Hot on the Forums: Lime Shortage Leaves Sour Taste

April 2, 2014 | By | 6 Comments

Onboard margaritas and mojitos are missing their mojo and Coronas have lost their crowning glory due to a lime shortage. As commercial suppliers and buyers are – no other word for it -squeezed by the soaring cost of the small citrus fruit, thirsty cruisers have been left shaken and stirred.
According to USA Today, a poor harvest combined with politically unstable conditions in Mexico’s lime growing regions has seen wholesale prices quadruple to more than $100 a box. Traders are calling limes ‘green gold’ and one of our members, Charlie52, describes the disaster as LIMEageddon.
Parched passengers have reported few or no limes on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships and – shock, horror – there are tales that the lack of limes has resulted in bar tenders using lemons instead. Whatever next? Crab instead of lobster or a dessert fountain made from cooking chocolate?

Click to read more.

    Wanderlust Wednesday: Mystical Mountains

    April 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

    cruise-morocco-p&o-oceana
    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.
    We love this awe-inspiring photo of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains peeking through the mist, taken by member GrumpyOldKev from P&O Oceana.
    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….Uniworld’s S.S. Catherine: Hits & Misses

      April 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Uniworld’s fleet of river ships is known for being grand and elegant, in eye-popping ways. The 159-passenger S.S. Catherine, which debuted last week in the French city of Lyon, only raises the bar on their trademark design qualities.
      S.S. Catherine has similar amenities to S.S. Antoinette, its most immediate predecessor. There’s an indoor swimming pool, a genuine nightclub, and balconies that convert to conservatories with the flick of a switch.
      But the designers of S.S. Catherine, which included Uniworld matriarch Beatrice Tollman, daughter Toni Tollman, and project manager Brian Brennan, had a bit more of a challenge with this one. S.S. Antoinette has the great good fortune to cruise on the mighty Rhine, which has fewer size constraints than any other European river.
      The Rhone, where S.S. Catherine is based, has low-slung bridges and numerous locks that limit the fun extras. You won’t find S.S. Antoinette’s dedicated cinema and the L’Orangerie restaurant on the top deck replicated here. Otherwise, the S.S. Catherine design team managed to fit just about everything in.
      Before we start off with our hits and misses from our recent christening cruise on the Rhone, it’s important to point out that S.S. Catherine – and all other Uniworld ships – have launched a new, more inclusive policy in which gratuities and all drinks, save for special brands, are included in cruise fares.
      Hits:
      *Lounge pool. While all river ships concentrate after-dinner entertainment in the lounge, S.S. Catherine has the dedicated Bar du Leopard for those who want to dance to live music, watch the stars from the aft terrace, or – get this – take a swim.
      Yes, you read that correctly: One of the ingenuous space-saving ideas on S.S. Catherine is that a gorgeous small pool, with a jungle mosaic theme, is tucked away behind floor- to-ceiling glass walls within the bar. The pool glows emerald-green at night, adding a tropical, whimsical hootchy-kootchy ambience. It’s magic.

      Click to read more.

        Reaching for the Sky

        April 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

        cruise-celebrity-solstice-sky-suite-cabin
        People cruise for a myriad of reasons: Being able to explore new destinations, getting away at an affordable price and simply fleeing winter’s wrath are just a few.
        Cruise Critic member Bently57 wanted to experience the Sky suite on a Solstice-class Celebrity ship, and she did so on an eastern Caribbean cruise on Silhouette.
        This was Bentley57′s first time in a suite, although a number of balcony cabins on various Princess and Celebrity cruises led up to this day. The expectations were high.
        Read on to discover Bentley57′s first impressions of the Sky suite.

          April 2014 Desktop Calendar: Queen Mary II

          March 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

          cruise-ship-april-2014-desktop-calendar
          Get your April 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! Cunard’s iconic liner, Queen Mary II, will be celebrating its 10th birthday in May. Here’s how to put this photo on your computer, tablet or cell phone:
          1.  Click on the following links to get the size that you want. Each link will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.
          2.  For the desktop versions, right-click on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something similar. The wording depends on your browser. Mac users should ctrl-click and save the photo on their computer in the “Pictures” folder.
          3. If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose“Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.
          4. For phone and tablet, open the link and center the photo on your phone so it fills the screen. Take a photo and save it on your device. Then go to your Settings and find your Wallpaper (on an iPhone, this is under “Wallpapers & Brightness.” Set the saved calendar photo as your wallpaper.
          2560 x 1440 | 1280 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile
          Check back on April 30 for the May 2014 calendar. 

            Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

            March 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

            cruise-critic
            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? Ask us in the comments!)

            cruise-amawaterways-amareina

            Ship: AmaReina, the newest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet
            Where: A Danube River cruise from Vienna to Regensburg
            Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
            Why There? On this launch cruise, AmaReina — a sister to AmaPrima, which last year won Cruise Critic’s Editors’ Picks for best new riverboat — will be officially christened in Vilshofen, a small German port town that’s become home to the line’s most recent series of namings.
            We Can’t Wait: For many of the reasons we adored our experience on AmaPrima last year, such as the fabulous sundeck with its swim-up pool (though April in Austria and Germany isn’t really prime for outdoor swimming), the elegant and yet cozy lounge, and the top-notch dining. We’re also excited to re-visit favorite ports along the Danube, including a day trip to Salzburg, the lovely wine and apricots of Durnstein (great cycling destination, too), and charming Regensburg, a shopping mecca.
            But what we’re most excited about is that this cruise is actually
            operated under the banner of Australian tour company APT, which is a part owner of Ama. The difference? While dining, tours and ambiance are consistently Ama-flavored, the ship is largely given over to Australians. As travelers, Aussies are typically a super-social, fun-loving bunch and we’re looking forward to experiencing a bit of Oz style even as we trawl through middle Europe.

            cruise-inspire-tauck

            Ship: Tauck‘s MS Inspire
            Where: From Amsterdam to Brussels
            Who: Dori Saltzman, News Editor
            Why There? MS Inspire is Tauck’s first river boat in the Inspiration class, which is notable for having only 130 passengers on a longship set-up. Considered part of the luxury end of river cruising, Tauck’s Inspire also has 22 300-square-foot suites, with upscale features such as 400-thread-count sheets and Molton Brown bath products. For 2014, Inspire will sail a variety of Rhine and Moselle river itineraries.
            We Can’t Wait: This will be the first sailing of Tauck’s newest boat, which features a handful of unique lower deck “loft” cabins with larger windows — that actually open! (besides fresh air, these windows will allow lower deck passengers much more natural light than you’d normally get in this cabin class).

            cruise-american-queen-empress-river

            Ship: American Queen Steamboat Company‘s American Empress
            Where: The Columbia and Snake rivers
            Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
            Why There? We’re covering the christening of this ship, where Claudette Waggoner, wife of the line’s chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as godmother. The ship, nee Empress of the North, has been completely refurbished and will sail the rivers of the Northwest.
            We Can’t Wait: Europe isn’t the only place where the rivers are hot. American Empress will represent AQSC’s first foray into the Snake and Columbia rivers. We’ll follow in the footsteps of Louis and Clark and Sacajawea. This will be my first cruise on American rivers, and I’m looking forward to learning the history of the area and checking out some of the amazing sites. I’m also fascinated to see the ship, with its paddlewheel and Front Porch Cafe.

            cruise-panama-canal

            Ship: Royal Caribbean‘s Legend of the Seas
            Where: The Panama Canal, with stops in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
            Who: Ashley Kosciolek, Copy and Ports Editor
            Why There? While onboard, I’ll be taking notes to write a full, updated ship review of Legend of the Seas, and I’ll also be updating our Cartagena and Colon coverage and writing a port profile for Puerto Quetzal, which will be a brand-new addition to our site. (Check out my post on best “canal day” vantage points).
            We Can’t Wait: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal’s construction, so it’s an ideal time to experience a visit to the historic marvel firsthand. It also offers us a chance to witness the hourslong process of maneuvering a large ship through tiny locks with just inches to spare on each side. (I’m also excited for some warm weather as the Northeast’s winter season continues.)

              Cruise Critic Live! Destination: Caribbean

              March 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Each Thursday at 3 p.m. (Eastern), Cruise Critic Live! takes a look at all the things to love about cruising, from favorite destinations to amazing dining experiences to the latest and greatest new ships on the oceans and rivers. We also welcome outside experts including cruise line CEOs and newsmakers.
              Next week, we’ll talk about the Caribbean, a region that is almost always the stop for people giving cruising a try. Do you have questions about certain islands or ports? Don’t understand the difference between Eastern, Western and Southern itineraries? Wondering what you should pack (besides plenty of sunscreen!) The veteran island-hoppers on our staff will be available to answer your questions, so make sure to bookmark the page.
              Can’t make the chat on Thursday, April 3 at 3 p.m.? Please feel free to submit questions ahead of time, and we’ll make sure to get your answers. The chat will be archived, and available, after it winds up.
              *Follow along on Twitter at #CruiseCriticLive.
              *Read the transcript from this past Thursday’s chat about Royal Caribbean.

                Live From….Douro River with Viking: Meet the “Baby” Longships

                March 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

                On an overnight aboard Viking River Cruises’ newest Longship — Viking Hemming, just christened on Portugal’s Douro last week – we figured that there’d be no big surprises, having cruised on the 30 odd other nearly identical vessels.
                We were wrong. Viking Hemming, along with twin Viking Torgil, also named in Douro, is the line’s first ever “baby” Longship, as dubbed by cruise line CEO Torstein Hagen.
                What’s a “baby” Longship? Because of unique length and height challenges ships sailing the Douro face, Viking had to scale back on this pair of ships. Passenger capacity is just 106, compared with the 190 fellow travelers on standard Longships.
                Read on to find out more
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