We were on the Celebrity Equinox Cruise out of Rome to ports Santorini, Istanbul, Ephesus, Athens, Mykonos and Naples. The ship is beautiful and offered great live shows nightly with a very good variety. (comedians, majicians, Cirque Soleil type acrobats soaring from the ceiliing, violinists, singers and the show cast was absolutely amazing! No complaints on shows.
The Main Dining Room entrees were superb and enjoyed very much. The food is great and we feel no reason to eat elsewhere onboard. The staff in all areas was very frienly and accommodating.
The rooms are great with lots of storage space cupboards above the bed. Lots of hangers and can store luggage under the bed. There was even a keyboard to order items or photos on board with the tv.
Photography: Very expensive item. Overpriced for digital.
WIFI: Very expensive. Most people do not take the package. In this age, we don’t understand the high price structure. Without any phone/internet communications from home, this gives guests a “trapped feeling”. Not good. No WIFI is that expensive to offer its guests if MacDonald’s and cafes can offer it – why not Celebrity? A Shame. We feel they are making a big mistake here…esp in Europe/Asia.
Weather: November trip with some luck – WARM most of the time. Lucky! (In fact, Santorini was closed the next day due to high winds, so we were very fortunate to be able to see it comfortably with sun).
Ports: This was a major port-intensive cruise. Only a couple of sea days, so if this is not your thing, decide if you want to do it. The ports were historical and absolutely awesome.
Guests: Mostly retired/elderly and not many children on board this trip.
Rome: We spent 3 days prior to cruise in Rome. We did Vatican Museum + Sistine Chapel (prepaid tickets internet), and Borghese Gallery (prepaid tickets internet) and walked most all else in Rome. Getting tickets ahead saved us long que lines! (by a time appointment). We stayed at Boccaccio Hotel near Trevi for 89 Eu in Hotel Petris building. Both are great locations-location! In most cases with hotels, tours, and transfers, we paid by PayPal before we left home. EZ.
Santorini: Awesome scenery esp at Oia. Don’t miss this town – best of all. Photographers dream! Nice shops/cafe’s. The only drawback here is the time ship is in port. 2:00 pm – 10pm is way too short turnaround. We would prefer longer here. Can see other things. We had
no time in Fira at all. The cable car is long line to get back to ship, so more time here would be much better choice. and people…Don’t Ride the Donkey’s! (poor things…) A Dung Mess to walk the zig zag of a climb/hill. (steep).
Istanbul: Awesome ! Very historical. We took the ship excursion on Bospherous Cruise boat, but recommend you do TurYol cruise on your own 90 min. cruise ($92 cheaper). Same boat, same schedule. Doing Mosques, Palace, Cistern on your own walking tour is EZ, so no need for private tour. Everything is close in proximity. Grand Bazaar can be a bit boring (same stuff) so other shoppping may be more interesting. Spice Market good but also has other shopping. Cistern is a “don’t miss” site. Accept Euros here but in some cases (tram, taxi) they may want TLira or you need coins to get tram tokens. Cash is always preferred to credit card transactions all over most ports.
Ephesus: MAJOR ATTRACTION: This is not to be missed and a private tour is highly recommended here. We used Sea Spirit No Frills/No Shopping Tours. Very good @ $90pp USD for full day tour. Why come here to shop carpets when there is so much history?! This is a ruins that is being excavated with much more to find, (Ancient City ( but to see a 3 store Celsus Library building high up, is amazing to the eye..and great photograph memory! The Slope Terrace Houses a must see, and this whole tour needs guide explanation. The 25,000 seat Stadium where St. Paul preached is worth the climb to see it. Virgin Mary House of interest to some, not all. Sacred Shrine. Words cannot express how many people said they were absolutely “blown away” by Ephesus ruins. Trip of a lifetime…
Athens: …somewhat of a dissapointment as Acropolis still has scaffolding construction all around it for the past 60 years, which ruins pictures. Not much to see here. Busy town. We took the Equinox Panaramic tour and were dissapointed (do not recommend) since it was just a ride around town with a couple stops. They did not wait for Changing of the Guard for us to see. (mistake). They added a shopping trip to jewelry store – not on schedule. They put in a boring stop at the end where no restaurant staff even tried to wait on anyone. Just sitting around – waste of time – DULL! At first stop, the guide lady left people on bus and walked fast and she nearly lost her group, majority of elderly. Bad guide.
Mykonos: What a surprise! This is like Santorini, but not as hilly. Windmills are a real treat. People fantastic in this town and NO PUSH to sell. Nice comfortable shops to look at without the pressure. Very artsy town – Gorgeous and relaxing, even in November. This is normally a beach community in summer, but we enjoyed the people and the restaurants.
Naples: We did the Amalfi Tour with Guemar Travel (without Pompeii) and it was great to go over the mountain on narrow roads, see views, Ravello, Positano and Sorrento for lunch and drive along the Amalfi coast. Lunch in a quaint old restaurant above the town had an interesting owner who really had good humor with us. Towns are unique as well as churches. It is the home of the “lemon groves” on terraced hills and homes perched on hilly terrain. Lemoncello is a liquor drink they make there (after dinner drink)… There are also boats to Sorrento and Capri in season. We did not do Pompeii due to mobility. Mount Vesuvius is in full view on this trip no matter where you are near Sorrento and enroute to Naples port.
Money: We used cash EU most of the time. Credit card has high charges for ATM use. Debit cards are best. Still the US made cards with magnetic strip are not always accepted, but Smartcard Chip cards are used there. Have a backup card(s). Beware of high feels for foreign exchange. We suggest TravelEx chip card, like a debit card, where you put your funds on card, get funds not used returned back to you…
Travel Insurance: Be sure to have it. You just never know. Again TravelEx has trip insurance plans for about $100 per person which covers medical as well as evac/death benefits. Trip delays/baggage loss also included.
This is a great trip for those wanting to explore and learn more about our biblical history, when Mary, John and Paul came here to teach and develop churches.
Celebrity: Loved the ship, esp the lawns, glass blowing demo’s. But couple issues. We do not like that they load refrigerator in room for you to BUY drinks. All drinks are very expensive, even bottled water. We noticed many did not order wine at the table at $36.+ a bottle. There was a major push for us to purchase Specialty Dining on board from waiters, staff in hallways, phoning our room, sending us invitations, etc. and we did not appreciate the SALES PITCH. Very tacky! They must be losing money on all these restaurants. (?) Shore excursions are expensive. Try other means, get your own. They are all the same…
The floor in the Oceanview Grill was very “sticky” in the line from day to day. They did not clean the floors apparently…. that needs upkeep.