Cruise Critic Live! Can You Afford a Luxury Cruise?

February 19, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

Aft Suite on a Regent Seven Seas Ship - photo courtesy of Regent Seven Seas

Our next Cruise Critic Live! chat takes place a week from today (Thursday, February 26) at 11 a.m. ET and looks at the world of luxury cruising. Although the base price of a luxury cruise can seem out of reach, when you look at what the fare encompasses – often drinks, tips and shore excursions – a luxury cruise can end up giving you more for your money.

Cruise Critic Live: Can You Afford a Luxury Cruise?
February 26, 2015, 11:00 AM ET
Think a luxury cruise is too expensive? Think again. Join luxury travel agent Scott Anderson as he talks about high style on the high seas!
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Our special guest is someone who knows a thing or two about the luxury cruise sector – Scott Anderson, general manager of the Luxury Cruise Company. We caught up with Scott to quiz him ahead of the chat and here’s what he had to say:

CCWhat kind of trends are you seeing in the Luxury sector?

Scott: The luxury cruise lines are now offering a more inclusive experience than ever before onboard the ships. Regent has for a few years now included all tours, and we are seeing other lines starting to follow. Silversea has recently announced that on their Mediterranean sailings they are offering Silver Shore Select Excursions – which offers the guest two complimentary tours in every port. Also Silversea is offering complimentary Wi-Fi and other lines offer this in higher grades of accommodations. I don’t think it will be long before free Wi-Fi is standard on the luxury lines.

CCWhat are good entry level points for luxury? How do you know you’re ready?

Read on for the answer

    Steal of the Week: No Solo Fee on Europe River with Avalon Waterways

    February 19, 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: Avalon Waterways is offering waived single supplements on a variety of 2015 Europe river cruise itineraries.
    WHAT WE LOVE: Solo cruising is a popular mode of travel and a break on cruise fare is always a welcome incentive to go on that trip of a lifetime to see the famed Dutch tulips or the Black Sea of Istanbul. There’s something to be said for Europe in spring, and these sailings offer prime dates on a number of gorgeous itineraries (including cruises more than eight days).
    WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: If you’re a single cruiser who likes to plan your trips well in advance, this deal does not offer dates more than four months away. The supplement is only waived on select dates and sailings this spring and summer, which may be an expensive time to book airfare to Europe. Also, only ten fares without a supplement are available per sailing, so even if you book by the March 24 deadline, you may not qualify for the sailing or date you’re looking for.
    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.

      Carnival Live! Two Minutes with Martina McBride

      February 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

      Martina McBride  - photo by Dori Saltzman

      To celebrate the arrival of its third year-round cruise ship to the port of Galveston, Carnival Cruise Line hosted more than 1,000 members of the U.S. military and their families onboard Carnival Freedom to enjoy a concert by country superstar Martina McBride on Valentine’s Day 2015.

      Though she has performed several times onboard a cruise ship as part of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Live! concert series (read our concert review from Carnival Ecstasy), McBride has yet to set sail for a full cruise herself (performers are flown in for the gigs). Cruise Critic caught up with McBride for a brief chat before the concert to talk about cruising.

      Our chat with Martina McBride

        Wanderlust Wednesday: Off the Grid

        February 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

        Antartic cruise  - photo courtesy of scl901/Cruise Critic Forums

        Destination: Antarctica

        Why Go?: With no indigenous people, government or economy, Antarctica is one of the most mysterious destinations in the world. Its untouched lands are not only breathtaking, but also an ideal hangout for multiple species of penguins, seals and whales. In fact, it has the largest concentration of marine wildlife in the world.

        Member: scl901

        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 photos@cruisecritic.com or post it in our member photo gallery. Feel free to send us your Twitter or Instagram handle. Maybe you’ll get a shout-out next #WanderlustWednesday!

        Find interesting places to visit based on region.

        Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.

        Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

          Pros and Cons of Island Hopping in the Canaries

          February 17, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Fred. Olsen ship Boudicca

          My first cruise on British cruise line Fred. Olsen was also my first sailing with so many intensive port stops in so many days.

          I’m used to the traditional port day schedule — arrive at 9 a.m. and leave at 5:30 p.m. — but on a cruise around the Canary Islands, you can’t help but leave late and arrive early. And when I say leave late, I’m talking about next-day departures in the early morning — around 12:30 a.m.

          For this particular cruise, I sailed on Boudicca, which initially departed Southampton in the U.K. (though I joined the ship at its first port of call). The itinerary included three days at sea and a visit to the gorgeous island of Madeira followed by five Canary Islands in five days: La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The ship then pressed onto Lisbon before returning home, so a fortnight in all.

          We left Funchal in Madeira at 5:30 p.m., but the rest of the stops (bar Gran Canaria) were 12:30 a.m. departures.

          It also happened to be Carnaval — the weeklong fiesta when the Spanish really party — so the timing could not have been better, allowing passengers to (theoretically) party until the early hours.

          But such late departures have pluses and minuses.

          Read on for the pros and cons of island hopping.

            Member Review of the Week: Solo in South America

            February 17, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

            Punta Arenas, Chile - photo courtesy of Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

            Cruise Ship: Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess

            Itinerary: South America and Antarctica

            Member: ccastner

            Background: This Rio-to-Valparaiso cruise was two years in the making. So when solo cruiser ccastner finally decided to take the plunge, he knew exactly what he needed to plan the perfect vacation — which included a balcony cabin (see why, below). Between trivia and shows onboard to extensive tours off the ship, the cruise kept him busy with just enough time to relax and recharge.

            Onboard Highlight: The service, especially in the Explorer’s Lounge. The crew had his favorite drink memorized and waiting for him. 

            Port Highlight: Punta Arenas, Chile, where ccastner toured a local ranch before setting out to Fort Bulnes near the Straight of Magellan.

            Don’t Miss: The Mexican lunch at Horizon Court.

            Watch Out For: Deck loungers are in high demand on sunny days, so ccastner recommends booking a balcony cabin to get your dose of vitamin D.

            More: Read ccastner’s full review for details about the ship and exotic itinerary.

            For their efforts, ccastner, Trialawyer, teriwinkle hawklady and andrewmatt 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.

              Cruise Critic Live: Getting the Best Cruise Experience for the Best Value

              February 13, 2015 | By | No Comments

              Michelle Fee and Vicky Garcia of Cruise Planners

              Editor’s Note: This chat has been postponed and will be rescheduled for a future date. We apologize for the inconvenience. Stay tuned.

              Saving is important, but so is having the trip of a lifetime. Cruise Planners is an American Express Travel representative and the nation’s largest network of home-based travel agents. We spoke with CEO and co-founder Michelle Fee and COO and co-owner Vicky Garcia in advance of our this Wednesday, to tap their expertise about finding and booking the best possible cruise for you.

              Want to know more? Tune in to Cruise Critic Live! Finding the Best Cruise Value on February 18 at 2 p.m. ET to pick the brains of Michelle, Vicky and the Cruise Critic editors during an hour-long live chat. You can post your own questions now.

              What deals trends are you seeing this winter/wave season? How does it compare to previous years?

              Cruise Planners: Wave season – from January through April – is a great time to book your next cruise! This wave season, we have seen a lot of great offers, which are more inclusive and add value for travelers.

              Is there a good time to book a less expensive cabin on a brand-new ship?

              CP: If you are traveling with a group, or a family, or want a specific stateroom – don’t wait – now is the best time to book your new stateroom. Booking as soon as you know you want to travel will allow you to lock in the rate and claim your stateroom, with connecting rooms, certain location or your desired view.

              Read on for the full interview.

                Hot on the Forums: Why Do You Cruise?

                February 13, 2015 | By | 7 Comments

                Relaxing on deck - photo courtesy of michaeljung/Shutterstock

                To seasoned seafarers it seems pretty obvious; and it doesn’t take long for first time cruisers to catch on. But I’m constantly surprised by the number of landlubber friends and acquaintances who ask me why I love cruising – often followed up with a quizzical: “But what do you do all day?”

                From now on I’m going to point them in the direction of the thread started by Cruise Critic member funtime238 who simply asks: Why do you cruise?”

                Five pages long, the thread is a great reminder of everything we personally love about cruising (in my case packing and unpacking only once, seeing a variety of places in a short space of time and the thrill of being at sea), coupled with reasons that might not have entered our radar.   

                More on the joys of cruising

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