Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
You may think it odd that I would be telling you about the virtues and short falls of a cruise line, in an atmosphere of distrust and downright boycott of any cruise at this time of health issues. And I agree. However in recent memory Celebrity Cruises has not had any mass ship borne infection with its passengers as had other lines in the news.. Maybe due to luck, maybe due to good hygiene, as on my January cruise there was hand sanitizer at every turn of the corner and at every group gathering.
Lets face it: travel comes with risks. In most cases the risk is out weighted by the rewards of comforting destinations, emotional and intellectual satisfaction, and identifying with world wide humanity. The risk was there when I took my first international trip to Egypt and Greece in the early 1980s; as we traveled between the assassination of middle east leaders. Now the Cruise lines are suspended and booking now for the future of 6 to 9 months ahead is not available or even thinkable. We were so glad we had our Egypt adventure, as I’m sure you have had looking back on your completed trips.
The Celebrity Equinox has many extras that secured my vote and my deposit for a cruise in January, booked in September. In retrospect there were so many more pluses than minus to the cruise. It was a joy to board the ship. There was lots of walking from curbside to security, check in and off to the cabin which was available on time, not always available on other cruise lines. And in short time, the luggage arrived, there was ice, the pre-ordered flowers were delivered as was the shower bench and we were introduced to our cabin steward, Revlon, who throughout the cruise was quite efficient.
A short coming was the mini non insulated ice bucket. While there are ample drink stations on many floors, none on mine, as it’s nice to take a soft drink from the nicely stocked mini fridge ($3/soft drink) for a quick pick me up or beverage enjoying the view from your own veranda. Yes a small inconvenience, but hey, it’s your cruise and should be without bumps that could be corrected.
All of my prepaid tours, events and dining extras were executed without exception, and it was easier than I thought, to add more once boarded. I have been on cruises where if you did not book your most wanted extras, there were sold out upon boarding, not so with Celebrity.
The tours offered on line before the cruise were minimal, but plentiful in the brochure on board. We had a most delightful three stop food and beverage tasting in St. Thomas. There was a trek over uneven streets to arrive at the 3 locales, but once there each were atmospherically and deliciously different. One was a tasting of local foods in an historic family owned and operated restaurant. The second was beverage making in a quaint bar, and the third a make shift banana fosters show and tasting. Each locale was near, but off the beaten track, and if you didn’t know it was there, you could miss it, which made the tour mysterious and inviting. It was a pleasant tour, and only disappointing in that on that tour, was that we were not driven to the photo sight so often seen in brochure that looked down upon the white sand St. Thomas crescent beach.
I had heard from other cruise veterans that Santa Domingo was a beautiful tropical place, so I was looking forward to my tour. There were several choices but most sounded too strenuous for this cane carrying senior, so I picked one that was on a small bus to three spots of interest. I just knew one would be a local beach from a resort or such, and I could just take in the lux surroundings with a tropical view with beverage in hand. As the saying goes,”Expectations are the road to disappointment.”
I was not happy with the non destination our small bus of cruisers were taken. One was a long drive to a large parking lot where off in the distance a sunken dilapidated wooden pier could be seen. The history, if there was some, was lost on me. Next was a park with a small bandstand where costumed dancers were waiting for the recorded music to start. Most got off the bus to see this local amateur folkloric dance-dozen swooshed their skirts and stomped there feet. Next was a primitive open air eating place, where the driver had his dinner of rice and such. The rest of us, could buy bottle coca cola and such and wondered what was next on this tour. It was a stop at a gentrified and not yet completed colorfully painted strip mail of sorts, where over priced souvenirs could be purchased before returning to the ship. Needless to say this was no beautiful, tropical enchanting tour. I’m sure other tours which included hikes and snorkeling were well received. I gave this one a 1 on a scale of 10 as high, on the subsequent emailed evaluation.
The Equinox has many venues for entertainment. The top deck boasts a real live green grass lawn where bowling can be enjoyed or sitting in chairs and watch an outdoor movie after sunset. I preferred the more structured performance by the exceptional talent displayed at three different jute box musical in the main theater. There really were no bad seats and if you got there early you can order soft drinks and the like. The production shows usually had well known songs sung live with an array of costumes and a thin story line. I was not always thrilled with the content but the execution ans energy of the performances were without equal.
Besides memories of near gourmet meals in the premium based specialty restaurants, the Hot Art Glass blowing experience was fun and offered a real home grown – your breath – take away souvenir. I had done this on a limited basis before, but there is nothing like putting your lips on the end of blow pipe where on the other end was a glob of glass at 2,000 degrees. Scheduling this event can be tricky as the on line booking App does not register your exact reservation time, and you must sign up for a time in person. This was one of their prepaid options I made at home before the cruise.
You may think I was hard on my Equinox evaluations, but as stated before, I got no compensation from the cruise line and my honest, picky evaluation, might prepare you in your booking. I heartily endorse Celebrity Equinox, as the highest compliment, is that I look forward to booking again.
Celebrity offers at; (www.celebritycruises.com) and 1-888-751-7804)