How much money did you spend onboard during your last cruise?

raining money - image courtesy of Jean Lee/Shutterstock

You’ve paid for your cruise, booked your excursions up front and perhaps opted for a soda, alcohol package or both. So how much more do you expect to spend, once you board?

About to leave for a four-day trip with her husband, Cruise Critic member CruizinMama1026, asked others on the Carnival Cruise Lines forum about that final tab, “I’m just curious what past cruisers experienced with their final Sign & Sail bill?”

See how your Sign & Sail bill compares to fellow cruisers


No question too small: Cruise Critic members are on the case!

woman with binoculars - photo courtesy of Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock

Here at Cruise Critic, we pride ourselves on our detailed ship reviews, which encompass everything from deck plans to the type of tread on the jogging track. We supplement these reports with Cruise Critic Live! chats and Facebook photo albums, so our readers are the first to hear the latest and greatest about all things ship.

But our secret weapon has to be our forums, where no cruising question is too small for our cruising members to answer, often live from their ships. And nowhere has the power of crowdsourcing been more apparent than on the inaugural voyage of Quantum of the Seas.

As Royal Caribbean’s newest ship makes its way across the Atlantic, a group of Cruise Critic members onboard known as the “Quantum Launchers” have become super sleuths, sussing out the answers that other passengers crave. An entire Google document has been created, where new questions come in daily, as well as a Shutterfly album to record all the nitty gritty.

The idea sprang from the sailing’s Quantum of the Seas inaugural sailing roll call, which has exceeded 290 pages. The group set up a full schedule of roll call events, including a Meet & Mingle where more than 500 people showed up (possibly setting a Cruise Critic record).

The “Live Reporter” crew includes jv_nyc, SkyKingBNA and Emmad1973. We salute the Quantum Launchers’ excitement and willingness to give back to fellow passengers.

We at Cruise Critic have our own reporting muscle onboard — Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown is sailing the transatlantic voyage now, reporting daily on our Facebook page with photos and answering questions on our live chat. Stay tuned for her first post — and a series of other Quantum of the Seas reports from our staff once the ship arrives in Bayonne.

What’s your burning Quantum of the Seas question? Ask us via Cruise Critic live or let us know in the comments!

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We’re onboard: Quantum of the Seas meet & mingle is one for the ages

Royal Caribbean Executive Vice President of Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

We admit it. One of our absolute favourite things is reading stories of people who have become lifelong friends through Cruise Critic. It’s one of the reasons we think our Roll Calls are wonderful: They’re a terrific way to meet your fellow cruisers virtually before actually meeting them on the ship at a Meet & Mingle.

Yes, we knew our Meet & Mingle on Quantum of the Seas on Monday was going to be big, Our Roll Call thread had so much interaction, it had to be split into two parts, reached 363 pages and has more than 7,200 posts.

So Monday, in one of the most momentous Cruise Critic onboard gatherings in our 21-year history, more than 500 passengers onboard Royal Caribbean’s new ship gathered to meet up, win raffle prizes and chat with top cruise line executives.

More highlights from the Quantum Meet and Mingle


Member review: MSC Cruises gets a new fan!


Member jufrasin was “pleasantly surprised” by her recent 12-day cruise on MSC Sinfonia as she sailed around the Mediterranean.

Our member review this week had nothing but praise for the multiple embarkation points that MSC Cruises uses, so that  it only took 10 minutes to get the 30 passengers in Barcelona onto the ship because most people board at Genoa.

Read on to find out more.


Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

Chris is in the Caribbean and Carolyn is in New York

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: Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess

Where: Departing Fort Lauderdale to Princess Cays, The Bahamas

Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

Why There? Although it’s been sailing for six months, Regal Princess is finally being christened at a Love Boat themed event featuring the entire original cast — and Charo!

We Can’t Wait: Besides Captain Stubing and Isaac the Bartender, a roster of the show’s former guest stars will be at the event, including a Who’s Who of 70s/80s TV shows (Jamie Farr! Florence Henderson! Lorenzo Lamas!) Expect a lot of #selfies. I also can’t wait to dig into Chocolate Journeys, Princess’ new sweet experience from chocolatier Norman Love. Chocolate salted caramel rum shake? Sign me up.

Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas

Where: Who cares? Joking, of course, but we’re on the Atlantic Ocean repositioning between England’s Southampton and New York. No ports in between. It’s all about… Quantum!

Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief

Why There? While Royal Caribbean is offering a handful of promotional, two night sailings, we wanted a more in-depth experience. Mind you, Cruise Critic is totally excited to be part of the two nighters — both in Southampton and New York. But eight straight nights, all at sea, means we’ll have plenty of time to sample the offerings, from the North Star to bumper cars, on this year’s most exciting new ship.

We Can’t Wait: Suffice to say, we booked our cabin on this ship in May 2013 — 17 months before the ship’s launch! So we’re pretty jazzed. We’re also excited that our November 2 cruise will offer the largest ever — largest ever, which is saying something — Cruise Critic meet up onboard. And we hear there are rumors of a flash mob wedding proposal (what would we do without inside insights from Cruise Critic members). Beyond that, we’re going to check out the restaurants, entertainment, venues, shops, etc. And we’ll take lots of photos. So stay tuned.

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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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