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, December 9, 2019

Last Port of Call, Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia


Port Klang is the closest cruise terminal to Kuala Lumpur, called KL by the locals.  There are no markets or sights in Klang, so be prepared for the hour commute into KL, the federal capital of Malaysia.

We are familiar with KL since I lived in the area while we built a new cellular telecom network.  However, much has changed in the past twenty years.  Malaysia wanted to be a first-world economy by the year 2020.  The people have improved the economic and the living conditions, but still have room for improvement.  Still, it was a very pleasant surprise – except for the jam.

Traffic in KL is almost like a living thing, the jam moves, grows, and blocks traffic.  Don’t go anywhere in a hurry, and always carry something to read and a bottle of water.  Take a ship tour in Malaysia (we do not recommend a private guide), the ship will wait for your tour to return to the dock.  A private guided tour can easily be delayed in the jam and you may miss sail-away.

Our first stop on the tour was to Batu Caves, a Hindu temple built in the limestone hills near KL.  To enter the caves, you must climb 285 steps – the same to exit the caves.  Don’t try the climb if you have any physical disabilities.  There is no elevator or help available.  Watch the monkeys because they are watching you…  Don’t carry anything in a plastic bag because the monkeys will try to steal it.  The locals carry food offerings into the cave in plastic bags.


The steps to the cave are narrow, wet, and dirty.  Take your time and enjoy the view – and watch the monkeys.  Be sure your knees are covered.  If not, you will be stopped at the entrance gate and told to rent a scarf to cover your knees.  When you exit the gate, the attendant will take your rented scarf and refund part of your deposit (5 Ringgit to rent, 2 Ringgit will be refunded for the scarf).


Like most places in Malaysia, there is a charge to use public restrooms.  Carry change or one Ringgit bills (25 cents).  There are no facilities, or water, in the caves.  It’s a Hindu place of worship.


Our tour included a visit to the museum, a visit with lunch at the top of the KL Tower (1379 feet), and a stop at the Petronas Twin Towers.  Unfortunately, it rained most of the afternoon and we had a limited view from the KL Tower.  Our stop at the Petronas Towers was during a rain shower so it was a quick visit.

City view from KL Tower

With the afternoon traffic and the wet roads, our return to the ship took ninety minutes.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our visit to Port Klang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Visit us on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel

Monday, December 2, 2019

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.

Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel


Port of call – George Town, Malaysia


Our next port of call was the city of Georgetown on Penang Island (Malaysia), another UNESCO World Heritage site.  It was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia.

The cruise terminal is within easy walking distance of the old town and Fort Cornwallis (built in 1786). On Penang, we had arranged a private tour of old George Town for our Distinctive Voyages group. 


The highlight of our tour was a two-hour trishaw (bicycle powered cart for one passenger) tour of the old town.  The trishaw drivers transported us thru the old town, Little India, and between our tour sites.  At each stop, our driver would wait for us to return to our trishaw and we would go to the next site.  A great way to visit George Town in the heat.  Since Penang is in the tropics, it’s always hot and muggy.

One of our stops was a tour of the Blue Mansion, an historical hotel and filming site for many movies including Crazy Rich Asians and Anna and the King.  Other tour stops included the Pinang Peranakan Mansion and the Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.  We visited several Buddhist temples – another chance to go barefoot.

Each year, the beaches on Penang attract many foreign visitors for holiday, but we had other plans.  Next time, we hope to visit one of the resorts along the coast.  Next time…


Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our visit to George Town, Malaysia.

Visit us on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel



Monday, November 25, 2019

Port of call – Rangoon, Myanmar


Rangoon, the largest city in Myanmar (Burma) has two names, Rangoon and Yangon.  Today, the locals call it Yangon.  The Azamara Quest spent three days (two nights) docked in the river near the city.

Due to changing tide levels in the river, the cruise terminal is on the Yangon River, south of the city.  Unfortunately, the drive to the city is 90+ minutes.  Road construction and traffic can cause major delays.  In this port of call, we were glad we took tours offered by the ship.

A large refinery is near the cruise terminal and gas transports often block both lanes of the two-lane road as they wait to fill their tankers.  On our first visit to Yangon from the cruise terminal, we were stuck in a jam for more than an hour.  Our return to the ship from a tour was more than two hours. 

The tour of the city was fantastic!  The Shwedagon Pagoda is the primary tourist site in the city – and well worth the trip.  The pagoda, covered in gold leaf, is 326 feet tall and is visible from most of the city.  Since it’s an active religious temple, you will need to cover your shoulders and knees – and go barefoot during the visit to the pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda

On the next day, our two-day tour left the ship at 4:30 AM to catch an early morning flight to Bagan to the see the 2000+ temples in the UNESCO World Heritage site that rivals Angor Wat.  The temples in Old Bagan were built between the 10th and 13th centuries. 

The Shwezigon Pagoda is the largest temple in the area and is like the large pagoda in Rangoon.  Again, we walked the pagoda without shoes.  After visiting many temples, we ended the day at the viewing tower and taking a horse-cart ride among nearby temples.   After sunset, we enjoyed dinner and a show at our four-star hotel, the Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort.


Our third day in Myanmar was uneventful.  A slow morning at the hotel, a flight back to Yangon, and a slow return (another traffic Jam) to our ship.  After two busy days, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon on the ship.

A visit to Myanmar was high on our bucket list.  It’s the reason we agreed to host the Distinctive Voyages group on this cruise.  Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our three-day visit to Myanmar.

Visit us on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel

Monday, November 18, 2019

Port of call: Phuket, Thailand


On our group cruise in Southeast Asia, we stopped in Phuket for an overnight visit – two days on the tropical island.  The cruise pier is south of Phuket City and is in a remote location, no nearby shops or tourist sites. The only way to reach the tourist areas is on a structured tour or to take a taxi into the city. It seems that all the venues are an hour or more away from the pier.

On our first day in Phuket, we booked a beach break tour at the Dusit Thani Laguna Resort on the west side of the island.  This is the famous beach area of Phuket. Unfortunately, it rained most of the day and when not raining, it was hot and muggy – not the best day to enjoy the beach.  Since It was a 90-minute drive each way to/from the beach, we did get to see a lot of the island.

We returned to the ship in time to change and have dinner before attending an “Azamazing Evening” event in the city.  There, we enjoyed a folkloric event of song and dance by Thai performers in native attire.   An “Azamazing Evening” is a trademark event offered by Azamara where everyone on the ship is invited to a nearby venue to learn about the culture of the visited country.

Day two was another rainy day and we decided to have a quiet day on the ship and not go ashore. We spent the day enjoying the shipboard offerings of the Azamara Quest.  On a cruise ship, a port day is a great time to relax and enjoy the ship while many of the passengers are off on tour.

Our next port of call, three days in Myanmar.

Interested in an Azamara cruise?  Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert.

Visit us on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel

Monday, November 11, 2019

Port of Embarkation: Singapore



In November, we escorted a group on the Azamara Quest, roundtrip Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Our last visit to Singapore was four years ago. The city hasn’t really changed, and we have always enjoyed our visits to the island nation.

As we left Changi Airport for the hotel, I was surprised by the lack of litter, graffiti, and exhaust fumes from older vehicles.  Then I remembered, Singapore takes pride in a clean city and environment.  You can drink the water and eat at the hawker stands (food courts).

Our recommended hotel in Singapore is the Hilton.  It’s on the north end of Orchard road, near shopping, restaurants, and the subway.  We spent three nights at the Hilton Hotel.  It’s in the heart of the city and has plenty of upscale shopping nearby.  We walked a lot and used the MRT (subway) for access to remote sites.   We didn’t go out at night but would not have any concerns about walking to nearby venues – It’s a safe city.

We visited the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel.  It’s the home of the Singapore Sling.  It’s an interesting place to visit but has become very touristy and pricy.  However, the visit to the Long Bar is recommended and you can enjoy the free peanuts and throw the empty shells on the floor - it’s a local tradition.

The subway is a great way to get around the city. The ticket kiosks are located in the terminals where you can buy a ticket: roundtrip or one way for any subway destination on the island.  Don’t throw away your used ticket, you need it to get out of the subway station at your destination.  Besides, the ticket stub is reusable, just add another segment or two to the same paper ticket.  You can use the ticket for up to 6 trips in 24 hours. Uber is not available in Singapore.

If you are going on a cruise from Singapore, be sure you know the name and address of your terminal since there are two cruise terminals on the island and they are not close to each other.   Small ships often sail out of the Harbor Front terminal, near Sentosa Island.  The other terminal is close to the Marina Sands Hotel.  Your cruise documents will list the address for the correct cruise terminal.
Enjoy your cruise!

Questions about Singapore?  Ask Anita, your travel expert at Land & Sea,                                                                                     
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Cruise Ports of Italy

Enduring traditions in art, fashion, music and cuisine make Italy an awesome place to cruise. Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula extends into the Mediterranean Sea, creating more than 1,000 miles of beautiful coastline. There’s an abundance of cruise ship ports to explore on Italy’s western coast alone. Here are some highlights, from north to south.

Perhaps best known as the hometown of explorer Christopher Columbus, Genoa is well worth exploring. There are promenades that overlook the sea; the Stade Nuova (new streets) and fabulous palaces built when Genoa was at the height of its wealth; and many historic churches, museums and piazzas. Or, take an excursion to Portofino, a lovely holiday resort on a promontory south of Genoa.

Many passengers who disembark in Livorno immediately take off on an excursion to Pisa (to see the Leaning Power), Lucca (to see the Renaissance-era city walls), or Florence (a city filled with Renaissance art and architecture). But Livorno has a lot to offer, too. Once ruled by the Medici family, Livorno was well-fortified during the Renaissance and many towers, forts and city walls are still intact. The canals around the old Fortezza Nuova will remind you of Venice. Another option is to take an excursion to Cinque Terre, five picturesque villages that cling to rugged cliffs above the sea.

Civitavecchia is the port for Rome, which is inland from the coast. While you really can’t miss seeing Rome (the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the treasures of the Vatican and much more), Civitavecchia has its own charms. If you’ve been to Rome before, you may enjoy spending the day in its port city, which has a lovely promenade, lots of open-air restaurants and cafes, and a traditional city market.

One of the most ancient of European ports, Naples lies in the shadow of brooding Mt. Vesuvius. The city’s historic heart, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. There are a wide array of historic palaces, museums and churches to tour. From Naples, you can also take an excursion to the ruins of Pompeii, destroyed in a 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, drive along the stunning Amalfi Coast to Sorrento or take a boat to the Isle of Capri and explore this beautiful, mountainous island.

Italy is a year-round cruise destination. To explore your options, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel