Just Back From…Quantum of the Seas: Shoutout to the Crew

November 17, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

photo of chefs from Izumi on Quantum of the Seas

All this week, we’ll be reporting back on our Quantum of the Seas experiences (we’ve already given you a taste of what’s hot and what’s not in our Hits and Misses post).

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!

    Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

    November 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Jamey sailing on the MSC Armonia

    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.)

      Observed Onboard: Wedding Photo Shoots Gone Mad

      November 14, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

      Wedding Party - photo by Chris Gray Faust

      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.

      Read on for the full story

        Hot on the Forums: Terrible Towel Animals

        November 14, 2014 | By | 10 Comments

        Towel Crab

        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.

        Read on to find out more.

          Take a Chocolate Journey: Princess Pairs with Norman Love

          November 13, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Moist Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Creme Brulee and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse - image courtesy of Princess Cruises

          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.

          Take the Chocolate Journey

            Steal of the Week: 7-Nt. W. Caribbean Cruise from $199

            November 13, 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: Cruise.com is offering a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise onboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale on November 30, 2014. Prices start from $199 per person for an inside cabin and include up to $75 in onboard credit.
            WHAT WE LOVE: Scoring a weeklong cruise for less than $30 per night is a feat. Close out Thanksgiving weekend with a cruise to Half Moon Cay, George Town in the Cayman Islands, Cozumel and Key West, from $28 per person per night when you book an inside cabin. Factor in up to $75 in onboard credit. Nieuw Amsterdam is a traditional ship with a modern feel, and less than five years old. The popular Dancing with the Stars program is onboard every sailing, and meals are sure to satisfy with Le Circque, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind as some of your specialty dining options. If you need a view, cabins are a steal up through the balcony category, from just $57 per person per night.
            WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: This is a last-minute deal and requires quick turnaround. Taxes and fees are not taken into account, so budget for more than the face-value cruise fare. Your onboard credit is per cabin so even if you earn the full $75, that equates to $37.50 per person (better than nothing, but not a huge amount). You’re just past hurricane season, but seas can still be stormy in the winter. Prepare for a bit of an older crowd, so if dancing late into the night is your thing, you might be dancing solo.
            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.

              Observed Onboard: Welcome Parties…Do They Make a Difference?

              November 12, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

              welcome cookies - image courtesy of graletta/Shutterstock

              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.

              Read why welcome parties make a difference

                Wanderlust Wednesday: Turkish Delight, Anyone?

                November 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

                Shop in Istanbul - photo courtesy of Familygoboston/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. 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?

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