My second cruise opportunity in 2017 was in October on an 11 night birthday cruise onboard the Celebrity Equinox. This was our third cruise onboard this ship and all have been enjoyable. This ship is almost the complete opposite of Harmony, it is smaller and geared towards a more mature crowd. There is no mini-golf, no water slides, no ice rink and well you get the idea…. Where we had 2,000+ kids on Harmony, I could count on one hand the number of kids I encountered on Equinox (partly due to the time of year we were sailing) and they were all very well supervised. On the other hand, we had to deal with some rude and obnoxious behavior from people that were more than old enough to know better, part of this could be blamed on alcohol, which I suppose is a downside to everyone having a free drink package. We also made some amazing new friends this cruise and did not let the few obnoxious people ruin our trip, we find the overwhelming majority of cruisers on Celebrity to be great to sail with.
We booked early and were able to secure one of the “hump” balcony cabins, a Concierge 2 category with one of the largest balconies on the ship. Celebrity still provides toiletries and chocolates on the pillows but strangely no towel animals these days. The concierge cabins come with lunch in the main dining room on embarkation day (which we almost missed because Port of Miami stinks,) a bottle of sparkling wine, afternoon canapés and some other perks. Many feel it isn’t worth the extra money but between the few inclusions and the extra points towards Captains Club status we still prefer to book this level.
Equinox has been moved to Miami to cruise the Caribbean year round with a variety of itineraries, many of them longer than a week and visiting more exotic ports than you would get on a typical 7 night cruise. Our cruise was originally supposed to visit St. Thomas, St. Martin, Tortola, St. Lucia, Barbados and Antigua. After hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the Caribbean, we lost the first three ports and they were replaced with Nassau, St. Kitts and Martinique.
Now to my favorite subject, food! Celebrity usually has great food, this time was no exception. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants this trip, just the main dining room and the buffet. Service was great across the board and the only thing we had an issue with was the reservation system (or lack thereof) for Celebrity Select dining. You could not make reservations and it was difficult for those awesome new friends we made to get the same table every night so that we could eat together, even though for some reason our table was always available. Also, the buffet could get very busy at peak times, which is common on any ship, but wasn’t quite the zoo Harmony’s was.
All in all we still love cruising on Equinox and Solstice class ships, they are great for just relaxing in between stops at some amazing ports. The food and service are great, it just isn’t as lively or as entertainment packed as Harmony.
Where it outshines Harmony: Better itineraries, more inclusions with your fare, better cabin amenities, less zoo like atmosphere in the buffet, food is slightly better although Harmony had great food.
Where it falls short: No reservations allowed on select dining and just general aggravation trying to get same section every night, less entertainment, rude drunks (instead of hoards of kids.)
I wish Royal Caribbean would roll out some of the good things about each brand on the other, I think that could quite possibly, make the perfect ship.