Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cruise Critic

Love to cruise?  Do you know about Cruise Critic?  The name may be confusing, making you think it is nothing but people complaining about their cruise.  But actually, Cruise Critic is a community of people interested in cruising.
When you first go to Cruise Critic you will see categories like, “Reviews”, “Find A Cruise”,  “Deals”, “Destinations”, “How to Cruise”,  “News”,  and “Community”.  Most of these have a pull down menu with specific information.  If you are reading the reviews, remember to take them with a grain of salt.  They are very subjective – what one person finds unforgivable might not bother another person.   Very few cruises are going to be totally horrible or totally fantastic.  A good rule is to eliminate the top 20% and the bottom 20% of the reviews.
For me, the best part of Cruise Critic is the “Community”.  This is where you will find dozens of forums covering just about any aspect of cruising.  Here are just a few of the forum topics:
Honeymoon and Wedding Cruises
Luxury Cruising
First Time Cruisers
Disabled Cruise Travel
Solo Cruisers
Cruising Technology
World Cruising

Most of the mainstream cruise lines have a separate forum where you can ask (and answer) the questions of fellow members.  Sometimes these discussions can become very heated and the board moderators have to step in and encourage everyone to “play nice”.

There also are “Roll Calls” where people who are going to be on the same cruise can chat with each other.  Roll Calls are interesting as some of them become very popular and others just sit there.   For this cruise I have been very lucky to be part of an amazing roll call.  We have discussed all kinds of topics of interest from excursions, setting up meet and greets, what to wear, to the pain of getting visas for China and India (more about that in a future post).  Although I am traveling solo, I do not feel like I am traveling alone because of all the great people I have met on the roll call.

If you need to find out information about your ports of call, there is a forum for that.  This is a great place to find out some of the best places to visit (or avoid) as well as reputable excursion providers.  Cruise Critic is owned by TripAdvisor which is another great site to learn about the places you will be visiting.

One of my favorite forums is the “Cruise Fashion and Beauty”.  Almost everyone on the forum is positive and helpful (even if they disagree).  There is even a recycling thread where people offer clothes, shoes, handbags, etc. that they have grown tired of, don’t fit any more, or they are just downsizing their closets.  If you are the lucky recipient of an item all you have to do is to send a check for the shipping to the giver and post a picture of yourself and the item on the thread.

So, if you are interested in cruising, give Cruise Critic a try.   You can read all the information but must register in order to post.

Smooth sailing until next time.

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