Join the Cruise Critic Live! Chat with President & COO of Royal Caribbean, Adam Goldstein

Quantum of the Seas — the most exciting cruise ship to launch this year — is in UK waters! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve arranged a date for you to chat about the new ship with Royal Caribbean’s big boss Adam Goldstein today at 3 p.m. GMT.

So come on along and join in the fun. We’ll be talking entertainment — skydiving, dodgems, the North Star (think London Eye capsule on a crane on top of a cruise ship) — all the new dining venues that Royal’s Dynamic Dining concept offers, including the first Jamie Oliver restaurant at sea, Jamie’s Italian, and more.

Post your questions now on our Cruise Critic Live! page and join us at 3 p.m.

Don’t forget, Quantum’s sister ship Anthem of the Seas will be sailing from the UK next year, so now’s your chance to get the inside scoop on what these ships have to offer.

 Post your questions now on our Cruise Critic Live! chat.

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November 2014 Calendar Desktop Wallpaper: Tropical Vista

Side of a cruise ship with trees and ocean in background - photo Costin Constantinescu/Shutterstock

Get your November 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! The nights are getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere and sweaters have replaced short sleeves. Miss your bikini already? We hope this photo of a cruise ship moored in the tropics inspires you to start thinking about booking your winter holidays.

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 center 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.

2560 x 1440 | 1280 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile

Check back on December 1 for the December 2014 calendar.

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Five discoveries from our Paul Gauguin cruise through Tahiti

Paul Gauguin Cruises' flagship vessel, Paul Gauguin - photo by Colleen McDaniel

Tahiti is the experience of a lifetime for many people, myself included. So when the opportunity to sail Paul Gauguin Cruises’ flagship vessel, Paul Gauguin, arose, I jumped at it. I hit the Cruise Critic message boards and member reviews to learn more about the line and the ship, and I started forming that mental picture of what to expect on my Tahiti cruise. When the departure day finally arrived, I felt armed with great information.

Still, I have made a few discoveries along the way, which I’d like to share with you.

Read on for the full list.


Decreasing your creases: How to get that wrinkle-free look onboard

Freshly pressed clothes- photo courtesy of Africa Studio/Shutterstock

It’s a common problem for me when I travel, and now I know I’m not alone. How do I keep myself looking presentable when I’ve stuffed a week’s worth of clothing into a small suitcase?

It seems no matter whether I carefully fold, gently roll or even use a three-suit garment bag, my clothes come out looking like they were wadded up in a corner for a week before I put them on.

As usual the Cruise Critic forums have come to the rescue. This thread is overflowing with ways to keep your togs tiptop.

Suggestions range from sublime to the (intentionally) ridiculous.

Stay wrinkle free with our members’ expert tips


Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

Adam Coulter on map

Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.

(Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)

Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas

Where: Southampton/Isle of Wight

Who: Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor

Why There? It’s our first chance to get onboard arguably the most exciting new ship in the past few years.

We Can’t Wait: Where to begin? I’m probably most excited about getting into North Star – the pod-like contraption attached to the top of the ship. But then again, there is simulated skydiving, bumper cars, virtual balconies, 18 Dynamic Dining restaurant options, robot bartenders, the versatile and hi-tech Two70 entertainment space… I’m only onboard for two days, but I’m going to do and see as much as possible – and report back!

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Mini mussels show their might

Mussels - photo courtesy of v777999/Shutterstock

At Cruise Critic we’ve seen, read and heard pretty much everything there is to do with cruising. Then every once in a while something comes along that takes even the most seasoned cruisers by surprise. In this instance it’s the curious case of tiny mussels that can bring down a big cruise ship’s cooling system.

It all began with reports on the forum last week that things weren’t right with the air conditioning onboard Princess Cruises’ 2,590-passenger Golden Princess, as the ship made its way south to Mexico on a four-night roundtrip from Los Angeles.

Read on to continue the story


Destination Spotlight: Banana Coast, Honduras

Welcome to Banana Coast - photo by Adam Coulter

On Wednesday, the new Caribbean cruise port of Banana Coast (Trujillo), on the north coast of Honduras, welcomed its first big cruise ship, Norwegian Jewel.

While a smaller ship, Travel Dynamics’ 130-passenger Yorktown, paid a couple of visits in February, this was the tender port’s first mega-ship – Jewel has 2,500 passengers. The stop heralded the official start of the cruise season here. The Honduran press attended in force (it was all over local TV), as did the mayor of Trujillo, numerous dignitaries, the Minister for Tourism, and of course, Cruise Critic.

Read on to find out more.


Countdown to Quantum: What’s up with the Robotic Bartenders?

The Bionic Bar on Quantum of the Seas - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

I’ve got to admit, when I first heard that Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Quantum of the Seas would have robotic bartenders, a number of thoughts came to mind.

First: It’s gonna be a bit of a one-sided conversation.

Second: Will they look more like R2-D2 or C3PO?

Third: Does that mean will they be losing bar staff?

Fourth: Gimmick!

Well, in nine days time, when I get my first look at the ship in Southampton, I’ll get all the definitive answers to those questions.

But till then, here’s what we can glean from the very limited information we have so far.

Read more about our robot overlords…


Member review: Our charmed life of luxury on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera

Member Jay23 was on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and gave five stars-plus to the whole experience. Our member review this week is an 11-day cruise from Istanbul to the Black Sea, finishing in Athens, and there is nothing but praise for luxury cruising, despite its premium price.

The only grumbles were the price of excursions, and the replacement ports for Yalta, Sebastopol and Odessa, which were off-limits because of the troubles in Ukraine:  “A couple of the replacement ports were, however, not the best so we stayed on board.”

Read on to find out more.


Where in the world is Cruise Critic?

Colleen on the Paul Gauuin in the Society Islands, Chris at the TBEX Conference in Greece

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.

(Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)

Keep reading →