August 2015 Desktop Calendar

August 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

August Cruise Calendar

Get your August 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! Summer vacation may come to an end this month, but that doesn’t mean your cruising dreams do. Enjoy this photo of a cruise ship in the sunset as you plan the rest of your 2015 cruises.

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 August 31 for the September 2015 calendar.

    Hot on the Forums: Do You Collect Cruise Souvenirs?

    July 31, 2015 | By | 9 Comments

    Souvenir magnets from a Turkish port

    Fridge magnets, key rings, ornaments and the obligatory T-shirts (bragging rights optional) are some of the most popular cruise souvenirs to bring home, according to a thread on the forums — and that’s not forgetting the things you really don’t want to bring back, such as extra pounds and credit card bills.

    A discussion of favorite cruise souvenirs started when suzi asked: “What collectables, items or memorabilia, if any, do you bring back from a cruise? For us it’s just minor things like refrigerator magnets or spoons to remember where we have been. We also bring back things unique to the port/place for our friends and family.”

    Christmas tree ornaments are also well-liked cruise souvenirs, so much so that Cruise Critic member Krazy Kruizers has an entire tree decorated with keepsake ornaments bought in various ports and cities visited while cruising.

    Read on for more

      Cruise Deal of the Week: Alaska Cruise from $529

      July 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

      traveling piggy bank
      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: is offering a seven-night cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage onboard Grand Princess, sailing from Vancouver to Whittier on August 29, 2015. Prices start from $529 per person for an inside cabin.
      WHAT WE LIKE: We might be in the thick of Alaska cruise season, but there are plenty of great deals still to be had. Explore the gorgeous port city of Vancouver (voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world), before departing for the Last Frontier — with three ports of call and ample scenic cruising through the glaciers. Grand Princess was voted as one of the Best Alaska Cruises in our 2015 Cruisers’ Choice, and you can see what the onboard experience is all about from just $76 per night (per person). The weather shifts in Alaska between late August and September, but the trees and the tundra may begin to turn vibrant colors with the change in season; it’s still a lovely time to visit the region. You may also have better luck spotting salmon this time of year if you’re headed out on a fishing trip. Lastly, the cruise returns over Labor Day Weekend and that Monday might be a nice additional day to recover after returning from vacation.
      WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Since Alaska is known for scenic cruising, it will be more than tempting to book a balcony, with your own private view. With this promotion, the price nearly triples for such a cabin — $1,549 — so know what your expectations and price range are before diving in to a cabin you’ll be unhappy with. No current promotions through Princess Cruises apply to sailings in August, so contact a travel agent to discuss additional perks or savings.
      Check out our professional photo gallery of Regal Princess.
      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.
      Look for air deals using TripAdvisor’s search tool.

        Live from Azamara Journey … Hits and Misses

        July 29, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

        Azamara Journey

        We’re onboard Azamara Club Cruises’ ship Azamara Journey, sailing the Greek Isles and Turkish coast between Istanbul and Athens. The premium line, part of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s stable of companies, prides itself on its destination-immersion programs as well as its friendly and efficient service.

        We’re pleased to report that so far Azamara has lived up to its billing — and then some. Some of the experiences, such as an “AzAmazing Evening,” a complimentary event open to all passengers on the 686-passenger ship, were truly outstanding; ours was a classical music concert at the Odeon in Ephesus that we’ll remember for years. We also found that the smaller ship’s staff delivered the personalized service that you’d expect from a line at this price point, along with some genuine surprises.

        Here are some of the hits and misses from our Azamara Journey cruise:


        Greek port

        Longer Time in Port. In an interview earlier this year about the line’s massive refurbishment, scheduled for 2016, Azamara Club Cruises President Larry Pimentel emphatically noted that while other cruise lines have added overnights and extended their hours in port, no one does it like Azamara. And he’s right: We stayed over eight hours in the majority of our ports of call.

        How does this affect the average cruise passenger? It means that you can schedule a daylong excursion on a Turkish gulet (a traditional sailing ship) without rushing back to the cruise ship. It means that you can have dinner in Mykonos at a favorite restaurant. And it means that you can enjoy sunset in Santorini, watching the colors of the caldera change as the other cruise ships leave port. If you’re a person who loves the destination aspect of cruising, this alone could convince you to give Azamara a try.

        Azamara Journey Itineraries

        Read on for more

          Cruise Tip of the Week: Prepare Your Home Before a Long Cruise

          July 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Preparing your home for a cruise

          Tip: Getting ready for a long cruise can be stressful; you might need to run errands to fulfill your packing checklist, catch up on work emails or find a pet sitter. But you’ll always have to prepare your home.

          If you plan to be away for at least a few weeks, you should start preparing your home several weeks before you leave. Empty your fridge and leave it unplugged with the door open. You should also unplug other appliances, such as your TV. Doing so will save energy and cut your electrical costs.

          Full Article: Read the full checklist for tips on preparing your home.

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

          – Check out our latest cruise deals.

          – Sign up for Cruise Critic’s Price Drop. We’ll let you know when fares are dramatically reduced so you can get the best price for your sailing.

          World Cruises 2016

          The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Cruise

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

            Member Review of the Week: Norwegian Getaway

            July 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

            Moderno Churrascaria

            Cruise Ship: Norwegian Getaway

            Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

            Member: jeria

            Background: Curious what a luxury small-ship cruiser thought about the 4,028-passenger Norwegian Getaway? Cruise Critic member jeria and her husband, both active 50- and 60-somethings who favor Windstar, couldn’t pass up a deal to experience something new. Between the variety of dining and evening entertainment, the two were pleasantly surprised. Read on for their highlights.

            Onboard Highlight: The endless dining options — especially Getaway’s Brazilian steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, and dining outside on cool nights.

            Port Highlight: A tie between the zip-lining tour in St. Thomas and trip to Jost Van Dyke beach from Tortola.

            Don’t Miss: The little dining area outside Flamingo Cafe, next to the rock-climbing wall. It’s quiet, shaded, and never crowded.

            Watch Out For: Smoke in the casino and surrounding area, if you’re sensitive to the smell.

            More: Read jeria’s full review, browse future cruises on Norwegian Getaway, and see what sets Norwegian Getaway apart from its sister ship, Norwegian Breakaway.

            For their efforts, jeria, Bounce, sophbro, hockeymike and steph05257 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!

              My First Cruise: Ruby Princess

              July 27, 2015 | By | No Comments

              Alison Rubin and husband onboard Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess

              With the My First Cruise series, Cruise Critic speaks with first time cruisers who recently returned from their very first cruise to find out about their expectations and how they liked it.

              Planning your first cruise? Check out our First Time Cruisers section, geared just for you!

              Want to be featured? Contact

              Name: Alison Rubin

              Age: 66

              Cruised with: Husband

              Ship & itinerary: Seven-day Alaska Inside Passage on Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess

              Q: Why did you decide to take a cruise?

              A. My husband and I are in our mid-sixties. We had not traveled in decades, so I figured now was the time to do it while we are still quite active and healthy. I wanted to go on a cruise because I wanted to experience a vacation that was different for us. I wanted the glamour and the glitz that these “floating hotels” say they offer. I wanted to be pampered and entertained, and I wanted all of that experience while traveling at sea.

              Q: Did you have any preconceptions of what to expect from a cruise?

              A. I fully expected to eat from morning through night. We didn’t. While food was good, plentiful and always available, we were so busy that food was the last thing on our minds.

              Read on for more

                Dispatch from Greece: Recession in the Background

                July 24, 2015 | By | No Comments

                Greek flag flying over port stop

                The caravan of cruise line coaches, chartered by Azamara Club Cruises and Silversea, snaked its way up the Greek mountains to the famed monasteries of Meteora. Here, certainly, tourism seemed as healthy as ever.

                Penny Gripeou, a licensed guide who drove five hours from Athens to Volos to lead our tour with Azamara, nodded. “The cruise ships keep coming, so I keep working,” she said.

                The hotel and services that deal mostly with local people are most affected within the Greek tourism industry, she said. August is Greece’s main vacation month, but most folks are staying home this year. “It is tough to plan a holiday when you don’t know what is going to happen.”

                Volos is only the first Greek stop on my cruise with Azamara Journey; we’ll also be stopping at the islands of Skiathos, Mykonos, Santorini and Hydra before debarking in Athens. Scenes of the riots in Athens seem far away from these much smaller towns; tavernas are full of visitors and shopkeepers are busy ringing up purchases.

                But the current financial crisis, part of a recession that has been ongoing in Greece for years, lies beneath the surface. Just a week ago, when Greeks were limited to a daily 60 euro bank withdrawal, shops along the road to Meteora were loathe to take credit cards, Penny said. Cash is king — and still preferred (although plenty of merchants were accepting plastic).

                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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