August 21, 2008
Shove aside visions of shuffleboard and Gopher. Forget about Titanic, Kathie Lee, and gastroenteritis outbreaks. Cruises are cool again, and they’re one of the best deals out there. Here are some IgoUgo favorites by interest and region—the must-seas.
John Hollinger recommends joining the 92-passenger Celebrity excursion to the Galapagos Islands: “Each island we visited had its own special beauty. We enjoyed snorkeling at Tortuga Bay, where sea lions would swim around us and play. We delighted in a coastal walk at St. James Bay, viewing various shore birds, followed by seeing collapsed lava tunnels that have become resting areas for Galapagos fur seals. We had a whale and dolphin search following our crossing of the equator. Sightings of pelicans, blue-footed boobie birds, and frigate birds were numerous and wondrous.”
With his nine-year-old in tow, PNelson enjoyed the Disney Cruise Line’s Bahamas sail: “In preparing for a Disney Cruise, I had some idea of what to expect: a boatload of misbehaving children and parents. I also expected the condition of the boat to be lower than my previous ‘adult’ cruise. I now know how wrong I was. I loved the cruise. The ship was great, the staff was marvelous, the destinations spectacular, and the weather beyond belief. The boat was clean and in great condition. I returned after a 4-day Bahamas cruise completely rested and relaxed and would like to apologize to all the kids and parents I failed to give credit to!”
“Blue-collar traveler” sirverity found the deal of a lifetime on Princess Cruises’ Star Princess for a trip to Antarctica: “Particularly enjoyable was the onboard naturalist, in this case a Cambridge professor with a lifetime spent in the polar regions. His lectures packed the large theater to the point that it was standing room only, and even then it was worth the discomfort to hear his firsthand and often humorous tales of the history, politics, and wildlife of Antarctica. It was far more education than I expected and it highly embellished and deepened my appreciation not only for what I was seeing, but also my admiration for those brave, if not insane, early explorers to this incredibly remote place.”
AndreaRH fled a snowstorm in favor of experiencing the Southern Caribbean aboard Windstar’s five-mast Wind Surf power yacht: “Unlike a lot of today's mega-ships that host thousands of people at a time, the Wind Surf is a 5-mast/7-sail motor-sail yacht and you'll share her with about 300 other passengers. The crew was outstanding and fellow passengers were friendly and interesting. All in all, a terrific value for the cruise fare. It really was one of the best vacations we've had in a long time and we're trying to convince friends to cruise with us on Windstar next winter!”
Cantin2 loved Crystal Cruises’ Harmony boat so much, she booked a follow-up Western Caribbean trip on Serenity: “The best cruise-ship entertainment that I've experienced—great views from anywhere in the showroom and the singers, dancers, and costumes are Broadway-quality. For dinner, Serenity continues the tradition of assigned tables at two seatings, but there are other venues for those desiring more choice. Silk Road is Crystal's Asian restaurant, overseen by Nobu. What a treat!! The decor is sleek, the menu incredible, and you will recognize all of Nobu's signature dishes. The sushi bar, as you enter, always has two Nobu chefs from one of the restaurants in attendance.”
Wisconsin native kathyjohanna saw five islands in seven days with Norwegian Cruise Line: “Instead of going from hotel to hotel and spending hours of time flying from island to island, we went on the Norwegian Cruise Line. We were able to go to five different islands without ever having to pack up our bags. One of the most memorable parts of the cruise was getting to meet the other passengers and the crew. The crew always aimed to please and they had a lot of interesting stories. We loved the service, the food, the drinks, and the entertainment. Without a doubt, this is the way to experience the Aloha State.”
For a mother-daughter getaway—far away—sizemoretravel loved Princess’ Diamond Princess ship: “We got a really great deal on an obstructed-ocean-view stateroom, so we decided to go for it. We departed from Seattle for seven nights sailing the Inside Passage of Alaska. The ship had plenty of areas where you could sit and watch the glaciers or mountains if you did not want to go outside. My mother and I loved to bundle up in blankets and go out on the back deck to watch everything. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Diamond Princess to anyone planning to take a cruise. The crew were wonderful and the food was really good as well.”
A traditional cruise wouldn’t do justice to British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, says orca-girl, who jumped aboard Maple Leaf Adventures’ schooner instead: “Imagine sailing on a schooner among fjords, remote islands, waterfalls, and amazing wildlife while eating gourmet cuisine and being with a naturalist! This nine-day holiday blew my mind. Not a traditional cruise—nine guests sleeping in bunks—but to experience the wilderness in comfort, this is heaven. Definitely take a turn steering the ship and definitely go out on the bowsprit.”
Between Venice and Barcelona on “the best ship he’s ever been on”—Celebrity’s Millennium, now plying the waters of the Pacific—hermion saw the best of the Mediterranean: “We actually paid about 25% of the published fare for a penthouse deck cabin with a veranda on the beautiful liner Millennium. After boarding the ship, which was made extremely easy for us by Celebrity, we sailed to Dubrovnik in Croatia and had a day's excursion there. At Civitavecchia, the seaport of Rome, we decided to stay aboard and enjoy the wonderful swimming pool and the aqua spa on the top deck, not to mention the excellent food and cold drinks and ice cream (we’d been to Rome many times and the temperature was in the 90s).”
Looking to “run away to sea in style,” frequent cruiser travelwisdom chose Oceania’s Lisbon-to-Miami repositioning route: "Looking for the ultimate escape far away from everyday demands? Run away to sea! We recently returned from a 10-day transatlantic crossing from Lisbon to Miami with Oceania Cruises. This is cruising in its purest form, reminiscent of the days when sailing was the only way to cross oceans. On our cruise there were only 260 guests and over 400 crew members. To say service was excellent is an understatement. Of the 16 cruises we have enjoyed over recent years, the Oceania crew was the friendliest team we have encountered. All these amenities, activities, and attention may sound expensive. Compared to spending seven to 10 days at a five-star luxury resort, it’s a bargain.”
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