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Latest Cruise news articles

Cruise smackdown: Disney Fantasy vs. Disney Magic

October 12, 2015

From via

Is newer better when it comes to Disney ships? Readers, we want to hear what you have to say!

In this, the sixth of our new series of Cruise Ship Smackdowns, we're pitting one of Disney Cruise Line's two new vessels, the Disney Fantasy, against one of its original two ships, the Disney Magic.

Click through the photo tours of the two vessels in the carousels above and below, then go the comment area to tell us: Which one would you prefer for a cruise vacation -- and why?

Walter Christen's insight:

Other than the size difference of the ships and what resort-like attractions are available on each, I do not think you could go wrong sailing on either the Disney Fantasy or Disney Magic. Either ship will provide many great memories for the entire family.


The Northern Lights put on a majestic display for guests aboard Hurtigruten’s Vesteralen during a cruise along Norway’s coast from Bergen to Kirkenes.

Norway coast cruise offers a lot to do

October 11, 2015

From via

The dining room doors swing open and passengers swarm to the Arctic Buffet, an elegant send-off for those leaving the ship next morning. On offer is the bounty of the north, from reindeer in cream sauce to fresh Greenland halibut, and tables of desserts from cheesecake to cloudberries and cream.

I’m set to dig in when the public-address system interrupts the meal. The captain, we’re told, has spotted the northern lights. After five cloudy nights on our winter voyage, the celebrated aurora borealis that lured passengers to Norway in the dead of winter has finally made an appearance.

What to do? Feast on a gourmet spread or partake in a celestial wonder?

I take a bite of smoked sea trout, and make my choice. Dinner can wait. I head to the windswept deck.

Walter Christen's insight:

It is one of my dreams to see and photograph the northern lights. Preferably on a cruise ship. A cruise of Norway aboard Hurtigruten is on my list of cruises to plan. The shore excursions sound like they would be fun and educational and varied enough for people of differing physical abilities.



Carnival Corp. Expands in Cozumel

October 9, 2015

From via

Carnival Corporation – the company that owns 10 different cruise brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard Line, and Princess Cruises – has invested more than $20 million to add a new berth at Puerta Maya, the company’s destination in Cozumel, Mexico.

Now, three ships can visit what’s already the Caribbean’s most popular cruise destination at the same time. In 2014, about 1.5 million passengers traveling on 25 different ships from six of Carnival Corporation’s cruise lines visited Puerta Maya – when only two berths were operating.


Walter Christen's insight:

I have been to Cozumel more time than I would like to count. I do remember last year seeing this new pier being built. It will be interesting to see how this added capacity will do for the local economy.

My favorite activity in Cozumel is to go snorkeling but the next cruise that I am going on that has a Cozumel stop, my wife and I will be taking a island tour.



The Brandenburg Gate in the Moabit section of Berlin is a former city gate, rebuilt in the late 1700s as a neoclassical triumphal arch. It's one of Germany's best-known landmarks.

Navigating cultural change: A Baltic Sea cruise to Berlin and St. Petersburg

October 7, 2015

From via

A Baltic Sea cruise to St. Petersburg, Russia’s historic showplace, offers wonders galore, punctuated by breathtaking onboard views of dramatic Nordic coastlines. But I had a specific mission in mind for the seven-day voyage my wife, Eileen, and I took there this August — one that began with an excursion to Berlin. As a former U.S. Army cold warrior 45 years ago, briefly based in what was then West Germany, I aimed to make some sense of the vast changes in Europe since the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Thanks to cultural insights gleaned in Germany’s stately gem of a capital, and in Russia’s glittering “second city,” with its ornate czarist palaces filled with artistic treasures, we returned to the United States feeling far more knowledgeable about the country that Winston Churchill famously called “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” For this, we also give a nod to our local tour guides as well as the ship’s lecturers.

Walter Christen's insight:

A Baltic Cruise is on my bucket list and after reading this article, I may have to bump it up in priority. This cruise aboard Crystal Cruise LinesSymphony cruise ship seems like the ideal way to see this region in a immersive way.


Envelope please ... the best cruise lines of 2015

October 6, 2015

From via

River cruises have become the rock stars of the cruise industry, so it’s no surprise to see a river cruise line’s first ocean vessel take home first prize in the latest cruise awards.

The industry site Cruise Critic announced today that the Viking Star is the Best New Ocean Ship in its 2015 Editors’ Choice Awards. The understated boutique hotel feel of the Viking Star is in contrast with last year’s flashier, high-tech Best New Ship winner, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

For the first time, Cruise Critic also released a separate set of river cruise awards, with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection taking home Best River Cruise Line and Best Shore Excursions, and Uniworld’s Maria Theresa winning Best New River Ship.

Walter Christen's insight:

Some of the catagories for 2015 include

Best new ocean ship - Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star (you have to love the infinity pool)

Best entertaiment - Royal Caribbean

Best suites - Royal Caribbean

Best for Families - Royal Caribbean (suprised this was not Disney Cruise Lines again)

Best standard cabins - MSC Cruises

Best inside cabins - Disney Cruise Line

Best value - Carnival Cruise Line

Best for luxury - Crystal Cruises

Best dining - Celebrity Cruises

Best Shore excursions - Azamara Club Cruises

Best nightlife - Norwegian Cruise Line

Best for romance - Windstar Cruises

I can see no fault in the selections made for 2015 although I am surprised that Disney did not get the best family cruise line.

Do you agree or disagree?


Oceania Cruises' next ship to feature Tuscan steak house

October 3, 2015

From via

Oceania Cruises is planning two new eateries for the ship it's taking over from Princess Cruises in April.

The 684-passenger Sirena will feature a new-for-the-line Italian restaurant called Tuscan Steak that will serve steaks and seafood with a Tuscan flair. The line says it'll be inspired by the traditional steak house Polo Grill and Italian eatery Toscana that are found on other Oceania ships.

Also new on Sirena will be a version of the contemporary Asian-inspired restaurant Red Ginger that's found on Oceania's two newest ships, Marina and Riviera.

In addition, Oceania plans to transform the Sirena's Grand Dining Room into a Jacques Bistro for lunch. The French eatery created by famed chef and Oceania executive culinary director Jacques Pépin also is found on Marina and Riviera.

Walter Christen's insight:

Oceania is planning many new dining venues to the Sirena as it is remodeled and overhauled before going into service next year.

Oceania has taken over the Princess Cruises ship Ocean Princess.


Book a romantic cruise to the Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas.

Tips for first time cruisers: A newbie's guide to setting sail

October 2, 2015

From via

Going on your first cruise can be a little daunting as some things are handled differently from a land vacation. But, being a cruising newbie doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.

Before I took my first cruise I had many worries. Would I feel trapped? What if I didn’t like the food? What if I got bored? (Hah!). I wish I’d seen tips for first time cruisers myself as it would have helped set my mind at ease so much.

Walter Christen's insight:

I really liked the cruise tips presented.  Not only applies to first time cruisers but everyone.  Here is my take on the main points.

Don't miss the boat - Nothing will ruin your vacation more than missing the ship.  If you are flying in to take your cruise, yes, come in the day before and stay at a hotel near the cruise terminal. Living in Florida, many of the cruises I take originate at one of the many cruise ports in Florida.  I Drive in the morning of the cruise leaving a lot of time in case we get delayed due to traffic. I would rather sit in the terminal than wonder if I am going to make it in time.

Also when in the ports of call, Stay on ship time and allow for plenty of time to get back to the ship.  Remember that if you are using your phone, it may reset to local time when in port.

Carry-on luggage - My wife and I each have a backpack we use for our carry on.  Mine has my camera equipment, and my wife carries the passports, cruise documents, and medications.  We do not typically hit the pool when we board the ship but if that is your plan, you should bring your bathing suits in your carry on. We normally wander around the ship checking it out and also go to the dining room to see where our dinner seating is.

Ships are cashless - before you board the ship you will have to either fund your account with cash or what we do is have our credit card attached to the account.  When on the ship, all purchases are made using your ship card

You will also use this card as your room key and to leave the ship when at ports of call. Remember also that at the end of your cruise, you will need it one last time to disembark. Do not pack it away in your suitcase. 

Most cruise lines make it easy for you to track your spending so you do not go into shock at the end of your cruise.  I recommend that you take a look at what you have spend so far on a daily basis.

Dining - One of the best parts about cruising is the dining experiences available. Great time to try something new, and if you do not like it, ask the waiter to bring you something else.  Have a picky eater with you? Most cruise lines also offer a assortment of traditional entrees and when all else fails the children's menu may be the ticket.  You do not need to be a child to order from the children's menu.

Daily newsletters - Each evening you will receive in your stateroom a newsletter that gives a breakdown of all the cruise has to offer for the next day.  We usually go over the newsletter prior to going to bed and refer to it during the day.  You can do as much or as little as you desire. Listed will the times that events are happening, when bars and dining options will be open, the recommended dress code for dinner in the main dining room,  and the drink of the day.

Main thing to remember of your first cruise is that this is your vacation, don't stress it and have fun.



Holland America's Koningsdam to feature wine-blending experience

September 29, 2015

From via

When the ship enters service next April, Holland America Line’s Koningsdam will feature a venue where passengers can blend their own bottle of wine to take to dinner.

The venue, called Blend by Chateau Ste. Michelle, is an expansion of the cruise line’s partnership with the winery.

The two Seattle-area companies announced the partnership at a luncheon on Monday at the Chateau Set Michelle headquarters in Woodinville, Wash.

Guests will choose to blend their wines from five vintages: two cabernet sauvignons, two merlots and a cabernet franc.

Walter Christen's insight:

I found this concept by Holland America to be very intriguing. I do not drink very often but do enjoy a nice glass of merlot with a special meal (almost always while cruising). My wife and I like to attend wine tasting events on cruises and this looks like the next step to enjoying and learning more about wine.


Silver Spirit is at the top of the Silversea cuise  experience, featuring enhancements such as a substantial spa and the largest stateroom suites in the fleet.

Silversea unveils another epic South America cruise

September 29, 2015

From via

Luxury line Silversea plans another epic sailing from Florida to South America and back for 2017.

The 63-day voyage on the 540-passenger Silver Spirit will kick off Jan. 16, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale and feature a complete circumnavigation of the continent.

Highlights of the trip will include a crossing of the Panama Canal; two days cruising Chile's majestic fjords; a two-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during Carnival; and multi-day calls in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Callao, Peru (gateway to Lima and Machu Picchu).

Walter Christen's insight:

Silversea's circumnavigation of South America in early 2017 will be a fantastic voyage and will be making ports of call in some great destinations.  I especially like the stopover in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival.

Silversea cruise line also has a similar cruise for early 2016


We like free stuff! Amazing perks you can get on cruises

September 28, 2015

From via

Brand loyalty among cruisers is a funny thing. Each enjoyable cruise you take on one cruise line entrenches you more firmly in your comfort zone. You feel good about your vacation choice, knowing in advance what you are getting. You love that it feels like home when you step onboard. You practically have the menus memorized. What if you switch and Brand X doesn’t have that soufflé you love? Or the right pillows? Once you settle in, it feels like you could sail to the ends of the earth fearlessly with your chosen cruise line.

But you want recognition, too! The cruise line should treat you like royalty for all that loyalty. In some cases they do. Yahoo Travel went in search of the best cruise perks available on the major lines, digging deep into the muddled fine print to find what each loyalty program is best at. Which cruise lines have the best plans for new cruisers looking to begin the loyalty game? And which cater more to serious cruisers whose crowns need a little polishing?

Walter Christen's insight:

Cruise loyalty programs seem to be a no brainer.  It does not cost anything to join, and depending upon how often you cruise and if you seem to frequent the same cruise line, can add up to some nice perks.

On a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, there were a few bottles of water in the room.  I asked the room steward about them and he said that they were free and part of my Crown and Anchor rewards.

We have also received room upgrades, lower deposit requirements and also free drinks and other discounts onboard.

Also not mentioned is that for some cruise lines they have special waiting areas for loyalty members for embarkation and can mean you may be able board the cruise ship earlier. 


Holland America Line's Culinary Arts Centers is where intimate, hands-on classes are generally freestyle and cruisers can do as much or as little as they wish while preparing dishes under the chef’s supervision.

Another 'MasterChef' cruise in the works for 2016

September 25, 2015

From via

Organizers of the first MasterChef cruise, which took place less than a year ago, already have cooked up plans for another one.

Endemol Shine North America, which producers the hit cooking show, and events company Life Journeys say the second MasterChef cruise will kick off Nov. 6, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. Fla.

The seven-night sailing to the Eastern Caribbean will take place on Holland America's 2,106-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam and include appearances by MasterChef Season 4 winner Luca Manfé and Season 5 runner-up Elizabeth Cauvel. Also on hand will be MasterChef Junior contestant Sean Le, and the winner of MasterChef Season 6 (who will be revealed on the show's Sept. 16 finale).

Walter Christen's insight:

If you are a fan of the cooking show MasterChef and are into food this cruise on the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam this could be great fun.  The Eastern Caribbean itinerary is also nice.  Leaving Fort Lauderdale, ports of call will be Grand Turk (one of my favorites), San JuanSt. Maarten and the Holland America's private island Half Moon Cay.


Silver Cloud moves to Silversea's expedition fleet

September 24, 2015

From via

Silversea Cruises has announced the line will move Silver Cloud to its luxury expedition fleet in November 2017. 

Destined mostly for polar waters, the ship that launched the cruise line will be converted into an ice-class ship during an extensive refurbishment scheduled to start in August 2017.

Walter Christen's insight:

Silversea Cruises will upgrade the Silver Cloud to Ice class so that it can be used for Arctic cruises. Although the ship can hold 260 passengers, it will be limited to 200 when doing arctic cruises.

Silversea currently has three all-suite expedition ships, Silver Explorer, Silver Discoverer, and Silver Galapagos. The Silver Cloud will be a welcome addition to these luxury expedition cruises.