Cruise Gift Cards: Lines That Let You Give the Gift of Cruising

November 24, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

Carnival Gift Cards

‘Tis the season to start thinking about the cruisers on your holiday shopping list. In the last two weeks, both Princess Cruises and Tauck rolled out new gift card programs, and with Black Friday looming, it’s time for a quick roundup of similar products. Read on for a list of popular lines that feature gift cards, many of which allow buyers to choose from a selection of available designs and styles in addition to adding personalization.

Carnival: Physical gift cards and e-gift cards are offered in amounts ranging from $25 to $2,000. Purchase a card here.

Celebrity: You can order an actual gift card or an e-gift card for denominations between $25 and $500. Purchase a card here.

Disney: Physical gift cards are available in increments that range from $25 to $500. Recipients can also use them at Disney theme parks and resorts, as well as the Disney Store. Purchase a card here.

Norwegian: Norwegian offers physical gift cards only, in amounts between $25 and $1,000. Purchase a card here.

Princess: Both physical and e-gift cards are offered, and they’re available in dollar amounts between $50 and $2,000. Purchase a card here.

Royal Caribbean: Choose from physical or e-gift certificates in denominations from $50 to $2,000. Purchase a gift certificate here.

Tauck: Only emailed gift cards are offered, in amounts between $50 and $2,000. Purchase a card here

Although they don’t offer gift cards or certificates, other lines — including MSC, Holland America, Oceania and Silversea — allow for the purchase of onboard credit or other amenities for those who already have cruises booked. Such gifts might include spa treatments, dinner in alternative restaurants or romance packages that offer things like flowers and Champagne.

    We Dare You! 8 Things to Do On Your Next Cruise

    November 24, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

    Cliffdivers - photo courtesy of EpicStockMedia/Shutterstock

    How many times have you been tempted to do something silly on a cruise, but held back because you felt a teeny bit embarrassed? How often have you kept your mouth shut when you overheard a fellow passenger being rude? Are you a slave to propriety, even in the middle of the Caribbean?

    When you’re on vacation, surrounded by people you’ll never see again, there’s no need to hold back. Yes, your FlowRider wipeout could go viral on Facebook, but everyone will be impressed that you were brave enough to try it. And sometimes doing the thing that will make you feel good is worth risking a snide comment from a stranger.

    So come on, let your hair down and try one (or all!) of these things on your next cruise. We dare you!

    Pig out. Everyone knows that you can order as many entrees or desserts as you want in the main dining room, but how many of you have gone ahead and done it? We’re not talking about ordering half portions, either. If the scallops and the burger are calling to you, go ahead and order both with your head held high. If you want to get down with the chocolate melting cake and the creme brulee, do it without muttering excuses or talking up the morning’s workout. Eat what makes you happy — the cruise only lasts a week.

    Seven more dares for your next cruise

      Destination Spotlight: 5 Reasons to Cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam

      November 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Indochine owned by CroisiVoyages

      The majority of my river and canal cruises have been in Europe – which makes sense, as it’s the world’s most popular river cruise destination. Recently, I floated much further afield, along the lesser-traveled waters of Cambodia and Vietnam aboard the 48-passenger, colonial-style Indochine owned by CroisiVoyages, part of French-owned CroisiEurope. The eight-night cruise took in part of the 2,710-mile Mekong (or Mother) River – Southeast Asia’s longest river – and Tonle Sap, the region’s largest freshwater lake.

      Here are five reasons to take a cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh city (or in reverse).

      1. Spectacular Sights. Pack plenty of memory cards and don’t forget your charger as there are unique and amazing sights every step of the way. Cambodia’s Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire and the world’s largest religious complex. The jewel in the crown is the imposing Angkor Wat temple (it’s well worth getting up early to watch the sunrise). Nearby, almost hidden in the tropical jungle, is Ta Prohm (used in the movie “Tomb Raider”), where tree roots are entwined with the temple buildings.

      Away from the main tourist attractions, I took countless photos of everyday street (and river) life, from the fishermen who live with their families in floating houses to bustling villages and crowded cities where street traders sell everything from food to gas syphoned into soda bottles!

      Four more reasons to cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam

        Hot on the Forums: Comical Cruise Complaints

        November 21, 2014 | By | 16 Comments

        Complaints Department - image courtesy of Shutterstock

        Side-splitting comedians may be on the bill, but look no further than the guest relations desk for a rich source of (unofficial) cruise ship entertainment. Blissfully unaware of their audience, passengers grumble long – and loud – about their perceived “complaints.” I once witnessed an irate couple, outraged that the two cases of wine they’d brought with their luggage had been confiscated, demand that the cruise line fork out the airfare to ship their banned booty back home (instead it was returned to them at the end of the voyage, as it would be for anyone else).

        It’s this kind of thing that comes up in a very amusing thread started by forum member johhnnyt who asks: “What is the funniest complaint you ever heard (or overheard) at guest relations?”

        On an excursion to Nice, he witnessed a woman throwing a fit because she didn’t expect to be on a bus for an hour. “The guide explained to her they couldn’t turn the bus around just for her,” johhnnyt wrote. “She then insisted she and her husband be left in the next town ‘and we’ll arrange our own transportation back to the ship’.”

        “The next day she was down at guest relations, demanding that the guide be fired for ignoring her and that she be reimbursed €400 for the money that it cost her to hire a boat to bring her back to the ship (although she had misplaced the receipt). The people at guest relations tried their best to calm her down, but explained to her that neither request was going to happen, since they didn’t do anything wrong. Fellow passengers who were in line at guest relations could not stop laughing, which no doubt infuriated her even more.”

        More comical complaints

          Just Back From… Quantum of the Seas: 6 Cool Things about the Cabins

          November 20, 2014 | By | 6 Comments

          Owner's Suite with Balcony - Bed in master bedroom - Quantum of the Seas

          Cruises can be frustrating at time, mostly because of little things. Like having to stumble to the desk to check the time on my phone when I wake up at night.

          Why do I have to stumble to the desk, when there’s a bedside stand close by? As frequent cruisers know, there’s never a convenient outlet there. And speaking of outlets, there’s never enough of them. Between my traveling companion and myself, we have two cell phones, one laptop, possibly two cameras and, sometimes, a tablet, all of which need to be charged.

          So it was, with much excitement, that I discovered a bedside outlet in my cabin on Quantum of Seas. The cabin also has two USB charging outlets along with the usual electrical outlets by the desk.

          Those two elements weren’t the only small touches I discovered in the cabin during my four days on the ship — small touches that allowed me to “live” in my cabin more similarly to how I live at home. Here, in no particular order, are six cabin details on Quantum of the Seas that make a huge difference.

          USB Charging Outlets: No more needing to use one of the only two electrical outlets for charging my phone. Instead, I was able to plug in directly to one of the two USB outlets located by the desk. I think I heard angels singing as my phone and camera battery charged, while at the same time I typed away on my also-plugged-in laptop.

          Five more conveniences in Quantum’s cabins

            Steal of the Week: Star Clippers Waives Supplements, Gives OBC for Holidays

            November 20, 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: Star Clippers is offering holiday bonuses including waived single supplements, onboard credit and extra amenities onboard select sailings of Royal Clipper and Star Clipper this season.
            WHAT WE LOVE: Holiday deals add an additional layer of cheer on an already festive sailing. Solo travelers can put single supplements out of their minds and use that extra cash to treat themselves, and passengers in double occupancy cabins are treated to $250 in onboard credit per person (not cabin!) to enjoy on the ship, as well as complimentary Champagne and sweets, served on each holiday sailing. If you’re on the Royal Clipper’s New Year’s sailing, a free one-hour massage is included to ring in 2015 relaxed.
            WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The holidays are coming up quickly, so these are last-minute deals, and the small, upscale line of tall ships doesn’t run cheap. If a luxury cruise is in the cards (or you care to trade all the kids’ presents in and sail towards the Caribbean sunset), then these added amenities are appealing, especially without the single supplement that solo cruisers are used to forking over. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s on offer — the drinks, massages and onboard credit are nice, but not on every holiday cruise, and only if you can afford full cruise fare.
            HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on this deal (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 Back from… Quantum of the Seas: Two70

              November 19, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

              The Two70 Lounge on Quantum of the Seas - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

              Much about the Quantum of the Seas smart ship coverage has focused on the robot bartenders in the Bionic Bar. And that’s understandable (I had visions of the bar in Star Wars before I boarded).

              But the real tech wows of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship are, in my opinion, “Vistarama” and the “roboscreens” in Two70. This space at the back of the ship is where cutting-edge technology is being pioneered.

              The double-height space has an enormous window, which takes up the whole of the back wall. Press a button and a screen slides down, transforming into Vistarama – an ultra-HD screen more than 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Vistarama’s 12k resolution is nearly twice that of any IMAX cinema and can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.

              On my sailing, I sat in on a tech talk with Nick Weir, the Brit-born vice president of entertainment at Royal Caribbean, who has overseen the 14-month project. He was understandably keen to show off some of the techno wizardry on offer, and during the afternoon demo we saw a Zeppelin balloon animation, a giant musical fish tank and a large red curtain, pulled apart to reveal a stage.

              Read about the tech behind Two70

                Wanderlust Wednesday: Back to the Future

                November 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

                City of Arts and Sciences Complex, Valencia, Spain - photo courtesy of Delray2002/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 handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!

                Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences is one of a number of stops along Oceania Cruises’ Majestic Masterpieces itineraries. A mecca of art, culture and entertainment, it’s a must-see if sailing to the Spanish city. We love this shot taken by Cruise Critic member Delray2002 on a recent cruise aboard Oceania Nautica.

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