Steal of the Week: 7-Night Southeast Asia Cruise from $645

July 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

piggy bank cruising world
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: Royal Caribbean International is offering a seven-night Malaysia and Thailand cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, sailing roundtrip from Singapore on January 26, 2015. Prices start from $645 per person, for an outside cabin.
WHAT WE LOVE: Make 2015 the year you sail somewhere new, and this multi-country Southeast Asia itinerary is a great way to immerse in the destination. For less than $95 per person per night, sail in an outside cabin from Singapore through three ports in Malaysia with two days in Phuket, Thailand. Only one day at sea on the return means plenty of time to explore the ports and absorb the culture and allure of these Asian nations. A few upgrades have been added to Mariner of the Seas in recent years, including bow-to-stern Wi-Fi, a giant outdoor movie screen, the Diamond Club for loyalty members and a revamped nursery for families. January is one of the best times to visit the Thai/Malay region, as it’s outside the monsoon season with less-humid day temps.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Flights to Asia are going to be an additional cost (though the Changi Singapore airport is renowned for being one of the world’s most innovative airports). You can compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool. When in a new country with a difficult language and limited time, it tends to be easier to take an organized tour, but these will add to your budget. For each shore excursion you book, the more expensive the trip becomes, and with six days in port, the potential to rack up additional charges may be hard to avoid.
HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (including that pesky fine print), click here.
Looking for cruises for under $75 or even $50 a day? We’ve got ‘em listed on our Cheap Cruises page.
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    Wanderlust Wednesday: Can You Name This Landmark?

    July 16, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

    Historic lighthouse in Maine
    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.
    Can you name this iconic lighthouse — which was actually voted a “Travelers’ Choice 2014 Winner” on our parent company, TripAdvisor? We thank Cruise Critic member culebra for this postcard-perfect shot of this historic landmark, taken while onboard Blount Small Ship Adventures’ Grande Caribe. (Mouse over the photo or click the link to reveal the answer.)
    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: Lost in Paradise

      July 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Colorful hammocks on the beach in Cozumel
      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 WorldTravlerx2‘s recent cruise to the Western Caribbean aboard Carnival Paradise.

      Overall Impression: WorldTravlerx2, her husband and a group of friends were all in need of a little recharge, so they left the kids at home and set sail on Carnival Paradise for a five-night cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Having previously sailed on Carnival Legend, the couple was pleasantly surprised to find their interior cabin on the “smaller” ship offered significantly more space than the balcony cabin.

      Read on for highlights, tips and more.

        Live from….Giglio, Italy: Costa Concordia Raising and Salvage

        July 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

        I’m back in Giglio, Italy almost 10 months after the parbuckling operation which righted Costa Concordia to an upright position.
        The parbuckling took place over 24 hours and seemed painfully slow at the time. This refloat and eventual tow to the scrapyard in Genoa will take at least a week, but the pace today has somehow felt quicker.
        It was also very quiet last September, with just locals and journalists (of course) watching from the portside; the atmosphere felt slightly surreal. This time, the second phase of the operation is being done against the backdrop of hundreds of tourists, who line the port, often taking up a spot to stare out at the ship all day.
        The good news is it’s all going to plan – the ship has been raised between two and four metres (6.5 to 13 feet) and towed 30 metres from shore (98 feet) . So far so good.
        Read on to find out more

          A Closer Look: 5 Things to Know about Carnival’s New Kids Program, Camp Ocean

          July 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Signature igloos in Camp Ocean, Carnival's new kids program
          Camp Ocean debuted on Carnival Freedom after it underwent dry dock this past spring. Replacing Camp Carnival as the line’s onboard children’s program, the space has kept the same camp-style oasis feel, with programming changes and new spaces. Camp Ocean will be rolled out across all Carnival ships over the next two years.
          On a recent cruise through the Southern Caribbean, we toured the updated facility, spoke with Youth Director Ana Klacinski, and got the general consensus from parents onboard our sailing: What’s Camp Ocean all about?
          How is Camp Ocean different from Camp Carnival?
          When Carnival set out to refresh the program, suggestions were collected over time from parents and family members, Klacinski said. All of these ideas were taken into account when developing Camp Ocean.
          The result remains a camp rather than a daycare, with more emphasis on age-specific rooms and play areas. Focusing on oceanography, Camp Ocean trades in the bold oranges and a carnival of other accent colors for underwater blues and grays. Camp Ocean thoughtfully blends education and entertainment through more than 200 activities, all of which adhere to the marine theme. Even the youngest group learns about how long a whale is in a 45-minute activity mentioned in their program.
          An arts and crafts room called Creative Cove divides the middle and invites families to participate in activities together. The Party Reef is an open space for just that: an impromptu party with a large flatscreen TV to provide accompanying music and videos. As far as programming goes, a badge challenge — similar to Girl and Boy Scout badges — has been introduced, encouraging young cruisers to accomplish outlined onboard experiences. There are more than 20 badges available for activities such as singing karaoke, trying a new food in the dining room, or creating a towel animal. Badges can be collected over multiple cruises, and at the end of each, there is a ceremony held with giveaways for each age group.
          Read on to find out more

            Hot on the Forums: Up in Smoke

            July 11, 2014 | By | 40 Comments

            Broken cigarette
            This week Carnival announced that as of October 9, it will ban smoking on its balconies, joining most other mainstream cruise lines. Just Norwegian and Holland America allow balcony smoking now, and in the UK, Saga and Fred. Olsen (which doesn’t have many balconies anyway).
            The first reaction for many cruisers is probably ‘Good!’ Even as a smoker-friendly non-smoker (some of my closest cruising friends smoke) I’m pleased; there’s nothing worse than going out for sea air first thing in the morning and having your neighbor light up a ciggie, causing you to cough and wheeze. Or getting ready for a formal dinner with the balcony door open and having fumes waft in from next door, leaving a nasty smell on your fancy frock.
            Smoking in a designated area on deck is fine, because as a non-smoker, you can choose to go elsewhere. But you pay extra for a balcony and you should have the right to enjoy it without this invasion of your fresh air.
            And yet… some people will smoke, for the foreseeable future. So some of our members wonder, why can’t cruise lines create nicer places for them to smoke onboard?
            Read on for more

              Video: Take a Virtual Tour of Quantum of the Seas!

              July 11, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

              Royal Caribbean has teamed up with self-confessed “tech geek”, TV presenter Jason Bradbury to take viewers on a virtual guided tour of its new ship, Quantum of the Seas.
              The video (above) showcases some of the standout features including the North Star, the bumper cars and 270 – the restaurant/theatre, which uses robotic screens and projections to transform the entire space: “Vistarama is the most sophisticated video projection system in the world,” Bradbury claims.
              It’s just three months and three weeks until we will be able to see it for ourselves. But until then: enjoy the video!
              What are you most looking forward to experiencing onboard Quantum? Let us know in the Comments below.

                Cruise Critic Live! Refloating Costa Concordia

                July 10, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

                Costa Concordia in Giglio, Italy, during parbuckling
                This Monday, July 14, operations will begin to refloat Costa Concordiathe most complex and expensive maritime recovery operation in history – and Cruise Critic will be there, reporting live.
                Cruise Critic’s U.K. Editor, Adam Coulter, will be on the island of Giglio throughout the refloat – posting news stories, tweeting live, taking pictures and answering your questions throughout the week.
                And all of this will be accessible in one place: Cruise Critic Live from today.
                Read on to find out more.
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