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.
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Cruise ships offer an exceptionally restful night's sleep, and it's not just the waves rocking you back and forth that does it. Many cruise lines have chosen to make a significant investment in the mattresses and bedding found in their cruise ship cabins. From pillow menus and branded partnerships to exclusive mattress materials, cruise lines take sleep seriously. If you want an incredible night's sleep on your vacation -- and the inside scoop on how to bring cruise-style slumber into your own home -- read on to discover which cruise ship beds are the best at sea.
Main dining rooms are a cruising staple. You'll find one on just about every ship -- a large, opulent space with a wedding reception feel that serves as the "default" dinner venue for most passengers. The meals are included in your cruise fare, and there's typically no limit to how much you can order. Foodies, however, tend to be underwhelmed. Main dining rooms aren't known to offer the best quality, which is why a number of passengers opt to splurge on specialty restaurants. On the flip side, there are a handful of main dining rooms that whip up some pretty drool-worthy dishes, making it hard to ever skip a night. If you have a picky palate and a sweet tooth for tradition, these six best cruise ship main dining rooms are sure to whet your appetite.
Food is to cruising as water is to the ocean. It's essential; a cruise just wouldn't be a cruise without vast amounts of delicious goodies. Although some cruise lines are jumping aboard the health food craze bandwagon, there are still plenty of sinful options available, not the least of which are
Even the healthiest cruisers sometimes crave the juicy beef and tasty toppings afforded by a great hamburger. That's why we've decided to call out cruise lines that boast the best burgers the industry has to offer. Some are free, and some require you to hand over a bit of extra dough, but all are superb. (Don't worry, vegetarians; there are some options for you, too.)
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 sun decks are much more than a simple place to swim and sunbathe. Modern top-of-the-ship activity centers can feature multiple pools and hot tubs, water parks with slides and splash zones, outdoor movie screens, active pursuits (ropes courses, ziplines, rock climbing walls and surf simulators) and serene, adults-only lounge spaces. And you're never far from a place to grab a drink or bite to eat. If outdoor relaxation and entertainment are priorities when choosing a cruise, check out our favorite cruise ship pool decks.
If you're like me, your inbox is flooded daily with cruise line emails advertising amazing sales that will save you money. Free this, free that, BOGO (Buy One Get One) half off, discounts of 50, no 60, no 75 percent off prevailing rates. Your inner bargain hunter starts itching to snag that deal, while the killjoy skeptic on your other shoulder is whispering, "This sale is too good to be true." Which is it? If the offer is coming from the cruise line or a travel agent, it's not a scam -- you will be able to book a cruise. But the deal, as advertised, might be misleading. Promises of huge discounts might not actually result in the cheapest cruise fare you've ever seen, and fees hidden in the fine print can bump up the price you pay. To cut through the confusion, we take a look at some of the most common cruise line offers to uncover what's really on offer. Scam or deal -- the only thing that matters is what price the cruise line or travel agency is asking, and whether you're willing to pay it.
Spend any time on Cruise Critic's message boards and you'll see one question raised over and over again: "Which cruise line is better for me -- Regent Seven Seas Cruises or Oceania Cruises?" It's natural for travelers to be curious about the merits of one cruise line over another -- especially when those two lines in question are owned and managed by the same parent company (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.). It's true that Regent and Oceania share many of the same values. They both strive to provide excellent service, focus on exceeding your culinary expectations and devise cruise itineraries that explore all corners of the globe. But there are also some key differences. Let's delve into what makes each cruise line special.
If you're luxury cruise shopping, it's not surprising that at some point in your research you'd ask yourself, "Should I pick Oceania Cruises or Silversea?" While Oceania doesn't come to the table with the same all-inclusive cruise fare structure that Silversea does, it's a solid competitor in terms of ship choice, well-designed cabins and suites, exemplary dining venues, shore tours, spa services, and onboard activities and entertainment. Which cruise line and ship you ultimately select will depend upon some personal choices like where you want to go, the size of the ship you prefer, whether you want an alcohol-inclusive experience, how many shore excursions you plan to take, and what sort of onboard activities you find rewarding. Read on to drill down into the nitty-gritty of each cruise line to determine which is the best match for your cruise style.