But what we’ve found to be true on this ship, as well as all others, is that even the most fabulous food and activities in the world mean nothing without a great crew. Despite the challenges of transforming an innovative, prototypical ship that’s just off the yard – one that came with technological bugs and quirks, and all sorts of the snafus that you’d expect with a brand-new design – we rarely saw crewmembers do anything but smile, lend a hand, and make us feel welcome.
Take a look at our Facebook album for some of the unsung heroes of a new ship launch.
Have you ever had a crewmember go above and beyond their duties? Tell us in the comments!
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: MSC Armonia
Where: We’ll be sailing from Genoa, stopping in Marseilles, spending a day at sea and then disembarking in Spain.
Who: Jamey Bergman, Production Editor
Why There? MSC Armonia has undergone a “stretching” operation whereby the ship was cut in two and had an 80-foot section wedged in. I visited the ship in August as it made its way into dry dock for the surgery; look for photos documenting the ship before and after.
We Can’t Wait: Aside from the fact that it’ll be a unique experience to take the inaugural cruise on a ship that’s just been cut in half and sewn back together, I’m also interested to check out all the new features, including the LEGO-themed playrooms in the kids’ club. (Yes, I’m too old for this, but I don’t care.)
The first time the four brides showed up for the cruise ship tender in their wedding finest, we were entranced.
Our group, onboard Louis Olympia (redubbed Celestyal Olympia just this week) for a four-night sailing around the Greek Isles, called out "congrats" to the beaming couples as we prepared to disembark for Mykonos.
"They aren’t getting married," the assistant cruise director informed us. Instead, the four Portuguese couples — who hadn’t known each other before getting onboard — were taking the cruise solely as an intense post-wedding photo shoot.
Some passengers love them, and others are – quite literally – happy to wash their hands of them. While I drew the line at a sinister bedspread figure lurking in shadows when I returned to my cabin on a Nile cruise, I personally love towel animals!
So much so, I went to the towel animal demonstration on another cruise and ended up buying the book on how to make them. I tried to perfect a crab (shown above). It seemed the easiest, as it requires just one bath sheet without a complicated mix of large and medium towels or the added intricacy of washcloths. With its lop sided tissue eyes, my effort wouldn’t have won any prizes, and was far eclipsed by the perfect penguin my room steward created as a companion.
The world, it seems, has gone crazy for chocolate.
And we’re not talking Reese’s here. Sales of premium chocolate, the kind where cacao counts and cocoa “terroir” are proudly marked, are up around the globe, particularly in luxury-minded countries within Asia such as China and Japan.
At least that’s the message that chocolatier Norman Love put forth last week on Regal Princess. The master sweets maker, who spent decades as an executive pastry chef at The Ritz Carlton hotel chain, debuted his “Chocolate Journey” on the ship during its christening cruise; it will roll out to the rest of the fleet in January 2015 to mark Princess Cruises’ 50th anniversary.
What is a Chocolate Journey, you might be asking? The partnership is wide-ranging, encompassing desserts in the main dining room, specialty restaurants and the buffet, as well as chocolate-flavored cocktails, a wine and chocolate pairing, and even chocolate-themed spa treatments. Love — who spent a stint with Norwegian Cruise Line as a pastry chef back in 1979 — brought Princess chefs to his headquarters in Fort Myers, FL, to develop 15 signature desserts for the line. His chocolates will also be sold in the Celebrations boutique onboard.
You’re waited on from the moment you step onboard — smiling crewmembers, swirling trays of brightly colored drinks, luggage delivery, the front desk already working to sort out accounts. So should this shipwide welcome extend to each time you step back on the gangway? I think yes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in our member photo gallery. Feel free to send us your Twitter handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!
Any cruise to Turkey calls for a taste of Turkish Delight. The sugary, colorful confections that originated in Ottoman Empire are more than a reference from "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe"; they’re a popular treat that you shouldn’t leave without trying. While in Istanbul during her Black Sea cruise aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaPrima, Cruise Critic member familygoboston captured this moment in front of one of the shops. Who’s got a sweet tooth?