Cruise ship bathrooms get a bad rap. They're too cramped, the shower curtains cling and there's hardly enough space for all your toiletries. Yet move beyond the cookie-cutter loos in standard staterooms, you can find incredible bathrooms onboard that give their five-star hotel counterparts a run for their money.
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Even with accommodations, meals and entertainment wrapped up in its fares, cruising can still be pricy if you're taking the entire family on an oceangoing getaway. Just when you thought that bringing the brood would break the bank, we've come up with a list of lines that let kids sail free. If the idea of free cruises for kids gets your heart racing with excitement, be aware of a few caveats: With most lines, free kids fares are only available as limited-time promotions, require applicable taxes and fees to be paid for each passenger and necessitate sharing a cabin with the junior travelers as the third and/or fourth passengers in the room. (Contact a travel agent or your cruise line for specific information before booking any cruise.)
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.
Sponsored by Crystal Cruises As our 106-passenger river ship departed Amsterdam and cruised placidly along the Rhine, on the way to Cologne, I realized I'd lost my husband. He wasn't nestled into one of the very cozy couches on the sun deck, or in the Bistro snacking on pimento cheese or even, since it was lunchtime, tucking into a multicourse meal in the restaurant. He wasn't in the pool, having a massage or -- and I knew better than to even bother to check -- in the self-serve laundromat. Ultimately, he turned up in the sprawling lounge, the ship's living room. It wasn't the only time on our cruise that I'd lose Teijo while onboard Crystal Mahler. There were just so many alluring spots onboard that begged to be explored. That's when it occurred to me: Space aboard any European river vessel is always dictated by the limitations of the river's locks and low-slung bridges. And yet, this ship, from stateroom to sun deck, felt extraordinarily spacious. It's not just the fact that the ship carries only 106 passengers on a vessel that is sized comparably to other lines that carry nearly 200 travelers. It's also that the design maximizes space, so much so that you forget that you're not on a luxury oceangoing vessel.
As you lie on a massage table, legs tucked into a soft sheet, hot stones soothing the tired muscles of your back and arms, you will most certainly not be thinking about cruise ship spa ratings. And while you relax on a heated tile lounger or in a steamy sauna, eyes drooping, thoughts of work and bills scurrying far away, you're probably not wondering about your cruise line's philosophy on its spa product. But when you sit down at your computer to research your next cruise vacation, you might very well want to know where to find the best spas at sea -- and we'll be there to help.
When Royal Caribbean's gargantuan and game-changing Oasis of the Seas debuted as the then-world's largest ship in 2009, people wondered if anyone would bother to get off the ship in port, as it could take a week to try out all the onboard activities. With 24 dining options, 21 pools and hot tubs, multiple live performance venues (including an ice rink and AquaTheater for high-diving shows) and seven "neighborhoods," the ship practically guarantees that no one will have trouble finding something to do. But you don't need to sail on a 5,400-passenger ship to get the most from your days at sea. Any ship will do if you're content to spend your onboard time passed out on a sun lounger. But if you want the right mix of activity and relaxation options, it's key to pick the right ship with enough onboard attractions and programming to keep you entertained from sun-up to sun-down. Here's our selection of the best ships for days at sea, chosen based on their variety of indoor and outdoor pursuits, plus plenty of daytime dining options. And if you need more inspiration, check out our companion piece: Top 10 Things to Do on Sea Days.
Most cruise ships limit their Japanese food offerings to premade rolls languishing on the buffet. If you want fresh sushi, sashimi and miso soup prepared on the spot, you'll need to seek out a ship with a dedicated sushi venue. When you do find them, cruise ship sushi restaurants range from casual spaces with simple "quick fix" menus to upscale venues that go beyond the limits of sushi and sashimi with lobster, steak and other fancy dishes. The majority of them are priced a la carte -- and one even offers free lunch. We've narrowed down the six best places to indulge on raw fish at sea. When the craving strikes, these sushi restaurants are bound to satisfy.
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.
Sponsored by Crystal Cruises Years ago, my extended family was in the midst of planning an exotic trip: a journey to Turkey, with a visit to Istanbul and a sail down the coast with stops at Izmir, Bodrum and Antalya. It's always good to get away, but this trip proved to be a transformation. Walking through the markets of Istanbul and bargaining over prices, touring rug factories, eating breakfasts that were so far removed from what I was accustomed to, getting into deep discussions with our tour guide and visiting ancient places I had only heard about, left me with a new sense of wonder and curiosity about the world, religion, politics and culture. It turned out that traveling to another world helped me open my eyes to new ways of living. I gained a fresh perspective of what I wanted out of my life.
Sponsored by Crystal Cruises For Carolyn Cox, the moment came when her cruise ship approached Tokyo. "Mount Fuji was out, and we were sailing straight toward it for hours. I must have taken 1,000 pictures." For Marc Sola, it might have been the day that he and a few companions left their ship and took a private tour through an art collective in Mozambique in East Africa. "It was one of the most enlightening places I've ever visited. It's extremely poor, but the creativity they used to get by in life was clearly amazing." And for Keith Steiner, it was probably the afternoon his ship cruised by the coast of Antarctica, passing by dozens of whales. "It was surreal. I felt like we were sailing on another planet." Although each of them had years of travel under their belts, taking a world cruise forever changed the way they saw the planet, providing unforgettable and indelible memories.
Sponsored by Crystal Cruises When you're shopping for a cruise, do you find yourself booking premium staterooms on big ships? Onboard, do you dine at boutique restaurants, splurge on pricy private pool sanctuaries and long for a bartender who remembers your favorite tipple? If you enjoy these kinds of splurges, why not make the jump to an ultra-luxury cruise line?
¿Cansado de no saber cuál será el precio final en tus vacaciones? Entonces es posible que desee echar un vistazo a los cruceros de lujo con todo incluido. Si bien la tarifa inicial puede ser más alta que para otros cruceros, los cruceros de lujo con todo incluido ofrecen valor al ofrecer
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.