Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

December 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Louise sailing on Voyager of the Seas & Chris sailing on the Costa neoRiviera

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: Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas

Where: Sydney, cruise to nowhere

Who: Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor

Why There? Because summer is here! The biggest ship based Down Under, Voyager is returning to Australia this weekend with lots of new-to-Australia onboard features, such as the FlowRider surf machine, 3D cinema, virtual balconies on inside cabins and panoramic staterooms with wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows. We’ll be dining at Giovanni’s Table, one of the three new restaurants, and checking out Royal Caribbean’s first gastropub, The Tavern.

We Can’t Wait: In addition to all the usual shenanigans of a one-night cruise, we’re excited for the first Facebook Party At Sea, with 100 lucky passengers who chose the best Aussie sailaway songs in a nationwide competition. Local singer Nathaniel Willemse will perform in La Scala Theatre, followed by a celebration on (and fireworks above) the helipad.

Ship: Costa neoRiviera

Where: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah

Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

Why There? We’ll be experiencing Costa’s "neo" class of ships, which promote slower travel through overnight port stops and more casual onboard ambiance. We’ll also be taking a look at how Dubai — the Las Vegas of the Middle East — has been expanding its water sports and shore excursions for cruise passengers, many who fly to the port several days before embarkation.

We Can’t Wait: Razzle me, dazzle me: I’m looking forward to seeing as much of the high-end silliness as I can. Visits to Ski Dubai (a ski slope within a mall), the towering Burj Khalifa and tea at Burj Al Arab are on tap. I’m also looking forward to seeing Dubia’s more authentic side, with a Middle Eastern food tour and a visit to the Sheik Monahmmed bid Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding.

    What Kind of Cruiser Are You?

    December 5, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

    What's your Cruise-A-Nality?

    We admit it. The editors at Cruise Critic are personality quiz junkies. Whether we’re determining which Harry Potter character we are, what country we should be living in or what color best describes our auras, personality quizzes sweep through our department like forest fires. So when Carnival Corp. Released its Cruise-A-Nality quiz a few weeks ago, we were all over it, sharing and dissecting our results.

    It was no big surprise that we fell into a number of different categories; most cruisers enjoy different experiences, after all, and want different things out of their cruises.

    Some, like three of the Cruise Critic editors, are adventurous and, in the words of Carnival Corp., "enjoy venturing off, off, off the beaten path, whether it’s a brisk ATV ride through the jungle, discovering a secluded beach or canoeing down an isolated river… Sailing away is just the beginning of the thrill ride."

    Others are more free spirited, up for just about anything and willing to give it all a try. And then there are the cosmopolitan cruisers for who all forms of travel are meant to be a meaningful experience, and the planners — or cruise directors — who want everyone to have a good time and create an agenda accordingly.

    Here are the Cruise-A-Nalities of our editors. Be sure to take the quiz and let us know what kind of cruiser you are!

    Read our Cruise-A-Nality then learn your own

      Hot on the Forums… Brown or White Eggs: A Cracking Discussion

      December 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

      White and brown eggs - photo courtesy of Laura Bartlett/Shutterstock

      Click on the Cruise Critic message boards and you’ll be transported to a fascinating place. No question is too large, too small, too obscure or too wacky. Sometimes a subject really grabs members’ attention, provoking wit, humour and – in this case – some brain-teasing, philosophy, everything you always wanted to know about chickens (and eggs) and puns aplenty.

      We love a good joke, or should that be yolk, and the thread started by miched is a cracking one that’s already running to six pages and needs to be shared.

      Read on for more wisecracks

        We Try It: Japanese Baths on Diamond Princess

        December 4, 2014 | By | No Comments

        Outdoor Baths on Diamond Princess - photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

        Making promises over dinner and a few wines is OK but when it comes to agreeing to go naked in a Japanese bathhouse, it’s perhaps best to decide when totally sober.

        A couple of us thought we’d go au naturel to sample the brand-new bathhouse onboard Diamond Princess. After all, most onsens (baths) in Japan require visitors to go without bathing suits for hygiene reasons; the pools are sex segregated for privacy.

        We made our vow late at night, however. The next day, in the cold hard glare of the mid-afternoon, we reconsidered. Luckily, the ship has clothed and clothing-optional bathing time when it sails in Australia. So it was on with the bathing suit and into the hot tub.

        Read on for more

          Steal of the Week: 7-Night Bahamas Mini-Suite from $559

          December 4, 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: Cruises Only is offering a weeklong, last-minute cruise onboard Norwegian Breakaway sailing roundtrip from New York on December 7, 2014. Prices for a mini-suite cabin start from just $559 per person.
          WHAT WE LOVE: The price for this mini-suite is staggering. Especially when you consider that it’s not a short two-nighter, it’s not an old ship and it’s not a one-stop sailing. While we realize this specific cruise is too last minute for many to book, we wanted to show the price points available through this online agency and also the bonuses. A sailing in a mini-suite on December 14 jumps to just $689 per person. When you book any of the many available sailings on the Cruises Only site, valid until tomorrow, you are eligible for up to $500 in onboard credit or up to $750 cash back. Bookings made way in advance require no deposit down. In addition, many of the cruise line’s own promotions are able to be combined with low rates and agency bonuses. This is some of the lowest suite pricing we’ve ever seen.
          WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Prices change frequently. While we’re curious how prices are this low, even for last-minute sailings, the deals and incentives do exist. If you can’t sail this Sunday (and we don’t blame you), comb the site for deals in advance — they won’t be as cheap as a suite from $80 per night, but they are very affordable. Just book them when you see them because, as we mentioned, they fluctuate by the minute. As for the bonuses, be sure to read the fine print and make sure which amenities overlap and which promotions you can access. Norwegian is currently holding a holiday promotion, but the bonus $100 in onboard credit is only applicable to some of the sailings on the site; know what you’re getting when you book.
          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.

            More Terrible Towel Animals

            December 3, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

            Seduce you, Yoda will - photo by Casey Hutchins Smith

            It takes time to perfect the art of towel animals – and not all cabin stewards are up to the task. As we pointed out a few weeks ago, Cruise Critic readers have encountered more than their share of towel animal fails, finding creations in their cabin that range from goofy to terrifying to downright unrecognizable.

            We asked our Facebook fans to send us photographic evidence of their oddest animals – and they responded with some doozies. Below are some of our favorites (check out the Facebook post for some photos that were downright NSFW):

            More wacky towel animals

              Wanderlust Wednesday: Stairway to Vistas

              December 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Dubrovnik street - photo courtesy of Downwind/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. Feel free to send us your Twitter handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!

              Nestled along the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik, Croatia, is a small medieval-era town that makes for one of the most easily walkable ports on Eastern Mediterranean itineraries. It’s free of vehicular traffic, full of charming cobblestone streets, and in just over a mile you can reach some pretty amazing views. This photo submitted by Cruise Critic member Downwind captures one of the narrow streets that can take you high above sea level.

              Find interesting places to visit based on region.
              Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
              Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

                Top 5 Reasons to Love a Thanksgiving Cruise

                December 2, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

                Thanksgiving Cruise - photo by Anthony Cave

                Stuffing yourself with food is a normal Thursday on a cruise ship. But, cruising during Thanksgiving comes with fixings that go far beyond the usual gluttony. I have sailed twice during this traditional American holiday, enjoying a mega-ship Thanksgiving on Allure of the Seas as well as the midship experience on Coral Princess. It is what most has come to expect on land, but with surrounding waters, better temperatures – and no need to cook and clean!

                While spending such a family-oriented holiday in unfamiliar territory may seem uncomfortable, cruising offers a distinct version of Thanksgiving, one where others play host in an environment where meeting new people and sightseeing add to the holiday’s experience. And you still have all of Thanksgiving’s trimmings, which include a dash of Black Friday shopping, a plethora of decorations and football. So, if you are looking for a little variety beyond that traditional turkey meal, here are our top reasons for taking a Thanksgiving cruise.

                1. No need to do your own decor. Chances are, you do not have an eight-person staff to put together a massive Thanksgiving spread, complete with dressed up turkeys in the atrium the night before. Expect plenty of festive fall colors and patterns of brown and orange in the decorations onboard. On Princess, both main dining rooms and the buffet, as well as most of the bars and lounges, were plastered with some sort of Turkey Day signage.

                Four more reasons to sail on Thanksgiving

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