|Mon||Jan||4||Fort Lauderdale, USA||5:00pm|
|Wed||Jan||6||Georgetown, Grand Cayman||8:00am||5:00pm|
|Sun||Jan||10||Puerto Limon. Costa Rica||7:00am||7:00pm|
|Fri||Jan||15||Fort Lauderdale, USA||7:00am|
We have just returned back to the cold and damp UK after our first cruise with Celebrity on the Equinox. We booked this in January 2009 following previous cruises on the Grand Princess, Costa Magica & Jewel of the Seas. We were first interested in this cruise after viewing the itinerary which not the normal Caribbean island hop. We liked the idea of seeing the less visited places like Cartagena, Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama and Roatan. We were not disappointed.
Sail date was 4 Jan 2010 and we nearly never got there because of a threatened British Airways cabin crew strike which was fortunately called off following a court action from BA themselves. Fort Lauderdale was a bit on the chilly side for our departure and first impressions of the ship were very good. We were traveling with our 16 year old daughter and 10 year old son and were pleased to be greeted immediately by a councilor from the kids club who registered our 10 year old straight away. We felt very reassured by this little gesture. We were informed that there were only 30 or so youngsters on this cruise compared to the previous one which had over five hundred.
Our first port of call was the Seaview Café where we immediately sampled the excellent food and the best laid our self service food hall I have yet sampled on any ship. Plenty of room for all to view and all really nicely presented. A big thumbs up to the designers of the ship for that area.
Our balcony stateroom was the next area to be investigated and as there were 4 of us sharing the cabin we were eager to see how it would accommodate all of us. The cabin although nicely laid out did seem a little on the small side compared to previous cabins. When the trundle bed was pulled out there was very little room to get past if you wanted to get to the balcony? Also the kids did mention on more than one occasion that the beds themselves were not that comfortable either. The main bed itself was good although if you are over six foot then I would imagine your feet will hang over the edge of the bed. The end of the bed itself is an arc presumably to make the room feel wider. This didn’t work for us. The cabin certainly felt a little pinched. The bathroom was nicely laid out and the fittings and fixtures all looked very nice. The downsides were the lack of pressure in the shower and the taps hung right over the basin thus preventing anyone from scooping water up with both hands. Otherwise it is a very nice bathroom.
The pool area on deck 12 was also a well designed area and the sun beds were the best I have come across yet. Very comfortable indeed. There always seemed to be plenty available to lie on. Our favourite spot was on the Solstice deck (16) where you could escape the noise the entertainment, this also housed several fixed wicker beds with a chunky mattress which we managed to acquire one day and can confirm are very comfortable indeed.
The dining room was very shiny and again looked every bit as good as the rest of the ship. No complaints about the food either. Our waiter and assistant waiter were a absolutely fantastic. They were both very attentive and most concerned for our enjoyment of the fare on offer by Celebrity.
On previous ships we have enjoyed a walk along the promenade deck while at sea and were disappointed that on this class of ship the view has been obscured by the life boats which hang in front of it. Presumably Celebrity has decided that more balcony cabins and bigger profits should over ride this particular detail. A beautiful ship but just missing something for us.
We did not go to many of the shows and only went to 2 of the production shows plus one other which was described as a “variety show” featuring 2 previous evenings entertainers plus the ships a Capella quartet who we enjoyed very much.
The production show called Equinox we enjoyed that very much; a little different from any thing else we have seen and would certainly recommend a viewing.
We don’t tend to use the ships tours opting to find our own which tend to more reasonably priced and better value all round. The only one we did use was upon the return to Fort Lauderdale where we went on the air boat tour which assisted us in getting to Miami airport for a later flight. We were very disappointed with this tour and would not recommend it. The air boat tour was supposed to last 45 minutes and only took 35. We travelled no more than 1000 yards from the start point, saw 3 alligators, half a dozen birds and had the pilot virtually pleading us for tips as this was his only source of income. I would suggest giving this a wide berth! We booked this on the back of an excellent “land and sea” tour we took last year with Princess at the same port. Absolutely no comparison at all!
The weather was a little disappointing but this did not dampen our enjoyment of the cruise and ports visited.
Tour Highlights were
Boatswain’s Beach Adventure Park & Turtle Farm – Cayman Islands
Lee Miles tour – Cartagena
Embera Indians & Gatun Lock tour – Colon, Panama (also included a swim in waterfall pool) Review Here
Okey Dokey tour Veragua Rainforest & Tortugero Canal – Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
South Shore Canopy Tour – Roatan, Honduras
Disembarkation was worst we have ever encountered. We docked at the new Oasis terminal and we allowed off the ship in the usual manner but from there it went “pear shaped”. Everyone was ushered into one corner to start queues for the appropriate immigration channels. US citizens in one queue and non US citizens in another!
What a cock up! No thought or planning what so ever. We took nearly 2 hours to finally clear immigration. Considering this is a new terminal I thought it would be a breeze! How wrong I was. I pity a full Oasis ship going through here! Be warned!
The end of the cruise was also marred by an outbreak of Norovirus, which we told that the ship had gone into “code red” due to the amount of passengers infected. Lots of cleaning by the crew was evident and in the Oceanview café you had to ask crew to place the food on your plate as the self service option had been removed. The Captain also made an announcement to encourage everyone to regularly wash their hands and use the sanitizers located around the ship. The condiments in the Silhouette Dining room were also removed and the bread was offered by the waiter instead of being placed in the middle of the table. Although a little frustrating, it did not spoil the cruise.
Would we use Celebrity again? Yes without hesitation, but need to find that bargain price first!