Review of the week: The Channel Islands on Britannia

Our member review of the week comes from Alex Naughton, who had a great weekend cruise on P&O Cruises’ Britannia. Alex was a first-time cruiser and has loads of tips for newbies.

Alex (a 30-something) took mum on a weekend cruise from Southampton to Guernsey in the English Channel and both had a ‘lovely’ time – as you can read in the full review.

Read on to find out more.


10 dos and don’t for throwing a nautical-themed party

nautical theme party

Our US-based colleagues decided it was high time to throw a nautical theme party (unfortunately we couldn’t justify the airfare to join them – even though it sounded like great fun!).

Here’s how they got on:

Determining the nautical theme for the party was a no-brainer. As for the time and location, one of our staffers gladly volunteered her home, which even came with a mascot (more on that later). Online shopping for decorations was the fun part. And while the party was a success, we hit some rough seas along the way.

If you want to plan your own nautical theme party, read our 10 dos and don’ts to avoid losing your mind — and blowing your budget.

Nautical Theme Decor

Do: Reflect on past cruises for ideas. The anchor theme never fails for tableware and accessories, but mix it up. We found an easy-to-hang ocean wall print that was both a fun design and backdrop for pictures.

Don’t: Overlook product details like size and quantity. We learned the hard way when the life ring we thought was full size looked like a Barbie accessory.

Read on for more


Cruise tip of the week: Choose your cabin wisely

Quantum of the Seas Virtual Balcony

Tip: When booking a cruise, you’re able to select where you want to stay from a map of all the cabins. But how do you know which one to choose? For starters, it’s good to know which cabins to avoid. For example: You might be set on an inside cabin, but make sure it’s midship if you’re prone to seasickness. Ship movement is less likely to be felt in cabins closer to the interior and on a lower deck.

Full Article: Read 5 more cruise ship cabins to avoid.

Want More?: Check out our related links below for more info, tips and advice.

– Check out our latest cruise deals

– Sign up for Cruise Critic’s Price Drop. We’ll let you know when fares are dramatically reduced so you can get the best price for your sailing.

5 Ways to Get a Cruise Ship Cabin Upgrade

How to Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin

Tips to Avoid Seasickness

Do you have a cruise tip you’d like to share? Let us know in the Comments below.

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Member review: A cruise fit for a Queen

Our member review of the week comes from EssexFarmers, who had a great time cruising the Med on the Queen Victoria with Cunard. It was her first cruise experience and it couldn’t have started better (especially after managing to ‘smuggle’ her own booze on board…)

She was also a big fan of the retro-style dining and partial to the occasional Cosmopolitan – especially accompanied by dolphins! – as you can read in her full review.

EssexFarmers felt a bit worn out after nine days at sea – and two sweltering bus journeys didn’t help – but all in all she had a “lovely holiday”. Glad to hear it!

Read on to find out more.


Share your love of cruising with a loved one who’s never cruised!

Thank you for entering.  This contest is now closed. 

Celebrity Cruises is offering you the chance to introduce a friend to cruising onboard the recently refurbished Celebrity Eclipse!

To help you share your love of cruising, and demonstrate why you enjoy it so much, we’ve teamed up with Celebrity Cruises to offer 14 members the opportunity to introduce a friend to cruising on Saturday August 22nd 2015 on an exclusive Cruise Critic ship visit.

Following the success of last year’s ship tours, we’re pleased to offer another opportunity for you to show your friends why you love cruising. Members can win a ship visit onboard Celebrity Cruises’ recently reinvigorated, 2,850-guest ship Celebrity Eclipse, which won four Cruisers’ Choice Awards in 2015 including “Best Ship from the UK”, “Best Cabins”, “Best Shore Excursions” and “Best Fitness”.

This will give you the chance to experience first-hand what this luxury line has to offer on its Solstice class ships – and to share this with one guest of your choice who is new to cruising. Better still is that guests can explore some of the brand new features, which include a cocktail bar, World Class Bar which is the first ever at sea; a craft beer bar, Gastrobar; a frozen drinks venue on the pool deck, Slush, and a dedicated restaurant for guests staying in suites, Luminae.

Here are some highlights of your visit:

  • Arrive at the Cruise Terminal in the morning and then enjoy a guided tour of the ship
  • Enjoy a wine tasting onboard before sitting down to a three-course lunch in the main dining room.

How do I enter? It’s simple!

You: If you want to learn more about Celebrity Cruises, and would like to bring a friend with you who is new to cruising, just send us an email with your name, and the name of the person you’d like to take with you.

Your guest(s): Remember, this is all about sharing the cruise experience, so we ask that your guest is new to cruising.

The itinerary for the day includes:

9.30 am – Arrive at The City Cruise Terminal 101, Port of Southampton in preparation to board – don’t forget that you’ll need to be able to get yourself to the Port – and bring your passport or photo driving licence with you, so please bear this in mind when applying!

10:00 am – Embarkation

10:30 am – Tour of ship

11.30 am – Wine tasting

12.30pm – 3-course lunch in Main Dining Room

2:00pm – Disembark

For your chance to attend the ship visit simply email us at: contests@cruisecritic.co.uk stating “Celebrity Cruises Ship Visit” in the subject line. Please include the names of one friend or family member that you would like to join you. This event is only open to a maximum of 28 visitors, so don’t delay!

For more information visit Celebrity Cruises.

Terms & Conditions

The contest is open to legal residents of the United Kingdom who are 18 or older at the time of entry and have a full and valid passport or photo driving licence. The deadline for entries is Thursday July 23rd 2015. Only one entry per person will be accepted. For the full Terms & Conditions, please read here.

Review Cruise Critic’s privacy policy here.



Can you bear to be parted from your pet when you’re on a cruise?

We never need an excuse to run a picture of a cute dog, but it’s particularly appropriate with today’s blog post – Can you bear to be parted from your pet when you’re at sea?

It all stemmed from a thread on the forums started by member rjrice1 who admits to having a tough time saying goodbye to her animals, and is so concerned about their wellbeing that she gets a neighbour to check on them four times a day.

Although I have always been happy to set sail and leave members of my menagerie in the capable hands of friends (also, it would be pretty tricky to take my horses onboard), rjrice1 is certainly not alone.

In fact in the case of parrotfeathers, “Animals are the reason my hubby and I do not vacation together.”

Read on to find out more.


Hits and misses from a Svalbard cruise

Polar bear in the Arctic

Quark Expeditions is one of the world’s specialists in polar travel, offering small-ship itineraries in Antarctica, Greenland, northern Canada, Norway, Iceland and even the North Pole. Though there are other expedition lines operating in many of these regions, Quark has broken new ground in recent years by introducing unique adventures such as paddleboarding in Antarctica and hot air ballooning at the North Pole.

Cruise Critic recently joined Quark’s “Introduction to Spitsbergen” itinerary, a Svalbard cruise that sails round trip from Longyearbyen, Norway, with a focus on spotting polar bears, walruses, reindeer and other Arctic wildlife. Over eight nights aboard Sea Adventurer, Quark’s oldest vessel, I discovered a few of the qualities that make a Svalbard cruise special — plus a couple of little things that didn’t quite live up to expectations.



Reindeer in the Arctic

Wildlife: Every part of a Svalbard cruise is designed to get passengers as close to the wildlife as possible. When a whale surfaces or a polar bear is spotted in the pack ice, the ship veers off course to get a better look. For a more intimate look, smaller Zodiac boats bring passengers right up to the shoreline for views of nesting puffins or grazing reindeer. In the most incredible moments, the animals came to us — as when a polar bear padded directly across the ice to within about 50 feet of our ship, lifting its sensitive nose to scent us every step of the way. The wildlife is the number one reason that most people book a Svalbard cruise, and it didn’t disappoint.

(For more Arctic Cruise options, read Arctic Cruise Basics).

Read on for more


Member review of the week: Norwegian Jade ‘cruise that keeps on giving!’

Photo courtesy: Member ‘kalypso’

Our member review of the week this week comes from Rosemerseyside, who had a great cruise on Norwegian Jade. She booked it at the last minute — just 10 days before her cruise — for two very solid reasons, “because: a) it was a great price and b) it included ports we had not been to before, so it was a win-win before we’d even set sail!”

And fortunately for her, in the end, Rosemerseyside decided that she could not ‘find fault with any aspect of the cruise.’ Lucky lady.

See what Rosemerseyside loved so much about her cruise.


8 top tips for cruising to Greece during the Greek financial crisis

Greek flag in Euros

With Greek voters giving European austerity measures a resounding “No” yesterday, cruisers with upcoming Greek sailings have been wondering: How should we prepare for a trip to Athens and the islands during the Greek financial crisis?

It’s a hot topic on the Cruise Critic Message Boards, and we at Cruise Critic have a planned sailing on Azamara Journey later this month that calls in at Turkey and Greece, including port stops in Volos, Hydra, Skiathos, Mykonos, Santorini and Athens. Unless we hear otherwise from the line, we will hedge our bets against the currency upheaval by doing the following:

Bring Euros. Lots of them. Even if there is a “Grexit”, euros will still be widely accepted. Usually we rely on cash points overseas when we travel (and note there is no limit on withdrawals for non-Greek citizens), but with news reports noting some are out of money, we’ll be prudent and come prepared.

Read on for more.


Hot on the Forums: Is it ok to go topless on the top deck (or anywhere else)?


Topless sunbathing is nothing new, but what’s permissible (on certain beaches, in certain countries) is considered, by some, as inappropriate at sea.

The debate’s been going on for a while on the P&O Cruises forum, after seasoned forum contributor seapals2 asked for other members’ opinions on topless sunbathing following her cruise on P&O CruisesAzura (there’s another started over on the Cunard forum, too).

She says there were only a handful (no pun intended) of women seeking an almost all-over tan and predicts: “You can bet where there is half a dozen this year it will be the norm next year.

“We think it’s acceptable on beaches but on a family ship where sunbeds are so tightly packed it’s not appropriate. The Retreat had the expensive boobs on show. Suppose if you had spent a fortune getting them you would want them on display. Thanks, but no thanks. Just embarrassing in our opinion. Interested to see what others think.”

Read on to find out more!