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, February 24, 2020

Sailing With a Disability

A cruise offers vacation convenience for everyone: you can unpack just once; see multiple destinations without having to make transportation arrangements; and never worry about where to find breakfast, lunch or dinner. In addition, the ship’s crew is always ready to help with your questions or special requests.

All of that and more – including newer accessibility features on many ships – makes cruising a superb choice for people who have disabilities. With some advanced planning and the help of your professional travel advisor, you can enjoy a smooth and exciting cruise experience.

First, be sure to choose the best cruise ship for you. You don’t need to limit your choices to newer ships – many older ships have been through major refurbishments that include added features for passengers with disabilities.

Whether your choice is a new or seasoned ship, ask your professional travel advisor to help you determine if it really has what you need, whether that’s extra-wide or automatic doors; roll-in showers; accessible restrooms in public areas; menus in Braille; onboard sign language interpreters; or other features. What you need might not be standard on your ship, but might be arranged if your cruise line is notified in advance: your travel advisor can help you clearly communicate your needs to the cruise line.

Also, choose your cruise itinerary just as carefully as your ship. For example, if mobility is an issue for you, find out if the ship sails right up to a dock in each port of call, or if it will anchor in the harbor and transfer passengers to shore via small tender boats. Tenders may not be able to accommodate passengers with mobility issues, so you may want to avoid itineraries that have a lot of tender ports.

When you choose an itinerary, take a closer look at each port of call. Charming cobblestoned streets, steep stairways or a lack of sidewalks can pose challenges. To overcome these, some cruise lines offer specialized shore excursions for people with disabilities. Or, ensure your comfort onshore by working with your travel advisor to arrange for the type of transportation or assistance you need before you leave home.

One more tip: Find out if there are any cruise groups organized by an organization that serves people who have the same disability as you. Sailing with people who understand your disability (and may have great solutions to access issues) can take your cruise experience to a new level.

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Monday, February 17, 2020

LGBT Cruises for 2020

If you’re looking for your perfect LGBT cruise, consider these two basic types: an all-gay charter cruise, or a standard cruise that includes an organized gay group. We don’t want to imply that cruises in general are not gay-friendly; in fact, many major cruise lines work to make sure they are welcoming to LGBT communities. Still, knowing that you’ll sail with an LGBT group can enhance your cruise experience.

The first all-gay cruise – in which a tour operator hosts the cruise on a chartered ship – took place in the mid-1980s, and they’ve been growing in popularity ever since. On this type of cruise, most of the passengers are gay, which creates a high level of comfort for anyone worried about experiencing homophobia while on vacation. The tour operator will arrange entertainment and shore excursions that are gay-friendly, too.

Another option is joining a gay group on a standard cruise. In this case, the tour operator doesn’t take over the whole ship, but brings together a gay group that can range from just a few to hundreds of passengers. The tour operator will make special arrangements – such as parties, dinners, and shore excursions – exclusively for your group, which can be important when visiting cultures that are not always friendly to LGBT communities.

So, where can LGBT cruisers sail during 2020? Here’s just a small sample of all-gay cruise itineraries:

Southern Caribbean, March 21-28, Celebrity Summit. The Summit will take a weeklong, port-intensive cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, calling on St. Kitts, Aruba, CuraƧao and Bonaire and spending two days at sea.

Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, Oct. 17-24, Azamara Pursuit. The Pursuit will take a roundtrip cruise from Athens, calling on Santorini, Cyprus, and Jerusalem. You’ll have the option to extend your vacation with a pre- or post-cruise land tour, too.

European Christmas Markets River Cruise, Dec. 5-12 or Dec. 12-19, Emerald Star. You have a choice of two routes – Amsterdam to Nuremberg or Nuremberg to Budapest – and whichever you pick, you’ll visit some of the delightful Christmas Markets along Europe’s Danube River.

Iceland Cruise, Aug. 30-Sept. 6, Ponant Le Jacques Cartier. This small and very luxurious ship will circumnavigate the fascinating island nation, sailing roundtrip from Reykjavik to see glaciers, fjords, geysers and wildlife (from adorable puffins to majestic whales).

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor soon to book your gay-friendly cruise for 2020.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Seeing Alaska, Cruise-Style

Alaska is a unique treasure, brimming with natural beauty, expansive wilderness and Arctic wildlife. It is a rugged destination, but you can experience the stunning coastal scenery of its southeastern panhandle via the comforts of a cruise ship.

Most major cruise lines offer wonderful cruises to Alaska, giving you a wide variety of ships, itineraries and staterooms to choose from. You’re sure to find one that accommodates your budget, too.

Plus, keep in mind that there can be a lot of variation in Alaska’s weather, even during the relatively brief cruise season (mid-April through mid-September). For the warmest cruise conditions, look at July sailings. Still, low temperatures can be in the 40s even during the peak of summer. Dress warmly to stroll the deck in the early mornings, and dress in layers so you can easily adapt when the temperature rises – it can reach the 70s or even the low 80s on a sunny midsummer day.

Most seven-day roundtrip cruises from Seattle or Vancouver sail through Alaska’s beautiful Inside Passage. This waterway, carved long ago by glacial ice, is a maze of channels and inlets tucked in between majestic coastal mountains and forested islands. The views are simply breathtaking, and you might be able to spot whales and sea lions in the water; bears and Dall sheep on the land; and eagles in the sky.

Some of the popular ports of call along the Inside Passage are Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway.
Ketchikan is the place to learn about indigenous Tlingit culture, including traditional totem poles. This is also the gateway to Misty Fjords National Monument, which is as beautiful as its name implies.

The mountain-backed city of Juneau is the state capital and home to Mendenhall Glacier. Here, you can ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway to enjoy the incredible views, go trekking on the glacier, take a fishing expedition or get a lesson in dogsledding.

Steeped in Gold Rush history, Skagway was the starting point for fortune-seekers headed to the mining districts of the Klondike and the Yukon. To see the path they followed, ride the train up to White Pass. You can take a snowshoe expedition or test your prospecting skills by panning for a bit of gold.

There are other options for cruising Alaska, including itineraries that venture farther north, to Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula; and, some that combine a cruise with an inland adventure. Explore the options with guidance from Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Cruise the Rivers of the World

As much as we love the expansive feeling of cruising on a wide-open ocean, we highly recommend the close-to-shore experience of a river cruise, too. There’s so much to see along the interior waterways of the world: major cities, quaint villages, castles and temples, mountains and valleys, and amazing cultural treats.

Where can you take a river cruise? There are lots of possibilities.

In Europe, the Danube is a popular choice for cruising. It flows along or through 10 different countries, so you can visit wonderful destinations from Germany to the Black Sea on a single itinerary (though most cruises focus on just one of the river’s three sections: upper, middle or lower). Vienna and Budapest are two of the most popular ports on the Danube.

The Rhine is another historic European river, flowing from the Swiss Alps through Germany and the Netherlands to the North Sea. The river goes through areas of outstanding natural beauty, with castles, churches and vineyards perched on the hills above. Also, ask your professional travel advisor about cruises of the Rhone (France), Douro (Portugal), Po (Northern Italy) or Elbe (Czech Republic) Rivers.

You can also explore the beauty and history of Asia on a river cruise. China’s mighty Yangtze River was one of the first river cruise options in Asia, and it’s still a great choice. The river flows from the Tibetan Plateau to the East China Sea, but most cruises focus on the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges region.

Or, consider the Mekong River, where cruises often begin or end with a visit to Cambodia’s remote and spectacular Angkor Wat temple complex. In addition to gilded Buddhist temples and floating markets, you’ll see some of Southeast Asia’s biggest cities.

River cruises are also available in exotic destinations like India, where you can sail a portion of the Ganges, and Egypt, along the storied River Nile. There are more options than ever before for cruises of South America’s 4,000-mile-long Amazon River and its tributaries, with starting points in Brazil, Ecuador or Peru.

Africa will be the next continent to develop river cruises, and you can already book a short cruise on the Chobe River in Botswana, where elephants and other animals come to the river to drink.

Remember, there are close-to-home options, too, such as cruises of the Columbia, Mississippi or St. Lawrence Rivers. To get started planning your river cruise experience, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Some Tips When Booking Your First Cruise

Congratulations on deciding to take your first cruise! Assuming you’ve decided where to sail, when, and on which cruise line, here are some additional considerations to think through as you make your very first cruise reservation.

Decide what type of stateroom you need. Spacious suites with balconies are very appealing, but what type of accommodation do you really need? An interior stateroom is economical and will have comfortable beds and furnishings, plus a well-appointed bathroom. Some interior staterooms even have virtual windows (screens that show a camera-eye view of what’s going on outside). Chances are you’ll spend most of your time elsewhere on ship or shore, so an interior stateroom may meet your needs very well and leave you more of your vacation budget for adventures onshore and extras onboard. However, if you want to start out with a balcony-equipped suite, by all means, treat yourself!

Think about what you want to do onboard. There’s often so much happening on a ship that your time onboard can benefit from a little planning. Which performances and shows do you want to see? Specialty restaurants may require advance reservations – which do you want to try? Spa treatments require reservations, too. You may want to create a simple schedule of “must-do’s” while on board and ask your professional travel advisor for tips on making reservations.

Think about what you want to do onshore. Enjoying the ship is a big part of a cruise, but your time onshore is just as worthy of advance planning. Do some research into your ports of call and what you would like to see and do. All cruise ships offer organized shore excursions, which are a great, safe way to explore. (Note that you’re welcome to stay on the ship while it’s in port, but you don’t want to miss out on a great shoreside experience.)

Study the deck plans available on the cruise line’s website. No matter the size of your ship, navigating multiple decks among hundreds (if not thousands) of other passengers can be intimidating. Use deck plans to locate your stateroom, pools and activity areas, dining spots, the gym and spa, and the passenger service desk. Take note of deck numbers and fore/aft (front or back) and starboard/port (right or left side when facing fore) locations, and you’ll have a better idea of where to find things when you get on board. Many cruise lines even offer an app that you can download prior to the cruise and use onboard without incurring any data charges. These apps will typically contain the ship’s deck plans along with activity schedules and a variety of other features.

Finally, after you’ve done your cruise homework, stay open to the possibilities. The experienced cruisers you’ll meet onboard may have helpful recommendations and the crew will be ready to help you, too. Bon voyage!

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Monday, January 20, 2020

A Day on Grand Cayman

At Grand Cayman, the largest of the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands, cruise ships anchor in the harbor and tender you to shore, just steps away from downtown Georgetown. This is a great place to grab a bite to eat and do some shopping. You’ll have a choice of restaurants that serve savory island fare – steamed fish, conch fritters and curried goat – with beautiful views of the water.

The collection of shops in Georgetown is eclectic, but there’s an emphasis on jewelry, especially diamonds. You can also browse for antiques, salvaged coins, and all the usual duty-free goods, too.
If you’re looking for fresh air and exercise, Grand Cayman is also a great place for outdoor fun. Many visitors head to Seven Mile Beach, a truly lovely (and long) stretch of sand. It can be busy at times, but if you keep walking along the shore you’re sure to find a quiet spot to enjoy the sun and water.

If you’re up for snorkeling, head to Stingray City. This area inside the barrier reef is home to dozens of southern stingrays that you can pet and feed by hand. There’s also a deeper area where you can scuba dive with the rays.

In fact, divers have an abundance of dive sites to choose from around Grand Cayman. One of the most popular is the USS Kittiwake, a former submarine rescue vessel sunk to serve as an artificial reef. It lies about 60 feet down in unbelievably clear water.

Grand Cayman is also great for exploring by bicycle. Rent a two-wheeler and ride to one of several beaches or to the Mastic Trail, where you can hike through unspoiled, old-growth forest. You’ll see rare trees, parrots, woodpeckers, butterflies, lizards, snakes and other native creatures.

The island’s West Bay Loop has an excellent bike trail with stunning ocean views. You can also visit Hell, a small and fascinating formation of rough, blackened limestone. The gift shop and other businesses with “Hell” in their names provide great photo opportunities. A visit to the East End can include a breeding facility for the endangered blue iguana, interesting caves, and dramatic blowholes that spout water high in the air.

A port call in Grand Cayman is usually part of a longer Caribbean cruise that may include Key West, Jamaica, Cozumel and Costa Maya and even Roatan. To schedule a cruise that will take you there, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

The Bahamas Are Waiting for You

Hurricane Dorian brought heartbreaking destruction to the Bahamas in late August and many travelers have wondered how they can help support recovery efforts. Tourism is a huge driver of the Bahamian economy and officials there say one of the best things you can do to help is to travel there. And, what better way to go than on a cruise ship?

Grand Bahama Island and its neighboring islands to the north experienced the worst of the record-breaking hurricane, but the vast majority of the Bahamas had no meaningful damage. For example, the port of Nassau on New Providence Island and its neighbor Paradise Island reopened quickly after the storm.

Now, all of the Bahamian cruise ports affected by the storm – including Freeport on Grand Bahama Island – have reopened and are eager to welcome you. Major cruise lines have resumed their regular schedule of Bahamas cruises, too. Because almost half the Bahamian workforce is employed by the tourism sector, your cruise vacation will help shore up the economy of the islands.

Several private islands owned by cruise lines are located in the Bahamas and they are also back in operation, including Disney’s Castaway Cay, Holland America’s Half Moon Cay and Princess Cruise Line’s Princess Cays. Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay – needed some structural repairs but were able to reopen in September.

Nearly all of the popular, premium and luxury cruise lines sail to the Bahamas from a variety of East Coast homeports. You can sail from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Charleston, Baltimore, New York City or Cape Liberty in New Jersey. And, you can choose from a wonderful variety of cruise lengths and itineraries. Enjoy a quick, two-day getaway from Miami to Nassau and back; take four or five days for a leisurely sail to more than one island; or take a longer voyage that may also visit the U.S. or British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, or other Eastern Caribbean islands.

It’s good to know that many cruise lines contributed millions of dollars to humanitarian aid after Hurricane Dorian. Some used their ships to deliver food, water, generators, cleaning materials and other relief supplies. Now, the ships are back to serving their main purpose: providing memorable cruises to the beautiful Bahamas. To choose one, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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