It’s sometimes a little deflating to try a cruise or a new ship and realize that some of the great features you’d been looking forward to fall short of the hype surrounding them.
Windstar Cruises: The twilight al fresco barbecue off Portofino on Windstar’s new Star Pride was about as perfect an evening as I could imagine on a cruise.Then there are surprises the opposite way: things that work so well or are so outstanding that you can’t wait to get off the ship and tell everyone you know about them. Here are 10 such moments from my cruise travels in 2014:
Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival’s push to diversify its itineraries paid off on an eight-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale, which went all the way to Curacao. The late evening departure was an added bonus.
Celebrity Cruises: The unflagging attention and professionalism of Michael’s Club concierge Anca Cenea made me realize how much truly extraordinary service can add to a cruise.
Crystal Cruises: I’m not a big fan of small plates, but the new tapas-style street food served at the Tastes restaurant on Crystal Serenity really won me over.
Icy Strait Point: The zipline at this Alaska cruise port was as much fun as it looked on YouTube videos, but some of the other features, such as Alaska’s Wildest Kitchen, were an upside surprise.
Norwegian Cruise Line: The club performance by jazz flautist Nestor Torres in the Grammy Experience aboard Norwegian Getaway was some of the best live music I’ve heard in a long time.
Norwegian Cruise Line: The Illusionarium on Getaway exceeded the hype.
Princess Cruises: The quality of the Brazilian food served at the Horizon Court buffet on the Regal Princess during a dine-and-dash evening for me was completely unexpected. I would love to try it again.
Royal Caribbean International: The programming in the Two70 lounge on the Quantum of the Seas is mind-boggling.
UnCruise Adventures: A day on a jet boat in the Hell’s Canyon section of the Snake River between Oregon and Idaho was everything you’d want in a soft adventure excursion.