Celebrity Equinox Review

The Nox at Southampton 25/07/09

The ‘Nox’ at Southampton 25/07/09

I was kindly invited to a one night preview cruise on this brand new ship in July 2009.  Now Celebrity are a premium brand and have generally enjoyed a very good reputation. In 1998 we cruised on the then ‘new’ Mercury, which was a pretty large ship in her day, being 77,000 gross tonnes. We were pretty impressed at the time, although we have yet to return to Celebrity.

The Resort Deck with Pools and Cabanas

The Resort Deck with Pools and Cabana’s

In the past decade Celebrity’s fleet has continued to grow under Royal Caribbean’s wing and each class of ship has been bigger than the previous. The ‘Solstice’ class weighs in at a hefty 122, 000 gross tonnes. The burning question is: “Can Celebrity still offer an upmarket experience on such big ships”? Judging from my visit the answer is a definite “Yes”.

As always, the Celebrity’s décor and art-work is cutting edge, almost like a floating modern art gallery. The ship had much retro style furniture and décor inspired by late 1960’s/early 1970’s. In fact a lot of it which would not have look out of place on board the QE2 when she was launched or on the set of the classic TV programme: ‘The Prisoner’.

Modern (retro) decor

Modern (retro) decor

Physically the ship reminds me a little of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Radiance’ class, a favourite of mine. It was probably the extensive use of glass, a very tall atrium (complete with gravity defying tree) and a covered pool (with a dancing water-jet fountain).

My deluxe balcony cabin was, erm, ‘deluxe’. The balcony was of reasonable size, there was a double bed and a large LCD TV. The cabin was argueably a little narrow, but well laid out. It was ceertainly quite long. There was a very long sofa which could probably accommodate four persons. There was a big wardrobe and loads of draws. (Life jackets were stored under the bed as not to waste wardrobe space). The bathroom was bigger than many on board rival ships, with the shower had sliding glass doors. This was great as I’m fed up with shower curtains that stick to ones back like superman’s cape. Interestingly the cabin doors opened outwards, which saved space. There was also an interesting method of making cabins adjoin, which you would have to see in action, as I can’t easily explain.

See the whale bones?

See the whale bones?

The unique and very breathtaking ‘Silhouette’ main dining room is not easy to descried, but here goes: it looks like a scene from the ‘Snow Queen’, being predominantly white with silver adornments and crystal chandeliers. Large supporting columns looked like bones, so if you had a table in the middle, one felt like Johna being swallowed by a giant whale.

I ate in the ‘Silk Harvest’ an Asia style, speciality dining room. The staff appeared to ignore the menu and just brought our party everything on the menu! The variety was very impressive as was the quality: ranging from Chinese dishes to Japanese Sushi. The ‘Orange Chicken’ was particularly good. The ‘Ocean View’ Café was very spacious, with food ‘islands’, and had an open air lido section at the stern. You could immediately tell that it was an upmarket buffet by the square china plates provided. Many of the food offerings were quite exotic too.

Part of the Martini Bar area

State-of-the-art Equinox Theatre

The theatre was state-of-the-art technically, but it’s design reminded me of a traditional Victorian theatre. It had two horse-shoe shaped balconies, rather than the traditional sloping shaped auditoriums that are on most new ships. The theatre is of course bigger than most London Theatres, but still felt relatively intimate. ‘Equinox – The Show’ was one of the best I’ve ever seen afloat and featured nine superb high-wire acts and jugglers, as well as the more conventional singers and dancers. The costumes were elaborate and almost ‘organic’ like. If this was now the standard of all the Celebrity in-house shows, they have definitely raised their game considerably since 1998.

Real grass, real croquette players!

Real grass, real croquette players!

The ‘Lawn Club’, featuring a real grass lawn and Croquet players, was charming and unique. However I’m not sure how many guests would really get the chance to utilize it during a cruise. The ‘Hot Glass Show’ (Corning Glass Blowing) was novel too.

Two men and some hot glass

Two men and some hot glass

The ‘shops on the boulevard’ and the ‘Martini bar’ were stand-out public spaces.

Part of the Martini Bar area

Part of the Martini Bar area

The ‘Sky Observation Bar’ did what it said on the tin. It was perched high on the bow of the ship and was very spacious, with full length windows. It featured a bar (of course), a small stage and dance floor.The only negatives I have about the ship were: 1) there was only a partial promenade deck and not a full wrap around one. 2) The Quasar disco was far too small for the party crowd that were on board our preview cruise, but I suspect the normal Celebrity clientele are not always so insomniac. 3) Some areas of the ship had piped music which I find annoying 4) There were no hand-sanitizers provide (have they not heard of Norwalk and Swine Flu?) and no lifeboat drill, which would seem to both be very foolish oversights. Maybe Equinox is so big that she is unsinkable?

Like all big ships, if you have mobility problems there is a lot of ground to cover on board this vessel. There are only two main stair towers, but the ample lifts are big and fast. What Equinox lacks in ‘intimacy’ she makes up for in space and facilities. (I did notice a hot-tub with hydraulic chair for disabled passengers).

Blu: speciality dining room (rose for the lady?)

Blu: speciality dining room (rose for the lady?)

In short, Equinox is a very big, very classy, spacious ship. If you are looking for a more upmarket contemporary American experience and enjoy posh nosh – this is it.  I think Cunard may have met their match sailing from Southampton.

Malcolm Oliver

See my slide-show, below:

9 Responses to “Celebrity Equinox Review”

  1. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks for the feedback JClark.

  2. J Clark Says:

    Hi yes J Clark still has the same opinion following a further trip on Silhoutte in the med. Muster station was in Michaels Club for us this time and again stateroom numbers taken on entry and the staff ensured we could see the screens for the presentation . Also witnessed a wheelchair users being taken out and shown exactly what they should do in case of any emergency. Felt all took it serious and felt totally informed.

  3. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Interesting!

  4. wansbrough2011 Says:

    I wonder if J.clark still has the same opinion regarding muster drills?
    I am off on the Celebrity Silhouette next month and so will be able to compare the new procedures with our previous experience on Equinox.

  5. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks for the input J. Clark.

  6. J Clark Says:

    No need to worry re muster drills. I have been on both Eclipse and Equinox twice in the last year and on all trips muster took place in various lounges and speciality restuarants. Staff take cabin numbers as you enter and ensure all can see teh screens. Much more civilised, comfortable and safer than everyone trying to negoiate stairs and packed like sardines on open decks in searing heat wearing a life belt as I have done on other ships.

    The new Celebrity ships have great style, service and food and I would highly recommend if you do to enjoy a more sedate cruise than can now be had on RCCL.

  7. Stephen John Says:

    The muster drill was the same shambles on the Eclipse a few months ago.

  8. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Hi Tom, interesting and a little worrying!

  9. Tom Burke Says:

    The muster station drill on our recent Solstice cruise was the least useful I’ve ever done.

    We all gathered at some internal point (on the ‘Promenade’ deck, but inside). There were hundreds of people, all crushed together. Then they tried to read out cabin numbers and get us to indicate if the occupants were present, but it was hard to hear the crew member who was calling the numbers. There didn’t seem to be any re-check of the cabins that had not answered. In any case he hadn’t finished when a video started, showing the actual safety instructions. This was projected TV screens at various points around the room, but you needed to be able to see the screens; I overheard comments afterwards to the effect that many people hadn’t been able to see the screens and therefore hadn’t heard the instructions. It all seemed very disorganised and ineffective, particularly as we weren’t required to put on the lifejackets, nor even bring them with us. (Thinking about it, there wouldn’t have been room for everyone to congregate if they lifejackets on.) I assume that people were supposed to learn what to do with the lifejackets from the video, but as I said many/most people couldn’t see it. So pretty much a waste of time; even MSC did it better.

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