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 firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in our member photo gallery.
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is a fairy tale (and foodie mecca) for all ages. One of the most unique dining options — as shown in this beautiful photo snapped by Cruise Critic member, USTWORCREW, while cruising through Denmark — is Pirateriet, an incarnation of Frigate Sct Georg 3. Steak and shrimp skewers, anyone?
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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 polkadots‘s recent cruise to the Eastern Caribbean aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
Overall Impression: Applying everything they knew about last year’s cruise on Oasis of the Seas, polkadots and her husband prepared to sail aboard its sister ship. The couple booked all their shows in advance and were able to put together an itinerary of dinner times and shows, based on how they wanted to spend their time.
The Rhine and Danube aren’t the only European rivers worth exploring. If you’re looking for something a little more exotic, check out Portugal’s Douro River. This week, Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown will be sailing through the Douro valley along with AmaWaterways Executive Vice President and Co-owner Kristin Karst. Come Thursday, they’ll join up to take your questions live from onboard AmaVida. Dying to find out more about river cruising? Eager to hear about AmaWaterways? We’ve got you covered. Don’t miss a chance to get the real scoop with our industry experts. Join us here at 4 p.m. July 24.
If you didn’t join us last week, you missed out on info like this, live from the site of the Costa Concordia in Giglio, Italy.
Fear not! You can check out our Concordia chat — and all our previous chats — online here.
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: AmaWaterways’ AmaVida
Where: The Douro River in Portugal and Spain
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Why There? One of Europe’s relatively off-the-track rivers, the Douro is increasingly popular for cruise lines such as Viking River, Uniworld, CroisiEurope, Vantage, and of course AmaWaterways, among others. In our Why Go There: 8 Reasons To Cruise Along the Douro River, we cite highlights such as exploring Porto’s port houses, visits to pilgrimage sites, a foray to Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage city of Salamanca, and fortified, medieval villages.
We Can’t Wait: If all the above isn’t enough of a lure, we’ll add this: The scenery along the river is said to rival if not exceed the Danube and others for sheer beauty. This particular sailing is one of AmaWaterways’ celebrated wine cruises; the special guest will be Christopher Silva, who’s president and CEO of Sonoma County’s St. Francis Winery and Vineyards. We anticipate tasting California cabs and zinfandels, along with learning much about Portugal’s famed port.
Want to come along? Join us as we report from AmaVida and the Douro along the way, Internet permitting, from our river forum. As well, this week’s Cruise Critic Live! “live chat” will feature as our special guest AmaWaterways’ Kristin Karst, who is happy to answer questions about the Douro region — or, frankly, any river cruise itinerary from Europe to Africa to Asia. Please drop by Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern to take part. Can’t make it then? Post questions beforehand.
Burger pizza anyone?
As someone who makes Marmite and squashed banana sandwiches (go on, I dare you) and recently tried a slice of peanut butter and jelly pizza (surprisingly good), it’s fair to say I have a few odd food faves. But when faced with an expansive ship’s buffet I find it hard enough to decide what to choose from the dishes on display in their unadulterated form — let alone come up with any ideas for creative combos.
That’s not the case for some of our inventive Cruise Critic members. It seems that despite the huge choice, you’re hungry for more — and the outcome is delicious or disgusting, depending on how your taste buds are tickled.
Silverspringcruiser, who has a penchant for putting bacon and peanut butter on bagels, started an interesting thread asking if anyone else combines items from different sections of the buffet to invent “off-menu items”. Stand by for a mini stampede, akin to when the MDR doors open.
For example, Davey Wavey, creates a “breakfast bowl” which got the thumbs up from fellow cruisers who couldn’t wait to try out his recipe for scrambled eggs combined with hash browns, crumbled sausage, grilled onions, peppers, tomatoes and melted cheese all mixed with a dash of fresh salsa.
As the journalists mill around looking for scraps of news from the increasingly detailed and technical Costa Concordia press conferences (there are only so many times you can write a story about sponsons), I decide to take a walk along the harbor front.
I’m aware that this will likely be my last time at the cruise ship salvage site, so I’m going to soak it up, take a few more pictures and then file it in my memory bank. I wish I spoke Italian, it would have helped to have got closer to the locals, who are at this point completely indifferent to the hordes of badge-wearing people haunting the harbor all day.
We’re just another type of tourist to them; not so the salvage workers, many of whom have been here since the 2012 accident.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, IndependentTraveler.com.
When I imagined the islands of the Southern Caribbean (also called the ABC islands, for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), I envisioned deep turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, towering resorts and those long-reaching divi divi trees, bent along the trade winds at a 90-degree angle. What I didn’t expect during my cruise on Carnival Freedom to the “A” and “C” islands was prehistoric birds, desert terrain and such close ties to South America. Read on for six things that surprised me.
Pastels Prevent Headaches
Would you believe a government decree required the famous facades of Willemstad to be painted in their photogenic pastels? It’s true – and it’s all because an early governor of Curacao suffered so badly from sun-induced migraines that he ordered the pastel paint to avoid the blinding reflection off of white buildings. Despite the initial intention, the scenic waterfront and historic buildings of Willemstad earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition in 1997.
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: Royal Caribbean International is offering a seven-night Malaysia and Thailand cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, sailing roundtrip from Singapore on January 26, 2015. Prices start from $645 per person, for an outside cabin.
WHAT WE LOVE: Make 2015 the year you sail somewhere new, and this multi-country Southeast Asia itinerary is a great way to immerse in the destination. For less than $95 per person per night, sail in an outside cabin from Singapore through three ports in Malaysia with two days in Phuket, Thailand. Only one day at sea on the return means plenty of time to explore the ports and absorb the culture and allure of these Asian nations. A few upgrades have been added to Mariner of the Seas in recent years, including bow-to-stern Wi-Fi, a giant outdoor movie screen, the Diamond Club for loyalty members and a revamped nursery for families. January is one of the best times to visit the Thai/Malay region, as it’s outside the monsoon season with less-humid day temps.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: Flights to Asia are going to be an additional cost (though the Changi Singapore airport is renowned for being one of the world’s most innovative airports). You can compare flight prices with our sister site TripAdvisor’s meta-search tool. When in a new country with a difficult language and limited time, it tends to be easier to take an organized tour, but these will add to your budget. For each shore excursion you book, the more expensive the trip becomes, and with six days in port, the potential to rack up additional charges may be hard to avoid.
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.
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