Live From Viking Mani: Four Reasons Why River Cruising is a Great First-Timers’ Experience

September 12, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

Viking Mani

On our first day onboard our Rhine River cruise on Viking Cruises‘ newest ship, Viking Mani, Program Manager Rene van Loon greeted the 187 passengers with a big smile, hearty laugh and a telling question: How many of you have taken a cruise of any kind before? The show of hands was surprising; only about half raised their hands. Color me stunned. I’ve long believed river cruising was a natural progression for cruisers who love the oceans but have tried most everything and are looking for something a little different. Cruise Critic’s message boards are filled with people who fit that category. So the fact that only half the people on our sailing had cruised before (granted, based on a loose poll) got me thinking: Why is river cruising a good fit for first-time cruisers? Certainly, all river lines are doing something right, as many of the major lines are building — and filling — new ships year after year. Here’s why it works on Viking:

Top four reasons to get your sea legs on a river cruise

    Hot on the Forums: Cruising Broadens the Mind (and Also the Waistline)

    September 12, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

    When I first started cruising I noticed a curious thing – whenever I took stuff to the dry-cleaners it would come back a size too small.

    It also seemed odd that my washing machine malfunctioned after a voyage, running hot so clothes emerged smaller.

    Now of course, I know better. So while it’s true cruising broadens the mind, it also can broaden the waistline.

    So what can we do about it?

    Well, as ever, Cruise Critic members have come up with some interesting tips to cut cruising calories.

    The debate started when warmwinds asked: “We like to lose a few pounds before pigging out. This time it didn’t happen. How are we going to have any clothes that fit after 14 days?”

    Read on for highlights from the thread.

      Regal Princess: A Spa Day Fit for a King

      September 11, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

      A hirsute Adam Coulter gets ready for his Royal Shave
      A hirstute Adam Coulter gets ready for his Royal Shave

      I’m not a big fan of massages. I also don’t really like going to the hairdresser’s.

      There’s just so much other stuff I could be doing while I’m lying down being squeezed and kneaded and pushed and pummeled while tinkly tinkly music goes on in the background. So when Princess Cruises suggested I try out a spa day on Regal Princess – complete with haircut, shave and a massage – let’s just say I wasn’t overly keen. However, I am open to trying new things and having never been to the salon onboard a cruise ship, nor ever had someone give me a shave I thought “Why not?”.

      Read on for the full spa experience

        Steal of the Week: 14-Night Repo Cruise from $899

        September 11, 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: Norwegian Cruise Line is offering an 14-night repositioning cruise onboard Norwegian Epic, sailing from Barcelona to Miami on October 26, 2014. Prices start from $899 per person for an inside cabin.
        WHAT WE LOVE: A two-week cruise vacation on Epic — newest Norwegian ship before the Breakaway class — isn’t bad at $899. Repositioning cruises usually add value to your money, with longer itineraries and two ports to choose from for a pre- or post-cruise extension. You’ll have plenty of time to explore all the amenities onboard, with many of the same dining and entertainment options as the line’s newest ships — from sushi and the ice bar to non-variety shows like Blue Man Group. If you’re a ‘ship person’, most of your days are spent at sea, allowing ample time to explore every inch of the vessel. The few port calls there are include Funchal early in the cruise, and two days in the Eastern Caribbean after nearly a weeklong stretch.
        WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: This sailing is selling out quickly and while the cheapest cabin category is still available, you’re only other options are balcony and Haven rooms — balconies are $370 more per person, but may be worth it just for some fresh air on such a long sailing. The main concern is being onboard for the long stretch — and be mindful of weather: you’re sailing into the Caribbean which is still under the hurricane season umbrella in late October. Booking flights to Spain now is a bit last-minute — check out flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool.
        HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (including that pesky fine print), click here.
        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.

          Do We Overplan for Cruises?

          September 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

          Woman with an overpacked suitcase

          To plan or not to plan? That is the question.

          I once went on business trip with a man who told the rest of the group that not only did his wife do all his packing, but she labeled each item of clothing (down to his underwear) with the day it was to be worn (sub-divided into daytime and evening).

          Everything was fine until the day the itinerary altered. He was thrown into a sartorial quandary as his Tuesday (night) attire was no longer suitable for the less formal dinner, and the more appropriate Monday ensemble had already been worn and Friday’s wardrobe choice was yet to come. Dining out on the tale afterwards, friends found it hard to believe. I have now found there are plenty of his counterparts on cruise lines.

          Similar scenarios came to the fore when Cruise Critic member pv_girl started wondering if overplanning and overthinking can take away the magic of cruising.

          Read on for our members’ take on overplanning.

            Wanderlust Wednesday: Egypt is Calling

            September 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Green forest with hikers overlooking the ocean
            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.
            Grand Circle’s River Anuket was specially designed to cruise the Nile River. In this photo captured by Cruise Critic member hawkeye1947, the 138-passenger ship sails into the the horizon as sunset nears. Passengers can head to the Sun Deck pool (shown) to soak up views.
            Find interesting places to visit based on region.
            Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
            Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

              Six Cruise Line Bartenders Mix It Up in Battle for the Best

              September 9, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Breath of Fresh Air, Served by Ioana Luncean

              For bartenders, shaking is part of the job.

              Usually, it’s the drinks they’re shaking.

              On Friday night, though, nerves had six cruise ship bartenders trembling. The talented mixologists were contending for the best bartender crown in the finals of the Bacardi Cruise Competition, an event that highlighted the top bartenders from a field of more than 1,000. Five contestants were chosen by a judging panel, which culled the group from 25 semifinalists. Cruise Critic members chose the sixth, Vera Restarovic, who tends bar on Carnival Conquest.

              I was lucky enough to serve as one of four judges, evaluating the bartenders on areas including drink taste and name, inspiration, storytelling, knowledge of the products and creativity. (Yes, I know, I’m fortunate in my job.)

              Cruise Critic's Colleen McDaniel Graces the Judges' Table of the Bacardi Cruise Competition
              Read on for highlights from the event.

                Member Review of the Week: Memories on the Danube

                September 9, 2014 | By | No Comments

                City with bride over river at sunset
                Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, one of which is showcased as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member pwright‘s recent cruise on the Danube River aboard Viking Delling.
                Overall Impression: For some, not knowing what to expect on a trip makes the prelude more exciting. Leading up to their Romantic Danube Viking cruise, pwright and her husband questioned inviting another couple to join them, but the excitement and anticipation paved the way for what ended up being the “best vacation ever.”
                Read on for highlights, tips and more.
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