Ship: Celebrity Equinox
For this cruise we actually flew into Fort Lauderdale since flights from Toronto Canada were a bit cheaper than Miami. Transportation from Fort Lauderdale to Miami is very easy to arrange and we had a private driver pick us up and take us to our rented condo in Miami. There were 5 adults travelling and the cost was around $125 total plus gratuity. We flew two days before our cruise which is something we always recommend - primarily because flight delays and weather are always a factor and you never want to miss your cruise! We also needed to escape a cold and bitter Canadian winter so this was a great way to start off our vacation.
[caption id="attachment_4467" align="alignnone" width="1024"] We stayed at a condo just across from Bayside market place, literally 5 minutes from the cruise port. It was wonderful!
We took an UBER to the terminal for 10:30am... the drive from our condo to the Port of Miami was literally 5 minutes and the view is just spectacular.
We got dropped off and breezed through security and check in. We waited maybe 10 minutes for them to start boarding and since we had Concierge staterooms we boarded right after suite guests. When you board a Celebrity ship although you may not be in an extravagant atrium you are greeted with a glass of champagne and for us that was the perfect start to our vacation! Embarkation was on Deck 5 so we went straight to Cafe al Bacio where we immediately upgraded our drink packages from the Classic Beverage package to the Premium Beverage package. (We had the Classic package as part of our 2 free perks which included wi-fi as well as on-board credits). I believe the upgrade cost was $10 USD per person per day. They will do it right there at the Cafe and at any bar on the ship. This way we didn't pay for any of the specialty coffees at the Cafe which is normally a la carte pricing if you aren't on the beverage package.
After a coffee and latte we made our way up to deck 14 to the Oceanview Cafe to check out the beautiful buffet - we love how Celebrity arranges the buffet around "pods" vs a traditional long-line buffet. This helps disperse the crowds well. We never felt the buffet was crowded as long as we didn't get there at 12pm. We would usually arrive around 1pm on our sea days and were able to get our food with almost no wait.
One of our favourite spots to sit down is at the back / aft of Oceanview Cafe. It's outdoor seating and as Canadians we just needed to get some of that sun. By that point it was 11:30am and we needed to make better use of our beverage packages and had some nice drinks soaking in the Miami sun! We strolled up to the lawn club on 15 - since our travelling partners had never been on a Solstice class ship it was neat seeing their reaction to having live grass on board a cruise ship. The glass show is now closed on this ship and hoping they put in the restaurant that is on some of the other Solstice ships soon. Unfortunately there is a smoking area up here and we found the smoke quite strong on some days while up on the lawn club.
Seeing live grass on top of a Celebrity ship is a wow factor that we just love.[At this point our group split up for a bit and we spent some time at the pool... on the Equinox there are two pools (one deeper than the other) as well as the Solarium pool and hot tubs. So there are plenty of places to soak depending on your mood.
By 1:30 we had enough sun and they announced our staterooms were ready. We ventured down to our cabin on deck 11 and were pleasantly surprised at how large our cabin was, especially the balcony. We chose a slanted "hump" balcony and we loved how large it was. Enough to have probably 8 people on it and we could stretch out on the loungers they provided. Definitely worth the small additional price we paid for Concierge. Note that not all Concierge rooms are this large but you have to seek out these "hump" balconies. A good place to start is to examine the deck plans - we like to use Cruise Critic deck plans because you can also see some reviews of specific cabins: https://www.cruisecritic.com/celebrity-equinox-deck-plans/dp/
We had barely checked out our room when our luggage arrived and we unpacked, met our room steward and then headed down for the General Emergency and Lifeboat Drill. On Celebrity they mainly just have you watch a quick video and then you are on your way! We returned to our rooms to get ready for our first dinner in the main dining room. But before we did that we wanted to check out the sail away party and watch as we left Miami. This is almost always one of our favourite parts of a cruise and the sun was shining as we left the Port and sailed out to sea!
We had Select dining which meant we could go to Deck 4 of the Silhouette Restaurant and eat at anytime between 5:30pm - 9:15pm. We love Select and not having to always be there at a certain time. With that said, we did seem to dine around 6:00pm every night and the staff were exceptional, giving us the same server every night we were there. Dinner each night was exceptional - we ate in the main dining room every night except for one specialty night. The food and service was just that good that we didn't feel the need to go anywhere else!
After dinner we checked out the Martini Bar and Crush on Deck 4 - which became one of our favourite places. Those bartenders know how to make some great drinks and they are very entertaining. Each night we would watch the Celebrity show and this night was Comedian Rich Aranovitch who was very funny.
After the show we had a few drinks at the various bars on the ship - there are so many to choose from! Some of our favourites were the Ensemble Lounge and the Sunset Bar out on Deck 15. The day was a long one so we got to bed early and ready for our first day at Sea!
There is so much to do on Embarkation day that it's hard to do it all. We will be posting the dailies given out so you can plan out what you may want to do. Keep in mind Celebrity is always changing this up but at least you will have a general idea of what to expect.
What’s your favourite part about cruising? Ours are sea days! We love just waking up, going to the gym, getting room service on our balcony and watching the early morning waves. We tend to spend most sea days by the pool if the weather is nice which is what we did. Other members of our party went to an art auction, shopping and watched the Beyond the Podium lecture which occurs every day. Today it was on the History of St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Nevis (one of our upcoming ports).
By mid-afternoon we were nice and crispy and decided to get freshened up, play some cards with our family in the Sky Lounge up on Deck 14 and make our way to another amazing dinner in the Silhouette Restaurant. Tonight was the first of 2 formal nights or on Celebrity they call it Evening Chic. Here’s how they describe it: Evening Chic: Women’s fashion: cocktail dress; skirt, pants or designer jeans with an elegant top. Men’s fashion – Pants or designer jeans with a long sleeve shirt, button-down shirt or sweater. Sport coat or blazer is optional.
Tonight’s show was the Production Show “Elysium”: “A curious princess travels to a far away kingdom where she embarks on a journey. Will she overcome the challenges to e crowned queen of Elysium? We thought the production, music and singing were wonderful!
That evening we checked out the Martini bar again (yes, this will be a theme) and then we participated in the Silent Disco… one of our favourite things to do on any Celebrity ship. Grab a free headset and set the channel to one of 3 colours which represent a different track being spun by the D.J.s. Watch everyone dance to their own beats but make sure you take off your headset to get a giggle as middle aged men and women destroy any sense of musicality, singing out of key since no one else is listening!
Early mornings on Celebrity, for me, mean taking in the gym and then eating at one of my favourite places, the Aqua Spa Cafe. This is where you can get some breakfast (and at noon some lunch options) that are billed as more “healthy”. I love finishing at the gym, getting a tea or coffee and some breakfast inside the solarium. I want to be back there right now!
Get some delicious “healthy” fare at the Aqua Spa cafe right inside the adults-only solarium
We had been looking forward to today as St. Maarten has always been one of our favourite islands, but again we were worried about the state of this beautiful country after the hurricanes. Unfortunately unlike Puerto Rico, the damage to St. Maarten has been much more severe and it is apparent every where you look. In fact, our cruise was only the second time Celebrity Equinox had returned to St. Maarten.
Immediately after walking off the ship you can see some of the buildings in a state of repair and spots where some structures once stood. They were doing extensive work on the road leading out of the port so traffic was backed up and the taxi process was very confusing and jammed. The better thing to do is immediately go to the ticket booth and grab your round trip ferry tickets to the beach. It’s quick and easy. We wasted about 40 min in the sweltering sun waiting for a taxi before we turned back to get our ferry tickets.
Despite the damage, the in-town beaches in St. Maarten are still as beautiful as ever.
We ended up just grabbing some loungers on the beach for $10 each and it was lovely. On the way back we walked to look at the shops and it was really sad how much of the town has been destroyed but the locals are making the best of it and no doubt in a year things will be much improved. A note though that beyond the city we have heard that there is very little open yet from a tourism perspective (Orient beach has no facilities and is still rebuilding).
Some of the buildings had their entire front facades ripped off and even some without roofs!
Once back on board we returned to our regular dining venue in the Silhouette restaurant with our amazing serving staff. The show tonight was called Topper which was similar in scope to the Elysium production. Again, very good effects and overall quite enjoyable.
Later that night a few of us took in the “Frisky Feud” which was a funny take on Family Feud in the Equinox Theatre. Our Cruise Director Rich was a hilarious host and we really enjoyed most of the adult / after hours shows.
Today was our last port day and it did not disappoint! Coming into port of St. Kitts you can see lush green hills and dormant volcanoes. This is idyllic Caribbean.
The weather was a bit windy today (in fact it was fairly windy the entire cruise) so we were worried what it would be like when we got off the ship especially because we had planned a beach day. However, because we just wanted a chill day without getting on a bus or long taxi right we had booked day passes at the St. Kitt’s Marriott Resort and were looking forward to a day of relaxation by the pool and water.
The Marriott has 2 large pools to enjoy when using a day pass. You get to use all of the facilities as well!
The ocean was rough but the water was beautiful and warm. We could have stayed here all day! Day Passes can be purchased at Resort for a Day for $59USD per person. It was actually cheaper for us to book a room for the day for 5 of us so that is what we did so we would have a locked room for our stuff, a place to cool down and a shower before we headed back to the beach.
We really loved this excursion – the taxi ride form the port was only 15 minutes and our guide was hilarious and also a great tour guide. Cost was $20USD on way. Although we only really experienced the pool and beach this is a full resort hotel with restaurants a spa and even a casino. Wi-fi is also very good.
I definitely didn’t want to go back after a day like this!
Back on board we had a late lunch at the Oceanview Cafe, had a few drinks by the pool and then got ready for our second Evening Chic night! The actual show tonight was called Vocal Group Divas 3 and once again they were terrific, singing female cover songs and doing a great job.
We went to bed looking forward to having 2 full sea days ahead of us!
Having 3 full days at sea can either make or break some first time cruisers. We are definitely the type that could stay on board all day, every day. There is just so much to do and if the weather is good it makes it even better. Yes, the pool area will get crowded but if you can just be patient you will find a spot or you if someone just places their towel to “reserve” a spot, watch it for a bit and then ask the pool attendant to remove it. We always found space!
What could be better than waking up to skies like this and another day at sea??
We enjoyed watching the Pool Games – today it was Are you Smarter than a Ship’s Officer where trivia questions were asked and then crew against passengers had to survive a massive Jenga game. It was super campy fun!
Again there was something on the agenda for everyone from art auctions, spa treatment sessions, free nutrition seminars, Poker and Slots tournaments, food and beer / wine tasting and even a Jack Daniel’s tasting. Of course every day there was always at least Bingo session happening somewhere on the ship – we never made it to to one this trip though.
We definitely got a little too much sun today and headed in at 3pm (which is early for us) to walk the ship, get a coffee and get ready for the evening.
Our cabins were near the beautiful atrium so we often had the chance to take the glass elevators up and down. Right across is the card room and the library!
Tonight we once again ate at the Celebrity Silhouette main dining room and once again the food was amazing. I believe tonight was the lobster and steak night. Since I’m a chicketarian I refrained from both but it was still a lovely meal nonetheless!
Tomorrow is our last day at sea and the last day of our cruise so we’ll be up early to enjoy it!
Well the day has arrived – last day at sea
It’s always sad when you get those little luggage tags on your bed and disembarkation instructions – but let’s not go there and enjoy our day in the sun.
Wait. It’s cloudy??
Our first day of clouds and some rain greeted our final day at sea. After some time in the gym, I took some time to have a last breakfast in the Aqua Spa cafe and take in the zen like vibes.
But our initial dreary weather didn’t last and by 10am we were back out on deck enjoying the day, sunshine in our face and watching the beautiful sea go by. We weren’t cruising very quickly and looking at our stateroom TV we could see we were already just off the northern Bahamas close to Miami.
Our final dinner was bitter sweet as we had to say goodbye to our amazing wait staff… honestly they were the best we’ve ever had on any ship. Just spectacular service.
The last few diners on our last night in the main dining room. Isn’t it a beautiful space?
We capped off the night watching the Celebrity Showtime closing acts which featured a comedian and a few others then we headed back to pack up our suitcases and leave them out for pick up. Although we normally do self-assist, the last few cruises we found this just as easy. We didn’t need to get off the ship until after 9am so we knew we could get up have a nice breakfast and disembark easily
We woke up this morning back in the Port of Miami and grudgingly made our way up to the Oceanveiw Cafe for breakfast. Everything was very organized and we were back in our room with our carry on luggage when they announced our disembarkation number. We went down to 5, walked off and then… wait… what’s that HUGE line?? For some reason they were hold us back from getting our luggage. But after about 5 minutes of waiting we made our way down the escalator, found our luggage quite easily and zipped through customs.
Our flight home to Toronto wasn’t until 7:30pm that night so we had booked day passes for the The Grand Beach Hotel Miami. One of our travel secrets, we use www.resortpass.com to book disembarkation hotels if we have late flights. They often have good rates (today ours was $25USD) per person to use the hotel facilities, pools, etc and they store your luggage for the whole day. A really great option to extend your vacation a little bit longer and MUCH better than going straight to the airport or lugging it around while you figure out what to do before you fly out.
There are two pools at The Grand Beach Hotel Miami! This one on the ground level is right on Miami Beach!
… and the rooftop pool is adults only. It has spectacular views!
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and by 3pm we jumped in an UBER and checked into our flights home. It was a wonderful trip on the Celebrity Equinox and we will definitely be back on another Solstice Ship soon!
Interested in reading the Celebrity Today Dailies? We have all 7 days here
We hope you enjoyed our travel blog – if you have any questions please let us know in the comments below. If YOU want to experience sailing with Celebrity Cruises contact our office for more details!
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