Destination Spotlight: 5 Reasons to Cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam

November 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Indochine owned by CroisiVoyages

The majority of my river and canal cruises have been in Europe – which makes sense, as it’s the world’s most popular river cruise destination. Recently, I floated much further afield, along the lesser-traveled waters of Cambodia and Vietnam aboard the 48-passenger, colonial-style Indochine owned by CroisiVoyages, part of French-owned CroisiEurope. The eight-night cruise took in part of the 2,710-mile Mekong (or Mother) River – Southeast Asia’s longest river – and Tonle Sap, the region’s largest freshwater lake.

Here are five reasons to take a cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh city (or in reverse).

1. Spectacular Sights. Pack plenty of memory cards and don’t forget your charger as there are unique and amazing sights every step of the way. Cambodia’s Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire and the world’s largest religious complex. The jewel in the crown is the imposing Angkor Wat temple (it’s well worth getting up early to watch the sunrise). Nearby, almost hidden in the tropical jungle, is Ta Prohm (used in the movie “Tomb Raider”), where tree roots are entwined with the temple buildings.

Away from the main tourist attractions, I took countless photos of everyday street (and river) life, from the fishermen who live with their families in floating houses to bustling villages and crowded cities where street traders sell everything from food to gas syphoned into soda bottles!

Four more reasons to cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam

    Hot on the Forums: Comical Cruise Complaints

    November 21, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

    Complaints Department - image courtesy of Shutterstock

    Side-splitting comedians may be on the bill, but look no further than the guest relations desk for a rich source of (unofficial) cruise ship entertainment. Blissfully unaware of their audience, passengers grumble long – and loud – about their perceived “complaints.” I once witnessed an irate couple, outraged that the two cases of wine they’d brought with their luggage had been confiscated, demand that the cruise line fork out the airfare to ship their banned booty back home (instead it was returned to them at the end of the voyage, as it would be for anyone else).

    It’s this kind of thing that comes up in a very amusing thread started by forum member johhnnyt who asks: “What is the funniest complaint you ever heard (or overheard) at guest relations?”

    On an excursion to Nice, he witnessed a woman throwing a fit because she didn’t expect to be on a bus for an hour. “The guide explained to her they couldn’t turn the bus around just for her,” johhnnyt wrote. “She then insisted she and her husband be left in the next town ‘and we’ll arrange our own transportation back to the ship’.”

    “The next day she was down at guest relations, demanding that the guide be fired for ignoring her and that she be reimbursed €400 for the money that it cost her to hire a boat to bring her back to the ship (although she had misplaced the receipt). The people at guest relations tried their best to calm her down, but explained to her that neither request was going to happen, since they didn’t do anything wrong. Fellow passengers who were in line at guest relations could not stop laughing, which no doubt infuriated her even more.”

    More comical complaints

      Just Back From… Quantum of the Seas: 6 Cool Things about the Cabins

      November 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Owner's Suite with Balcony - Bed in master bedroom - Quantum of the Seas

      Cruises can be frustrating at time, mostly because of little things. Like having to stumble to the desk to check the time on my phone when I wake up at night.

      Why do I have to stumble to the desk, when there’s a bedside stand close by? As frequent cruisers know, there’s never a convenient outlet there. And speaking of outlets, there’s never enough of them. Between my traveling companion and myself, we have two cell phones, one laptop, possibly two cameras and, sometimes, a tablet, all of which need to be charged.

      So it was, with much excitement, that I discovered a bedside outlet in my cabin on Quantum of Seas. The cabin also has two USB charging outlets along with the usual electrical outlets by the desk.

      Those two elements weren’t the only small touches I discovered in the cabin during my four days on the ship — small touches that allowed me to “live” in my cabin more similarly to how I live at home. Here, in no particular order, are six cabin details on Quantum of the Seas that make a huge difference.

      USB Charging Outlets: No more needing to use one of the only two electrical outlets for charging my phone. Instead, I was able to plug in directly to one of the two USB outlets located by the desk. I think I heard angels singing as my phone and camera battery charged, while at the same time I typed away on my also-plugged-in laptop.

      Five more conveniences in Quantum’s cabins

        Steal of the Week: Star Clippers Waives Supplements, Gives OBC for Holidays

        November 20, 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: Star Clippers is offering holiday bonuses including waived single supplements, onboard credit and extra amenities onboard select sailings of Royal Clipper and Star Clipper this season.
        WHAT WE LOVE: Holiday deals add an additional layer of cheer on an already festive sailing. Solo travelers can put single supplements out of their minds and use that extra cash to treat themselves, and passengers in double occupancy cabins are treated to $250 in onboard credit per person (not cabin!) to enjoy on the ship, as well as complimentary Champagne and sweets, served on each holiday sailing. If you’re on the Royal Clipper’s New Year’s sailing, a free one-hour massage is included to ring in 2015 relaxed.
        WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The holidays are coming up quickly, so these are last-minute deals, and the small, upscale line of tall ships doesn’t run cheap. If a luxury cruise is in the cards (or you care to trade all the kids’ presents in and sail towards the Caribbean sunset), then these added amenities are appealing, especially without the single supplement that solo cruisers are used to forking over. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s on offer — the drinks, massages and onboard credit are nice, but not on every holiday cruise, and only if you can afford full cruise fare.
        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.

          Just Back from… Quantum of the Seas: Two70

          November 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

          The Two70 Lounge on Quantum of the Seas - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

          Much about the Quantum of the Seas smart ship coverage has focused on the robot bartenders in the Bionic Bar. And that’s understandable (I had visions of the bar in Star Wars before I boarded).

          But the real tech wows of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship are, in my opinion, “Vistarama” and the “roboscreens” in Two70. This space at the back of the ship is where cutting-edge technology is being pioneered.

          The double-height space has an enormous window, which takes up the whole of the back wall. Press a button and a screen slides down, transforming into Vistarama – an ultra-HD screen more than 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Vistarama’s 12k resolution is nearly twice that of any IMAX cinema and can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.

          On my sailing, I sat in on a tech talk with Nick Weir, the Brit-born vice president of entertainment at Royal Caribbean, who has overseen the 14-month project. He was understandably keen to show off some of the techno wizardry on offer, and during the afternoon demo we saw a Zeppelin balloon animation, a giant musical fish tank and a large red curtain, pulled apart to reveal a stage.

          Read about the tech behind Two70

            Wanderlust Wednesday: Back to the Future

            November 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

            City of Arts and Sciences Complex, Valencia, Spain - photo courtesy of Delray2002/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 shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!

            Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences is one of a number of stops along Oceania Cruises’ Majestic Masterpieces itineraries. A mecca of art, culture and entertainment, it’s a must-see if sailing to the Spanish city. We love this shot taken by Cruise Critic member Delray2002 on a recent cruise aboard Oceania Nautica.

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

              Just Back From… Quantum of the Seas: Fitness Onboard

              November 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Fitness Center on Quantum of the Seas - photo by Colleen McDaniel

              There was a time when the fitness area on a cruise ship was roughly the size of a closet. Equipment consisted of a few rusty pneumatic machines, a self-propelled treadmill or two and maybe a giant stationary air bike that produced more noise than sweat.

              Thankfully, cruise lines got the message that their passengers wanted more. Old ships have been retrofit with bigger and better spaces, and new ships debut with amazing spaces that could entice even the staunchest couch potatoes to give exercise a shot.

              The gym is usually the first place I visit when I’m sailing, and I generally visit several times during a cruise.  So when I heard former NFL player Dhani Jones had been named and experience adviser for sports and fitness on Quantum of the Seas, I was thrilled at the possibilities.

              Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, which debuted in the U.S. last week, didn’t disappoint. In fact, the fitness center itself is the best I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship. (And that’s not taking into account the great two-lane jogging track, where each lap nets you a third of a mile.) Here’s why you’ll love it:

              Quantum of the Seas gets fitness right

                Member Review of the Week: An Active 50-Something Ventures with HAL

                November 18, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

                Capuchin in a tree - Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - photo Courtesy of Kuzmin/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 Ladygmfd1’s recent cruise to the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Central America on Holland America’s Zuiderdam.

                Overall Impression: A smooth embarkation is never guaranteed, so when it happens you feel like a million bucks. Ladygmfd1 and her husband made it a point to start their cruise on the right foot. A special parking service saved them time and money, and prepaid packages eliminated the hassle and shock some cruisers experience when they get the bill at the end of their cruise. As Ladygmfd1 put it, “You get what you put in.” And this couldn’t have applied more to them.

                Onboard Highlight: The crew, whose charm and attentiveness made a lasting impression.

                Port Highlight: Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, where Ladygmfd1 and her hubby opted for the eco-boat, train and banana plantation tour.

                Don’t Miss: The chilled coconut soup in the main dining room.

                Watch Out For: If you book HAL’s Hato caves excursion in Curacao, be mindful of the ascending stairs you’ll need to climb and how hot the caves can get.

                More: Read Ladygmfd1’s full review for more details about their cabin, the food and adventures in port, plus more useful planning tips.

                For their efforts, Ladygmfd1, StephandFred, tkcakes, sarvin4 and Lovefuninthesun receive Cruise Critic logo items.

                Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

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