February 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper: Aft Dreams

January 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

The Vast Blue Sea

Get your February 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! There’s nothing we like better than a view of the water (especially when the view from our office is so wintry!) Here’s hoping that this desktop calendar takes you to warmer climes, at least in your mind.

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 February 27 for the March 2015 calendar.

    Hot on the Forums: Memories of Transatlantic Crossings

    January 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Since Cunard’s Britannia first set sail across ‘the pond’ in 1840, transatlantic crossings have conjured up glamorous images of a bygone era and the golden age of cruising. And today, for those with time and money to spare, the thought of seven days at sea is much more appealing than spending the same amount of hours squeezed into a plane.

    Forum contributor ukkid invited fellow Cruise Critic members on a trip down memory lane by asking what it was like to traverse the Atlantic between the 1970s and 1990s.

    “I read they used to be five days and about £600 ($900) and alcohol cost next to nothing. Similar price to a saver now but then again I was told you could buy a house for £6,000 ($9,000) and people earned £20 ($30) a week! I was also told there were bell boys in the lifts, but this may be a reference to a P&O cruise. Do people have memories over those decades and care to share them in this thread?”

    It’s fascinating to read the responses, with accounts of Cunard, Holland America and French line crossings. Even though it’s relatively recent history, plenty of things have changed that will doubtless leave many members hankering for the good old days. Read on for more

      If Ships Could Talk…

      January 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

      Carnival Vista's Twitter Account

      While Carnival Cruise Line announced details of its upcoming ship, Carnival Vista, last week with plenty of hoopla, some of the most exciting admissions were from none other than the ship itself.

      The @CarnivalVista Twitter account launched on January 19 with the tweet, “This is me, casually inviting you to spend a week with me sometime in 2016. But we should get to know each other first.”

      It soon became apparent that the ship had a sense of humor:

      “Man I wish I knew someone who could tell me jokes while I sit here patiently being welded together…ahem @georgelopez ahem.”

      “My press release says I’ve got an IMAX. My press release doesn’t mention that I wish it looped cat videos.”

      “Welp, buoys & gulls. Party’s over. Hasta la VISTA. SEA you later. #punsonpuns #thenmorepuns #oh #andpuns”

      With plenty of “fun ship” attitude to spare, the Vista ship persona had us thinking: What if ships could actually talk?

      The following is our attempt to read the minds of our favorite cruise ships and what it might sound like if they were in control of the onboard PA system.

      Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas: “Guys! Guys! Look! Over here there is a cupcake shop and over here there is an entire park, and over here there is this surf thingy called a FlowRider, and over here…”

      Norwegian Breakaway: “‘Ey! Watch it! I’m cruisin’ here!”

      MSC Divina: “Ciao bella — What do you say, we-ah find us a party and mambo all night?”

      Celebrity Solstice: “I was thinking of curling up with that New York Times bestseller after the wine tasting, but before the glass-blowing session. Meet me on the lawn for crepes?”

      Royal Princess: “Good afternoon, so very pleased to make your acquaintance. I do sincerely hope you’ll join me for tea with these lovely views and we’ll have a delightfully ravishing time.”

      Disney Fantasy (We kind of can’t picture anything else besides a Mickey Mouse voice): “Hiya folks! Disney here. We’re darn tootin’ happy to have you onboard and can’t wait to show you a Whole New World of vacation magic ha-ha!”

      Regent Seven Seas’ Mariner: “If you prefer the finer things, I guarantee that I keep elegant company and deliver premium and bespoke experiences for my most treasured companions.”

      Azamara Journey: “I can’t wait to like, totally immerse myself in the culture. I just wanna connect with the people and create some AzAmazing new memories, you know? Life is in the journey.”

        Steal of the Week: Celebrity Revives 123go! Offers

        January 29, 2015 | 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: Celebrity Cruises is offering their popular choose-your-own-bonus promotion through February 1, offering a beverage package for two, prepaid gratuities and up to $300 in onboard credit per cabin, depending on the cabin category you book and your cruise itinerary.
        WHAT WE LOVE: The value of Celebrity’s bonuses are usually pretty strong, and prepaid gratuities, onboard credit and a beverage package suit just about any cruiser’s needs. Cruising to Alaska and Europe, you’d be more likely to book a balcony on views alone, so the obstacle to receiving all three offers isn’t a huge one. Also, any suite-class passengers (Concierge and Aqua Class as well) are automatically eligible for all three offers. Booking an oceanview cabin? Europe itineraries still get two offers and any other sailings receive your choice of one — a nice added value to your cruise. Sailing with kids, friends or relatives? Additional passengers in your cabin aren’t ignored — they each receive a nonalcoholic beverage package and an Internet package.
        WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Celebrity is testing the waters with this short booking window — just a few days to lock in a balcony sailing to far-flung Alaska, Europe or anywhere. If booking has already been on your mind, this promotion offers fantastic incentives. However, we’re seeing deals with choice year-round, so if there’s any hesitation, you may be better off waiting than paying cancellation penalties on top of your premium cruise fare.
        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 Off the Gangway: 5 Surprises from Norwegian Gem

          January 28, 2015 | By | 13 Comments

          View of New York from Norwegian Gem

          My experience cruising with Norwegian has been limited mostly to the line’s newest ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. So when I decided to take a vacation on Norwegian Gem, built in 2007, I was thrilled to check out one of the line’s smaller ships (Gem carries 2,394 passengers, while Breakaway and Getaway carry 4,028 each) that is popular among our Cruise Critic members.

          Gem recently underwent a refurbishment, receiving an O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, a sports bar/restaurant found on newer ships. The addition of O’Sheehan’s displaced the ship’s Moderno Brazilian Churrascaria to Deck 13, where it is now paired with a brand-new Sugar Cane Mojito Bar, a hip hangout that first appeared on Getaway.

          Our sailing out of New York City was filled with a few surprises, including these five:

          O’Sheehan’s. This spot, located on Deck 8, is part restaurant, part sports bar. It occupies major real estate in the middle of the ship, but it still feels like a pub, with lots of mirrors, deep booths and bar stools, plus a number of big flatscreen TVs for viewing sports. Plus, it overlooks the Deck 7 atrium, which boasts a two-deck-high screen. We watched the college football national championship game there as well as the NFC and AFC Championship Games. It comfortably accommodated a big crowd, and the atmosphere was electric — friendly despite some rivalries and full of shared excitement. You certainly can have a private meal in a corner of the restaurant, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to; the convivial environment is part of the fun.

          Read on for more

            Wanderlust Wednesday: “I’ve A Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore”

            January 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

            Haleakala National Park - photo courtesy of thamanrp/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!

            “Otherworldly” is a fitting term for this Hawaiian landmark that beckons cruisers calling in Maui. Haleakala National Park spans more than 30,000 acres of volcanic landscape and preserved rainforest. Take a trip up Hawaii state road 378 for a money shot of the summit area, which includes the Haleakala Crater. We love this photo of the crater, captured by Cruise Critic member thamanrp moments before sunset.

            Find interesting places to visit based on region.


            Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.


            Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

              Observed Onboard: UFOs at Sea?

              January 27, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

              Watercolor of an alleged UFO

              Scanning the night sky from your balcony is one of the more romantic perks of being out on the high seas.

              Unless, of course, you see a UFO.

              That’s what happened to Cruise Critic member Bettyandmartin on an Emerald Princess cruise earlier this month. While admiring the stars off the Yucatan Peninsula, she and her husband spotted an eerie object above the ship, glowing orange.

              “It looped swiftly, silently, in irregular patterns across the sky for five to ten minutes, over the ship and back again,” she shared in a thread on the Princess forum. “Much faster than a satellite, but slower than a meteor. Really creepy.”

              The sight mesmerized her so much that she pulled out her watercolors for a sketch (pictured above).

              Fellow forum members wondered along with her what the strange object could be.

              What’s Your Best Guess?

                Member Review of the Week: Margaritas on the Beach? Happy New Year!

                January 27, 2015 | By | No Comments

                photo courtesy of BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

                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 dave.s’ recent Western Caribbean cruise aboard Caribbean Princess.

                Overall Impression: Two reclining chairs on a minisuite balcony were calling dave.s and his wife’s names when they booked a New Year cruise aboard Caribbean Princess. With lingering holiday decorations, a mixed crowd and celebratory vibe, their four-night cruise was full of surprises.

                Onboard Highlight: Their Dolphin Deck minisuite. Dave.s found the uncovered balcony to be perfect for sunbathing and stargazing. It also made for a romantic setting on New Years Eve.

                Port Highlight: Cozumel was their only stop, and lounging over margaritas at an all-inclusive beach club afforded much needed relaxation.

                Don’t Miss: The Coral Dining Room on embarkation day. Dave.s and his wife dodged crowds in the buffet for a quiet lunch.

                Watch Out For: Lounge chair overload in the Sanctuary, which dave.s felt made it difficult to navigate.

                More: Read dave.s’ full review to unravel all of their surprises, plus details about being pampered onshore.

                For their efforts, dave.s, ellyb , sailingaway89TGM3822 and 42withkids receive Cruise Critic logo items.

                Read more reviews or write your own cruise review.

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