Hot on the Forums: Do You Take Food on a Cruise Ship?

August 15, 2014 | By | 15 Comments

Bunch of gummy bears
A cruise ship might seem like the last place on earth where you’d need to bring your own food. I always swore I’d never be the type of unadventurous person who’d take sackloads of home comforts on holiday, but sure enough I found myself stashing a pack of Scottish oatcakes and a box of tea in my suitcase for my last voyage. Cruise Critic’s U.K. editor, Adam Coulter, confesses to bringing his own Marmite onboard, too (Editor’s note: and PG Tips, a brand of tea).
So I wondered, who else brings their own nibbles on a cruise? Turns out, I’m not alone.
Cruise Critic member MrsCruise2007 says on the forums: “I always pack some small snacks…granola bars, trail mix, crackers. I am a continual snacker at home and sometimes just want something small to tide me over.”

Read on to find out more.

    Steal of the Week: 11-Nt. Hawaii Cruise from $949

    August 14, 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: Carnival Cruise Lines is offering an 11-night Hawaii cruise onboard Carnvial Legend, sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver on May 7, 2015. Prices start from $949 per person, for an inside cabin.
    WHAT WE LOVE: Six days in Hawaii, in May, with stellar ports at either end from $87 per person, per night, isn’t a bad idea for vacation. This cruise from Carnival is split, with the first half among the islands and the second half sailing to Vancouver. New shows and amenities will keep you busy during those days at sea, with PlayList Productions performances, Hasbro the Game Show, and Seuss at Sea and a new water park debuting soon. Select Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades have been made, adding RedFrog Pub, Punchliner Comedy Club and Bonsai Sushi venues. Sailing towards the end of the school year, but before Memorial Day, the ship may enjoy peace before the summer season unfurls and with it, more crowds and passengers.
    WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The price is right, but for a Hawaii sailing — especially with all those sea days at the end — you may want to spring for a balcony, which brings the price up to $121 per person, per night. Flights will be more — to Hawaii and from Canada — adding to the budget. Compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.
    HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (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.
    Get great cruise deals — and exclusive member offers — delivered weekly to your inbox.

      Wanderlust Wednesday: Cannes Through The Window

      August 13, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Building with murals and artistic figures
      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 or post it in our member photo gallery.
      Although not as abstract as Marc Chagall’s interpretation of landscapes, this photo of a building mural in Cannes, France, taken by Cruise Critic member timecop evokes a sense of seamless chaos and French charm similar to that of the artist’s paintings. Do you enjoy scoping out art while in port? Share a story of your most memorable finding below.
      Find interesting places to visit based on region.
      Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
      Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

        Live from….Hurtigruten’s Finnmarken: 6 Surprises

        August 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

        Hurtigruten Finnmarken in Geirangerfjord
        I’m currently aboard Hurtigruten’s Finnmarken, sailing the line’s northbound Norway coastal voyage from Bergen to Kierkenes. It’s both my first time to Norway and my first time sailing with an expedition line that focuses mainly on destinations, rather than onboard bells and whistles.
        Read on to see what I’m finding most intriguing about the ship and its Norwegian Fjords itinerary.
        1. Embarkation is super relaxed. Forget metal detectors and pat-downs. When I boarded Finnmarken in Bergen, there were no security lines. In fact, there was no security at all. I was able to check in, get my cruise card and walk directly onboard after viewing a short safety video (which took the place of a muster drill). In one port, I bought a bag of cherries and carried them on with me without a problem. In another, I walked back onboard with an open bottle of apple juice and an entire pizza, and nobody said a word. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to come and go and eat/drink what I wanted, where I wanted, without being treated like a criminal.
        Read on for more

          Member Review of the Week: Four for the Fam

          August 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Mariachi band in front of white building
          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 bassspanker‘s recent cruise to the Mexican Riviera aboard Carnival Imagination.
          Overall Impression: Unlike most cruisers, bassspanker and his family found peace in some of the noisiest cabins on the ship (more on this later). While the ship itself seemed a bit gaudy and dated, that didn’t put a damper on their experience; despite being a short cruise, there were a few pleasant surprises.
          Read on for highlights, tips and more.

            Cruise Critic Live! You Saved How Much?

            August 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Ship made out of hundred dollar bills
            Each week on Cruise Critic Live, we’ll take a look at all the things to love about cruising, from favorite destinations to amazing dining experiences, and we’ll give you the inside scoop on the newest ships at sea and on the rivers. We’ll also welcome outside experts to this space, including cruise line CEOs and newsmakers. And of course, we want to hear from you: What would you like to discuss?
            This week, we’re chatting about saving money. We really want to hear your stories of how you scored a bargain. And, of course, our editors will share our tips for saving big bucks on cruising. We’ll also welcome a guest travel agent to give advice on how you can maximize your cruise dollar. After all, nothing beats a great cruise, except for a great cruise that you got at a great price. Join us at 3 p.m. (EDT) August 14.
            Last week, we talked about avoiding mistakes when it comes to booking cabins, and our readers had plenty of advice on which cabins to avoid. If you didn’t join us last week, you missed out on advice like this.

            Fear not! You can still read the whole chat.

              Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

              August 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Ashley Kosciolek 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: Hurtigruten’s Finnmarken
              Where: We’re in our second week in Norway (Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Arctic Circle, Lofoten Islands, Tromso, Honningsvag, Kirkenes, Oslo)
              Who: Ashley Kosciolek, Ports and Copy Editor
              Why There? As Norwegian Fjords cruises continue to be popular, we’re always looking to get more staff expertise on less-traveled ports, including those on this itinerary. Plus, we’ll be updating our review of Finnmarken, an ice-strengthened ship that specializes in expedition cruising.
              We Can’t Wait: While the mainstream cruise experience is great, many passengers prefer more active and immersive sailings like those offered by Hurtigruten and other expedition lines. We can report that so far, the weather has been warm, with temperatures in the high 60s. The photo below is the view of the Lofoten Islands, about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
              View of Lofoten Islands from Finnmarken bow

                Just Back From….Celebrity Summit: The Line’s Test Ship?

                August 8, 2014 | By | 11 Comments

                Crowded pool deck on Celebrity Summit leaving Bayonne
                Launched in 2001 and “Solsticized” in 2012, Celebrity Summit is certainly not the newest ship in the line’s fleet. But what’s unusual about the Millennium-class vessel is that the line often uses it as a testing ground for pilot programs in dining, entertainment and services.
                On our recent seven-night cruise to Bermuda, we asked Hotel Director Raffaele Bernardini why this is the case. The Italian formerly served as hotel director on Celebrity’s larger vessels, Eclipse and Equinox, earning numerous “ship of the year” awards for his performance. (Certainly that’s likely a major reason why line executives trust him to implement new programs.)
                Another reason is the ship’s passenger base, particularly in the summer. Sailing out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, Summit draws passengers primarily from New York City, New Jersey and surrounding East Coast states. It’s a sophisticated audience, Bernardini told us, and one that is more open to change than others.
                Here are some of the line’s newer programs that we observed on Summit:
                Oceanview Cafe. Perhaps no change has caused as much chatter on the Cruise Critic message boards as the new style of service implemented in the Oceanview Cafe, the ship’s buffet. Instead of the usual “help yourself” format, diners now pick up individual metal dishes containing pre-plated portions of frittata, French fries, enchiladas, etc. (You still can eat as much as you want.)
                Why mess with something as engrained as a cruise ship buffet? The new format certainly isn’t easier for the staff, Bernardini said — in fact, in most cases, they end up working harder to make sure enough hot dishes are out for the diners. What it does do is cut food waste, significantly, and also minimizes the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses such as norovirus, he says. (These are the same reasons the line cut the popular sea day buffet — the main dining room set-up lacked sneeze guards and other protections against spreading disease, Bernardini said.)
                Read on to see a picture
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