August 29, 2014 | By Cruise Critic | No Comments
Get your September 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper!
We hope that this photo of a cruise ship sailing through Kotor, Montenegro
will get you thinking about planning a fall getaway.
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 on September 30 for the October 2014 calendar.
August 29, 2014 | By Jeannine Williamson | No Comments
Selfies might have taken over from autographs, but there are times when only a good old fashioned signature will do.
Naturally, I don’t want to spoil the magic, but I reckon it must be quite hard to write if you happen to be a mouse, duck or dog – particularly if you have to sign your name over and over again. However, for the young and young at heart it seems that a signed memento sprinkles an extra bit of fairy dust onboard Disney Cruise Line
It began, once upon a time, with Disney characters signing pillowcases for cruisers to take home. Now passengers are embarking with a pack of Sharpie marker pens and a host of items to be autographed. Cruise Critic member monkll
took to the forums to ask for more suitable suggestions for signatures
Read on to find out more.
August 28, 2014 | By Brittany Chrusciel | No Comments
Everyone is looking for the deal of the century. So how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Check the Lido Deck each week to get the scoop on our favorite deals — then grab the phone and pack your bags.
Costa Cruises is offering an 18-night Morocco and Caribbean cruise onboard Costa Luminosa
, sailing from Savona to Miami on December 2, 2014. Prices start from $1,099 per person for an inside cabin.
WHAT WE LOVE: The itinerary is unique for this sailing, hitting Morocco, the Canary Islands, then the Caribbean, with nearly a week at sea in between. You’re sailing during the coolest months for Morocco, avoiding the heat and also the rainfall in the Caribbean. Post-Thanksgiving and pre-holiday, your sailing begins in Italy if you’re looking for a pre-cruise excuse to get away for a few more days, and ends back in the U.S. Take note that Hanukkah begins December 16 this year (during the cruise). From just $62 per person, per night, sail an inside or upgrade to another cabin category for only slightly more ($72 per night for an outside, $89 for a balcony). If you’re looking for a European vibe — especially in nightlife and entertainment — and enjoy pizza and pasta, then this might be a great fit.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Although the ports are intriguing, be ready for a stretch of quite a few days at sea. Luminosa is a smaller ship, and a cup of coffee and a good book might be something you will rely upon. The line caters to American passengers, but at its heart, is Italian; there are some differences you may notice onboard, including heavier smoking in public areas. A balcony may be worth the splurge, but it could get cooler at night during this time of year, so bring a sweatshirt.
HOW TO BOOK IT:
For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (including that pesky fine print), click here.
Looking for cruises for under $75 or even $50 a day? We’ve got ‘em listed on our Cheap Cruises page
August 27, 2014 | By Cruise Critic | No Comments
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or post it in our member photo gallery
If you cruise with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises or Azamara Cruises, chances are you’ve come across Labadee
at some point. Parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s private island offers passengers aboard its ships an exclusive area to kick back with a drink in hand or let loose on the outskirts. This shot of Barefoot Beach with Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas peeking in the background epitomizes beach-bumming on the island. Thanks to Cruise Critic member CRUISEFAN0001
for the photo.
August 26, 2014 | By Cruise Critic | No Comments
Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, one of which is showcased as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member lesley4391
‘s recent cruise to the Greek Isles
aboard Seabourn Odyssey
Overall Impression: For lesley4391 and her husband, planning a cruise for their 20th anniversary was driven by the desire for a pampering cruise experience more than the itinerary. But they lucked out with both on their recent cruise though the Greek Isles aboard Seabourn Odyssey.
August 26, 2014 | By Carolyn Spencer Brown | 3 Comments
On its New York to Bermuda run this week I was among 4,800 passengers sailing aboard Norwegian Breakaway who got some bad news. Hurricane Cristobal, a late-developing storm that gave a lashing to the Dominican Republic and Haiti and bounced tropical showers off the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas, is headed straight for, you guessed it, our three port days in Bermuda.
As a result, our voyage will feature stops at Florida’s Port Canaveral and the Bahamas’ Nassau. Nice, but not quite, dare we say…the ports we’d all planned for.
Welcome to peak season hurricane cruising. While storms can occur anytime between the months of June to November (and even occasionally earlier or later), mid-August to mid-October is prime time. This affects itineraries primarily, but not exclusively, in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Atlantic Canada, the Mexican Riviera and Hawaii. (In Asia, at the same time, typhoon season can plague itineraries there.)
The good thing about cruise travel vs. resort stays in potentially affected regions?
“A cruise ship is the safest place to be in a hurricane,” said our captain, Evans Hoyt. “Because we can choose to be where the hurricane is not.”
Celebrity Summit, which had also planned a three day Bermuda port stop, was also affected, as was Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, which left Bermuda a day early to avoid the storm.
In a PowerPoint presentation in Breakaway’s atrium Monday, Captain Hoyt calmly discussed the unusual move of changing a ship’s entire itinerary — midcruise. He showed graphics of the track of the storm with the National Hurricane Center as his source. He explained the factors behind the decision (the sudden transformation of our sunny morning to an ominous dark cloud situation in the afternoon provided helpful visual support). When he was done, the several-thousand-strong group of passengers ringing the atrium applauded. That’s right. Their vacations were completely uprooted and yet, passengers still clapped.
Overheard, afterward, a passenger — completely calm — said, “I’m on a ship so I’m already in my happy place.” In contrast, another passenger who had (according to the rumor mill at the forward elevator bank) planned a wedding on one of the Bermuda port days, was livid and loudly demanding compensation.
In Cruise Critic’s Hurricane Zone, we offer lots of advice about cruising during the almost half-a-year period in which storms could possibly disrupt your trip. And while you can find it there, some of it bears repeating.
*Weather — at a resort or on a cruise ship — is not guaranteed. Tread carefully when it comes to planning major life events on shore at this time of year. Investigate insurance possibilities.
*If you have booked your port tour through your cruise line, it will of course refund the money should the ship not make it to port. But independent tour operators are a grey area; before you commit, make sure you understand what their cancellation policies are should your ship not make it to port. In this case, Viator, an independent operator we’d booked a tour with, told us it would refund Breakaway passengers who’d purchased its Bermuda tours.
*Flipping an entire itinerary is highly unusual (more typically storms may re-order port schedules or drop a stop to avoid bad weather), but cruise lines have no liability for such changes.
*Once kids go back to school (mid-August to mid-September), hurricane season cruises are just about the best deals you can get. But remember the catch.
In our case, Captain Hoyt’s decision to abruptly change our route meant that the sea turned calm and the once-threatening sky turned happy again; cheers and shrieks resumed from families having fun at the pools, ropes course and waterslides; and the Maltings Bar on the ship’s Waterfront was packed with passengers sipping whiskey and playing Mah Jongg.
All that’s left is to hope, fervently, that Bermudians stay safe and the island is spared.
August 25, 2014 | By Cruise Critic | No Comments
Each week on Cruise Critic Live!, we’ll take a look at all the things to love about cruising, from favorite destinations to amazing dining experiences, and we’ll give you the inside scoop on the newest ships at sea and on the rivers. We’ll also welcome outside experts to this space, including cruise line CEOs and newsmakers. And of course, we want to hear from you: What would you like to discuss?
This week, we’re chatting about dining onboard Norwegian cruise ships. Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown is onboard Norwegian Breakaway, and we’re joined by Frank Weber, vice president of product development for Norwegian Cruise Line. We’ll talk about the line’s initiative, Norwegian Next, and, of course, the food. Norwegian passengers told the line they wanted improvement, and the line is happy to accommodate — Carolyn’s onboard to give a first-person account of the new commitment. Plus, we’ve got Norwegian menus — lots of menus — for those who must know what will be served when they cruise. Join us at 3 p.m. (EDT) August 28
Have you missed out on a chat? Have no fear: We archive them all here
. Read them to find out which cruise line CEO announced refurbishment details for his company’s ships, what features were really great on Regal Princess and where to find some quiet time on Norwegian Getaway.
August 25, 2014 | By Cruise Critic | No Comments
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!)
Where: Departing from Norwegian Breakaway’s home city of New York, we’re heading to Bermuda, where we’ll have three full days to explore.
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Why There? The appeal of this cruise is split right down the middle. I’m intrigued to cruise on Norwegian Breakaway, my first look at the line’s newest model of ship. More than any other cruise line, at least for now, Norwegian’s voyages are more resort-oriented than traditional, and I’m curious to try the Vegas-style experience. And Bermuda – which consists of some 120-plus islands and is a British overseas territory – has beautiful beaches, lively culture, and fun pubs. Another plus: New York is a drive-to port for us, so I’m pleased to cruise without flying.
We Can’t Wait:
Onboard, Breakaway is a nightlife ship so I’m planning to jump in wholeheartedly — friends just back from a cruise on Breakaway raved about the White Hot Party and “Burn the Floor,” in particular. We love its range of restaurants – with 29 different options it’s going to be hard to get to all of them, but we’ll try. In Bermuda, we’re excited to be there for Wednesday’s Harbour Nights street festival and a cycling trip along the 18-mile Railway Trail. We’re also very excited to co-host Cruise Critic Live!
— our weekly chat — from the ship. Since Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced major new upgrades to its onboard menus, we’ll be chatting with the cruise line’s VP of Product Development Frank Weber. Come by and join us on Thursday, August 28 at 3 p.m. (Eastern).
Where: Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany
Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
Why There? We’re visiting to see the progress on Royal Caribbean’s two newest ships and checking in on the cabin factory. We’ll have plenty of photos and maybe a little news to report from the trip.
We Can’t Wait: The two ships are full of innovation, and I’m excited to see what they look like up close and personal. Quantum of the Seas will be further along than its fleetmate, Anthem, so I’m looking forward to seeing the spaces the line has been touting for more than a year: Two70, the dining spaces and of course, the pool deck. This will be my first shipyard tour, and I’m thrilled to see how the building works and comparing the progress on Quantum and Anthem, which is still in blocks.
Where: The cruisetour begins on land in Anchorage, before heading up to Denali and Fairbanks. We then explore Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon, before boarding Holland America’s Zuiderdam in Skagway for four days along Alaska’s Inside Passage.
Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
Why There? Cruisetours continue to be one of the best ways to see a lot of the 49th State in a short amount of time. Besides taking a look at Holland America’s Zuiderdam, I’ll give you the scoop on excursions, lodging and other nuts and bolts of what a typical cruisetour is all about.
We Can’t Wait:
keep looking »
I’m no stranger to Alaska’s Inside Passage (read my review
of Alaska expedition cruising), but the interior will be completely new to me. I’m interested to see how a cruisetour compares in value to a land vacation, and also how the experience on an Alaska mainstream cruise ship compares to the smaller vessels
I’ve been on.