Countdown to Quantum: What’s up with the Robotic Bartenders?

October 22, 2014 | By | No Comments

The Bionic Bar on Quantum of the Seas - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

I’ve got to admit, when I first heard that Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Quantum of the Seas would have robotic bartenders, a number of thoughts came to mind.

First: It’s gonna be a bit of a one-sided conversation.

Second: Will they look more like R2-D2 or C3PO?

Third: Does that mean will they be losing bar staff?

Fourth: Will anyone notice?

Fifth: Gimmick!

Well, in less than two weeks, when I get my first look at the ship in Southampton, I’ll get all the definitive answers to those questions.

But till then, here’s what we can glean from the very limited information we have so far.

Read more on the Bionic Bar

    Wanderlust Wednesday: From the Glaciers to the Forest

    October 22, 2014 | By | No Comments

    From the Glaciers to the Forest - photo courtesy of meinkebwhich/Cruise Critic Forums

    Every Wednesday, we’ll be taking you on a journey around the world to some of the most interesting places our members have trekked, swum or merely witnessed from afar while cruising.

    Whether these photos inspire you to plan a relaxing escape or walk on the wild side, we hope they ignite your senses and give you ideas for your next cruising adventure. If you have a photo you’d love to share, send it to us at photos@cruisecritic.com or post it in our member photo gallery. Feel free to send us your Twitter handle. Maybe you’ll get a shout out next #WanderlustWednesday!

    If you’re cruising in Alaska, chances are Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm Fjord is on the itinerary. Although both bucket list landmarks offer a chance to witness glaciers and everything else that makes Alaska special, each is different in its own way. Tracy Arm takes cruisers through narrow fjord walls to Sawyer Glacier, passing icebergs, lush forest and wildlife along the way. We love this photo taken by Cruise Critic member meinkebwhich captures the vastness of the fjord perfectly.

     

    Find interesting places to visit based on region.
    Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
    Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

      Top 5 Reasons to Love a Halloween Cruise

      October 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

      The Halloween Tree - photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Lines

      Cruise lines love a good holiday. They rave about Thanksgiving (get someone else to cook and clean!), plan a mean party on New Year’s (balloon drops and Champagne toasts!) and go to town on Christmas (Gingerbread houses! Visits from Santa! Carolers in the atrium!). But Halloween doesn’t get as much press.

      Which is sad. I’ve sailed on two Halloween cruises — the first, a cruise during Halloween week on Carnival Spirit (apropos name, eh?), and the second, a cruise on Disney Dream during its two months of Halloween on the High Seas cruises. Both were incredibly fun — possibly more fun than Halloween on land. I’m surprised more cruise lines don’t play up Halloween, as it’s a compelling reason to cruise during an otherwise slow travel time. Whether you’re a kid looking to show off your superhero costume and score some candy, or an adult looking to dress up and party, here are our top reasons to cruise on Halloween.

      1. Costume night is way better than formal night.

      If you’re going to have to schlep your gowns and tuxedoes anyway, you might as well pack your princess dress or penguin costume instead. Costumes make people watching at the bar that much more fun, and group outfits are applauded rather than sneered at. Pick the right costume and it can be much more comfortable than high heels and slimming undergarments. Plus, you don’t have to plan your outfit around a bulky winter coat — it’s all warm Caribbean nights rather than frigid late fall temps.

      More Reasons to Love Halloween Cruises

        Member Review of the Week: Chasing Destinations

        October 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

        Tower of Hercules - photo Courtesy of apgestoso/Shutterstock

        Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member Dave_P’s recent cruise to Spain on Holland America’s Rotterdam.

        Overall Impression: Driven by their wanderlust for European favorites Cadiz and Lisbon, Dave_P (a small ship lover) and his wife (a big ship lover) met in the middle with a cruise on HAL’s mid-sized Rotterdam. Overnights in these two cities made for a special treat, while friendly crewmembers, a cozy suite and surprisingly adequate vegetarian food options were pluses for their 14-night journey.

        Onboard Highlight: While their Vista Suite was a favorite, Dave_P and his wife were blown away by the entertainment onboard — especially the piano and violin group, Adagio, and jazz performances.

        Port Highlight: Coruna, Spain, where the two toured the Castle of San Anton and Tower of Hercules.

        Don’t Miss: Climbing to the observation level for a breathtaking view of the city and coastline.

        Watch Out For: If you’re unfamiliar with the Lanai cabins, keep in mind they don’t offer the privacy that balcony cabins and suites do.

        More: Read Dave_P’s full review for more details about their pre- and post-cruise stays, life onboard the ship and adventures in port.

        For their efforts, Dave_P, rb80, duff314, getawaynow33 and meinkeb receive Cruise Critic logo items.

        Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

          Just Back From…Oasis of the Seas: What’s New After its Makeover?

          October 20, 2014 | By | 16 Comments

          Oasis of the Seas - photo by Jamey Bergman

          Before boarding Oasis of the Seas — the 5,400-passenger Royal Caribbean ship that gave new meaning to the term "mega-ship" when it launched in 2009 (only sister ship Allure of the Seas is bigger) — I expected it to feel like a combination of a Las Vegas hotel and an amusement park.

          And with a boardwalk, a Central Park and a bar/elevator onboard, my suspicions were proven correct. I was surprised, however, that the behemoth of a ship still managed to have its own personality. It didn’t feel crowded, and I didn’t feel claustrophobic, even though Oasis can hold as many people as the town I grew up in. Overall, I think the size of the ship actually made me feel more comfortable than I have felt on some smaller cruise ships.

          The point of my trip was to check out the fortnight’s worth of beauty treatments the ship received during its “revitalization” dry dock in Rotterdam. Here’s what’s new onboard one of the world’s biggest cruise ships:

          More on the Oasis of the Seas Makeover

            Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

            October 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Colleen on the Paul Gauuin in the Society Islands, Chris at the TBEX Conference in Greece

            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: Paul Gauguin’s flagship, Paul Gauguin

            Where: Roundtrip from Papeete, Society Islands

            Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor

            Why There? We’re checking in on the luxury ship, which exclusively sails year-round Society, Tuamotu and Marquesas islands.

            We Can’t Wait: I’ll be sailing with Paul Gauguin for the first time. The line — and the ship of the same name — routinely receive rave reviews from Cruise Critic members, who love the food, service and small-ship luxury experience. This also will be my first trip to Tahiti and the Society Islands, which is a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. You can bet I’ll be in the water as much as possible

            photo courtesy of Anastasios71/Shutterstock

            Ship: Various

            Where: Athens, Greece

            Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

            Why There? As Lido Deck editor, I’m pleased to be speaking at TBEX Europe, a conference for travel bloggers and digital content producers. While I’m there, I’ll be visiting the headquarters of Variety Cruises, spending the day on MSC Fantasia and taking a four-day cruise of the Aegean Sea on Louis Olympia.

            We Can’t Wait: There’s no better way to explore the Greek Isles than on a cruise. I’m looking forward to visiting historic sites, touring several different vessels and taking in some spectacular sunsets.

              Destination Spotlight: Banana Coast, Honduras

              October 17, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

              Welcome to Banana Coast - photo by Adam Coulter

              On Wednesday, the new Caribbean cruise port of Banana Coast (Trujillo), on the north coast of Honduras, welcomed its first big cruise ship, Norwegian Jewel.

              While a smaller ship, Travel Dynamics’ 130-passenger Yorktown, paid a couple of visits in February, this was the tender port’s first mega-ship – Jewel has 2,500 passengers. The stop heralded the official start of the cruise season here. The Honduran press attended in force (it was all over local TV), as did the mayor of Trujillo, numerous dignitaries, the Minister for Tourism, and of course, Cruise Critic.

              Read on for more

                Hot on the Forums: Mini Mussels Show Their Might

                October 17, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

                Mussels - photo courtesy of v777999/Shutterstock

                At Cruise Critic we’ve seen, read and heard pretty much everything there is to do with cruising. Then every once in a while something comes along that takes even the most seasoned cruisers by surprise. In this instance it’s the curious case of tiny mussels can bring down a big cruise ship’s cooling system.

                It all began with reports on the forum last week that things weren’t right with the air conditioning onboard Princess Cruises’ 2,590-passenger Golden Princess, as the ship made its way south to Mexico on a four-night roundtrip from Los Angeles. 

                Read on to continue the story

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