Cruise Holidays - Attheta Travel

I am proud to be certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) as an Elite Cruise Counselor. The Cruise Counselor Certification Program is CLIA's most comprehensive training which requires agents to successfully complete a number of compulsory training courses and exams, attend cruise conferences, and conduct ship inspections. Anita Thompson, Attheta Travel, dba Cruise Holidays.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Important Documents for Your Next Cruise

If you haven’t cruised for a while, remember that there are some important documents you should bring onboard with you, including your passport and COVID-19 vaccination card.

Your passport serves as an official ID and proof of citizenship. Bring your actual, physical passport; in some situations, a printed copy or an image of your passport may not be accepted. It’s also important to check your passport’s expiration date before you make a cruise reservation because many cruise lines require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the end date of your cruise.

Note that if you’re taking a “closed-loop” cruise – one that begins and ends at the same U.S. port – a passport is not required. But, you’ll still need to bring a government-issued ID that includes a photo (such as a driver’s license) and proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate). And, some ports of call may still require a passport before you’re allowed to step off the ship.

If you’re cruising from the U.S. to certain destinations – including Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and some Caribbean islands – you may be able to use a U.S. passport card instead of a regular passport. But some cruise lines always require each passenger to have a regular passport, regardless of the itinerary.

As with your passport, bring your actual, physical vaccination card, even if you provide a digital copy to the cruise line when you make your reservation. Many cruise lines now require most or all passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and some ports also require proof of vaccination for passengers who wish to come onshore. Tip: If you can’t find your vaccination card, contact the organization that provided the vaccine – such as your doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or the local health department – to ask for a copy.

Requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination status may vary between cruise lines, and even among the ships of the same cruise line; specific requirements may also depend on your port of embarkation or debarkation. Plus, these requirements can change, so stay connected with your professional travel advisor for the latest information.

A quick note about visas: you can visit most places in the world via cruise ship without a visa, but when one is required, the cruise line is likely to make the necessary arrangements.

Finally, remember to pack any other documents your cruise line requires; consult with Anita, your professional travel advisor, to make sure you have all the documents you need.

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Monday, June 13, 2022

Considerations for Mature Voyagers

Many of today’s cruise ships provide non-stop, heart-pumping action onboard, from water coasters to ziplines, ropes courses, go-kart tracks, skydiving simulators, and more. But if your days of joyfully careening down a water slide or scaling a climbing wall are behind you, you may not need a ship with high-adrenaline attractions. If you’ve reached a more mature stage of life – say, age 60 or more – check out some mid-sized ships with amenities you may appreciate.

For example, Viking Ocean Cruises has a lot to offer mature passengers who are interested in learning more about the places they visit. The line sails in Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Greece, South America, Australia, Alaska, and more, and every ship sails with a resident historian who provides cultural insights along the way. Viking’s nine ocean-going ships each accommodate 930 guests in a serene atmosphere, with Scandinavian-style furnishings and luxuries like heated bathroom floors. There are no onboard casinos, and no children: Viking requires passengers to be at least 18 years of age.

If you enjoy cruise traditions like dressing up for dinner, consider Cunard Line. Its three ships sail to many parts of the world, and it’s the only cruise line with regular transatlantic service. Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Mary 2 each accommodate about 2,000 passengers. There are fun activities for all ages, but mature travelers might particularly enjoy the cultural programs and the large shipboard libraries. The Queen Mary 2 has a lovely planetarium, too. The level of elegance reaches a peak each afternoon when white-gloved waiters serve traditional British tea with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries.

The ships of Holland America Line also appeal to mature travelers, with lots of itineraries for those who have time to sail to destinations like the Panama Canal, South America and Antarctica, the South Pacific, or Australia and New Zealand. These ships accommodate 1,500 to 2,100 passengers, and cultural activities may include “port-to-table” explorations of local cuisine; learning more about our world with BBC Earth Experiences; and plenty of great live music.

There are additional tempting options for mature cruise fans, including luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Windstar Cruises, and Seabourn Cruise Line. These cruise lines have beautiful ships, great cultural programs, and gourmet dining; and, the fares may include amenities you would pay for separately on other lines.

For more information and to select your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, June 6, 2022

The Perfect Gift for Dad

Dads who are better at giving than receiving may not give much thought to what they would like to receive for Father’s Day, so we have a suggestion. If you asked your dad what he wants and he said something like, “Nothing,” “I don’t know,” or “Just a hug,” here’s an idea for a really special Father’s Day gift: a cruise.

If your dad is already a cruise fan, you may have a good idea of his preferences. If not, here are some things to consider:

How long can he cruise? If he has time only for a quick getaway, check out short cruises, such as two-, three- or four-day cruises to The Bahamas or the Mexican Riviera. Even a short cruise can give him time to relax, refresh, enjoy the scenery and visit an interesting port or two. An affordable short cruise may be a good fit for your Father’s Day gift budget, as well.

If he has more time available to cruise, there are lots of options for voyages of seven nights or more. He could sail the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America, or other parts of the world.

If you have a generous gift budget and dad has lots of free time, a regional grand voyage or a world cruise is a spectacular gift for a dad who loves travel.

Is he casual or dressy? In general, cruise line dress codes have been trending toward casual; on many ships, shorts and t-shirts are fine for daytime, and casual slacks and a collared shirt are good for the evening.

But some ships maintain the tradition of dressing up for dinner, at least on designated formal evenings. If your dad loves to put on a suit and tie or even a tuxedo, ask your professional travel advisor to recommend some cruise lines and ships where he can do just that.

Is he a nature lover, or really adventurous? There are lots of cruise options for dads who enjoy the outdoors: cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, or Mexico all provide stunning natural beauty and opportunities to see wildlife.

These destinations can also provide some heart-pumping action for dads who love a thrill – such as dog sledding over a glacier, parasailing over the ocean, scuba diving in the deep, or ziplining through a forest canopy.

To learn more and select a cruise for your dad (and for you, if you can cruise with him), talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, May 30, 2022

The New Way to Muster

The muster drill may not be anyone’s favorite activity on a cruise ship, but it is one of the most important. It’s a safety drill that makes sure you and your fellow passengers know where to gather (“muster” means to collect or assemble) and what to do in the rare instance of an emergency. Some people call muster drills “lifeboat drills,” because passengers traditionally gather close to the lifeboats they’re assigned to if the ship must be evacuated; again, that’s a very rare occurrence.

The most important things to know about muster drills is that they take place before or just after embarkation, and you must participate. Muster drills are required, and the consequences for skipping them can be serious. If you don’t complete the drill, expect the crew to search for you; when they find you, they may invite you to attend a “catch-up” drill or to leave the ship.

In traditional muster drills, after a ship-wide announcement, everyone goes to their muster stations at the same time (the location of your station is usually printed on your passenger card and posted in your cabin). Some cruise lines ask you to bring a life jacket from your cabin, while others store life jackets at the muster stations. At your station, your passenger card will be scanned, or your attendance recorded in some other way as the crew provides important safety information.

But now, muster drills are changing. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, some cruise lines were rethinking their drills and moving toward a more digital experience. Now, several cruise lines conduct digital muster drills, sometimes using passenger smartphone apps.

The specifics vary by cruise line, but in a digital muster drill, passengers can review safety information by watching a video on their smartphones or cabin TVs. Some lines even allow passengers to watch the safety video before they board the ship. Then, once onboard, each passenger must physically check-in at their assigned muster station. This removes the need for everyone to gather at their muster stations at the same time, which helps with COVID-19 safeguards and is simply more convenient.

It’s still important to complete a digital muster drill, and to do so as soon as possible, perhaps even before you go to your cabin for the first time.

For more information on the muster drill procedure for your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, May 23, 2022

Cruise Ship Packages for Specialty Dining

Cruise lines have long offered beverage packages to make it easy for passengers to pre-purchase the drinks they plan to enjoy while onboard the ship. Now, some cruise lines are offering specialty dining packages, too.

Some cruise ships, especially newer and larger ships, have a dozen or more specialty restaurants, which often charge extra fees for their high-end dining. These extra fees can be quite affordable individually, but if you want to dine at a different specialty restaurant every evening of your cruise, the individual fees can add up. As with beverage packages, specialty dining packages – especially when purchased in advance of your cruise – can be a help to staying within your cruise budget.

Let’s take a look at a few cruise line dining packages:

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a specialty dining package that lets you select the number of specialty meals you want to enjoy during your cruise, with savings of about $10 per meal. The exact specialty restaurants available vary by ship, but those covered by the specialty dining package include American Diner; Cagney’s Steakhouse; Food Republic, which specializes in the fusion of global cuisines; Le Bistro, which offers sophisticated French fare; Los Lobos; Moderno Churrascaria; celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s Ocean Blue; Pincho Tapas Bar; Q Texas Smokehouse; and Sushi and Teppanyaki.

MSC Cruises has a variety of dining package options that, when purchased in advance of your cruise, can save you up to 35% on specialty restaurant fees. You can choose from packages that cover the extra fees at one, two, or three different specialty restaurants. Depending on your ship, these restaurants may include L’Atelier Bistrot; Kaito, which features sushi, sashimi, and tempura; Butcher’s Cut, which serves mouthwatering steaks; Hola Tapas Bar; Ocean Cay Seafood; and Asian Market Kitchen.

Royal Caribbean’s specialty dining packages can save you up to 40% on specialty restaurant fees. You can choose a package that sets you up to dine in three different restaurants; or, one that gives you unlimited opportunities for specialty dining, as well as discounts on bottles of wine. Again, the selection of restaurants depends on your ship, but may include Samba Grill, a Brazilian-style steakhouse; Izumi, where sushi is the star; Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen; Portside BBQ; Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine; Sabor; Chops Grill; and Jamie’s Italian from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you choose a cruise line and specialty dining package that can save you money and get your taste buds dancing.

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Discovering Nassau

If you live in North America, one of the world’s most popular, warm-weather cruise destinations is always close by: The Bahamas. This nation of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets, is sprinkled over more than 500 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the islands are less than 100 miles off the Florida coast, just north of the Caribbean.

During the winter, Bahamian weather is clear and balmy, with daytime temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. Summers are a bit warmer and wetter, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty of the islands and their palm-fringed beaches.

Most cruises to The Bahamas call on Nassau, the capital and home to about 70% of the population. It’s one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, with plenty to see and do.

History buffs will find historic sites in walking distance of the cruise ship dock, Prince George Wharf. These include buildings that date from the 17th and 18th centuries when Nassau was home to pirates and those who wanted to capture them. In Parliament Square, the Bahamian Assembly, Senate, and Supreme Court meet in pink, colonial-era buildings. Climb the Queen’s Staircase to Fort Fincastle, which offers beautiful views. Or take an excursion to the historic villages of Adelaide, Fox Hill, and Gambier, settled by Africans who gained freedom from slavery in the 1800s.

If you want to enjoy the water, take an excursion in a glass-bottom boat or ride a jet ski; go snorkeling, scuba diving or fishing; or simply enjoy a nap on a beach. Beaches popular with cruise ship visitors include Junkanoo Beach, a leisurely walk from the dock; Cable Beach, prized for soft sand and clear water; and Montagu Beach, which has another historic fort. You can also take a water taxi to Paradise Island, a beachy district where some hotels and resorts offer day packages for cruise ship passengers.

If souvenir shopping calls you, head to the Bay Street retail district, steps away from Prince George Wharf. The Straw Market offers locally made crafts and gifts, while nearby shops are filled with luxury designer goods. When you’re ready for lunch, you can find it anywhere from an outdoor market stall to a gourmet restaurant. Local delicacies include fresh conch fritters and peas n’ rice, made with brown pigeon peas.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you select a cruise to The Bahamas that includes a day in colorful Nassau.

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Monday, May 9, 2022

The World’s Largest Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line just introduced the newest and largest cruise ship in the world, the Wonder of the Seas. This mega-ship is earning positive reviews for the terrific variety of things to do, see, eat, and otherwise enjoy onboard.

What makes the Wonder of the Seas the world’s largest cruise ship? It can carry the most passengers: 6,988 at maximum capacity. But cruise ship size is often expressed in terms of gross tonnage, which is a measure of overall interior volume. At more than 236,800 gross tons, the Wonder of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship by that standard, too.

All that volume provides space for thousands of passenger cabins and suites, as well as 2,300 crew members; more than 30 restaurants, bars, and lounges; entertainment that includes a karaoke venue, a zip line, a solarium, a surf simulator, rock climbing walls, clubs for kids and teens and an ice-skating spectacular; multiple pools and whirlpools; and much more.

Operating the world’s largest cruise ship is nothing new to Royal Caribbean, which sails the five biggest cruise ships at sea: Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas. All of them are loaded with great features, and each can host more than 6,600 passengers.

If you like cruising on a big ship, consider the largest ships from some other cruise lines, too:

 MSC Cruises: MSC Grandiosa, up to 6,761 passengers; and MSC Virtuosa, up to 6,334 passengers

Costa Cruises: Costa Smeralda and Costa Toscana, up to 6,554 passengers each

 Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Epic, up to 5,183 passengers

 Princess Cruises: Sky Princess, up to 4,610 passengers

There’s a lot to like about mega-ships; they have so many activities, entertainment options, and dining venues that you really can’t get bored. However, they only visit ports that have facilities that can accommodate large ships and lots of visitors.

If the places you sail to are of more interest to you than the ship itself, consider a smaller ship – ask your professional travel advisor for suggestions. Smaller ships may not have quite as many onboard attractions, but they often provide a wider selection of itineraries.

And, whatever the size of your next cruise ship, don’t make the mistake of calling it a boat. Just remember that “a ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship.”

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