Popular Crystal Cruise Articles
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Set at the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa teems with travelers' temptations: safaris, wine country, beaches, tribal culture and multicultural cities. The biggest dilemma for any visitor here is not in wanting for choice, but in making the tough decisions on just what to
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.
Cruise ship spas have changed dramatically since the days when massages were offered in converted laundry rooms. Today they're multimillion-dollar industries, offering an array of exotic treatments to ease just about any ill or simply pamper you into relaxed bliss.
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.
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.
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.
Women are heading out on solo adventures more than ever before, and cruises for women traveling alone are as varied as the reasons that women take them. A cruise is a favorable vacation option for solo travelers because you have a built-in community with at least one shared interest: cruising. Single women can cruise in groups, with friends or independently -- and there are sailings to match each occasion. Whether you're planning a girls getaway or some alone time at sea, we've hand-picked a few of the best cruises for single women to connect, relax or recharge.
As cruise ships become larger and lines compete to offer the most innovative onboard amenities, cruise ship sun decks are undergoing revolutionary changes. Cruise lines are designing pool areas that mirror land resorts, the best of which have always offered fabulous recreation and sunning areas. Modern, multi-pool complexes -- including innovative new rides, waterslides and movie screens rising several decks -- are standard features on new and updated cruise ships. Here are a few of the hottest trends:
Cruise line cancellation policies are complex and inconsistent industrywide, and not always forgiving to travelers who need to abandon their vacation plans at the last minute. To help you out, Cruise Critic has taken a close look at the cancellation policies and penalties for 18 of the world's top cruise lines. As you peruse them, it's wise to keep the following in mind.