This is a review of the Celebrity Equinox sailing of the Eastern Caribbean from Miami on August 4, 2018 with stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Sint Maarten. Due to a medical emergency, the stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico was canceled and replaced by a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.
Since I have already written a detailed review of the Celebrity Silhouette, I won't go into much detail as this cruise led up to my expectations as the previous one. Instead, I will just review aspects that really stood out.
This is the first time I’ve spent more for a balcony stateroom with added amenities, of which the following made it worth it:
Dedicated line for check-in.
Embarkation Lunch. Instead of having to deal with the crowds in the Oceanview Cafe with luggage, you can drop your luggage off at the entrance to the dining room and enjoy a leisurely and delicious lunch. By the time we were finished, our cabin was ready.
Even though we had drink packages, it was nice to be greeted with a bottle of sparkling wine in the cabin.
Room service for breakfast included hot egg and other items at no extra charge.
Prime cabin location with extra huge balcony. C2 Stateroom 1231 was on the angle so there was plenty of room to spread out with the additional footstools.
Afternoon treats in the cabin.
Qsine was missing from this ship and in its place was Silk Harvest. Trying this specialty restaurant for the first time was a letdown. I expected a high-end take on Asian food, but it was no better than a mediocre Chinese restaurant. The pork dumplings were huge, with too much dough and not enough filling, which plopped out when you cut into it. The chicken in one of the mains was tough and dry. I’m glad that Qsine is being put back on all the ships as part of Celebrity’s Revolution.
Tuscan Grill was amazing this time with a huge selection of varied items for appetizers, sides, and mains. Murano, unfortunately, was a disappointment. Maybe it was the loud Spanish family with tons of little kids running around and the father acting like King Juan Carlos and flashing the light on his cellphone everywhere or the other couple both on the cell phones videoing and texting, probably for their own travel blog. The previous time was spent in the more private side room, so that probably made a big difference.
Sushi on 5 for lunch was excellent as before. I recommend asking for the all-you-can-eat option for a set price. It is totally worth it, especially if you order mostly sashimi and real freshly-grated wasabi.
Ports of Call
I’m glad that San Juan was cancelled as I have been there many times and it has always disappointed. Our first unscheduled stop at Nassau, Bahamas, which was supposed to have been the first sea day, was a welcome opportunity to shop at my favorite store here, My Ocean. On a previous cruise, I discovered their store on Bay Street in the Prince George Shopping Plaza but they have a small kiosk in the open air market just outside of Festival Place, so you don’t even have to exit the gate that flows into town.
The intention was to go to Magen’s Bay for the first time, but instead we opted for the tram that goes up to Paradise Point. Being the first ship to dock and this being a relatively new attraction (at least for me, as I never heard about it before), there was just one other couple besides us. So, we sipped our strawberry daiquiris from the bar while enjoying the view of Charlotte Amalie below and the incoming Carnival and Princess ships.
We docked in Philipsburg and instead of cabbing it over to the French side, especially since that part of the island was hit the hardest by last year’s hurricane, I wanted to experience Philipsburg for the first time. It was very easy and cheap, despite a long line for tickets (but it moves fast), for the water taxi from the cruise terminal to one of several stops at the beach and boardwalk. I recommend the third stop, Walter Plantz Wharf, but our boat only continued to the second stop, Little Pier. This was fine for a short walk to where we really wanted to go. In front of the Sea Palace Resort, look for the blue and white striped umbrellas, as this is where you will find Bevan, a.k.a. the Dark Angel and his area for an umbrella, 2 chairs, very strong rum drinks, and a fabulous lunch brought to your chair from a nearby food vendor, all for a reasonable price.
This was probably one of the best beaches I have ever been to: powdery white sand, clean and clear water, no rocks or seaweed, just pretty little shells. And the people were extremely friendly and proud. They even sold ice cold beers and had lively music on the ferry even though it was such a short journey.
At the end of a perfect beach day, you can catch the festive water taxi from the adjacent pier.
Resident to only the Celebrity Equinox, the Hot Glass Class was fun learning and participating in blowing your own work of art with the help from super-friendly instructors provided by Hollywood Hot Glass.