We Try It: Massage on a Riverboat

April 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

Image courtesy of  deepblue-photographer/Shutterstock
Massages in the United States and on major oceangoing cruise lines are rather straightforward: Arms, legs, neck and back. On a European river ship, though, you have to watch out for more B’s: the belly and elsewhere (I’ll let you figure out what else starts with B!)
Having your tummy rubbed is a strange sensation for someone from the States. It’s seriously difficult to relax and enjoy your message when you’re trying to suck your stomach in. But what the massage therapist chose to rub down was not the only difference I experienced when I decided to indulge in a massage on the Rhine.

Read on to find out more

    #Throwback Thursday: Golden Age of Cruising

    April 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

    It’s #Throwback Thursday – and many of the modern sailors on our staff wish we could grab a glimpse of cruising in days gone by, when a transatlantic crossing was the primary way to visit Europe.
    Luckily for us, our UK office found these gorgeous images, part of a new exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, which shows how that city’s shipping companies promoted themselves to the world for more than a century.
    While Liverpool is a little far away for most of us to visit, here are some of the 14 posters, many of which are on display from the Museum’s collection for the very first time.

    To see more vintage cruise posters, click here.

      Steal of the Week: Alaska from $64/Night

      April 17, 2014 | By | 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.
      THE DEAL: Carnival Cruise Lines is offering an eight-night Alaska cruise onboard Carnival Miracle, sailing from Vancouver to Seattle on April 28, 2014. Prices start from just $509 per person for an inside cabin.
      WHAT WE LOVE: Kick-start Alaska season with this last-minute, late-April sailing from just $64 per person, per night. Depart from award-winning Port Metro Vancouver to cruise the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, with stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. In recent years Carnival Miracle has added Serenity, the adults-only pool deck, which as its name describes, can offer some peace among your fantastic surroundings. Also enjoy onboard experiences such as The Chef’s Table multicourse dinner with a private cocktail reception and master chef. Catching a cruise just before the official May kickoff of Alaska season may mean a quieter onboard experience.
      WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: This ship does sail soon, so book or be left behind. For anyone unfamiliar with certain Carnival ships’ decor, it may strike as a bit…much. Miracle is quite a themed ship, with everything from an Alice in Wonderland lounge to Frankenstein’s Lab disco and superhero-themed lobbies. If you’re looking for a modern, sleek, no-frills ship to accompany you through Alaska, this isn’t the onboard atmosphere you’re looking for. However, it is fun in its over-the-topness. Cheap sailings to Alaska run throughout the season, so if you can’t make this one, don’t sweat it.
      HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (including that pesky fine print), click here.
      Compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.
      Looking for cruises for under $75 or even $50 a day? We’ve got ‘em listed on our Cheap Cruises page.
      Get great cruise deals — and exclusive member offers — delivered weekly to your inbox.

        Hot on the Forums: What Onboard Activities and Areas Do You Ignore?

        April 16, 2014 | By | 15 Comments

        Image courtesy of Anan Kaewkhammul
        Cruise ships are awash with a multitude of onboard activities, from the traditional deck games, bridge, bingo and trivia quizzes that bring out varying degrees of competitiveness to all-singing all-dancing shows and movies under the stars.
        And that’s before you even tackle the rock-climbing walls and watersports on all-action cruises or strike a pose for the ship’s photographer.
        In fact, the exhaustive list of things to do can be, well, exhausting. It really is a case of so much to do, so little time.

        Read on to find out more.

          Wanderlust Wednesday: Ancient Lands

          April 16, 2014 | By | 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 photos@cruisecritic.com or post it in our member photo gallery.
          We love this view of the ruins of Ephesus taken by member crispybee on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise.
          Find interesting places to visit based on region.
          Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
          Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

            Helping on the High Seas: Kick Cancer Overboard

            April 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Cancer — and its treatments — can be incredibly stressful. That’s why the non-profit organization Kick Cancer Overboard raises money to send those affected by the disease on a weeklong cruise.
            The four-year-old charity was founded by DonnaLyn Giegerich, a cancer survivor, and her friend and business partner, travel agent Ted Friedli. Raising money through fundraisers and sponsorships, the organization has sent 80 cancer patients and their families on two Royal Caribbean cruises to Bermuda. The next is slated to leave New Jersey in March 2015 on Quantum of the Seas.
            Giegerich was 43 when, seven years ago, doctors told her she wouldn’t live to see 50. She had Leiomyosarcoma, rare cancer with a one-in-four million chance of survival.
            But Giegerich, now 50, rejected the diagnosis. She underwent surgery, pushed through radiation and chemotherapy, and emerged stronger than ever. She ran a half-marathon with mere stubs for hair, and competed in the Mrs. New Jersey pageant wearing a bikini that showcased the 18-inch vertical scar slicing her body. (She finished as first runner-up.)
            Now in the survivor category, Giegerich wanted to help others. But how? Friedli came up with the idea of sending folks on vacation. Playing off the idea that Giegerich was now a pageant queen, he reached out to Royal Caribbean International, a company with which he had long had a good rapport.
            “There are a lot of support services out there …but nobody was providing people going through the ravages of treatment a fun fest at sea,” Giegerich said. “Because they do have fun. Some people think, ‘Oh, cancer. Cruising. It must be such a sad group of people.’ I say, ‘These people have a clear idea of the fragility of life and they have the time of their lives.’”
            Cruises are given to those who would be unable to afford such a luxury on their own. Passengers, who travel in a group of 40, dine and have cocktails together every night and there is also an opening night kick-off party. Giegerich, a certified yoga instructor, also teaches classes to interested parties. On Sunday, there’s an all-denomination service to bless the cruisers.
            Typically, the charity will pay for the person affected by cancer and a friend or family member.
            The cruises can provide crucial lasting memories, not only for the patients, but for their entire families. During one trip, a family of five — mother, father and three children — squeezed into one cabin.  After the father’s death, his family let Kick Cancer Overboard know how much the trip had meant to them.
            According to Giegerich they said, “This is one of the nicest memories we had as a family before the end of my father’s life. We can’t thank you enough.”
            Kick Cancer Overboard has no paid staff and its only bill is for liability insurance. The bulk of its money comes from a sponsorship by the New Jersey Marathon. Volunteer runners collect pledges to raise money. The organization also holds small fund raisers throughout the year.
            Giegerich said she’d only taken a cruise once before starting Kick Cancer Overboard. Now she and her husband, who also beat a cancer that doctors said should have killed him years ago, enjoy their time at sea, meeting new people and forming tight bonds over shared experiences.
            “People say old friends are best friends and that may be true, but never lose an opportunity to meet somebody and make them a close friend for life,” Giegerich said. “There really is no time to waste.”

              A Cruise Full of Characters

              April 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

              disney wonder ship photo
              What better birthday gift for a 7-year-old girl than a Disney cruise? That was the thinking when CharlottesMama booked a Western Caribbean cruise on Disney Wonder — the first-ever cruise for the family.
              The long roadtrip from Minnesota to the port of Galveston went off without a hitch. A late seating with another family that had daughters the same age worked out perfectly (room service snacks tided everyone over until dinner). CharlottesMama’s daughter loved the line’s Oceaneer Club, leaving the couple some time to themselves.
              Read on for more of CharlottesMama’s impressions.

                Contest: Win a Prime Viewing Spot for Queen Mary 2 Anniversary Sail

                April 14, 2014 | By | 70 Comments

                There are few ships as iconic as Queen Mary 2. With its trademark red and black funnel, the Cunard flagship has drawn oohs and aahs at 182 ports around the world for a decade now, sailing more than 419 voyages since its christening by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in January 2004.
                More fun QM2 facts:
                *If stood on her stern, the 1,132-foot vessel would be taller than the Empire State Building and more than three times higher than St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
                *The ship took more than 1 million hours to design and eight million hours to build.
                *The number of passengers in the past decade have exceeded 1.3 million, as well as 2,000 dogs traveling in the vessel’s kennel.
                *The ship has served over 58 million meals and 21.9 million cups of tea – enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools.
                In honor of its anniversary – and next year’s 175th celebration of the Cunard line – the liner is gearing up for a special Southampton gathering in May with its fleetmates, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Queen Mary 2 will then set sail on its traditional transatlantic route to New York City for even more festivities.
                For those who can make it to New York, Cruise Critic is offering a special opportunity. On Friday, May 16, Cunard Cruise Line will host guests aboard Bateaux New York, carrying guests on a three-hour harbor cruise to watch the QM2 as it departs New York.

                This contest gives you and a guest the chance to join the festivities onboard Bateaux, with cocktails, canapés and stunning photo ops.

                To enter, tell us your favorite memory of Queen Mary 2 – or one that you’d like to have. A winner will be selected randomly on April 28 at 12 p.m. Note: This prize does not include transportation to New York or the pier.
                If you are selected, we will need your name, email and cell phone number. Winner and guest must be 21 or older, have valid IDs to board Bateaux and be available to board at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 16. Bateaux will return to Chelsea Pier at 8 p.m.

                Editor’s Note: This is not a cruise onboard Queen Mary 2.

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