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.”
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.
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Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!
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
Cruise Ship: Oceania Marina
Itinerary: South Pacific
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.« go back — keep looking »