29/08/2014

September 2014 Calendar Desktop Wallpaper: Cruising into Kotor

September 2014 Desktop Calendar of Cruise Ship in Kotor, Montenegro
Get your September 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! We hope that this photo of a cruise ship sailing through Kotor, Montenegro will get you thinking about planning an autumn getaway.
Here’s how to put this photo on your computer, tablet or mobile phone:
1.  Click on the following links to get the size that you want. Each link will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.
2.  For the desktop versions, right-click on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something similar. The wording depends on your browser. Mac users should ctrl-click and save the photo on their computer in the “Pictures” folder.
3. If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose“Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.
4. For phone and tablet, open the link and centre the photo on your phone so it fills the screen. Take a photo and save it on your device. Then go to your Settings and find your Wallpaper (on an iPhone, this is under “Wallpapers & Brightness.” Set the saved calendar photo as your wallpaper.
Check back on September 30 for the October 2014 calendar. 

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28/08/2014

Cruise line loyalty: The ultimate commitment

 

Royal Caribbean Tattoo

Most tattoos have some kind of meaning to the wearer and seafarers are no exception. Back in the day, a sailor would have a tattoo of a pig on one foot and a chicken on the other, which was supposed to ward off drowning; pigs and chickens were carried on ships in wooden crates which would theoretically float with the currents in the event of a shipwreck. On the other hand, a sailor sporting a tattoo of a swallow or a sparrow has sailed 5,000 miles (not such a big deal in these days of world voyages and transatlantic crossings). A Neptune or turtle tat means the wearer has crossed the equator or international dateline on a ship.

But how do you interpret a Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor tattooed onto an ankle? As the ultimate sign of customer loyalty, of course. Cruise Critic member Wolfcathorse and her husband started the trend with matching ankle art as a sign of lifelong devotion to their favourite cruise line.

They’re not alone; member Cruising_addict also sports a Royal Caribbean logo, saying “I love Royal so much I had to show it. It is not huge and is at the bottom of my leg above my ankle. I have had people ask on the ship if I work there.” JaxieWaxie proudly sports one on her foot, saying, “Funny thing is, when cruising, everyone on the ship assumes it’s a fake!”

Royal Caribbean Tattoo

Member Cupcrazy also confesses to a discreet bit of ankle adornment, while RcclMiami was given the Christmas gift of a tattoo on the calf by his wife. “It took almost a year for me to get up the nerve to get it,” he confesses. Member BC604 adds: “Me and the wife have C&A [Crown & Anchor] tattoos on the tops of our feet. We like to show them off poolside.

It’s not just Royal Caribbean fans. Carnival diehard Billy Ray Crane had a Carnival smokestack emblazoned on his arm in celebration of his 10th cruise with the line, according to cruise director John Heald’s blog. On the QE2 Story forum, a site for fans of the old Cunarder, member Marty 552 shows off an arm festooned with Cunard ship names (adding one every time the line builds a new ship), while a Star Clippers fan posting on the line’s blog has a tall ship, logo and all, in full sail on his arm.

What next, a P&O tattoo, or maybe a little Fred. Olsen on the shoulder, tantalisingly revealed in a strappy number on formal night? What would your cruise-themed tattoo be? Let us know.

– Sue Bryant

  Loyal to your cruise line? Read about past-passenger rewards

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27/08/2014

Member Review: Onboard Ventura for a Mediterranean Cruise

ventura review

 

For her review of P&O‘sVentura, Cruise Critic member Kate Bonney writes a short but very complimentary account of her time onboard.

Find out what features brought Kate to write, “I actually can’t find anything negative to say about this cruise,” on her summer Mediterranean cruise from Venice this July.

Read on to find out more.

26/08/2014

Live report: Cruising during peak hurricane season

norwegian breakaway's captain showing the status of a hurricane

On its New York to Bermuda run this week, my 4,800 fellow passengers and me, sailing aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway (along with those on Celebrity Summit, which offers an identical itinerary), got some bad news. Hurricane Cristobal, a late-developing storm that gave a lashing to the Dominican Republic and Haiti and bounced tropical showers off the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas, is headed straight for, you guessed it, our three port days in Bermuda.

As a result, our voyage will feature stops at Florida’s Port Canaveral and the Bahamas’ Nassau. Nice, but not quite, dare we say … the ports we’d all planned for.

Welcome to peak season hurricane cruising. While storms can occur anytime between the months of June to November (and even occasionally earlier or later), mid-August to mid-October is prime time. This affects itineraries primarily, but not exclusively, in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Atlantic Canada, the Mexican Riviera and Hawaii. (In Asia, at the same time, typhoon season can plague itineraries there.)

The good thing about cruise travel vs. resort stays in potentially affected regions?

There’s a good thing about travelling during a hurricane? Yep. Read on.

22/08/2014

Averting flirting: How to avoid onboard romance

Avoiding romance on a cruise

There’s nothing worse than having to politely decline someone’s unwanted affection — especially if you’re on holiday. While on land, the experience may be flattering (if still unwanted), it has the potential to prove positively frustrating onboard. “Why did they have to ask me now? I’m trying to read my book!”

And while you may have at least mentioned that you’re “not really looking for anything at the moment, thanks.” If an amorous protagonist just doesn’t get the hint, just how do you shake them — or avoid awkward moments — on a vessel that’s under a mile long and surrounded by water?

Fear not — we have some first-hand experience and advice from a fellow friend and cruiser, Georgia, who offers some helpful alternatives to spending all your time onboard locked away in the cabin. Georgia was approached during one of her cruise holidays a few years ago on a trip around Europe, and took a proactive approach to avoiding her potential suitor. Here are her suggestions:

Click here to learn Georgia’s techniques.

21/08/2014

Can you get a decent cuppa on a cruise ship?

In the words of Jack Buchanan’s popular World War Two song, at 4p.m. “everything stops for tea.” Except he’s slightly out with the timing, as from first thing in the morning to last thing at night the majority of Brits love a cuppa — and I certainly count myself among them. Forget fashionable fruity blends and exotic artisan tea plucked at dawn the night after a full moon, for me only builder’s tea will do (for the uninitiated that’s hot, strong, no-nonsense tea served with milk and preferably in a big mug). Anything pale, weak and warm … well, it just isn’t my cup of tea.

The fact that you can’t get a decent cuppa in the country that has put a man on the moon is one of life’s enduring puzzles. After all, pouring boiling water onto a tea bag or tea leaves is hardly rocket science. And coming from the nation that has been the largest per capita tea consumer since the 18th century, I’m not alone.

You might be able to get a bewildering choice of coffee, every cocktail under the sun and an lengthy list of soft drinks, but when it’s tea time nothing else hits the spot. So, in typical Cruise Critic fashion, tea lovers have taken to the forums to try and work out if it’s possible to get a proper cup of tea on a U.S. owned ship.

Can you get a decent cup of tea at sea? Our members report.

20/08/2014

Cruise Critic Live! Join our “Life’s an Adventure … Cruise” chat

uncruise adventures wilderness discoverer expedition cruise ship in alaska
Each week on Cruise Critic Live, we take a look at things we love about cruising — from favorite destinations to amazing dining experiences — and we also give you the inside scoop on the newest ships at sea and on the rivers. From time to time, we also welcome outside experts to this space, including cruise line CEOs and newsmakers. And of course, as always, we hold our chats because we want to hear from you.
This week, we’re chatting about expedition cruising with special guest Dan Blanchard, Principal/CEO of Un-Cruise Adventures, who knows pretty much all there is to know about adventure cruising. One advantage of picking an expedition line, for example, is that you can get into some of the ports larger ships might not be able to access. With things like Zodiacs, snorkeling and round-the-clock guides, expedition cruising combines history and learning, while still providing many of the amenities cruisers have come to expect. Along with Dan, our adventure-seeking editors will take your questions, give our favorite tips for finding the right itineraries for you and help you pick the destinations that will create lasting memories. Join us at 8 p.m. (BST) August 21.
Last week, we talked about avoiding mistakes when it comes to booking cabins, and our readers had plenty of advice on which cabins to avoid. If you didn’t join us last week, you missed out some great advice … but fear not! You can still read the whole chat.

19/08/2014

Win tickets for the CRUISE Show!

Thank you for entering. This competition is now closed. 

The CRUISE Show is a key event in the cruise calendar, and with the Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow regional shows almost upon us, we’re giving you the chance to win tickets!

We have 10 pairs of free tickets to give away for each of the three shows. All you have to do is tell us which show you’d like tickets for, and send your name and address to: tickets@cruisecritic.co.uk by 27 August, 2014 for a chance to win.

The great news is that even if you’re not one of our lucky winners, but are still keen to guarantee your ticket to the shows, The CRUISE Show is offering our members 2 free* tickets when booked in advance! Tickets can be booked by visiting: www.cruisingshow.com and quoting ‘CRUISECRITIC’ or by calling: 0871 620 4024.

(*£2.50 booking fee per pair applies and calls to ticket hotline cost 10p per minute plus network extras. Ticket offer valid for all four CRUISE Shows – Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow 2014 and London 2015)

If you’re looking for insight from the experts and exclusive show-only offers, be sure to add the following dates to your diaries:

Click here for the CRUISE Show schedule.

18/08/2014

Where in the world is Cruise Critic?

Chris Gray Faust on map
Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, travelling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.
(Have questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we’re visiting? Ask us in the comments!)
Tour/Ship: A Holland America cruisetour to Alaska
Where: The cruisetour begins on land in Anchorage, before heading up to Denali and Fairbanks. We then explore Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon, before boarding Holland America Zuiderdam in Skagway for four days along Alaska’s Inside Passage.
Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
Why There? Cruisetours continue to be one of the best ways to see a lot of the 49th State in a short amount of time. Besides taking a look at Holland America’s Zuiderdam, I’ll give you the scoop on excursions, lodging and other nuts and bolts of what a typical cruisetour is all about.
We Can’t Wait: I’m no stranger to cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage (read my review of Alaska expedition cruising), but the interior will be completely new to me. I’m interested to see how a cruisetour compares in value to a land vacation, and also how the experience on a mainstream cruise ship in Alaska compares to the smaller vessels I’ve been on there.

14/08/2014

Introduce a friend to cruising… and share the taste of MSC Cruises

Share a day onboard MSC Magnifica with friends

Thank you for entering. This promotion is now closed. 

Do you have friends and family that haven’t cruised yet?

Would you like to learn more about MSC Cruises, and visit MSC Magnifica in Southampton?

Read here to find out more!