Cruise Critic Live! Don’t Book That Cabin

August 4, 2014 | By | No Comments

Carnival Pride Aft balcony
Every week on Cruise Critic Live, we take a look at all the things to love about cruising, from favorite destinations to amazing dining experiences. We give you the inside scoop on the newest ships at sea and on the rivers. We also welcome outside experts to take questions, including cruise line execs and newsmakers.
On Thursday, we’re chatting about cruise ship cabins — which ones you should book and which you should avoid. A good cabin will help make your cruise a dream come true. But the wrong cabin could have you losing sleep and seeing red. Our editors have seen a whole lot of cabins through the years and will take your questions, give our favorite tips for choosing and help you pick the the perfect cabin. Join us at 3 p.m. August 7.
Last week, we hosted special guest Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara, who gave us some juicy news about upcoming refurbishments of his line’s ships. We also had a captain swing by to say hello. If you didn’t join us last week, you missed out on info like this.

Review the whole chat here. You’ll be glad you did.

    Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

    August 4, 2014 | By | No Comments

    Ashley Kosciolek on map
    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 or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)
    Ship: Hurtigruten’s Finnmarken
    Where: Norway (Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Arctic Circle, Lofoten Islands, Tromso, Honningsvag, Kirkenes, Oslo)
    Who: Ashley Kosciolek, Ports and Copy Editor
    Why There? As the popularity of European itineraries increases, Cruise Critic is always looking to beef up its coverage of less-traveled ports, including those on this itinerary. Plus, we’ll be updating our review of Finnmarken, an ice-strengthened ship that specializes in expedition cruising.
    We Can’t Wait: While the mainstream cruise experience is great, many passengers prefer more active and immersive sailings like those offered by Hurtigruten and other expedition lines. Additionally, the midnight sun will be out during the sailing, so expect some coverage on just how badly it does (or doesn’t) affect your internal clock.

      Live from … Celebrity Cruises Top Chef at Sea: Hits and Misses

      August 1, 2014 | By | 5 Comments

      top chef apron and hat with tuna and knife on top chef cruise
      Pack your knives and go… on a cruise? In Celebrity’s ongoing campaign to attract sophisticated foodies to the line, it has teamed with the Bravo TV for an ongoing Top Chef partnership. For the next year, all ships will hold activities inspired by the popular cooking show, such as QuickFire Challenges and demos, as well as a Top Chef night in the main dining room, where dishes from the show are served.
      In addition, four Top Chef themed cruises featuring “cheftestants” from the show onboard are taking place in 2014. The sailings are on a variety of itineraries, from Bermuda and Alaska cruises to Spain and the Mediterranean cruises.
      We’ve been spending this week on the line’s maiden Top Chef cruise, a seven-night sailing to Bermuda on Celebrity Summit. Here are the things that stood out to us and things that still need to be improved.
      Read on for more

        Hot on the Forums: Door Decorating, Tasteful or Tacky?

        August 1, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

        Fun door decorations on a Disney cruise
        Navigating the way back to your cabin can sometimes be tricky; particularly when coupled with the cruise ship curiosity that make numbers blurred late in the evening (often combined with a sense of direction going out of the porthole).
        I have always resorted to asking a steward or crew member the way, but with a bit of creativity you can make your own homing device and/or celebrate a special occasion.
        However, who would have thought Cruise Critic member IPlayWithString would open up such a can of worms by posing the seemingly innocent question: “So…door decorations. Do you do it?”
        That result is a surprisingly lengthy thread that’s firmly divided between two camps, with plenty of robust debate.
        Says member Laurie S: “You bet I do, it’s fun. I have three sparkly felt pieces with various stick ons like palm trees, a cruise ship, martini glasses, etc. I also put a garland around them that ties into the cruise.”
        Read on for more

          August 2014 Calendar Desktop Wallpaper: Santorini Sailing

          July 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

          July 2014 Desktop Calendar of Cruise Ship in Santorini, Greece
          Get your August 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! We hope that this photo of a cruise ship sailing through the Santorini caldera in Greece will help you dream about places you’ve yet to explore.
          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 August 29 for the September 2014 calendar. 

            Steal of the Week: 16-Night Australia Cruise from $1,999

            July 31, 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: Holland America Line is offering a 16-night Australia cruise onboard Volendam, sailing from Sydney to Singapore on November 22, 2014. Prices start from $1,999 per person, for an inside cabin.
            WHAT WE LOVE: From $125 per night, take part in a unique Australia cruise experience, with focus on the region’s reefs and islands. Port stops are exotic and the vistas are breathtaking. Ports of call include the Hamilton Islands, Cairns, Darwin, Komodo Island in Indonesia, Bali and Java. Over the course of two days, experience the Great Barrier Reef and Ribbon Reef, famed sunrise at Lizard Island and famed sunset at Piper Island, the Far North region and Torres Strait. Seven of 16 days are at sea, meaning your sailing is nicely broken up, but most time is spent experiencing the destinations. Onboard, keep active with the Dancing with the Stars experience.
            WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: No matter where you live, the flights are likely to be far (and additional) both ways — to Sydney and then from Singapore. Port taxes and fees are also an additional cost. Your guides will know best, but November is the beginning of summer in Australia, as well as jellyfish season; special care should be taken regarding where you swim. Also worth noting, Thanksgiving falls in this middle of this sailing.
            HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (including that pesky fine print), click here.
            You can 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.

              Wanderlust Wednesday: A Grand Sight

              July 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

              Princess ship in St. Thomas harbor
              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.
              Grand Princess definitely lives up to its name in this photo of the ship towering over neighboring boats, docked in one of the most popular ports in the Caribbean: St. Thomas. Thanks to Cruise Critic member chr3000, who captured the photo from Paradise Point.
              Find interesting places to visit based on region.
              Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
              Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

                We’re Onboard: Q&A with George Takei

                July 29, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

                George Takei and Brad Takei wave at the audience on Queen Mary 2 QM2 to promote movie To Be Takei
                Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else take the helm. And that’s exactly what George Takei, social media icon, gay rights activist and actor most famously known for playing helmsman Sulu on the original Star Trek, is doing aboard the Queen Mary 2.
                Part of Cunard’s Insights speakers series, Takei will partake in several events onboard the ocean liner, including a Q&A session after the transatlantic premier of “To Be Takei.” The film is a biographical documentary about the actor’s life, paralleling the civil rights similarities between his experiences as a Japanese-American imprisoned in an internment camp during World War II and a gay man fighting for the right to marry the person he loves.
                Read on for more
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