Countdown to Quantum: Not Your Usual Cabins

October 15, 2014 | By | 5 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.

        Member Review of the Week: A Cruise Back in Time

        October 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

        Cruise ship sailing in open ocean alongside island

        Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member Magnum60‘s recent cruise to the Mediterranean on Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride.

        Overall Impression: Seabourn Pride was one of the many ships Magnum60 had fallen in love with during his heydays on the high seas. So when he and his wife decided to revisit the ship as — now part of Windstar’s fleet — the expectations were high…. And the ship did not disappoint.

        Onboard Highlight: The crew’s attention to detail stood out most to him.

        Port Highlight: While Magnum60 didn’t mention any highlights in port, Windstar’s 212-passenger ship makes for an intimate experience both on and off the ship.

        Don’t Miss: Revisiting the ship if you sailed on it as Seabourn Pride. The revitalization is a breath of fresh air.

        Watch Out For: Magnum60 felt the only downfall of their cruise was not enough time!

        More: Read Magnum60’s full review for more details about his past cruising experience compared to the newly revitalized Star Pride.

        For their efforts, Magnum60, New2Fun, Bell Range, haggisandchips and kitkat343 receive Cruise Critic logo items.

        Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

          Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

          October 13, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Jamey Bergman on map

          Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, travelling 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: Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas

          Where: Departing from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, sailing to Southampton, UK

          Who: Jamey Bergman, Production Editor

          Why There? Oasis of the Seas is coming out of a two-week dry dock, and we can’t wait to see what’s new onboard!

          We Can’t Wait: Specifically, I’m looking to try out the Dynamic Dining experience first hand, but it’s also my first time onboard the cruise world’s best-known behemoth, and I’m preparing myself to be overawed by everything. I doubt 24 hours is anywhere near enough time to experience everything on Oasis, but I’ll do my best, and will be reporting back about all the new additions onboard next week.

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            Hold that Door! The 6 Rules of Cruise Ship Elevator Etiquette

            October 10, 2014 | By | 29 Comments

            Crowded Elevator - photo courtesy of Everett Collection/Shutterstock

            It seems that common courtesy has been declining since the Love Boat days of cruising — and nowhere is the death of chivalry and benevolence more apparent than cruise ship elevators.

            Naturally, people are more impatient in today’s faster paced society. We get that stopping on every floor might prevent you from reaching the buffet before it closes. But that’s no excuse for innocent cruisers to have to suffer when other passengers neglect proper ship elevator etiquette.

            To make sure all of us cruisers are on the same page, we’ve come up with a list of 6 simple rules to follow when using elevators onboard (stair takers, rejoice).

            1. Allow passengers to exit before you enter.

            This “golden rule” of cruise ship elevator etiquette should be a given, but you’d be surprised. According to universally accepted standards of common courtesy, people entering an elevator should stand clear of the doors and wait until everyone is out before making a move. Period.

            Read on for the full list.

              Hot on the Forums: Remember Old-Fashioned Cruise Ship Fun?

              October 10, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

              Carnival Festivale Postcard from 1992 - photo courtesy of pghsteelerfan/Cruise Critic Forums

              Broadway musicals, ice skating shows and performances by world-famous names such as the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil have become an established, and almost expected, part of cruise ship extravaganzas.

              Turn back the clock, however, and things were once very different, with passengers topping the bill by making a spectacle of themselves. A superb thread started on the Carnival forum by Cruise Critic member hattack made me wonder if entertainment at sea has almost become too slick for its own good.

              Sophisticates will dismiss passenger talent shows as cheap entertainment – and today’s PC, as well as health and safety, brigades would be up in arms about past pastimes such as ladies’ lovely legs contests, men’s hairy chest competitions, trapshooting on deck and drinking contests.  But there’s something charming about the simplicity of these bygone onboard amusement, say some of our readers.

              Read on to continue down memory lane.

                Live from…Thomson Majesty, Post Refurb

                October 9, 2014 | By | No Comments

                Thomson Majesty - photo by Jamey Bergman

                I’m onboard Thomson Majesty, the most recent addition to the Thomson Cruises fleet, as well as one of the most popular ships on the Cruise Critic website.

                In spite of being the line’s newest ship, the 1,462-passenger Majesty is a veteran vessel, having sailed for Norwegian Cruise Line and Louis Cruises before being picked up by Thomson on a charter in 2012.

                In early 2014, Majesty added 24 balconies on the ship’s eighth deck, and enclosed a dining space at the aft of the 10th deck that had formerly been open air. It’s a refurbishment plan that Thomson has carried out on multiple ships.

                The result? In the new balcony rooms, the effect is seamless. With the balconies tacked on, the cabins – which were on the small size to begin with – gain some much needed space. Only a ship designer would be able to tell that such extensive remodeling had been done at all.

                Read on for the full tour.

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