Member Review of the Week: Transatlantic Times Two

December 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

Madeira, Portugal - photo Courtesy of Anilah/Shutterstock

Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member sam4881’s recent Transatlantic cruise from Lisbon to Miami on Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner.

Overall Impression: When sam4881 and his wife sailed across the Atlantic onboard Seven Seas Mariner in 2012, they knew someday they’d do it all over again. The couple kept their word, returning to the recently revitalized ship two years later. But it didn’t quite meet their expectations; it exceeded them.

Onboard Highlight: While reveling at the visual changes was fun, sam4881 and his wife were most impressed by the service onboard — something that blew them away on the first cruise.

Port Highlight: Madeira, Lanzarote (Canary Islands), Barbados and Antigua were their favorite calls.

Don’t Miss: Ballroom dancing lessons with Pascha and Ana, among other activities.

Watch Out For: Bus delays, which can happen on any cruise, but people should always prepare for them.

More: Read sam4881’s full review for more details about life onboard the ‘new and improved’ Seven Seas Mariner and details about port favorite, Madeira.

For their efforts, sam4881, Bert2369, l8honeymooners, MNM1011 and Shar28 receive Cruise Critic logo items.

Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

    December 2014 Calendar Desktop Wallpaper: Holiday Markets

    December 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

    German Christmas Market photo courtesy of Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

    Get your December 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! Throughout Europe, the Christmas Markets are in full swing, with stalls selling crafts, decorations and the ubiquitous gluhwein. We hope this nighttime photo of Heidelberg – a usual stop on a German Rhine River cruise — will help get you in the celebratory spirit.

    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 | 1920 x 1200 | Tablet | Mobile

    Check back on December 31 for the January 2015 calendar.

      Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

      December 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Chris sailing on the Costa neoRiviera

      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 or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)

      Ship: Costa neoRiviera

      Where: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah

      Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

      Why There? We’ll be experiencing Costa’s “neo” class of ships, which promote slower travel through overnight port stops and more casual onboard ambiance. We’ll also be taking a look at how Dubai — the Las Vegas of the Middle East – has been expanding its water sports and shore excursions for cruise passengers, many of whom fly to the port several days before embarkation.

      We Can’t Wait: Razzle me, dazzle me: I’m looking forward to seeing as much of the high-end silliness as I can. Visits to Ski Dubai (a ski slope within a mall), the towering Burj Khalifa and tea at Burj Al Arab are on tap. I’m also looking forward to seeing Dubia’s more authentic side, with a Middle Eastern food tour and a visit to the Sheik Monahmmed bid Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding.

        Steal of the Week: 2014 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Cruise Deals

        November 28, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

        Sail Away Deals! image courtesy of Shutterstock

        It’s the most wonderful time of the year, again! Yes, it’s time to kick off the season celebrating with family and friends, but it’s also time for some ridiculous cruise deals. So snap out of your turkey coma, place the shopping bags down, and dig in to the following limited-time-only deals from your favorite cruise lines — we bet you’ll be giving thanks all over again.

        MSC Cruises: MSC was the first to launch its Black Friday Sale with free balcony upgrades, up to $200 in onboard credit and kids under 11 sail free, when you book by November 30. Two-night cruises onboard MSC Divina are also on sale, selling from just $99 per person.

        Star Clippers: The tall ship line joins the cruise sale spree this year, with its promotion offering up to 60 percent off cruise fares on select sailings, plus a complimentary pre- or post-cruise hotel stay. Book by December 1.

        Carnival Cruise Lines: Set to release today, Carnival’s special cruise deal, includes free double upgrades — a balcony at inside cabin pricing — plus $100 in onboard credit per cabin when you book select cruises by November 30.

        Holland America Line: HAL’s Thanksgiving sale offers cruisers a reduced deposit, reduced pricing and a free beverage package, plus cash to spend if you book an Alaska Land + Sea Journey. We’re not sure on the expiration for this deal, but their site says “for a limited time.”

        Royal Caribbean International: With Royal, you can save all Thanksgiving week long with up to 20 percent off last-minute cruises and great pricing, with deals starting from just $79 per person. This offer ends December 1, but a new one will take its place. Royal is hosting a Cyber Monday sale, December 1 only, that applies to all Caribbean and Bahamas sailings, (except Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas). New bookings made by U.S. and Canadian cruisers will receive up to $325 in onboard credit per cabin, in addition to 50 percent off the cruise fare of a second passenger in the same cabin (with a full-fare first passenger), plus 50 percent reduced deposits as low as $50.

        Windstar Cruises: Now through December 12, Windstar is inviting cruisers to experience a yacht sailing with up to 73 percent off itineraries in Asia, Tahiti, or the Caribbean.

        Azamara Club Cruises: Beginning today through December 2, book a select Azamara cruise and receive $500 in onboard credit as part of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale.

        Vantage Travel: Small cruise outfit Vantage, is saving couples up to $500 plus free airfare on exotic river itineraries when you book their sale running now through December 1. To receive these savings, people must reference code PR-0011 when booking.

        Princess Cruises: Princess kicked off their sale on Tuesday, but the line is offering major cruise fare savings, plus third and fourth passengers in the same cabin are only $50 per person through December 4. Book your cruise for just $1 down.

        Paul Gauguin: Book your luxury cruise with the line Black Friday through December 6 and receive a bonus of $250 in onboard credit per person.

        Norwegian Cruise Line: Cruisers looking to book a Norwegian cruise during this shopping extravaganza can take advantage of the line’s Black Friday sale offering up to $250 in onboard credit for new bookings made by December 2, plus reduced deposits. For more information, visit

          Cruise Confession: I Showed up for My Cruise… A Year Early

          November 26, 2014 | By | 6 Comments

          Too Soon! image courtesy of MRJPEG/Shutterstock

          It happens to everyone. You book something when you’re not paying attention and you get the dates wrong.

          Normally you catch the mistake in time, but worst-case scenario, you endure some mild embarrassment when you show up on the wrong day/week/month, right?

          One of our members took that scenario to the extreme, and has likely set a record for “Earliest Arrivals for a Cruise Disembarkation.”

          DavidandPamela, brought his wife (presumably Pamela) and his mother-in-law along for a lovely Mississippi River cruise on American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen — only to realize he’d shown up at the dock a FULL YEAR EARLY.

          “His mother-in-law, too?! He’ll never live that one down!”

            Wanderlust Wednesday: Overlooking Pompeii

            November 26, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Pompeii - photo courtesy of CAcruzfunatic/Cruise Critic Forums

            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 or post it in our member photo gallery. Feel free to send us your Twitter handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!

            Pompeii is one of Italy’s most sought after attractions. The ancient Roman city and UNESCO World Heritage Site is easily accessible from Naples, so plan a visit if it’s on your itinerary. Although the mysterious aura of Pompeii can’t be captured in one shot, we love this one submitted by Cruise Critic member CAcruzfunatic from a cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas.

            Find interesting places to visit based on region.
            Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
            Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

              Just Back From…the “stretched” MSC Armonia: LEGOs and more

              November 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

              MSC Armonia - photo by Jamey Bergman

              Carving a cruise ship apart and putting it back together sounds like a complicated process – and it is. The “stretching” procedure that MSC Armonia underwent this fall, part of the company’s “Renaissance Program” added a new 80-foot section to the vessel’s midship, introducing a new LEGO playroom, refurbishing cabins and other changes.

              I took an overnight trip on Armonia in August before the changes on the 13-year-old ship, sailing from Split, Croatia to Venice, Italy. Last week, I boarded the ship for a three-night cruise to check out all the new features, post-stretch. Here’s what you’ll find on the redone ship:

              An Expansive Top Deck. From what I’ve seen, the ship extension appears remarkably seamless (pun intended). Where you can notice the change is on the top decks. (there’s an actual color change in the flooring, demarcating the old sections of ship from the new.) The area truly feels expansive — almost to the point of dwarfing the pools — and I can’t imagine it getting crowded.

              More on MSC Armonia’s expansion

                Member Review of the Week: Nice Try, Mother Nature

                November 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

                Tropical storm looming over a dock - Caye Caulker, Belize - photo Courtesy of Kuzmin/Shutterstock

                Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member TheConsort’s recent cruise to the Western Caribbean on Norwegian Sun.

                Overall Impression: Cruising during hurricane season is a gamble. Rough seas and high winds can lead to missed ports or entirely new itineraries. TheConsort got lucky, only running into patches of rain and choppy waters on his recent cruise aboard Norwegian Sun. Even better, he never let it dampen the mood. His motto: "Cruises are what you make of them. If you look for problems, then you will find them."

                Onboard Highlights: Dinner at Cagney’s, Le Bistro and Moderno Churrascaria thanks to the trio package, which basically equaled paying for two and getting one free.

                Port Highlight: Belize, although TheConsort strongly suggests escaping the port itself to get a real taste of Belize’s beauty and culture.

                Don’t Miss: Taking advantage of the complimentary steam room and sauna.

                Watch Out For: Your flight home — don’t book it too early in the morning! TheConsort witnessed a fellow passenger who missed his flight

                More: Read TheConsort’s full review for more details about their cabin, the food and adventures in port, plus more useful planning tips.

                For their efforts, TheConsort, Traveler1986, cboyle, MeanMeosh and Gary908 receive Cruise Critic logo items.

                Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

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