On Monday, I sailed from the World’s largest cruise ship port, Miami, aboard a 121,878 ton Cruise Ship. Large? Hardly. It is dwarfed by 40 other ships as the Cruise World expands, regularly building ships over twice this size. Launched just 8 years ago, it is 1041 feet long and 121 feet wide making it 16 feet too wide to traverse the Panama Canal. It has 1426 staterooms and, at maximum capacity, it can carry 3148 passengers. Prior to Monday, the largest ship I’d ever sailed was QEII which was considered a behemoth in its day. It was a measly 963 feet long, 70,327 tons and could accommodate 1892 passengers. Small potatoes indeed.
While in the good old days, two or even three classes of service were de rigeur, First Class, Cabin Class and something called “Tourist” class, Celebrity Equinox is a model of democracy. It’s ostensibly all one class. But the truth is there are all kinds of distinctions. Suite Passengers have their own dining room and a members-only lounge with all day coffee, cocktails and concierge services. One step down, where I am staying, comes Aqua Class, distinguished by its complete access to the on-board Canyon Ranch Spa. An area called the Persian Garden, a Sauna and Steam and Relaxation Room costs ordinary mortals $169. But in Aqua Class it’s built into the fare on this 10-day voyage to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) in the Southern Caribbean. Next level down comes Concierge Class and finally All Others. Because I am covering this trip for The Daily Meal, I chose this itinerary specifically for its large number of sea days. Four full days will be spent staring at nothing but the blue Caribbean. The ship will visit five ports on this trip. But the destination that matters most to me is the the ship itself. So nothing appeals to me more than days at sea.
Given the extraordinary number of restaurants (10) and bars (15), it will take every one of those days to report on the incredible variety of food on board. There’s a Tuscan Grille, a contemporary French restaurant called Murano, Silk Harvest for Asian food and another that serves Japanese Sushi. There’s Luminae, the Suite Class restaurant and Blu, the Aqua Class restaurant. There’s a Gelateria filled with pastries and gelatos and to assuage the guilt, an Aqua Spa Café with a “Healthy Alternative” menu. There’s Mast Grill, an outdoor lunch spot that straddles the two pool areas, one covered and air conditioned, the other wide open. And there’s the Main Restaurant, “Silhouette”, which is one of the few places on board that has two fixed dining room times as in days of old. Far more popular today is “Celebrity Select Dining” which allows passengers to dine there whenever they want between 5:30 and 9:15 at night. And finally, there’s an immense Oceanview Café which operates 24 hours a day and which has an unbelievably broad selection of “Global” cuisine. Or if you’d prefer you can order from Room Service 24 hours a day. All of which is to say you’ll never go hungry on Equinox because food is never more than a few steps away.
The stateroom I am in is so complete, it’s sometimes hard to drag myself out of it. It’s a snug 194 square feet but somehow manages to include a bath with spa shower, a queen-sized bed, a sofa and cocktail table, a mini fridge stocked with drinks both soft and hard, a desk, TV with amazingly good reception even in the middle of the sea, and pleasant lighting. And then there’s the 54 square foot balcony with its table and two chairs with footstools. Because of the position of this particular cabin, I can hear the ship sluice through the waves sending that lovely crashing through the waves sound up to the 11th deck. Besides the shower, the Aqua Class staterooms have spa features that include an aromatherapy diffuser and a daily delivery of tea and hors d’oeuvres in case you feel peckish in late afternoon. The first day the ‘hors d’oeuvres’ consisted of Chocolate dipped Strawberries which may have broken the Spa theme a little but the guilt can be assuaged in the gym one deck away.
Next post, I’ll start to cover the food which will does not disappoint. In fact, it’s amazingly good.