April 2014 Desktop Calendar: Queen Mary II

March 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

Get your April 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! Cunard’s iconic liner, Queen Mary II, will be celebrating its 10th birthday in May. 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 | 1280 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile
Check back on April 30 for the May 2014 calendar. 

    Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

    March 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

    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? Ask us in the comments!)


    Ship: AmaReina, the newest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet
    Where: A Danube River cruise from Vienna to Regensburg
    Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
    Why There? On this launch cruise, AmaReina — a sister to AmaPrima, which last year won Cruise Critic’s Editors’ Picks for best new riverboat — will be officially christened in Vilshofen, a small German port town that’s become home to the line’s most recent series of namings.
    We Can’t Wait: For many of the reasons we adored our experience on AmaPrima last year, such as the fabulous sundeck with its swim-up pool (though April in Austria and Germany isn’t really prime for outdoor swimming), the elegant and yet cozy lounge, and the top-notch dining. We’re also excited to re-visit favorite ports along the Danube, including a day trip to Salzburg, the lovely wine and apricots of Durnstein (great cycling destination, too), and charming Regensburg, a shopping mecca.
    But what we’re most excited about is that this cruise is actually
    operated under the banner of Australian tour company APT, which is a part owner of Ama. The difference? While dining, tours and ambiance are consistently Ama-flavored, the ship is largely given over to Australians. As travelers, Aussies are typically a super-social, fun-loving bunch and we’re looking forward to experiencing a bit of Oz style even as we trawl through middle Europe.


    Ship: Tauck‘s MS Inspire
    Where: From Amsterdam to Brussels
    Who: Dori Saltzman, News Editor
    Why There? MS Inspire is Tauck’s first river boat in the Inspiration class, which is notable for having only 130 passengers on a longship set-up. Considered part of the luxury end of river cruising, Tauck’s Inspire also has 22 300-square-foot suites, with upscale features such as 400-thread-count sheets and Molton Brown bath products. For 2014, Inspire will sail a variety of Rhine and Moselle river itineraries.
    We Can’t Wait: This will be the first sailing of Tauck’s newest boat, which features a handful of unique lower deck “loft” cabins with larger windows — that actually open! (besides fresh air, these windows will allow lower deck passengers much more natural light than you’d normally get in this cabin class).


    Ship: American Queen Steamboat Company‘s American Empress
    Where: The Columbia and Snake rivers
    Who: Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
    Why There? We’re covering the christening of this ship, where Claudette Waggoner, wife of the line’s chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as godmother. The ship, nee Empress of the North, has been completely refurbished and will sail the rivers of the Northwest.
    We Can’t Wait: Europe isn’t the only place where the rivers are hot. American Empress will represent AQSC’s first foray into the Snake and Columbia rivers. We’ll follow in the footsteps of Louis and Clark and Sacajawea. This will be my first cruise on American rivers, and I’m looking forward to learning the history of the area and checking out some of the amazing sites. I’m also fascinated to see the ship, with its paddlewheel and Front Porch Cafe.


    Ship: Royal Caribbean‘s Legend of the Seas
    Where: The Panama Canal, with stops in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
    Who: Ashley Kosciolek, Copy and Ports Editor
    Why There? While onboard, I’ll be taking notes to write a full, updated ship review of Legend of the Seas, and I’ll also be updating our Cartagena and Colon coverage and writing a port profile for Puerto Quetzal, which will be a brand-new addition to our site. (Check out my post on best “canal day” vantage points).
    We Can’t Wait: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal’s construction, so it’s an ideal time to experience a visit to the historic marvel firsthand. It also offers us a chance to witness the hourslong process of maneuvering a large ship through tiny locks with just inches to spare on each side. (I’m also excited for some warm weather as the Northeast’s winter season continues.)

      Cruise Critic Live! Destination: Caribbean

      March 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Each Thursday at 3 p.m. (Eastern), Cruise Critic Live! takes a look at all the things to love about cruising, from favorite destinations to amazing dining experiences to the latest and greatest new ships on the oceans and rivers. We also welcome outside experts including cruise line CEOs and newsmakers.
      Next week, we’ll talk about the Caribbean, a region that is almost always the stop for people giving cruising a try. Do you have questions about certain islands or ports? Don’t understand the difference between Eastern, Western and Southern itineraries? Wondering what you should pack (besides plenty of sunscreen!) The veteran island-hoppers on our staff will be available to answer your questions, so make sure to bookmark the page.
      Can’t make the chat on Thursday, April 3 at 3 p.m.? Please feel free to submit questions ahead of time, and we’ll make sure to get your answers. The chat will be archived, and available, after it winds up.
      *Follow along on Twitter at #CruiseCriticLive.
      *Read the transcript from this past Thursday’s chat about Royal Caribbean.

        Live From….Douro River with Viking: Meet the “Baby” Longships

        March 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

        On an overnight aboard Viking River Cruises’ newest Longship — Viking Hemming, just christened on Portugal’s Douro last week – we figured that there’d be no big surprises, having cruised on the 30 odd other nearly identical vessels.
        We were wrong. Viking Hemming, along with twin Viking Torgil, also named in Douro, is the line’s first ever “baby” Longship, as dubbed by cruise line CEO Torstein Hagen.
        What’s a “baby” Longship? Because of unique length and height challenges ships sailing the Douro face, Viking had to scale back on this pair of ships. Passenger capacity is just 106, compared with the 190 fellow travelers on standard Longships.
        Read on to find out more

          Cruise Critic Live: Today’s Chat, All Things Royal Caribbean

          March 27, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Quantum of the Seas
          It’s an exciting year for Royal Caribbean: With its next new ship, Quantum of the Seas, debuting in November and refurbishments to the Voyager class ongoing, we thought now would be the perfect time to chat about the cruise line.
          So whether you have questions about the new dining details released on Quantum or just curious about what the line is like, join us for Cruise Critic Live! at 3 p.m. Thursday. We’ll take your questions, post photos and talk about the latest news.
          *Follow along on Twitter at #CruiseCriticLive.
          *Read the transcript from last week’s chat with Viking River Cruises.

            Steal of the Week: 23-Night Med Cruise + Air & Hotel from $2,699

            March 27, 2014 | By | No Comments

            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: Online Vacation Center is offering a 23-night Mediterranean cruise onboard Norwegian Jade, sailing roundtrip from Rome on November 12, 2014. Prices start from $2,699 per person for an inside cabin and include airfare and a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay.

            See why this is such a bargain … and what you need to know.

              Hot on the Forums: Steering a Course to Your Cabin

              March 26, 2014 | By | No Comments

              We’ve all been there: You’ve studied the deck plan – and turned it upside down a couple of times for good measure – and you are convinced you’re heading forward to the red stairwell. Instead you end up aft by the blue stairwell looking at a row of even numbered cabins when yours has an odd number. And on top of that all the doors look the same.
              Finding your cabin can be a tricky business – and be an initiative test for first-time cruisers.

                Wanderlust Wednesday: A Toast to Tracy Arm

                March 26, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

                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.
                Thanks to member macnicol, who shot this photo while sipping champagne on the balcony, while cruising through Alaska‘s Tracy Arm Fjord.
                Find interesting places to visit based on region.
                Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
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