The cruise industry is awash with rumors that Sir Richard Branson is planning to launch a Virgin cruise line. The Virgin Atlantic boss has hired a US-based advisory firm to scout around for investors in the two-ship venture, which is, according to media reports, expected to launch in 2019 in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
So far, so not particularly surprising. In fact, it sounds like a perfectly sensible business idea if Branson can raise the money. Virgin is a respected brand and it’s highly active in the travel sector with airlines, trains, a new hotel chain and its tour-operating arm, Virgin Holidays Cruises. The cruise market is growing and the customers are getting younger and a bit more hip, which matches the Virgin image.
The question is, will Virgin Cruises be ‘different’ enough to attract this sought-after younger customer?
It’s a banner year for the Northern Lights – and some of our members are taking advantage of winter cruises to chase them.
With such Arctic adventures in mind, we are delighted to welcome Hurtigruten‘s UK managing director, Kathryn Beadle, onto the Cruise Critic Message Boards for a Q&A session with members.
Kathryn will be answering your questions live on the message boards next Thursday, March 6, from 1 p.m. – but you can post your questions now.
From the Galapagos Islands and Amazon River to the Seychelles and African plains, member Mary Denis and her husband have fascinating stories from their expedition cruising adventures. And after a recent cruise aboard Hurtigruten Fram, Antarctica has become one of her favorites.
All-inclusive cruising, which upscale lines have been touting in recent years, sounds fantastic. No chits to sign. No tips to pay. It’s the hassle-free way to go. But what’s really included—and what’s not? The answer depends on the cruise line.
Azamara Club Cruises went the all-inclusive route last year, adding “select standard spirits” to their growing list of complimentary amenities. Yet, when I sailed aboard Azamara Quest in February, I discovered it pays to read the fine print — even on a ship billed as all-inclusive.
No doubt, the most confusing feature on all-inclusive cruises concerns beverages, all types of beverages. Azamara includes wine, beer and cocktails at any time in any bar or restaurant, but not if ordered from room service. Included drinks, however, come from a select list that can be a little tricky to decipher.
Smirnoff vodka is included, for example, while Grey Goose costs extra. Excellent wines are poured freely during meals, but a glass of Markham merlot is $13. Bottled water is included, as long as it’s the ordinary still variety; a liter of sparkling San Pellegrino will set you back $4. Then there are the coffees. Cappuccinos and lattes are included, except for the $5.50 Nespresso brand served in Azamara’s cozy Mosaic Café.
How to navigate this? Thanks to a tip from a fellow passenger, I learned to simply ask for the “included” beer, martini or cappuccino.
I’ve just returned from a Caribbean cruise on P&O Cruises’ Ventura. It’s been a year since I was on a British ship and in between, I have found myself on a lot of U.S. ships (Carnival Sunshine, Royal Princess, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway).
While on Ventura, I realized how different the traditional U.K. cruise experience is, compared with a U.S. one. Here are six things that struck me:
1. The People
We Brits are still a reserved lot (unless we have several pints of beer in us). We find it hard to applaud the live bands; do not get up and spontaneously dance at the Sailaway; do not immediately ask “Where are y’all from” when we get into a lift (elevator); nor swap addresses/emails/phone numbers minutes after meeting. We also try not to say hello/smile too much or greet each other in ships’ corridors. Oh and our average age is 60+….
Whereas Americans WILL do all of the above and when I’m on a US ship, I do the same. I recall at the Norwegian Getaway inaugural it was hard to get people to sit down at the dueling pianos bar. And I collected a wad of email addresses after just 2 days on board (I’m already planning a visit to see Randy and Nancy in Arkansas this summer).
Get your March 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! This photo of several cruise ships lined up in St. Maarten will give you the shot in the arm that you need before you set sail again. Here’s how to put it on your computer, tablet or cell phone:
1. Click on the following links to get the size that you want. Each link will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.
2. For the desktop versions, right-click on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something similar. The wording depends on your browser. Mac users should ctrl-click and save the photo on their computer in the “Pictures” folder.
3. If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose“Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.
4. For phone and tablet, open the link and center the photo on your phone so it fills the screen. Take a photo and save it on your device. Then go to your Settings and find your Wallpaper (on an iPhone, this is under “Wallpapers & Brightness.” Set the saved calendar photo as your wallpaper.
Check back on March 31 for the April 2014 calendar.
Celebrities cruise: As godmothers, special guests, or part of theme cruises. And sometimes they do it… just for fun.
Hollywood’s most famous couple, ‘Brangelina’ were rumored to consider marriage onboard the Queen of England’s favorite ship, Hebridean Princess. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has sailed as a guest onboard multiple cruise lines including Disney‘s TCM’s Classic Cruise, and also enjoys expedition cruising with Lindblad. Italian cinematic goddess Sophia Loren is the godmother of all MSC ships (the line claims its newest ship, MSC Divina, was entirely inspired by her).
With Oscar season upon us (the Academy Awards air this Sunday) we thought it would be fun to match Oscar nominees to their cruise line personalities.
For example, Sandra Bullock (Best Actress, Gravity) seems like she would be a great fit for Disney Cruise Line: Her demeanor seems upbeat and bubbly, and she puts on high quality performances that are believably dramatic, yet girl-next-door. We can picture her having tea with the Disney princesses, and then dashing off to the pool to splash-fight with the best of them (as for the cast of Captain Phillips, well, let’s leave them off of any cruise ships, for now).
Check out who else we paired up below, and share your own suggestions in the comments!
Island Windjammers, Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor, Dallas Buyers Club).
Windjammers’ philosophy is all about barefoot cruising, which is why we can picture McConaughey on deck with his signature Cheshire smile and two fingers of rum in his hand, loving life. A line of schooners rather than big ships, Windjammers promotes an atmosphere that’s intimate and super-relaxed; a place where McConaughey’s charisma – and rippling muscles – can shine (c’mon, the guy never has a shirt on).
No matter what cruise ship you’re on, you gotta eat. And who better to tackle your culinary queries than the editors of Cruise Critic?
With more than 70 sailings a year on our plate, we’ve sampled the good, the bad and the “OMG, what IS that?” Whether you’re an avid foodie or picky, picky, picky, join us today at 3 p.m. EST for our Cruise Critic Live DINING chat.
*Follow along on Twitter at #CruiseCriticLive.
*Read the transcript from last week’s chat about packing.« go back — keep looking »