Thursday, December 27, 2012

10 of the Best Caribbean Cruise Itineraries

The Caribbean is one of the most attractive cruise destinations in the world. Check these Caribbean most famous itineraries to give you an idea of the various voyages offered and help decide on where you want to be on your next cruise.

The Caribbean Sea is home to over 7,000 islands and it is the 5th largest body of water in the world. Whereas you cannot sail a major cruise vessel to every corner of the Caribbean, you do have a lot of choices to pick for the best itineraries.

Deep south

The deep south itinerary is a voyage to the southernmost of the Caribbean sea: the ABC islands and South America’s northeast coast. These unusual paths are not offered by most lines, but they can be best picks especially during hurricane season since most storms do not strike south. The 11-night cruise of Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Voyager out of Ft. Lauderdale gives visits to Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Grand Turk and Puerto Rico. Well, it is visiting Caribbean from tip to toe.

Eastern Caribbean

Western Caribbean’s sister itinerary is Eastern Caribbean of seven nights’ sail. Many cruise ships weekly alternate between east and west, which create chances for two-week back-to-back expeditions. Such is what happens to the big ship Freedom of the Seas by Royal Caribbean Lines. Its itinerary in the eastern Caribbean stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico with three sea days. At the stops, you can enjoy shopping, the beaches and rainforests or spend the days ice skating, rock climbing or simply box on this giant floating resort.

Short Caribbean cruises

The good thing about Caribbean is that it is too close to the southern US ports. If you do not have much time for vacation, a short cruise can be best for you. You shall absolutely feel like escaping the office just for a short period. Celebrity Line offers a first-rate five-night expedition on the recently enhanced Century. You depart from Miami for Grand Cayman and Jamaica, enjoy two nights at sea then return tanned and rejuvenated for just a short break.

Southern Caribbean

Veteran cruisers who have sailed the Caribbean look to southern Caribbean for less crowded and more exotic islands. Departure are usually from Barbados or Puerto Rico since the islands are far to reach when from the mainland of United States. To sail in style, try the eight-night expedition of the Silver Wind out of San Juan. With just a day at sea, you can visit Bequia, Barbados, Grenada, St. Bart’s, Antigua and Dominica. You may also look for virgin beaches, romantic settings and spice plantations.

Western Caribbean

The basic seven-night Caribbean cruise is best for first-timers. You can depart from various homeports and get a blend of Central American and some island ports as well as spend days at sea. Cruising on the Grand Princess departs from the Ft. Lauderdale and calls at Caribbean ports of Jamaica, Cozumel, Princess Cays, Mexico and Grand Cayman. Activities include snorkeling, scuba diving on Grand Cayman, exploring Mexico’s Mayan ruins and climbing a waterfall in Jamaica. Plus you have two days at sea to enjoy the ship.

2012 Five Best River Cruise Ships

According to a poll conducted by Condé Nast Traveler, a premier travel magazine with vacation ideas, destination information and travel tips, the following are voted as the world’s 5 best river cruise ships in random order.

Here is the list of the world’s five best river cruise ships of 2012 according to the votes of Condé Nast Traveler travel magazine readers. Uniworld and Viking River Cruises share the top five positions with three cruisers from Uniworld and two from Viking.

River Beatrice of Uniworld River Cruises

It’s Uniworld again with River Beatrice this time landing second. Launched in March 2009, readers of Condé Nast Traveler rated River Beatrice as the world’s best river ship that year. 67 of Beatrice’ 80 staterooms have French balconies and only 13 cabins do not, which are at the lowest of its three decks.  Most staterooms are 150 square feet big, beautified in floral patterns or crisp beiges or whites, while the suites are 225 square feet big. On the Danube Deck, the restaurant’s fare is inspired by Hungarian and Austrian cuisine, which just fits to the cruiser’s itinerary from Budapest to Linz, Germany and in Salzburg which is reached through a bus.

River Queen of Uniworld River Cruises

River Queen tops the poll. It is one of the older cruisers of Uniworld River Cruises which it launched in 1999 and for which the line can boast some firsts – first elevator and the first cruiser to have constructed a Sun Deck and three decks. Sun Decks are now common to most of Uniworld’s cruise ships. The River Queen was renovated in 2005 but retains its unique riverboat profile which recalls vintage steamships, while its decor in the common places plays on the themes of Art Deco in white and blue. Standard staterooms are 151 square feet in size while suites are about 65 square feet bigger. The ship sails at European Jewels most of the time, from Amsterdam to Budapest along the rivers of Danube, Main and Rhine.

River Royale of Uniworld River Cruises

One of Uniworld River Cruise’ pride, River Royale completed the top 5 best river cruisers. Inaugurated in 2006, River Royal sails French itineraries only. Its staterooms on the highest Azure Deck have French balconies and ornamented in gold and blue theme. On the deck below are Burgundy staterooms fittingly decorated in deep red, all has L’Occitane products. While cruising, passengers usually while away time either on the Sun Deck or on the Azure Deck, which houses the lounge and reception parts. The ship sails through Burgundy and Provence, on Rhône and Saône rivers.

Viking Helvetia of Viking River Cruises

Viking Helvetia from Viking River Cruises is a 198-passenger capacity river cruiser built in 2006. It sails the Rhine between Basel and Amsterdam. All excursions in shores mostly include tours of small German towns. Onboard entertainment at Viking Helvetia includes glass-blowing demos, carving of wooden shoes and building cuckoo-clocks. You can also learn how to make Alsatian flammkuchen or German apple strudel when you are not keen to look out on your stateroom’s large window for passing castles.

Viking Legend of Viking River Cruises

Viking strikes again with Legend this time, the twin ship of Viking Prestige. It was in 2009 when Viking Legend joined the fleet of Viking River Cruises when it was outfitted with a propulsion system which increased efficiency of fuel by 20 percent to provide a more serene cruise. It also is a green first in the cruise industry. Viking has two 310-square feet suites and 155 square feet staterooms with French balconies on the upper two decks. Those who travel alone may want to try Legend’s single berths. All cabins have flat-screen TVs and L’Occitane products. Viking Legend sails between Budapest and Pasau and on longer trips, between Budapest and Nuremberg along Danube, the most legendary river of Europe.

2012 World’s Five Best Large Cruise Ships

According to a poll conducted by Condé Nast Traveler, a premier travel magazine with vacation ideas, destination information and travel tips, the following are voted as the world’s 5 best large cruise ships in random order.
Here is the list of the world’s five best large cruise ships of 2012 according to the votes of Condé Nast Traveler travel magazine readers. Disney Cruise Line and Celebrity share the top 5 positions with three cruisers from Disney and two from Celebrity.

Celebrity Eclipse of Celebrity

Celebrity Eclipse is Celebrity’s third stylish Solstice class which debuted in April 2010 at Southampton, England. She also has what her other sisters brag, such as the Lawn Club which houses the first half-acre grass patch at sea, “molecular gastronomy” cocktails bar and a glassblowing show. Eclipse has an Apple store where passengers can shop and an innovative cybercafe iLounge wherein anyone can take digital photography and web design classes. The cruiser launched Qsine, a restaurant that is interactive having iPad wine lists, crab dip that cooks at tables on hot lava rocks, decorate-your-own cupcakes and sushis in lollipops.

Celebrity Equinox of Celebrity

Second of the Celebrity Line’s top Solstice-class ships, Celebrity Equinox’s most amazing feature is its half-acre lawn on the top deck which is covered with real grass for passengers to have picnics on, play croquet or bocce or simply lounge. Celebrity Equinox’ homeport port is Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean winter cruises, from Mexico to Barbados. It also has Rome as its home port in summer for its Mediterranean sailings. Its two repositioning transatlantic cruises that take 14 nights link the two cities in April and November. These 14 night cruises are good options if you want to experience the ship’s all ten onboard dining halls. Three of them – Italian, Asian and Continental cuisines promise extra special food and service at extra fees. The main dining room is a spectacular draw – white, glittering and with a two-storey wine rack at the center. A Mediterranean restaurant is available only to passengers who occupy spa-class cabins, that also include access to saunas and steam rooms for free.

Disney Dream of Disney Cruise Line

It’s Disney Cruise Line again continuously setting the bar high with its Disney Dream. Disney Dream blends fantasy and technology to create new features like the first aquatic roller coaster and AquaDuck, a big upgrade to water slides at the top-deck. The cruiser’s interior cabins are fit with “magical” portholes showing live feeds; “enchanted” paintings line the hallways which are screens of LCD that show videos of animated characters. There are plenty treats for parents too – adults-only pool and Remy, a French restaurant that is Ratatouille-themed.

Disney Magic of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Magic from Disney Cruise Line is a 2,700-passenger capacity cruiser which debuted in 1998. Its emphasis, of course is family fun and entertainment. Not surprisingly for Disney. It has a nursery named Little Mermaid for the young ones, a 24-hour teens-only Vibe with “Central Perk” decor having video games and flat screen TVs. Passengers can also take time to lax at the four adults-only lounges that include roadhouse-inspired Rockin’Bar D as well as the mellower Sessions piano bar. Itineraries of Disney Magic are mostly in the Mediterranean in the summer and Caribbean in the winter, including some calls at Castaway Cay, private island of Disney in the Bahamas.

Disney Wonder of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Wonder is one of the first two ships of Disney Cruise Line. It debuted in 1999, 12 months after Disney Magic debuted in 1998. Wonder celebrates Disney characters as well as their respective artists. Tinkerbell is Disney Wonder’s godmother and like the other Disney shops, has Animator’s Palate restaurants which interiors are beautified with drawings of characters and highlight the walls and columns at unfeasible fun-house angles. A show which stars cast members in costumes is the dinner’s highlight though others who do not want to join all the family fun can go to adults-only Palo for Italian, or Remy for French. Disney Wonder cruises Alaska in the summer since 2011. She also sails in the coasts of the Bahamas and along Mexican Riviera in fall and winter.