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

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Suite Life at Sea

Sailing in a cruise ship suite is a wonderful treat.  While “suite” can mean different things on different ships (and many ships have a range of suite sizes and designs), suites generally have more square footage than a regular stateroom, with separate sitting and sleeping areas. Many boast larger bathrooms, sometimes with bathtubs, and almost always have a balcony or verandah. However, suites deliver more than additional space; they come with special amenities that provide great value, too.

For example, sailing in a suite can eliminate the need to purchase onboard beverage packages. Some cruise lines include a generous beverage package in the price of a suite or stock up your suite’s minibar with complimentary beverages.

As a suite passenger, you’ll find other extras included in your fare. These may include fitness classes, in-suite movies, gratuities for the crew, WiFi access, laundry, and some ship tours or shore excursions. Ask your professional travel advisor to help you explore the extras included in suite fares for a cruise you would like to take.

And, there’s more. When you book a suite, you’ll receive priority check-in, which makes the process of boarding the ship faster and easier. You may even be escorted to a comfortable lounge to await your turn to check in – much nicer than standing in a long line. Also, when the ship visits a port, you’ll be among the first to disembark or board a tender.

More cruise lines are setting aside special spaces on their ships just for suite dwellers. You may receive a key to an exclusive lounge, sun deck or pool where you can relax and enjoy complimentary snacks, cocktails, specialty coffees, and a great view. Some ships even have specialty restaurants accessible only to suite passengers. Examples include Celebrity Cruises’ Luminae, Royal Caribbean’s Coastal Kitchen and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven Restaurant.

Butler and concierge services are increasingly popular luxury amenities for suite passengers. Your butler will unpack your bags, bring you snacks and drinks, shine your shoes, serve dinner in your suite and more. Your concierge will make spa and specialty dining reservations, help you plan a day in port, and manage any billing questions or concerns.

Finally, to enjoy the suite life at sea, be sure to make your cruise reservation as early as possible. Suites are usually the first category of accommodations to sell out.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Cruising With a Special Diet

Cruise ships are well-known for offering delicious, plentiful food that you don’t have to shop for, prepare or clean up. What’s not as well-known is that the dining staff can accommodate all kinds of special or restricted diets – important at a time when an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies or need food that’s free of fat, salt, nuts, meat, sugar, dairy, cholesterol, carbohydrates or gluten. Cruise lines are also accustomed to working with guests who need kosher, halal and vegan dining options.

Mealtime on a cruise ship used to be more of a challenge for passengers on medically restricted, religious or healthy lifestyle diets. But, that’s a thing of the past. Cruise lines today have expansive menu options and familiarity with different methods of cooking.

If you have special dietary needs, the key is to be diligent about communicating those needs. When you make your cruise reservation, let the cruise line know exactly what your dietary needs are (your professional travel advisor can help you with this). Many cruise lines have a special form for you to complete.

When you board the ship, make sure your dietary needs are on record. Ask to speak with the maître d’ or another member of the dining staff to review menu options and make sure your needs are understood (some cruise lines will automatically set up this meeting for you).

When you sit down for a meal, tell your server about your special dietary needs. And when your food arrives, don’t hesitate to ask your server about anything that doesn’t seem right. Your server and the chefs will do whatever is needed to give you delicious meals that stay within your dietary guidelines.

If you don’t have dietary restrictions but simply want to be able to make healthy dining choices while on your cruise, don’t worry. The lido deck is one place to look for a well-stocked buffet with fresh and healthy choices while main dining room menus virtually always feature healthy options, as well. Plus, you can always ask for a rich dish to be prepared in a different way. For example, with protein that’s broiled instead of sautéed, with less or no salt, and with sauces and dressings served on the side. Tasty!

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Cruise Line Private Islands

If you haven’t taken a Caribbean cruise that includes a day on a cruise line’s private island, you should definitely consider it. A day on a private island is about as relaxing and stress-free as a day can be and several cruise lines have been updating and upgrading their private islands.

For example, Princess Cays in The Bahamas – the private island of Princess Cruises since 1992 – has some updates, including refurbished bars and beach bungalows, new shops and landscaping, plus a big addition to the infrastructure: WiFi access. There’s a choice of activities, including a clear-bottom kayak adventure across a beautiful lagoon, and a great bicycle tour of the island. Guests can rent water sports equipment or interact with stingrays in at the Stingray Beach Encounter.

Royal Caribbean is currently updating one of its two private islands, CocoCay in The Bahamas, to provide what the cruise line promises will be a “Perfect Day.” A brand-new pier will open soon, and several new features are scheduled to open in May. These include the Thrill Waterpark, which will have some of North America’s tallest waterslides and a huge wave pool. A 1,600-foot zip line with a fun a water landing and Chill Island, with water-view cabanas and daybeds will also be introduced. More attractions will debut later this year, including South Beach, where guests can play volleyball, basketball, and soccer, or get on the water for paddle boarding or “zorbing” in an inflatable zorb ball.

MSC Cruises has been developing Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas, scheduled to open in November 2019. The cruise line says it’s focused on showcasing the island’s natural beauty and there will be seven different beaches for guests to enjoy. To help ensure beautiful underwater experiences, too, the cruise line has planted a coral nursery that will help develop new types of coral resistant to climate change. MSC also plans to let guests stay on the island until late in the evening so they can enjoy island sunsets and even movies on the beach.

While these private islands (and others) are in The Bahamas, cruise lines’ private islands can be found in other locations around the Caribbean, as well. Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about cruises that will take you to one of these little pieces of paradise.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Theme Cruises Amp Up the Fun

Theme cruises offer an unbeatable combination: the fun, adventure and relaxation of a cruise with a chance to immerse yourself in a favorite hobby or interest. Sound like fun? Read on.

First, it’s important to know that theme cruises can be either full-ship or partial-ship. A full-ship theme cruise means everyone on board shares the same interest. On a partial-ship theme cruise, a sizable group of people interested in the theme will be on board. Some of the venues may be devoted to the group, but many passengers will not be involved in themed activities (though they may want to learn about your group).

Some of the most popular cruise themes revolve around food, wine and craft beer, but that’s just a slice of a very large theme-cruise pie. There’s an amazing variety of theme cruises. Here are a few that are coming up soon.

Runaway to Paradise with Jon Bon Jovi. Norwegian Cruise Lines’ partnership with Sixthman delivers theme cruises focused on music, including a four-day Mediterranean journey starring Jon Bon Jovi. The Norwegian Pearl will sail from Barcelona on August 20, meeting up with Jon at Palma, Majorca. He’ll come aboard for some Q&A and a memorable concert and there will other music throughout the cruise, too, from musicians like Johnny Rzeznik and Grace Potter.

Grand Prix and Cannes. This cruise takes in two events that will get your heart pumping: the Cannes Film Festival in France and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix auto race in Monaco. You’ll enjoy overnight stays in both Cannes and Monte Carlo, soaking up the star-studded atmosphere. This 11-day cruise on the Azamara Journey begins in Rome on May 18 and will take you to Sorrento, Corsica and Barcelona, too.

Cooking with Jacques Pepin. Oceania Cruises presents an opportunity to sail and refine your kitchen skills with master chef Jacques Pepin, Oceania’s executive culinary director. Enjoy special menus, lectures, culinary demonstrations and more on this annual cruise. This year, the Oceania Marina will depart on September 17 from Amsterdam, visiting castles and vineyards before sailing into Lisbon 12 days later.

Anita, professional travel advisor can help you find theme cruises for just about any interest – crafting, dancing, investing, wellness, LBGTQ lifestyles, nature photography, history, games, and so much more.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

The Latest Cruise Trends

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) keeps a keen eye on the state of the cruise industry, and recently shared what they see as the top trends in cruising for 2019. Here’s what cruise fans can look forward to.

1.      Instagrammable Cruise Travel: With greater ability to instantly post to social media sites from a cruise ship, more of the 350 million-plus daily posts with the #travel tag will be from the deck of a cruise ship or the middle of a shore excursion.
2.      Total Restoration: Cruise lines are doing more to meet travelers’ interests in wellness through restorative spa experiences, onboard oxygen bars, healthy menu choices, and the latest fitness equipment and techniques.
3.      Achievement Over Experience: Vacationers want immersive cultural experiences beyond sightseeing, and cruise lines deliver. Shore excursions provide bucket-list experiences like exploring Machu Picchu or cooking alongside Le Cordon Bleu chefs.
4.      On-Board with Smart Tech: More cruise lines are adopting wearable digital technology such as bracelets and other devices that serve as convenient room keys, onboard credit cards and more.
5.      Conscious Travel: Cruise lines are working more closely with local communities to preserve their heritage and decrease the imprint of cruise travel while providing the benefits of tourism to local economies.
6.      Access is the New Luxury: Cruising is one of the best ways to visit certain remote destinations, such as Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands or Greenland.
7.      Gen Z at Sea: The desire to travel and a preference for authentic experiences is expected to attract the young adults of Generation Z to cruising.
8.      Off-Peak Adventures: Winter in the northern hemisphere is becoming a more popular time to cruise, whether to escape the cold in a tropical place or embrace the chill while sailing toward the Northern Lights, a penguin colony, or the Christmas Markets of Europe.
9.      Working Nomads: Some professionals find it difficult to disconnect from work for the entire length of a cruise and need to mix a little work time with their leisure. These “digital nomads” can work remotely from ships equipped with Wi-Fi, desks and work-friendly cafes.
10.  Female-Centered Cruising: Tourism and travel companies are catering to the interests of women travelers, presenting opportunities to connect and create female empowerment communities at sea.
11.  Going Solo: There are more Google searches for “solo travel” and “traveling alone” than ever before, and cruising is a great option. It provides the security of traveling in a group with the option of privacy, too.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Great Mediterranean Cruise Options

Europe’s Mediterranean Basin overflows with diverse natural beauty and an abundance of historic ports perched at the edge of sea. It’s too much to see on a single cruise, so most itineraries focus on part of this this legendary region. So, what are some options for a week-long Mediterranean cruise?

Greek Isles. The classic choice is a voyage among the Greek Isles in the Aegean portion of the Mediterranean. It has been a bucket list item for generations. A cruise is the best way to see the islands, ringed by deep blue water, edged with sunny beaches and adorned with whitewashed cottages. Favorite port calls on a cruise from Athens include the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Some visit Crete, as well, where there’s an amazing variety of excursions to enjoy, from snorkeling to the high, windmill-studded Lasithi Plateau.

Adriatic Sea. This arm of the Mediterranean sparkles between the Italian and Balkan Peninsulas. Many cruises begin in Venice, perfect for a pre- or post-cruise stay. Where else can you see so many beautiful medieval buildings via gondola? As you sail along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, port calls may include Split and Dubrovnik. You might also call on Kotor, Montenegro, a dramatic mix of medieval city walls, Venetian-style palaces, museums and churches. Some cruises then sail west to end in Naples or Rome, and others continue east to call on Athens.

French Riviera. The southern coast of France, lined with glamorous ports, is all about the finer things in life: vineyards, golden beaches, and flavorful cuisine. Port calls may include Marseille, with its multicultural vibe (take an excursion to the Chateau d’If of The Count of Monte Cristo fame); the seaside resort of Sant-Tropez; luxurious Cannes; and Monte Carlo. Some cruises include a stop in Corsica, known as the birthplace of Napoleon and appreciated for its spectacular mountain scenery.

Western Mediterranean. Many Western Mediterranean cruises provide the chance to spend a few extra days in the city of Barcelona, where there’s so much to see in the famous Gothic Quarter and beyond. Cruises from Barcelona often call on Cannes or Marseilles on the French Riviera; Livorno, Italy, a port city that gives you a choice of excursions to Florence or Pisa; the Eternal City of Rome; and perhaps Naples, backed by brooding Mount Vesuvius. It’s a treat if your itinerary includes Palma on the lovely island of Mallorca, rich in historic sites.

Talk with your professional travel advisor about the part of the Mediterranean that you would most like to cruise.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Spending Time in San Juan

It’s been 18 months since Hurricane Maria devastated the beautiful Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, and while there are people and places that are still recovering, the port city of San Juan has rebounded. It’s the starting and ending point for many cruises of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, and a fantastic place for a pre- or post-cruise stay.

One of the best things to do in San Juan is see the Old San Juan neighborhood, the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico. It rests on its own narrow island, linked to the city by bridges. There’s a lot of well-preserved Spanish Colonial architecture here, including the Catedral Metropolitana Basilica de San Juan Bautista; one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas, it contains the tomb of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. In the park outside, are whimsical animal sculptures, including a charming cat with the neck of a giraffe.

Another imposing sight is the Castillo de san Cristobal, where the first shot of the Spanish-American War was fired in 1898. There’s also La Fortaleza, which began life as a fortress and has now housed more than 170 governors of Puerto Rico.

By day, the La Placita market in San Juan’s Santurce neighborhood is a traditional open-air market filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and other produce, and surrounded by delightful restaurants and bars. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the market becomes the center of a lively block party, with music and dancing into the night. Be sure to fortify yourself with classic Puerto Rican dishes like mofongo (seasoned mashed plantains) and arroz con dulce (sticky rice cooked with spices, coconut milk, raisins, and rum). Santurce is also a center of the arts in San Juan, so there are lots of galleries to browse.

San Juan may be your starting point for a cruise to the beaches of the Caribbean, but some of the best are right in San Juan – made of soft white sand, lapped by turquoise water, and lined with palm trees. Some popular beaches are Escambron Beach, Condado Beach, and Ocean Park Beach.

There’s also a lot to see within an hour’s drive of San Juan, including El Yunque National Forest and the bioluminescent bay at Laguna Grande.

Ask your professional travel advisor about a great cruise from San Juan and where to stay for a few days to enjoy this historical and lovely city.

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