Although many people think that Australia and New Zealand are the same, the island nations coexist in the South Pacific as close neighbors with completely different personalities. Aussies and Kiwis enjoy a healthy sibling rivalry on the sporting field, but New Zealand has its own distinct offerings that cannot be compared to Australia's. The Maori culture is one of the strongest in all of Polynesia, and if you've seen the breathtaking, sweeping vistas portrayed in blockbuster movies like "Lord of the Rings," you won't be disappointed; this is where they were filmed. The early Polynesian inhabitants called New Zealand "Aotearoa," which means "The Land of the Long White Cloud." Ever since European traders and whalers arrived in the late eighteenth century, it has retained a reputation for being ruggedly beautiful and mysterious, a land of geysers and glaciers that's a fusion of Maori and British. The country is neatly packaged up in two halves. The North and South islands are separated by the Cook Strait, which is just more than 19 kilometers wide at its narrowest point. The North Island is more heavily populated, featuring bigger cities that include Auckland and the nation's capital, Wellington. The South Island is the true star of the show, with its wide-open spaces, spectacular mountains, lakes and glaciers. From the Bay of Islands at the top of the North Island to dramatic Fiordland in the far south, cruising New Zealand opens up a world of natural wonders and reveals a vibrant culture. It's also one of the safest countries in which to travel, with efficient airline networks, generally good roads, and excellent healthcare, and emergency and hospital facilities.
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Called "AzAmazing Evenings," Azamara's nighttime excursions take destination immersion one step further, giving cruisers exclusive access to attractions and performances that offer a glimpse into the local culture in a way they'd never get on their own.
Romance and cruising would seem to go hand in hand, particularly if you've spotted any of the cruise lines' advertisements showing photos of couples snuggling at the bow at sunset, or sipping orange juice on their private veranda in bathrobes, or even -- and this one we have a hard time believing -- spending time alone on a deserted beach with their mega-ship anchored in the background. Advertisements notwithstanding, cruising can be one of the most romantic vacation options, but choosing the right cruise line and, even more specifically, the right ship within the fleet, can be a challenge. You don't want that sunset marred by crowds on deck, the romance of a dinner for two killed by the whiny kids at the next table or a cozy evening ruined by cramped cabins with minimal amenities. For our top picks, we looked at criteria that we would deem universally romantic: ships that offer cabins with private balconies, great bathrooms and extra-special amenities; options for dining a deux; cozy nooks and date-night venues; and almost-private open-deck spaces for relaxing by day and stargazing by night. Here are our favorite ships for celebrating or rekindling romance with your sweetheart.
If you've got a reason why you couldn't possibly like cruising, we can guarantee we've heard it before. And while not every cruise ship or type of cruise will suit every vacationer out there, the explanations people give for why they'd dislike a vacation at sea are generally unfounded. In fact, we'd bet that for every excuse, a cruise line exists that proves the stereotype wrong. That's because cruise ships and itineraries come in all shapes and sizes, and not as cookie-cutter as the uninitiated might fear. If you think there can't possibly be a cruise you'd like -- or have a friend or relation who feels that way -- here are our favorite cruise lines for non-cruisers that defy cliches and win over skeptics.
Cruise ship buffets -- you either love the smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat fare and the uber-casual setting, or you hate the crowds, queues and food that's sat out a bit too long. Whether you're a fan or not, you have to admit that some cruise lines have put more effort into their pool deck dining venues than others. Our favorite buffets stand out from the rest with countless cuisine options, pleasant dining areas, helpful staff and a navigable layout, often with separate self-service stations. Feast your eyes on the five best cruise ship buffets you'll find at sea.
Both Azamara Club Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises started their ventures with small fleets of intimate ships. While Azamara has stayed small with three ships, Viking has rapidly expanded in recent years and now has five ships, with a sixth making its debut in 2019 and many more optioned for the future. Regardless of fleet size, both lines promise cruisers destination-intensive journeys including late nights and overnights in more ports of call than offered other cruise companies. So how are the two lines different and how should a cruiser interested in a smaller-ship cruise decide between the two? Read on for our look at Azamara vs. Viking.
Are you a lobster-lover? A crab connoisseur? A fish fanatic? When it comes to seafood, cruises do it right, from casual catch-of-the-day dinners to specially prepared and delivered dishes to satisfy any foodie. Check out our list of nine onboard restaurants that take cruise ship seafood to new
If a cruise ship party to you means an endless waterfall of alcohol imbibed in a pizza-patterned onesie while pillow fighting among new pals set to 24 hours of bass-thumping music, then pray you make it onto the waiting list for the annual at-sea party of a lifetime known as Holy Ship. If you're looking for a more casual party atmosphere to go with your cruise, there are plenty of fun, once-per-cruise deck parties for young and old alike. From an elegant white party and a Cuban fiesta to parties that span the decades, we round up the craziest cruise ship parties at sea so you know how to find them -- or avoid them.