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.

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    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

              Hot on the Forums: Is A Cruise Value for Your Money?

              June 26, 2015 | By | 28 Comments

              paper money boat

              From the Cinderella-like disappearance of the once obligatory midnight buffet and lack of lobster to chocolate-free pillows and increased gratuities, any seasoned cruiser is likely to say that life on the ocean isn’t the value it used to be.

              While some complain cutbacks have gone too far, the other side of the coin is that more people are being introduced to the world of cruising, thanks to ever-increasing fleets and keenly priced fares to entice passengers onboard. Cruising is no longer, thankfully, the preserve of the wealthy or a once-in-a-lifetime holiday treat.

              But do you still believe that a cruise gives you value for money? That is the question posed by Cruise Critic member chromered7: “Given that these message boards are full of reduced portions, less staff, poor quality, customer dissatisfaction, lowering of standards and the growing cost of cruising, does cruising still give you value for money? The methods used by cruise companies to get you on board appear very attractive but when you when you dig down to the small print, are they the real deal?”

              It’s certainly struck a chord with some fellow members, who still seem to think a cruise delivers good value. (For more insights, see the ships that were awarded Best Cruise Ships for Value by our readers in 2015 and How to Find the Best Cruise Bargain in 2015).

              Read on for more

                If It Were Up to Me … Help Sir Richard Branson Build Virgin Cruise Ships

                June 25, 2015 | By | 31 Comments

                Richard Branson

                For the past few months, we here at Cruise Critic have been asking ourselves and our readers: What would YOU do if you ran a cruise line? Apparently British billionaire Richard Branson has the same crowd-sourcing mindset.

                At a news conference Tuesday in Miami, Branson and Virgin Cruises president Tom McAlpin said that they wanted potential passengers to leave ideas for the fledgling line on the company’s website. Branson has said that he wants his three ships — set to arrive in 2020, 2021 and 2022 — to have the stylish and design-centric “Virgin touch” seen on his other travel offerings, including airlines and space flights.

                Our editors immediately came up with plenty of ideas. Our editor in the UK (where they’ve had some more experience with Sir Richard), Adam Coulter has a laundry list, some of which draws from the company’s airline arm. His wishes include “cool lounges in the terminals with sushi bars, free Champagne and perhaps a hairdresser; free chauffeur service for premium passengers; concerts given by musicians from the Virgin record label; themed decks for families and partiers; helicopter rides and paragliding from the ship; and port stops at Branson’s home base on Necker Island.”

                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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