What would you want from a Virgin cruise?

Virgin Cruises: Appearing on a funnel near you soon?

The cruise industry is awash with rumours that Sir Richard Branson is planning to launch a Virgin cruise line. The Virgin Atlantic boss has hired a US-based advisory firm to scout around for investors in the two-ship venture, which is, according to media reports, expected to launch in 2019 in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

So far, so not particularly surprising. In fact, it sounds like a perfectly sensible business idea if Branson can raise the money. Virgin is a respected brand and it’s highly active in the travel sector with airlines, trains, a new hotel chain and its tour-operating arm, Virgin Holidays Cruises. The cruise market is growing and the customers are getting younger and a bit more hip, which matches the Virgin image.

The question is, will Virgin Cruises be ‘different’ enough to attract this sought-after younger customer?

Read on to find out more.


Cruise your way to offers and competitions at The London CRUISE Show at Olympia!

Now in its sixth year, The London CRUISE Show at Olympia, held between 22–23 March, 2014, has a wave of money-saving deals, upgrades and excellent competitions on offer.

With the world’s leading cruise lines and specialist operators exhibiting all under one roof, plus a packed programme of debates, informative talks and Q&A sessions during which you can meet the experts, this is the perfect place to discover your next cruise.

Cruise Critic will be there on our own stand, F4, and we’d love to meet you, so please come and say hello and chat to us and to fellow Cruise Critic members!  Our UK editor, Adam Coulter, will also provide his specialist cruise knowledge during an expert speaking session on Saturday, 22March.

There are many exciting opportunities to win prizes* at the show; here is just a brief round up to give you an idea of what’s on offer:

See what’s on offer at the CRUISE show.


Steering a course to your cabin

We’ve all been there at one time. You’ve studied the deck plan – and turned it upside down a couple of times for good measure – and you are convinced you’re heading forward to the red stairwell. Instead you end up aft by the blue stairwell looking at a row of even numbered cabins when yours has an odd number. And on top of that all the doors look the same.

Finding your cabin can be a tricky business – and be an initiative test for first-time cruisers.

Read on to get top tips from members!


March 2014 desktop calendar: Cruise ships in St Maarten

Get your March 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! This photo of several cruise ships lined up in St Maarten will give you the shot in the arm that you need before you set sail again. Here’s how to put it on your computer, tablet or cell 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.
Check back on March 31 for the April 2014 calendar. 


UK vs US Cruising: A personal view

I’ve just returned from a wonderful Caribbean cruise on P&O Cruises’ Ventura. It’s been a year since I was on a P&O ship and in between I have found myself on a lot of US ships (Carnival Sunshine, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, Royal Princess).

And while on Ventura it really struck me how different the traditional UK cruise experience is, compared with a US one. Which I’d like to share with you here.

Read on to find out more.


Q&A: Kathryn Beadle, Hurtigruten

We are delighted to welcome Hurtigruten‘s UK MD, Kathryn Beadle, onto the Cruise Critic Message Boards for a Q&A session with members.

Kathryn will be answering your questions live on the message boards next Thursday, March 6, from 1pm – but you can post your questions now. Keep reading →


Thomson’s ‘Dreamrunners’ ride again

They’re back – and they’re better than ever. The 3RUN team which wowed the world last year – running and jumping all over Thomson Dream – have been brought back to show off the ship’s new home port of Jamaica. And this time they’ve teamed up with one of the few people who can give them a run for their money.

Read on to find out who they’ve teamed up with


Come in kids – your time is up!

Communication with teenagers can be tricky at the best of times – so what do you do when you’re all at sea?

It’s a question that has been posed on our forums by Ksack, who readily admits to being an over-protective mother. She’s curious about how to stay in contact with – and keep a virtual eye on – teens onboard without running up expensive mobile roaming charges.

Read on to find out more.


And so to bed … but first a spot of malted milk

Drink prices, the pros and cons of beverage packages and — dare we say — advice on how to smuggle booze onboard are topics guaranteed to provoke robust, lively and sometimes heated exchanges on our forums. So it’s comforting, in every sense, to find a group of cruisers discussing a very different nightcap of choice. Will it be Horlicks or Ovaltine?

The nourishing, warm and milky bedtime drinks beloved by generations of Brits — and served on P&O, a bastion of tradition and Britishness — have sparked some gentle discussions amongst members on where to go at night for your Horlicks.

Where can you get it? And will it be Horlick’s or Ovaltine? Read on.


Roll out the barrel: Seafaring Scotch embarks on expedition

Image copyright Pawel Kowalczyk

Two barrels of single-malt Scotch whiskey have set sail with Hurtigruten on a voyage of discovery. During their year onboard the expedition ship Fram, the seafaring barrels of Scotch will clock up more nautical miles than the passengers embarking on the Norwegian line’s polar cruises.

The only downside is that unlike their adventurous fellow cruisers – who will return home full to the brim with tales to tell – by the time the cruising casks disembark they will be empty.

But who will empty them? Could it be you? Click to find out.