Ralph Grizzle, reporting for Avid Cruiser
After crossing the Drake Passage yesterday, Seabourn Quest held a position for most of the day today off Half Moon Island. All guests who wished to do so were able to go ashore in Zodiacs, except for one wheelchair-bound passenger who will likely get to go ashore under calmer sea conditions later this week.
Our destination for the morning was Waterboat Point, where an "inactive" Chilean station is manned during the summer in what appears to be part supply station and part tourist center. It’s the only place in two visits to Antarctica that I’ve seen a shopping bag. A guest proudly clutched hers, full of Christmas gifts that she had purchased at the museum, as she passed me and a group of penguins. And why wouldn’t you shop in one of the only places in Antarctica that you could do so? Who among us can say that we have purchased gifts for loved ones at a museum situated well below latitude 60°S? Read More »
Ralph Grizzle, reporting for Avid Cruiser
Certainly, having collected all seven continents comes as a badge of honor for intrepid travelers, and today, we had the opportunity to have our passports symbolically stamped by Chilean authorities as proof that we had touched Antarctic earth (or ice), continent number seven for many of us.
With more than 400 guests on board, landings were staggered among five groups, the first of which began disembarkation at around 8 a.m. and the last of which zipped ashore at around 15:00. Each group was able to spend about 90 minutes ashore to admire thousands of penguins (Chinstrap and Gentoo) — as well as a few seals “hauled out” on the snow (the term means that the seals were resting between periods of foraging — diving as deep as 1,200 feet — for food). Read More »
Ralph Grizzle, reporting for Avid Cruiser
It was to have been just another day at sea. As I wrote yesterday, our stop in Port Stanley was nearly scrapped. Following the technical issue on Monday that caused Seabourn Quest to deviate from its charted course, it looked as though we would spend two or more sea days cruising directly from Puerto Madryn to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Port Stanley had been scratched off the list in order to make up for lost days. The captain wasn’t happy about the decision, but he had to put guest and crew safety first. In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, however, the captain informed guests that the technical issue had been resolved more quickly than was planned and that we would be visiting the Falklands after all. Read More »
The Christmas Markets of the Danube Aaron Saunders, reporting for Avid Cruiser
As I write this, I am sitting in Munich International Airport after having just finished a weeklong journey aboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Baldur. Dubbed the Danube Waltz, my journey took me from Budapest, Hungary along the famous ‘Blue Danube’ to the quaint medieval town of Passau, Germany, where I disembarked earlier this morning.
The Danube Waltz is a great itinerary at any time of year, but personally I feel the Danube is at its best during the month of December, when Europe’s storybook-like Christmas Markets are stet up in towns and cities across countries throughout Europe. Read More »
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas Delivers Aaron Saunders, reporting for Avid Cruiser
The truth of the matter is that two days is not nearly enough to experience everything you can possibly do aboard Royal Caribbean's new Quantum of the Seas. In fact, two weeks might not be enough. She's not just a cruise ship that takes you from Point A to Point B; she's a destination in her own right. Read More »
Come with us as we spend a day at sea exploring Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum of the Seas! Aaron Saunders, reporting for Avid Cruiser
Our first full day aboard Royal Caribbean's new Quantum of the Seas was jam-packed with activities. There's so much to see and do aboard this massive new ship and, with the clock ticking down, I armed myself with a deck plan and set out on a whirlwind day to cram as much as I possibly could into my day. Read More »
Royal Caribbean Introduces Another Winner Aaron Saunders, reporting for Avid Cruiser
I had my doubts about Royal Caribbean's new Quantum of the Seas. I really did. When someone promises they're going serve the moon up to you on a platter – even if it's one of the most successful cruise lines on the planet – I tend to be skeptical. And there were promises aplenty: ten-minute check-in. The fastest internet at sea. Revolutionary new amenities. Plugged-in components. Read More »
Our Journey to New York to see Royal Caribbean’s Latest Innovation(s):
She has been billed as the most eagerly awaited new cruise ship of 2014. Her features, amenities and even her dual deployment in North America and Asia have turned heads.
This week, we’ll give you our take on one of the most talked-about ships... Read More »
Celebrity Cruises recently announced a brand-new class of service, aimed at cruisers who would normally sail with traditional luxury brands. Dubbed "Celebrity Suite Class," it is designed to deliver an all-new level of pampering to guests staying in the line's highest-ranking suites. Available beginning in April 2015 on all vessels except the Galapagos-based Celebrity Xpedition, the Suite Class experience offers:
• Private Dining in a dedicated private restaurant available for the exclusive use of Suite Class guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• All-Inclusive Benefits such as complimentary premium beverages, dining across all specialty restaurants, unlimited internet access, and even the use of a private bar for those guests staying in Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites. • VIP Lounge - Exclusive VIP Lounge for Suite Class guests. • VIP Perks - Suite Class guests will enjoy priority check-in and embarkation, along with the services of a dedicated butler who is on-call 24 hours a day. Much like ultra-luxury lines, these Suite Class butlers are available to unpack luggage or simply handle arrangements onboard or ashore. More about Celebrity Suite Life »
Offering the best of both worlds, Crystal Cruises delivers an intimate, upscale experience but on ships large enough to provide many spacious public rooms and dining venues, plus the luxury segment's most extensive repertoire of onboard classes, lectures and workshops.
Food, and the lavish table settings and smart service that come along with it, is a highlight of a Crystal cruise. Each ship has an elegant formal dining room with two seatings as well as three chic alternative restaurants: an Italian venue inspired by Piero Selvaggio of Valentino in Los Angeles and two pan-Asian restaurants featuring cuisine by renowned master chef Nobu Matsuhisa, including a sushi bar.
Sign up for art classes conducted by the Parsons School of Design and wellness programs organized by the Cleveland Clinic and the Tai Chi Cultural Center. Further, there are dozens of themed sailings spread over the year and focused, food and wine, art, film, dance, jazz, wellness, and other subjects. More about the Crystal Experience »
AmaWaterways may have gotten it start along the Danube, but it is the line’s most exotic itineraries that are turning heads. By the time this post is on your screen, AmaWaterways will have just introduced their newest – and quite possibly most exotic – destination: The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy).
Popularized by author Rudyard Kipling as "The Road to Mandalay", the 2,000-kilometer Ayeyarwady has only recently become accessible to tourists after Myanmar's decades of self-imposed isolation - and a river cruise through the vast cultural and historic riches of this mysterious locale is one of the best ways to take it all in.
AmaWaterways has already been providing innovative river cruises along the Mekong for years now. With river-cruise-only and extended land tour options that explore the riches of Cambodia and Vietnam, the line has also focused heavily on its foothold in the region. More about these Southeast Asia journeys »
Royal Caribbean is testing a completely new style of dining aboard the forthcoming Quantum of the Seas. Instead of main dining rooms, the ship will feature 18 different dining venues, seven of which carry no surcharge. Four of the seven will be full-service, while the other three are being pitched as casual eateries. Guests will use an onboard reservations system to decide when, where, and with whom they'd like to dine.
What's gone is the traditional early-or-late seating dinners and the soaring, multi-story main dining rooms found on the line's other vessels.
This new approach to dining also has a new name: Dynamic Dining. And part of Dynamic Dining is choice, from Michael's Genuine Pub to the overly verbose Devinly Decadence at Solarium Bistro. More about Dynamic Dining »
A Regent Seven Seas cruise represents a luxury vacation for people who prefer the finer things. Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) has been chosen as the world’s top-rated cruise line by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazine and is a leader in the six-star luxury market.
This line’s three all-suite vessels represent the best in high-end cruising without the formality: posh surroundings, personal service, delicious international gourmet cuisine, and plenty of space in which to enjoy it all.
Sailing to more than 300 ports around the world, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ spacious ships are elegant, but not stuffy, radiating a casual country club vibe and an informal dress code that invites guests to dress smartly, but comfortably (only the longer itineraries have scheduled formal nights). More about the Regent Experience »
Research shows that most people planning a trip to Alaska want to see two places: Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park. You can get to Glacier Bay aboard a cruise ship and admire the national park's stunning scenery from the comfort of your balcony stateroom. But to get to Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley), you'll have to get off the ship, lace up your hiking boots, and trek inland. That's where a cruisetour comes in.
Cruisetours combine a cruise voyage with a fully escorted stay on land. The cruise lines have streamlined their product so that you'll pay one price in exchange for two vacations - one at sea, and the other on land in the Alaskan interior. You'll also enjoy two completely different travel experiences. While at sea, you'll gaze out at glaciers, fjords, and lots of marine life. While in the interior, you'll see snow-capped mountains, wildlife, and what some have called "the real Alaska".
While a cruise offers travelers an excellent taste of Alaska, a cruisetour serves up the complete five-course dinner - the total Alaska experience. More about Alaska by land and by sea »
The Disney entertainment empire knows how to treat people right, and a Disney cruise certainly meets the high expectations developed over many decades of theme parks and media entertainment.
For families with young kids, no other cruise line can touch Disney, which custom-designed its vessels, its onboard experience and even its shoreside programs to cater to that exact demographic.
In true Disney fashion, everything is orchestrated to produce a specific sense of fantasy and wonder. Where Disney's parks are centered around a fairytale castle, Disney cruises are centered around its ships, which were designed to evoke the fairytale world of early 20th-century ocean liners, with their sharp bows, art deco and art nouveau interiors, and even multiple funnels, even though one of those funnels on every Disney ship is fake - but they sure do make a cool place to hide the teenagers' clubs. More about Magic by Land & by Sea »
Oceania Cruises has a niche almost to itself in the cruise business, above the mainstream lines in terms of service, dining, itineraries, and overall ambience, but not quite up in the stratosphere with the true luxury lines.
That goes for its prices too, which are higher than premium competitors like Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line, but below lines like Seabourn and Silversea Cruises.
All of the ships have a casual, low-key, country club feel, and days are programmed in a relaxed way, with few organized activities and announcements. Instead, the emphasis is on letting guests relax at their own pace, enjoy the ports of call, and just unwind. More about Your World, Your Way »
Miami Freestyle Cruising
The 4,000 passenger Norwegian Getaway is a big, exciting ship that cruises year-round from Miami. Along with the other 4000+ Norwegian ships, the Norwegian Epic and the Norwegian Breakaway, the Getaway is unlike all previous Norwegian ships. These new mega-ships are designed for bustling non-stop activity and lots of freestyle fun. And while at night you will be hard-pressed to find a "quiet lounge", these ships somehow at the same time manage to be very family-friendly.
The Waterfront is a new, revolutionary idea by Norwegian. Never before seen on any cruise ship, guests can now down on deck 8 not only stroll along a "promenade deck", but also enjoy outdoor dining and lounging. Indoor restaurants and lounges have been extended to the outside deck. You can find Waterfront dining for Cagney's Steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, Ocean Blue, La Cucina, and outdoor bars for Shaker's, Maltings and Fat Cats Club. cruise info »
For more than a quarter century, the Seabourn name has been synonymous with luxury cruising. Founded in 1987 by legendary cruise mogul Warren Titus (who’d also founded Royal Viking Line 15 years earlier) and Norwegian businessman Atle Brynestad (currently owner and chairman of SeaDream Yacht Club), the line early on established a distinct cruising style: quiet, refined, and genteel, with nearly clairvoyant service, exceptional food and wine, and itineraries that concentrate on intimate ports where the big ships don’t go.
These are not cruises for people who like their vacations dramatic, ostentatious, or fast-paced. Aboard Seabourn, relaxation rules and distractions are few. Seabourn guests tend to be mature, well-off individuals who prefer to take their vacations at their own pace and just want nice surroundings and a capable staff that can anticipate their needs.
Completed nearly 100 years ago, the Panama Canal took more than three decades to build — at a cost of 30,000 lives. Transiting this “path between the seas,” cruise ships move at a snail’s pace, waiting one behind the other to enter the enormous locks that flood with water to raise and lower ships.
Once the water fills the concrete locks, ships progress to the next set of locks. There may be a container ship in front of you, a sailboat behind on your Panama cruise.
This engineering marvel is best savored from the comfort of a cruise ship. Panama cruises typically run for full 14 days between South Florida and California. Several cruise lines, however, offer 10-day partial transits to Gatun Lake sailing roundtrip from Florida. Either way is recommended to cruise the panama canal.