Steal of the Week: Alaska Oceanview from $599

May 21, 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: Princess Cruises is offering a seven-night Alaska voyage sailing from Vancouver to Whittier on June 10, 2015. Prices start from $599 per person for an outside (oceanview) cabin. Bonuses include hundreds in onboard credit.
WHAT WE LOVE: It’s Alaska season and sailings are popping up left and right, with last-minute deals like this June cruise with Princess. Spend a week gazing at Glacier Bay, College Fjord and experiencing small-town Alaska ports onboard Coral Princess. With plenty of sailings available, spend less than $90 per person per night for an oceanview category cabin. Onboard credit offers are available through Cruise.com, including a special $250 onboard credit offer for military personnel.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: While the price, ship and itinerary are right (now), watch the bottom line because it will likely fluctuate before your eyes prior to booking. Know what your budget is, and what a last-minute deal is to you, and make sure that cabin fare stays within your parameters. If not, there are plenty of Alaska sailings to choose from.
HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (including that pesky fine print), click here.
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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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    From Our Forums: The Kindness of Strangers

    May 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Woman and child on a ship deck

    Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to be going right and you’re ready to throw in the towel… and then someone you’ve never met does something kind that makes everything seem just that little bit better?

    For one frantic mother on a cruise with her three children on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, a few small gestures from a stranger made all the difference.

    Cruise Critic member jmrothermel, who signed her post Jacqui, was so appreciative of the actions of one of her fellow cruisers that she felt she needed to tell others about it, and wrote a post entitled “To the stranger currently onboard Quantum…

    We have to admit, initially we thought the post was a “missed connections” personals ad, and it took a full reading to understand that it was a simple thank you to a kind stranger.

    “I’m not sure who you are,” Jacqui said. “Actually, I don’t even know if you read Cruise Critic. What I do know is that I feel the need to acknowledge what an amazing person you are.”

    Read on for more

      Cruise Tip of the Week: Pack More, Spend Less

      May 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

      Drinks at Sea

      Tip: There are tons of ways to stretch your spending money on a cruise, and one of them is BYOB: bringing your own beverages. Many lines ban passengers from bringing their own wine, beer and hard alcohol — or end up charging a corkage fee — but soft drinks, juices, bottled water and iced tea are another story. Make a pit stop at a local grocery or department store, and pick up a case before embarkation. Packing a little more will help you spend less onboard.

      Full Article: Read 9 more ways to stretch your cruise dollars onboard.

      Want More?: Check out our related links below for more info, tips and advice.

      Bottoms Up! A Guide to Cruise Line All-You-Can-Drink Packages

      What to Expect on a Cruise: Drink Packages

      15 Ways to Get Free (or Cheaper) Drinks at Sea

      Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!

        Contest: Name That Ship

        May 19, 2015 | By | 63 Comments

        quiz

        If you guessed that we spend a lot of time here at Cruise Critic talking about ship trivia, you’d be right. After a recent discussion held on the origin of ship monikers, we thought it would be fun to create a game that picks them apart — in the literal sense.

        In this world, Carnival “Great Happiness and Exhilaration” would translate into Carnival Elation. See if you can use the clues below to figure out the proper names of the ships from their literal meaning.

        Submit your 10 guesses, along with an email address where you can be reached, in the comments section by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, and we’ll choose a winner at random from those who’ve gotten all 10 correct. He or she will receive a Cruise Critic prize pack.

        1. “Applauding While Standing” of the Seas – Royal Caribbean

        2. Celebrity “Moon Passes in Front of the Sun” – Celebrity

        3. Carnival “Gentle Wind” – Carnival

        4. “Dutch for ‘Southern Dam'” – Holland America

        5. Norwegian “Round, White Stone Formed in the Shell of a Mollusk” – Norwegian

        6. “Natural Luminous Body Visible in the Sky, Particularly at Night” Princess – Princess

        7. MSC “Italian Word for Poetry” – MSC

        8. Azamara “Act of Traveling From One Place to Another” – Azamara

        9. Avalon “Textile Wall Hanging Depicting Scenes Created by the Weaving of Colored Threads” – Avalon Waterways

        10. Seabourn “Temporary Stay” – Seabourn

          Member Review of the Week: Pampered Under the Tahitian Sun

          May 19, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Moorea

          Cruise Ship: Oceania Marina

          Itinerary: South Pacific

          Member: CruiseMacks

          Background: Surrounded by warm water, sunny skies and picture-perfect views of the Tahitian Islands, CruiseMacks and her husband enjoyed their eighth Oceania cruise. The experience was a year in the making for her, as the organizer of a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet that welcomed 170 fellow passengers from their roll call. But it was Oceania Marina’s attentive service and quality dining that made this cruise their favorite to date.

          Onboard Highlight: The crew, one of which stocked their minifridge with her favorite drink after she requested it on her last cruise.

          Port Highlight: Easter Island, which CruiseMacks said is a must-see.

          Don’t Miss: Exploring all the ship’s dining options.

          Watch Out For: The entertainment, if you’re a fan of after-dinner shows. CruiseMacks felt Oceania was lacking in this department.

          More: Read CruiseMacks’ full review for more details about the ship and ports of call.

          For their efforts, CruiseMacks, Oasis418, phillymom22, chavinat and MyJCrew 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.

            Just Back from Viking Star: Hits & Misses

            May 18, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

            Viking Star Atrium

            After putting river cruising firmly on the map, Viking Cruises launched a new effort last month: its own ocean cruise line. The first new cruise line in over a decade, Viking Ocean Cruises also is the first line to launch with a brand-new, custom-designed and -built ship since Disney introduced Magic in the late 1990s.

            The 930-passenger Viking Star, which underwent a series of shakedown cruises leading up to its christening in Bergen on May 17, is a ship that redefines affordable luxury in the marketplace. It’s luxuriously decorated, its crew is service oriented and well trained, and itineraries, which rarely repeat a port, are a perfect blend of destinations marquee and offbeat. Venues range from the superb Manfredi’s Italian restaurant to a best-in-cruise spa. There’s also its elegant sun deck, the kootchy-kootchy Torshavn nightclub and its efficiently styled and larger-than-average staterooms (all of which come with balconies), among others.

            Ultimately, however, what really distinguishes this new line — and its debut ship — is this: Viking has effectively transferred much of what really works for river cruising — a more value-added, inclusive experience — and brought it to the high seas. This means that passengers onboard Viking Star enjoy complimentary wine and beer with meals, free Wi-Fi, at least one free shore excursion in every port of call, where — and this is another standout of Viking’s Ocean product — immersive experiences are the focus.

            And that’s what’s most interesting about cruising’s newest line: It feels like luxury, with a more moderate price tag. It’s the industry’s best oceangoing bang-for-the-buck cruise experience we’ve experienced.

            With that in mind, here are our hits and very few misses.

            Hits

            Decor

            Viking Star Explorer Lounge

            Most passengers we’ve met onboard our two sailings agree that Viking Star is a beautiful ship. The style is eclectic Danish modern — very sleek and contemporary but with vibrant colors, and lots of lovely touches. Intriguing collections of books dot bookshelves in public rooms. Shelves are also furnished with lovely art pieces (in particular, we love the gorgeous glass vases scattered throughout), antique artifacts, such as the ship models in the Explorer’s Lounge, and furniture throughout that’s handsome and comfortable.

            Read on for more

              Just Back From Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze: Hits & Misses

              May 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

              wine on a cruise ship

              Taking three ships, all designed and built in the 1980s, from one cruise line to another is a challenging task — as small ship cruise line Windstar discovered. Despite an ambitious $2 million plan to upgrade Star Pride, one of three 212-passenger Seabourn ships, the effort wasn’t perhaps ambitious enough, leading to poor reviews when the line relaunched the vessel last year.

              Now on its second time around with Star Breeze (and Star Legend, which arrives in May), Windstar got a lot more right. First, it upped the ante on the refurbishment budget to almost $9 million. And one badly designed feature — the ships’ sun decks, which felt carved up, choppy and unwelcoming — has been redesigned, to magnificent effect. And finally, Star Pride’s time in service provided Windstar executives with plenty of feedback; the line has relied strongly on insights from its passengers when making improvements.

              So now that we’re off the ship, here are our hits and misses.

              Read on for more

                Hot on the Forums: Should Corkage Fees Be Uncorked?

                May 15, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

                wine on a cruise ship

                One of my little cruising rituals is to enjoy a glass of wine in my cabin when I’m getting ready for dinner, and usually it’s a tipple I have brought onboard. Most cruise lines allow you to bring a bottle or two with you, for this very purpose. Step over the threshold, however, and you’re likely to be landed with a corkage fee.

                Although it can be hard to swallow a massive mark-up on wine you buy at home for a fraction of the price, it’s a fact of life that alcohol sales are a revenue spinner for restaurants on dry land and at sea. On lines where you’re paying for your own drinks, it’s easy to understand why you’re paying a corkage fee.

                But what about paying a corkage fee when wine is included in your fare? Some upscale lines do have this (up to $20 a bottle in some circumstances) — and it makes no sense to Cruise Critic member Bfson who provides an interesting take on the Azamara forums.

                He writes: “I don’t understand the corkage policy. Wine is included in the fare. If I bring my own wine, I save Azamara dollars by not drinking their wine. For the act of saving them money they want to charge me $10 a bottle. Huh?”

                The comment unbottled a flurry of responses from other members.

                Read on for more

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                • About the Lido Deck


                  The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

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