Wanderlust Wednesday: Table for Two

January 7, 2015 | By | No Comments

Copala, Sinaloa, Mexico - photo courtesy of SWACK/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!

Feeling romantic? We love the idea of fleeing the tourist crowds to dine at a quaint, charming restaurant among the locals. Thanks to Cruise Critic member SWACK for this photo taken in Copala, Sinaloa, Mexico during a cruise excursion. The old silver-mining town is an easy trek from Mazatlan, beckoning travelers with its mountain views, rich history and artsy cobblestone streets.

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    Just Back From… The Relaunched National Geographic Orion

    January 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

    National Geographic Orion

    The 102-passenger expedition vessel Orion, once known for offering “champagne adventure” through Orion Expedition Cruises, is now in the hands of stalwart small ship operator, Lindblad Expeditions. Affiliated with National Geographic, the ship’s onboard experience has certainly changed, with caviar more likely to be looked at under a microscope than scooped up with a water cracker.

    Here are some of the changes that have taken place since Lindblad took over the ship:

    1. Emphasis on Enrichment

    While the lecture theatre is currently closed for renovation, Lindblad’s trademark ‘recaps’ and briefings take place in a converted main saloon, which has had large flatscreen TVs installed and a central ‘pulpit’ added for the presenter.

    Read on for more

      Member Review of the Week: Feeling Adventurous

      January 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

      photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises

      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 flydc‘s recent cruise to the Galapagos Islands aboard Silversea Cruises’ Silver Galapagos.

      Overall Impression: Trading Bvlgari linens and shoreside caviar outings for eco-friendly amenities and kayaks, flydc realized an expedition cruise isn’t for everyone. Silversea’s rugged, adventure-driven style of cruising may have been a far cry from the sheer relaxation flydc was used to, but that’s one of the reasons he loved it.

      Onboard Highlight: Local seafood — in particularly, the fresh ceviche served daily.

      Port Highlight: Flydc loved the challenging hikes for which he opted, and Silversea’s expedition team played a huge role in his unforgettable experience. Tip: Activities range from fairly easy to difficult, so choose wisely.

      Don’t Miss: Taking the zodiac out for some deep-water snorkeling.

      Watch Out For: Your expectations. Research thoroughly, and make sure you’re aware of the differences between expedition and standard cruises.

      More: Read flydc’s full review for more details about the cabins, food and life in the Galapagos Islands.

      For their efforts, flydc, carolej126, Cindy, FallFirstCruise and nordicgoddess receive Cruise Critic logo items.

      Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

        Just Back from… Voyager of the Seas: Australia Update

        January 5, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

        Voyager of the Seas in Sydney

        Australia may not be blessed with the world’s newest ships (our youngest local is the six-year-old Celebrity Solstice) but now we’ve got the next best thing: a ship with the same features as the world’s newest ships.

        After introducing sun-loving Aussies to ice-skating at sea during its maiden season down under in 2012, Voyager of the Seas returned from its late 2014 drydock with more firsts for Australia. We got onboard last month’s one-night preview cruise in Sydney with 1,400 travel agents and journalists to see what, exactly, was added for the folks Down Under. So what do we think the fare-paying locals will like – or not?

        Highlights from the Voyager of the Seas preview cruise Down Under.

          Five Reasons to Love a Holiday Cruise

          January 5, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Family holiday vacation

          When it comes to the holidays, I tend to be a creature of habit – and the apple doesn’t fall far with my kids. So after I booked our Norwegian Gem holiday cruise to the Caribbean back in August, I started second-guessing it right away. I knew New Year’s on a ship would be great, but had visions of waking up on Christmas morning to a sea of disappointed faces and homesick tears. As enticing as the idea was of escaping reality for Christmas, we’d never experienced anything but cold, cold weather and a living room littered with pine needles and wrapping paper.

          Still, the lure of having someone else do the all the cooking and entertaining for me, just this once, proved stronger than any deep-rooted desire for tradition. As our departure approached, holiday lights went up. We did a little tree. The normal gift-giving panic ensued, and the insanity of the holidays loomed large. When we finally boarded the ship, I was completely ready to get away from it all. At least if it was a disaster, I could blame someone else.

          Luckily, it was anything but. The 11 days we spent on the ship were the most relaxing, satisfying holiday vacation we’ve ever taken. We’ve had the time of our lives on a cruise that proved unlike any other we’d experienced. Now that January is here, I feel relaxed — downright refreshed! We discovered that taking a cruise over Christmas and New Year’s is a fantastic idea, even if you do it only once, and here’s why:

          Five reasons to love holiday cruises

            Hello, 2015: What’s Your Cruise Resolution?

            January 2, 2015 | By | 6 Comments

            Hello 2015 - photo courtesy of macbrianmun/Shutterstock

            Lose weight, stop smoking, get more organized: Sometimes the usual resolutions can be a bit of a bore. So why not make some cruising resolutions instead? Let 2015 be the year that you finally dare the zipline or you splurge on your first suite. With the calendar wide open, you’re free to dream.

            We here at Cruise Critic have our own cruising resolutions for 2015. Tell us your own onboard wishes for the new year in the comments.

            While I typically arrive a day early to port before a cruise when I travel personally, I generally don’t do that when I cruise for work. I’ve had enough close calls in 2014 that I’ve resolved to arrive a day early for any cruise I take, business or pleasure.

            – Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor

            After splurging on Concierge Class on Celebrity, lunching in the Haven on Norwegian Breakaway, experiencing Grill-level amenities with Cunard and paying extra for cabana service on Regal Princess, I’m curious to see what it’s like to travel on a true “luxury lite” cruise line, such as Azamara, Oceania, Regent, Silversea or Windstar. What does the extra cost get you, in terms of quality and service? This material girl wants to find out.

            – Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

            Read on for more cruise resolutions

              January 2015: Desktop Calendar

              December 31, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

              Cruise ship with starfish photo courtesy of ezpic/Shutterstock

              Get your January 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! It’s a new year, and time for some new cruising wallpaper. We hope this Caribbean vista lifts your spirits and gets you ready for whatever adventures upon the ocean that 2015 will bring.

              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 | 1920 x 1200 | Tablet | Mobile

              Check back on January 30 for the February 2015 calendar.

                2014 in Review: Best Cruise Experience

                December 30, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

                Love Boat Reunion on Regal Princess - photo by Chris Gray Faust

                Another year is winding down, and we here at Cruise Critic are taking stock of the hits, misses and outright surprises that made up our cruising year (and we invite you to share your own!)

                Today: Best Cruise Experience

                When Regal Princess debuted in May, I was fortunate enough to sail on the second leg of its inaugural sailing, out of Athens. It was the perfect combination of excellent itinerary, beautiful ship and great food. I loved the onboard vibe: sophisticated without being snobby, relaxed without being lazy. Most surprising: The ship and its staff were ready to go, which is unusual for inaugural sailings, where often there are kinks that need to be worked out. Service was excellent, and the ship was ready for primetime.

                –Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor

                Like many Americans in the early 1980s, my Saturday night routine consisted of watching Love Boat on ABC, usually while babysitting. Little did I know that my early exposure to Captain Stubing and the gang would turn into a cruising career – and that I’d get to meet them all onboard Regal Princess when the entire original cast served as godparents. The line’s christening ceremony was a lavish affair with a cavalcade of former guest stars, including Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch), Adrian Zmed (Grease 2), Marian Ross (Happy Days) and – of course – Charo. I ran around the ship with a silly grin on my face, as the pages of my Dyn-o-mite magazines came to life.

                – Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor

                More memories from 2014

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