A Western Caribbean Cruise on the Celebrity Equinox Cruise Ship!
Have you taken a cruise before? We love cruising! There are so many advantages to traveling via cruise ship. You could likely save money by finding an inexpensive flight and hotel, but cruising will provide “great bang for your buck!” We’ve been on a variety of cruise ships over the years, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and now, Celebrity. Historically, we have picked the cruise for the itinerary, dates, and price, not the cruise line.
Travel Dates: November 2019
Our Western Caribbean Itinerary:
- Day 1 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Technically this is “boarding day.” We had time to explore the ship, enjoy food in the buffet cafeteria, work out, attend the mandatory life boat drill, have dinner, and start experiencing the entertainment with an evening show and more!
- Day 2 – Key West, FL
- Key West is a walkable town. From the cruise port, you’re just a few blocks away from the main tourist area, Front Street and Duval Street. The furthest site is likely the Southernmost Point, just over a mile away. There’s usually a line there to take a picture from the front of the Southernmost Point, but if you don’t mind a side angle picture, I recommend standing off to the side and catching a picture in between the other tourists. (Of course, be polite and don’t stand next to it and get in the way of their picture, they stood in line, but you can stand about 10 feet away and still get a nice picture.) You may also enjoy The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West Lighthouse, Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, or just having a slice of Key Lime Pie!
- Day 3 – At Sea
- Day 4 – Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico
- Costa Maya has a beautiful beach just over 2 miles away from the cruise port. The cruise port has been built up into a tourist attraction with a pool and lots of shops. We have visited twice, and both times we took a shuttle to the Malecón area, a stretch of beach with shops and beach vendors, but not as touristy as the cruise port. In 2019, the shuttle was $4 USD per person there, and we had to take a taxi back for $3 USD per person. (The taxi drivers are making decent money for such a short ride. You could probably negotiate it to less if you have a group of people in a minivan.) At the beach, you can don’t need to pay for the beach chairs, but many restaurants will approach you to sit at their restaurant. You can negotiate the price of drinks. There are also items for sale and plenty of beach massage tables. I enjoyed a $10 massage for 30 minutes. (I didn’t even need to negotiate that, I just asked each vendor how much they charged and this person was the least expensive. Most ranged between $15-30 per hour.) You could also take a cruise excursion to the Mayan ruins. We tried to do this when we visited in 2010, but it didn’t work out.
- Day 5 – Cozumel, Mexico
- The cruise port is a bit far from the downtown, but still walkable at about 3 miles. The nicer beaches are on the other side of the island, and the taxi drivers apparently are supposed to wait for you so they charge $120 USD per day for four people. Since we live on the beach, literally, this was not worth it to us. We decided to start walking towards downtown, and ended up stopping at a small restaurant on the ocean to enjoy drinks and the view. I usually do more research before a trip, but I didn’t before this one. We were travelling with a group so I wanted to be more laissez faire. I’d recommend doing some more research to make this most of this port, by possibly finding a private driver or group package to go somewhere on the island.
- Day 6 – Grand Cayman
- We enjoyed most of our time at “7-mile beach.” You can take a taxi for less than $5 per person. The beach was beautiful with clear blue water. There are also other excursions and activities on the island, such as swimming with dolphins, visiting the turtle center, or the crystal caves.
- Day 7 – At Sea
- Day 8 – Arrive back at port. Typically, de-boarding starts as early as 7am and by 9am everyone is off. If the port is not your “home,” you may choose to explore the city on an excursion or on your own before heading to the airport.
Days at Sea
If you’ve never cruised before, you might be concerned about what you’ll do during days at sea. They’re great! The cruise ship has a full itinerary of activities to keep you entertained, every day, but especially during days at sea. Most options are free (trivia, health seminars, dance class, games, challenges, music, etc.), but there are paid activities too (gambling, exclusive behind the scenes ship tour, wine tasting, fitness classes, the spa, etc.). Plus, you can enjoy the amenities on board, such as the fitness room, pool, mini golf, lounges, music, food, and more.
Boarding – What to expect?
Check-in & Arrival: We took advantage of the Celebrity Cruise App to check-in early. There was traffic getting to the cruise terminal so plan ahead, but once we got dropped off, it was “smooth sailing.” At the curb, they took our larger suitcase. We prefer to hand carry most of our belongings though so that we have access to them right away. Security was efficient, and we got onto the ship in just a few minutes! We were greeted with a glass of champagne too.
On board: Since the ship just had guests depart that morning, the crew is very busy cleaning and preparing the ship for you. We dropped our bags off in the room and headed to the café upstairs for lunch! Usually the gym and other amenities won’t open until after the cruise sets sail. If you’re like us and need to get a work out in, there’s also an outdoor track and plenty of outdoor space to do your own workout!
By dinner, your luggage will likely have arrived in your room. We always eat dinner in the main dining room. They offer slightly fancier food than the cafeteria buffet. The main dining room will take 1-2 hours, but you can let your waiter know if you’re trying to make it to the first evening show! (Usually the evening shows are at 7pm and 9pm. We try to eat dinner at 5:30 or 6pm in order to make it to the 7pm show.) Dinner in the dining room usually has a dress code, with two more formal nights too, so check with your cruise line in advance!
Have you been to these cruise ports? What were your favorites excursions?