Hot on the Forums: To Bare or Not to Bare?

January 9, 2015 | By | 11 Comments

woman in a bathrobe

To bare or not to bare?

Dressing in your bathrobe to and from the pool is a quandary that has sparked much debate on our forums, but just what is the correct etiquette?

This debate began when member PreferWarmWeather wrote, “What’s the consensus of wearing the RCCL robes to and from the pool area? Personally I don’t see why some get upset. It’s a nice cover for swim wear.”

Read on for more

    Cruising ‘Round the World: Best Aussie Sailaway Songs

    January 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Sailaway party on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

    With cruising an international pastime, we at Cruise Critic love hearing about the ways our friends around the world like to sail. With our crackerjack Australia Editor Louise Goldsbury now on staff, you’ll now see periodic dispatches from Down Under, as we explore what’s up in the land of Oz. Today’s topic: Sailaway subtleties. Take it away, Lou!

    1. “Happy” by Pharrell WIlliams

    2. “Live Louder” by Nathaniel

    3. “Summer of 69″ by Bryan Adams

    Read on for the full list

      Steal of the Week: MSC Wave Season Deals

      January 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

      piggy bank cruising
      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: MSC Cruises is offering low cruise fares, onboard credit, a free beverage package (when you book the Fantastica experience or higher) and kids under 11 sail free with their wave season deal.
      WHAT WE LOVE: MSC always offers some of the cheapest cruise fares around, but the combination of onboard credit and beverage package availability, mixed their with kids-sail-free offer, a range of itineraries and a booking window through mid-February, makes this a great opportunity to consider a sailing on the line. Boasting Mediterranean hospitality onboard and cruises to Europe, the Canary Islands, across the Caribbean and a number of grand voyages (ranging two to three weeks), MSC is vying to be a discounted line with flair, and this combo makes planning a family vacation for this year slightly easier to arrange.
      WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: MSC’s new package system (Bella, Fantastica and Aurea) are based on levels of inclusion, and determine which bonuses you’re eligible for. Much like cabin categories determine credit levels or amenities on other lines, you must not only book an outside or balcony cabin or higher, but your package level also affects your bonuses. Bella passengers receive about $50 in onboard credit and that’s it. If you’re looking to qualify for all the bonuses, you’ll need to book at the Fantastica level, at least, which will cost you slightly more in cruise fare ($479 for a weeklong Caribbean sailing in an outside cabin).
      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.

        Just Back from…Costa Mediterranea: Italian Cruising in the Caribbean

        January 7, 2015 | By | 5 Comments

        Dancing on Costa Mediterranea

        Mama mia! I’ve just polished off homemade gnocchi and some wicked profiteroles in the main dining room, and what do I hear? The chorus of Funiculi, Funicula wafting from a nearby lounge.

        I have to investigate. I discover an impromptu chorus line of 20-something female travelers kicking up their heels to the tune. It’s a typical night aboard Italian-flagged Costa Mediterranea—except we’re not in Italy. Far from it. We’re sailing the Eastern Caribbean.

        This is the cannoli of cruises. Instead of a crisp pastry shell, wrapped around creamy ricotta filling, it’s Caribbean beaches and turquoise waters, wrapped around a thoroughly Italian ship. Or maybe jerk chicken cacciatore. Well, you get the idea.

        Am I experiencing cultural whiplash? Not really. In fact, I feel like I’ve gotten a bonus destination. By day, I can swim with stingrays, shop the straw markets and swig rum punch. By night, I can order up a Negroni (no need to tell the bartender how to make it!) and dance to Euro-pop that has me shouting unknown things in various languages along with the arm-waving crowd.

        On this sailing, about two-thirds of the passengers are Italian, French or Spanish, so there are plenty of turned-up collars on polo shirts, really cool eyeglasses, dangerously high heels and men without socks. Wine for lunch? Sure!

        Read on for more

          Wanderlust Wednesday: Table for Two

          January 7, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Copala, Sinaloa, Mexico - photo courtesy of SWACK/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 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!

          Feeling romantic? We love the idea of fleeing the tourist crowds to dine at a quaint, charming restaurant among the locals. Thanks to Cruise Critic member SWACK for this photo taken in Copala, Sinaloa, Mexico during a cruise excursion. The old silver-mining town is an easy trek from Mazatlan, beckoning travelers with its mountain views, rich history and artsy cobblestone streets.

          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 Relaunched National Geographic Orion

            January 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

            National Geographic Orion

            The 102-passenger expedition vessel Orion, once known for offering “champagne adventure” through Orion Expedition Cruises, is now in the hands of stalwart small ship operator, Lindblad Expeditions. Affiliated with National Geographic, the ship’s onboard experience has certainly changed, with caviar more likely to be looked at under a microscope than scooped up with a water cracker.

            Here are some of the changes that have taken place since Lindblad took over the ship:

            1. Emphasis on Enrichment

            While the lecture theatre is currently closed for renovation, Lindblad’s trademark ‘recaps’ and briefings take place in a converted main saloon, which has had large flatscreen TVs installed and a central ‘pulpit’ added for the presenter.

            Read on for more

              Member Review of the Week: Feeling Adventurous

              January 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

              photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises

              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 flydc‘s recent cruise to the Galapagos Islands aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Galapagos.

              Overall Impression: Trading Bvlgari linens and shoreside caviar outings for eco-friendly amenities and kayaks, flydc realized an expedition cruise isn’t for everyone. Silversea’s rugged, adventure-driven style of cruising may have been a far cry from the sheer relaxation flydc was used to, but that’s one of the reasons he loved it.

              Onboard Highlight: Local seafood — in particularly, the fresh ceviche served daily.

              Port Highlight: Flydc loved the challenging hikes for which he opted, and Silversea’s expedition team played a huge role in his unforgettable experience. Tip: Activities range from fairly easy to difficult, so choose wisely.

              Don’t Miss: Taking the zodiac out for some deep-water snorkeling.

              Watch Out For: Your expectations. Research thoroughly, and make sure you’re aware of the differences between expedition and standard cruises.

              More: Read flydc’s full review for more details about the cabins, food and life in the Galapagos Islands.

              For their efforts, flydc, carolej126, Cindy, FallFirstCruise and nordicgoddess receive Cruise Critic logo items.

              Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

                Just Back from… Voyager of the Seas: Australia Update

                January 5, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

                Voyager of the Seas in Sydney

                Australia may not be blessed with the world’s newest ships (our youngest local is the six-year-old Celebrity Solstice) but now we’ve got the next best thing: a ship with the same features as the world’s newest ships.

                After introducing sun-loving Aussies to ice-skating at sea during its maiden season down under in 2012, Voyager of the Seas returned from its late 2014 drydock with more firsts for Australia. We got onboard last month’s one-night preview cruise in Sydney with 1,400 travel agents and journalists to see what, exactly, was added for the folks Down Under. So what do we think the fare-paying locals will like – or not?

                Highlights from the Voyager of the Seas preview cruise Down Under.

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