Cruise Tip of the Week: Visit the Spa on a Port Day

July 22, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

Spa essentials

Tip: Cruise ship spas charge more than what you’d pay at a typical day spa. And while any massage you get on vacation is a splurge, there are ways to save. If your muscles are aching for hot stones and lavender oils, book a spa treatment on a port day. When it’s slow, spas often discount services and packages.

Full Article: Read 9 more tips for stretching your cruise dollars onboard.

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6 Best Cruise Ship Spas

Understanding Cruise Ship Spa Services

Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!

    Member Review of the Week: Regent Seven Seas Mariner

    July 21, 2015 | By | No Comments

    Saint Tropez old red tile roofs

    Cruise Ship: Regent Seven Seas Mariner

    Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

    Member: halobill

    Background: Between premium steaks and refreshing cocktails by the pool, halobill felt wined and dined on his second Regent sailing thanks to a solo traveler deal he couldn’t pass up. The ship — which made its way from Venice to Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, France and Monaco — had a friendly, attentive staff and relaxing vibe with lively nights. Read on for his highlights.

    Onboard Highlight: His balcony suite. Halobill also tipped his stewards on the first day and felt very well taken care of.

    Port Highlight: Wine tastings in Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice and Saint Tropez. (Keep in mind: Regent’s shore excursions are included in the cruise fare.)

    Don’t Miss: Poolside barbecue nights, one of which featured a band that led to singing and dancing throughout the night.

    Watch Out For: Certain ports are prone to rougher seas, so don’t be surprised if your captain skips a port for safety reasons. (Halobill missed out on Sicily.)

    More: Read halobill’s full review, and browse future cruises on Seven Seas Mariner.

    For their efforts, halobill, Norguy, CruisingMommyT, Bowman1 and ryndam 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.

    Check out more cruise reviews or write your own. Who knows; yours may be featured next!

      10 Dos and Don’ts for Throwing a Nautical Theme Party

      July 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

      nautical theme party

      Summertime. It’s enough of an excuse to host a nautical theme party for you and your fellow cruise-lovers, but throwing a great soiree requires work. Sure, you can Google a “how to” list that tells you the basics, like setting a date and knowing how much food to order, but it most likely won’t remind you to get ice so your punch doesn’t taste like bath water or to shower before your guests start showing up.

      Here at Cruise Critic HQ, we put our nautical theme party-throwing skills to the test.

      Determining the nautical theme for the party was a no-brainer. As for the time and location, one of our staffers gladly volunteered her home, which even came with a mascot (more on that later). Online shopping for decorations was the fun part. And while the party was a success, we hit some rough seas along the way.

      If you want to plan your own nautical theme party, read our 10 dos and don’ts to avoid losing your mind — and blowing your budget.

      Nautical Theme Decor

      Do: Reflect on past cruises for ideas. The anchor theme never fails for tableware and accessories, but mix it up. We found an easy-to-hang ocean wall print ($18) that was both a fun design and backdrop for pictures.

      Don’t: Overlook product details like size and quantity. We learned the hard way when the life ring we thought was full size looked like something out of an American Girl doll catalog.

      Read on for more

        Hot on the Forums: Can You Bear to Leave Your Pets at Home?

        July 17, 2015 | By | 9 Comments

        woman and her dog

        As an animal lover, I’ve been on many a cruise where the dinner table conversation has turned to four-legged friends and my dining companions have pulled out photographic evidence of cute cats, delightful dogs and more exotic creatures including parrots, reptiles and chinchillas.

        Although I have always been happy to set sail and leave members of my menagerie in the capable hands of friends, I was interested to read a thread on Cruise Critic members who can hardly bear to leave their creature chums ashore and, in some cases, even cruise solo so their other half can stay behind to look after them.

        The discussion was started by member rjrice1 who admits to having a tough time saying goodbye to her animals. She’s so concerned about their well-being that she gets a neighbor to check on them four times a day.

        From the length of the thread, she’s certainly not alone. And, in the case of parrotfeathers, she’s the one who ends up alone.

        “Animals are the reason my hubby and I do not vacation together,” she says.

        Read on for more

          Steal of the Week: Free NASCAR Theme Cruise

          July 16, 2015 | By | No Comments

          piggy bank on wheels
          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: If you’re a NASCAR fan, this free motorsports theme cruise onboard Carnival Ecstasy is the perfect match. Just pay $299 per person, which includes port fees, taxes and gratuities, and you’re on your way to a four-night Bahamas cruise with NASCAR drivers and loads of entertainment.
          WHAT WE LOVE: Carnival does short sailings well, and this four-night theme cruise is no exception. From $75 per night, be part of the first inaugural motorsports cruise; leave from Miami in early December — a prime time to take a winter vacation — and cruise to Nassau and Freeport with NASCAR drivers onboard. While you’re paying fees, taxes and tips, you’re not actually paying a cruise fare if you reserve an available cabin by July 31. Included in your cruise vacation is a Q&A with the drivers, a pit road fan experience (competitive games with drivers and other passengers), live music including Ricky Skaggs, and of course meals and other onboard entertainment.
          WHAT GIVES US PAUSE: As the first theme cruise of its kind, there’s always room for some kinks along the way. Unless you’re onboard to interact with other NASCAR fans and participate in the events, this might not be the sailing for you. Ecstasy is an older ship without many of Carnival’s more modern Fun Ship 2.0 additions — no specialty restaurants, no RedFrog pub or rum bar. If you’ve sailed before, you’ve more than likely seen Nassau, but it’s still a good excuse for some fun in the sun.
          Check out our professional photo gallery of Carnival Breeze.
          HOW TO BOOK IT For all the nitty-gritty on these deals (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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            Cruise Tip of the Week: Choose Your Cabin Wisely

            July 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

            Quantum of the Seas Virtual Balcony

            Tip: When booking a cruise, you’re able to select where you want to stay from a map of all the cabins. But how do you know which one to choose? For starters, it’s good to know which cabins to avoid. For example: You might be set on an inside cabin, but make sure it’s midship if you’re prone to seasickness. Ship movement is less likely to be felt in cabins closer to the interior and on a lower deck.

            Full Article: Read 5 more cruise ship cabins to avoid.

            Want More?: Check out our related links below for more info, tips and advice.

            – Check out our latest cruise deals

            – Sign up for Cruise Critic’s Price Drop. We’ll let you know when fares are dramatically reduced so you can get the best price for your sailing.

            5 Ways to Get a Cruise Ship Cabin Upgrade

            How to Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin

            Tips to Avoid Seasickness

            Stay tuned for more Cruise Tips of the Week — revealed every Wednesday!

              Q and A with Kate McCue, the Cruise Industry’s First American Female Captain

              July 14, 2015 | By | 20 Comments

              Kate McCue

              Celebrity Cruises broke down boundaries this week by naming Kate McCue the new captain of Celebrity Summit. At 37, McCue is the first American female to captain a mega-cruise ship and will take the helm of Summit in August. We asked her a few questions about her favorite sailing destination, the ships that she’s worked on, and what she thinks about being an industry pioneer.

              Q: Congrats on your new gig! How long have you been with Celebrity and/or Royal Caribbean?

              A: I have been working for Royal Caribbean International for 12 years. I started on one of the smaller ships as 2nd Officer and worked my way up to the larger ships.

              Q: Which ships have you sailed on in the fleets?

              A: Nordic Empress, Brilliance of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas.  When I take over the Celebrity Summit, it will be my first Celebrity ship!

              Read on for more

                Member Review of the Week: Celebrity Reflection

                July 14, 2015 | By | No Comments


                Cruise Ship: Celebrity Reflection

                Itinerary: Eastern Mediterranean

                Member: LA_Girl

                Background: One night at a little boutique hotel in Rome was the perfect start to LA_Girl’s 11-night cruise through Italy, Greece and Turkey. She and her other half stayed in an Aqua Class cabin, enjoying perks like exclusive access to her favorite restaurant, while gravitating toward a few other restaurants and bars. Read on to see where she spent most of her time.

                Onboard Highlight: The Martini Bar. LA_Girl only wishes it was double the size!

                Port Highlight: Santorini. (Heading to Greece? Read our 8 tips for cruising during the financial crisis.)

                Don’t Miss: Mojitos at the Passport Bar.

                Watch Out For: If you’re the active type, bear in mind there are no rock-climbing walls or mini-golf. So be prepared for a more relaxed vibe on sea days.

                More: Read LA_Girl’s full review, browse future cruises on Celebrity Reflection or take a photo tour of the ship.

                For their efforts, LA_Girl, ccrain, BellaStella, kicker and KellyGA 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.

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                  The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

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