October 2014 Calendar Desktop Wallpaper: Leaf Peeping Cruise in Maine

September 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

Cruise ship in Bar Harbor photo courtesy of Condor 36/Shutterstock

Get your October 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! We hope that this photo of a cruise ship sailing through Bar Harbor, Maine, will inspire you to consider leaf-peeping cruises in Canada and New England.

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.

1920 x 1200 | 1280 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile

Check back on October 31 for the November 2014 calendar.

    Member Review of the Week: “Me Time” On Norwegian Getaway

    September 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Mandara Spa - photo by Brittany Chrusciel

    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 bottomfeeder‘s recent cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on Norwegian Getaway.

    Overall Impression: The timing couldn’t have been more perfect: It was bottomfeeder’s birthday when she came across a deal she couldn’t pass up, onboard Norwegian’s newest ship. A solo traveler, bottomfeeder snagged a Mini Suite with no single supplement and upon boarding, treated herself to a weekly spa pass.  After seven days of "me time," bottomfeeder felt renewed, refreshed and reassured her money was well spent.

    Onboard Highlight: The spa, where bottomfeeder made the most of her weekly pass.
    Tip: The heated tile loungers offer 180-degree views and are perfect for sailaway.

    Port Highlight: Since bottomfeeder never got off the ship in port, the quiet time onboard made for even more time to relax and indulge.

    Don’t Miss: The Legally Blonde and Burn the Floor production shows, even if you’re skeptical.

    Watch Out For: The Mini Suite balconies. Bottomfeeder found them comfortable for herself, but warns they may be too narrow for more than one person.

    More: Read bottomfeeder’s full review for more details, tips and tricks to make the most of your Norwegian Getaway cruise.

    For their efforts, bottomfeeder, PureMI, DocF, avidreaderatl and Englk003 receive Cruise Critic logo items.

    Read more reviews or write your own cruise review.

      A Closer Look: What Is Cruise Week?

      September 29, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Cruise Ship - photo courtesy of Rawpixel/Shutterstock

      Every year, Cruise Lines National Association (CLIA) hosts a week of cruise deals and promotions known as Cruise Week. Held in the fall — a typically quiet booking period for cruising — Cruise Week aims to bolster cruise sales with special deals available exclusively through travel agents who have registered for the event through CLIA.

      This year, Cruise Week takes place October 6 through October 13. Deals range from buy one get one half on Royal Caribbean to 10 percent off Hurtigruten, a small line based in Norway. With prices spiking for the holidays, and wave season months away in January, Cruise Week does offer some incentive to book now for warmer weather, or next year. To book, contact your travel agent or find one on cruising.org and ask about Cruise Week specials for select sailings.

      Avalon River Cruises

      Savings of up to $1,300 per couple on river cruises in Europe.

      Carnival Cruise Lines

      Reduced deposits of 50 percent, cabin upgrades (two categories) and $50 in onboard credit per cabin.

      Cunard

      Up to $175 in onboard credit per cabin on Queen Mary 2 transatlantic crossings.

      Disney Cruises

      Up to $100 in onboard credit on select seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries.

      Hurtigruten

      Ten percent off current pricing on Norway Costal Voyage itineraries for new 2014 and 2015 bookings.

      Norwegian Cruise Line

      Up to $300 in onboard credit on select sailings and up to $100 per person for specialty sailings.

      Royal Caribbean International

      Buy one cruise fare, receive the second at half price plus 5 percent off ChoiceAir bookings.

      Check out more cruise deals!

        Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

        September 29, 2014 | By | No Comments

         Carolyn Spencer Brown and Jamey Bergman on map
        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: American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress
        Where: The Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake Rivers
        Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
        Why There? If river cruising in Europe tends to attract the most attention on Cruise Critic, we discovered that perhaps the best-kept secret of all is America’s own tributaries. American Queen, which made us huge fans of the Mississippi River after a wonderful voyage there last summer, has this year launched its new Pacific Northwest itinerary aboard the massively revamped American Empress, and we’re keen to check it out.
        We Can’t Wait: Most of our time in the Pacific Northwest has been spent in the (admittedly) fantastic cities of Seattle and Portland and we’re excited to get out into the countryside, follow in the intrepid path of explorers Lewis & Clark, and check out the critically acclaimed wine and food scenes in the region.
        Panoramic view of Old World town along the ocean with mountains in background
        Ship: Thomson Majesty
        Where: Departing from Corfu, Greece, we’re heading up the Adriatic coast, stopping in Koper, Slovenia and finishing in Venice.
        Who: Jamey Bergman, Production Editor
        Why There? Thomson Majesty — like all Thomson ships, a firm favourite with both British cruisers and package tour travellers — has undergone refurbishment to add 28 balcony cabins. And we want to take a look!
        We Can’t Wait: In spite of having worked for Cruise Critic UK for three years, I still have no experience with one of the most popular cruise brands in the UK and on our site, so I’m anxious to get onboard. What Thomson cruise devotees talk about most is the friendliness of the staff, the good food, the included gratuities and an overall pleasant onboard experience. Sounds great to me. Another reason I’m looking forward to the trip is the itinerary. A sea day in the Adriatic is likely to offer spectacular views and a stop in the slightly off-the-beaten-path Koper, Slovenia, should be intriguing.

          A Cruise in 3 Minutes: Time-Lapse Video from Norwegian Jade

          September 26, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

          One of our technically gifted Cruise Critic members has made it possible for you to take a cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean in just three minutes through the use of time-lapse video.
          Member hdarby took his Sony GoPro video camera onboard Norwegian Jade as the ship sailed round-trip from Venice — well-known as one of the most scenic spots to see from a cruise ship. Your virtual itinerary also includes visually stunning stops in Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens, Greece; Kusadasi, Turkey and Split, Croatia.
          The video is perfect if you’re between cruises and need to get your cruise fix or if you’re considering the Eastern Mediterranean and want to get a preview. And for you techies, hdarby said the video was mostly shot with two seconds between frames at a speed of 30 frames per second.
          And if you just can’t get enough, our videographer extraordinaire has created a separate episode from a Norwegian Epic cruise out of Miami. Enjoy!

            Hot on the Forums: First Thing’s First – What Do You Do After Embarkation?

            September 26, 2014 | By | 15 Comments

            Waiting to Leave

            When I board a cruise ship, I’m not the best at filling the ‘empty time’ between embarkation and getting the green light to go to my cabin. I tend to sit around twiddling my thumbs, and it’s only after I’ve unpacked and got my stateroom shipshape that I really start to relax and enjoy my surroundings.

            I should have guessed that savvy Cruise Critic members have come up with much more productive ways to while away the time.

            The suggestions started coming in after Shaycatt11 went on the forums to ask: “Do you have any tips on making the most of them ‘first few hours’ before you get given your room key? I usually head to the spa and get myself a raffle ticket, then go find my dining table for the cruise, finally I find a quiet corner and study the cruise compass with a cold drink.”

            In the responses, it seems that two activities are most popular with our members: either head to the bar for a restorative cocktail or two, or check out their MDR assignment and find out where their table is located.”

            Continue reading highlights from the discussion.

              Wining & Dining: What’s Your Perfect Cruise Meal?

              September 25, 2014 | By | 5 Comments

              Delicious Salmon Dish

              They say age or glasses of wine should never be counted. I’m adding ‘favorite cruise foods’ to that list.

              Between the main dining room, buffet, complimentary eateries and for-fee specialty restaurants, the meal options on cruise ships are endless (not to mention, all the local fare in port).

              Even if you’re not a foodie, everyone has at least one vacation dish that lingers in their culinary memory. Narrowing down your favorite can be difficult (not that we’re complaining!)

              If I had to name my dream meal, I’m torn between entrees I’ve eaten on Carnival, Oceania and Un-Cruise Adventures and desserts sampled on Royal Caribbean and Disney. It’s impossible to choose just one.

              Here at Cruise Critic, our editors decided to try to figure out our own perfect three-course cruise meals. We were allowed to choose one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert, from any cruise line of our choosing. Here are the results:

              Read on to see our editors’ dream meals.

                Steal of the Week: 7-Night Holiday Caribbean Cruise + Bonuses

                September 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

                piggy bank cruising
                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: Priceline is offering a seven-night holiday cruise to the Eastern Caribbean onboard Celebrity Reflection, sailing roundtrip from Miami on December 20, 2014. Prices start from $849 per person for an inside cabin, but book an outside or higher and receive a range of bonuses from hundreds in onboard credit to prepaid gratuities or a beverage package.
                WHAT WE LOVE: Prices jump for popular holiday sailings — especially ones that cruise during the holiday — so to not only find reasonable pricing but to have some bonuses thrown in, is a holiday miracle. Priceline is advertising a weeklong Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard Celebrity Reflection from $121 per person per night, taking place over the Christmas holiday and during Hanukkah. If you choose to book an outside cabin or higher category, the bonuses kick in starting with a $300 holiday onboard credit, and continuing with your choice of prepaid gratuities, a drinks package for two or more onboard credit with the line’s Pick Your Perk program. (Just book by October 5.) Ports include San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, with equal and relaxing time at sea. Snow may be festive, but island sun and onboard credit to burn are a convincing excuse to sail away this season.
                WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Sure the starting cruise fare is fine, but if you want to earn any of the bonuses for this sailing, you’ll need to upgrade, and outside cabins begin at more than a grand per person — balconies are $1,199. If you consider the value for the time of year and added amenities, don’t consider it for too long — although the offer ends October 5, these holiday sailings book quickly and may start to fill by month’s end. Flights are domestic if you’re in the U.S., but considering the holiday season, prices and fees may be more.
                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.
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