Just Back from…Costa Diadema: Hits and Misses

March 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

Ship art on Costa Diadema

When you think of Italy do you picture strolling along the Italian Riviera? Perhaps you’re in a seaside bar sipping a bubbly Prosecco or — only if it’s breakfast time — a cappuccino.

It’s that kind of Italian style that Costa Cruises works to capture in the line’s new flagship, Costa Diadema. The idea behind the 3,724-passenger ship, launched in October 2014, is to showcase the best of Italy with an array of new features.

How does the ship shape up? After a late February Mediterranean cruise, here are the Hits, Misses and Mehs among the international innovations to mix it up.

Hits

Country Rock Club. Of Costa Diadema’s new theme bars, this one pulls it off best. The decor has a vinyl record (the carpet) and guitar (tabletops and ceiling) motif. The live rock and country music is a hit with passengers of all ages. In true Italian style, families bring their kids to the bars — even at midnight! Bumping into toddlers on the dance floor may or may not be your idea of a grand night out.

Full recap of my Costa Diadema cruise

    Hot on the Forums: Do you Need Clean Sheets Every Day on a Cruise?

    March 6, 2015 | By | 12 Comments

    fresh sheets

    One of the many joys of cruising is taking time out for an afternoon nap, being rocked to sleep with the motion of the ocean and waking up somewhere new. And although I’ve never gone down the route of breakfast in bed (too many crumbs for my liking), I know that for many it’s a special treat.

    But what about the bed, or to be precise the bed linen? A thread (or should that be thread count?) on ship sheets caught my eye on the Cruise Critic forums, and revealed quite a hotbed of contention.

    Member ICANTWAITTOCRUISE wants to know if is acceptable to request clean sheets every day on a seven-day cruise. ” I don’t believe that the stewards change the sheets daily, but am not sure? I personally ask every couple of days because I love brand new clean sheets. However, I feel sort of bad when I do this because I worry it is taking up their time. Maybe relevant, maybe not, but we do compensate our room steward more than the required amount.”

    Veteran cruisers chime in

      Steal of the Week: Snag a Balcony/OBC on Princess

      March 5, 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: Princess Cruises is hosting a balcony and onboard credit promotion, offering complimentary balcony upgrades from outside cabins or up to $300 in onboard credit per cabin when you book a suite or mini suite.
      WHAT WE LOVE: With so many scenic destinations, it’s a shame to forgo a balcony. That’s why these upgrades are perfect for encouraging a little splurge on that suite cabin or getting upgraded to a balcony on a number of itineraries from Mexico to Hawaii. When you book by March 19, sail in a standard balcony cabin for the price of an outside, or a deluxe balcony for the price of a standard balcony. Springing for a suite or mini suite? Earn up to $150 per person on sailings 11 days or longer ($75 per person for weeklong to 10-night sailings).
      WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The deal is slightly better for those looking for that bump to a balcony rather than spending for a suite and getting just $75 per person back in return. Many of the itineraries keep to the U.S. — California and New England coasts — along with Hawaii. Mexico and the Caribbean are also close. If you’re looking for an exotic itinerary or a cruise in Europe, this promotion does not include these destinations. Oceanview cabins are already selling out, so make sure the sailing you’re looking at is even available for the upgrade.
      HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (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.

        Wanderlust Wednesday: Radiant Reflections

        March 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

        Canal Streets of Amsterdam - photo courtesy of gymnast46/Cruise Critic Forums

        Destination: Amsterdam

        Why Go?: Amsterdam’s tree-lined canal streets, colorful old buildings and artsy, laid-back vibe make it a favorite for cruisers on both ocean-going and river vessels. Almost everything can be explored by foot. So stop by the tourist office (opposite of Central Station), grab some maps and savor the day. Don’t miss the Van Gogh museum or shopping in the Nine Little Streets, and try to hop on a canal boat cruise.

        Member: gymnast46

        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. Feel free to send us your Twitter or Instagram handle. Maybe you’ll get a shout-out next #WanderlustWednesday!

        Find interesting places to visit based on region.

         

        Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.

         

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          Q & A: Edie Rodriguez, Crystal Cruises President

          March 4, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

          edie

          Cruise Critic’s Australia Editor Louise Goldsbury obtained an exclusive interview with the president of Crystal Cruises, Edie Rodriguez (pictured in center, above) after news broke yesterday that the luxury line had been sold to Genting Hong Kong. Here’s how the interview unfolded…

          Big news for Crystal! Can you tell us how the acquisition may change the onboard experience of your two ships, or the proposed third ship?

          Edie Rodriguez: It won’t affect our two gorgeous ships, Symphony and Serenity, which are stunning the way they are. We also don’t envisage anything changing with our published itineraries until 2017, many of which have sold out, and our 2018 World Cruise, which we will be announcing very soon. And of course, the excitement of another ship is just fabulous!

          Has the third ship been ordered?

          Read on for the answer

            A Military Family Sets Sail on Carnival

            March 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

            The Johnson's onboard Carnival Freedom

            Quality family time takes on an entirely different meaning when one part of the family is an active member of the Army, twice deployed to the Middle East.

            For Staff Sergeant Kevin Johnson, his wife Ashley, and their daughters, 4-year-old Natalee and 1-year-old Michaela, getting away from the San Antonio army base and enjoying the day and night on a Carnival Cruise Line cruise ship was a much-appreciated escape from everyday life.

            “It’s so nice to be able to spend time together,” Ashley told me on Valentine’s Day onboard Carnival Freedom. She and her family were just one of more than 1,000 military members and their families invited onboard by Carnival to celebrate the ship’s arrival in Galveston.

            Carnival, in partnership with Operation Homefront — a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to the families of service members as well as wounded veterans — hosted the families overnight, opening up the ship’s facilities to them and putting on an outdoor Martina McBride concert. The company also donated $100,000 to Operation Homefront.

            Want a behind-the-scenes look into Carnival Corporation? Join us!

            Cruise Critic Live! Meet Carnival President Arnold Donald
            March 4, 2015, 1:00 PM ET
            Join us as we chat with Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, who has been head of the company for just over a year but already has made a big mark. Add to calendar

            Read on for the full story

              Member Review of the Week: The Rest is History

              March 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

              Coral Princess - photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

              Cruise Ship: Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess

              Itinerary: Panama Canal and Central America

              Member: crcaldwell

              Background: Crcaldwell thought he’d found a cruise line for the long haul, until a recent sailing aboard Coral Princess changed everything. The ship’s timeless decor, attentive staff and simple surprises like champagne service on the balcony were a perfect match for his style. Upon disembarkation, he canceled a previously booked cruise, and the rest is history.

              Onboard Highlight: The ship’s relaxed, traditional ambiance and myriad of classy touches, from doilies on serving plates to a cool towel and glass of ice water awaiting cruisers returning from shore excursions.

              Port Highlight: Cartagena, Columbia, and the Panama Canal were tied for favorite.

              Don’t Miss: Dinner in the buffet, which offered pleasantly surprising options.

              Watch Out For: Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale; it’s a huge terminal, so make sure you give yourself extra time on embarkation day.

              More: Read crcaldwell’s full review to get a better feel for Coral Princess.

              For their efforts, crcaldwell, OceanDevotion55, Still Dreaming attilamom1217 and nalakitty 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.

                Winter Slushy Waves

                March 2, 2015 | By | No Comments

                Slushy Waves - photo by Jonathan Nimerfroh

                Llamas, #TheDress, House of Cards – the Internet has been full of so many memes, it’s hard to keep track (Team WhiteGold for-eva). But the viral photos that have kept me mesmerized are the “slushy waves” released by Nantucket photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh.

                Appearing on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and published in Stay Wild magazine, Jonathan’s photos show half-frozen waves curling into the surf, stand-still maritime moments. According to the New York Times, the phenomenon defied explanation, even from glaciologists.

                Within the cruise world, there are winter sailing aficionados who solely seek out chilly climes. On the Cruise Critic forums, Cunarders – fans of the veddy British Cunard Line – speak fondly of the Winter Crossing Club, composed of people who booked transatlantic voyages on the now mothballed liner QE2 (their spirit lives on, member Ab_Ovo proclaims, with anyone who enjoys Cunard’s December and January crossings).

                I understand their love of a raging sea. There’s something about crashing waves in winter that speaks to a wilder place inside your soul, an unpredictability that elevates an ordinary cruise into an adventure. It’s the beauty of the unknown, the draw of the unknowable. And for those of us frozen in the midst of this winter’s polar vortex, it’s a reminder that this season of snow days and inconvenient ice has something special to offer as well.

                Would you ever sail the Atlantic in the middle of winter? Tell us in the comments!

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