If there really is a difference between premium class cruising and luxury cruising, it would be hard to find it in on Celebrity Cruises’ second new Solstice-class ship, the Equinox.
Everything about this 122,000-ton, 2,850-passenger ship screams first class—from the high-powered service ethos prominent among the friendly, genuinely helpful crew, to the spacious, tastefully decorated staterooms, the elegant and numerous dining options and the gorgeous, amenity-filled AquaSpa and fitness center, made all the more pampering and relaxing with its Persian Garden—a to-die-for steam room that’s sheer nirvana.
Like its literally twin sister ship Solstice, which debuted last November, one of its more unique features are the 130 AquaClass staterooms, a wonderful cruise marriage for spa aficionados who want a spa focus as they sail the high seas. AquaClass verandah staterooms, introduced as a Solstice-class exclusive feature last year and located close to the ships’ 2-story AquaSpa by Elemis, offer guests unlimited access to the aforementioned AquaSpa’s Persian Garden aromatherapy steam room, featuring heated ceramic loungers, and the Relaxation Room serving up incredible views from comfortable loungers and a peaceful ambiance. AquaClass guests also enjoy unlimited, complimentary access to the ship’s exclusive, “clean-cuisine” and Mediterranean-influenced specialty restaurant, Blu. In-room amenities include a pillow menu featuring Swedish Isotonic, body and hypo-allergenic pillows; carafes of unsweetened iced tea; soothing, lavender oil in a reed diffuser; and a 5-jet shower that doesn’t require a graduate degree in mechanical engineering to turn on.
Actually, 85 percent of the ship’s staterooms have verandahs and passengers can thank Celebrity’s breakthrough idea of enlisting five women from different walks of life, including a travel agent, to consult on stateroom design and utilization of space. The result is colorful, tasteful decor with maximum and efficient use of space that offers a surprising amount of elbow room and no need for two people to climb all over one another while trying to get dressed.
Few people ever go hungry or thirsty on a cruise ship, but too often, dining fare can be somewhat disappointing and a bit stuffy. Not on Equinox, with its 10 very unique dining options, 14 bars and two nightclubs. The main dining room is the elegant, 2-level Silhouette Dining Room boasting an eye-popping 2-story glass wine tower. That’s no accident because Celebrity offers passengers a special wine program with tastings and lectures throughout the cruise, as well as a unique venue called Cellar Masters that Celebrity says was inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley. Passengers have the opportunity to discover new wines, receive recommendations and enrich their overall wine knowledge.
Probably the most popular dining venue, however, is the casual Oceanview Cafe on deck 14 with an enormous array of food stations cleverly situated to minimize—make that eliminate—the long lines in the normal, single, buffet-style food station. This is a series of single stations arranged throughout a huge serving area with separate desert stations, salad stations, pastas and pizza, vegetable, meats and seafood. It’s probably where most people will do their breakfast and lunch dining and offers full table service by an army of waiters.
There’s a variety of other dining options that includes the Tuscan Grill—a kind of Italian style steak house with an excellent menu. Oriental food fans won’t be disappointed with the Silk Harvest restaurant that offers a variety of Asian dishes from Thailand, China and Japan. Then there’s Murano, which debuted on the Century-class ships and whose popularity brought it over to the Solstice-class ships, as well. All of the specialty restaurants come with a moderate surcharge and reservations are recommended, especially for Murano.
For more casual fare, passengers can go to deck 5 to the Bistro On Five where they specialize in a variety of crepe dishes, but that’s going to set your clients back $5 pp. For another $3, they can go next door to the Cafe al Bacio and Gelateria, a sort of high-class coffeehouse, or tell them to save their money and head back to the Oceanview Cafe and dive into the desert and ice cream station there.
With 10 bars scattered throughout the ship, it’s also pretty hard to go thirsty aboard the Equinox. There are a couple of bars on deck—one behind the Oceanview Cafe on the aft deck and still another anchoring the sundeck, which, by the way, was enlarged on theEquinox to accommodate 100 more deck chairs. Certainly one of the most popular bar venues on the ship is the Martini Bar and its neighboring Vodka Bar—if not for the potent drinks themselves, certainly for the entertainment factor as the cheerful bartenders juggle their bottles and glasses and tell bad jokes while they prepare drinks.