Will you be cruising the Celebrity Equinox soon? We took a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise on this amazing ship. Read our Celebrity Equinox review.
For years there were two things on our bucket list: explore the ABC islands and try a Celebrity cruise.
While sitting in our Kauai Airbnb in a state of beach-loving euphoria, hubby received an email from Celebrity with a fabulous ABC Island cruise itinerary. He didn’t have to convince me.
We booked it immediately and began counting the days until we were cruising the Celebrity Equinox.
This is our first Celebrity cruise. We were comparing it to Norwegian Cruise Line the entire time. It’s difficult not to, as there are things we love about Norwegian and things we don’t. We are just trying to find the right cruise line for us.
We choose our cruises based on the itinerary and the ship. Some of you may be all about the ship; that’s fine too – you do you! We will probably never chase the newest ships unless the right itinerary and opportunity come along.
So this Celebrity Equinox review may be lost in the middle of a thousand others as this is a 10 yr old cruise ship. We hope you enjoy this Celebrity Equinox review and find something helpful to plan your future cruises.
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What are the 3 ABC Islands?
ABC stands for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. These islands are located in the most Southern Caribbean, off Venezuela’s coast. They are part of the Netherlands but vastly different from one another. They are outside of the hurricane belt.
We were especially excited to visit these islands.
10-Night Celebrity Equinox Southern Caribbean Itinerary
Day 1 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Day 2- Sea Day
Day 3 – Georgetown, Grand Cayman (canceled port, but we’ve been there before)
Day 4 – Sea day
Day 5 – Oranjestad, Aruba
Day 6 – Willemstad, Curacao
Day 7 – Kralendijk, Bonaire
DAY 8 – Sea Day
Day 9 – Sea Day
Day 10 – Key West, Florida
Day 11 – Disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
At the time, this cruise had too many sea days for my liking.
To top it off, Grand Cayman was canceled due to weather, adding another sea day – not the cruise line’s fault. The best part about that was that we arrived earlier in Aruba.
Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review
Embarking in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
We broke one of the cardinal rules of cruising. We did not fly in the night before but took a red-eye flight. We couldn’t help it. This is what our work schedules allowed.
It was a direct flight from Los Angeles, landing in Fort Lauderdale at 6:30 AM. Luckily, no delays.
We didn’t waste time getting to the port. We were the first ones at the terminal.
Somewhat of a mistake. The arrival terminal is closed until closer to 10 AM. We don’t mind being early, but we had more than enough time to waste.
We should have taken our time to have coffee at an airport lounge or even a nearby breakfast spot for some coffee. Hubby needs his coffee.
Close to 10 AM, the doors opened, and it was time to get through security. It all went by pretty fast, but there was some disorganization. There were no clear lines.
Since we followed all the steps needed to prepare for a cruise, check-in was taken care of, and we had our Xpress passes ready to be scanned.
The Xpress check-in is new and absolutely genius. You can submit your photo and credit card information when you check-in online before your cruise.
After you go through security, an agent will scan your passes, verify that there is a photo and ask you all the questions regarding sickness.
Once that is done, you can go into the waiting area—no need to check-in at the desk.
Celebrity has a beautiful terminal with plenty of seating and restrooms. The only thing that is missing is a coffee station.
Priority Check-in / Disembarkation
If you paid for Concierge Class, there is a section in the back corner. We almost missed the sign. Make sure to look for it, or else you’ll miss out on “priority check-in.”
Having priority check-in doesn’t mean you will get through security first or even have a special check-in line after security. You will be on the same line as everyone else. To truly get special treatment, book a suite!
We found the only plus was getting on the ship before everyone else.
Priority disembarkation was included, yet we didn’t disembark until after 9:30 AM. We were out of our rooms at 8 AM—the last ones off the ship.
The trick to getting off early with any cruise line is to hold on to your luggage the night before and disembark with it.
– Don’t Miss 35 Cruise Embarkation Day Tips –
Celebrity Equinox Concierge Class Veranda Cabin 12147
We upgraded to Concierge Class a few days before the final payment was due. It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision, and we didn’t get to choose my balcony cabin.
Concierge Veranda Cabin #12147, on deck 12, aft port side, was the only one left.
First, let’s start with the negative parts of the room.
We were told there would be no obstructions. Yet, there is a slight obstruction. Nothing terrible, but it made taking pictures from the cabin difficult.
Cabin # 12147 is located under Oceanview Cafe (the buffet). Expect loud noises at night.
We had to call a few times to complain about it as it sometimes woke us up or didn’t allow us to fall asleep.
We loved that the room was updated with the modern Edge design. The couch was brand new. The balcony was a room with seats that reclined. There was no footstool, but a nice little table on which you could set your morning coffee.
Most importantly, the room was clean, the bed was comfortable, and the bathroom was functional.
Add these items to your cruise packing list. Don’t forget to pack these cruise items that will help enhance your cruise vacation. And check out what not to pack for a cruise.
Is Concierge Class Worth the Extra Cost?
Not to me. If the difference in rate is exponentially high compared to the standard balcony cabin, it is not worth it.
That extra $300-$400 spent per person is not worth the robes in your room, small afternoon snacks, or the personalized concierge service only looking to book dinner reservations you can easily do yourself.
During our time on the ship, we tried to justify the extra cost spent on Concierge Class, but we couldn’t find these small amenities that made no difference in our vacation.
In the future, we wouldn’t mind sailing Concierge Class again, but only if the rate isn’t much more than the rate for standard sailing.
We would rather pay to upgrade to the Aqua Class; at least it has a restaurant, and the spa is included.
Celebrity Equinox Cruise Ship Refurbishment
In June 2019, the Celebrity Equinox was refurbished. It was supposed to be fully renovated to fit the new Celebrity Revolution.
Celebrity Cruises is set to transform the industry with the unveiling of THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION, a more than $500-million reimagining of the fleet in partnership with more than 500 leading architects, designers, and engineers designed to bring the rest of the brand’s award-winning fleet to the Edge.Celebrity Cruises Press Center
Unfortunately, the month allocated for the Celebrity Equinox refit was cut short. The public spaces on Celebrity Equinox were refurbished in two weeks. The ship set sail, and cabins were left as is.
We read comments on old ratty couches and worn-out bathrooms. So, we were pleasantly surprised that our cabin had been somewhat refurbished with Edge’s modern look.
The crew was supposedly working on updating the rooms’ furniture and other details during the sailings.
The Celebrity Equinox renovation looks fabulous, donning the new modern Edge design.
We look for an updated ship with modern and classy decor when we book a ship. They did a great job incorporating the Edge while still leaving and polishing up what makes Equinox great.
Not once during my time on the ship did I think, “this is outdated.”
The Canyon Ranch Spa
The services offered are just way out of our budget. That doesn’t mean we won’t treat ourselves if we are inclined to. Back home, we can find spa services for half the price, and we frequently take advantage of them on our days off.
When we’re on vacation, I push my husband to indulge as he works crazy hours and never does anything like this for himself.
Hubby enjoyed a Canyon Ranch Pedicure. The technician did an amazing job with his feet. They were baby smooth.
Aqua Class Cabins come with spa passes, so you can use their facilities to relax. If you’re not part of Aqua Class, you can purchase a pass that allows unlimited use of their spa facility. Services like massages, facials, and such are extra.
We noticed that the spa area does not have therapy pools to use as the thermal spas on the Norwegian ships.
The gym is available to all guests on the ship. Guess how many times I went?
Celebrity Equinox Food & Restaurants
Cafe al Bacio
My favorite place on the cruise ship is Cafe al Bacio. I bet you already imagined this was our first stop on the ship.
Forget Starbucks! This cafe is the best. They were cranking out lattes and other specialty coffees all day long. You bet you can have Bailey’s in your coffee topped with whip cream.
If you booked a cruise-only fare, there is a cost for coffee at Cafe al Bacio. The drinks are included if you have the Classic Beverage (up to $9) or Premium Beverage (up to $15) package.
The best part is the fresh-baked cookies, cakes, and treats on their display. They are always available. These are free of charge to all cruisers. See a video of the dessert display here.
The Martini Bar
Another one of Tasty Itinerary’s favorites. I had a martini almost daily. I planned to work through the menu, but I never got that far. The martinis I did have were fantastic, and they were served right on their frozen bar counter.
The bartenders here are talented and put on a great show for their guests when you order a martini flight, just like Tom Cruise in Cocktails.
Don’t forget to tip these amazing bartenders!
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Oceanview Cafe Buffet
The Celebrity Equinox cruise buffet is one of the best on a cruise we’ve experienced thus far. Color us impressed.
Normally for dinner, we like to dine in the main dining room. Being on vacation, having a waiter that provided great service is nice. It’s those little luxuries sometimes that make it.
On this trip, we had most of our meals at the buffet.
Why? Because the food exceeded it. Everything was flavorful, and some things were sometimes cooked to order.
We can’t give you a rundown on everything, but here is what stood out:
- The pizza on the ship was delicious. Hand-tossed dough with pizza sauce was just right and baked in an oven like a Neapolitan pizza.
- Every day the carving stations had something newly roasted. It wasn’t just the standard turkey or roast beef. We’re talking about ribs, Peking duck, porchetta, a whole salmon… it was always delicious.
- Fried chicken.
- Jerk chicken
- Arroz con pollo
- Pork schnitzels that they breaded right there in front of you and then popped on the griddle.
- Meats cooked to order.
- Your choice of MahiMahi, salmon, or tuna that you choose from, and they’d grill it for you.
- Fish and chips
- Individual chicken pot pies
- Huge apple and berry pies
- One day they even had a chocolate foundation at lunch.
You get the drift.
We’re sure you’re hungry now because we are.
Silhouette Main Dining Room
We dined in the Silhouette a total of 3 times. The food was nothing to write home about. I enjoyed it, but I loved the food at the buffet more.
The food has nothing to do with the service. Our waiter and his assistants did a fabulous job.
We had anytime dining, and a table was always available in our waiter’s section. I did appreciate the attention to detail that Celebrity offers in the dining room.
Celebrity Equinox Specialty Restaurants
Le Petit Chef™️ At Qsine
Celebrity does not do a great job explaining Le Petit Chef on their website, at least not when I was booking dinner reservations. This is the one restaurant I did not book in advance because I didn’t understand. When we finally visited and saw a sample of what it was, we signed up for dinner on our first night.
This is a dinner and a show. It is an extra charge.
This 4D animation show takes place between your meals. These animated “celebrity” chefs are competing and preparing your plate right before you. It’s quite comical and entertaining – I got a kick out of it. Once a dish is presented by the animated chef, the waiters serve the real thing.
Watch the video of the appetizer here.
Animation aside, the food was delicious. I recommend it! If you have kids, I think they would find it entertaining. Will they eat the food? That depends on your child. My 6 yr old and 4 yr old niece would devour it all.
During the week, Le Petit Chef features two prefixed menus. One features filet mignon as an entree and the other lobster. Make your reservations accordingly. They also have a classic menu you can choose from to swap out any of the courses.
The Tuscan Grille was my least favorite of the three specialty dining restaurants we tried. It was okay but it wasn’t worth paying extra for.
The appetizers were not memorable. The short rib Parpadelle ragu disappointed us, which isn’t a surprise. Pasta dishes after visiting Italy are never the same. Hubby ordered the filet mignon (again). I had the grilled sea bass, and I enjoyed it, but it was nothing special.
Murano was by far my favorite of the specialty restaurants. This French Continental restaurant had me at the scallop wellington and the baked goat cheese appetizers.
Hubby and I immensely enjoyed our chateaubriand for two and their specialty dish lobster Murano, both prepared tableside. The Grand Marnier soufflé was one of the best I’ve ever had. If you decide not to order dessert, don’t worry they bring out a small assortment of fine chocolate. I highly enjoyed the wine recommended by the sommelier.
The service here is impeccable.
If I had to book the specialty restaurants again, I’d book two nights at Murano and skip Tuscan Grille.
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Entertainment on the Celebrity Equinox
We always read about Celebrity sailings that the ships are quiet. It turned out to be true. They lack entertainment, and their little entertainment is not that great.
We spent a lot of our time in the casino on this trip.
At The Theater
The theater on the Equinox is probably one of the most well-designed theaters I’ve seen on a ship so far. There are two decks of real stadium seating.
Topper and Elysium are onboard production shows and were not our favorite. We wouldn’t suggest skipping them as you should make up your own mind. We suggest sitting at the end of a row, so you can walk out once it starts and realize how bad it is. We had to after 15 minutes of watching Elysium, and then the couple next to us followed, thanking us for making a move first.
The comedians and singers who boarded at different times during our itinerary were fantastic. Many performers are brought in for special performances and are on rotation with the cruise line. So you never know what you’ll see when you get on that cruise ship.
Shout out to singer Jesse Hamilton Jr., my favorite performance of the week. He was amazing! His voice is incredible.
I also loved the performance by December 63. This foursome covers music by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The group is not only talented but entertaining.
There weren’t many parties. Silent disco seemed to be the popular fave. Lounges were always dead.
Towards one of the last nights, we finally went to the after-hours party that started at midnight in the Sky Lounge. The DJ was killing it with some great dance music. Also, this is where everyone around our age or younger was hanging out. All of about 30 of us on the ship? I wish they had started this party earlier in the night.
The casino on this ship is SMALL. I guess it works out since most go to bed early.
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Other Observations Cruising the Celebrity Equinox
➡ The Celebrity Equinox is a beloved ship amongst veteran Celebrity cruisers.
➡ The demographic was much older than I anticipated. It may be the time of year we cruised on Celebrity, but it solidified a cruising stereotype this time. We were part of the 5% of the cruise that felt younger than usual.
➡ There is more than one pool on the ship! I spent a ton of time at the solarium.
➡ Not exactly a kid-friendly cruise. There aren’t enough cruise activities for children on the ship.
➡ Every day, there are glass-blowing classes available on the ship. I never attended as it is not my thing, but some of you may find it interesting.
➡ Bartenders are heavy-handed with the alcohol! Drink up.
➡ The Lawn Club has real grass! Pretty cool area to watch a movie on some days and nights.
Cruise vs. All-Inclusive Resort: What’s the Difference?
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing between a cruise and an all-inclusive resort. Which is right for you? Check out our breakdown of the pros and cons of each option to help make your decision easier. Plan your cruise or all-inclusive resort vacation with these travel tips and tricks.
Will We Cruise Celebrity Again?
Update March 2023: Since then, we have sailed the Celebrity Solstice and have some future celebrity cruises booked that we look forward to.
We like the Celebrity product and what it offers. Across the board, it’s a more upscale experience than other cruise lines we have been on. If anything, the food won me over. The service is excellent.
The atmosphere on the ship was a bit subdued for us. There wasn’t even music by the pool during the day unless there was Zumba. I am not looking to be around rowdy drunks, but sometimes it’s nice to be around a livelier crowd.
It will all depend on what kind of vacation we want. Are we looking to relax? Do we want a good mix of fun and relaxation?
During this cruise, we also grieved over a major loss in the family. We realized it all turned out how it should; we needed the quiet moments.
However, we sometimes think we needed a distraction, and the activities on this cruise were not exciting or, at least, not catered to our demographic.
Celebrity Equinox is a favorite and has a loyal fan base. We met many veterans that have sailed here multiple times.
This Celebrity Equinox review was based solely on our experience. We would love to hear about yours. Leave a comment below!
Other Cruise Ship Reviews:
Cruising the Celebrity Solstice Review
Cruising the Norwegian Joy Review
Cruising the Norwegian Epic Review
Cruising the Norwegian Pearl Review: Our Favorite Ship Yet
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Meet Kathy – a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she’s become a pro at crafting unforgettable travel itineraries. She’s always looking for delicious, fun cruise itineraries and travel destinations and is slightly obsessed with Italy. Her passion and curiosity for travel started in childhood on her yearly and sometimes bi-yearly trips to PR. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it – so let’s explore the world and make some incredible memories.
Wednesday 31st of May 2023
We just booked the Equinox while on a very disappointing trip on the NCL Jade. We’ve sailed the Celebrity Summit (Aquaclass) several times & love it so the Jade has been a definite let down. Thank goodness for an amazing itinerary (Greece)! So we’re going back to Celebrity & excited to see this review of the Equinox. We’re just now 50 but don’t do the shows etc - we’d rather be up early & watch the ship come into port, etc. Our daily lives are so crazy with work that we enjoy the down time. We love that Celebrity is a more refined cruise line & even pre-Covid, took hand hygiene & cleanliness seriously. We’ve seen very little of that on NCL & as a nurse, that grosses me out!
Wednesday 31st of May 2023
Hey Keri - Equinox is a great cruise ship and the Celebrity brand is top notch.
I've never been on the Jade, but one thing is for sure that not every cruise ship is the same or even run the same, the staff really makes a difference.
We cruised on the NCL Epic and hated it, but haven't had issues with other NCL cruises. Find it surprising too about the cleanliness because in my experience NCL is so on top of everyone about washing hands and disinfecting to a point that it can be annoying, but yet grateful that they are because people really do need to be reminded. I've watched as people have sprinkled water on their hands after using the bathroom and walking out without properly washing or disinfecting, it's disgusting.
It's important to try different cruise lines and sail a couple of different ships so we can find what works for us. Everyone travels and cruises differently.
Happy you enjoyed your Celebrity Cruise. We have another coming up later in the year.
Thursday 2nd of January 2020
We sailed on Equinox in November 2016 and are going to sail on her again the third week of February 2020. So, I am excited to see the new look of everything since the Revolution. 2016 was a 10 night. I prefer 9 nights or longer but, due to vacation days I have available this year, we are only doing a 9-night in February. We didn't think the ship seemed dead of activity but, then again, we are in our upper 50's. We spent many a night checking out the Sky Lounge after the theater show each night. Sometimes we stayed at the Sky Lounge and sometimes we didn't. Walking late at night on the outside decks made me ask "where are all the people?". Deserted but nice! Even the Sunset Bar at the upper aft part of the ship wasn't very full. We loved 95% of the cruise. That one show Topper was not one of our favorites either. Service and food in the main dining room are second to none!
Friday 3rd of January 2020
That's so exciting! We really liked the Celebrity Equinox and I wouldn't think twice about sailing her again in the future. I still think about the food on the ship. So good! Enjoy your trip!
Sunday 17th of November 2019
Thank you for the review as I haven/t been on a Celebrity cruise yet...
Kathy | Tasty Itinerary
Wednesday 20th of November 2019
The food and service on Celebrity was so good! A totally different vibe from Norwegian though.
Friday 8th of November 2019
First, I totalled LOLed at hubby needs his coffee...because me and hubby need our coffee! I do think getting on the ship early is great and a convenient opportunity to snag pictures, but caffeine would be my first stop too!
As always, I love that your ship reviews are honest. I felt that way about Holland America...just a little, umm, old for us. I've always considered celebrity - we typically sail NCL, too - but I'm glad you mentioned it's not really kid friendly. Maybe their other ships. It's honestly hard to top NCLs kid clubs.
I'm not sad about the food and the martini bar though. I'm glad you could enjoy the menus and some quieter time given the circumstances.
Kathy | Tasty Itinerary
Friday 8th of November 2019
If there is no coffee - no one is happy... am I right? ?
Your comment means so much because sometimes I go into these reviews unsure of how much of it all should I disclose. I try to write what I think is important and what I'd want to know.
While we waited on the terminal to board, we met a couple of older couples. Not old, but older than us by 20 yrs or so. One of them called Holland America a geriatric cruise. I laugh when I think back to her comment because we felt like that about this sailing. Another thing I noticed on the ship was that everyone we talked to seem to be cruising experts. Cruising for years and years with multiple ones under their belt for years. I found it educational towards the first half of the cruise and by the end of it I was over listening to why they love Celebrity or some other cruise line so much more lol. It felt like nobody was on their first cruise on this ship. When sailing NCL there is such a great mix of all types of travelers.
Celebrity has a kids club. I never passed it or saw it, but they have it. I don't know how they are. When I meant they weren't kid-friendly, I just didn't see many activities for them on the ship. I imagine myself as a child and I would have probably spent a ton of time in the pool every day.
Totally take a Celebrity cruise with the hubby alone, no kids means more stops at the martini bar. ?
Kathy | Tasty Itinerary
Friday 8th of November 2019
I haven't been on a cruise in years, but this ship looks really nice. I took Celebrity on a cruise to Alaska and really loved it. The service and food was great!
Friday 8th of November 2019
We still haven't done Alaska. Sounds amazing! I agree the food and service was really good!