It’s Definitely You: A Dear John Letter to a Cruise Line

May 28, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

Dear John

Have you noticed this year that many cruise lines have been raising fees and revising policies, giving priority to suite class passengers and changing loyalty programs? We have. (Follow our Cruise News for more details.) In fact, we’ve noticed dissatisfaction on the Cruise Critic boards – and occasionally here in our own office. Sometimes there’s nothing left to do… but break up.

I’m breaking up with you. It’s not you. It’s me.

Well, actually, it is you. You’ve changed. You’re not the same cruise line I fell in love with.

The day we met was love at first sight. I’d been with enough other cruise lines to know I had met my match. You weren’t like the other lines. You didn’t require the same things of me as they did. I could be myself with you. No fancy dress required and it didn’t matter to you if I stayed in an inside cabin or a top suite, you treated all your passengers the same. We were perfect together.

But lately you’ve been distant. You’re pulling back, taking things away you once offered freely.

It’s not me… it’s definitely you…

    Steal of the Week: 16-Night Spain to Sao Paulo from $776

    May 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

    piggy bank sailing worldwide
    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: is offering a 16-night sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, sailing from Barcelona, Spain to Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 19, 2015. Prices start from $49 per person, per night, for an inside cabin. Promotions include prepaid gratuities for balcony cabin bookings and higher when they’re made by May 31. Also, receive half off cruise fare for additional passengers in a cabin.
    WHAT WE LOVE: Slightly more interesting than your typical transatlantic, kick off your cruise in the enchanting city of Barcelona and sight-see in Seville, Lisbon and Madeira before a relaxing stretch of six sea days. Explore Recife and Rio, in Brazil, before docking in Sao Paulo. We love the interesting blend of ports surrounding the ocean crossing, and the price tag — just $56 for an oceanview cabin. Promotions save on additional cruisers and include some onboard credit as well. Spend Thanksgiving in the middle of the sea.
    WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: While the lower-category cabins are a steal, upgrading to a balcony or higher (which earns you the prepaid gratuity promotion) jumps to $151 per person, per night; for that price, just book the suite for a little over $100 more per person. The price is low and attractions may be less crowded due to the off season, but keep in mind what that means: Pack layers in case weather is chilly in late November. Seas could be rough crossing the Atlantic, so also pack your seasick pills or patches. Despite the Oasis-class upgrades to Rhapsody in recent years, if the idea of being nowhere near land for nearly a week is unsettling, it won’t matter what ship you’re on. Be honest with yourself — and your desire to spend that time on the ship — before booking.
    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.

      If It Were Up to Me… Itineraries

      May 27, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

      Looking out from the deck

      Cruise lines spend countless hours making sure their passengers have the best cruise vacations possible, but sometimes cruisers know what cruisers want. In our new series “If It Were Up to Me,” we ask ourselves — and the Cruise Critic community — what we would do differently if we were in charge.

      This week: Imagine you are the itinerary developer for a cruise line. Where would your ships sail? Would there be port-heavy sailings, overnights or scenic cruising?

      “I’d definitely overnight in Alaska,” says Colleen McDaniel, Cruise Critic managing editor. “I would love some time in the smaller ports — one day for excursions, another for time in town. That would be ideal. I love the flexibility of river itineraries, spending just a little time in some ports, a ton of time in others. I would love to see ocean cruise lines adopt more of that approach. Some do it already (Azamara and new Viking Ocean), but it’s difficult. I also wish they’d pay attention to regions and what’s popular where. For example, in Mexico, deep-sea fishing is a big deal, but you have to go early. Many ships don’t get into port until afternoon, so you can’t take advantage.”

      Read on for more

        Cruise Tip of the Week: Set the Mood

        May 27, 2015 | By | No Comments

        Tea Lights

        Tip: Dinner for two in a cozy specialty restaurant, chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to your cabin, walking along the top deck on a starry night… Cruises make the perfect romantic getaways. One way to set the mood is a little less obvious. If you’re venturing off with your significant other, pack some battery-operated tea lights. These flameless candles add a dreamy glow to any room — just be prepared to sleep in late the next morning.

        Full Article: Read 6 more cruise cabin hacks that will change the way you cruise forever.

        Want More?: Check out our related links below for more info, tips and advice.

        5 Best Cruise Lines for Romance

        11 Ways to Make Your Dream Cruise a Reality

        The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Cruise

        Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!

          My First Cruise: Carnival Triumph

          May 26, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

          Mike Burkhart

          In the My First Cruise series, Cruise Critic reaches out to first time cruisers who recently returned from their very first cruise to find out why they chose a cruise, how they liked it and how it compared to what they expected and where they want to cruise to next.

          Planning your first cruise? Check out our First Time Cruisers section, geared just for you!

          Want to be featured? Contact

          Name: Mike Burkhart
          Age: 57
          Cruised with: Son, daughter and son-in-law
          Ship & itinerary: Four-day Mexico itinerary on Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Triumph

          Q: Why did you decide to take a cruise?

          A: There are two or three people at work that have been on cruises and they had nothing but good things to say about it. I’ve been wanting to give it a try for a few years and this year, all of a sudden, I just put my foot down and said we’re going to do this.

          Read on for more

            Member Review of the Week: Handcrafted Cocktails Take the Cake

            May 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

            Alchemy Bar on Carnival Freedom

            Cruise Ship: Carnival Freedom

            Itinerary: Western Caribbean

            Member: sentrydriver

            Background: Hardworking 50-somethings sentrydriver and his wife decided to treat themselves with a cruise to the Western Caribbean. It was their third Carnival cruise in a row and seventh overall — and Freedom did not disappoint. Between good food, handcrafted cocktails and making new friends, their recent cruise left sentrydriver repeating, "You cannot find a better value."

            Onboard Highlight: The Alchemy Bar, where sentrydriver and his wife gathered for "big city drinks" with new friends each night.

            Port Highlight: Opting for a private snorkeling tour in Roatan paid off; the two lucked out having the reef to themselves, and the overall process went smoothly.

            Don’t Miss: The beef duet of tenderloin and short rib in the Chic dining room.

            Watch Out For: Many trivia games are held in the casino lounge area, which tends to get noisy and smoky.

            More: Read sentrydriver’s full review for more details about the ship and ports of call.

            For their efforts, sentrydriver, Santa_Barbara_Cruiser, Rhonmarc and Velomax receive Cruise Critic logo items.

            Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week.

            Read more reviews or write your own cruise review.

              Hot on the Forums: Would You Bare All at Sea?

              May 22, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

              naked life

              Relaxing and trying something new are among (many) things I love about cruising. But I was interested to discover thousands of passengers shed a lot more than their inhibitions when they step onboard.

              According to altogether revealing research by the American Association for Nude Recreation, around 30,000 people a year board clothing-optional cruises, available on several lines. A "nakation" – the name the organization gives to vacationing au naturel – is apparently a real thing.

              My initial thoughts are that it would certainly cut down on packing and excess baggage issues, aside from the need for a bit more sunscreen. And travel agencies offering nude cruise charters are quick to dispel common misconceptions. For example, in formal dining rooms and speciality restaurants passengers do dress up, in every sense (who knew?). And in answer to the question everyone wonders about: all seating areas are spread with towels.

              Read on for more

                Just Back From Cunard Queen Victoria: Remembering Lusitania

                May 21, 2015 | By | No Comments

                Commodore Rynd speaking at the service (photo: Mike Pickup)

                On Friday May 7, 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed Cunard’s flagship Lusitania off the coast of Ireland, as the ship was en route to Liverpool from New York. The ship sank with the loss of 1,195 lives, which included three stowaways, 94 children and 31 infants. Nine-hundred bodies were never found.

                The sinking was one of the great tragedies of World War I and the loss of so many American lives indirectly caused the U.S.A. to enter the war.

                A century later on Thursday, May 7, 2015, Cunard’s Queen Victoria paid tribute to the tragedy during its seven-night ‘Lusitania Remembered’ voyage. A series of events in the Irish port of Cobh paid tribute to those who perished and those who survived.

                Read on for more

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                • About the Lido Deck

                  The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

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