Hot on the Forums: Cruisers Handle Clingy Shower Curtains

December 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

woman in shower

When I check into a cabin, it doesn’t take long to work out whether I will be singing in the shower or having a touch of the washday blues. My main complaints are wafer-thin soaps that instantly break in half, stingy containers combining body wash and shampoo (which invariably leave your hair as dry as straw) and no conditioner (see previous point).

But far worse is the dreaded clingy shower curtain – and looking at the forums I know plenty of members think the same.

It’s unpleasant enough when a cold, clammy curtain sticks to you. Much nastier than that is the thought of whom, or what, it has stuck to before.

It’s fascinating to discover that scientists and other great minds have pondered the dilemma of why shower curtains attack, with several attributing it to the Bernoulli effect that keeps planes in the air. However, it’s canny Cruise Critic members who have come up with practical solutions and tips to fight back.

Never wrestle cabin curtains again.

    A Closer Look: Talking With Carnival Cruise Line’s Incoming President

    December 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Christine Duffy, incoming president of Carnival Cruise Line, already knows how she’ll be spending at least one week this winter – on a Carnival ship, soaking up some rays, enjoying a book and checking out everything that there is to know about Fun Ships. That’s because, though she’s been on other cruise ships, Duffy has never sailed on Carnival.

    But while Duffy may not have any personal experience aboard a Carnival ship, she’s been the voice of cruising for several years. As president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, Duffy has led the lobbying and educational efforts of the industry since 2011.

    After Carnival made the announcement yesterday, Cruise Critic got on the phone with Duffy to find out more about her and what plans she has for Carnival.

    CC: Tell me about your travel style.

    Duffy: I’ve always been passionate about travel. I like to try all sorts of different travel, whether it’s a luxury experience, an adventure experience, an experience with big crowds. I have a large extended family and we often travel together. I think, like most people, my travel style changes depending on who you travel with and what the trip is all about. So if I’m traveling with a bunch of girlfriends and we’re heading out to Vegas to see some shows or with just my husband and another couple, it all depends.

    CC: Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s previous president, liked the water slides on cruise ships. What’s your favorite thing to do on a cruise ship?

    Duffy: I love to be on the ship. I have to admit I am a sun girl, so I love to be in the sunshine. I love to look out and see the beautiful blue ocean. I love to read my book and really relax and enjoy everything that the ship has to offer. I love the fact that these ships take us to different places and I only have to pack once. I have probably not been on as many cruises as I would have liked during my time at CLIA, but I spent a lot of time on planes and trains and staying in hotels, and I hate packing and unpacking.

    CC: What excites you most about joining Carnival?

    Duffy: Where do I even begin? As someone who started in the travel industry in 1982, Carnival is an iconic brand. It’s sort of like talking about Kleenex and tissue. Carnival is the “Fun Ships” and is the brand that started what we know today as the modern cruise industry. I am just honored and thrilled to be joining the team at Carnival and working on how we continue this great history and legacy of the brand.

    CC: You’re coming on just in time for the creation of Carnival Vista, due in 2016. How does it feel to know you will be involved in the creation of a new ship?

    Duffy: I’ve not been involved with it at this point so I’m very excited to see what’s in store with Vista. That’s certainly an exciting part of the cruise industry, across all brands, the idea of a new ship and being able to put in all of those things that we hear from passengers that they want to see in today’s ships.

    CC: Do you have any ideas for how you’d want to put your personal stamp on it?

    Duffy: I’ll leave that to the experts that have been working on it.

    CC: Having led CLIA’s globalization project, you’ve got a lot of global experience. What do you see for Carnival globally — both in places like Australia and Asia, which are big cruise markets, as well as in Europe, where Carnival has not had a presence for a few years?

    Duffy: It would be premature for me to talk about that. You’re right that I certainly spent a lot of my time at CLIA these past two years focused on our globalization. I’ve been to Australia; I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe and was recently in Asia. The exciting thing about the cruise industry is it’s clearly a global industry and its growing globally. How Carnival Cruise Line as a brand fits into that, I’ll have to wait and see until I get onboard.

    CC: You originally come from the trade side of the travel business (working with travel agents). How will you work with the trade at Carnival and what will it mean for consumers?

    Duffy: Today is just the announcement; I haven’t started at Carnival yet but the message I would send out is: I don’t think I would have been selected as a candidate for this role if Carnival didn’t see that my trade experience and that I started my career as a travel agents wasn’t an important part of what they were getting with me in the job.

    CC: Carnival has Carnival Live! where bands come on board and do a concert. If you could select a band to join the Carnival Live! lineup for next year which band would you like to see perform?

    Duffy: I’m going to date myself but I love The Eagles.

      Steal of the Week: $1K Bonus on Azamara

      December 18, 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: Azamara Club Cruises is offering one of three bonuses — all valued around $1,000 — when you book a select sailing now through March. Choose from onboard credit, air credits or a cabin upgrade.
      WHAT WE LOVE: Azamara is already a great value with many inclusions bundled into your cruise fare: drinks, laundry, gratuities and more. Save $1,000 in onboard spending or airfare, or treat yourself to a cabin upgrade — on them. This promotion offers a significant incentive to book during wave season — and you have until March 31 to choose the right sailing for you. A line known for its exotic and extensive itineraries, Azamara has applied this promotions to both its ships and not just into the New Year — you can book as far ahead as 2017. Ports span the globe from the Mediterranean to South America, the Middle East to the West Indies… you name it. The choice is up to you, and there’s a lot to choose from.
      WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Are you a couple that will spend $1,000 onboard? Do you care about a cabin upgrade? Do the air credits apply to you? If you don’t see a value in any of the promotions, maybe it’s not the right time to book. Sales run more frequently these days, in general, so another promotion is likely to come along if the current one doesn’t speak to you. Be sure to book within your budget; don’t just be dazzled by the bonuses.
      HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (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.

        A Spa Novice Asks, What’s a Thermal Suite?

        December 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

        Disney Dream Rainforest Room - photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

        I like a nice massage or facial, same as anyone, but I’m by no means a spa devotee; I see no reason to pay, hundreds of dollars to be slathered in goo, wrapped in tinfoil or pounded on the back like a piece of USDA grade beef in an onboard steakhouse. So when Disney Cruise Line offered me the chance to try out Rainforest Room, the thermal suite on Disney Dream, I was curious to check out what all the fuss was about.

        If you’re not in the know, thermal suites seem to be the latest rage in onboard spa amenities. All of the new ships have them, and charge extra for them. While they’re filled with exotic-sounding amenities, like Laconiums (Laconia?) and salt scrub bars (um, what?), don’t let the lingo fool you; in plain English, thermal suites are fancy saunas, where you can relax in a variety of heated environments (for a fee, of course).

        Here’s something else you might not know: You’re supposed to go through the various rooms in order. It’s apparently better for your pores. But make sure you get the route map — another writer on our trip didn’t know and went through backwards. Disaster. I’m sure her pores are now filled with toxins.

        Despite the weird names and cautionary tales, I discovered that thermal suites, for the most part, are quite relaxing. Here’s your route map to relaxation.

        Step 1, Laconium: Despite the similarities in name to newborn poop (meconium), a laconium is a dry sauna. This is where you sit on a wooden bench, and it’s pleasantly hot but not humid, and it’s all very lovely. The laconium on Disney had a floor-to-ceiling window, so you could look out at the sea or island scenery. Thumbs up.

        Step 2, Caldarium: This is a steam room. I walked in, everything fogged up, I couldn’t breathe and I walked right out. Some people apparently find this relaxing, or suffer through it for their pores. I don’t, I won’t. Thumbs down.

        Step 3, Hammam: A hammam is a Turkish sauna with marble slabs to sit on (unlike the actual ones in Turkey, however, fat, old, naked people do not attack you with a cloth to slough off dead skin). On cruise ships, hammams are apparently the places to try the salt or sugar scrub you created and purchased at the “bar.” I didn’t know about the scrubs before I went in, so I wasn’t sure of the point of this room. Thumb half up, half down.

        Step 4, Aromatherapy Showers: After you’ve heated up your body and your pores have opened and detoxified, you can rinse off with cool showers exuding various scents and water pressures/angles. Most of it was quite refreshing — after the initial cold water shock — but I’m not a fan of water hitting me sideways. Thumbs mostly up.

        Step 5, Hot Tub: Yay, a familiar spot! These usually come with floor-to-ceiling windows (or are outdoors) with great views. Better yet, in the spa, the setting is more serene and kid-free than on the pool deck. Two thumbs up.

        Step 6, Heated Loungers: Heated tile loungers are pretty brilliant. They’re oddly comfortable for lying on tiles, probably because they’re angled to keep you partially reclined with your knees bent. They exude heat, which is very soothing for reading a book or napping or listening to mellow music. However, loungers are limited and you might have to fight off some spa hogs to nab a space if the thermal suite is busy. Thumbs up.

        Are thermal suites worth the money? A day pass is usually cheaper than a spa treatment, so if you want to relax in a DIY kind of way, it could be a great value — especially if you go at a non-busy time (perhaps, on a port day). Just don’t forget to get instructions from one of the spa receptionists before you go on. Your pores will thank you for not getting it wrong.

          Wanderlust Wednesday: Step into a Medieval Storybook

          December 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Tallinn, Estonia - photo courtesy of Giantfan13/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 or Instagram handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!

          If you’ve cruised the Baltic, you may be familiar with Tallinn, Estonia. The thriving city and cruise port is contemporary and industrial, yet its Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has been preserved for more than 600 years. Here, cruisers step into a medieval storybook filled with winding cobblestone streets, ancient towers and antique shops.

          Find interesting places to visit based on region.

          Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.

          Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

            What If…Cruise Ships Had SkyMall?

            December 16, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

            Shopping Mall - photo courtesy of zhu difeng/Shutterstock

            On long flights, I’m a sucker for SkyMall. Although I’ve never actually bought anything, I get a kick out of the idea that travelers are able to make purchases — whether amazing or absolutely useless — at 35,000 feet.

            The last time I stole a copy of the magazine from my seatback pocket, it got me wondering what might be included in the cruise version of such a publication. (We’ll call it SeaMall because that’s super original and far more appropriate.) Below is a list of actual items pulled from the summer 2014 SkyMall catalog that might prove useful to the cruise set.

            2014 SeaMall Cruise Starter Kit

              Member Review of the Week: Yangtze River Cruisetour

              December 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Montmorency Falls, Quebec City, Canada - photo courtesy of Hung Chung Chih/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 EvieEngel‘s recent cruise to Asia aboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Emerald.

              Overall Impression: Cruising alongside local fisherman gave EvieEngel and her husband a glimpse of daily life on the Yangtze River. It was one of the many special moments during their Viking cruisetour to China. Everything from the ship’s laid-back vibe and friendly staff to the pampering hotels and local cuisine enjoyed during the tour made for the trip of a lifetime. If you thrive on culture and history and are interested in an Asia river cruise, check out our member’s quick tips below.

              Onboard Highlight: Viking Emerald’s crewmembers, who were particularly accommodating with her food allergy.

              Port Highlight: A land tour to Tibet, with one of the best guides the couple has ever come across in their travels.

              Don’t Miss: The premium package if you’re a wine drinker.

              Watch Out For: What you pack. As EvieEngel puts it, comfort is key!

              More: Read EvieEngel’s full review for more details on the ports and Yangtze River experience.

              For their efforts, EvieEngel, ramona03, jonesy4life9, jeffandeileen1 and haply receive Cruise Critic logo items.

              Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

                When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Help Out

                December 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

                Lifesaver - photo courtesy of Christoph Erne/Shutterstock

                We all know the importance of keeping a cool head when things go wrong during travel. What’s even more impressive: A person who goes above and beyond to help others through a stressful situation.

                On our forums, Cruise Critic members often single out crewmembers or fellow passengers who made their voyage remarkable for various reasons. And no one fits the description of everyday hero better than Dr. S., a retired Army medical doctor who rose to the occasion during last week’s fire on Oceania Insignia.

                During the emergency, which killed three crewmembers, ship passengers were mustered and debarked to the dock and terminal in St. Lucia. There, many people waited for hours as crewmembers collected belongings from cabin safes and Oceania made plans to get them back to Miami.

                Writes globevest, one of several Cruise Critic members who were onboard:

                “The evening before, my wife and I were playing trivia and sitting next to me was a lady I will call Dr. S. She is a recently retired Army medical doctor and returned from Afghanistan about a year ago.

                “On the morning of the disaster, I spotted Dr. S., stethoscope round her neck, medical bag in hand, administering to an elderly disabled person. In the hot sun, I watched Dr. S. go up and down the hundreds of passengers dealing with people with medical issues. I know of one person who had an asthma attack that Dr. S. took care of…

                “Dr. S. was on the go for two to three hours on the dockside in the hot sun before they bused us to a covered building. By this time, her dark hair was matted down with perspiration and her clothes were looking a little worse for wear.

                Read on for the full story

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