19/06/2014

Deal of the Week: Anthem of the Seas

Want to be the first onboard Royal Caribbean’s ground-breaking, Southampton-based megaship Anthem of the Seas when it arrives at our shores next year?

Then read on: Have we got a great deal for you!

Read on for a great deal!

18/06/2014

Food, glorious food: What’s your cruise food favourite?

Chocolate buffet on Norwegian Cruise Lines
Food and cruising go hand in hand. Whether it’s seeking out the best martini at sea or savouring the same mouth-watering dessert night after night, we all have our culinary obsessions.
Personally, I have never understood the passion to devour copious amounts of lobster onboard cruise ships. Likewise crab claws, Alaskan or otherwise. Whether they’re ‘free’ in the MDR or a treat in a for-fee restaurant, they just don’t do it for me. Of course one man’s (crab) meat is another man’s poison, and I am clearly outnumbered by fans on our forum who mourn the demise of the once-common, weekly captain’s crustacean free-for-all.
Instead of crawling sea creatures, my happy place contains inventive canapés, imaginative vegetarian dishes … and Marmite at breakfast (in a few years, I will probably start packing it in my suitcase to be on the safe side).
Putting aside my personal tastes to look at the broader picture, the Cruise Critic forum provides a fascinating snapshot of our diet deal-breakers.
Member kuehn1 asked what cruise food fellow members loved the most on Carnival — apart from the warm chocolate melting cake pictured above that’s a crowd favourite (and chocolate looms large in various guises in many a forum member’s response).

17/06/2014

Member Review: A great week on the Dream


Member Bodster is a first time cruiser, and as she says: “We have never had a holiday onboard a cruise ship so I cant compare to any other ships and I am not going to try, but I will give an honest review for a ‘1st time cruiser’.”

And what an honest review it is! – As she says, Thomson Dreammay not be as big and new as other ships, but for the money I paid I could of stayed all inclusive in some hotel”

So what really stood out for her?

Read on to find out what she liked about Thomson Dream.

17/06/2014

World Cup… love it or hate it?!

The World Cup is now in full swing!

For all of our football fanatic cruisers out there, we recently wrote a blog highlighting which cruise lines are showing the matches.

Many of the lines are pulling out all the stops to ensure their passengers have access to the games, which is great news if you love to immerse yourself in the football frenzy, and cheer on your team.

But what about those of you who just can’t get excited by the World Cup?! Are you someone who schedules your cruise to escape the football frenzy?

Whatever your opinion is, we’d love to hear, so please share your thoughts by voting in our poll!

16/06/2014

Live from … Oceania Regatta: 5 Surprises

Pool deck for Oceania Regatta
Although it’s been several years since we’ve sailed with Oceania Cruises, our experience has encompassed every ship in the line’s five-vessel fleet.
Our last two trips were on 1,200-plus passenger Marina and Riviera, the first built-from-scratch ships Oceania’s ever had. We’ve also been on the three 684-passenger ships that started the line – Insignia, Nautica and Regatta, where we’re currently onboard to view the company’s $50 million refit of these three older vessels.
So how well was the money spent? One word: very. The three ships are not only as delightful as we remember, they feel new. The line has invested in maintenance-related improvements on an ongoing basis, so the $50 million was spent on the fun stuff – new furniture, curtains, bedding, upholstery, pool tiling, upgraded teak decking, and more tables for two added to The Grand, the ships’ main restaurant. All cabins, from the ultra luxe Owners’ Suites to the more proletarian standard staterooms, with and without verandahs, were redecorated.
Here are our top surprises from our Regatta cruise, as the ship embarked to Alaska fresh from Vancouver’s SeaSpan shipyard:
1. Ship size matters: Regatta (and sisters Insignia and Nautica) feels like the perfect size for a cruise ship. It’s just large enough to offer options; there are two alternative restaurants, in addition to the Grand Restaurant and the buffet, which at night transforms into a tapas eaterie for lighter fare meals. And there is a cozy familiarity between crew and passengers who meet again and again in the handful of bars and lounges. The same goes for fellow travelers, who are casually social and non-pretentious. Even if you arrive as an Oceania virgin cruiser, by day two or three you’ll feel like a club member.

13/06/2014

Bundling, rolling or stuffing: What’s the secret to packing success?

The summer season of overcrowded airports, mammoth check-in queues, exorbitant baggage fees and lost luggage is fast approaching. So would you do a cruise on hand luggage only to avoid the hassle?

I have before, but it’s not easy when you want to look good in the evenings and take workout gear and drag along a large camera, an iPad, a phone and a charger for each. And then go shopping in port.

But a thread on the Cruise Critic forum about ‘bundling’ has made me realise I’m packing all wrong. Member Linkerbink has posted a video of Jon Holloway from packinglight.com smoothly squishing what he claims is enough outfits for 60 days into a 22-inch carry on. Sixty days!

Packing for 60 days? In a carry-on? Is it possible? Read on to find out.

12/06/2014

Worried about missing the World Cup? Fear not: Cruise lines have got it covered!

If you’re reading this on a cruise or about to embark on one and you’re worried about missing the World Cup – which kicks off tonight in Brazil – fear not, a number of cruise lines will be screening it live onboard.

Passengers will be able to watch all 64 matches, which take place from tonight (June 12th) until July 13, 2014.

Read on to find out who will be screening the World Cup.

11/06/2014

Have you ever encountered a cruise bore?

I had only just sat down and introduced myself to my new dining companions when a foghorn voice boomed from the far end of the table: “So is this your first cruise?” Before I could open my mouth, the questioner drew breath and launched into a monologue about every cruise he’d been on. With only fleeting respites to take another mouthful of food or sip of wine, he continued, unabated.

All attempts to steer the conversation another way were futile.  Any questions, made only to try and create a diversion, resulted in even more excruciating detail.

Swapping seafaring tales with like-minded folk is an entertaining part of any cruise. Being caught by a cruise bore with the wind in his sails is quite another.

But fear not – resourceful Cruise Critic members have some canny suggestions when it comes to dealing with cruise bores.

Read on to find out what they are!

10/06/2014

Member review: A ‘magical’ Norwegian fjords cruise with Saga


“Where can I start!” starts member charltongirl‘s rave review of her cruise holiday onboard Saga Sapphire. “A truly magical holiday.”

From her stratospheric levels of enthusiasm, it doesn’t take a detective to deduce that charltongirl enjoyed herself. 

Her truly magical holiday was, in her words, “made even more so by the (mostly) fabulous weather, magnificent scenery, beautiful ship and very attentive staff.”

But what was the icing on the cake for our Cruise Critic cruiser?

“The food, oh the food – wonderful!”  

For more from Saga’s happy customer, read on.

09/06/2014

Where in the world is Cruise Critic?

cruise-critic
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!)
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Why There? Oceania’s 684-passenger Regatta, which debuted in 2003 as the line’s first ship, has undergone a major makeover in a Vancouver shipyard. This will be Regatta’s first post-refurb voyage, so we’re eager to take a look at the upgrades. And, as the Alaska/British Columbia cruise season is getting into full swing, we thought that the cruise was a terrific opportunity to also take a look at what’s new and fun in ports of call. We’re visiting Vancouver, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan.
We Can’t Wait: Oceania’s Regatta, along with siblings Insignia and Nautica (which already have gotten makeovers), is among the most delightful cruise ships afloat. They’re small enough to feel cozy and intimate and large enough to offer plenty of choices (especially in dining).
This is also my first visit to Alaska in over ten years, and I’m looking forward to rediscovering the region.
We’ll be reporting live, from Oceania Regatta, on Cruise Critic Live! this week – Thursday, at 3 p.m. – and are happy to answer questions and share insights then. You can post questions anytime, but do mark your calendar for Thursday (that’s 3 p.m. Eastern and 12 noon West Coast).

Read on for more.