Prost! Celebrate Oktoberfest by Booking A Beer Cruise

October 14, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

Beer on Deck - photo courtesy of KRS/Shutterstock

For beer lovers, there’s never been a better time to tap into a brews-infused booze cruise, thanks to a slate of new hops-inspired sailings, well worth raising a (pint) glass to. With cruise lines taking landlubbing craft brew trend to sea, cruisers can now tipple the days away on itineraries overflowing with brewery visits, beer tastings, and more.

1. Posh Pints: Luxe Crystal Cruises’ first-ever microbrew-themed sailing embarks this November, on a 14-day East Coast/Caribbean voyage from NYC to Miami. Expect shore excursions to area micro- and nano-breweries; onboard beer tastings and lectures, helmed by guest brewing experts; and a robust beer menu highlighting rare artisanal brews (bacon-flavored beer, anyone?!).

2. Rivers of Beer: Lined by ancient beer-producing monasteries and centuries-old beer gardens, European waterways offer up fertile ground to wet your whistle with beer. Try Avalon Waterways’ two beer-themed river cruise options in 2015: a round-trip voyage from Amsterdam in April, or a sailing from Vienna to Munich in October (which, sadly, just misses Oktoberfest). Activities include onboard tastings, talks on topics like European beer-brewing techniques, and stops at historic breweries.

AmaWaterways also offers new beer-themed itineraries in 2015, packed with beer pairing dinners and tastings, brewery tours, discussions with beer experts, and more. Combine Dutch and Belgian ports with beer drinking and tulip time in spring, or try a holiday-themed beer voyage along the Danube in December.

Read on for the full list.

    Member Review of the Week: A Cruise Back in Time

    October 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Cruise ship sailing in open ocean alongside island

    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 Magnum60‘s recent cruise to the Mediterranean on Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride.

    Overall Impression: Seabourn Pride was one of the many ships Magnum60 had fallen in love with during his heydays on the high seas. So when he and his wife decided to revisit the ship as — now part of Windstar’s fleet — the expectations were high…. And the ship did not disappoint.

    Onboard Highlight: The crew’s attention to detail stood out most to him.

    Port Highlight: While Magnum60 didn’t mention any highlights in port, Windstar’s 212-passenger ship makes for an intimate experience both on and off the ship.

    Don’t Miss: Revisiting the ship if you sailed on it as Seabourn Pride. The revitalization is a breath of fresh air.

    Watch Out For: Magnum60 felt the only downfall of their cruise was not enough time!

    More: Read Magnum60’s full review for more details about his past cruising experience compared to the newly revitalized Star Pride.

    For their efforts, Magnum60, New2Fun, Bell Range, haggisandchips and kitkat343 receive Cruise Critic logo items.

    Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

      Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

      October 13, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Jamey Bergman on map

      Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, travelling 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: Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas

      Where: Departing from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, sailing to Southampton, UK

      Who: Jamey Bergman, Production Editor

      Why There? Oasis of the Seas is coming out of a two-week dry dock, and we can’t wait to see what’s new onboard!

      We Can’t Wait: Specifically, I’m looking to try out the Dynamic Dining experience first hand, but it’s also my first time onboard the cruise world’s best-known behemoth, and I’m preparing myself to be overawed by everything. I doubt 24 hours is anywhere near enough time to experience everything on Oasis, but I’ll do my best, and will be reporting back about all the new additions onboard next week.

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        Hold that Door! The 6 Rules of Cruise Ship Elevator Etiquette

        October 10, 2014 | By | 33 Comments

        Crowded Elevator - photo courtesy of Everett Collection/Shutterstock

        It seems that common courtesy has been declining since the Love Boat days of cruising — and nowhere is the death of chivalry and benevolence more apparent than cruise ship elevators.

        Naturally, people are more impatient in today’s faster paced society. We get that stopping on every floor might prevent you from reaching the buffet before it closes. But that’s no excuse for innocent cruisers to have to suffer when other passengers neglect proper ship elevator etiquette.

        To make sure all of us cruisers are on the same page, we’ve come up with a list of 6 simple rules to follow when using elevators onboard (stair takers, rejoice).

        1. Allow passengers to exit before you enter.

        This “golden rule” of cruise ship elevator etiquette should be a given, but you’d be surprised. According to universally accepted standards of common courtesy, people entering an elevator should stand clear of the doors and wait until everyone is out before making a move. Period.

        Read on for the full list.

          Hot on the Forums: Remember Old-Fashioned Cruise Ship Fun?

          October 10, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

          Carnival Festivale Postcard from 1992 - photo courtesy of pghsteelerfan/Cruise Critic Forums

          Broadway musicals, ice skating shows and performances by world-famous names such as the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil have become an established, and almost expected, part of cruise ship extravaganzas.

          Turn back the clock, however, and things were once very different, with passengers topping the bill by making a spectacle of themselves. A superb thread started on the Carnival forum by Cruise Critic member hattack made me wonder if entertainment at sea has almost become too slick for its own good.

          Sophisticates will dismiss passenger talent shows as cheap entertainment – and today’s PC, as well as health and safety, brigades would be up in arms about past pastimes such as ladies’ lovely legs contests, men’s hairy chest competitions, trapshooting on deck and drinking contests.  But there’s something charming about the simplicity of these bygone onboard amusement, say some of our readers.

          Read on to continue down memory lane.

            Live from…Thomson Majesty, Post Refurb

            October 9, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Thomson Majesty - photo by Jamey Bergman

            I’m onboard Thomson Majesty, the most recent addition to the Thomson Cruises fleet, as well as one of the most popular ships on the Cruise Critic website.

            In spite of being the line’s newest ship, the 1,462-passenger Majesty is a veteran vessel, having sailed for Norwegian Cruise Line and Louis Cruises before being picked up by Thomson on a charter in 2012.

            In early 2014, Majesty added 24 balconies on the ship’s eighth deck, and enclosed a dining space at the aft of the 10th deck that had formerly been open air. It’s a refurbishment plan that Thomson has carried out on multiple ships.

            The result? In the new balcony rooms, the effect is seamless. With the balconies tacked on, the cabins – which were on the small size to begin with – gain some much needed space. Only a ship designer would be able to tell that such extensive remodeling had been done at all.

            Read on for the full tour.

              Steal of the Week: Double Upgrades on Azamara

              October 9, 2014 | 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: Azamara Club Cruises is offering double upgrades (free upgrades of two cabin categories) when you book a 2015/16 sailing now through December 14, 2014.
              WHAT WE LOVE: Most of the time when a cruise line offers a complimentary upgrade as part of a promotion, you’re paying for one cabin and getting the very next cabin class — inside to an outside, for example. What makes Azamara’s offer exciting is that you can pay for the lowest cabin category and sail in a balcony — all you have to do is book by December 14. Another perk is the variety of 2015 and 2016 voyages available and included in the promotion: 79 sailings traversing Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, the Middle East, the West Indies and the South Pacific. With such a wealth of itineraries and the time to consider them, this is the promotion to jump on if you’re considering a cruise with the line. Amenities such as gratuities; select spirits, beer and wine; soft drinks and specialty coffees; and self-service laundry are included on Azamara voyages.
              WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Although we’re nearing the end of the year, this promotion applies strictly to 2015 and 2016 sailings — depending on the itinerary you want, some of these sailings are nearly two years from now, and the earliest is in June, eight months away. While you have time to book, planning so far in advance can be tricky at times; make sure you have travel insurance in case something comes up. While Azamara is considered mainstream, it’s a slightly more upscale brand and you will pay more for those inclusions.
              HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (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.

                Countdown to Quantum: Chef Michael Schwartz Takes on Big Role

                October 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

                James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

                Michael Schwartz is a James Beard Award-winning chef of international renown. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, his Miami-based flagship restaurant that focuses on fresh, locally sourced food, is packed pretty much every day of the week, filled with diners who love sharing plates of items like kimchi, crispy hominy and deviled eggs. 

                Now, foodies and nonfoodies alike will be able to sample some of his creations on Royal Caribbean’s new ship, Quantum of the Seas, which debuts in November. Schwartz is serving as the culinary experience advisor for Quantum of the Seas and fleetmate Anthem of the Seas, which debuts in spring 2015. He’s also worked with the line to create Michael’s Genuine Pub, an American gastropub that passengers will find on both ships.

                Read on to learn more about Michael’s new role!

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