Pams Path to Travel
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May 4, 2018
10 Day Caribbean
PLEASE NOTE: THIS REVIEW IS INTENDED TO PROMOTE SALES AS A TRAVEL ADVISOR, I WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS IF YOU DECIDE THIS VACATION IS FOR YOU.
For our 5th Annual West Coast Line Dance cruise we sailed on the Celebrity Equinox for 10 days roundtrip from Miami. Our ports of call were: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Key West & Grand Cayman, all fabulous ports of call. This was probably one of my favorite itineraries and definitely one of my best cruises, most likely our best Celebrity Cruise as well! In large part, the excitement to meet and interact with Captain Kate. She is the first American Female Captain of a Cruise Ship and she is amazing. She's so approachable, she interacts with all the guests and she does give credit that she is more comfortable than many of her colleagues in large part because English is her first language. Many Captains are from other countries and English is sometimes their 3rd, 4th or 5th language, so they just do not feel comfortable stopping in the hallways chatting with guests. But aside from that, she's very witty, she's very invested with her crew and guests and this was the only cruise that I've ever been on where the Captain says "good-bye, thank you for sailing with us" personally to each and every guest as they debark the ship...some of those farewells even come with hugs.
But let me back up a little bit. I want to preface this review by saying that 2018 was a very busy year with travels and business and I fell a little bit behind on writing my reviews. So this review is being written on 9/8/19! But I have an excellent memory and lots of photos to jog my memory, thank Goodness that I stayed organized through Facebook and Shutterfly. (I am even farther behind with my photobooks, but that will be my next obssesive project!) So here goes, as best as I can remember!
We flew to Miami the day prior to the cruise as we always do, red-eyes are just not fun and we much prefer to have a leisurely travel day, get to bed early and have a good night sleep to adjust to the time zone. This time we stayed in downtown Miami at the JW Marriott Marquis. What a GORGEOUS hotel! It's like a little city, seriously. This hotel had a huge basketball court, pool with great skyscraper views, bowling lanes, pool tables, foosball tables, air hockey, ping pong tables, movie showing room, several restaurants and lounges. We were upgraded to a one bedroom suite (benefits of Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status) and WOW, the room was huge with floor to ceiling windows, you even had a city view from the bathtub and a waterway view out the living room window. It was a beautiful hotel! I had set up a limo to pick us up airport to hotel because it's nice to have someone meet you in baggage and help with the baggage after a long travel day, but the next morning we took an Uber to take us to the cruise terminal, which was only about 10 minutes away from where we were staying.
YOU CAN VIEW PHOTOS OF THIS AMAZING HOTEL HERE: JW MARRIOTT MARQUIS MIAMI PHOTOS
Our embarkation process was very easy and efficient, we were on the ship within 30 minutes of dropping off our bags with the porters. I love how Celebrity greets you with a glass of champagne as soon as you walk on the ship. It really sets the stage for "Modern Luxury", Celebrity is in a class of its own!
The ship is gorgeous! We have sailed on other Solstice Class ships with Celebrity and the Equinox is a Solstice Class ship, so very similar layout, features & having sailed on this class before, it's just like coming home. I regret that I failed to run around the ship and take photos of all the venues, sometimes it just doesn't work out- but if you view my albums for the Celebrity Solstice or Celebrity Reflection, you can get a pretty good idea for the feel of the ship!
Entertainment was fantastic, Ashlie Amber Harris is a singer that I have ended up following because she's amazing and I hope to sail on another ship where she is performing. She can perform Whitney Houston with major props! Also, on this ship we met up with the Carole's Kings, a trio who pays tribute to Carole King and all of her songs that she's sung and written! They also choose one lucky lady out of the audience to "sing" with them...I was the one to be chosen, they happened to notice me singing every single song. Honestly, they were amazing and it was so much fun.
Pam Singing with Carole's Kings
Dining- nothing to complain about, most nights we were in the Main Dining room with our group. We did dine in the specialty restaurants twice on this cruise to change it up a bit. We really had outstanding food and wonderful service in all of the dining venues. Even getting our coffee in the morning in the Cafe, they were super friendly and after 1-2 days, they saw us coming and started to fix our drinks. Service in the various bars around the ship was very good, excellent actually.
Our cabin service was fantastic...really the crew on this ship is happy, they love their job & everyone was really amazing. Even our group arrangements were flawless. We ran out of water the first day, so we called and they immediately brought another cooler of water. From there on out the rest of the cruise, they just brought two coolers to begin with. They always had our "private function" sign set up, really flawless.
Ports of call: this was an amazing itinerary. My only disappointment was Key West because it was pouring rain when we got there and through most of the morning. We attempted to meet up on the pier for our walking tour and we just were not prepared for this weather. As we waited for our group to assemble, rain coming down sideways, we ended up bailing and going back on the ship. Seems many others did as well and they canceled the tour and refunded every tour guest. Other than that, we loved Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. We'd been to Aruba before and because of following Captain Kate on Instagram, I knew the sure way to visit Flamingo Beach was to book a room at the Renaissance Resort because Flamingo Beach is located on their private island. They do sell day passes, but you have to get there early and there is no guarantee you'll get one. We booked a room at the hotel for the day, which was nice because I also got to inspect a hotel while I was there!
I was intrigued by the Flamingoes and was very happy that we planned to spend the day on the Island. After we took the photos with the beauties, we then had lunch at the restaurant overlooking the crystal clear waters. It was a great afternoon. We went shopping as we walked back to the ship, which was very close. Aruba is "one happy island" and believe me, it's true!! Some of the nicest people, always smiling!
Bonaire- we didn't have anything planned. But we did walk off the ship along the frontage road where you have some great views of the ship, we bought the collectible magnet and ornament and then sat at a local establishment for a snack and drink while looking out at the beautiful water. This island felt a little more low key and quiet. Did not seem to get as many tourists as do Aruba and Curacao!
Curacao..another favorite island. This island was CUTE! We took a tour to some botanical gardens that were really pretty and we learned a lot about the local flora and our tour ended in town where we had the choice to go back to the ship or walk around. Curacao looks like something out of the Netherlands, colorful buildings, felt very European and cobblestoned streets..we loved walking around this cute island. We found a spot to have some lunch and enjoyed the vibe. We also did a little bit of shopping before heading back to the ship!
Grand Cayman Island, we've been there before and given all the early mornings we had with dance lessons and other excursions, we decided to make this day our sleep in, enjoy the ship poolside day and it was perfect!
Of course, this was our Line Dancing Cruise and we had great dance lessons with a great group of dancers. Our "at sea" days included 3 hours of dancing in the morning and then we had the afternoons free to enjoy the sunshine, ship board activities, take a nap or whatever you wanted to do! We also celebrated Cinco de Mayo on board!! I brought photo booth props to use at our dance lesson for some added FUN!
When we returned to Miami, we did a ship offered excursion that took us around Miami and to Graffiti Alley with a lunch at a Cuban restaurant in Little Cuba. We walked along the beach and saw Versace's house..it was a pretty decent tour and a great way to kill a few hours since we had a 6pm return flight home!
To see more photos from the cruise- click here: CELEBRITY EQUINOX PHOTOS