10 Reasons Why I Can’t Stop Cruising

Cruise Fever — by

It only took one cruise, a four night voyage on the Norwegian Sky to the Bahamas, for me to fall in love with cruising.  I enjoyed it so much, I was home less than than 48 hours and I had already booked my 2nd cruise. What do I love about taking a cruise?  Here are 10 reasons why I can’t stop cruising.

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1. Visit New Destinations – I love to travel and visit new and familiar places.  With cruising, I can visit multiple places on one trip and I only  have to unpack once.  I don’t have to check in and out of hotels and lose time traveling between destinations.  Cruising is the perfect way to sample several new ports on one trip.

2. Morning Coffee on my Balcony – Waking up early each morning and drinking a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise over the ocean is pretty much the perfect start to a day.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

3. Sea Days – Before I took my first cruise, I was afraid of being “stuck” on a cruise ship during sea days.  Now, sea days are my favorite days of each cruise.  Whether I’m relaxing by the pool, attending an enrichment class, or getting a massage at the spa, sea days are a great way of relieving stress and getting completely away from the hustle and bustle of life.

4. Sample New Food – Cruises are a great way to sample new food that you have always wanted to try without being afraid of spending money and not liking the dish.  Whether it’s frog legs, alligator, or calamari, you can try new cuisines at no extra cost. It is all included in your cruise fare, with an exception being the specialty restaurants.

5. Sailaway Parties – I love pulling out of PortMiami with Bob Marley being blasted over the Lido Deck preparing me for a week of fun in the Caribbean.  Sailaway parties are the perfect way to start every cruise.

6. Best Bang For the Buck – Cruising offers the best bang for the buck out of any type of vacation available.  For one low price, your accommodations, food, entertainment, and transportation from one port to another is included.

7. Brings Out the Best in People – There is something about cruising that brings out a side in people that you don’t see on land. I never get tired of seeing grandmas and grandpas dancing on the pool deck like they are 60 years younger.  Is it the salty air or motion of the ocean? Whichever it is, I hope it never stops.

8. Being Pampered – The crew members know how to treat you like royalty and I love the service and attention that they give me while I am onboard.

9. Meeting New People – I love hearing stories of fellow cruisers who have met others on a cruise who are now friends for life. A few ways to meet people on a cruise is at dinner, meet and greets (Facebook Rollcalls), and at various activities that are offered onboard.  I have met so many new friends at sea and look forward to meeting many more in the future.

10. Mobility – Cruise ships are mobile, and when bad weather (tropical storm or hurricane) hits, the ship will sail away from the storm keeping my vacation going. Cruise lines have been known to switch itineraries from Eastern to Western Caribbean and vice versa to give their passengers the warm, sunny vacation they were hoping for.  If I went to a resort in Grand Cayman and a hurricane hit, my tropical vacation would be pretty much ruined (and shortened).  I’ll stick to cruising.

Why Cruising is Statistically the Safest Form of Travel

CRUISE LINE & CRUISE SHIP | JASON LEPPERT

Why Cruising is Statistically the Safest Form of Travel

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

In 2016, the cruise industry will carry an estimated 23 million passengers, and they are in very good hands statistically, even safer than on commercial flights, which are widely known as a secure form of travel.

According to research compiled by the Daspit Law Firm, cruise ships have the lowest rate of deaths per billion passenger miles with 0.08. Compare that to 11.9 for rail travel, 3.3 for cars and trucks and 0.8 for commercial air, and traveling on the seas is a relatively safe venture.

Of course, as anywhere, accidents do happen as do deaths and injuries onboard, and the numbers are mostly relative. Thanks in part to the records from The Marine Casualty and Pollution Data files, Daspit Law Firm has compiled the where, when and how people were killed or injured on North American cruise lines.

In the span of over a decade, between 2002 and 2013, 356 people were killed on cruise ships while 1,060 injuries were reported. Included in the numbers are the 32 deaths aboard the Costa Concordia that sank in 2012 due to an extremely rare navigational mistake. Already since the accident, many additional safety measures have been adopted industry-wide to make cruising even safer in the future.

According to the report by market share, Carnival Cruise Line holds 29.5 percent, Royal Caribbean International 23.1 percent and Norwegian Cruise Line 14.5 percent. As the big three brands, it is not surprising that the number of deaths onboard – both crew and passengers – rise accordingly, with 122 on Carnival, 68 on Royal Caribbean and 63 on Norwegian.

As for injuries, Princess Cruises accounted for 49 percent of the reported injuries, with a total of 522. Norwegian Cruise Line had the second most with 213 injuries and Carnival Cruise Line rounded out the top three with 181. However, nearly half (214) of Princess’ injuries were linked to the violent listing of the Crown Princess in 2006 caused by the human error of a crew member, again a very rare accident that resulted in zero deaths.

In fact, the most common injuries found on cruise ships are falls (596) and incidents tied to existing medical conditions (300). It’s a good reminder that no matter how safe cruising is, be mindful of your surroundings and hold onto hand railings as advised by ships’ crew to ensure you are healthy enough to travel prior to boarding.

For a ship-by-ship breakdown of deaths and injuries, check out the official website of Daspit Law Firm. The bottom line is everyone knows it is safer to fly than it is to drive, and it just so happens that it is safer to cruise than it even is to fly.

TravelPulse writer Donald Wood contributed to this report.

6 Reasons You Must Have Your Wedding in the Caribbean

TravelPulse

ART KRAMER

6 Reasons You Must Have Your Wedding in the Caribbean

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

There are all types of weddings out there, traditional, eccentric, urban, rural and in “petit comite.” The location and theme change everything, but they all have one common factor, they’re romantic events where true love and the desire to spend a lifetime together is proclaimed and simplified to express all these feeling in one single day.

A fairy tale princess who has been dreaming about her wedding all her life is not going to leave any stone unturned when organizing her big day — invitations, the guests to invite, the place she wants to celebrate her big day, the decoration, the date, the time of the year …

Celebrating your wedding in the Caribbean is a novel option and at the same time something quite personal. The sea and a touch of wilderness are now very chic, so if this is something you’ve been thinking about for your big day, then you’re in luck as we have several reasons here to show you why a wedding in the Caribbean is one of the most sought after options for romantic and original weddings:

1. Simplicity and proximity: Having your ceremony and reception in the same place is one of the easiest options. There’s no need to worry about moving from one place to another, and if we move fast enough there’s plenty of accommodation for the guests too. The BlueBay hotels on offer in the Caribbean offer fairy tale locations with a wide range of facilities that are perfectly kitted out for this type of romantic wedding.

2. The comfort of having everything in the one place: Obviously, this is linked to the previous point. But having a wedding in a hotel gives you the comfort, and ease of mind of having everything in the one place: the ceremony, the aperitif, the reception and the accommodation. A romantic wedding where the only thing the happy couple and their guests have to worry about is having a good time.

3. Relaxed and quiet setting: Right on the beach and surrounded by nature means everything flows more naturally. Here there’s no city noise to disturb you, you’re surrounded by nature, and the only thing you’ll hear is the sound of happiness.

4. You don’t have to stress about guests driving and finding a parking spot:With this type of Caribbean wedding, there’s no need to worry about the guests dealing with traffic or finding a parking spot. Everything is available in the one place.

5. An extensive range of facilities, covering all types of original romantic weddings: An idyllic setting with white sandy beaches and clear blue sea is sure to amaze both the guests and the happy couple. Celebrate your wedding on the beach surrounded by lush tropical jungle and arrive barefoot at the ceremony… Let’s start dreaming!

6. Catering: Without a doubt, food is one of the key aspects to ensure a successful wedding. BlueBay hotels guarantee gourmet food that is sure to wow all the guests.

Take a Tour Inside the Most Luxurious Cruise Ship in the World

BLOOMBERG LUXURY TRAVEL

by Fran Golden

It includes a $10,000-per-night suite—and all the caviar, lobster, and Champagne you can possibly consume.

It includes a $10,000-per-night suite—and all the caviar, lobster, and Champagne you can possibly consume.

On board the opulent new Seven Seas Explorer this week, Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, took a moment to talk about the subject of conspicuous consumption.

“This idea that one-percenters are the evil empire of the world is over,” Del Rio said. “It’s time to celebrate success. It’s time to celebrate wealth. This ship is a trophy to the one-percenters.”

The Regent Seven Seas Explorer.

The Regent Seven Seas Explorer. Source: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The Seven Seas Explorer is a $450 million, 750-passenger, all-suite triumph of luxury—the first new ship for NCLH’s high-end Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand in 13 years. It’s designed to make a splash, as well as a profit: Extravagance was always core to the plan when it was being conceived, and subtlety was never a consideration. Del Rio’s simple goal was to create the most luxurious cruise liner ever built.

Jaw-Dropping Design

The grand lobby of the Explorer.

The grand lobby of the Explorer. Photographer: Steve Beaudet

On a pre-inaugural cruise in the Western Mediterranean for media, travel agents, and company insiders, I had the run of the ship for five days. The most striking feature of this Italian-built, 55,254-ton ship is how palatial it feels.

Ceilings seem to soar endlessly, the floors are done up in intricate stone patterns (sometimes with gold leaf accents), and even the guest hallways have Czech crystal and glass chandeliers. There’s an entire football field’s worth of marble onboard, half of it Carrara. The overall look is more Grand European Hotel than your typical cruise ship.

Three design firms worked on the project, but somehow their work flows seamlessly. They report that “no” was a word rarely heard from the money guys.

Asked the craziest thing he got away with, Greg Walton of design firm CallisonRTKL cited a $500,000, three-ton sculpture made from hand-cast bronze that resides outside the ship’s Pacific Rim restaurant. It’s so heavy, it required steel reinforcement.

“The answer from Frank [Del Rio] was a resounding ‘yes,’ no matter what it weighed or what it cost when he saw the design,” Walton said.

The Pacific Rim restaurant on board the Explorer

The Pacific Rim restaurant on board the Explorer Photographer: Steve Beaudet

Del Rio himself was responsible for choosing (and even hanging) much of the art, and his refined taste comes through, clear as day. In the lobby are dramatic abstract paintings by Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, the famed Spanish artist, that were commissioned for the ship. And from the bar in front of Prime 7 steakhouse, you can spot pieces by Chagall and Picasso.

Five-Star Accommodations

One of the suites.

One of the suites. Photographer: Steve Beaudet

Up in the Explorer‘s top, $10,000-per-night Regent Suite, which occupies much of Deck 14, travel agent Bob Newman aka “CruiseExpertBob” was wide-eyed and smiling so hard he could hardly talk.

“It’s fabulous,” said Newman, a vice president for Rhode Island-based Cruise Brothers. “Nothing compares to this. It’s just unique. That’s the only word I can use for it.”

 

Explorer has 375 suites in 10 categories, all with marble bathrooms and oversized balconies—a key differentiator from its competition. On similar ships by Silversea, a luxury cruise line, everyone gets a butler; only select suites on the Explorer get that perk. But everyone gets Veuve Cliquot or Jacquart Champagne and L’Occitane bath amenities, plush bedding, and furnishings, with the quality and perks increasing the higher the suite level.

The $10,000-a-night Regent Suite.

The $10,000-a-night Regent Suite. Source: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The apex is the two-bedroom, 4,433-square-foot Regent Suite—the largest suite at sea—which comes with a limousine and driver so you don’t have to give up the VIP lifestyle in port. In the master bedroom, you can rest your head on a $90,000 Savoir No.1 bed that cost an additional $60,000 to install. There’s a one-of-a-kind, $250,000 Steinway Arabesque piano designed by Dakota Jackson in the living room. There’s also a private spa with sauna, steam shower, and an oversized, ocean-view hot tub—complete with unlimited treatments from the ship’s Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Even the heavy black-lacquer double door to the suite’s marble entrance hall is designed to impress; it’s flanked by a pair of his and hers Picasso lithographs.

 

Eat Like a King

Compass Rose, the flagship restaurant.

Compass Rose, the flagship restaurant. Photographer: ©2016 Steve Beaudet

The eight restaurants aboard the Explorer boast a wide array of Champagnes; the ownership estimates 1,000 bottles will be consumed each week. And though you’ll have to pay a premium for the best of the bubbles (Louis Roederer “Cristal Rosé” 2007 champagne goes for $525; a Château Margaux 1er Cru Classé 2007 was $1,150), many more treats come complimentary. At breakfast, there’s a self-serve caviar station with Siberian Osetra, blinis, and all the accoutrements your heart could desire. (Pro tip: You could also use a hearty spoonful to top your three-egg omelet).

The Café on deck five.

The Café on deck five. Photographer: Steve Beaudet

At dinner in Compass Rose, the ship’s flagship restaurant, you can order from the chef’s daily-changing, European-inspired menu or get healthy offerings designed by Canyon Ranch. It’s not quite as progressive as the molecular gastronomy-style restaurants aboard the larger Crystal Cruise ships, but the menus are full of crowd-pleasing items. If you like, you can order Maine lobster every night. (It’s a safer bet than ordering steak, which didn’t always arrive at the temperature requested.)

You can also put in a special request. As long as you give the chefs 24-hours notice, they’ll make any recipe you give them—even your mom’s lasagna, if that’s what you’re craving. It may taste just like home, but when it’s served on Versace chargers, it’ll feel a wee bit fancier.

At one point, Del Rio bragged that his top chefs—many of whom were recruited from France—are paid more than the ship’s captain. “We have to pay top dollar to recruit top talent,” he said. They might be talented indeed, but they’re not Thomas Keller (who recently struck a partnership to design menus for Seabourn, one of Regent’s competitors).

What It’ll Cost

The entrance to the Canyon Ranch Spa.

The entrance to the Canyon Ranch Spa. Photographer: Stephen Beaudet

Regent stands out in the luxury market by including almost everything you can think of in its cruise fares: flights, pre-cruise nights at luxury hotels, several options for shore excursions in each port, Wi-Fi, premium drinks, gratuities, and more. All those inclusions make it the most expensive of the luxury cruise brands—and a favorite with travel agents, who happily get commissions on all of the above.

On the Explorer, that translates to a price point of about $1,000 per person per night, which varies slightly based on the itinerary. The most affordable itineraries available are for March 2017, when you can get on a 10-night Caribbean cruise departing from Miami for an entry-level price of $5,499.

The Culinary Arts kitchen, where guests can take cooking classes.

The Culinary Arts kitchen, where guests can take cooking classes. Photographer: Steve Beaudet

“We really wanted to set a new standard, to take it to the next level with Explorer,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer of the Prestige division of NCLH.

Clearly, the public is responding. The Explorer is selling well—including the $10,000-per-night suite, which is all but sold out this year and already booked for more than half of next year.

“It’s selling too easy,” Del Rio said gleefully. “I quite frankly believe we’ll be raising the price.”

As for Regent having the world’s most luxurious ship, Richard Meadows, president of rival Seabourn, said it wasn’t a major concern to him or his brand.

“I think what’s great about our industry is the consumer has choices and it is ultimately up to them to decide what is their definition of the perfect vacation.”

But Regent has thrown down the gauntlet, and Meadows is ready to respond. He said the Adam Tihany-designed Seabourn Encore, previewing in December, would be “the most beautiful ship ever built” and offer exceptional service.

“It’s the sum of all the parts,” Meadows said. “When you see the finished product onSeabourn Encore, you are going to be blown away.”

Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer embarks on its maiden voyage from Monte Carlo on July 20; it will sail the Mediterranean until November and then spend the winter season in the Caribbean. 

9 Cruise Packing Hacks That Will Revolutionize the Way You Travel

–By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

open suitcase

It is a truth universally acknowledged that packing is a pain. No matter how much we travel, we agonize over what to bring and how best to maximize space in our luggage. Cruise packing is especially frustrating because even if we want to pack light, we end up needing 12 different outfits each day … and an equal number of shoes. On no other vacation, do you find yourself bringing over-the-door shoe bags, snorkel equipment, tuxedoes, fleece jackets, highlighters and large floppy sun hats on the same trip. It’s a packing nightmare.

While we likely can’t convince you that you don’t need the third ball gown or both pairs of sneakers, we can share some packing hacks that will help you solve common packing problems and use your suitcase space more efficiently. Everyday items — including some you almost threw away — can become packing saviors.

So don’t cry over that bulging suitcase. Follow these tips and tricks to hack your way to efficient packing for your next cruise.

1. Keeping Your Outfits Sorted

Solution: Going on a cruise requires so many types of clothing: daywear, formalwear, swimwear and even gymwear if you’re inclined to work out. Keeping all of that sorted can be a nightmare. You could buy packing cubes … or you could save those zippered plastic casings that sheet sets come in to serve the same purpose. (Ziploc bags work, as well.) Pair your outfits, put them in their own bags, and squeeze all the air out before you zip them closed. Not only will you be spared from hunting for that matching top, but you’ll have an easier time fitting more clothes into the suitcase.

2. Getting the Creases Out

Solution: All that formal evening attire (and even some of your country club casual attire) is susceptible to wrinkles on the long trek between your house and the cruise ship, especially if you’ve got a flight in between. With travel irons a no-no on cruises, what’s a cruiser to do? Save the plastic bags you got after your last post-cruise trip to the dry cleaner, and carefully wrap wrinkle-prone clothes in them when you pack for your next sailing. Fold delicate items in tissue paper left over from the holidays. Your favorite fashions will remain wrinkle-free and safe.

3. Tangled and Loose Jewelry

jewelry

Solution: You take out your jewelry on the first formal night, and it’s all tangled in one large, sparkly ball. With so many jewelry-separating packing hacks out there, you’ll never have to spend time in your cruise cabin untangling your necklaces or digging around at the bottom of your bag for the other earring. Earrings can be threaded through buttons or separated out in pill containers that have a compartment for each weekday. Keep thin necklaces from tangling by threading them through a cut-in-half drinking straw and then clasping them closed, or by taping them to an index card. Other tricks to keeping small pieces of jewelry separated include storing items in egg cartons, Altoid cases and Tik-Tak boxes.

4. Wallet Doesn’t Fit in Travel Bag

Solution: Your massive day-to-day wallet won’t fit in your travel purse, and you’re nervous about leaving credit cards behind in the cabin to make it slimmer. Instead, pare down your wallet before your cruise. If you’ve ever traveled on a cruise line that gives out those pleather card holders to store your cruise card, save them, and use them as travel wallets on your next trip. They work well as business card holders, too, should you cruise with your business card.

5. Dirty Shoes

Solution: Regardless of where you’re cruising, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time exploring your new environs, whether it be by flip-flops on the beach or hiking boots near an Alaskan glacier. But how do you keep those dirty shoes from spilling sand and dirt onto your cruisewear on the return trip home? Next time you travel, take the shower cap sitting unused in your hotel bathroom. Then when you next pack after your cruise (or really anytime you want to protect your clothing), wrap the shower cap around the soles of your shoes to keep dirt and sand away from your clothing. Plastic bags work well, too. (Or see our first hack. If your clothes are encased in plastic, they’re safe from footprints.)

6. Exploding (or Leaking) Liquids

liquid containers

Solution: Forget dirt — what you really don’t want all over your new maxi dress and Bermuda shorts is sunscreen, shampoo or shaving cream. You can easily hack your way to preventing liquid travel products from leaking. The easiest method is to cut a square of plastic wrap, place it over the open top of the bottle, then screw the cap on over the plastic square. Put some tape over the top to be safe and — voila! — spill-proof bottles. Or, if you don’t need the whole bottle, decant your lotions and creams into smaller containers; think contact lens cases and pill bottles with childproof caps. You’ve then got a space-saving and spill-proof way of transporting toiletries. Another solution that does double duty is to storing your bottles in Tupperware. Once the containers have done their job keeping your clothes safe from spills, you can wash them out and use them to carry out food from the buffet.

7. Fitting (Lots of?) Shoes Into Luggage

Solution: Your shoes are now happily wrapped up, but they’re bulky and take up so much room in your suitcase. There’s no way to reduce shoe bulk (unless you only pack flip-flops or ballet flats), but you can put them to use. Fill that footwear with all the little items that clutter up your suitcase — chargers, the magnets you’re going to stick on the cabin walls, small toiletries, even socks, underwear or ties. The bigger your feet, the more space you have to fit loose items.

8. Packing Bulky Items

Solution: While we’re talking about bulky items, a packing hassle for guys is what to do with collared shirts and belts that never want to pack nice and flat. Easy peasy — roll the belt and stick it inside the shirt collar. You protect the shirt, save some room and can probably wad up some socks to fill out the remaining space inside.

9. Keeping Wine Safe

wine bottles

Solution: Most cruise lines let passengers bring one or more bottles of wine onboard. But packing a bottle in your checked bags means risking a messy break and spill. Our favorite bottle protection hack is to save up bubble wrap and then fashion a protective case for your bottle. (Bonus: If you don’t plan to bring home any local wine for a souvenir, you can while away an hour on your balcony happily popping the bubbles.) We’ve also heard of inserting wine bottles in pool floaties and sneakers (yet another shoe hack — see above).

Heading abroad? Leave your regular card at home

Moneyfacts.UK

Heading abroad? Leave your regular card at home

When heading abroad, you should never rely on cash alone. Not only would you be seriously stuck if your money were to be lost or stolen, but what if you were tempted by an extravagant souvenir or special meal out that your cash wouldn’t cover? That’s why you should always bring a card with you, but it doesn’t mean you should bring your everyday spending card…

Unexpected expenses

What you may not know about your regular credit or debit card is that they’ll often charge you extortionate fees when using them abroad. Whether it’s making a cash withdrawal or a physical purchase, you could well end up spending far more than you bargained for thanks to ramped up exchange rates, load fees or a raft of other charges – and you’ll be hit every time you use the card.

These extra fees could include:

  • Uncompetitive exchange rates for purchases and cash withdrawals
  • A non-sterling transaction fee (otherwise known as the loading or conversion fee), which is added to the exchange rate with every purchase and cash withdrawal, typically around 3%
  • A separate ATM/cash withdrawal fee
  • Additional interest charges on credit cards, even if you pay off the balance
  • An extra penalty charge for every instance of foreign use

When those fees are combined, and multiplied by the number of times you use your card abroad, you’ll soon see how your budget can spiral out of control – unless, of course, you use a card that’s been specifically designed for foreign use.

Fee-free foreign use

Cards designed for foreign use are just that – they know you’ll be using them abroad, so they don’t charge you any extra for it. You won’t find any additional fees levied when you make purchases or withdraw cash (and if you do, they’ll be far less than average), which could prove to be far more cost-effective. Just bear in mind that you should still try to avoid withdrawing cash using a travel credit card, as much like in the UK, you’ll be charged extra for doing so, so in this case you’ll probably want to opt for a travel debit card instead.

Mix and match

While there are a lot of credit cards out there that offer fantastic deals when used in the UK – 0% interest on purchases and cashback on your spending, for example, can prove to be great ways to help you manage your budget – the benefits are completely nullified when used abroad. Likewise, cards used for foreign use may not offer the best spending options when back on home soil, so you should always have specific cards set aside for each. That way, you can be confident that your plastic is working hard for you, no matter where you are in the world.

What Not to Do on a Cruise Ship Pool Deck

–By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

The Main Pool on Norwegian Escape

Relaxing by the pool, with a cliched umbrella drink in hand, is one of the great pleasures of a cruise vacation. It’s what many 9-to-5ers dream of, as they sit in their offices, ticking off the calendar days until embarkation. So it’s no surprise that cruise travelers get very upset when their sun-drenched fantasies are destroyed by screaming children, rude chair hoggers or unexpected splashings — or feel sheepish when their own behavior gets them into trouble

Everyone can have a good time by the pool without too much effort, as long as we can all agree to follow a few simple etiquette and safety rules, and adjust our expectations from the idyllic to the realistic. Don’t be the object of glares, stares or next-day regrets — learn what not to do on a cruise ship pool deck…and don’t do it!

Chair hogs on Carnival Splendor

1. Don’t be a chair hog.

Everyone should have equal access to prime sun loungers. If you want to get up at the crack of dawn, stick a book and towel on a chair, grab breakfast at the buffet, then return to your chair to eat it — be our guest. If you don’t plan on returning until late in the afternoon, preventing other people from using a perfectly good chair, you are a chair hog, and no one likes you. Please be courteous and only reserve chairs you’re actively using when you need to step away to grab a drink, take a dip or run to the bathroom.

2. Don’t ignore your kids.

There are two parts to this “don’t.” First, as a parent, you are responsible for your kids’ behavior at the pool, so don’t let them terrorize your shipmates by running around screaming, starting water fights or otherwise being a nuisance. Second, most cruise ship pools do not have lifeguards, so watch your little ones when they’re in the water to make sure they stay safe.

Woman applying sunblock by the pool

3. Don’t forget sunblock.

Several hours spent lying in the sun, plus no sunblock (or no re-application of sunscreen), equals one very bad sunburn that could ruin your vacation. Don’t spend half your cruise bathing in aloe vera gel or unable to sit or go outside because you didn’t take a few minutes on your first sea day to lather on some SPF 30. Don’t love the lotion? At least put on a hat and cover-up to keep your fair skin out of the bright rays.

4. Don’t wear a Speedo.

Unless you’re a gorgeous model, and possibly even then, no one wants to see you in itsy-bitsy, very clingy swim trunks. The best rule of thumb when packing swimwear for a cruise is to remember that people of all ages, genders and levels of modesty will be sharing the pool deck with you. If you don’t want to be stared at — for whatever reason — choose a bathing suit that fits you well and leaves some things to the imagination.

5. Don’t sunbathe topless.

You might be cruising in Europe, but most cruise lines ban topless sunbathing for women in all destinations. If you want to pick an upper-deck lounger and untie your bikini straps while lying on your stomach, most likely no one will bother you. But this isn’t the place to take off your top while sitting around reading a book or chatting.

Hot tub on Oasis of the Seas

6. Don’t take your baby in the hot tub.

It’s not safe (infants and toddlers can’t handle high temperatures) and it’s not sanitary (they don’t allow kids in swim diapers for a reason, so don’t do it. Besides, your baby is much more interested in crawling down cabin corridors and chewing on a restaurant menu than enjoying a hot, bubbling soak.

7. Don’t take your drink in the hot tub (or pool).

While we’re on the subject of what not to take into a body of water…please finish your pina colada or Bud Lite before you enter a hot tub or pool. You run the risk of accidentally knocking your colorful, frozen concoction into the water, forcing a closure for cleaning. Plus, consuming alcohol can lead to dehydration, dizziness, passing out or dumb behavior — all of which can be dangerous when you’re in or near a pool or hot tub. (On that note, drink responsibly and mix in glasses of water between cocktail rounds to avoid inebriation or dehydration in general on sea days.)

8. Don’t run.

The pool deck is slippery! Please don’t run (or let your kids run). Lose your balance and you can hit your head, topple into the pool or knock someone — or their fruity cocktail — over. It’s OK to walk slowly; lunch will still be there.

Men's Belly Flop Competition on Enchantment of the Seas

9. Don’t expect peace or privacy.

Cruise ship pools are the hubs of sea-day fun. Bands play, people chat, activities staff host silly games and fundraisers and movies or concerts play on huge LED screens. It’s loud, and it’s public. If you want to nap in peace, do a little alfresco canoodling or whisper tete a tetes with your cabinmate, book a balcony cabin and seek privacy there. If you don’t mind company, but don’t want to get splashed during the Belly Flop contest or get crowded by Instagram fans during the Hairy Chest contest, consider a lounge chair that’s not located right at the edge of the pool

10. Don’t pee in the pool.

We saved it for last, but it must be said: Don’t pee, fart or perform other bodily functions in the pool. Instruct your kids on the same, and follow all rules about not letting toddlers who aren’t potty trained play in the water. Not only is it truly gross, but crew members are obligated to shut down contaminated pools to drain and clean them. One misstep on your part can ruin sea day fun for everyone else onboard.

15 Best Cruise Ship Alternative Restaurants

–By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

updated by Gina Kramer, Associate Editor

Remy

Eating well at a great restaurant is one of life’s finest indulgences, whether it’s leave-you-speechless haute cuisine or greasy, salty guilty pleasures. The good news for cruisers is you don’t have to leave dining choices behind on dry land when you set sail. Cruise ships are continually upping the ante with specialty restaurants that feature international dishes, celebrity chefs, intimate venues, innovative menus and all-round delicious food.

Partnerships with such storied chefs as Jacques Pepin, Jamie Oliver and Nobu have certainly raised the food bar at sea, but even in-house culinary teams are turning out novel cruise ship fare. Look for onboard venues embracing the gastropub movement, advanced cooking technologies and even molecular gastronomy.

Many, but not all, of these dining venues come at a price, but the extra fees are often worth it. If you’re an avid foodie, a couple looking for a romantic splurge or to celebrate a special occasion, or anyone wishing to cap a vacation day with an especially memorable dinner, you will relish this list of our favorite onboard alternative restaurants.

Restaurant Cuisine Cruiseline
Aqualina Seafood/Mediterranean Azamara
Guy’s Burger Joint American Carnival
Tuscan Grille Italian Celebrity
Silk Road Japanese Crystal
The Verandah French Cunard
Remy French Disney
Pinnacle Grille Pacific Northwest/American Holland America
Ocean Blue Seafood Norwegian
Red Ginger Asian fusion Oceania
The Epicurean Molecular gastronomy P&O Cruises
Sabatini’s Mediterranean Princess
Prime 7 Steak/Seafood Regent
Jamie’s Italian Italian Royal Caribbean
Manfredi’s Italian Viking Ocean Cruises
Le Champagne French Silversea

1. Azamara Club Cruises

Restaurant: Aqualina

At the Helm: Executive Chef Robert van Rijsbergen

Why We Love It: Rotating menus mean passengers can have two different dining experiences in the same space.

The Dish: Aqualina offers two menus, its original Mediterranean bill of fare and an Italian menu that was introduced in 2014. The newer menu — which includes gnocchi, prosciutto with melon and limoncello souffle — is swapped with Mediterranean offerings (such as osso buco, lobster thermidor and filet mignon) every few days.

Ships: Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey

Cost: A surcharge of $25 per person applies; there’s no charge for suite passengers. Reservations are recommended but not required.

2. Carnival Cruise Lines

Restaurant: Guy’s Burger Joint

At the Helm: Restaurateur and Food Network personality Guy Fieri

Why We Love It: Carnival proves you don’t need fancy clothes or lap napkins to enjoy a high-quality meal.

The Dish: Found on a number of ships after Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, Guy’s Burger Joint serves fresh-off-the-grill burgers and hand-cut fries in a fun, laid-back poolside setting. Diners can order prepared menu items or head to the toppings bar to customize their burgers.

Ships: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty,Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Triumph

Cost: It’s free. To grab some grub, you’ll need to wait in line.

Menu item at Tuscan Grille

3. Celebrity Cruises

Restaurant: Tuscan Grille

At the Helm: Celebrity’s culinary team

Why We Love It: In addition to scrumptious fare, the venue offers the best views of any restaurant onboard each ship, thanks to an entire wall of glass.

The Dish: The line’s Italian steakhouse serves up traditional regional fare with a contemporary flair. The menu features steaks, seafood and pasta, all with corn-fed USDA Choice beef. Diners can start off with plates of antipasto and top their meals off with chocolate fondue and limoncello. Lunch is served at least once per cruise.

Ships: Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Reflection

Cost: You’ll pay $45 per person. Reservations are required.

4. Crystal Cruises

Restaurant: Silk Road and the Sushi Bar

At the Helm: World-renowned master chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa

Why We Love It: The onboard chefs were all personally trained by the master himself — and it shows.

The Dish: Nobu’s menu is a blend of classic Japanese, Peruvian and European cuisines. Some of his popular entrees include lobster with truffle-yuzu sauce and the Nobu Box, a sampler of his famous beef, cod and rock shrimp dishes. Don’t miss the sushi and sashimi at the sushi bar.

Ships: Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity

Cost: The first reservation is complimentary and can be booked pre-cruise; additional reservations are $30 per person, based on availability, and they must be made onboard.

The Verandah

5. Cunard

Restaurant: The Verandah

At the Helm: Cunard Global Culinary Ambassador and Michelin-starred chef Jean-Marie Zimmermann

Why We Love It: The Verandah restaurant pays homage to the exclusive Verandah Grills found on the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. A meal there will upgrade any cruise into a luxury one — at least until the last crumb of dessert has been devoured.

The Dish: The dishes represent France’s culinary heritage, with options from various regions: the Pyrenees, Alsace, Burgundy, etc. Dishes might include a crab meat starter with tomato caviar, monkfish and rascas fish bouillabaisse, magret duck served with baked brie, and hot vanilla souffle infused with Edmond Briottet peach liqueur. The menus on each ship vary slightly.

Ships: Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria

Cost: It’s $29 per person for dinner, with supplemental fees for select menu items. Lunch ranges from $5 to $12 per dish. Reservations are required for all passengers, including World Club members.

6. Disney Cruise Line

Restaurant: Remy

At the Helm: Chef Arnaud Lallement from l’Assiette Champenoise — a Michelin two-star restaurant in France — and Chef Scott Hunnel from the award-winning Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World Resort

Why We Love It: Exquisite service, rich French fare and luxury touches will wow even the toughest food critics.

The Dish: Remy takes its name from the lovable rat, who stars as a chef in the hit Disney Pixar film “Ratatouille.” Start out with a Taittinger Champagne cocktail made tableside. Then choose from dishes that include smoked bison with melted fennel and leeks, Alaskan king crab cannelloni and Tanzanian chocolate timbale.

Ships: Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

Cost: At $85 per person, it’s the most expensive restaurant at sea. Even more of a splurge, diners may choose the Wine Experience for an additional $99 ($184 total), during which the sommelier selects wines to pair with the tasting menus. Reservations can be made online in advance or onboard. Certain sailings offer a Champagne Brunch at Remy for $55 per person, where diners may also opt for the Champagne pairing (an additional $25 per person).

Steak Dinner at the Pinnacle Grill on Noordam

7. Holland America Line

Restaurant: Pinnacle Grille

At the Helm: Rudi Sodamin, master chef and culinary consultant for Holland America Line, and member of the Academy Culinaire de France, Master Chef Society and Club des Chefs des Chefs

Why We Love It: Combine a gorgeous setting and fantastic food, and you’ve got a go-to destination for romantic dates and special-occasion dinners.

The Dish: The Pacific Northwest-inspired Pinnacle Grill boasts creative menus prepared with regional ingredients and hand-selected aged Sterling Silver beef and fresh seafood. Try the spicy chicken coconut soup or filet mignon with a choice of complementary sauces. It also has an extensive wine list, featuring wines from the Pacific Northwest, where the line’s headquarters are located. Once per cruise (or once per week on longer sailings), the Pinnacle Grill transforms into An Evening at Le Cirque, featuring dishes and wine selections from Sirio Maccioni’s famous New York restaurant of the same name.

Ships: Fleetwide

Cost: There’s a $10 per-person cover charge for lunch; it’s $29 for dinner ($12.50 for children ages 13 to 18). The surcharge for An Evening at Le Cirque is $49 per person. Dinner reservations are required in advance, while lunch can be reserved onboard.

8. Norwegian Cruise Line

Restaurant: Ocean Blue

At the Helm: New York-based Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian

Why We Love It: Considering Ocean Blue’s high-quality food and upscale ambience, dining there is a steal. The cover charge alone is less than Zakarian’s famed Dover sole, sold at his NYC establishment for $68.

The Dish: Ocean Blue is Norwegian’s most upscale dining venue. Its emphasis is on seafood; diners can choose from eight starters and eight main choices that include a daily special, black sea bass, monkfish, salmon, crab risotto and scallops. The restaurant also has an adjacent raw bar, which features primarily crustaceans and wine by the glass, as well as a la carte pricing.

Ships: Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway

Cost: The surcharge there is $39 per person. Reservations are not required but are recommended.

9. Oceania Cruises

Restaurant: Red Ginger

At the Helm: Master Chef Jacques Pepin, personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle

Why We Love It: The Feng Shui-inspired decor, which includes three glowing Buddha heads adorning each table, sets the stage for a memorable Asian-fusion meal.

The Dish: Red Ginger offers contemporary interpretations of Asian classics, such as claypot caramelized chicken and miso-glazed seabass. Extensive tea, wine, sake and dessert menus add to the experience.

Ships: Marina and Riviera

Cost: It’s complimentary. Reservations are not required but are strongly recommended, as the venue tends to fill up quickly.

10. P&O Cruises

Restaurant: The Epicurean

At the Helm: There’s no celebrity chef associated with this; just P&O Cruises’ in-house team of executive chefs. However, master patissier Eric Lanlard does oversee the Afternoon Tea.

Why We Love It: Britannia’s fine dining restaurant offers classic British dishes with a modern twist, using the principles of molecular gastronomy and techniques such as precision temperature cooking, freeze drying and liquid nitrogen. Cynics might dismiss this as style over substance, but the dishes justify the theatrics.

The Dish: Appetizers might include chicken liver parfait, brought to your table with wood smoke pouring out; or Spanish cured ham (jamon pata negra), sliced from the leg with Manchego cheese and olives, or a duo of cured smoked salmons. The mains are equally interesting, all sourced from British farms: Double Gloucester Old Spot pork fillet, loin of wild boar, butter-poached lobster tail and salt marsh rack of lamb.

Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is equally fun: expect such delights as smoked salmon on spinach bread and cherry tomato and baby mozzarella tarts.

Ships: Britannia, Ventura and Azura

Cost: £28. Reservations are essential. For Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea (sea days only) it is £15 per person.

Sabatini's on Caribbean Princess

11. Princess Cruises

Restaurant: Sabatini’s

At the Helm: Princess’ culinary team

Why We Love It: Sabatini’s offers some of the best dining value for your money at sea.

The Dish: Sabatini’s serves up Italian and Mediterranean fare with an emphasis on seafood. Choose from antipasti like hand-formed cow’s milk burrata cheese on tomato carpaccio or crisp buttermilk soft-shell crab over baby arugula. Second courses include baked striped bass in zucchini crust and a roasted veal rack with mushroom ragout. There’s also a variety of pastas.

Ships: The venue is found on all Princess ships, except for Sun Princess, Sea Princess and Dawn Princess.

Cost: The fee is $25 per person for adults and $12.50 for children ages 3 to 12. There’s no charge for children younger than 2. The venue books up quickly, so reservations are encouraged.

12. Regent Seven Seas

Restaurant: Prime 7

At the Helm: Regent’s culinary team

Why We Love It: Prime 7 epitomizes a classic steakhouse, and its U.S.D.A.-approved beef has all been dry-aged at least 28 days. While meat-lovers will pay hefty surcharges for this kind of fare on other lines, Regent’s best beef is complimentary.

The Dish: Like any steakhouse, the menu features steaks and seafood. We recommend the ahi tuna tartare or jumbo lump crab cake starters, huge entrees like prime porterhouse (carved tableside), whole Maine lobster or surf and turf (6 oz. filet mignon with your choice of lobster tail or Alaskan king crab legs). For dessert, treat yourself to Regent Seven Seas’ famous 14-layer Valrhona chocolate cake with roasted pistachio sauce.

Ships: Fleetwide

Cost: It’s gratis, but reservations might be limited to once per cruise so every passenger gets to try the venue.

Jamie's Italian on Anthem of the Seas

13. Royal Caribbean International

Restaurant: Jamie’s Italian

At the Helm: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs

Why We Love It: Unique twists or traditional fare, indoor or alfresco seating — you decide how you want to dine at Jamie’s Italian. Either way, you can’t go wrong with high-quality ingredients and delicious dishes.

The Dish: Debuting on Royal Caribbean’s first Quantum Class ship, Jamie’s Italian serves up dishes like Oliver’s famous wood plank with cured meats, pickles and cheese; pumpkin panzerotti; and zingy prawn linguine, as well as a variety of small plates.

Ships: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas

Cost: You’ll shell out $30 for dinner and $15 for lunch, per person. Reservations are not required, although we recommend them, especially if you plan to dine during peak hours.

14. Viking Ocean Cruises

Restaurant: Manfredi’s

At the Helm: Executive Chef Anthony Mauboussin, with some help from Manfredi Lefebvre — Silversea Cruises’ head honcho, Italy native and pal of Viking’s CEO Torstein Hagen — who helped develop the menu from his favorite childhood dishes.

Why We Love It: Even with just one menu at Manfredi’s, it’s rich enough with options that you could visit numerous times and never run out of new dishes to try.

The Dish: The rustic Tuscan menu offers hearty fare, traditionally prepared, in a trattoria-style setting. Highlights of the starters include a caprese salad, octopus carpaccio, asparagus and polenta, pasta e fagioli soup and a surprisingly light fried calamari. An entirely separate section of the menu details the pasta offerings like gnocchi alla romana, fettuccine carbonara and mushroom risotto; you can order these (and others) as a main course or as a smaller appetizer. For mains, a melange of fish and meat options, the bistecca Florentine, veal scaloppini and osso bucco are standouts. For dessert, the tiramisu is, as expected, a cornerstone offering, but don’t miss the decadently delicious Nutella panna cotta.

In addition to the menu’s regular offerings, the restaurant features entree and pasta specials each night. And don’t miss the cured meats and cheeses station at the entrance to Manfredi’s — the chefs there whip up a marvelous antipasti.

Ships: Viking Star and Viking Sea

Cost: No extra surcharge is levied for Manfredi’s. Reservations are highly recommended.

15. Silversea Cruises

Restaurant: Le Champagne

At the Helm: Silversea’s culinary team

Why We Love It: It’s the only restaurant at sea belonging to Relais & Chateaux (a network of more than 500 luxury hotels and restaurants around the world).

The Dish: Le Champagne is upscale, even by Silversea’s luxury standards. The small French-inspired restaurant, which can host only a limited number of diners per night, offers six-course meals inspired by wine regions around the world. While menus change continuously to reflect itineraries, dishes might include meat-filled pastries and foie gras, shellfish with asparagus sorbet and roasted Bresse chicken.

Ships: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Spirit, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper

Cost: It’ll set you back $40 per person. Reservations are required.

 

6 Best Adults-Only Cruise Sun Decks

–By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor;

updated by Brittany Chrusciel, Associate Editor

Couple on a cruise

Cruise ship sun decks offer all the convenience of loungers, hot tubs and beverage service — and all the headaches of screaming children, rock concerts on poolside screens and live bands playing “Hot Hot Hot” for the twentieth time. Adults-only sun decks offer all the former in a much more serene environment. We have nothing against kids, but even on the most family-friendly cruise ships, an area explicitly excluding children gives parents a valuable hour or two of “me time,” while maintaining the sanity of fellow cruisers who came on vacation for peace, quiet and minimal crying.

Adults-only sun decks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many have amenities not available in the main deck areas and nicer loungers or sun beds; some also require an entry fee. We have not included adults-only solariums that are strictly covered pools. If the only whining you want comes with dining, then consider the following six sun decks that maintain a strict adults-only ambiance.

The Sanctuary

1. Princess’ The Sanctuary

Where to Find Serenity: Fleetwide, except for Pacific Princess

Pampering Elements: Princess got the concept — an exclusive adults-only sun deck, dedicated to quiet relaxation and attentive service — right on the first try. There, the lounges are upscale and plush, and Serenity Stewards provide cooling Evian misters, chilled face towels, MP3 players and healthy and refreshing drinks and snacks like fruit skewers, spring rolls and smoothies. The ships’ Lotus Spas also have outposts there in two private cabanas, where various massages are offered. (But, on warm breeze-free days, the enclosed cabanas can get rather sticky.) You can even take part in a sunset yoga session right on the deck.

Serenity Secret: Book an outdoor massage, and you’ll be able to enjoy The Sanctuary free of charge for an hour after the treatment. If you’re tired of your own musical choices, you can borrow an MP3 player for free for use in The Sanctuary; 10 preloaded playlists include calming island, new age, soft pop and country music selections, among other genres. (Outdoor massages are not available on Island, Coral, Dawn, Diamond, Sapphire, Sea or Sun Princess.) Doing some scenic sailing through the Panama Canal or around the glaciers of Alaska? Book a Scenic Sanctuary package that includes a private viewing area for the day, along with special goodies.

Reality Intrudes: Half-day passes (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) cost $20 per person. Passes for a full day cost $40 each. Scenic sailing packages vary by destination, but they cost about $60 per person for the day. Personal Evian misters cost $3.95, though you can enjoy a gratis spritz from the Sanctuary stewards periodically throughout the day. Drinks from the Sanctuary menu run $1.50 to $3. Snacks themselves are free, but a food delivery surcharge of $3 applies to all orders.

Serenity

2. Carnival’s Serenity

Where to Find Serenity: Fleetwide, except for Carnival Conquest and Carnival Triumph

Pampering Elements: Unlike most of Carnival’s outdoor public spaces, Serenity deck areas are entirely kid-free; passengers must be 21 or older to use the area. Location and amenities vary by ship, but Serenity features plush loungers, oversized shade umbrellas, and pools and/or whirlpools. (Carnival Splendor only has a deck area without a pool or hot tub.) Carnival Sunshine’s Serenity area spans three decks and features a waterfall. Waiters provide bar service for sunbathers looking to cool off with an icy drink or frozen cocktail, and a variety of music is played throughout the day.

Serenity Secret: It’s free to use.

Reality Intrudes: Because the area does not charge a usage fee, loungers are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and typical chair-hogging may apply. Depending on the time of day and popularity of the area, the Serenity deck may feel more or less serene. Although the area is accessible 24/7, whirlpool and bar hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but be sure to check once you’re onboard, as it can vary.

Top 18

3. MSC’s Top 18 Exclusive Solarium

Where to Find Serenity: Deck 18 on MSC Cruises’ Fantasia-class ships (Fantasia, Divina, Preziosa and Splendida)

Pampering Elements: Dedicated spa services, bar menus and complimentary fruit skewers sweeten the adults-only experience at Top 18. Enjoy express 20-minute reflexology and facial treatments or massages, available from the solarium’s private massage chairs. Then, head to the tiki bar for a smoothie or a frozen cocktail. A private entrance and chilled towels upon arrival set the mood for sunning and seclusion. Watch the sunset from one of two private hot tubs in the area.

Serenity Secret: Wide-brimmed relaxation pods can be made available if you prefer to take in your ocean views from the shade.

Reality Intrudes: A fee ranging from $5 to $30, depending on which piece of furniture is being used and how long it’s needed, is required to enjoy the sun deck. Depending on ship and itinerary, this Italian line may charge by the euro; check your onboard currency before sailing.

Satellite Falls

4. Disney’s Satellite Sun Deck

Where to Find Serenity: Deck 13 forward on Disney Fantasy

Pampering Elements: In addition to the Quiet Cove pool and much-needed adults-only area also found on Disney’s other three ships, Fantasy features a dazzling area called Satellite Falls. The Falls is a circular shallow pool with benches and a “cascading rain curtain” that sets apart this area from the rest of a kiddo-ridden cruise ship. Anyone 18 or older can take advantage of this relaxation area with loungers on the top deck.

Serenity Secret: The Satellite Sun Deck area might be the exclusive spot to go on Fantasy, but if you crave variety, the upper deck of the Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar has been reconfigured with better loungers, protective canopies and a small wading pool.

Reality Intrudes: Unless you’re cruising on Fantasy, Disney’s other three ships haven’t quite caught up to providing an entire sun deck for adult use. Sure, the Quiet Cove pool and bar is a nice area, but more to the point: Mom, dad and honeymooning couples would much prefer some private space to a dedicated pool only.

The Retreat

5. P&O’s The Retreat

Where to Find Serenity: Azura, Ventura and Britannia

Pampering Elements: Situated high on Deck 16 forward on Azura and Ventura, and Deck 17 on Britannia, The Retreat is an exclusive sun deck area with its own private terrace, cabanas and sun beds. (Some double beds are available, too.) During summer Mediterranean cruises, the adults-only space offers a perfect respite from the main sun deck area, which can be overrun with kids, pool games and bands. You have easy access to the Oasis Pool, located immediately below, plus The Retreat fee includes a pass to the Thermal Spa.

Serenity Secret: A word of advice: Book early for The Retreat. It can sell out quickly. There are 48 sun loungers within The Retreat (18 outside in the sun and the rest in the shade) on Azura and Ventura. Britannia has 60 sun loungers within The Retreat. Sun lounger positions are not guaranteed.

Reality Intrudes: Passes for The Retreat cannot be pre-booked, but they’re available to purchase onboard at the Oasis Spa. They tend to book up quickly on the first day of the cruise, though passes to The Retreat can also be obtained when booking a spa package. A day pass costs £25 per person. Prices for full-cruise passes for one person (or a couple) are: £120 per person (£200 per couple) for seven nights. If you’re booked in the spa cabins, you’ll have VIP access to The Retreat.

Vibe Beach Club on Norwegian Getaway

6. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Posh, Vibe and Spice H20

Where to Find Serenity: Posh Beach Club and Spice H20 on Norwegian Epic; Vibe and Spice H20 on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Escape

Pampering Elements:Spice H20 is a kids-free lounge area, located on Deck 15 aboard Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. During the day, the area serves as a quiet escape, complete with hot tubs, loungers and a serene waterfall. Just don’t expect serenity at night, when the space is converted into an open-air dance club. Passengers reach Norwegian Epic’s exclusive Posh Beach Club by private glass elevator. The area has a Mediterranean flair with cushioned daybeds, a full bar, water spritzers, cold towels and fruit skewers. It’s complimentary to passengers staying in Villas.

The Vibe Beach Club aboard the Breakaway-class ships and Norwegian Escape — which features ocean views, an oversized hot tub, chaise-style loungers and a soothing water feature — functions similarly to Posh and offers the same amenities.

Serenity Secret: Only a limited number of passes for Vibe and Posh is available, so you’ll want to purchase them as early as possible.

Reality Intrudes: There’s no fee for Spice H20, but Posh and Vibe will cost you. Passengers can purchase one-day ($15), one-week ($59) or 10-day ($119) passes to Posh, with access for weekly and longer passes beginning the second day of the cruise. While Posh is free for Villa suite passengers, Haven suite cruisers on Norwegian’s newest ships will have to pay the standard rates to gain access to Vibe. A daily pass is $20, a weekly pass is $79, a cabana rental for two passengers on a sea day is $99 and includes a $30 credit toward food and beverage, and a cabana rental for two passengers for the full cruise length is $299, which includes a $100 food and beverage credit. Aside from the credit allotted for cabana rentals at Vibe, passengers in all three venues must pay regular prices for all bar purchases.

 

7 Tasty Trends at Sea

ShermansCruise

by Fran Golden

Princess Cruiess, Ruby Princess, Salty Dog Pub, Ernesto Burger

Kristen Boatright | Ernesto Burger at Ruby Princess’s Salty Dog Pub

Cruise lines used to be way behind on food trends — serving lobster thermidor and beef Wellington long after they were fashionable. But today, knowing that their passengers include some serious food enthusiasts, the lines are trying harder to stay current, and it’s a refreshing change. Here are seven trends you can sample on a ship.

Carnival Cruise Line, Guy's Pig & Anchor

Carnival Cruise Line | Guy’s Pig & Anchor on Carnival Cruise Line

1. Barbecue

It’s no surprise that it’s not easy to find barbecue on a cruise ship — after all, no open flames afre allowed on ships. But Carnival has had some success with its Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ on Carnival Breeze, which serves backyard-style Italian sausages, chicken, and pulled pork sandwiches. (The new Carnival Vista will get its own outpost, too.)

Celebrity chefs are also getting into the game: Food Network star Guy Fieri recently debuted the complimentary Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que on Carnival Magic, which sails from Tampa and features smoked pork butt, beef, sausages, and chicken. And Thomas Keller of New York City’s Per Se has introduced family-style BBQ ribs to the menus of Seabourn‘s luxury ships.

Cronut

iStock / nito100 | Cronut

2. Cronuts

This treat — the marriage of a donut and a croissant — took NYC by storm and continues to be one of the most immitated breakfast pastries on land. Princess Cruises debuted them at sea, calling them simply “croissant donuts” and making them in a square shape rather than their original round. The deep-fried treats, which have a hole in the middle, are then covered with cinnamon sugar; order them at breakfast in the International Café in the piazza atrium on Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Sunshine, Shake Spot

Carnival Cruise Line | Treats from the Shake Spot on Carnival Sunshine

3. Spiked Milkshakes/Floats

Boozy milkshakes topped with whipped cream and candy or sweet sauces have taken New York City by storm this year. Fans of these rich treats should visit the Shake Spot on Carnival Sunshine and the new Carnival Vista for creamy concoctions such as a rum-laced chocolate shake made with Cruzan vanilla rum, chocolate syrup, and chocolate ice cream ($7.75) and a tasty dark and stormy float ($7.75).

Norwegrian Cruise Line, Norwegian Peral Truffle Fries at Cagney's

NCL | Truffle Fries at Cagney’s on Norwegian Pearl

4. Truffle Fries

Sure, these may be well over the hump in urban areas, but they’re still hot in other parts of the country, Hit popular steakhouse Cagney’s on Norwegian Cruise Line ($30 cover charge) or Holland America Line‘s Pinnacle Grill ($29 cover charge) and you’ll find house versions of this treat. At Cagney’s they’re made with white truffle oil and Parmesan; at Pinnacle the shoestring fries come with truffle aioli.

Princess Cruises, Salty Dog Gatropub, Ernesto Burger

Princess Cruises | Salty Dog Gatropub’s Ernesto Burger

5. Umami-flavored Burgers

Burgers packed with additional savory flavors, which complement the meat and also add a palate punch, continue to wow across the country. At the Salty Dog Gastropub in the Wheelhouse Bar of Crown PrincessEmerald Princess, and Ruby Princess you can order a burger created by award-winning chef Ernesto Uchimura originally of Umami Burger in Los Angeles. Ingredients in The Ernesto ($19) include a ribeye and short rib patty topped with grilled pork belly, Gruyère cheese, beer-battered jalapeño, caramelized kimchi, charred onion aioli, and smoked salt and pepper; the Salty Dog serves this behemoth on a brioche bun with your choice of truffle Parmesan fries or sweet potato fries.

Disney Cruise Line, Disney Dream, Senses Juice Bar

Disney | Disney Dream’s Senses Juice Bar

6. Juice

Cruising may have a long tradition of celebrating indulgent foods, but the new onboard trend is juice bars. On Disney Cruise Line‘s Disney Dream, the Senses Juice Bar blends fruit and vegetable drinks such as the Beginning ($4.95), which combines spinach, carrots, avocado, ginger, basil, and Manuka honey. MSC Cruises‘ Divina features a health-focused juice and tea bar in its Asian-inspired Aurea Spa. On luxury line SeaDream Yacht Club, which offers an optional raw food menu, you can try the detoxifying Blood Apple Blaster (apple, ginger, red beets, lime juice, and agave). After a few days of multi-course dinners, one of these juices may just feel like the perfect lunch.

Kale Caesar Salad

Lon Binder | Kale Caesar Salad

7. Kale

Kale continues to be all the rage in many places, and it’s on cruise ships now too. The new American Table dining room menus on Carnival Cruise Line offers a kale Caesar salad every night. You’ll also find a kale Caesar salad on Holland America Line ships including the new Koningsdamwhere we even spotted raw kale as a breakfast buffet option.