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 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.
        Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

          Live from….the Panama Canal: Finding the Best Viewing Spots

          March 25, 2014 | By | 8 Comments

          I’m currently onboard Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas for a 15-night Panama Canal cruise. A few days ago, we made the eight-hour journey southbound, from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, through the 100-year-old waterway — one of the modern world’s most impressive feats of engineering.
          I learned lots along the way, thanks to a helpful narrator, whose facts and figures were piped over the ship’s PA system: 75,000 men worked to build the canal over a 10-year period. About one-third died during the project, most from malaria or yellow fever spread by mosquitoes. The fees paid by vessels to sail through the canal generate anywhere from $6 to $8 million per day; Royal Caribbean shelled out more than $277,000 for Legend of the Seas’ passage.
          What I discovered on my own, however, were some of the pitfalls of trying to find optimum outposts to snap some stellar shots. Here are some of the solutions I found that could help you on your own Pan Can cruise.
          Problem: Naturally some of the best vantage points are forward on the outdoor decks. Unless you plan to wake up at the crack of dawn, however, you’ll be standing behind three-people-deep crowds, trying in vain to hold your camera above their heads.
          Solution: On my sailing, the ship’s photographers roped off a small area directly in the middle of the forwardmost portion of the sun deck to take pictures of passengers in front of the canal’s locks and bridges. Volunteer to have your photo taken, and the crowd parts for you. Before you turn around to smile for the camera, pause and take a couple of seconds to capture your own shot.
          Click to read more.

            A Girlfriend Getaway

            March 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Royal Princess
            What do two busy moms do when they need a break? Book a girlfriend getaway, of course! With a friend, readyforsun19 tried Princess for the first time, choosing an Eastern Caribbean itinerary on Royal Princess.
            A mini-suite, with two TVs and plenty of movies, suited the women just fine (closets provided enough space for the “two diva girls”). A weeklong pass to the Sanctuary, along with room service late breakfasts, made their time sans kids even more relaxing.
            In the evenings, readyforsun19 and her pal turned into karaoke machines, thanks to encouraging staff and a few new friends. Shopping and snorkeling in port made up for a disappointing pool experience.
            Read readyforsun19′s full review for more details about her cabin under the Seawalk and entertainment. For their efforts, readyforsun19 and four other Reviewers of the Week — agathasmum, samina, JerseyGirl19, and darienil — receive Cruise Critic logo items.
            Waiting for your Disney Dream to come true? Longing for a Norwegian Getaway? See all of this week’s chosen reviews.
            Don’t just sit there: Share your perspective, and write your own review.
            Don’t miss a thing: Get your own Lido Deck subscription.

              Live from….Avalon Poetry II: First Impressions

              March 24, 2014 | By | No Comments

              As part of the dual christening ceremonies with Avalon Impression, I had the chance to spend three nights on Avalon Poetry II, cruising from Cologne, Germany to Amsterdam. Below is a selection of my first impressions of “the ship,” made before its godmother – British three-time Olympic silver medalist and gold medal rower at the London 2012 Olympics, Katherine Grainger — broke the bubbly over the bow:
              The ‘Panorama Suites’ are panoramic. It’s a remarkably simple concept: Give staterooms a full-wall of window that opens up to the scenery and environment of the river. There’s no better way to connect passengers with their surroundings, and it’s a great feature on Avalon’s suite ships.
              So many people are adopting a focus on the indoor/outdoor space in their homes these days. Avalon’s take has also added square footage to cabins by using what would be balcony square footage inside the cabin. To make the most of the view, Avalon has rejigged the room configuration by angling the wall between the bathroom and the bedroom at an angle. The bed faces the window and slightly forward. While the cabins are not true suites, there is a small loveseat and chair situated around a small coffee table, tucked against the floor-to-ceiling window.
              Click to read more.

                Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

                March 24, 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: Uniworld‘s S.S. Catherine, a sister to SS. Antoinette (the line’s award-winning
                Best New River Ship in Cruise Critic’s Editors Picks from 2011), will be
                christened. French legendary actress Catherine Deneuve is its godmother.
                Where: In the UNESCO heritage city of Lyon, on France’s Rhone River.
                Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
                Why There? S.S. Catherine will sail Rhone River itineraries, based in Lyon. After the christening we’ll embark on a five day mini-cruise showcasing ports of call such as Avignon, Lyon and the Ardeche.
                We Can’t Wait: S.S. Catherine is the most cruise-like vessel on Europe’s rivers, featuring amenities like a lap pool and spa, a top-deck nightclub, and a sprawling alternative restaurant ­along with the trademark Uniworld decor style, sumptuously elegant and refined. We also look forward to checking out the more active and recreational opportunities that Uniworld offers in its shore program. And of course, the Rhone River, with its emphasis on Provencal cuisine, Rhone wines, and ancient history, is a huge draw.


                Ship: Christening ceremony for CroisiEurope‘s new MS Lafayette
                Where: Strasbourg, France
                Who: Jamey Bergman, UK River Section & Production Editor
                Why There? To see the latest ship from CroisiEurope
                We Can’t Wait: CroisiEurope, France’s biggest river cruise line, is making a push into the English-speaking market. Not only will the line be debuting its newest full-sized river cruise ship, it also will be christening a couple of small hotel barges.


                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. Stay tuned also for a “live from” blog on the best “canal day” vantage points and a slideshow feature that compares and contrasts the differences between sailing the Panama Canal on a small ship versus a large one.
                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.)
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