Southern Caribbean Holiday Cruise on the
Celebrity Equinox

12/22/2021 to 1/3/2022

 


Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.

Page 1 – Embarkation, Ship
Page 2 – Ship (continued), Cabin, Dining, Activities, Entertainment   
Page 3 - Ports of Call:  St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; St. John, Antigua and Barbuda;  Bridgetown, Barbados;  Philipsburg, St. Maarten

  




Due to itinerary changes, the above is not totally acurate

Preface

In July 2020, my dear friends from Leeds, England, Paul and Gail, told me that they had booked a 2021 holiday cruise on the Equinox and wanted to know if I wanted to join them.  Even though I was a solo traveler at that time, I thought it would be a lot of fun to be cruising during the holidays.  Additionally, there were a couple of islands that I hadn’t visited before.  Little did I know when I booked the cruise that I would meet my girlfriend and now committed partner, Cathy, just two weeks later.  Two months later, it turned into a couples booking.  As the months passed, we didn’t know if we would be able to do the cruise due to the Covid.  As cruising started up again, we felt confident that we would be able to go.  Then right before the cruise, the Omicron variant became widespread; but the cruise was a go.

 

Embarkation

As I normally do when I travel by air or sea from Ft. Lauderdale, I parked the car at Park’N Go (https://bookparkngo.com).  I am a loyal customer because they have great prices and outstanding service.  We were dropped off at the terminal, handed the porters the luggage and headed for the terminal building.  There were lines set up with signs for different entry times, most much later than when we were supposed to enter at 11:30.  There was no sign for 11:30, so an attendant said to just get in any line.  I certainly didn’t want to get into the 1:30 line, but that was the one that they told to enter the building.  A bit disorganized and frustrating.  Once we were in the building, it was a relatively easy process for us, since we had done all the online check in requirements and had copies of our vaccination cards and covid tests available.  Those that didn’t, slowed down those lines.  Once through the first line, we went to another where they looked at our boarding pass and let us through.  It was actually a faster process than we are used to where you wait in line to get your cabin key cards.  Our key cards were in the mail slot by our cabin.  Another benefit of this method was that we were able to drop off carryon luggage in our cabin before heading for lunch.  All in all, an easy process.

There were no requirements for passengers to wear masks while on the ship, but the crew were wearing double masks much of the time.  This changed on day 10 of the cruise after Celebrity changed the mask policy where they had to be worn by passengers while inside on the ship except when eating or drinking.  Of course, on a cruise ship, much of the time is spent eating or drinking.  With the Omicron Covid variant being so infectious, there were lots of opportunities for it to be spread.  

Celebrity encouraged people with any of the Covid symptoms to get tested.  The problem was that once you requested a test, you were supposed to quarantine in your cabin until someone came to your cabin to administer the test.  We talked to people who waited in their cabin for over 24 hours waiting for the test, then in some cases it took over 24 hours to get the results.  If you had been in contact with someone who had tested positive, this time frame could be doubled, since you had to have a second negative test 24 hours later.  So, if you had a runny nose or cough, you might spend a few days in your cabin even if you were negative.   Those that were quarantined were also most frustrated that they couldn’t get a hold of people to tell them what was happening with their test or results.  With the rapid tests, they should have been able to take the test and give the results within minutes, not days.  Granted in some cases, the ship also did PCR tests to verify results.  We talked to some people who told us that they had calls from the medical center that their tests were negative when they hadn’t even yet taken the test.  It didn’t encourage passengers to ask for a test.  If a passenger tested positive, they were moved to deck 6.  This worked out nicely since they would at least have a veranda to go out on.  It also allowed them to talk with friends and family that could go to the deck 5 promenade to see and talk to them.  Some of the quarantined passengers were satisfied with how they were treated once on deck 6, others had many complaints. 

The lack of communication with those effected became even worse when it came closer to disembarkation.  It would seem like a simple letter to them with what was going to happen, along with contact info for those that had issues would have been in order.  Instead, from what we heard, it was more rumors with little official statements of fact.  Many were very upset that Celebrity didn’t comply with their pledge to take care of everything for anyone who got Covid.  Some were just taken off the ship to fend for themselves and that Celebrity would reimburse them for some of their costs.  It’s not easy to find a taxi or hotel that accepts a Covid customer.  Additionally, they had to figure out their own airline changes, unless booked through Celebrity’ and even then, there were issues.

 

Ship

The various public rooms are shown below by category.  With this being a holiday cruise, there were lots of pretty decorations around the ship

Dining Rooms/Food Venues (Links to Menus) –

I have included copies of the menus for all of the dining rooms along with photos of some of the food items at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.

Silhouette Dining Room – This is the main dining room in the ship where we ate most of our dinners on this cruise.  It is a lovely room.  I have never understood why it wasn’t named the Equinox Dining Room, since we weren’t cruising on the Silhouette.

   

   

   

The large wine rack at the back of the dining room is most impressive.  A very unique design.

   

 

Oceanview Café – We prefer the island style buffet venues over the traditional long serving table type, since it allows more people to serve themselves at one time.  With there being plenty of space between the islands it allows traffic to move pretty well, which is important when lots of people are running between islands with plates in their hands.

   

   

   

   

There was normally plenty of table space on this cruise, however when the ship is full, it can be a bit more challenging at times to find a table.  The tables further away from the food area are the easiest places to find seats.

   

   

On the port side where you enter the restaurant is a small bar.  There are also several coffee/tea/juice bevrage stations around the area


   

This area on the starboard side as you enter the restaurant was popular with the officers and staff.  The Captain also ate there regularly.

The one area where people were regularly lined up to be served was the ice cream counter.  With the lower number of guests, it was a pretty quick line. 

   

The area just outside the buffet offers a large, covered area; as well as an open area with a view to the ocean to dine.  The extension coming out from deck 15 is part of the Sunset Bar.  It provides additional covered area for the buffet.  

   

 

Luminae – This is the restaurant that is only for suite guests.  There are no set seatings in this dining room.  Guests can eat anytime the restaurant is opened.  It is located on the port side of deck 3 and was created by taking away space from the Silhouette Dining Room. It is a tastefully elegant room and felt quite comfortable to me.  I would have liked to try eating there; but that will have to wait until some day when I book a suite; which we might do in the near future.

   

   

   

I thought that the fluted light fixtures added a nice touch. 

 

Sushi on Five – This is an a la cart restaurant serving sushi and some other Asian delicacies.  I had eaten there before on a different ship when we were invited to a Captain’s lunch there and really enjoyed it.  It can get pricey, especially if you order a lot of items.  Since we had quite a bit of onboard credit to use on this cruise, we had lunch there one day.  Once again, it was outstanding. 

   

   

 

Blu – This is the dining room reserved for guests in the Aqua Class cabins.  It is a lovely smaller dining room with anytime dining.  The rose wall decorations are just stunning.  I have enjoyed it when we cruised in Aqua Class and hope to again in the future.

   

   

 

Qsine – This restaurant is now the venue for the Le Petite Chef experience.  There is a very limited menu and the main attraction is a projection on your plate and eating area of a little chef performing around your food. 

   

   

 

Murano – The French style restaurant is the most elegantly appointed of the specialty restaurants.  The charge to eat there is $50 per person.  We ate there a couple of evenings and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the preparation of some flamed entrees. 

   

   

   

The wine room offers a private area for a large group dinner.

 

Tuscan Grille – This is the ships steak house located at the back of the ship on deck 5 with the other specialty restaurants.  The charge to eat there is $45 per person.  I have heard that the quality has decreased to where it isn’t worth eating there anymore.  We chose to pass on it this cruise.

   

   

   

 

Mast Grill – We can always count on the Mast Grill to have very good hamburgers and hot dogs.  It is the go-to place when we have had enough fancy food and just want something we know will be good.  It is located on deck 14 above the pool area.

   

   

 

AquaSpa Café – This small restaurant is located next to the Solarium.  It has healthier food items for breakfast and lunch.  The spa food is pretty tasty; but they only have a limited menu. There is also a charge for some of the items.

   

 

Lounges (Link to Menus) -

I have included a link to most of the drink menus available on the Equinox.  Also, there is information about the available drink packages.  They can be accessed by clicking on the above link or the menus button at the top of the page.

Passport Bar – This bar is located in the main lobby area on deck 3 across from Guest Relations.  It is particularly popular in the evening when musical groups entertain guests in the atrium right next to the bar.

   

   

 

Café al Bacio/Gelateria – This premium coffee bar is always a very popular venue.  The various coffees and teas are very good; but there is a charge.  With us having the premium drink package, we were able to try some of their very nice coffees with various spirits. 

   

   

The Gelateria is at one end of Café al Bacio.  With there being a charge for the coffee, I never saw any guests there.  From my previous visits to this venue, the ice cream isn’t any better than that in the buffet.

   

 

Casino Bar – Since we don’t gamble, we don’t normally hang out at this bar.  Even though the ship was at a low guest capacity, the casino was pretty busy; so this bar was also.

   

Oceanview Bar – This is the bar that is located at the back of the Oceanview Café.

   

 

Martini Bar – This is always the most popular bar in the evening.  The martinis are very good and the bartenders entertaining.  It is fascinating to watch them throwing the bottles and glasses around as they are making the martinis.  Plus, they have great personalities.  The bar surface is chilled to create frost on it.  It probably doesn’t do much to keep the drinks cold; but it is fun to play with.  We had our pre-dinner drinks there most evenings.  It was quite convenient, since it was right next to the deck 4 main dining room we were assigned to for anytime dining.

   

   

 

Crush – This bar is in a corner of the Martini Bar.  It is also an ice bar; but is focused on serving top shelf vodkas.  The area is mainly an overflow for when the main Martini Bar is full.

 

Slush – This is a bar on deck 12 that just serves frozen slushy drinks.  It was open the first two sea days and then never opened again during the cruise.  I assume it was closed due to covid staffing issues.

 

Ensemble –  This lounge is one of the largest on the ship.  It is normally very dark and cozy.  At night they have musicians playing there.

   

Before entering the Ensemble, there is a small sort of foyer type room.  It has an unusual decoration. 

   

 

Retreat Lounge – This is a lounge for suite guests.  It is located just off the Ensemble lounge.  I was not able to enter it to take photos.

 

World Class Bar –  They serve expensive exotic drinks.  Unless you have a premium drink package, there is an upcharge with a standard drink package.  Some of the drinks are much more expensive than the premium package covers.  We tried some of their drinks and just weren’t that pleased with them.  Plus, there weren’t many people there, so it wasn’t as good for people watching or meeting as some of the other bars.

   

 

Pool Bar – This is always a popular bar when the sun is shining and warm, since it is right next to the pool area.  With the great weather we had, it stayed busy during the whole cruise.

   

 

Mast Bar – This bar is on deck 14, right above the pool deck.  It is there to service people who are out on the upper sun decks.  Since we stayed in the shaded areas, we never used it; but it was popular.

   

 

Sky Observation Lounge – This is the largest lounge on the ship.  It is used for late night entertainment and dancing, as well as other large functions. 

   

   

   

   

 

Sunset Bar – This bar is at the back of the ship on the top deck.  It is a wonderful location and right next to the lawn area.  It is the standard meeting place for sailaway get togethers for people who have met on the www.cruisecritic.com roll call boards before the cruise.  It is always nice to meet folks who you have been communicating with but have never met in person.

   

   

   

   

 

Quasar - This is supposed to be a hip nightclub, but it didn't seem to be used for much other than some trivia during the day and DJ music at night.  Perhaps it was a hopping place late night, but nothing was showing on the itinerary for the days we were on the ship and I didn't see anything happening when leaving the show at 10:00 PM

   

   

 

Craft Social - This is a new venue that replaced the previous Gastrobar and its predecessor, Cellar Masters wine bar.  It has many craft beers available and offers comfort food for sale.  The food prices seemed rather high for what they were serving.  This is where liquor and beer tasting events were scheduled.

   

   

 

Entertainment -

Equinox Theater – It is a very large and comfortable theater.  Like most of the newer ships, the sound system and lighting were first class.  The seats had plenty of leg room.  The only minor negative is that there are several seats in the back part of the theater that have obstructed views due to the support beams. 

   

   

   

I really like the colorful ceiling pattern during the shows in the evening. 

   

Celebrity Central – This is a smaller venue used for some of the guest speakers, movies and some of the smaller entertainment shows.  It allowed for a more personalized presentation.  It is a great room for these activities; but it only holds 200 people.

   

Entertainment Court – This is the area right outside the theater and Celebrity Central.  Its main purpose is to be a lobby area for people when going to the theater.  It was also used for various game type activities.

   

Hot Glass Studio – This is a facility on the top deck adjoining the lawn area where a glass show used to be performed.  It was quite a nice feature of the ship, but it has now been turned into a profit center with classes that guests pay for.  From what I saw, the students didn’t do that much when they were making the type of product they selected to make. 

   

Below are the prices along with what a student can choose to make.  We did watch what they were doing for a while, but since the instructors weren’t hooked into a sound system, there wasn’t much of a reason to hang around for long.

   

I wish that they had replaced this venue with The Lawn Club Grill, like they have on most of the Solstice Class ships.  It is great specialty restaurant that can be enjoyed by many more people than this venue.

 

Fortunes Casino – The casino itself appeared, to me, to be well equipped for most gamblers.  Since we don’t use the casino, I really appreciate that we didn’t have to walk through it to get from one end of deck 4 to the other.  The design of this class of ship has a walkway between the casino on the port side and shops on the starboard side.  This means that only people that want to use the casino need to go into it. 

   

   

 

Shops -

Shops on the Boulevard – There are many shops on deck 4.  Too many to put photos of each one.  They are right across from the casino

   

 

Galleria Boutiques – There are various shops on deck 5.  Here are a few of them.

   

Photo Gallery – As with most ships, the photo gallery has racks of the many photos taken during the cruise. 

   

Future Cruise Vacations – This is located on the Entertainment Court.  It is a very nice area with room for several agents to tell you about and book future cruises.

   

   

Art Gallery - This venue is on deck 5.  It is used for the art auctions.  During the auctions, the gallery spreads into the World Class Bar next to it.

   

 

Whiskey House at the Lawn Club - I'm not sure what the purpose for this place was for.  It appeared to be where they would sell spirits; but since the place was never open during the cruise, I don't know what it is used for.  I was able to get photos through the doors.

   

 

Other -

Canyon Ranch SpaClub - The spa area is always a beautifully decorated area.  It is designed for comfort and relaxation.  It is located at the front of the ship on deck 12. The area also includes shops for fixing hair and nails.

   

   

   

Persian Gardens - This is a relaxation area located in the spa. There is a cost to use it if you are not staying in an Aqua Class cabin or suite.

   

Team Earth – This is mainly a nice reading room with a very large globe. The area is supposed to be about environmental awareness.  It is located on deck 7 next to open atrium area.  It is also where the Concierge had a desk.

   

Celebrity iLounge –   This is on deck 6, where the staff did computer, iPad and other technology classes.  They also provided assistance with those that were having problems connecting to the internet.  It was a very popular place during the whole cruise since people were having many issues with the internet.  This ship is supposed to have Celebrity’s faster internet service; but it was painfully slow.  Having an Elite Plus loyalty standing, I was eligible for 240 minutes of faster Stream internet service in addition to the included unlimited Xcelerate Surf package.  One day I sat in the iLounge and did a speed test.  The basic package downloaded at .51 Mbps and the faster one was 1.89 Mbps.  Quite inadequate.  Some websites wouldn’t even download at the lower speeds.

   

   

In order to use the very useful Celebrity app that included information about your account, dining menus, daily activities and reservations for excursions and specialty dining, you need to have the WIFI enabled.  This wasn’t a problem with the free service; but when I turned on my Stream service, I had to turn it off when not using, so I couldn’t access info on the app.  I got into the long line to find out how to enable both services.  It had to be done by the iLounge attendant.  Once I had that fixed, I was much happier that I could use the app, but internet access speeds were still pathetic.  I felt sorry for some people on the cruise that I met that were needing to do remote office work while on the cruise.  They had to upgrade their free WIFI to the $35 per day Streaming package.  Even then, it was painful for them for work activities.

 

Card Room –  The room is located on deck 9 alongside the open atrium area.  It didn’t seem to be used too much this cruise.

   

 

Fitness Center – This is a very large gym that was well used during the day.  I did use it on the first sea day.  Since I go to Planet Fitness several times a week at home, I find it uncomfortable to use different kinds of equipment when on a cruise.  Plus, I am normally doing lots of walking while in ports.  Not so much on this cruise.  I probably should have spent much more time in there getting used to the equipment. Maybe next time. 😉

   

   

   

 

Sky Conference Center – There are two conference rooms on the port side at the front of deck 14.  They are used for various private functions.  One is named Connect.

   

The other is named Engage.

   

 

 

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