Steal of the Week: Half Off Second Pax on Princess

June 18, 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 hosting a sale on quick trips with their Great Getaways promotion now through July 7, offering half off second cruise fares and discounted rates for third and fourth passengers in a cabin; only a $50 deposit is required.
WHAT WE LOVE: A nice promotion for families who sail multiple berths to a cabin, and are also seeking short but fulfilling vacations close to home, Princess Cruises has discounted fares along the west coast and Caribbean itineraries from the east coast. Sail four nights from Los Angeles with Catalina Island from $398 per person, or four nights to Grand Turk from Fort Lauderdale from $448 per person.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: If you’re not near one of the port cities included in the sale, airfare could get tricky for a group of four or more; plus, port taxes and fees are in addition to the advertised cruise fare. Very select dates are available for each itinerary so booking ahead is crucial — you only have until July 7. Keep in mind hurricane season is in effect until November.
Have questions about Star Princess? We’re onboard and answering them beginning June 22. Submit them here now.
Compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.
HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (including that pesky fine print), click here.
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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    Cruise Tip of the Week: How to Have a Stress-Free Sailaway

    June 17, 2015 | By | No Comments

    fly early

    Tip: Your bags are packed. Travel documents are in order. What else could you be missing? While the mental checklist might come naturally to some, it’s easy for others to neglect “the obvious” when gearing up for embarkation day. One way to avoid stressing before your cruise is by arriving at your port city a day early. Whether you’re driving or flying, adding wiggle room to your itinerary will help you prepare for the unexpected. Vacations are for relaxing, after all!

    Full Article: Read 14 more ways to take the stress out of embarkation day.

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

    22 Do’s and Don’t’s for Your First Day Onboard a Cruise Ship

    What to Expect on a Cruise: First Day Onboard

    What’s Your Cruise Sailaway Style?

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

      Enter our Miami Hotel Giveaway by June 30th!

      June 16, 2015 | By | 1 Comment


      Have you booked your cruise out of Miami and need a hotel? Or do you just want a quick luxury getaway in South Beach?

      We’ve partnered with – the Hotel Tell-All review site with a million+ comprehensive hotel photos and in-depth reviews – to offer you and a guest a chance to win a 2-night stay at the Kaskades Suites at Gale South Beach. The winner also receives a $500 gift card for extra expenses like dining or shopping.

      Enter daily through June 30th for your chance to win.

      Kaskades Suites

        Member Review of the Week: Holland America’s Veendam

        June 16, 2015 | By | No Comments


        Cruise Ship: HAL’s Veendam

        Itinerary: Bermuda

        Member: mygoalie35

        Background: It didn’t take long for mygoalie35 to feel relaxed on her Holland America cruise to Bermuda — even with kids in tow. The ship’s laidback vibe and overnights in port allowed her, her husband, 19 year-old son and four year-old grandson to sail at their own pace — bumming by the pool while taking advantage of the kids’ club and exploring the island without feeling rushed to get back on the ship. Read on for her favorites.

        Onboard Highlight: The kids’ club. Mygoalie35’s grandson loved the activities and attention he received since it wasn’t as crowded.

        Port Highlight: A glass-bottom boat and snorkeling tour.

        Don’t Miss: The eggs benedict dish at the buffet.

        Watch Out For: Daily activities seemed to consist mostly of computer classes and dancing — so be wary if you’re more into rock-climbing walls and swimming pool contests.

        More: Read mygoalie35’s full review for more details about the ship and Bermuda.

        For their efforts, mygoalie35, golfnut1089, MLevin, DinaS and iamethanl 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.

          Live from Carnival Triumph: Four Reasons to Take a Four-Day Cruise

          June 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Carnival Triumph Pool Deck

          After spending the past few days on Carnival Triumph, we’re convinced short, four-day “taster” cruises are a great introduction to what life at sea is all about. (And now that the U.S. government is phasing out “cruises to nowhere,” these short voyages, which only stop in one or two ports, are likely to become more plentiful.)

          Taking a short cruise has a few obvious benefits. You burn fewer vacation days, for one thing, and the initial price is usually wallet friendly (although even on a short cruise, extras such as drinks, spa treatments and excursions can add up). Your fellow passengers are usually younger — on Triumph, the bulk of passengers were 30 to 50 — and less jaded about cruising than perhaps more veteran cruisers; a full 70 percent of the people on our ship were taking a voyage for the first time. That means there’s an anticipatory energy on a short cruise that you don’t always see on a traditional seven-day sailing.

          Here are four reasons why we’d take a short cruise again.

          1. Meet Your Neighbors

          Most people who take short cruises live within driving distance of the port. On our Galveston-based sailing, more than 57 percent of the passengers lived in Texas, with most of the rest hailing from Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. We saw friendships springing up in the lobby bar and romances blossoming at the piano bar. That’s not necessarily unusual. But knowing that your new BFFs are only a few towns away means you’re much more likely to stay in touch than if you lived halfway across the U.S.

          Read on for more

            My First Cruise: Norwegian Breakaway

            June 15, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

            Norwegian Breakaway cruse ship

            In the My First Cruise series, Cruise Critic reaches out to first-time cruisers who recently returned from their very first cruise to find out why they chose a cruise, how they liked it and how it compared to what they expected and where they want to cruise to next.

            Want to be featured? Contact

            Name: Cathy Gilbert
            Age: 51
            Cruised with: Husband
            Ship & itinerary: 12-day Southern Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway

            Q. Why did you decide to take a cruise?

            A. I wanted to see several places in one vacation.

            Q. Did you have any preconceptions of what to expect from a cruise?

            A. No.

            Q. Why and how did you choose the cruise line and ship you chose?

            A. I came across it during an Internet search. It was a great value for what was offered and went to locations I had not visited before.

            Tropical island with beach and mountains

            Q. What was your favorite place on the ship? Why?

            A. That’s a tough question. My favorite place was the specialty restaurants.

            Q. What was your favorite thing about cruising?

            A. The entertainment was top notch, as were the dining and excursion choices.

            Q. What was the biggest surprise?

            A. How comfortable the mini suite was; the bathroom was much bigger than I expected.

            Q. Where do you want to cruise to next?

            A. More Caribbean islands!

            Q. What kind of person/traveler would enjoy the cruise you were on?

            A. Someone who loves entertainment and adventures would like this cruise.

              5 Things You’ll Find Only on Holland America Line

              June 12, 2015 | By | 29 Comments

              Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam, side by side.

              With its reputation for offering a classic cruise experience (and a clientele that skews slightly older — average age is 55), you’re unlikely to encounter beer pong games or hairy chest contests on Holland America sailings. But the line offers its own brand of signature features that its passengers love.

              Here’s a look at some experiences that make HAL special:

              1. Themed Afternoon Teas

              Yes, they’re an excuse to squeeze yet another meal into the day, but Holland America’s themed afternoon teas are also a mini cultural experience.

              Particularly popular is the weekly Indonesian Tea (cue the gamelan music), featuring traditional treats like fried banana, coconut crepes and rice-coconut balls. Many people don’t realize that modern Indonesia was once the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian cuisine is extremely popular in the Netherlands, where HAL can trace its roots.

              Expect Dutch sweets and savories like almond cookies and sausage rolls at the ship’s Dutch Royal Tea. The Cupcake Tea — very popular with those grandparents bringing their grandchildren — offers up a festive array of iced treats in all flavors, including mini red velvet bites. For non-tea drinkers, creamy milkshakes are served.

              Read on for more

                Hot on the Forums: Silencing Singing Waiters

                June 12, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

                waiter with a birthday cake

                Call me a party pooper, but I dread having a birthday while I’m on a cruise. The dining room lights dim to cue the arrival of a cake with a sparkler or candles (depending which line you’re on) while waiters circle the table and erupt into a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Strangers at surrounding tables join in, only to mumble or go silent through the part where your name crops up.

                It makes me cringe. And even if you’re not the recipient, you still have to suffer through it. On a large ship, there seems to be a birthday or honeymoon/anniversary rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” — even worse as the tune goes on for longer — virtually every night.

                So I was relieved to find I’m not the only killjoy. Cruise Critic member balf took to the forums to express his distaste for surprise serenades.

                Read on for more

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                  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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