Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

October 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

Colleen on the Paul Gauuin in the Society Islands, Chris at the TBEX Conference in Greece

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: Paul Gauguin’s flagship, Paul Gauguin

Where: Roundtrip from Papeete, Society Islands

Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor

Why There? We’re checking in on the luxury ship, which exclusively sails year-round Society, Tuamotu and Marquesas islands.

We Can’t Wait: I’ll be sailing with Paul Gauguin for the first time. The line — and the ship of the same name — routinely receive rave reviews from Cruise Critic members, who love the food, service and small-ship luxury experience. This also will be my first trip to Tahiti and the Society Islands, which is a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. You can bet I’ll be in the water as much as possible

photo courtesy of Anastasios71/Shutterstock

Ship: Various

Where: Athens, Greece

Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

Why There? As Lido Deck editor, I’m pleased to be speaking at TBEX Europe, a conference for travel bloggers and digital content producers. While I’m there, I’ll be visiting the headquarters of Variety Cruises, spending the day on MSC Fantasia and taking a four-day cruise of the Aegean Sea on Louis Olympia.

We Can’t Wait: There’s no better way to explore the Greek Isles than on a cruise. I’m looking forward to visiting historic sites, touring several different vessels and taking in some spectacular sunsets.

    Destination Spotlight: Banana Coast, Honduras

    October 17, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

    Welcome to Banana Coast - photo by Adam Coulter

    On Wednesday, the new Caribbean cruise port of Banana Coast (Trujillo), on the north coast of Honduras, welcomed its first big cruise ship, Norwegian Jewel.

    While a smaller ship, Travel Dynamics’ 130-passenger Yorktown, paid a couple of visits in February, this was the tender port’s first mega-ship – Jewel has 2,500 passengers. The stop heralded the official start of the cruise season here. The Honduran press attended in force (it was all over local TV), as did the mayor of Trujillo, numerous dignitaries, the Minister for Tourism, and of course, Cruise Critic.

    Read on for more

      Hot on the Forums: Mini Mussels Show Their Might

      October 17, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

      Mussels - photo courtesy of v777999/Shutterstock

      At Cruise Critic we’ve seen, read and heard pretty much everything there is to do with cruising. Then every once in a while something comes along that takes even the most seasoned cruisers by surprise. In this instance it’s the curious case of tiny mussels can bring down a big cruise ship’s cooling system.

      It all began with reports on the forum last week that things weren’t right with the air conditioning onboard Princess Cruises’ 2,590-passenger Golden Princess, as the ship made its way south to Mexico on a four-night roundtrip from Los Angeles. 

      Read on to continue the story

        Destination Spotlight: Five Things Cruisers Should Know About Visiting Quebec

        October 16, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

        Fall Foliage in Quebec - photo courtesy of Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

        With fall foliage at its height, Quebec is experiencing its busy season as cruise ships large and small visit ports ranging from cosmopolitan Montreal to woodsy Gaspe. Looking to experience the savoir faire of the French-speaking Quebecoise? Here are a few things we learned on our recent ten-night cruise to the Canadian Maritimes aboard the Seabourn Quest that will help make your voyage a tad more bon.

        #1: To us, it’s cold. To Canadians, it’s normal. We recently set out to explore Saguenay in Quebec dressed in ski jackets, hats, and gloves…in early October. We were not overdressed. “Should’ve been here last year at this time! We had four feet of snow!” a port official gleefully told us.  So when your cruise company advises you to bring layers—”sweaters, or a light jacket”—do not believe them. You’ll need a coat, not a wimpy jacket, at some point during your sail, especially if you’re on the foliage circuit.

        Also Quebec looks this gloriously green for a reason. Bring a waterproof shell—one that fits over a layer of fleece, all the better (see above.)

        Read on for more

          Steal of the Week: Save Hundreds on Un-Cruise Adventures

          October 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

          piggy bank cruising
          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: Un-Cruise Adventures is offering savings of up to $500 per couple on select expedition voyages when you book by December 30, 2014.
          WHAT WE LOVE: A small expedition line, Un-Cruise provides unique small-ship itineraries and experiences such as whale-watching in Baja, Mexico or extended time in Princess Louisa Inlet in British Columbia. It’s a more destination-focused and immersive cruise than your mainstream mega-ship, and the discount helps make these sailings a reality. Book a select voyage by December 30 and save up to $500 per couple on your cruise. Other itineraries include the increasingly popular American river sailing along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
          WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: These smaller expedition lines are typically pricey and don’t offer anything close to the accommodations or entertainment of the much larger lines you may be accustomed to cruising. Not every itinerary on sale offers savings of $500 — some sailings start at $300 off ($150 per person). You also have to choose from six very specific itineraries, so if the ports and destination don’t completely fascinate you, it may be worth waiting (or saving up) for that bucket list expedition trip.
          HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (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.

            Countdown to Quantum: Not Your Usual Cabins

            October 15, 2014 | By | 6 Comments

            Quantum of the Seas - Virtual Balconies - photo courtesy of Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor

            Cruise lines are quick to point to their onboard entertainment and dining options as proof they’re keeping up with the times. It’s much rarer to see a cruise line modernize its cabin offerings. And while it’s been done on a small scale here and there (Disney introduced virtual port holes, Norwegian debuted solo inside cabins), Royal Caribbean is going way beyond small scale with Quantum of the Seas’ innovative cabin designs.

            At first glance it may appear the ship has all the usual suspects: inside, oceanview, balconies and suites. But a closer look reveals some startling changes.

            Read more about the Quantum cabin experience.

              Wanderlust Wednesday: Inside the Panama Canal

              October 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Inside the Panama Canal - photo courtesy of USTWORCREW/Cruise Critic Forums

              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.

              The Panama Canal is a popular bucket list cruise for many. While the locks are one of its more distinctive features, there are a number of other reasons to awe — like this shot of Gatun Lake taken by Cruise Critic member USTWORCREW. The artificial lake spans 166 square miles, making up a significant portion of the canal. Craving more? Read on for Panama Canal tips, cruises, member reviews and more.

               

              Find interesting places to visit based on region.
              Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
              Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

                Prost! Celebrate Oktoberfest by Booking A Beer Cruise

                October 14, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

                Beer on Deck - photo courtesy of KRS/Shutterstock

                For beer lovers, there’s never been a better time to tap into a brews-infused booze cruise, thanks to a slate of new hops-inspired sailings, well worth raising a (pint) glass to. With cruise lines taking landlubbing craft brew trend to sea, cruisers can now tipple the days away on itineraries overflowing with brewery visits, beer tastings, and more.

                1. Posh Pints: Luxe Crystal Cruises’ first-ever microbrew-themed sailing embarks this November, on a 14-day East Coast/Caribbean voyage from NYC to Miami. Expect shore excursions to area micro- and nano-breweries; onboard beer tastings and lectures, helmed by guest brewing experts; and a robust beer menu highlighting rare artisanal brews (bacon-flavored beer, anyone?!).

                2. Rivers of Beer: Lined by ancient beer-producing monasteries and centuries-old beer gardens, European waterways offer up fertile ground to wet your whistle with beer. Try Avalon Waterways’ two beer-themed river cruise options in 2015: a round-trip voyage from Amsterdam in April, or a sailing from Vienna to Munich in October (which, sadly, just misses Oktoberfest). Activities include onboard tastings, talks on topics like European beer-brewing techniques, and stops at historic breweries.

                AmaWaterways also offers new beer-themed itineraries in 2015, packed with beer pairing dinners and tastings, brewery tours, discussions with beer experts, and more. Combine Dutch and Belgian ports with beer drinking and tulip time in spring, or try a holiday-themed beer voyage along the Danube in December.

                Read on for the full list.

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