Costa Concordia: A few final thoughts

As the journalists (and I include myself in this) mill around looking for scraps of news from the increasingly detailed and technical Costa Concordia press conferences (there are only so many times you can write a story about sponsons), I decide to take a walk along the harbour front.

I’m aware that this will likely be my last time here, so I’m going to soak it up, take a few more images and then file it in my memory bank. I wish I spoke Italian, it would have helped to have got closer to the locals, who are at this point completely indifferent to the hordes of badge-wearing people walking up and down the harbour all day.

In a way, we’re just another type of tourist to them; not so the salvage workers, many of who have been here since the accident.

Read on to find out more.


Hot on the forums: Stubbing it out

Broken cigarette
Editor’s note: Norwegian Cruise Line announced today (July 16) that it will ban smoking on balconies across its entire fleet. They become the second major cruise line to enact the ban in just over a week. Read the full story here.
Carnival has recently announced that as of October 9, it will ban smoking on its balconies, joining most other mainstream cruise lines. Just Norwegian and Holland America allow balcony smoking now, and in the UK, Saga and Fred. Olsen (which doesn’t have many balconies anyway).
The first reaction for many cruisers is probably ‘Good!’ Even as a smoker-friendly non-smoker (some of my closest cruising friends smoke) I’m pleased; there’s nothing worse than going out for sea air first thing in the morning and having your neighbor light up a ciggie, causing you to cough and wheeze. Or getting ready for a formal dinner with the balcony door open and having fumes waft in from next door, leaving a nasty smell on your fancy frock.


Live from….Giglio, Italy: Costa Concordia raising

I’m back in Giglio, Italy almost 10 months after the parbuckling operation which righted Costa Concordia to an upright position.
The parbuckling took place over 24 hours and seemed painfully slow at the time. This refloat and eventual tow to the scrapyard in Genoa will take at least a week, but the pace today has somehow felt quicker.
It was also very quiet last September, with just locals and journalists (of course) watching from the portside; the atmosphere felt slightly surreal. This time, the second phase of the operation is being done against the backdrop of hundreds of tourists, who line the port, often taking up a spot to stare out at the ship all day.
The good news is it’s all going to plan – the ship has been raised between two and four metres (6.5 to 13 feet) and towed 30 metres from shore (98 feet) . So far so good.


Get onboard for tonight’s episode of The Cruise Ship

Well it’s here, that programme we’ve all been waiting for: The Cruise Ship.

The four-part series, which starts on ITV1 tonight, looks at ‘life below stairs’ on Princess CruisesRoyal Princess in its first season.

There’s much excitement surrounding it, with some suggesting it could be the new Love Boat (that long running 70s soap which took place on an old Princess ship).

That of course remains to be seen, but there are no shortage of “characters” – drawn from crew and passengers – and drama onboard.

Read on to find out more about the show.


Cruise Critic members treated to a ship tour fit for a Celebrity!

A group of Cruise Critic members recently gathered in (somewhat) sunny Southampton for a ship tour aboard Celebrity Cruises’ 2,850-passenger ship, Eclipse.

Find out how the day went!


Take a virtual tour of Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has teamed up with self-confessed “tech geek”, TV presenter Jason Bradbury to take viewers on a virtual guided tour of its new ship, Quantum of the Seas.

The video (above) showcases some of the standout features including the North Star, the dodgems and 270 – the restaurant/theatre, which uses robotic screens and projections to transform the entire space: “Vistarama is the most sophisticated video projection system in the world,” Bradbury claims.

It’s just three months and three weeks until we will be able to see it for ourselves, but until then: enjoy the video!

What are you most looking forward to experiencing onboard Quantum?

Let us know in the Comments below.

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Find out more about Quantum.


Cruise Critic Live: The raising of Costa Concordia

This Monday, July 14, operations will begin to refloat Costa Concordiathe most complex and expensive maritime recovery operation in history – and Cruise Critic will be there, reporting live.

Cruise Critic’s UK Editor Adam Coulter will be on the island of Giglio throughout the refloat – posting news stories, tweeting live, taking pictures and answering your questions throughout the week.

And all of this will be accessible in one place: Cruise Critic Live from today.

Read on to find out more.


Poll: What type of cruise booker are you?

When it comes to booking a cruise holiday, everyone has his or her own, individual planning style. Often cruise deals fall into one of two camps: The “Book in advance and save!” offers and the “You won’t want to miss this last-minute special!” offers, but we want to know what timeframe suits your cruise-booking style, so we’ve come up with a few categories to help you determine what kind of cruise booker you are.

Are you a super organiser? 

If planning a cruise involves years of preparation, a slide rule and a protractor, chances are you’ll fall into this category. You like that feeling of anticipating your holiday … for several years. Last-minute for you is booking a cruise less than 18 months in advance.

Are you an annual cruiser?

You, too, like to get in early. And you’re decisive, by gum. You pick your cruise holiday out a year in advance and book it 12 months out, come hell or high water!

Are you an “I’ll book ahead, but never leave it until the last minute” cruiser?

You won’t let yourself be pigeonholed. You like to look around for deals, and you’re decisive, but you’re not one to make a list-minute decision. Generally, you book your cruise several months out.

Are you a last-minute gambler?

You like to play the odds, let that cruise booking decision ride, and then strike when the iron (or cruise deal) is hot. You’re as at home with the “wait and see” approach as you are in a cruise ship casino. You believe there’s no better type of cruise deal than a last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants deal. You book your cruise holiday within weeks of the departure date.

And now that you know what type of cruise booker you are: Vote in our poll by clicking this link, or click on the image at right. Both will take you to our homepage, where you’ll find the poll in the right-hand column near the bottom of the page. It looks like the image at right. 

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Cruise Critic Live! Chatting about the best places to snorkel and dive

Girl snorkeling in the water with fish
Every Thursday — this week at 4 p.m. (BST) — Cruise Critic Live! takes a look at all the things to love about cruising, from favourite destinations to amazing dining experiences to the latest and greatest new ships on the oceans and rivers. We also welcome outside experts including cruise line CEOs and newsmakers.
This week, we’re chatting about snorkeling and scuba diving. For many people, cruising includes a dip into the deep blue sea. The Caribbean, for example, is a great spot for first-timers looking to dip the proverbial toe in the water, while cruises to Australia can provide some breathtaking scenery that will blow away even the most veteran divers. Our water-loving editors will take your questions, give our favorite tips for snorkel and scuba excursions and help you pick the destinations that will create lasting memories.
Not around on July 10? Ask a question here, and we’ll make sure we answer it. The chat will be archived, and available, after it winds up so don’t forget to bookmark the page.
 Follow along on Twitter at #CruiseCriticLive.


What time is the midnight buffet? and other onboard classics

Cruise Critic member GHstudio makes an acute observation on the message boards this week: “Somehow, when people get on a ship on a cruise vacation, the most logical people just turn off their brain.”

And when the brain is left on the quayside, out come the questions and comments.

Not just the old classics like ‘Do the crew sleep on board?’ and ‘What time is the midnight buffet?’ but new, even more ridiculous offerings.

Read on to find out more crazy questions!