Spoiler Alert: ‘MasterChef’ Winner to Join Culinary Theme Cruise This Fall

September 18, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

Season five Master Chef winner Courtney Lapresi

On Tuesday, Courtney Lapresi was named the winner of season five of popular Fox television show “MasterChef.” Following her win, she’ll be appearing on the first-ever “MasterChef” cruise aboard Holland America’s Westerdam, November 8-15, calling on Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and the private island of Half Moon Cay.

As the season five winner, 25-year-old Lapresi, an aerial dancer from Philadelphia, will receive $250,000 and a cookbook deal.

Read on for the full story

    Steal of the Week: Princess’ 3 For Free Sale

    September 18, 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: Princess Cruises is hosting a ‘3 For Free’ sales event from now through November 20, 2014 on 2015 sailings to Alaska, Japan and Europe. Bonuses include cabin upgrades, onboard credit and shore excursion credit.
    WHAT WE LOVE: Plan now for your Princess Cruises adventure next year and receive all three value-adds; you don’t have to pick. Kicking off their 50th anniversary celebration, Alaska, Japan and Europe cruises are on offer (for every budget) and include cabin upgrades, up to $150 in onboard credit and up to $300 in shore excursion credit. This credit will reduce strain when booking that fabulous tour in Alaska, or planning that massage onboard.
    WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The full amount of credit is only applied to Europe sailings — some of the most expensive of the voyages offered — and when you are sailing with three and four total passengers. For cruises to Alaska and Japan, a reduced amount is given. Port expenses can be upwards of $250 dollars in addition to your cruise fare, so be sure to budget flights, fare and added fees before booking by November 20.
    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.

      September Caption Contest

      September 17, 2014 | By | 60 Comments

      Woman with sunglasses on
      It’s a new month — time September’s caption contest! Come up with your most creative and witty caption (but please, keep it clean) for this shot, taken by Cruise Critic member marcyn, and post it in the comments section below.
      Limit your entry to one caption. You have until noon next Monday, September 22 to wow us. We’ll pick our favorite and contact the winner, who will receive a Cruise Critic gift pack for his or her cleverness.
      Note that entries posted on Cruise Critic’s Facebook page will not be eligible to win.
      Submit your own cruise photos.
      Get your very own Lido Deck subscription.

        Wanderlust Wednesday: The Beautiful Beaches of Spain

        September 17, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

        View of beach from brick walkway with buildings and mountains in background
        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.
        A far cry from the Caribbean shores most cruisers are used to, Playa de Las Canteras (shown, from the Las Palmas promenade) is one of the most famous beaches in Gran Canaria. Off the beach, the La Barra barrier reef breaks waves that come in. Thanks to Cruise Critic member USTWORCREW for this lovely photo.
        Find interesting places to visit based on region.
        Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
        Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

          Just Back From…Disney Dream: Hits and Misses

          September 16, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

          Mickey's Pirates in the Caribbean

          If you’re going to cruise with your parents and your 6-month-old, or any other family group combination, Disney Dream is an excellent choice. The unconventional cruise line knows how to cater to vacationers of all ages, and that means activities with general appeal, as well as adult-only and kid-focused programming and spaces. Just off a three-night Halloween-in-September cruise, here’s how I called it.

          HITS

          Cabins: I’ve complained that on other lines standard cabins aren’t actually that kid-friendly, but Disney has got it down when it comes to designing cabins for families. It wisely puts the extra berths all in the living space, with a sofa bed and pull-down bunk, rather than over the queen bed area. Split the space with a heavy, blackout curtain and — voila! — you can put your kids to sleep in the dark and then happily hang out with lights ablaze on your side of the curtain. Cabins are roomy with plenty of storage spaces (under the bed, inside the ottoman, in drawers throughout the cabin), though a pack-n-play really takes over the living area if you plan to leave it up for naps. The split bath setup is great for families doing simultaneous dinner prep or bedtime, but it was mildly inconvenient to have the shower and toilet in separate spaces and my toiletries split over two rooms. Luckily, the baby didn’t care when I was dashing about in a towel pre-shower looking for my hair gel, but an older sibling might give you hell.

          Read on for the full list.

            Member Review of the Week: It Only Took One Cruise….

            September 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Two bottles of beer on beach at sunset
            Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, one of which is showcased as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member C0K3R‘s recent cruise on the Western Caribbean aboard Carnival Paradise.
            Overall Impression: It only took once cruise to get first timer C0K3R hooked on the high seas. High-rated reviews gave him high expectations, and his to-do list reflected that. Eat what you wish, always have a drink in hand, take advantage of everything the ship has to offer, soak up all the ports and most importantly, leave your worries at home and just relax. (Don’t you wish your to-do list always sounded like that?)
            Read on for highlights, tips and more.

              We Try It: Cool-Weather Cruising

              September 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Windstar's Wind Surf

              “Are those earmuffs?!” a man asked with a mocking note in his voice. Yes, I had to admit I’d popped them on as we sailed away from Invergordon, Scotland, on Windstar’s 300-passenger Wind Surf. A brisk breeze filled Wind Surf’s huge sails, but my ears were toasty warm, thanks to those muffs – an item I’d never even considered packing on previous cruises.

              We were sailing around northern Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man, during a week that straddled late August and early September. We’d embarked at Edinburgh and would disembark at Dublin, with calls on many islands that are tough (or expensive) to reach otherwise.

              Read on for highlights from the cruise

                Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

                September 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

                Brittany Chrusciel and Chris Gray Faust on map
                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: Norwegian Getaway
                Where: Eastern Caribbean
                Who: Brittany Chrusciel, Editorial Assistant
                Why There? We haven’t yet experienced a full sailing on Getaway and are filling in some gaps in the review, including updates to our dining section since the Norwegian Next overhaul and sampling the comedy and fermented grapes of Wine Lover’s the Musical.
                We Can’t Wait: I had the opportunity to sail Getaway on a one-night cruise to nowhere for the inauguration and can’t wait to get back onboard to try everything I missed — from the noodles at Shanghai and sushi at Wasabi to the gourmet plates at Ocean Blue and the Cuban cuisine at Flamingo Grill, I will be packing on the pounds in the name of cruise!
                Town in Iceland by the ocean with red and white church
                Where: Iceland (Reykjavik and Akureyri)
                Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
                Why There? Its active volcanoes notwithstanding, Iceland has been appearing on more ship itineraries in recent years, particularly in Akureyri, the country’s second-largest city. Located in Iceland’s north, Akureyri draws summer stops from Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America , as well as Azamara, MSC, Costa, Oceania, Silversea and Cunard. We’ll be checking out what sort of things you can do in this remotely rugged part of the world.
                We Can’t Wait: Ever heard of a little show called “Game of Thrones?” The scenes north of the Wall are filmed in northern Iceland, and show-related tours are now available in Akureyri. We hope to get in some whale watching, horseback riding – and a few dips in the area’s thermal springs.
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