Cruise Tip of the Week: Cruising with Kids

August 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Family cruise

Tip: Cruising with little ones? Sign them up for the youth clubs on the first day. Most ships, especially newer ones, have dedicated areas for various age groups. Kids can enjoy games, activities and more with experienced counselors — and it’s better to reserve your spot early, even though there’s no requirement to attend. Find out which cruise lines are the best for families.

Full Article: Read more dos and don’ts for your first day onboard.

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

15 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Embarkation Day

What to Expect on a Cruise: First Day Onboard

– Check out our latest cruise deals

– Sign up for Cruise Critic’s Price Drop. We’ll let you know when fares are dramatically reduced so you can get the best price for your sailing.

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

    Member Review of the Week: Island Princess

    August 25, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Island Princess

    Cruise Ship: Island Princess

    Itinerary: Mediterranean

    Member: 4hends

    Background: After two cruises on newer Princess ships, 4hends’ third time was a charm. It all started with an upgrade from a mini-suite to a suite, only six weeks before disembarkation. With a large ensuite hot tub, spacious balcony and more unexpected perks, he and his wife reveled in the ship’s freshly refurbished spaces and familiar new-ship feel. Read on to see what he loved most.

    Onboard Highlight: The adults-only Sanctuary, a favorite on all of their Princess cruises.

    Port Highlight: Santorini, which wasn’t even on the original itinerary.

    Don’t Miss: The port lectures, especially if you’re unfamiliar with a destination. 4hends found the tips for getting on and off the ship particularly helpful.

    Watch Out For: Room service. 4hends thought it was a bit disorganized.

    More: Read 4hends’ full review, and browse future cruises on Island Princess.

    For their efforts 4hends, scotto119, ccoyne, jonrob and mdh715 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.

    Check out more cruise reviews or write your own. Who knows; yours may be featured next!

      Live from Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner: First Impressions

      August 24, 2015 | By | No Comments

      Pool on Regent

      I’m onboard Seven Seas Mariner for a cruise that takes us from Lisbon, Portugal, through southern Spain, southern France and northern Italy, before we disembark in Civitavecchia (Rome). The itinerary, which Regent Seven Seas calls “Celestial Sojourn,” is a pretty typical one for the cruise line, which specializes in luxury experiences in small ports.

      Check out my first impressions from my first Regent Seven Seas cruise.

      Regent cabin

      Cabins. Talk about space! Even the smallest cabins (Regent calls all of its cabins “suites”) are large by industry standards, at 252 square feet with a 49-square-foot balcony. So you have plenty of room to spread out without getting in the way of your traveling companion. All cabins include spacious walk-in closets, with more than enough room for hanging anything you packed, and then some.

      Read on for more

        Hot on the Forums: Family Cruising… Beyond the Grave

        August 21, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

        Grandparents cruise

        Property, jewelery, heirlooms and personal bequests are among the many legacies people leave in wills to their loved ones, but how about an inheritance where a family gets to cruise every year on a specified line?

        It’s certainly a new one to me, and although I always reckon you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, it has sparked an interesting debate on the Cruise Critic forums.

        The thread was started by member cruisr who spotted an article in the travel trade publication Travel Weekly where Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez talked about a passenger who had taken four generations of her family on Crystal sailings over the last eight years.

        “Edie was quoted as saying there is a very loyal guest that has put it in her will that her heirs must continue to sail on Crystal once per year on the line,” writes cruisr. “That is brand loyalty at its finest.”

        This prompted some members to question if it was a step too far in imposing your will –, quite literally in this case –, on others.

        Read on for more

          Cruise Deal of the Week: Book an Inside Cabin, Get a Balcony

          August 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

          traveling piggy bank
          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: MSC Cruises is offering a promotion from now through August 31 (or until the inventory sells out) on balcony upgrades from interior cabin bookings. This deal also includes $100 in onboard credit, plus kids 11 and under sail free. Mention the “All In Balcony Blitz” at booking.
          WHAT WE LIKE: The value of a balcony cabin is more than just the space to many — it’s the fresh air and the privacy of having your own verandah. That’s why balcony upgrades on cruises starting from $579 per person for a weeklong sailing, is worth checking out. Sail on Divina, one of the line’s newest ships, when it makes its way back to homeport in Miami. These select cruises sail a Caribbean itinerary, including Bahamas, St. Maarten and Puerto Rico, or Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas. We love that the cruises featured sail during prime season: April through June 2016.
          Your balcony cabin will be greatly enjoyed on such a warm-weather itinerary by you and your significant other, or the family if you choose to bring them (dates fall near Memorial Day and summer vacation) — kids sail free and children 12 all the way up to 17 years old receive a discount on their cruise fare. The $100 in onboard credit certainly sweetens the deal and can be used towards a dinner out at one of the ship’s alternative restaurants, like the Eataly Steakhouse, or towards a treatment at the Balinese-inspired Aurea Spa.
          WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: According to MSC’s site at the time of publication, there are only 285 balcony upgrades left of the first 500 they promise to passengers during this promotion. Even though the deal extends through the end of August, it might sell out before that. Taxes and fees total more than $100 per person and are not factored into the cruise fare, so the onboard credit cancels out the value there. The new MSC Cruises cabin structure is based on experience and inclusions — because you are being upgraded to a balcony cabin from a Bella (lowest end) experience, you might not receive every perk that comes with a higher level. For breakfast in bed or enhanced children’s offerings like cooking and language classes, you might end up paying more.
          HOW TO BOOK IT For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (including that pesky fine print), click here.
          Comparing cabin categories? Find out the difference between an inside and balcony cabin.
          Looking for cruises 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.
          Look for air deals using TripAdvisor’s search tool.

            Cruise Tip of the Week: Size Matters

            August 19, 2015 | By | No Comments

            Cruise ships in port

            Tip: If you’re new to cruising, chances are you’re torn on which ship to book. The “big three” (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian) prevail on the high seas. But if large, crowded pool decks and endless activities don’t sound like your cup of tea, you might need to seek a line of smaller ships. On ships that hold up to 949 passengers, entertainment will be sparse, but you most likely will enjoy perks such as complimentary wine and more exotic itineraries.

            Full Article: Read “What’s the Best Cruise Ship Size for You?” to find your perfect match.

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

            15 Best Small Ship Cruise Lines

            Big Ships vs. Small Ships: The Pros and Cons of Cruise Ship Size

            – Check out our latest cruise deals

            – Sign up for Cruise Critic’s Price Drop. We’ll let you know when fares are dramatically reduced so you can get the best price for your sailing.

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

              Member Review of the Week: Disney Fantasy

              August 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

              Buffet

              Cruise Ship: Disney Fantasy

              Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

              Member: cruisefamilyforever

              Background: Cruising always has been a family experience for cruisefamilyforever. And after accruing some sea days with popular family-friendly lines Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney, he decided to give Disney another go. Everything about Disney Fantasy blew him away — even the public restrooms. But how did it stack up against the other lines? Read more for his highlights, plus what to watch out for.

              Onboard Highlight: Cabanas Buffet, which cruisefamilyforever felt was the best buffet of all the ships he’s sailed.

              Port Highlight: Castaway Cay, where the family ran a 5k together.

              Don’t Miss: The adults-only Quiet Cove pool when you need a little escape.

              Watch Out For: The price. Although it’s high, cruisefamilyforever said it’s worth every penny. His next cruise will be on Carnival — voted “Best Value for Money” in our 2014 Editors’ Picks Awards.

              More: Read cruisefamilyforever’s full review, and browse future cruises on Disney Fantasy.

              For their efforts cruisefamilyforever, chirk, SDPenguin, HawaiiNoKaOi and sonomom3 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.

              Check out more cruise reviews or write your own. Who knows; yours may be featured next!

                We Try It: Roadtesting a Butler on a River Cruise

                August 17, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

                Uniworld Butler

                Unless you live in a stately home, the closest you’ve probably gotten to a butler is watching "Downton Abbey." Until recently, I could say the same.

                Two consecutive river vessel christenings brought back-to-back butlers into my life. Once the preserve of country estates and seagoing ships, butlers have become an increasing presence on river cruise lines, with Uniworld and Scenic among the lines that offer the service.

                As the christening dates drew nearer, I began to feel mildly apprehensive. The idea of having a butler gave me visions of awkward interactions. Having someone wait on me hand and foot conflicts with my fairly typical "British reserve," and the thought of a stranger putting away my underwear fills me with dread. (As we’ve noted before, many other Cruise Critic members feel the same way.)

                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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