Hot on the forums: Is it time to say goodbye to napkin waving?

They might be cheesy, but I’m rather fond of cruise ship traditions such as the Baked Alaska parade, a waiter-led happy birthday chorus surrounding a cake topped with a sparkler, and sailaway parties set against a soaring song. To me, they’re harmless fun.

So I was interested to read about another tradition raised, quite literally, in the Cruise Critic forums by member B17, who asks why Celebrity has seemingly said goodbye to synchronised napkin waving.

“One thing I really used to enjoy at the end of the cruise was the parade of chefs, the clapping, the napkin waving, the dancing with the waiters and a general good feeling for the end of a great cruise,” she writes. “Last year, we noticed there was nothing going on in the MDR (main dining room). We had new virgin cruisers with us and I know they would have loved this and given it a special ending to their holiday. So why did they stop this? From the noise everyone used to make and the way everyone joined in, it seems the majority loved it.”

Not so. The post prompted other members to say they were glad to see the back of it, and put forward theories about its demise.

Read on for more.


Cruise ship inspired home: Peter Knego’s treasure

Cocktail bar in Peter Knego's cruise ship inspired home

Return readers may remember the legendary John Siggins, who built a replica of the Titanic’s dining room in his back garden shed using artefacts from its sister ship, Olympic.

It seems that John is not alone in his passion for recreating old ships. We give you Peter Knego, ship historian, who has incorporated some of his favourite cruise ship details into his own home.

Read on to find out more.


Just Back From… Cuba Cruise, Hits and Misses

Havana, Cuba

The Canadian company Cuba Cruise has made waves these past two years by being the only cruise line to offer seven-night Havana-to-Havana circumnavigations of the Caribbean’s largest island. It was also in the right place at the right time when President Obama loosened travel restrictions for Americans, partnering right away with people-to-people organizations to offer legal ways to visit Cuba.

Read on to find out more.


Member review of the week: Norwegian Jade Eastern Mediterranean cruise

NCL's Norwegian Jade

NCL’s Norwegian Jade

There’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being relaxed, free and just rolling with whatever you fancy.

This week, our reviewer experienced just that on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade.

Find out all his highlights of freestyle cruising!
Read on to find out more.


We won’t get (April) fooled again

If you’re anything like us, you spent most of yesterday either avoiding the internet or reading everything with a sceptical eye.

From Jeremy Clarkson going green to Burger King perfume to clear Marmite – it was a non-stop day of pranks, including a few from our very own members.

Read on to find out more.


April 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper: Springtime in Europe

Cruise ship docking in the port of Marseilles, France. Shutterstock

Get your April 2015 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! With the Euro at record lows against the pound, we’re dreaming of spring on the Continent. So it’s the perfect time to put this shot of a cruise ship docking in the port of Marseilles, France, on your desktop.

Here’s how to put this photo on your computer, tablet or mobile:

1. Click on the following links to get the size that you want. Each link will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.

2. For the desktop versions, right-click on the image, and choose the option that says, “Set as Desktop Background”, “Use as Desktop Picture,” or something similar. The wording depends on your browser. Mac users should ctrl-click and save the photo on their computer in the “Pictures” folder.

3. If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose”Fit to screen” as the display mode of your background image.

4. For phone and tablet, open the link and center the photo on your phone so it fills the screen. Take a photo and save it on your device. Then go to your Settings and find your Wallpaper (on an iPhone, this is under “Wallpapers & Brightness.” Set the saved calendar photo as your wallpaper.

2560 x 1440 | 1200 x 800 | Tablet | Mobile

Check back on April 30 for the May 2015 calendar.

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Member review of the week: Britannia rules the waves

P&O Cruises' Britannia

P&O Cruises’ Britannia

This week our reviewer only spent a short amount of time onboard P&O Cruises’ new ship, Britannia, but came back with a wealth of positive points in their review.

“Nothing could quite prepare me entirely for all of the “WOW” moments and how many times I would alert my partner to “look at that””.

Here are her highlights:

Cabin: “I can honestly say, hand on heart I was blown away by the intricate attention to detail that had been shown within the whole design of the cabin, everything has its purpose, the lay out is great and it truly feels like a boutique hotel. The bed is really comfy, the Balcony more than adequate and the bathroom compact and comfortable.”

“With “The White Company” toiletries and “Douwe Egbert” coffee – what more could a girl ask for?”

Cabin on P&O Cruises' Britannia

Cabin on P&O Cruises’ Britannia

Dining: Our reviewer found several surprises with the food onboard, mostly in ‘The Epicurean’. Two of the most interesting that RGale found were the entrees.

“We received an entree which can only be described as a cream of tomato soup in a frozen lollipop! This was a “Bloody Mary” and it was extraordinary! It was packed full of flavour and provided a great talking point for the evening.”

“Before we received our dessert we were served another entree – I was given (what can only be described as a frozen lipstick) I enjoyed a burst of strawberry & cranberry as I ate my “frozen lipstick” whilst my partner enjoyed what appeared to be a fried egg – which was actually a sweet delight, again another twist on modern cuisine.”

There were several other highlights to our reviewers dining experience, which can be seen in their full review.

Eric Lanlard's Afternoon Tea

Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea

Entertainment: “The Live Lounge had 2 young chaps singing recent release songs and then a disco in between, this was more “us” and we felt right at home, it held a great atmosphere as people were getting up on the dance floor when their favourite song came on and it was great to see everyone in their formal attire and some in their casuals too all on the same dance floor.”

“A few times couples had got up on the dance floor and performed a dance together (it felt like strictly come dancing at times) which was fab to get such a great variety of people and dress codes, the atmosphere was fantastic as everybody applauded the cruisers who can dance, the look of enjoyment on their faces was a lovely sight and everybody enjoyed watching them too.”

Britannia Headliners Show

Britannia Headliners Show

During their short stay onboard, our reviewer had several new experiences that they want to repeat. Not only were they impressed with the facilities on offer, but the appearance of the ship itself.

“I’m just counting down the days until P&O release the Britannia’s 2016 schedule to see where we may be sailing to.”


For their efforts, RGale gets Cruise Critic branded goodies, as do this week’s other three reviewers: suron, who wrote about their cruise to Dubai on MSC Orchestra, KatyQ, who wrote about Norwegian Jade on their cruise on Thomson Dream to the Montego Bay, and Jon44 who wrote about his cruise to Dubai on Costa Serena.


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Live From Onboard: Avalon Tapestry II

Avalon Waterways' Tapestry II in Paris

This week I’ve joined the christening cruise of Avalon Waterways’ new Avalon Tapestry II, before it starts regular sailings from Paris to Normandy and across France (north to south). The naming ceremony, held on the banks of the Seine River in the beautiful village of Les Andelys, was cold and rainy but the ship is looking good.

Here are five things I like about Avalon Tapestry II.

What are the five best things about an Avalon cruise? Read on.


Does Britannia rule the waves?

Starburst! (photo courtesy Haydon)

Britain’s newest, biggest ship, Britannia, has created a wave of excitement for British cruisers, and Cruise Critic has been lucky enough to get onboard the ship several times to get a closer look at the beautiful behemoth.

One of those trips — from a competition we held with P&O Cruises — gave five of our lucky readers (and a guest) the opportunity to take a ship tour on Britannia before her maiden voyage and those who joined us have shared their pictures and thoughts about Britannia in our blog.

Take a look at what our winners thought


Britannia: Hits & Misses

P&O Cruises' brand new ship Britannia

P&O Cruises’ brand new ship Britannia

It’s rare to get on a new ship and not find a few faults, or perhaps a better way of putting it would be, “to find a few areas that need tweaking.”

Well I’ve got to be honest, I’m struggling to find any on P&O Cruises’ Britannia’s maiden voyage, which I joined half way through in Monte Carlo.

I spent the night onboard before the naming, and I also got a sneak peek when the ship first arrived in Southampton, but there is nothing like being on an actual cruise to really get a feel for a ship, its rhythms, its flows, its quirks and its special places.

We’ve long been told that Britannia takes the most popular features on the rest of the fleet and redefines them in a modern setting.

But what does that actually mean – and more importantly – does it work?

Read on to find out more.