Member Review of the Week: Leaves are Falling, New Ports Calling

December 9, 2014 | By | No Comments

Montmorency Falls, Quebec City, Canada - photo courtesy of Jane Rix/Shutterstock

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 rubysue’s recent cruise to Canada and New England aboard Oceania’s Regatta.

Overall Impression: Experienced cruisers rubysue and her husband were drawn to Oceania’s "Radiant Retreats" cruise for the chance to visit new ports. From Montreal to Miami, the couple sailed through the seasons exploring unfamiliar cities like Boston and Quebec. The ship was more familiar — it was rubysue’s second time onboard but first since Regatta’s recent refurbishment, which welcomed new carpet and furnishings, an expanded Terrace and new Barista’s coffee bar. Read on to see how their cruise unfolded.

Onboard Highlight: All of the dining impressed, especially dinner at the specialty steakhouse Polo Grill and lunch at Waves.

Port Highlight: A stroll through Old Quebec, lunch in Ile d’Orleans overlooking the city and visits to Montmorency Falls and St. Anne du Beaupre Basilica made Quebec City a favorite.

Don’t Miss: Tom Drake, the comedian onboard.

Watch Out For: Steep drink prices, especially for wines by the glass. 

More: Read rubysue’s full review for more details about the ship and each port of call.

For their efforts, rubysue, cainweb , 3664shaken , teecee60 and cruisininpa receive Cruise Critic logo items.

Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

    How Much Did You Pay for Your Cruise?

    December 8, 2014 | By | 15 Comments

    Admit it: you love a bargain — and you love telling people you’ve got a good deal.

    We admit we’re guilty of it, too, but it’s high on the list of Most Annoying Conversation Topics Onboard.

    On a thread on the P&O Cruises forum bemoaning moaners, a sub-thread was started by Tayscot about those people who go on about "how much they and others have paid for their cruise."

    He writes: "I have no interest in finding out that others have obtained a much better deal than me or broadcasting to others if I have managed to secure a really good deal. When asked outright how much I have paid I have taken to replying that we have been given a free cruise because we are such good customers (not true of course) but it has elicited some really quizzical looks and bewilderment in the posers of the question.”

    Other members also share some great ideas for stopping price comparison cruisers in their tracks.

    We like Corfe Mixture‘s tactic: "I intensely dislike those people who get their pleasure out of proving to others that they got a better deal than the person they are talking to. As a result, I always reply to anyone who brags about their good deal with the words ‘really, you paid that much?’ When they then ask how much I paid, I always decline to say on the basis that I don’t want them to feel that they did not get a good deal."

    But mds143‘s is definitely the best: "I hate it when people go on about how much or little they payed. If asked directly I think I’d say that my holiday was paid for by the social security people to help me fight depression, which was caused by me being out of work and on benefits for the last 15 years. I could add to that, that they needed me out of the house for a couple of weeks anyway so that they could put in a new kitchen and redecorate. What do you think, would I get away with it?"

    What do you think? Would he get away with it?

    Let us know below.

      Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

      December 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Louise sailing on Voyager of the Seas & Chris sailing on the Costa neoRiviera

      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: Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas

      Where: Sydney, cruise to nowhere

      Who: Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor

      Why There? Because summer is here! The biggest ship based Down Under, Voyager is returning to Australia this weekend with lots of new-to-Australia onboard features, such as the FlowRider surf machine, 3D cinema, virtual balconies on inside cabins and panoramic staterooms with wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows. We’ll be dining at Giovanni’s Table, one of the three new restaurants, and checking out Royal Caribbean’s first gastropub, The Tavern.

      We Can’t Wait: In addition to all the usual shenanigans of a one-night cruise, we’re excited for the first Facebook Party At Sea, with 100 lucky passengers who chose the best Aussie sailaway songs in a nationwide competition. Local singer Nathaniel Willemse will perform in La Scala Theatre, followed by a celebration on (and fireworks above) the helipad.

      Ship: Costa neoRiviera

      Where: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah

      Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

      Why There? We’ll be experiencing Costa’s "neo" class of ships, which promote slower travel through overnight port stops and more casual onboard ambiance. We’ll also be taking a look at how Dubai — the Las Vegas of the Middle East — has been expanding its water sports and shore excursions for cruise passengers, many who fly to the port several days before embarkation.

      We Can’t Wait: Razzle me, dazzle me: I’m looking forward to seeing as much of the high-end silliness as I can. Visits to Ski Dubai (a ski slope within a mall), the towering Burj Khalifa and tea at Burj Al Arab are on tap. I’m also looking forward to seeing Dubia’s more authentic side, with a Middle Eastern food tour and a visit to the Sheik Monahmmed bid Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding.

        What Kind of Cruiser Are You?

        December 5, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

        What's your Cruise-A-Nality?

        We admit it. The editors at Cruise Critic are personality quiz junkies. Whether we’re determining which Harry Potter character we are, what country we should be living in or what color best describes our auras, personality quizzes sweep through our department like forest fires. So when Carnival Corp. Released its Cruise-A-Nality quiz a few weeks ago, we were all over it, sharing and dissecting our results.

        It was no big surprise that we fell into a number of different categories; most cruisers enjoy different experiences, after all, and want different things out of their cruises.

        Some, like three of the Cruise Critic editors, are adventurous and, in the words of Carnival Corp., "enjoy venturing off, off, off the beaten path, whether it’s a brisk ATV ride through the jungle, discovering a secluded beach or canoeing down an isolated river… Sailing away is just the beginning of the thrill ride."

        Others are more free spirited, up for just about anything and willing to give it all a try. And then there are the cosmopolitan cruisers for who all forms of travel are meant to be a meaningful experience, and the planners — or cruise directors — who want everyone to have a good time and create an agenda accordingly.

        Here are the Cruise-A-Nalities of our editors. Be sure to take the quiz and let us know what kind of cruiser you are!

        Read our Cruise-A-Nality then learn your own

          Hot on the Forums… Brown or White Eggs: A Cracking Discussion

          December 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

          White and brown eggs - photo courtesy of Laura Bartlett/Shutterstock

          Click on the Cruise Critic message boards and you’ll be transported to a fascinating place. No question is too large, too small, too obscure or too wacky. Sometimes a subject really grabs members’ attention, provoking wit, humour and – in this case – some brain-teasing, philosophy, everything you always wanted to know about chickens (and eggs) and puns aplenty.

          We love a good joke, or should that be yolk, and the thread started by miched is a cracking one that’s already running to six pages and needs to be shared.

          Read on for more wisecracks

            We Try It: Japanese Baths on Diamond Princess

            December 4, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Outdoor Baths on Diamond Princess - photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

            Making promises over dinner and a few wines is OK but when it comes to agreeing to go naked in a Japanese bathhouse, it’s perhaps best to decide when totally sober.

            A couple of us thought we’d go au naturel to sample the brand-new bathhouse onboard Diamond Princess. After all, most onsens (baths) in Japan require visitors to go without bathing suits for hygiene reasons; the pools are sex segregated for privacy.

            We made our vow late at night, however. The next day, in the cold hard glare of the mid-afternoon, we reconsidered. Luckily, the ship has clothed and clothing-optional bathing time when it sails in Australia. So it was on with the bathing suit and into the hot tub.

            Read on for more

              Steal of the Week: 7-Night Bahamas Mini-Suite from $559

              December 4, 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: Cruises Only is offering a weeklong, last-minute cruise onboard Norwegian Breakaway sailing roundtrip from New York on December 7, 2014. Prices for a mini-suite cabin start from just $559 per person.
              WHAT WE LOVE: The price for this mini-suite is staggering. Especially when you consider that it’s not a short two-nighter, it’s not an old ship and it’s not a one-stop sailing. While we realize this specific cruise is too last minute for many to book, we wanted to show the price points available through this online agency and also the bonuses. A sailing in a mini-suite on December 14 jumps to just $689 per person. When you book any of the many available sailings on the Cruises Only site, valid until tomorrow, you are eligible for up to $500 in onboard credit or up to $750 cash back. Bookings made way in advance require no deposit down. In addition, many of the cruise line’s own promotions are able to be combined with low rates and agency bonuses. This is some of the lowest suite pricing we’ve ever seen.
              WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Prices change frequently. While we’re curious how prices are this low, even for last-minute sailings, the deals and incentives do exist. If you can’t sail this Sunday (and we don’t blame you), comb the site for deals in advance — they won’t be as cheap as a suite from $80 per night, but they are very affordable. Just book them when you see them because, as we mentioned, they fluctuate by the minute. As for the bonuses, be sure to read the fine print and make sure which amenities overlap and which promotions you can access. Norwegian is currently holding a holiday promotion, but the bonus $100 in onboard credit is only applicable to some of the sailings on the site; know what you’re getting when you book.
              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.

                More Terrible Towel Animals

                December 3, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

                Seduce you, Yoda will - photo by Casey Hutchins Smith

                It takes time to perfect the art of towel animals – and not all cabin stewards are up to the task. As we pointed out a few weeks ago, Cruise Critic readers have encountered more than their share of towel animal fails, finding creations in their cabin that range from goofy to terrifying to downright unrecognizable.

                We asked our Facebook fans to send us photographic evidence of their oddest animals – and they responded with some doozies. Below are some of our favorites (check out the Facebook post for some photos that were downright NSFW):

                More wacky towel animals

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