Aboard the Celebrity Equinox...

Fabulous homes along the canal while our shop maneuvered from of the pier in Fort Lauderdale Florida
To say the Celebrity Equinox is larger than the Celebrity Century is an understatement.  With a capacity for over 2800 passengers, as compared to the 2000 on the Century this seems as if it's twice the size.  Everything is huge! 
Banks of elevators line the halls, support staff at every corner, restaurants, theatres, two outdoor and one indoor pools with amenities for every age group abound.  Its daunting!
Our Concierge Class cabin is more exciting than we imagined.  After reading a few reviews at www.cruisecritic.com we anticipated that the upgrade was barely worth the extra fare.  Ha!  We're in heaven!

Speaking of heaven, last night, during our elegant dinner in the Silhouette Dining Room, the main formal dining area, Tom left me in stitches.

Looking at me with a twinkle in his eye he said, "You know what?"

"What?"  I inquired, anxious to hear what he had to say.
"Today is the one month anniversary of Mayan calendar's end of the world," he said with a huge grin on his face.
"Oh, that's true," I agreed, anticipating his next comment.
"And I was right," he said. "The world did end and we've died... and gone to heaven."
We both laughed aloud.  He was right.  This is heaven.  And no, we don't expect this glorious feeling to last forever but while it does we'll relish in every moment.  When it changes and it will, as it does when one first falls in love later settling into a familiar and comfortable feeling, we'll accept and welcome the familiarity of our ever changing lifestyle along with the consistency of our relationship.
Our cabin is larger this time at 196 square feet as opposed to 186 on the Century, a seemingly small difference that provides us with a full sized sofa so we don't have to lie in bed when lounging.
Packing and unpacking smarter this time, it took us only an hour and a half to unpack yesterday as opposed to several hours when we boarded the Century only nineteen days ago.  I knew we'd get better at this!  Again, Tom handled it all so well.
After we arrived onboard we wandered each of the multiple decks of this huge ship checking out all the activities, the 10 restaurants, the pools and Jacuzzis, the library, the Internet center and the 13 bars and lounges. 

Last point in Fort Lauderdale as our ship sailed out to sea yesterday afternoon.
Returning to our cabin a few hours later, we were delighted to find a bottle of chilled sparkling wine, a platter of elegant canapĂ©s, fresh flowers, discount coupons, personalized stationery and our awaiting Cabin Steward, Juan, anxious to welcome us explaining options available to us. 
If we so choose, we may order room service, snacks, desserts or drinks 24 hours a day at no extra charge.  Tips, although already included in our fare, are expected by waiters, cabin attendants, bartenders and other on the date of departure (which in this case will be next Tuesday, the 29th when we disembark early to stay in Belize), as we've learned from other seasoned cruise passengers.  Based on the quality of service we experienced thus far, we have no issue with this.  We've also included additional tips in our budget.

On board only 24 hours, we've already spent $254.64.  This includes cocktails and tips last night, $199.95 for our minimal Internet package and $29 for a nifty pair of Steve Madden sunglasses for me (been wearing the same $10 pair of Target sunglasses for the past nine years).  We had received a $100 on board credit so at the moment, our bill is $154.64.
(BTW, we just sailed by the north western tip of Cuba.  Cigar anyone?)

Only additional charges that we anticipate going forward will be beverages and additional tips.  We don't fall prey to all the "extras" aboard ship.  The 17 appealing high end shops are fun to investigate but offer no temptation for us. There are enough included activities and of course, casual and fine dining. 
Today for fun, we perused the menus of the "extra cost" restaurants, of which there are five.  None of them appealed to us to justify the extra expense.  Most of the foods wouldn't work for my limited way of eating or were very similar to the offerings in the main dining room, the Silhouette, an Old Hollywood style formal dining room as I mentioned above.
After traveling on the Celebrity Century for 15 days, we were upgraded to the Captain's Club with three credits for "Classic" status.  The ideal is "Elite" requiring ten credits, a long way away based on the fact that our remaining six cruises are on other cruise lines.
Arriving in our cabin, we expected documentation stipulating our Captain's Club status.  Alas, there was none although we'd received an email from Celebrity with our membership numbers only two days ago. 

Determined to reap the benefits of the multiple cruising status, we marched off to Guest Services last night before dinner, diplomacy in hand, requesting our new Sea Pass cards (both a room key and on board charge card linked to our credit card) which should have been gold with a Captain's Club designation.  We were politely informed that the staff in that department wasn't available until this morning.

Unruffled, we sauntered off to dinner leaving the task for the morning, along with the required "lesson" in the Internet center as to how to log on and off their somewhat complicated system to ensure we weren't charged for minutes we weren't using.  (This was different than on the Celebrity Century for some goofy reason).
After breakfast this morning we headed to complete our "tasks,"  which definitely was not as good as on the Celebrity Century...coffee was too strong, the smoked salmon too vinegary, too long a line for real poached eggs, the bacon was too fatty, blah, blah, blah. (No whining allowed.  We ate our breakfast, chatting with a delightful couple from England on their 14th cruise).

Off to the Captain's Club office with a 20 minute wait in chairs, a gracious young woman surprised to see we had "documentation" on my computer stipulating that we are in fact Captain's Club members, our new Sea Pass cards were issued, we were handed a ton of printed materials along with a coupon for 10% off for Internet services we could drop off for credit.
Finally, we could get online to check email, Facebook and post on our blog and look forward to a private party for Captain's Club members upcoming on Thursday. 
Tonight is formal night.  We goofed, failing to make a reservation for dinner in the main dining room, leaving our only option for 8:30 PM.  If we want to see the "show" in the Equinox Theatre, we'd have to attend the production at 10:45 PM tonight, a little late for me, although not Tom. Perhaps,  I'll drink something with caffeine and try to stay awake, early bird that I am awaking at 5:30 am this morning as usual.  
Maybe it's time for me to rearrange my hours to coincide with Tom's, who prefers to go to sleep late and wake up later.  Hummm...us retired folks...eat early, bed early, up early.  I need to get a grip! I use the excuse that I'm five years older than Tom. 
Lying in the warm sun on our patio at noon, we soaked up some rays as the ship began the journey past Cuba.  A class, again offered by the Smithsonian Institute, entitled  Beyond the Podium with James Karr, a retired college professor from Washington, on "Volcanoes, Connect Continents and Spawn Magical Webs of Life."  Very interesting!  More classes to follow.  We love these!
Now back in the cabin, I write this at 4:30 PM.  
Many have questioned the need for our excess baggage.  As we move from spot to spot, we've realized the benefit of the items we have brought along.  As we continue, we'll either leave behind or ship some items back to the US which we don't use or need.  It's a learning process that we'll fine tune as we go along.. 
Today, our "stuff" served us well.  Tonight, being formal night, we had carefully packed our dressy clothes in the few bags we needed to open for this cruise, one for each of us plus toiletries.  Scrounging around in another suitcase, we pulled out our new unopened clothing steamer.  Our clothes for tonight were wrinkled messes.

Yes, we purchased low wrinkle fabrics as much as possible.  But Tom's Hugo Boss suit and recently washed wrinkled proof dress shirt were a mess.  My dressy dress was also riddled with wrinkles.  Reading the directions, it looked easy enough.  Minutes later, the trusty little steamer was spewing hot steam and I couldn't wait, laundress that I am, to get my hands on it!
In a matter of minutes, not only were our clothes for tonight wrinkle free but I also "unwrinkled" outfits for both of us for tomorrow night's less dressy evening. In totaling the cost of having the same items I done by the ship's laundry service, we saved $34.65.  It took me less than 20 minutes.  It more than paid for my Steve Madden sunglasses.  Love the steamer!
Our appetizers will arrive in a few minutes.  We'll make a drink (somehow we managed to get Tom's bottle of Courvoisier aboard without question),  I'll have an icy mug of Crystal Lite iced tea and we'll meander out to the balcony, plop down in the comfy chairs and begin yet another night in heaven.
Nice.

2 comments:

Bob said...

Hi Tom,



Vikki & I have been following you guys via your most excellent blog. Thank you Jessica! I am fascinated by the Caribbean & pirate history. I've begun a story about that era & have lots of research material. When Jessica mentioned that you were passing Cuba I remembered something I had found in James Michener's "Caribbean".



I'm not sure which route you are on but if you enter the Caribbean from the Atlantic, as you enter the Westward Passage there is some interesting history about the area that is worth passing on at the breakfast table or the bar depending on when it happens and where you are on the boat.



As you round the tip of Cuba and enter the passage look to the East. On the other side of it lies Haiti. Toward the Northeast shore is Santiago and Hispaniola, which Columbus settled and ruled in 1494, and just off the coast lays the island of Tortuga. During the late 1600’s this area was inhabited by French pirates who called themselves bouconeers. They lived on two things, hunting down small Spanish ships and hunting wild pigs in the forests on Hispaniola. They brought the meat back home, cut it in strips, rubbed it in salt and spices and roasted it carefully over a low fire for maybe 4 days. They called it “boucon”. These “bouconeers” sold this “boucon” at high profit to the Dutch and English privateers working those waters against the Spaniards.



The process was called “barbicoa”, an Arawak (Amerindians encountered by the Spanish in the Caribbean during that time) word which means “the stick with 4 legs & many sticks on top to place the meat”.



We call this product “bacon” and we call the French pirates “buccaneers” today. Barbicoa has evolved into the word “barbeque”.



You guys are likely well past there now but I know you love history & I didn't know if you knew about this stuff.



Bob Pearson

Jessica said...

Bob & Vikki, we didn't know these great morsels of wisdom you have so diligently researched and thoughtfully shared.

Thanks for sharing this with us and our readers and for you continued reading of our journey.
Be well,
Jess & Tom

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