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Review: Celebrity Equinox

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

Celebrity is no longer any better than others

  • By SilverTraveller Stevew07

    26 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • 2014
  • Wife
  • Regular holiday
  • Balcony

185 people found this review helpful

We have been fortunate to have cruised many times on a number of different companies and, for a long time, Celebrity was our brand of choice. This was our eighteenth Celebrity cruise and the second on Equinox. We appreciate variety and choice so we are not looking for each company to provide the same offer, we also recognise that your expectations are set by your cruising experience.

For this reason, I am sure if this was your first cruise you would probably have been wowed and had a great time. If this was your first cruise on Celebrity you would also probably be impressed with the stunning ship which has some very impressive features such as the atrium, the main dining room and the very well planned buffet. However, as a regular Celebrity cruiser, you could not fail to be disappointed with the changes that have been taking place that have brought many aspects of the Celebrity offer in line with Royal Caribbean and other mid-range brands.

I appreciate that it is all about price and we are all guilty of driving the prices down, the difference is that some of the other brands are managing to maintain the quality in areas that do not add cost but do make a difference.

This was a good itinerary visiting Italy, Greece, Turkey and, for us, the jewel in the crown, Malta. The sail in to the Grand Harbour in Valetta is something not to be missed, even though it was rather early as dawn broke over the city sky line.

Two things really annoyed us on this cruise, the dress code, or lack of it, and the beverage package, particularly for us as wine drinkers.

Dress code is starting to become a joke on the American cruise brands and it is good to see that RCI have finally recognised this and are doing away with it. Celebrity had three formal nights so we took black tie etc. to comply with the dress code. Needless to say we were in the minority by some way, but not only that but male guests were allowed to attend dinner in jeans and tee shirts and in some cases shorts and flip flops. We asked the Maître’s what the dress code was, and it was stated outside the restaurant, and he confirmed formal. When asked why they were letting guests in in jeans and shorts he said that they were from a group booking so that was OK. OK for whom!! What did become clear was that groups are more important to Celebrity than regular individual guests. We are not hung up about formal nights, but would like clear guidance as to what is expected. We are happy to dress formally on Cunard and are equally happy in country club casual on Oceania, but in both these cases you know what is expected and the majority of guests comply with the dress code so please Celebrity make your mind up and do not keep trying to be what you are not.

The classic drinks package that was included in the price was fine if you drink spirits or cocktails but was rubbish for wine drinkers. There were few wines available, some were only available in one bar or restaurant and most that were available were very cheap Californian or South African wines. There was a lot of pressure to upgrade to the premium package during the first half of the cruise and this was always the answer when we asked for a different wine. You could not get a sparkling mineral water, only club soda and there was little choice in still mineral water. We will not bother with this deal again, the premium non-alcoholic package and buying the wines that we enjoy will be a much better deal.

The rest of the review provides some insight into what was really good, what was OK and what was disappointing to us as regular Celebrity guests so may not be of interest to everyone. Would we go with Celebrity again, yes, if the price and the itinerary were right and it was a Millennium class ship, but what we experienced was no better and in many ways not as good as Royal Caribbean and is certainly no match for Cunard any more. Celebrity are no longer our brand of choice.

The Really Good

We booked a complete package of flights and transfers with Celebrity and all of these arrangements were very good. With a rather early flight from Gatwick, we stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn adjacent to the North Terminal. A great hotel with a good parking deal. The flight was on time and with easy transfers, we were at the terminal at 11.00 and with a very slick check in process we were on board at 11.15.

Equinox is a stunning ship, however there are very few differences between the Solstice class ships and to be honest, we are getting bored with the same thing, and it is like going to the same place for a holiday every year. It is a shame there is not a bit more variety to add another dimension to the experience.

The buffet on Equinox is one of the best at sea in terms of layout and variety of food available. There are some staples which are there every day but there are also a good number of dishes that change every day. The salad bar alone could provide more than enough variety for a week. Like all buffets, it can get busy at peak times, but we never failed to find a table.

The food and service in the speciality restaurants is still very good, although at a price. Murano in particular was exceptional in terms of both food quality and service. Bistro on Five still offers a great, reasonably priced, alternative for breakfast and lunch and Cafe Al Baccio is "the" place for coffee and a great ice cream.

We tried the Connoisseurs Dinner in the Tuscan Grill and whilst it was a pleasant evening with some very good wines, the menu was the same as the regular menu and the portion sizes were the same which made it very difficult to do justice to all the courses as the portion sizes were too big for a tasting menu. This was a shame as with a little thought, a good event could have been made excellent and at the same time they could have saved some money and created more desire to sample the regular Tuscan menu.

The OK

The entertainment was OK, but the quality of musicians was not what there used to be and there are less of them. The atrium is now used a lot more as the focal point for entertainment whereas there used to be some variety such as separate music in Cafe Al Baccio.

The Disappointing

I am afraid that this section is a list of what could be seen to be moans, but this is our perspective based on previous experience of Celebrity.

Embarkation drinks – sparkling wine is OK, but less than half a glass in every glass looks stingy. If you cannot do it properly then best don't do it at all.

The dining room service was the worst we have experienced anywhere and the menus lacked imagination with food quality being only average.

Crew seldom acknowledged you as you passed them and Officers, with one exception never offered a greeting at all. Maybe it is not surprising that the crew did not if their leaders didn't. We also noticed for the first time a lot of crew talking to each other loudly in their own languages.

Crockery and glass wear was in a number of cases in very poor condition, with cracked plastic glasses by the pool and I cut my finger on chipped plates in the buffet.

Cabin maintenance and service standards have dropped considerably, cheap bath room amenities, on a couple of occasions we had thread bear towels or towels with holes in, pillow chocolates have gone and the maintenance of the cabin was poor with a broken wardrobe door and a draw front that kept falling off. Ice is now by request and the canapés in Concierge are no longer canapés and need to be ordered each day. The cabin stewards were, at best, OK, but were not up to the standard of others we have experienced in the past and their command of English was poor.

Senior Officers were notable by their absence and when they did emerge in the public areas they did so in groups and were more interested in talking to each other than engaging with guests.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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