Wanderlust Wednesday: Sky’s the Limit

October 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Sky's the Limit - photo courtesy of marcyn/Cruise Critic Forums

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.

When cruise ships call in Maui, Haleakala National Park is one of the island’s more popular visitor spots. Meaning "House of Sun," Haleakala is also known as the East Maui volcano and is home to the Haleakala Crater — which is believed to have been the home to the grandmother of the demigod Maui in Hawaiian folklore. A trip to Haleakala not only makes for a great adventure (like hiking, as shown in this photo submitted by Cruise Critic member marcyn), but also some of the most unbeatable views on the island.

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    What Do You Love About Cruising?

    October 7, 2014 | By | 13 Comments

    Couple enjoying the view from the ship - photo courtesy of Brocreative/Shutterstock

    For those who haven’t wandered over to the Cruise Critic message boards, you’ll find them a wonderful place, with all facets of human life represented (for good and ill). Informative, self-regulating, kind, often humorous and frequently bizarre, the threads are so numerous that — for the first-timer — the boards can seem somewhat daunting.

    If you are wondering where to jump in, here’s a wonderful way to start: A thread I found on the Celebrity Cruises forum called "Positive Things You Love on a Cruise Ship," started by member AquaWater. To me, the theme – and the responses – encapsulate the spirit of the boards.

    She writes, simply: "Let’s share things we like about the cruises." Her list includes " Many choices on lunch buffet. Gym with windows. Live music."

    Five pages later and members are still adding things they love.

    Here’s a (small) selection:

    From Bailey & Sophie: "That ‘bing’ sound when you put your seapass card in for the first time."

    From CaptDave: "The moment on Day 1 when all the luggage has arrived."

    From Mummble, who wrote her Top 5: "What a great thread! Everything about a cruise is fabulous! ….

    5. Watching the endless ocean
    4. Being rocked to sleep
    3. Being unplugged. Unless the emergency is big enough to call the ship, I won’t hear about it.
    2. The sheer pleasure of no responsibilities, no chores, no ‘real’ world.
    1. The quality time with loved ones. Typically cruise vacations are just my husband and I – an amazing time to focus on each other and us. However, my last two cruises have been with my in-laws and then my family. Those trips became really precious."

    One of the amusing facets of threads is the usually inadvertent spelling mistake, such as this one by 4cats4mem=, who writes: "I like sitting on my balcony while at sea retching the fresh sea air."

    Which made us – and hulamoon – chuckle: "Dana…I have a feeling retching may not have been your sea air experience!! My autocorrect has been in overdrive maybe yours is too. Lol."

    Final word from jancy who finishes her long list of cruising positives with this:

    "What is there not to love about cruising!?"

    Well, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

    What do you love about cruising? Let us know in the comments!

      Member Review of the Week: A 30-Something’s Take on a Uniworld European River Cruise

      October 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Uniworld's River Ambassador. Photo courtesy of Uniworld.

      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 ewizabeff’s recent cruise along the Danube River on Uniworld’s River Ambassador.

      Overall Impression: In search of something new, 30-somethings ewizabeff and her husband took a chance on a European river cruise, fully expecting to be the youngest passengers on Uniworld’s upscale vessel. And while they were, the cruise proved age was irrelevant when it came to the onboard experience. In the words of ewizabeff, Uniworld just gained two lifelong customers.

      Onboard Highlight: Prior to sailing, the foodie couple planned to dine offshore often. But Uniworld’s local specialty options kept them onboard for all but one of their meals.

      Port Highlight: “Vienna as the Viennese do” and the Danube bike trip – both ‘choice’ tours but still included in the cruise fare – were favorites.

      Don’t Miss: Seeking port recommendations from the cruise manager/director. Ewizabeff and her husband found the tips very useful for enjoying an authentic experience in Bavaria, Germany.

      Watch Out For: Although ewizabeff and her husband weren’t too fazed by being younger than everyone else, consider the age demographic before booking and decide if it will affect your experience.

      More: Read ewizabeff’s full review for more details about the ship’s dining options, service and their cabin, as well as the itinerary.

      For their efforts, ewizabeff, Jaxflboy, drj78, pick15 and Poopdeck90210 receive Cruise Critic logo items.

      Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

        Just Back From… A Pacific Northwest River Cruise: 6 Surprises

        October 6, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

        American Empress --photo by Carolyn Spencer Brown

        The delights of the Pacific Northwest extend beyond marquee cities like Seattle and Portland. This region is in the midst of a heady resurgence as a cruise destination along the Snake and Columbia rivers, thanks to the introduction this year of American Queen Steamboat Company’s newly refurbished American Empress. (Other lines, such as Lindblad Expeditions and Un-Cruise Adventures, also ply these waterways.)

        I spent last week on American Empress. American Queen’s one-week itineraries typically run one-way, between Portland and Spokane, with stops to see places like the gorgeous and yet desolate Hell’s Canyon (straddling Idaho and Washington); the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area, known as a great producer of wines; the Columbia Gorge Recreation area – home to the famed Multnomah Falls – and the quirky, artsy city of Astoria.

        I was reasonably well-prepared to embrace the region’s storied history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (and heartily recommend you read Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage or any other chronicles before you leave home). Yet I found so many fantastic surprises along the way. Here are six of my favorites.

        Read on for highlights from my Hell’s Canyon Expedition

          Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

          October 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

          This week Adam is visiting Costa Rica and Honduras

          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!)

          Where: Costa Rica and Banana Coast, Honduras

          Who: Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor

          Why There? Coming from the U.K. and being a scuba diver, I never need an excuse to visit the Caribbean. The real reason I am going, however, is to attend Central America Travel Market in Costa Rica, followed by five days in Honduras. The trip includes a visit to the brand-new cruise terminal of Trujillo, which has already welcomed Silversea, and is due to play host to Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania.

          We Can’t Wait: I won’t be on any ships, but I will be trekking through Honduras to check out the latest shore excursions on offer; visiting the popular port of Roatan and then along the Banana Coast to Trujillo, the newest cruise port in the world. I’m intrigued to find out what Trujillo has for cruise visitors, both in terms of city visits and excursions – and will be reporting back on both very soon.

            September Caption Contest Results

            October 3, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

            Woman with sunglasses on

            Now that the calendar reads October, we’re happy to announce the results of last month’s caption contest. We asked you, the Lido Deck readers, to speculate as to what’s reflected in this cruiser’s sunglasses, captured in a photo submitted to our site by Cruise Critic member marcyn.

            Our first choice came from reader Sue Kelderhouse for this entry: "Peering over her husband’s sunburned legs, Sarah gazed longingly at the Tiki bar, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to make the long swim and therefore would soon die of thirst."

            But when we went to contact Sue, the email address that she gave us didn’t work. Attempts to locate another email address online were unsuccessful.

            (Which leads us to an important point: If you don’t provide us with the correct email address for our contests, you won’t be able to win. So please double check before you click submit!)

            Luckily, there were a few other entries we enjoyed. In the end, Daria Jones took the prize for this play on the runaway page turner: "50 Shades of Aquamarine"

            Check back soon for October’s contest! And thanks again to Cruise Critic member marcyn for providing this shot.

              Hot on the Forums: When Your Neighbors are Too Noisy

              October 3, 2014 | By | 10 Comments

              Noisy neighbors cutting into your R&R? photo courtesy of Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock

              Dress code, tipping, smoking and chair hogs are regular topics on the Cruise Critic forums – the latter deemed as one of the worst forms of anti-social behaviour at sea. Add balcony shouting and door slamming to the mix.

              Enduring badly behaved neighbours on a hard-earned cruise – particularly when there’s no escape from your next-door cabin dwellers – is enough to dampen anyone’s spirits. And that’s what happened to seasoned cruiser NittanyLioness. She wonders how other cruisers would have dealt with this situation on an otherwise “fantastic” voyage on Oasis of the Seas:

              “On day 1, I knew I might be in trouble. Prior to sailaway, I was standing quietly at my balcony railing. Couple 1 (cabin to left of me) and couple 2 (cabin to right of me) simultaneously came out to their respective balconies. Wife 1 leaned over the railing, looked straight through me, and screamed to couple 2 ‘did you get your luggage yet?’ Wife 2 leaned over and yelled back ‘no, not yet!’ They then had a back and forth conversation without even acknowledging I was standing between them on my balcony!

              “It got worse! In addition to their daily balcony exchanges, for the next 12 days, all four of them would leave/return to their cabins singly, allowing the doors to slam shut each and every time they entered/left! (I calculate I heard their doors slam at least 384 times during this cruise!).

              “As a solo female cruiser, I did not feel comfortable ‘confronting’ them in person or with notes. I am (almost) ashamed to admit that I did nothing! My question is: what would YOU have done?”

              Read on for responses from veteran cruisers

                Win a Tour and Lunch Aboard Queen Mary 2

                October 2, 2014 | By | 8 Comments

                Queen Mary 2 - photo compliments of Cunard

                Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 is celebrating its 10th anniversary year, and 10 lucky Cruise Critic members have the opportunity to spend an afternoon touring the company’s flagship and enjoying a three-course lunch in the grand Britannia Restaurant.

                We’ve teamed up with Cunard to offer readers the chance to enjoy a day aboard Queen Mary 2, along with up to three guests who have never cruised before (what better way to introduce first-timers to cruising than on a ship known for her elegant and classic style?)

                While onboard, the winners will have the chance to take a guided tour of the ship – including stops at the Planetarium and 3D cinema, Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the Queens Room – the largest ballroom at sea – and select staterooms (per availability).

                Continue for details on how to win

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