Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

March 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

cruise-critic
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? Ask us in the comments!)

cruise-amawaterways-amareina

Ship: AmaReina, the newest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet
Where: A Danube River cruise from Vienna to Regensburg
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Why There? On this launch cruise, AmaReina — a sister to AmaPrima, which last year won Cruise Critic’s Editors’ Picks for best new riverboat — will be officially christened in Vilshofen, a small German port town that’s become home to the line’s most recent series of namings.
We Can’t Wait: For many of the reasons we adored our experience on AmaPrima last year, such as the fabulous sundeck with its swim-up pool (though April in Austria and Germany isn’t really prime for outdoor swimming), the elegant and yet cozy lounge, and the top-notch dining. We’re also excited to re-visit favorite ports along the Danube, including a day trip to Salzburg, the lovely wine and apricots of Durnstein (great cycling destination, too), and charming Regensburg, a shopping mecca.
But what we’re most excited about is that this cruise is actually
operated under the banner of Australian tour company APT, which is a part owner of Ama. The difference? While dining, tours and ambiance are consistently Ama-flavored, the ship is largely given over to Australians. As travelers, Aussies are typically a super-social, fun-loving bunch and we’re looking forward to experiencing a bit of Oz style even as we trawl through middle Europe.

cruise-inspire-tauck

Ship: Tauck‘s MS Inspire
Where: From Amsterdam to Brussels
Who: Dori Saltzman, News Editor
Why There? MS Inspire is Tauck’s first river boat in the Inspiration class, which is notable for having only 130 passengers on a longship set-up. Considered part of the luxury end of river cruising, Tauck’s Inspire also has 22 300-square-foot suites, with upscale features such as 400-thread-count sheets and Molton Brown bath products. For 2014, Inspire will sail a variety of Rhine and Moselle river itineraries.
We Can’t Wait: This will be the first sailing of Tauck’s newest boat, which features a handful of unique lower deck “loft” cabins with larger windows — that actually open! (besides fresh air, these windows will allow lower deck passengers much more natural light than you’d normally get in this cabin class).

cruise-american-queen-empress-river

Ship: American Queen Steamboat Company‘s American Empress
Where: The Columbia and Snake rivers
Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
Why There? We’re covering the christening of this ship, where Claudette Waggoner, wife of the line’s chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as godmother. The ship, nee Empress of the North, has been completely refurbished and will sail the rivers of the Northwest.
We Can’t Wait: Europe isn’t the only place where the rivers are hot. American Empress will represent AQSC’s first foray into the Snake and Columbia rivers. We’ll follow in the footsteps of Louis and Clark and Sacajawea. This will be my first cruise on American rivers, and I’m looking forward to learning the history of the area and checking out some of the amazing sites. I’m also fascinated to see the ship, with its paddlewheel and Front Porch Cafe.

cruise-panama-canal

Ship: Royal Caribbean‘s Legend of the Seas
Where: The Panama Canal, with stops in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Who: Ashley Kosciolek, Copy and Ports Editor
Why There? While onboard, I’ll be taking notes to write a full, updated ship review of Legend of the Seas, and I’ll also be updating our Cartagena and Colon coverage and writing a port profile for Puerto Quetzal, which will be a brand-new addition to our site. (Check out my post on best “canal day” vantage points).
We Can’t Wait: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal’s construction, so it’s an ideal time to experience a visit to the historic marvel firsthand. It also offers us a chance to witness the hourslong process of maneuvering a large ship through tiny locks with just inches to spare on each side. (I’m also excited for some warm weather as the Northeast’s winter season continues.)

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