Steal of the Week: Carnival Triple Play

April 2, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

piggy bank sailing worldwide
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: Carnival Cruise Line is offering free cabin upgrades, discounts on cruise fare and $50 in onboard credit per cabin when you book select sailings by April 5.
WHAT WE LOVE: Perfectly timed for a holiday weekend, Carnival’s newest promotion offers discounted sailings with the possibility of a complimentary room upgrade and a little extra cash to spend onboard. Sailings are as early as April and run through the summer to the end of August, making it a perfect time to book a quick spring or summer cruise vacation. With nightly fares from $55 per person, and Carnival Live sailings offered (catch a Styx concert at sea), the selection is plentiful and itineraries span a great variety of length, destination, homeports and ships.
WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: The cleverly titled Triple Play does offer a few bonus incentives, but doesn’t include the high-value amenities of some other cruise line promotions. Sailings are significantly cheaper, but only certain dates are available, and with sailings so close, cancellation penalties may apply. You have the ability to select your stateroom, but a minimum purchase of category 4A is required, so check your booking closely before you make your final selections and make them by April 5. Atlantic hurricane season begins in June, so be weary of where you’re headed in the Caribbean.
HOW TO BOOK IT: For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (including that pesky fine print), click here.
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    10 More Things Americans Should Know About Cruising to Cuba

    April 1, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

    City Hall in Santiago de Cuba.

    Chris Gray Faust, an American, is back from a cruise to Cuba with the Canadian line Cuba Cruise. Here are 10 more things that Americans should know before they board (read her first installment).

    1. Set your expectations, shipwise.

    Louis Cristal is not a new ship — and while the ship’s Greek and Cuban crew keep it in good condition, the vessel can’t compete with the shiny newbuilds many Americans are used to. Only a handful of cabins have balconies, for example, the fitness center is tiny and the buffet is not the expansive spread you’d see on a Princess ship. If you require pampering in luxurious surroundings, this cruise is not for you.

    Read on for more.

      Wanderlust Wednesday: Cruising Down Under

      April 1, 2015 | By | No Comments

      Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia (demandpub/Cruise Critic Forums)

      Destination: Sydney, Australia

      Why Go?: You can’t miss Sydney if you’re cruising Down Under. The capital of New South Wales is both a starting and ending point for ships that sail to Australia and New Zealand. Don’t miss a tour of the Opera House, a stroll through historic Rocks or the 3.5-hour trek up the Sydney Harbour Bridge for an unbeatable view.

      Member: demandpub

      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!

      Find interesting places to visit based on region.

       

      Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.

       

      Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

        April 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper: Springtime in Europe

        March 31, 2015 | By | No Comments

        Cruise ship docking in the port of Marseilles, France. Shutterstock

        Get your April 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! With the Euro at record lows against the dollar, we’re dreaming of spring on the Continent. So it’s the perfect time to put this shot of a cruise ship docking in the port of Marseilles, France, on your desktop.

        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 | 1200 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile

        Check back on April 30 for the May 2015 calendar.

          Member Review of the Week: Spring Break Sun, Sand & Solitude

          March 31, 2015 | By | No Comments

          Labadee

          Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas

          Itinerary: Western Caribbean

          Member: kinesiologynerd

          Background: A pair of empty deck chairs and two pina coladas were calling kinesiologynerd’s and his girlfriend’s name, when the college couple snagged a Spring Break deal on Independence of the Seas. As first time cruisers, they decided to test the waters in an inside cabin, with “my time dining,” a beverage package and a couple private shore excursions. Read on to see what they loved and learned.

          Onboard Highlight: Sprinkles, the complimentary soft-serve venue conveniently next to the pool.

          Port Highlight: Although they were greeted with a morning rain shower in Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island still won their hearts. Kinesiologynerd specially loved the barbecue and drinks included in their package.

          Don’t Miss: Lounging on the Promenade Deck; it tends to be less crowded than the pool area, if you’re seeking a quieter spot to sunbathe.

          Watch Out For: Frozen drinks by the pool, which kinesiologynerd felt weren’t blended well. Tip: Order your frozen drink from an inside bar, and then bring it out on deck with you.

          More: Read kinesiologynerd’s full review for more details about Independence of the Seas and their private shore tours.

          For their efforts, kinesiologynerd, schul296, swagsherman, mljatsea and CORealtor receive Cruise Critic logo items.

          Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week.

          Read more reviews or write your own cruise review.

            10 Things Americans Should Know About Cruising to Cuba

            March 30, 2015 | By | 5 Comments

            Havana, Cuba

            It wasn’t all that long ago that traveling to Cuba seemed like a pipe dream, at least for the average American. For more than 50 years, the U.S. trade embargo against the Caribbean’s largest island meant that even as the rest of the world could experience Cuba’s beaches, culture and music, Americans were shut out.

            No longer. In January, President Obama lessened the restrictions on travel between the two countries, making it far easier for Americans to take trips (for more on what the current status is, read our Cuba Cruising Q&A). Although the embargo will have to be lifted in its entirety for large American-owned cruise ships to add Havana as a port of call, smaller cruise ships run by international companies already call upon the island.

            Read on for more

              Cruise Shipping Miami: A Glimpse of What’s to Come

              March 27, 2015 | By | No Comments

              Cruise Shipping Miami Show Floor

              Cruise Shipping Miami is the world’s biggest gathering of who’s who in the cruise industry. Held every year in March, the three-day event brings together cruise line executives, media, speakers, port representatives, ship builders and retailers to talk about pretty much every aspect of cruising. A highlight is the event floor, held in the massive Miami Convention Center. Here, you can get lost exploring the hundreds of booths that show off things like the latest technology and trends in shipbuilding. Parties break out regularly, with ports bringing in live music and dancers — and often cocktails. Our pedometer showed we put in an average of 11,000 steps each day checking out the coolest concepts last week.

              Highlights from Cruise Shipping Miami

                Hot on the Forums: Would You ask a Butler to Unpack your Clothes?

                March 27, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

                Regent Seven Seas butler service

                For most of us any day-to-day experience of butlers is what we’ve watched on TV – Jeeves, Mr Carson from “Downton Abbey”, Mr Hudson in “Upstairs, Downstairs” and Lady Penelope’s Parker (“You rang, m’lady?”).

                However, these days butlers aren’t just confined to stately homes, and you’re just as likely to encounter a butler on an ocean or river cruise if you splash out on a suite. Which leads to a question in the forums from Cruise Critic member LouisV – is it OK to ask your butler to unpack?

                “For those of you who have been fortunate enough to have butler service on your cruise, do you have your butler unpack your luggage or not? We’ve splurged for a penthouse on our upcoming September cruise and I’m trying to decide…I wouldn’t want to be seen as a demanding person. It would just be such a novelty for us!”

                (For guidance, here’s Cruise Critic’s take on what cruise ship butlers will do for you).

                We all know butlers are the epitome of discretion, but if you’re not to the manor born, do you relish the idea of someone sorting out your clothes?

                Read on for more

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