People sail on Celebrity Equinox to indulge in its Canyon Ranch SpaClub, partake in onboard activities like glassblowing classes and rollicking silent disco parties, or to set off to explore the Caribbean. We’re adding another draw: the cruise line’s exquisite culinary options.
Discussions of food on cruises brings to mind long lines for piled-up, banal fare, but Celebrity bucks the bad-buffet stereotypes by delivering enticing restaurants, gourmet excursions and foodie-related onboard activities.
Sink your fork into these Celebrity Equinox epicurean experiences.
You’ll need a week to work your way through the 10 onboard restaurant options. Don’t miss Murano, a sophisticated French fine-dining spot. Order the succulent lobster tail to have it flambéed tableside in a grand display with cognac, basil, applewood-smoked bacon and Dijon cream. Be sure to pair it with some wine — Murano’s list spans old to new world with an impressive selection of reds.
For dessert, you won’t be able to resist the crêpe ballon rouge. Similar to the lobster, the balsamic strawberries are prepared at your table, and the heady, sweet aroma wafts throughout Murano. The hot strawberry-Chambertin topping is drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream encased in a crêpe.
Designed by Adam Tihany, the warm, welcoming Tuscan Grille serves Italian comfort food and the best views among all of the restaurants, as it sits on the aft (or tail end of the ship). Though you may be too busy indulging in rich housemade pastas like braised short rib pappardelle ragu and lobster rigatoni Alfredo to peer out of the big-picture windows.
Blu sets a modern tone with its sculpted white rose wall, white and blue palette and clean cuisine. Begin with the refreshing Botanical Bliss (Ketel One vodka, Pimm’s, lime, fresh raspberry and ginger beer) and a starter like the macadamia-nut-crusted scallops with sweet pea puree, fennel and grapefruit emulsion. Among the entrées, try the light truffle ricotta gnocchi topped with a poached egg and scallions.
One of the culinary surprises was Sushi on Five, which specializes in locally sourced sushi and other Japanese dishes. We couldn’t get enough of the spicy ahi tuna on crispy rice rounds with wasabi aioli and a crown of jalapeño. The mochi flight (glutinous rice shells filled with green tea, mango and strawberry ice cream) was the winning dessert.
Don’t miss the daylong Chef’s Market Discoveries — Flavors of Marigot excursion. Celebrity executive sous chef Shane Straiko led our group on a tour of St. Martin to show us where he shops for ingredients and where to eat on the half-Dutch, half-French island.
The first stop was right outside the cruise terminal at Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor Store for a cheese tasting. We learned there are more than 100 types of Dutch Gouda (look for “NL” on the packaging to ensure it’s from the Netherlands) and that locals dip their cheese in a habanero-laden hot sauce.
Among the dairy that we sampled was a four-week-old goat’s milk Gouda, a peppery selection and our favorite, the Old Amsterdam, a cheese aged eight months to two years that bursted with a nutty, Parmesan-like flavor. Straiko said that Celebrity features the shop’s wedges on the cheese plate in the Oceanview Café buffet.
Next, we swung by the Marigot Market on the island’s French side to peruse spice purveyor Organic Moses. After looking at items like “magic spice” (herbes de Provence, coriander, crushed red pepper, anise, Italian seasoning and more), Straiko reached for the local pepper sauce, a fiery condiment that’s one of his staples, as well as some other regional finds.
During our visit, Organic Moses was the only up-and-running stall. After Hurricane Irma devastated the island, other daily market regulars hawking meat, fish, lobster and shrimp didn’t have enough business to reopen. We were told that as tourists slowly return to the island, vendors will start popping up again.
Then it was time for a real meal. We sat down at La Villa Restaurant for a light, flavorful lunch of sautéed shrimp with garlic, parsley, zucchini and tomato with rice. The housemade profiteroles stuffed with vanilla ice cream, doused in chocolate sauce and sprinkled with almond slivers was a bit heavier, but it hit the spot on a hot day.
After a quick visit to the beach for a few photos, we headed back to the ship to freshen up. That night, our group reconvened at Silk Harvest, where Straiko prepared a multi-course feast for us that included red snapper with jerk spice paired with shot of earthy tea with bande (a ground bark that’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac; this and the jerk were from the St. Martin market), and sashimi topped with market sea moss for added texture. Throughout dinner, we enjoyed more one-on-one time with Straiko, who shared his incredible journey from a homeless 15-year-old to a flourishing traveling chef.
Get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Celebrity churns out 15,000 meals a day on the popular galley, or kitchen, tour. Executive chef Kenny Ramos led us through the expansive squeaky-clean facilities and talked about the different stations. For example, 26 pastry chefs make almost everything from scratch daily, including 6,000 breadsticks, 5,000 croissants, 3,000 pastries and 750 baguettes. Ramos also offered some only-on-a-cruise insights, like on rocky sea days, apple, bread, juice and water orders spike.
After seeing all of the food being prepared, make your own lunch at an easy sushi class. At Sushi on Five, a sushi chef demonstrated how to craft delicious shrimp tempura rolls. We added our own ingredients, including mango, cucumber, avocado and sesame seeds, and rolled it all up in a bamboo mat. Then we sat down at the restaurant to savor the sushi of our labor — and we also ordered another round of the addictive spicy ahi tuna.
Whether you’re a cocktail newbie or an experienced drink slinger, the mixology class in World Class Bar will teach you a few things. The personable mixologists showed us how to make three drinks and offered some history on each. Take the espresso martini, which they said was invented by cocktail pioneer Dick Bradsell. They relayed the story behind the caffeinated dessert in a glass: in the 1930s, a woman walked into London’s Soho Brasserie and asked Bradsell for a drink that would “wake me up and f— me up.”
The World Class mixologists also gave tips to upgrade your cocktails at home. For the classic gin and tonic, the mixologists revealed a trick: infuse the gin with raspberry tea for a fruity kick, or any flavored tea of your choosing. Our own dinner party guests and friends will benefit from these cocktail lessons, as we will be using the tips in the years to come.