Cruise Critic Members Pull Off Flash Mob Wedding Proposal

November 11, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

Our inaugural crossing on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas last week was full of dramatic moments – crossing through a stormy Bay of Biscay, attending Cruise Critic’s biggest-ever Meet & Mingle, and, of course, the chance to try out the ship’s innovative new features. We loved Dynamic Dining’s choice of restaurants. The Seaplex, with its trapeze school, roller skating and bumper cars, made us feel like kids again. The craft cocktails at Michael’s Genuine Pub and the perfectly prepared pastas at Jamie’s Italian – two new-to-Royal Caribbean venues – would bring us back to Quantum (and Anthem and Ovation, the successor ships, which will also feature them).

Read on for the full story

    Member Review of the Week: A Week Filled With Sunshine

    November 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Blue Bay Beach, Curacao - photo Courtesy of Gail Johnson/Shutterstock

    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 mommiemudd’s recent cruise to the Southern Caribbean on Carnival Sunshine.

    Overall Impression: Good food, lots of laughs and island adventures were the theme on mommiemudd’s cruise aboard Carnival’s freshly refurbished Sunshine. She and her group of eight (four adults and four kids) had planned this vacation months in advance, and the anticipatory wait paid off with cabin upgrades, thanks to an early saver booking.

    Onboard Highlight: Mommiemudd and the gang weren’t big theater people, so their attention was geared toward dining, comedy shows and outdoor activities, from DiveIn movies to the SportSquare. All were impressive, but the food and comedy shows take the cake.

    Port Highlight: Curacao, where the 30-minute drive to Playa Porto Mari (in a grungy rental van) proved well worth the trip for cheap diving and snorkeling.

    Don’t Miss: Mini cupcakes at the buffet.

    Watch Out For: The beach at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, in Grand Turk. An influx of vendors with tents along the shoreline made it hard to soak up the view.

    More: Read mommiemudd’s full review for more details about their adventures in Playa PortoMari, other ports and the overall ship.

    For their efforts, mommiemudd, savycruisers, pstinson5, StartrainDD and 4774Papa receive Cruise Critic logo items.

    Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

      Just Back From… Quantum of the Seas: Hits & Misses

      November 10, 2014 | By | 48 Comments

      iFly on Quantum of the Seas - photo by Carolyn Spencer Brown

      No question, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas has lived up to its prelaunch billing of being the most innovative ship to launch this year. It’s a unique ship, with tons of new features that include the North Star (a London Eye-style capsule observatory), the Ripcord by iFly sky-diving simulator, first-ever restaurants at sea such as Michael’s Genuine Pub and Jamie’s Italian, the Seaplex complex with bumper cars and a circus school and, oh, yes, the Bionic Bar, operated by robotic bartenders.

      Onboard for over a week on an Atlantic crossing between England’s Southampton and New Jersey’s Bayonne, we sampled most of Quantum on what’s being billed as a “shakedown” cruise. (Shakedown is an industry term that refers to sailings that are meant to expose potential bugs.) That means plenty of quirks still need to be worked out before the ship starts regular service, and that’s completely understandable.

      There’s one exception: The “smart ship” concept, with land-like speed Internet and state-of-the-art digital technology that will influence the way we book restaurants, entertainment and even embarkation, was not quite up and running, so we won’t reference it here. We look forward to hearing from Cruise Critic’s editorial team and members alike who sail on forthcoming voyages about how the smart ship works.

      In the meantime, here are our hits and misses from Quantum of the Seas.

      Our early impressions of Quantum of the Seas

        Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

        November 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

        Colleen and Dori sailing out of Bayonne on Quantum of the Seas

        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 Quantum of the Seas

        Where: Bayonne, New Jersey

        Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor and Dori Saltzman, News Editor

        Why There? Quantum of the Seas arrives at its temporary homeport of Bayonne on November 10 and immediately begins a series of three back-to-back, two night cruises. We’re on for two sailings, the final one coinciding with the ship’s naming and inaugural shindig. We’ll be touring the cabins, checking out Dynamic Dining and covering all the naming celebrations.

        We Can’t Wait: We’ve been writing about Quantum of the Seas for about a year and a half now. We’ve been teased on and off throughout that time by Royal Caribbean and now we’re ready to get on the ship and see it all for real. We’re particularly excited to check out Two70, the SeaPlex and the funky art work.

          Live from… Regal Princess: Reliving “Love Boat” Memories

          November 7, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

          Love Boat cast signed photograph - photo by Chris Gray Faust

          Saturday nights followed a specific routine back in 1981.  Too young for a real job, too young to date, I spent most weekend nights babysitting at the Andersons’ house, earning pocket money so I could buy the oh-so-trendy designer jeans my parents refused to purchase.

          Once the kids went to bed, I, like many other Americans at the time, turned on ABC to watch two shows that took me far away from cold Minnesota suburbia: “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island.”  Both set in tropical locales, the shows featured themes and romances that were just titillating enough for a 12-year-old to enjoy, without full comprehension.

          Cruising, in particular, carried a glamour reinforced at home. Every other year or so, my parents would pull out colorful caftans and sports jackets to go on a voyage by themselves, returning with shell souvenirs, new jewelry and perfume. A cruise ship seemed like a very adult place to me, at a time when I wanted nothing more than to become an adult — and the ever-changing roster of fabulous Love Boat guest stars solidified that image.

          Flash forward to 2014. I had already been scheduled to attend the Regal Princess christening when Princess Cruises announced that the original cast of “The Love Boat” would serve as godparents. My inner adolescent rejoiced. And when the line later announced that a cavalcade of former guest stars would also be at the ceremony, my fandom grew into a frenzy. Kristy McNichol, Lorenzo Lamas, Adrian Zmed — I felt like the pages of my Dyn-O-Mite magazines had come to life.

          A nostaglia cruise back in time

            Hot on the Forums: How Much Money Did You Spend Onboard During Your Last Cruise?

            November 7, 2014 | By | 15 Comments

            raining money - image courtesy of Jean Lee/Shutterstock

            You’ve paid for your cruise, booked your excursions up front and perhaps opted for a soda, alcohol package or both. So how much more do you expect to spend, once you board?

            About to leave for a four-day trip with her husband, Cruise Critic member CruizinMama1026, asked others on the Carnival Cruise Lines forum about that final tab, “I’m just curious what past cruisers experienced with their final Sign & Sail bill?”

            See how your Sign & Sail bill compares to fellow cruisers

              No Question Too Small: Cruise Critic Members are On the Case!

              November 6, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

              woman with binoculars - photo courtesy of Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock

              Here at Cruise Critic, we pride ourselves on our detailed ship reviews, which encompass everything from deck plans to the type of tread on the jogging track. We supplement these reports with Cruise Critic Live! chats and Facebook photo albums, so our readers are the first to hear the latest and greatest about all things ship.

              But our secret weapon has to be our forums, where no cruising question is too small for our cruising members to answer, often live from their ships. And nowhere has the power of crowdsourcing been more apparent than on the inaugural voyage of Quantum of the Seas.

              Read on for more

                Steal of the Week: MSC Holiday Sailings from $33/Night

                November 6, 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: MSC Cruises is offering a variety of holiday sailings onboard MSC Divina that start from just $299 per person for a weeklong cruise.
                WHAT WE LOVE: It’s rare to find cruise deals for sailings during holidays, and close to a miracle to find rates under $50 per night — let alone $33. (We testify to that here in our Winter Deals feature.) Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas sailings to the Caribbean all come in at budget prices onboard MSC’s newest ship. The line is encouraging cruisers to make the holidays about having a good time with family and friends and not the planning, preparing and clean-up. Traditional meals including a Thanksgiving feast, menorah lighting with Hanukkah foods, a host of Christmas decorations, classes and events (even a visit from Santa with a gift for each child onboard). Considering the busy travel season and the added amenities, the value of these sailings is tremendous.
                WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The pricing structure is based on MSC’s new package experiences, which may be slightly confusing to book. You’re paying for an experience rather than a stateroom, so be sure to read over all of the inclusions before booking. Also, the holidays are right around the corner (stores and commercials are already celebrating) so if you already have plans and want to break them, there’s very little time to do so: these deals are last minute.
                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.
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