia. This drive was beautiful. When we got to the mud springs, we immersed ourselves into the warm, volcanic mud baths and painted our bodies in mud. It was a little crowded, but still fun. We stopped on the way back at a restaurant with a delicious island buffet with a view that featured the beautiful pitons.
We booked a catamaran sail for this port. It was a fun ride all the way around Antigua in a catamaran with about 120 others on board. This included a stop to the private beach at Green Island where we were allowed to snorkel for about 30 minutes. We also had a delicious lunch of fish and chicken and salad. The rum punch and mixed drinks flowed freely. The tour included explanations of the natural highlights of the coastline, a very fancy boat harbor tour, and tour around Long Island, island home to many celebrities.
We left St. Kitts and went to Nevis via a catamaran with about 25 others. On Nevis, we toured the island by bus visiting birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, Horatio Nelson's hotel, Bath house volcanic baths where we got to take a dip in the very hot volcanic water, two upscale plantations including one visited by Princess Di and another exotic botanical wonderland, had lunch on Pinney's beach with a the best grouper fish I've ever had and also some crazy good jerk chicken, and finally an hour on Pinney's beach with chaise loungers and umbrella and very inexpensive rum punch to drink. We walked to the Four Seasons beach at the end and floated in the water here. It was excellent.
We took a taxi to Lindquist Beach, a very secluded and almost empty beach run by the park service. It was spectacular. We had our choice of places to lay. There were shady options, and it was like paradise. While there were bathrooms, showers, and a lifeguard, there were no vendors for drinks or food.
5 out of 5
We booked a tour to the Bacardi distillery upon disembarkation because we had a late flight out of San Juan. If you have a late flight, I highly recommend an excursion from the ship, because disembarkation was painless. We met others after breakfast in the conference rooms of the ship, were escorted right to our luggage, and walked through the lines at customs in the suite and VIP line and went right to our minibus. It was the fastest disembarkation I've ever had.
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