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?

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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.

06/06/2014

Would you pay for breakfast onboard?

 

 

Would you pay for breakfast on a cruise?

There’s no cause for panic just yet, but Cruise Critic member LMaxwell has posted an intriguing idea on the forums: the possibility of cruise lines charging for a decent breakfast.

The theory, this member claims, is that breakfasts on ships are ‘weak’ – “More of the frozen and fried up variety, with lots of oil/grease and salt” and I’m sure we’ve all bemoaned the powdered scrambled egg and flaccid fruit on mass-market cruise ship buffets at some point.

So are cruise lines craftily lowering the standards to pave the way to a revenue-generating ‘enhanced’ breakfast?

Read on to find out more.

05/06/2014

Just off the gangway…Regal Princess: Hits & Misses


Princess Cruises‘ newest ship, Regal Princess, hit the seas for the first time May 22, sailing Mediterranean itineraries through Greece, Italy, Croatia and Turkey. Regal Princess is a virtual twin of Royal Princess, which debuted in June 2013.  Like its sister ship, Regal has the same large Grand Piazza, large theater with palladium seating and funky SeaWalk that allows passengers to pass over a clear cantilevered walkway 16 decks high.

Loyal Princess fans will recognize some of the line’s more traditional features on this ship, but the class really represents an evolution for the line. The signature piazza is grander, the Crown Grill steakhouse is warmer, Movies Under the Stars are bigger. There’s familiarity, yes, but it’s impossible not to see the future of the line in the Royal Class.

Cruise Critic spent six nights onboard Regal Princess, checking out every nook and cranny. Here’s what we thought worked (and what needs a little work).

Read on to find out more.

04/06/2014

Bordeaux river cruising…some thoughts

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With the debut of cruises this year by both Viking Cruises and Uniworld, Bordeaux, near France’s southwest coast, is the newest river itinerary for mainstream lines in Europe. Like France’s Seine, which offers Paris-based trips, and the Rhone, which trawls through Provence, the experience is highly food and wine influenced (absolutely a good thing!), and of course also pays homage to the art, culture and history of the region.

After almost a week onboard Viking Forseti, I now know two things. The city of Bordeaux is just about the most gorgeous city in Europe, both cosmopolitan and convivial (it’s been dubbed “little Paris” for good reason). And my bucket list has now expanded to include a week’s stay in a farmhouse in one of the delightful villages I’ve explored.

Bordeaux cruises are a bit different than other European rivers like the Rhine and even the Rhone. They traverse three different waterways (the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers and the Gironde Estuary) but actually don’t travel all that far. We spent more time docked in one place (fortunately that one place was the beautiful Bordeaux) than we did going from port to port.

And extreme tides in this part of the world are a real headache for river boat captains; in some cases, you may have to skip planned ports (and visit via motorcoach instead). That’s important to know before you commit to the destination, which in 2015 will acquire another river line, Scenic (the French oriented CroisiEurope has long offered itineraries here).

Here are more hits and the occasional misses:

Read on for more.

03/06/2014

Introduce a family to cruising… and share the fun of Royal Caribbean International!

Enjoy a day onboard Independence of the Seas

Thank you for entering.  This promotion is now closed. 

Do you love cruising? Do you want to share it with another family? Well now is your chance!

If you and your family love the variety of fun experiences offered by a cruise holiday, you’ll be thrilled with a chance to share this passion with other families.

This is why we’ve teamed up with Royal Caribbean International to offer five lucky readers and their families the opportunity to introduce another family to cruising on Saturday July 26th 2014 on an exclusive Cruise Critic ship visit.

Read on to find out how you can get onboard!

02/06/2014

June 2014 desktop calendar: Sunset sailing

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Get your June 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! We hope that this sunset shot will get you excited about those summer cruises that you have planned.
Here’s how to put this photo 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 in late June for the July 2014 calendar. 

30/05/2014

Live from Regal Princess: Stranded (Briefly) in Santorini

Cruise Critic Managing Editor Colleen McDaniel is onboard Regal Princess this week, on the ship’s inaugural voyage in the eastern Mediterranean. Today, high winds of 80 knots outside Santorini, Greece, forced the ship to temporarily abandon its tender port to move to safer waters – leaving almost 2,000 people ashore.

Colleen’s unexpected delay means that our Cruise Critic Live! chat about Regal Princess has been moved until this evening. Join us at 8 p.m. BST, or leave a question for her now!

Here are some of Colleen’s photos and description of what happened:
Santorini is a port that requires a tender; we had taken a small boat in the morning from Regal Princess to the shore, a ride of about 10 minutes. With winds whipping in the afternoon, whitecaps appeared on the sea, forcing the ship to move. We watched Regal Princess leave the port from the town of Fira, high above.
Most of us in Fira had planned to take the six-person cable cars back down to the port. With the cable car service discontinued because of the storm, we had to change our plans and walk down a steep staircase full of switchbacks.

29/05/2014

Cruise Critic Live! Join our chat about Regal Princess.

Every Thursday at 8 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.
Today, we’ll be chatting about Regal Princess, the newest ship from Princess Cruise Lines. Our Managing Editor Colleen McDaniel will be onboard for the Athens-Venice sailing. Leave your questions here, and Colleen will answer them as time and Internet permit. Then, at 8 p.m. BST today, she’ll answer your questions live for an hour. The chat will be archived, and available, after it winds up.
Note: Colleen experienced an unexpected delay, due to high winds in Santorini. That means that our Cruise Critic Live! chat about Regal Princess has been moved until tomorrow. Join us then, at 8 p.m. BST, or leave a question for her now!
Follow along on Twitter at #CruiseCriticLive.
Read the transcripts from previous Cruise Critic Live! chats.