Steal of the Week: 20% Off Carnival Vista + Upgrades

February 12, 2015 | By | No Comments

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: Carnival Cruise Line is offering 20 percent off with early booking rates for their newest and yet-to-be-launched ship, Carnival Vista, plus free upgrades when you book by February 28.
WHAT WE LOVE: Carnival Vista is set to be the line’s biggest ship when it debuts, and announcements are rolling in detailing the ship’s craft brewery and IMAX theater, as well as cabins with private pools and hammocks. It doesn’t get much more exciting than a new ship — except when that ship is on sale. Frankly, we love this deal because we’re looking forward to Vista (even though it’s a year away), and passengers looking to book can take advantage of Carnival’s Early Saver rates and earn a free upgrade when you book by the end of February. Sailings are available through October 21, 2016.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Upgrades do not apply to all cabin categories. Early booking rates can mean booking way in advance (with a nonrefundable deposit per person), and your travel plans will need to hold tight until mid-2016 if you’re booking a cruise onboard Vista. Also, the sailings available are only for the Mediterranean portion of the ship’s itineraries — you will have to fly to Europe — in lieu of cruising out of New York or Miami come later in the season. (Compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.) Most announcements have been made, but if you’re not as big of a risk-taker, and are still holding out to compare ships or see the reviews come in, it may be worth holding off until the “new ship kinks” are worked out.
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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    Celebrity Cruises Creates “Take Care of YourSelfie” Spa Treatments

    February 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Relaxing massage - photo courtesy of Ersler Dmitry/Shutterstock

    Has your face taken on a greenish glow from texting in bed before you go to sleep? Are your nails chipped and broken from too much texting — or worse, is your cell phone permanently glued to your hand? Do you walk around hunched over like an orangutan because you sit at a computer all day long?

    A relaxing cruise getaway can help rid you of those workaday, technology-addicted ailments — and maybe break you of some bad tech habits when you run into glacially slow, over-priced Wi-Fi. You can also take some steps toward technological health if you participate in the "Take Care of YourSelfie," spa treatments developed by Celebrity Cruises and Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook spokesperson and current editor in chief of Dot Complicated.  

    Whether these spa treatments — with clever names such as the Texticure manicure and Control ALT Delight mind-body yoga workout — can actually correct your posture, break your cell phone addiction or rid your body of evil techno-toxins, we don’t know. But we love the idea of unplugging on a cruise and finding yet another excuse for a pampering spa day. Celebrity plans to unroll the treatments in the Canyon Ranch spa through the month of February with prices that range from  $10 for the 50-minute yoga class and $77 for the 45-minute Texticure up to $266 for the 80-minute fACEial Time.

    We chatted with Zuckerberg to find out why she’s excited about this project and to pick her brain for more ways to find tech-life balance on a vacation at sea.

    Cruise Critic: Which of these spa treatments do you need the most?

    Randi Zuckerberg: All of the above? If I had to pick, I’m in most need of "fACEial Time" [a facial providing skin-nourishing antioxidants, peptides and vitamins A, C and E"]. At night, I’m always in bed looking at the phone with its bright light keeping me awake.

    CC: And which spa treatment is your favorite?

    RZ: I love all of them! For someone who’s new to the spa, a really accessible one is the Texticure. You put your hands in the paraffin gloves, and it repairs the skin. It’s fast but also luxurious — and you cannot possibly text during the treatment.

    CC: Do spa selfies and tweets detract from each treatment’s effectiveness?

    RZ: In life, everything is about balance. If you’re trying to send texts while getting a body scrub, you’re not finding balance. At the spa, you want to focus and unplug. That said, no one is confiscating your phone. Sharing what you love is an important part of the trip.

    CC: What’s your top tip for tech-life balance on vacation?

    RZ: We all fall into the bad habit of "snacking" with technology. When we have a down minute, the phone comes out and we’re mindlessly scrolling. On your cruise, set a mindful goal to read a book, write in your journal or go to the gym every day — and then spend purposeful time with technology.

    CC: Besides the spa, how else would you invite people to disconnect on a cruise?

    RZ: Any time you can have face-to-face interaction with other human beings, take it. A cruise ship has incredible restaurants, bars and opportunities to talk to and meet new people in a beautiful, luxurious setting.

    CC: What piece of technology has improved your quality of life while on vacation?

    RZ: The selfie stick! After you go to the spa and your skin is glowing, you have to take the perfect selfie. As a backup, I’d say a portable battery charger because you don’t want to be caught off guard.

    CC: What’s your favorite selfie spot onboard?

    RZ: I toured Celebrity Reflection, and the top deck has a beautiful lawn. You can take a gorgeous photo of yourself both in a park and surrounded by blue ocean. Do this and you will win at selfies.

    CC: What’s up next for Taking Care of YourSelfie on a Celebrity cruise?

    RZ: We have lots more plans in the works with the full-year program. Taking care of yourself is a lifestyle choice, and the spa is a great place to start.

      Wanderlust Wednesday: Under the Tuscan Sun

      February 11, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

      Cliffside village on Italy's Amalfi Coast  - photo courtesy of lexfrank/Cruise Critic Forums

      Destination: Positano, Italy

      Highlight: This picturesque cliffside village on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is easily accessible from the port of Naples. Explore the streets’ many restaurants, boutiques and sights such as the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Don’t forget to try the Limoncello!

      Member: lexfrank

      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 or Instagram handle. Maybe you’ll get a shout-out next #WanderlustWednesday!

      Find interesting places to visit based on region.

      Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.

      Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

        Observed Onboard: Cruise Ships “Chill Out” with Snow and Ice

        February 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

        The Snow on Norwegian Escape - photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

        Baby, it’s cold outside, and if you’re looking toward a little cruise vacation to warm things up, you might want to think again. One of the cruise industry’s latest onboard trends is a frosty fixation on all things snow and ice. From classic skating rinks to ice bar hot spots, and arctic-inspired spa oases to Frozen-themed kids’ activities, we’ve rounded up some of the "coolest" offerings from the brisk bunch.

        Arctic Spa Zones

        Two new cruise ships are taking spa chill-out time quite literally. Debuting in April 2015, the 930-passenger Viking Star, the first ship in Viking’s new oceangoing cruise line, will offer a Snow Grotto. The Scandinavian-inspired space features gently falling snowflakes and cool temps, in a bid to stimulate spa-goers’ circulation systems; a follow-up at the sauna and a massage rounds out the therapeutic effects. Likewise, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new 4,200-passenger Norwegian Escape (due out in October 2015) will also unveil a Snow Room in its onboard spa, touting arctic temperatures from as cool as 21 degrees, met by a flurry of snow powder, to pleasing circulation- and immune-boosting effect.

        More chilly cruises

          Member Review of the Week: Last-Minute Bliss

          February 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Emerald pool waterfall in Dominica - photo courtesy of Sorin Colac/Shutterstock

          Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas

          Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

          Member: baseball1210

          Overall Impression: When baseball1210 set out to snag a last-minute deal in the Southern Caribbean, he was open to trying a new cruise line if the stars were aligned. Alas, he found the perfect itinerary and price for a Royal Caribbean ship — not a far cry from the Celebrity ships he was used to. Was taking a chance on a new cruise line worth it?

          Onboard Highlight: Adventure of the Seas’ pools, Solarium and hot tubs — which made for relaxing retreats for outdoor movies on the big screen.

          Port Highlight: It’s all about the beaches in the Southern Caribbean.

          Don’t Miss: The ice show or comedian pianist.

          Watch Out For: This itinerary only has one sea day. So if you’re an active cruiser, take advantage of any down time.

          More: Read baseball1210’s full review for details about the cabin, dining, entertainment and more.

          For their efforts, baseball1210, lucy2mb, wenbergin, true45 and dongordon 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.

            Is Regal Princess the Ship for You?

            February 9, 2015 | By | 14 Comments

            Regal Princess - image courtesy of Princess Cruises

            Regal Princess, which debuted in spring 2014, combines sophistication in design with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.  If you’re weighing your cruise ship choices and not sure where to start, we’ve got 10 reasons you might consider Regal Princess.

            Regal Princess might just be the perfect ship for you if:

            1. You like to walk on the edge. Regal Princess has a glass-bottomed walkway that projects over the side of the ship on the pool deck. The line calls this the SeaWalk, and it’s a great spot to visit if you want take on your fear of heights. Take a moment to snap a picture of the view straight down from 16 decks high.

            2. You’ve been looking for an excellent buffet. The buffet on Regal Princess — collectively comprising Horizon Court, the more casual Horizon Bistro and over-the-top sweet spot, The Pastry Shop — is enormous, and the selection is incredible. The food tastes fresh and offers variety for any diet — vegetarian, gluten-free, low-sodium, etc.

            3. Chocolate is your thing. Princess partnered with chocolatier Norman Love, and his dessert creations are available on menus throughout the ship. (My favorite is his incredible take on tiramisu.) Not enough chocolate? You can get a chocolate massage in the ship’s Lotus Spa.

            7 more reasons to consider Regal Princess

              Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

              February 9, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

              Carary Islands

              Ship: Fred. Olsen Boudicca

              Where: Madeira and the Canary Islands

              Who: Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor

              Why There? We’ll be checking out Fred.’s newly refurbished Boudicca, as well as visiting five Canary Islands – La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Las Palmas and Lanzarote – in five days! We’ll be writing about some of the extraordinary excursions on offer in this Atlantic archipelago.

              We Can’t Wait: To hike to the top of a volcano in La Palma and then enjoy local wines; star gazing in the world’s first Starlight Reserve, also on La Palma; scuba diving in Tenerife; jungle trekking in the Garonjay National Park in La Gomera and the plantations and vineyards of Gran Canaria. We’re also very keen to check out what’s new onboard Boudicca.

              Carnival Live Concert Series

              Ship: Carnival Freedom

              Where: Galveston, Texas

              Who: Dori Saltzman

              Why There? Carnival Cruise Line reinforces its presence in the Texas cruise market with a third year-round ship sailing from the state. To celebrate the arrival of Freedom in its new homeport of Galveston, Carnival has invited members of the military and their families with an open-air Carnival LIVE concert from Martina McBride. After the concert, the families are invited to spend the night onboard to experience all the ship has to offer.

              We Can’t Wait: Carnival Freedom underwent a massive $70 million makeover last summer and I’m looking forward to seeing the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements. I also can’t wait to see all the excitement a modern cruise ship has to offer reflected in the faces of military families who so rarely get to spend a day together just having fun.

              Dori is on Carnival Freedom and Adam is sailing Fred. Olsen's Boudicca

              Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations.

              (Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)

                Hot on the Forums: Overhyped or Underrated?

                February 6, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

                Hype

                You’ve read about, heard about it and anticipated it with great excitement – now you’ve finally got it in your hand and you’re positively underwhelmed. Be it Carnival’s famed WCMC (warm melting chocolate cake) or other glorified grub, entertainment, facilities or a port of call, what some cruisers shout about from the rooftops, others could happily miss.

                Cruise Critic member curious_st took to the forums after he went on a Carnival cruise and sunk his teeth into a Guy’s Burger…

                “When I finally got one, I was disappointed. It was good, but not great, and definitely did not live up to the hype.”

                Other things that he felt didn’t deliver included the line’s most-praised desserts (WCMC, Grand Marnier Souffle, Bitter N Blanc), Tea Time and Shows on Liberty. At the same time, he loved the Fish N Chips, Blue Iguana (“I could eat my body weight in watermelon jicama salsa”), Mongolian Wok, the brass band and San Juan (“I have never been to a more beautiful place”).

                After he asked what other members thought, responses started rolling in and provided an enlightening read.

                What else is overhyped?)

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