Transatlantic Cruise on the Celebrity Equinox
10/27/15 to 11/9/15
Due to the length of the review, it is in 5 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page.
Page 1 - Pre-Cruise in Barcelona, Spain
Page 2 - Pre-Cruise continued; Embarkation and Ship
Page 3 - Ship Continued and Entertainment
Page 4 - Ports of Call: Valencia, Spain and Malaga, Spain
Page 5 - Ports of Call: Lanzarote, Canary Islands and Tenerife, Canary Islands
Ship - Continued
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 is a view looking down the hallway.
Photo Gallery – As with most ships, the photo gallery has racks of the many photos taken during the cruise.
Celebrity Destinations – When we boarded the ship, this area where the sales people help passengers to book a future cruise, was located in a small office behind Bistro on 5. It stayed crowded most of the time, even with it being open from 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM. It was too cramped and crowded to even get a photo of the interior of the office.
During the cruise a new office was being constructed in part of the area previously occupied by the Quasar night club on deck 4. On the next to last day of the cruise, there was a grand opening. I have to say that it was a major upgrade both for the office itself and the location. You had to be looking for the previous location to find it. The new one was on the path where passengers would go by several times a day to get to the major entertainment venues. I don’t know what they will do with the other half of the old Quasar space.
Kids Facilities –
I am normally not able to take photos of the kid’s facilities on a ship due to security concerns. With there only being 6 kids on this cruise, they weren’t in the facilities when I went by; so the attendant let me take all the pics I wanted.
X Club - This area is for teens ages 12 to 17. It does seem like a great place to hang out.
Fun Factory – These rooms are for kids ages 3 to 11
ShipMates – This is for young children ages 3 to 5. The entrance to the Fun Factory and Shipmates was decorated for Halloween.
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 decks 11 & 12.
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 the center elevators. The large table is used for putting crossword puzzles together; which was a very popular activity on this cruise.
It is also where the Captain’s Club Hostess, Rosse had a desk. She was an extremely effective and personable person for the job. Everyone just loved her sweet and happy personality.
Fitness Center – This is a very large gym that was crowded most of the day. I went in one morning to see if I could work out; but there were way too many people there. The elliptical machines were always full in the morning. I am sure that with this cruise having so many sea days, it put a strain on the gym facilities; since passengers had plenty of time to work out.
Just in front of the gym is a large deck area that is great for viewing from the front of the ship. Most people don't even realize that it is there.
Jogging Track – This is an area designated by a colored path on the sunning area of deck 14. With us being at sea for 7 days in a row and the weather normally being in the 70’s, there were many people walking around the ship. The track is an eighth of a mile long.
Solarium – The Solarium is a lovely and very comfortable area for relaxing, swimming and just hanging out in a hot tub. Since we live in South Florida, laying around a swimming pool isn’t that special for us when cruising. With the pool being covered, it is very popular during bad weather.
Promenade Deck – The promenade is less desirable on this class ship than some other lines, who have promenade decks that go completely around the ship. Those type promenade decks make for a great walking track. Also with this class, the lifeboats obstruct the view of the ocean, meaning there aren’t many good areas for the lounge chairs on the deck. The offset to this is that there are more cabins that don’t have the lifeboats obstructing their view.
Outer Deck Area – There are many areas to sun on the outer decks.
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 larger than the other.
Solstice Deck – This is a very comfortable area at the front of the ship on Deck 16. It can only be accessed by stairs from deck 15.
Grand Foyer – This area in the center of the ship on deck 3 was used for many activities. It is an attractive area, since the large atrium extends up to the top of the ship. This allows people to look down on the various activities taking place on deck 3. This is needed, since the main activities take place between the grand staircase and the back of the elevators. This arrangement doesn’t allow for a lot of people to sit or stand around to see what is going on. During a Halloween costume contest, some people were standing at the back of the elevators, pushing the lower floor numbers while holding the doors open, so they could watch the event. The other main negative, to me, about using this area is that the sound carries to the cabin decks. The singers/musicians would perform there until 11:30 PM. Our cabin was close to the middle of the ship on deck 7, so we could hear the music quite well in the hallway; but the room was soundproofed enough so we did not hear it inside. Of course, we are hard of hearing seniors, so others might have a problem with it.
For Halloween, this area was nicely decorated.
A standard feature on all of the Solstice Class of ships is the live tree suspended between the elevator banks. On the Equinox it is in a container that looked like a large goblet.
Above the tree between the elevators were the words “Here Comes the Sun” with one word on each consecutive decks. This was apparently the theme for the Equinox when it was inaugurated.
Guest Relations – This customer service desk is located on one end of the Grand Foyer area. The few times I needed their assistance, they were friendly and helpful. The daily news flyer was put out at 10:00 AM. They have versions for different countries and in different languages. With 1,800 of the passengers being from the US and 500 from Canada, those papers ran out very quickly.
Shore Excursions – This area for learning about and booking shore excursions is at the other end of the Grand Foyer. Since eight of the thirteen days of the cruise were at sea, it wasn’t used much for this cruise, especially after we started to cross the Atlantic. At that time, it was mainly used to book airport transfers out of Port Everglades.
Basketball Court – Located on the front of the ship on deck 15 is the basketball/soccer court. To me the location couldn’t be worse, since there is no protection from the winds there.
Artwork & Decorations – I will sometimes put photos of artwork around the ship in this section of the review. On this ship, I really didn’t notice much that I wanted to take photos of. Perhaps it blended in too much. However, there was one thing that caught my eye every time I would take the center stairs between decks 5 and 6. The small statues of a cat and dog reflecting into mirrors really intrigued me.
We booked cabin 7245, which is on the angle of the hump in the middle of the ship. Its location is perfect in that it is close to the midship elevators. This is important on the Solstice Class ships, since there is no aft elevator. Cabins near the back of the ship require much more walking to get to different areas of the ship. Cabin 7245 also has a balcony that is 3 times larger than the standard balcony. Since we have had these type hump cabins several times before, we knew we would be very happy with it again. With us booking this cruise only six months early, I didn’t think that one of these cabins would be available, so we were quite pleased with it. For the TA I booked for next year, we booked a hump cabin on the starboard side instead of this one that was on the port side. On a TA the port side gets some sun most of the day. With us living in south Florida, where we get plenty of sun, we would prefer the shadier side of the ship next time.
The cabin is nicely arranged and relatively roomy for a non-suite cruise ship cabin. The air conditioning worked very well, which is important to us. We had plenty of storage space and the luggage fit nicely under the beds.
Carol utilized the above bed storage cabinets by storing the wooden hangers that were in the closet as well as some other items. She brings wire hangers that don’t take up so much room, so she can hang a lot more clothes.
The bathroom is adequately sized and there is plenty of storage space. We like the pull out glass shower doors. They just work so much better than the shower curtains that are used on some ships.
There are several electric outlets on the desk. We usually bring a 220-volt European power strip that allows us to charge several iPhones, iPads and battery chargers. By using the European type, it keeps the US outlets free for additional needs.
With the cabin veranda being about 3 times the size of a standard veranda, it is very roomy.
The view down to the water is somewhat obstructed; but not as much as the standard balcony cabins on deck 7. The view to the front and back of the ship is also nice.
We had a very good cabin attendant, Diandra from Nicaragua. She was so good that I rarely saw her; and I only saw her assistant a couple times. I wasn’t able to even get his photo or name. They would come in to clean our room when we were not there, so we didn’t get to see them much. However, they did a great job of keeping our ice bucket filled and the room very clean.
Dining (Link to Menus)
We ate every dinner in the Silhouette Dining Room. The food on this cruise was very good. We are quite familiar with the Celebrity menus that have been around for a long time. But that doesn’t mean that the food is always prepared the same way with the same ingredients. The same menu item can taste different from ship to ship and even on a different cruise on the same ship. This cruise everything worked out quite well and each evening was a pleasant dining experience.
For this cruise there were three formal nights. There were rumors running around the ship that Celebrity was soon going to do away with formal nights; but we never got confirmation of when. As we were disembarking the ship in Fort Lauderdale, I got an email from Celebrity announcing that formals were over and the new Evening Chic dress category will replace it. I was happy to hear it, since it will make it easier to keep the weight down for our luggage; but many were not pleased about it. We will see how it works out.
We prefer to have the first seating for dinner, which for this cruise was 6:00 PM. The second seating was at 8:30 PM; which is just too late for us. Since we were traveling by ourselves on this cruise, we requested a larger table so we could meet other cruisers. We were at a table for eight; but only four other people showed up each night. They were Tad and Celeste, a couple from Florida; and Carol and Sue who were friends from Toronto. We lucked out again with some excellent table mates. It was a pleasure to see them each night and chat our heads off. We really enjoyed their company.
Carol and Sue Tad and Celeste
Our waiter was Nedim from Turkey and his assistant was Eni from Indonesia. They were both very pleasant and helpful; however, there were some nights that we did have to wait quite a while for food to be served. It appeared to be more kitchen related, since other tables around us were having the same problem. Whenever we ordered what Nedim recommended, we were very pleased with the order. The few times we went with a different choice, we understood why he had made his recommendations. While our meals were good, those that ordered his recommendations were raving about what they got.
On our first night we were thrilled to see Jayson, an Assistant Maître D we had previously cruised with. He had been such a pleasure in the past and so helpful when we previously had some issues. I had to take a photo of Jason with Carol.
The food in the buffet was quite good for the most part. They have lots of choices to satisfy everyone. We did go to the buffet for most breakfasts, which was the easiest choice. We also went to the Elite breakfast a few times when we wanted a lighter meal. It was set up in the Tuscan Grill. With the large number of Elite passengers, it was difficult to find a table there. Normally a major benefit of the Elite breakfast is that it is less crowded and the room is quieter. For this cruise, there was no real benefit, so we only went a few times.
The entertainment on this cruise was quite good. The musicians that played around the ship were excellent. I particularly liked guitarist Victor Cruz and the Andrea Lisa Quartet.
The Cruise Director was Alejandro Tortorelli. He was our CD last year on our Panama Canal cruise. He is a very high energy fun fellow. We enjoyed him much more this year than last, since he seems to have mellowed just a bit like fine wine. Like most CD’s he is a very hard working person who is always upbeat. It takes a special person who can handle the challenges of this type job and keep smiling. Alejandro has become a well-seasoned CD and I look forward to cruising with him again.
With this being a Transatlantic cruise, most of the performers were on the ship for 7 days and eight nights we were crossing the Atlantic, so they were able to do multiple shows; as well as afternoon shows. All the shows were well attended; but the afternoon shows were very full, since they ony had one per day.
Eve Sherratt – She is an international female vocalist from the UK. She had a great voice and sang songs that I really enjoyed. She was my favorite vocalist by far.
Steven Stevens – This was a musical comedy act, with the emphasis on comedy. Steven’s British style was just hysterical and kept the audience laughing during the whole show. Such a witty guy. I was so disappointed that he wasn’t on the ship for the Atlantic crossing, since I would have loved to see him again.
Kyle Espin – Kyle is a very talented Irish pianist, who plays a mean boogie-woogie. He did some other stuff, but the boogie-woogie is his specialty. He has previously been invited to play at three of musician Jerry Lee Lewis‘ birthday parties. I am sure that he blew the house down. He puts on a great show. Everyone was so pleased that he was able to do an afternoon show also.
Neil Austin – I just loved this British comedy magician. He was so good in so many ways. His show was very cleverly put together where you would be laughing at what he was trying to do along with his jokes; and then be wowed by the trick he had just performed. The show started out with him in a suit and tie. It wasn’t long before he made his suit disappear and he was in an outfit that looked like pajamas. He also shared an afternoon show with another performer and was just as entertaining.
Nick Page – He is a British singer best know for his role as Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Miserables. I wish that he had sung more songs from Les Mis than what he chose to sing. He is a very good singer; but I didn’t want to hear him sing songs in a falsetto voice. He told us that he started out as a drummer; so he wanted to go back to his roots and just play the drums for a bit. Then he wanted to have a play off with the band drummer, who was much better than he was. Nick did OK with the drums; but he is a West End singer and I would have liked to hear him sing more of those songs.
Kelly Setterfield – She was the winner of BBC12’s “The One and Only“ show. Her show was a tribute to great divas like Cher, Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield and Annie Lennox. She would change into different wigs and costumes to try and look like the divas she was imitating. I thought that Kelly was a very good singer and she put on a very entertaining show. However, she had a very husky tone that I didn’t care for.
Steve Larkin – His show is called “Mercury Rising“. It is a tribute show to Freddy Mercury of the group Queen. I don’t know what to say about this show other than it was quite silly and just strange. He tried to look and act like Freddy; and even had false teeth to make him look more like him. I don’t know how he could sing with the larger teeth in his mouth. I really didn’t care for the show; but stuck around since I do like some of Queen‘s music. Steve’s voice isn’t bad; but his show just wasn’t my thing. Apparently I wasn’t alone, since it was the only show that a lot of people left during the performance.
Rob Lewis - He is the UK’s No. 1 tribute to Phil Collins. They showed a clip of him winning it on a TV show, so I guess he is. He also tried to make himself look like the artist he was mimicking. His show was much better than the Freddy Mercury one, since there was no silliness. Rob tried to put on a show like Phil would. He did a pretty good job and had some people in the audience turning on their cell phone lights and waving them back and forth.
Production Shows –
With Celebrity in the process of changing production companies, they did 3 shows in 8 days, so they would have time to break down the old sets and begin setting up the new ones. I am looking forward to seeing the new shows, since we have seen the ones on this cruise several times before. They are still enjoyable to go to, since they have a different cast.
Remix – This is billed as a high energy tribute to pop, rock and international music. It was my favorite of the three shows due to the song selection. All of the shows used some of acrobats, which I always enjoy too.
Equinox - The Show – This is Celebrity’s European circus style show. These shows are very entertaining and the performers extremely talented. But since we have seen them so many times, it isn’t as special for us anymore. We still appreciate their talent and each ship has some individual acrobats that have unique acts. This show had to be performed the next afternoon for the second show, since the seas were causing too much movement for the aerialists.
Limelight: The Broadway Dream – We thoroughly enjoy the music from Broadway shows. The selection was very varied and they had several songs that I had never heard before. I wished that they had more songs we were familiar with; but I am sure that the songs are selected to appeal to a broad audience. We have had better singers on other Celebrity cruises; but these were OK.
Cruise Critic Celebrity Connections Party – We have been on the website www.cruisecritic.com for 14 years. It has provided us with so much valuable information that has helped us so much. By joining what is called a roll call on Cruise Critic, we can meet other people that will be cruising on the same cruise as us. This is very helpful in setting up private tours with other people; plus, it allows us to meet people before the cruise that we have become friends with during and after the cruise. Celebrity sets up what is called a Connections Party, where those that have signed up for the party are able to meet others from the roll call. Normally the Cruise Director and other staff members attend and sometimes even the Captain.
We had a very large roll call with 355 members, so there were a lot of people at the party. With the party being so large, it was difficult to meet people you were looking for, since you couldn’t find them. There was also a problem in that the name tags that Celebrity provided had a very small font for the names. The bigger issue was that the labels did not include the Cruise Critic name that we recognize people by. The meeting was set up for the second day of the cruise in the Sky Lounge at 2:30 PM; which was 30 minutes after we disembarked at the port of Valencia. We couldn't believe the long line of people waiting to get into the party. Alejandro attended the meeting and hosted for a while.
Top Chef at Sea – This activity has two teams of two people competing with each other to cook the best meal. It is based on the TV show. It was held during the day and was well attended. The Executive Chef and Alejandro ran the show and kept it most entertaining.
Beyond the Podium – This is the program that brings in speakers for presentations during the cruise. With us having eight sea days, I hoped that there would be some good ones. We didn’t have any good ones; they were all great ones. In addition to the actual presentations, each of the speakers had a couple of “Meet the Guest Speaker” sessions, which were informal chat sessions where you could ask the speaker questions. I was glad they had these, since they rarely had any time at the end of their talks for questions due to the tight scheduling.
Mick Dawson – Mick is the first person to row across the north Pacific Ocean. I have never enjoyed attending a speaker’s presentation more than Mick’s. At each presentation he would tell us about his adventures. He rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean twice. That in itself is incredible; but he had bigger ambitions, he wanted to row 6,000 miles across the north Pacific by himself. It almost ended in his death, when the boat capsized after he had rowed 4,500 miles. The second attempt with another rower lasted 189 days and was successful. The stories he told were so captivating. He is such an honest sincere person who was sharing the emotional highs and lows of his adventures. He is the first speaker that had me anxious to see the next day’s program each night to see if Mick had a presentation for me to attend. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, don’t miss it. If you can’t see him, you might want to check out his website, www.189days.com. It provides information, photos and videos about what he has done and the projects he is working on now to help veterans with PTSD.
Christine Bridges – Christine talked about the ports we were visiting; as well as history that related to the Spanish explorers to the new world. She was such an enjoyable speaker to listen to. Her style was so upbeat and she made potentially boring historical information fun. The theater was near capacity whenever she spoke. This was the only photo I could get of her that was any good, since she is quite animated; which adds to her presentation.
Steven Friedman – We enjoy Broadway shows; but I didn’t think I would enjoy listening to someone talking about the history of them. Since I wasn’t doing anything else, I decided to go to one of Steven’s talks. I was so glad I did. He was just a wealth of information and presented it in such an enjoyable way. He also had a pretty good voice and even sang some of the songs when they fit into the discussion. Even though he was talking about plays that I hadn’t seen and many not even heard of, the information was fascinating. He provided the type of information about how the shows were done and backstage gossip type info that was so interesting. I attended several of his talks.
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