Hot on the Forums: Silencing Singing Waiters

June 12, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

waiter with a birthday cake

Call me a party pooper, but I dread having a birthday while I’m on a cruise. The dining room lights dim to cue the arrival of a cake with a sparkler or candles (depending which line you’re on) while waiters circle the table and erupt into a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Strangers at surrounding tables join in, only to mumble or go silent through the part where your name crops up.

It makes me cringe. And even if you’re not the recipient, you still have to suffer through it. On a large ship, there seems to be a birthday or honeymoon/anniversary rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” — even worse as the tune goes on for longer — virtually every night.

So I was relieved to find I’m not the only killjoy. Cruise Critic member balf took to the forums to express his distaste for surprise serenades.

Read on for more

    You Might Like Emerald Waterways If…

    June 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Emerald Sky in Koblenz

    Voted Cruise Critic’s Best New River Ships of 2014, Emerald Waterways launched in 2014 with twin vessels: 182-passenger Sky and Star. This year, it unveils another dynamic duo, Sun and Dawn. With bold and modern designs, Emerald appeals to young cruisers and travelers looking for moderately priced, all-inclusive journeys along the Rhine, Danube and other European rivers.

    Emerald will float your boat if you like …

    … Mod design: Impeccably maintained, Emerald’s airy decor glitters with glass, mirrors and mid-century, modernist chic.

    Read on for more

      Steal of the Week: 10-Night Caribbean Luxury Cruise from $1,944

      June 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

      piggy bank sailing worldwide
      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: Cruise.com is offering a 10-night Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard Oceania Cruises’ Regatta from $1,944 per person for an oceanview cabin. Current promotional offers from Oceania include prepaid gratuities, free Internet and up to $500 in onboard credit.
      WHAT WE LOVE: Just over a week sailing through the Caribbean in December is the perfect idea of a vacation for many — with discounted pricing and onboard credit and gratuity offers from Oceania’s “Your World on Sale,” book by the end of June and get even more from your cruise fare. Ports include the Bahamas as well as more off-the-beaten path stops like Gustavia in St. Bart’s. Oceania is known for its culinary flair and luxurious touches, so prices starting from $1,754 per person for an inside cabin is a great value; from $176 per person per night, it’s relatively less than you’d pay for hotel stays, transportation, meals and entertainment on land.
      WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: If you’re used to paying for a balcony or a suite on a mega-ship, you’ll have to slightly adjust expectations; while most upgrades on mainstream lines run a few hundred more than a standard cabin category, the jump from an oceanview to a suite on Oceania is more than double, in this case. There are plenty of ports to see in 10 days, but they are mostly lumped together in the middle five days with nonstop port stops before two sea days on the way home. Book flights soon if necessary — December is a busy travel month and Miami is a major hub.
      Compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.
      HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (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.

        Can Americans Enjoy Cruising a British Line?

        June 10, 2015 | By | 11 Comments

        Thomson ship in port

        I’ve stumbled across a post on the Fred. Olsen section of the Cruise Critic forums in which American cruiser cruiseXlife asks, in a very positive and enthusiastic manner, whether he would be welcome on the traditionally British line.

        “Have you ever found a cruise that you really liked, that went to places you wanted to see, left from a convenient port, and was on a ship that had everything you needed? Well, I am in that position right now with Fred. Olsen.”

        “How will the cruise contrast with my usual style of cruising? I know I have mostly sailed Carnival cruises, but I do not cruise for line or ship, solely for the destination. What will be different onboard? Will I be welcomed well?”

        Read on for more

          Cruise Tip of the Week: Save While You Sip

          June 10, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

          beer buckets

          Tip: Every cruiser has his or own tricks for saving money — whether it’s vowing not to spend extra on specialty restaurants or purchasing a beverage package. But there are quite a few “secrets” to stretching your budget that the cruise lines don’t advertise. If beverage packages aren’t your thing, consider this:

          Beer-drinkers: Ordering a souvenir bucket of beer will get you four or five bottles at a slightly cheaper cost than if you were to buy them individually.

          Wine-lovers: It’s usually cheaper to buy a bottle than a few glasses. Plus if you don’t finish it, you can always save it for another night.

          Full Article: Read more secrets the cruise lines don’t tell you.

          Want More?: Check out our related links below for more info, tips and advice.

          Bottoms Up! A Guide to Cruise Line All-You-Can-Drink Packages

          What to Expect on a Cruise: Drink Packages

          The Ultimate Guide to Alcohol on Cruise Ships

          Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!

            8 Lessons Learned From Taking the Kids on a Rome Shore Excursion

            June 9, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

            Adam with his sons in Rome

            It’s an oft-repeated truth: Don’t drag young kids round Rome — or any European city — during a high-season cruise. It’s not worth it, as this sorry tale will prove.

            It all started off so well. Rewind a few months when I announced the trip to my two boys, ages 4 and 8:

            Me: Guess what guys — we’re going on a cruise!

            Them (not looking up from iPads): Ennh.

            Me: And what’s more — we’re going to Rome!

            Them: (no response)

            Me: And … you can dress up as a gladiator!

            Them (finally making eye contact): Yay!

            Read on for more

              Member Review of the Week: Azamara Journey

              June 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

              Monaco

              Cruise Ship: Azamara Journey

              Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

              Member: Arling2nGal

              Background: After 10 cruises, Arling2nGal and her hubby’s second taste of Azamara was enough for her to dub themselves loyal fans. Between the amazing service, breakfast on their balcony and independent shore tours on their recent Azamara Journey cruise, the two were inspired to book another for next year.

              Onboard Highlight: The service — seeing the captain was a highlight.

              Port Highlight: Monaco, during the Formula 1. Arling2nGal also loved traveling to a new port each day.

              Don’t Miss: Breakfast on the balcony if you have an outside cabin.

              Watch Out For: Hair dryers supplied in the cabins. Arling2nGal wished she’d brought her own from home.

              More: Read Arling2nGal’s full review for more details about the service, food and entertainment onboard, as well as the ports of call.

              For their efforts, Arling2nGal, albeachrealtor, FrannyK, Hospicenurse101 and gringorn receive Cruise Critic logo items.

              Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week.

              Read more reviews or write your own cruise review.

                Worst Cruise Line Policies for Families

                June 8, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

                family unfriendly

                Mainstream cruise lines love to talk about how family-friendly they are, and for the most part, they’re right. What could be better for exhausted parents than a week of no cooking or cleaning, free drop-off childcare that your kids will beg you to attend, ready-made activities ’round the clock and someone else to drive to fun destinations?

                However, a few cruise line policies make us parents cringe and wonder how serious cruise lines are about attracting families. If you’re considering a family cruise with your kids or grandkids, take note of these not-so-family-friendly policies.

                Full fares for babies and toddlers

                They’re not eating prime rib and escargot (well, mine aren’t). They’re too young for the kids club. They can’t swim in the pool. They won’t even remember the trip! Yet if you take your baby or toddler on a cruise — likely because it’s the only way you’ll ever get to travel — most cruise lines will make you pay full-fare adult rates for them. No discounted kids’ fares on most lines unless you time it right and snag a promotional rate.

                Read on for more

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                • About the Lido Deck


                  The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

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