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 email@example.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?
Our inaugural crossing on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas last week was full of dramatic moments – crossing through a stormy Bay of Biscay, attending Cruise Critic’s biggest-ever Meet & Mingle, and, of course, the chance to try out the ship’s innovative new features. We loved Dynamic Dining’s choice of restaurants. The Seaplex, with its trapeze school, roller skating and bumper cars, made us feel like kids again. The craft cocktails at Michael’s Genuine Pub and the perfectly prepared pastas at Jamie’s Italian – two new-to-Royal Caribbean venues – would bring us back to Quantum (and Anthem and Ovation, the successor ships, which will also feature them).
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 mommiemudd’s recent cruise to the Southern Caribbean on Carnival Sunshine.
Overall Impression: Good food, lots of laughs and island adventures were the theme on mommiemudd’s cruise aboard Carnival’s freshly refurbished Sunshine. She and her group of eight (four adults and four kids) had planned this vacation months in advance, and the anticipatory wait paid off with cabin upgrades, thanks to an early saver booking.
Onboard Highlight: Mommiemudd and the gang weren’t big theater people, so their attention was geared toward dining, comedy shows and outdoor activities, from DiveIn movies to the SportSquare. All were impressive, but the food and comedy shows take the cake.
Port Highlight: Curacao, where the 30-minute drive to Playa Porto Mari (in a grungy rental van) proved well worth the trip for cheap diving and snorkeling.
Don’t Miss: Mini cupcakes at the buffet.
Watch Out For: The beach at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, in Grand Turk. An influx of vendors with tents along the shoreline made it hard to soak up the view.
More: Read mommiemudd’s full review for more details about their adventures in Playa PortoMari, other ports and the overall ship.
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