Cruise Clothing Contest: Win a $500 Gift Card from Fresh Produce

July 23, 2014 | By | 169 Comments

Fresh Produce Staple Maxi Dress
Here at Cruise Critic, we’re always looking for onboard outfits that are as cute as they are functional. Which is why we’re pleased to announce this giveaway from Fresh Produce, a U.S. company that specializes in colorful and coastal-inspired clothes for women and kids.
To win a $500 gift card to use at Fresh Produce, let us know what’s the one piece of clothing that you’d never leave home without, by telling us in the comments. We’ll draw a winner at random on August 6. Use the gift card to purchase a Staple Maxi Dress (seen above), a Paradise Tunic or the Twin Peaks Edge Dress.
(Note: The contest is only available to US residents. For more rules, click here).
Here are some of our staff’s favorite cruise clothing:
When I hear “go-to” item, I think versatility. I’m a fairly light packer, but I never leave for a cruise without my taupe wedges. They’re the most versatile shoes I have and a lifesaver in the evenings; I can pair them with almost any dress. The extra room in my suitcase is also a plus. – Gina Kramer, Associate Editor
When packing for a cruise, I have two mantras. One is to layer – plan that an outfit you wear at breakfast can go seamlessly to the beach and even to a nice restaurant in port. To be that versatile, layering a super-casual article of clothing, with one slightly more elegant piece (usually a jacket, sweater or long linen blouse) really keeps things simple. For evenings, I pack what I dub “the uniform,” which typically consists of a few pairs of black slacks and mix and match cotton sweaters. Since most ships have resort casual policies at night, this approach really works.
Beyond the mantras, there’s one also must-have: For the past 15 years now, my Fresh Produce Legacy jersey shorts always come along (I’ve got ‘em in blue, black, white, teal, and pink and as they ultimately get worn out, I pick up a new pair in St. Thomas, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, among other spots). They’re super comfortable, reasonably respectable, and the style never, ever changes. – Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Read on for more.

    Wanderlust Wednesday: Ahoy, Tivoli Gardens!

    July 23, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Pirate ship restaurant in lake
    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 or post it in our member photo gallery.
    Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is a fairy tale (and foodie mecca) for all ages. One of the most unique dining options — as shown in this beautiful photo snapped by Cruise Critic member, USTWORCREW, while cruising through Denmark — is Pirateriet, an incarnation of Frigate Sct Georg 3. Steak and shrimp skewers, anyone?
    Find interesting places to visit based on region.
    Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
    Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

      Member Review of the Week: Comparing the Sisters

      July 22, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Floater in water by beach
      Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, one of which is showcased as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member polkadots‘s recent cruise to the Eastern Caribbean aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
      Overall Impression: Applying everything they knew about last year’s cruise on Oasis of the Seas, polkadots and her husband prepared to sail aboard its sister ship. The couple booked all their shows in advance and were able to put together an itinerary of dinner times and shows, based on how they wanted to spend their time.
      Read on for highlights, tips and more.

        Cruise Critic Live! On the Douro River with AmaWaterways

        July 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

        AmaWaterways AmaVida cruise ship on Douro River in Portugal
        The Rhine and Danube aren’t the only European rivers worth exploring. If you’re looking for something a little more exotic, check out Portugal’s Douro River. This week, Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown will be sailing through the Douro valley along with AmaWaterways Executive Vice President and Co-owner Kristin Karst. Come Thursday, they’ll join up to take your questions live from onboard AmaVida. Dying to find out more about river cruising? Eager to hear about AmaWaterways? We’ve got you covered. Don’t miss a chance to get the real scoop with our industry experts. Join us here at 4 p.m. July 24.
        If you didn’t join us last week, you missed out on info like this, live from the site of the Costa Concordia in Giglio, Italy.

        Fear not! You can check out our Concordia chat — and all our previous chats — online here.

          Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

          July 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Carolyn Spencer Brown on map
          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 or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)
          Ship: AmaWaterways’ AmaVida
          Where: The Douro River in Portugal and Spain
          Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
          Why There? One of Europe’s relatively off-the-track rivers, the Douro is increasingly popular for cruise lines such as Viking River, Uniworld, CroisiEurope, Vantage, and of course AmaWaterways, among others. In our Why Go There: 8 Reasons To Cruise Along the Douro River, we cite highlights such as exploring Porto’s port houses, visits to pilgrimage sites, a foray to Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage city of Salamanca, and fortified, medieval villages.
          We Can’t Wait: If all the above isn’t enough of a lure, we’ll add this: The scenery along the river is said to rival if not exceed the Danube and others for sheer beauty. This particular sailing is one of AmaWaterways’ celebrated wine cruises; the special guest will be Christopher Silva, who’s president and CEO of Sonoma County’s St. Francis Winery and Vineyards. We anticipate tasting California cabs and zinfandels, along with learning much about Portugal’s famed port.
          Want to come along? Join us as we report from AmaVida and the Douro along the way, Internet permitting, from our river forum. As well, this week’s Cruise Critic Live! “live chat” will feature as our special guest AmaWaterways’ Kristin Karst, who is happy to answer questions about the Douro region — or, frankly, any river cruise itinerary from Europe to Africa to Asia. Please drop by Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern to take part. Can’t make it then? Post questions beforehand.

            Hot on the Forums: Creating Crazy Combos at the Buffet

            July 18, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

            Plate of food at a buffet
            Burger pizza anyone?
            As someone who makes Marmite and squashed banana sandwiches (go on, I dare you) and recently tried a slice of peanut butter and jelly pizza (surprisingly good), it’s fair to say I have a few odd food faves. But when faced with an expansive ship’s buffet I find it hard enough to decide what to choose from the dishes on display in their unadulterated form — let alone come up with any ideas for creative combos.
            That’s not the case for some of our inventive Cruise Critic members. It seems that despite the huge choice, you’re hungry for more — and the outcome is delicious or disgusting, depending on how your taste buds are tickled.
            Silverspringcruiser, who has a penchant for putting bacon and peanut butter on bagels, started an interesting thread asking if anyone else combines items from different sections of the buffet to invent “off-menu items”. Stand by for a mini stampede, akin to when the MDR doors open.
            For example, Davey Wavey, creates a “breakfast bowl” which got the thumbs up from fellow cruisers who couldn’t wait to try out his recipe for scrambled eggs combined with hash browns, crumbled sausage, grilled onions, peppers, tomatoes and melted cheese all mixed with a dash of fresh salsa.
            Read on for another helping.

              Live From….Giglio: Last Thoughts from Salvage of Costa Concordia Cruise Ship

              July 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Costa Concordia in Giglio, Italy
              As the journalists mill around looking for scraps of news from the increasingly detailed and technical Costa Concordia press conferences (there are only so many times you can write a story about sponsons), I decide to take a walk along the harbor front.
              I’m aware that this will likely be my last time at the cruise ship salvage site, so I’m going to soak it up, take a few more pictures and then file it in my memory bank. I wish I spoke Italian, it would have helped to have got closer to the locals, who are at this point completely indifferent to the hordes of badge-wearing people haunting the harbor all day.
              We’re just another type of tourist to them; not so the salvage workers, many of whom have been here since the 2012 accident.
              Read on to find out more.

                Destination Spotlight: 6 Surprises in the ABC Islands

                July 17, 2014 | By | 8 Comments

                This article originally appeared on our sister site,
                When I imagined the islands of the Southern Caribbean (also called the ABC islands, for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), I envisioned deep turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, towering resorts and those long-reaching divi divi trees, bent along the trade winds at a 90-degree angle. What I didn’t expect during my cruise on Carnival Freedom to the “A” and “C” islands was prehistoric birds, desert terrain and such close ties to South America. Read on for six things that surprised me.
                curacao willemstad pastel buildings
                Pastels Prevent Headaches
                Would you believe a government decree required the famous facades of Willemstad to be painted in their photogenic pastels? It’s true – and it’s all because an early governor of Curacao suffered so badly from sun-induced migraines that he ordered the pastel paint to avoid the blinding reflection off of white buildings. Despite the initial intention, the scenic waterfront and historic buildings of Willemstad earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition in 1997.
                Read on to find out more
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