Member Review of the Week: Deja Vu Under the Caribbean Sun

April 14, 2015 | By | No Comments

Key West

Cruise Ship: Holland America’s Eurodam

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Member: loveandcruises

Background: With 32 cruises on five cruise lines under her belt, loveandcruises has plenty of experience on the high seas. She says, “People will often ask me, ‘What is your favorite line?’ and I’ll answer that every line has its merits, but if you want the best service, it’s Holland America all the way.” If Holland America’s traditional style appeals to you, too, check out her highlights from a return cruise onboard Eurodam, below.

Onboard Highlight: The service and food — especially the rack of lamb dish featured by Culinary Council Chef Rudy Sodamin in the main dining room.

Port Highlight: Key West. If you plan to window shop, loveandcruises recommends Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, where you can taste before you buy, and Key West Aloe on Greene Street, where you can sample exotic scents of moisturizer and perfume.

Don’t Miss: B.B. King’s Blues Club, which you can also find on other Holland America ships: Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam and Oosterdam.

Watch Out For: Late dinner seating times, if you’re interested in activities such as the Marriage Game and Liars’ Club.

More: Read loveandcruises’ full review for more hits and misses.

For their efforts, loveandcruises, Alexv500, Kelly04, Snowbird Cruzer and bphawk64 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.

    You Might Like Viking River Cruises If…

    April 13, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

    Viking Mani

    It’s “River Week” here on the Lido Deck. We’re taking a look at some of the most popular river cruise lines, so you can decide which one is best for your next vacation. Today: Viking River Cruises.

    Viking is the largest river cruise line, with a fleet of 50 vessels. In the U.S., it has the most name recognition, thanks to extensive advertising on NPR radio and Masterpiece  on PBS (where the promotions ran before the wildly popular show Downton Abbey). Although the line focuses on Europe, with cruises on the popular Rhine, Main and Danube among others, it also sails in China, Burma, Vietnam and Egypt (and will be coming to the Mississippi River in 2017).

    A Viking river cruise will float your boat if you like…

    Scandinavian style: Reflecting the heritage of Viking’s Norwegian-born founder, Torstein Hagen, the line’s popular “longships” are sleek, minimalist and functional, with tasteful, muted decor throughout the public rooms and cabins. Bling is definitely not a Viking thing.

    More reasons to take a Viking River Cruise

      Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

      April 13, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

      Infinity Pool on Viking Star (photo: Viking Ocean Cruises)

      Ship: Viking Ocean Cruises’ brand spanking new Viking Star

      Where: Istanbul, the Greek islands, the Adriatic coast and Venice

      Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief

      Why There? Viking Ocean Cruises, a new, ocean-going cruise line spawned from Viking River Cruises, launches its first ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star, on its first-ever passenger cruise. Viking Oceans is the first cruise line to debut with all-new, purpose-designed and built cruise ships since Disney launched Disney Magic in 1998.

      We Can’t Wait: While Viking’s philosophy for its new ocean line emphasizes destinations, such as longer days in ports of call and a nice mix of marquee ports (like Venice, Istanbul and Dubrovnik) with offbeat places (like Montenegro’s Kotor and Croatia’s Pula), we’re also excited to check out its innovative newbuild.

      The ship has some nifty contemporary features, like a firepit, Nordic spa with Finnish sauna and snow room, and an Armagnac bar (not sure we’ve ever tried this brandy, distilled in France’s Pyrenees region, but open to the possibility!). Having cruised on Viking’s distinctive river-based Longships, we’re excited about the carryover of features on this ocean ship, such as the indoor/outdoor Aquavit lounge, a complimentary array of shore excursions, and free Wi-Fi, along with wine and beer at lunch and dinner. And we also look forward to the ships’ retro touches, including a wrap-around promenade deck (you don’t see that much on today’s newest big ships) and a lofty, two-deck-high Explorers Lounge observatory. Last but by no means least, we’re excited to share our discoveries in ports of call with you.

      Follow along with Carolyn on Cruise Critic Live, where she’s sending updates all week long.

      Where is Cruise Critic

      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!)

        Peter Knego’s Cruise Ship-Inspired Home

        April 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

        Cocktail bar in Peter Knego's cruise ship inspired home

        Return readers may remember the legendary John Siggins, who built a replica of the Titanic’s dining room in his back garden shed using artifacts from its sister ship, Olympic.

        It seems that John is not alone in his passion for recreating old ships. Meet Peter Knego, ship historian, who has incorporated some of his favorite cruise ship details into his own home.

        Read on to find out more.

          Hot on the Forums: Is It Time to Wave Goodbye to Napkin Waving?

          April 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

          They might be cheesy, but I’m rather fond of cruise ship traditions such as the Baked Alaska parade, waiter-led happy birthday chorus surrounding a cake topped with a sparkler and sailaway party set against a soaring song. To me, they’re harmless fun.

          So I was interested to read about another tradition raised, quite literally, in the Cruise Critic forums by member B17, who asks why Celebrity has seemingly said goodbye to synchronised napkin waving.

          “One thing I really used to enjoy at the end of the cruise was the parade of chefs, the clapping, the napkin waving, the dancing with the waiters and a general good feeling for the end of a great cruise,” she writes. “Last year, we noticed there was nothing going on in the MDR (main dining room). We had new virgin cruisers with us and I know they would have loved this and given it a special ending to their holiday. So why did they stop this? From the noise everyone used to make and the way everyone joined in, it seems the majority loved it.”

          Not so. The post prompted other members to say they were glad to see the back of it, and put forward theories about its demise.

          Read on for more.

            8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Pre- or Post-Cruise

            April 9, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

            tourists

            Many of the world’s major cities are cruise embarkation ports, ideal places to explore before or after a sailing. After all, if you’re already spending the money to fly there, doesn’t it make sense to extend your stay for a few days?

            If you’re like me, however, you’ve got a finite number of vacation days and dollars in your bank account, which means cramming everything you want to see and do into a small amount of time. There’s so much to experience that you might not know where to start, but never fear! It is possible to hit all of the highlights during a brief stay if you spend your time wisely.

            1. Make a list

            Compile a rundown of all the places you want to visit and activities you want to do. Don’t forget to factor in time for meals, particularly if certain local foods are on your must-try list. If you wait until you’re there to figure out what’s available to you, you’ll waste more of your time planning than sightseeing.

            More tips for organizing a trip in a time crunch.

              Steal of the Week: Fly & Sail With Windstar

              April 9, 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: Windstar Cruises is offering new Fly & Sail packages including cruise fare, roundtrip airfare, pre-cruise hotel stay, post-cruise day room and all transfers, from $4,299 per person and up. Sail onboard Wind Spirit June through December with included airfare when you book by May 11.
              WHAT WE LOVE: A few grand for a vacation is nothing to bat an eyelash at, but if you’re traveling to Tahiti (especially sailing through the region onboard a yacht) Windstar’s new air-included fares are a great value. Flights to Papeete aren’t cheap, and a hotel stay before your sailing, along with a room to relax in afterwards, lessens the stress of traveling. Transportation to the ship, back to the hotel and then on to the airport also reduces the worries of getting around. Windstar includes overnights and experiences such as a feast and celebration festival in Bora Bora, local entertainment, drift snorkeling and kayaking off of the ship’s water sports platform and more.
              WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: If you’re easily jet lagged, you may need more than just one week exploring the South Pacific. Obviously, those extra nights either on land or on a 10-night voyage, will cost you more. Dates do not include holiday sailings, and airfare-included itineraries end in December.
              HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (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.

                Is Free Room Service on Its Way Out?

                April 8, 2015 | By | 32 Comments

                room service

                One of the long-standing perks of cruising has been the ability to have food magically appear at your cabin, at any hour of the day.

                I remember the delight my sister and I felt on our first cruise, a Western Caribbean voyage on Carnival Fantasy, when we realized that we could order a cheese plate delivered to our room — every day, for free. To a couple of college kids, it felt so decadent, a small luxury that existed only on the high seas.

                If we took that cruise today, our daily nosh would cost $6; cheese and crackers is part of a new room service menu that carries a fee. Carnival is testing the concept; there are still items on the menu, including the line’s famous chocolate cake, that passengers can order for free.

                Read on for more.

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