Live from Pearl Mist: Saluting Veterans Onboard

July 2, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

American flag waving in the air near Blue Water Bridges

The son of a navy officer, Pearl Mist cruise director Jon Stewart has a profound appreciation for military veterans and their families. The small luxury ship, which has spent the summer sailing the St. Lawrence Seaway and Canadian Maritimes, draws an older crowd.

So the 28-year-old decided to show his appreciation this past Memorial Day with a veterans’ tribute program.

During the inaugural event, which he held on sister ship American Star, Stewart played the service anthems of all five armed forces branches, inviting members of each branch to stand during their song. Afterwards, veterans were invited to take the microphone and tell a piece of their story.

The response — from veterans and non-veterans alike (there wasn’t a dry eye in the room, Stewart said) — was enough to convince him to make the tribute a part of every sailing going forward.

Read on for more

    July 2015 Desktop Wallpaper: Norwegian Fjords Cruise

    July 1, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas docked in Alesand, Norway, Shutterstock

    Get your July 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper!

    Cruises along the Norwegian Fjords are in full swing. We hope this photo of Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas docked in Alesand, Norway, will inspire you to consider your own Norwegian Fjord cruise.

    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 | 1200 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile

    Check back on July 31 for the August 2015 calendar.

      Cruise Tip of the Week: Arrange Your Own Transfers

      July 1, 2015 | By | 8 Comments

      Cruise ships in Port Miami

      Tip: Your cruise is booked. Now you need to need to figure out how you’re getting to the terminal from your hotel or the airport. It’s easy to give into to the cruise lines’ transfer services when they’re only a click away, but with a little research, you can save a lot of money traveling by public transportation, a shuttle, shared taxi or private car. Just make sure you plan arrangements early, especially if you’re traveling during rush hour or during peak season.

      Full Article: Read 10 more ways to make your dream cruise a reality.

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

      Find your perfect cruise

      12 Surefire Ways to Have a Miserable Cruise

      22 Do’s and Don’t’s for Your First Day Onboard a Cruise Ship

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

        5 Cool Things about a Seattle Seahawks Football Cruise with the 12s

        June 30, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

        Seattle Seahawks fan

        The 12s – the notoriously loud and passionate fans of the Seattle Seahawks football team – made waves this week, as Princess hosted its first cruise for the Emerald City’s football fans. Departing from Seattle on June 20, the seven-night itinerary on Crown Princess touched down in Southeast Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia, giving participants plenty of time to both see the sights and interact with their favorite players.

        While supporters didn’t set any more noise records or register on seismographs, they showed their fervor with Seahawks banners, jerseys and face painting. About one-third of the 3,316 passengers took part in the Sail With The 12s celebrations – 10 events scattered throughout the week.

        Ready to kick off your own football theme cruise? Here are 5 cool things we experienced on the Seattle Seahawks sailing:

        Seattle Seahawks fans cruising Tracy Arm fjord

        1. The Sailgate Party

        After scenic cruising among the icebergs of Tracy Arm fjord, Crown Princess cranked up the heat with an afternoon Seahawks bash on the bow, featuring Blitz the mascot and the Sea Gal cheerleaders. Fans then got a chance to pose with players like Jordan Babineaux, a safety from 2004–2010 and Jim Zorn, the team’s original quarterback (1976–1984).

        Read on for more

          Member Review of the Week: Adventure of the Seas

          June 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Beach at St. Kitts in the Caribbean

          Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas

          Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

          Member: kruzals

          Background: Two years after kruzals first sailed on Adventure of the Seas, she returned with her husband and four-year-old daughter. The now-updated ship still showed some wear, but features like the Adventure Ocean kids’ club and added variety in Windjammer Cafe made up for it. Read on for her hits and misses.

          Onboard Highlight: Adventure Ocean kids’ club, where kruzals’ daughter with special needs had the time of her life.

          Port Highlight: St. Kitts, thanks to a kid-friendly catamaran ride followed by time to unwind on a deserted beach.

          Don’t Miss: Dinner at Johnny Rockets if you don’t feel up to formal night.

          Watch Out For: The shops in Antigua, especially if you’re easily overwhelmed.

          More: Read kruzals’ full review, and browse future cruises on Adventure of the Seas.

          For their efforts, kruzals, IanBork, surgie, racepoint and J3RZG1RL 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.

          Check out more cruise reviews or write your own. Who knows; yours may be featured next!

            Hits and Misses from a Svalbard Cruise

            June 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

            Polar bear in the Arctic

            Quark Expeditions is one of the world’s specialists in polar travel, offering small-ship itineraries in Antarctica, Greenland, northern Canada, Norway, Iceland and even the North Pole. Though there are other expedition lines operating in many of these regions, Quark has broken new ground in recent years by introducing unique adventures such as paddleboarding in Antarctica and hot air ballooning at the North Pole.

            Cruise Critic recently joined Quark’s “Introduction to Spitsbergen” itinerary, a Svalbard cruise that sails round trip from Longyearbyen, Norway, with a focus on spotting polar bears, walruses, reindeer and other Arctic wildlife. Over eight nights aboard Sea Adventurer, Quark’s oldest vessel, I discovered a few of the qualities that make a Svalbard cruise special — plus a couple of little things that didn’t quite live up to expectations.



            Reindeer in the Arctic

            Wildlife: Every part of a Svalbard cruise is designed to get passengers as close to the wildlife as possible. When a whale surfaces or a polar bear is spotted in the pack ice, the ship veers off course to get a better look. For a more intimate look, smaller Zodiac boats bring passengers right up to the shoreline for views of nesting puffins or grazing reindeer. In the most incredible moments, the animals came to us — as when a polar bear padded directly across the ice to within about 50 feet of our ship, lifting its sensitive nose to scent us every step of the way. The wildlife is the number one reason that most people book a Svalbard cruise, and it didn’t disappoint.

            (For more Arctic Cruise options, read Arctic Cruise Basics).

            Read on for more

              5 Passengers You Might Find on a Far East Cruise

              June 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

              ships in Hong Kong

              With three Far East cruises under my (ever-expanding) belt, I’ve come to the conclusion that cruising in this part of the world – as opposed to the well-trafficked Caribbean or Med – draws a certain type of passenger.

              That’s not to say that there aren’t differences on each Far East cruise, depending on the line and itinerary. On Holland America’s Zaandam, cruisers tended to be older, and the itinerary was a classic Singapore to Hong Kong route. As you’d expect with Holland America, the feeling was a bit more formal, and the passengers tended to mingle a bit less — although I did meet some fascinating travelers at singles dining tables who had been everywhere.

              Aboard Voyage to Antiquity’s Aegean Odyssey, the crowd was far more casual, and uninterested in features like a casino or big production shows, which is good, since those were non-existent aboard this 350-passenger vessel. Rather, these folks were absolute fiends for lectures of any sort — and the ship had plenty of them. On days at sea, it seemed like everyone was parked in a deck chair with a book.

              Foodies were at the forefront on my recent Oceania Nautica trip from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Oceania is justifiably known for its cuisine, and loyalists always named it as a major reason for cruising with the line. Passengers fitted the ship’s “country club casual” style, and tended to be more independent, using Cruise Critic Roll Calls to organize their own shore excursions. For its size (just under 700 passengers), Nautica attracted the widest variety of nationalities of any of the three ships.

              But what did Far East cruise passengers have in common? Plenty. Here are five types I encountered on every ship.

              1. The Seasoned Cruiser

              Very few people choose an Asia itinerary for their maiden voyage. Thus, the Seasoned Cruiser, who will let you know — humbly or annoyingly — that they’ve sailed plenty of times before. With prompting, the Good Seasoned Cruiser will give you valuable tips about that Antarctica trip you’ve been dreaming of, or satisfy your curiosity about a Black Sea voyage. The Evil Seasoned Cruiser will drone on, assuming you are a cruise ignoramus, until you manage to escape or nod off in your soup.

              Read on for more

                Live from Pearl Mist: First Impressions

                June 26, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

                Pearl Mist

                I’m currently sailing the St. Lawrence Seaway with Pearl Sea Cruises, a small ship cruise line that made its debut in summer 2014. The company entered the cruise world with one ship, all-balcony 210-passenger Pearl Mist, which promised “luxury adventure.”

                I’ve sailed two previous river cruises (including one on Queen of the Mississippi, a boat in Pearl Seas Cruises’ sister fleet American Cruise Lines), so I assumed Pearl Mist would share many similarities with a river cruise. And it did — to a point. Here are my first impressions of the vessel:

                Hybrid nature. Like a riverboat, Pearl Mist is small, and the lounges, which are spread across the ship, are comfortable and sometimes downright cozy. Two cruise directors are available to help passengers with their needs, and an onboard expert answers questions about the areas we cruise through. Soft drinks and water are free all day long, with beer and wine offered complimentary at lunch and dinner. Also, as on river cruises, only a limited number of shore excursions is offered (sometimes only one) in each port.

                Most of the similarities end there. The clearest difference, though it doesn’t look much different than a river ship, is that Pearl Mist divides its time between the calmer waters of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and wide open coastal waterways of the Atlantic Ocean as it cruises through the Canadian Maritimes, down the U.S. eastern seaboard and into the Caribbean.

                Read on for more

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                  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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