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, January 23, 2012

Wonderful Days at Sea

Some cruise itineraries focus on visiting a different port every day, with lots of onshore activities to choose from. Still, most cruises have at least one day at sea, with no scheduled port call. And, some cruises – particularly cruises that reposition ships from one body of water to another, world cruises that cross wide swaths of water between continents, and cruises that depart from the west coast for Hawaii – offer a string of days at sea.

The great thing about days at sea is that they give you time to fully explore and enjoy the comforts and amenities of your ship. And, you can be as active or as relaxed as you choose. You can nap in the comfort of your stateroom or stretch out in a deck chair; or, find a book in the ship’s library and curl up in a corner for a good read.

To maximize your relaxation, book a luxurious treatment in the ship’s spa, or enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the onboard dining spots you haven’t tried yet.

If you want to be a bit more active, try your hand at shuffleboard or join a game of miniature golf on deck. You can check out the equipment in the fitness center, join an exercise class, or schedule an hour with a personal trainer to learn some new techniques for keeping fit. When you’re through, soak in one of the ship’s hot tubs with a cool drink nearby.

Many ships offer interesting educational programs on days at sea. You may be able to attend a presentation on the next port of call, a cooking class or a seminar on fine wine. Ask the social staff if you can take behind-the-scenes tour of the galley, the bridge or the ship’s entertainment venues.

Keep in mind that like you, the rest of the ship’s passengers are also excited to take advantage of the ship’s amenities on sea days. So, book your spa appointments or special dining well in advance. Also, it is widely considered poor cruise etiquette to reserve lounge chairs in the coveted pool area. A good rule of thumb of is this: if you’re not going to be using the chair for at least 30 minutes, then you should probably remove your towel and let someone else enjoy it.

Before you book your next cruise, think about your ideal balance of days in port and days at sea. Anita, Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can help you find an itinerary that will give you the time you want to simply enjoy the ship.





           

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cruising the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are some of the most scenic islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most of this group of about 60 islands and islets are impressively mountainous, with a warm tropical climate moderated by refreshing trade winds. The water around these islands is crystal-clear and calm.
      
Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands, is the only one that can accommodate large cruise ships. If several ships are there on the day you visit, the shops and restaurants of Tortola’s Road Harbor may already be overwhelmed by cruise ship passengers by the time you reach the dock. Don’t worry – while Tortola is worth exploring, it is also a launching point for ferry and boat service to other islands.
        
For example, you can catch a ferry to the island of Jost Van Dyke, said to be named for a female pirate. Check out the pristine beach at White Bay, and enjoy a seafood lunch at one of the island’s many restaurants.
    
On Virgin Gorda, visit Spanish Town at the island’s south end to shop for locally made arts and crafts. Spanish Town is also near The Baths National Park, where a natural collection of massive boulders causes spectacular pools and grottos to form at high tide.
           
Anegada Island’s flat terrain – it’s formed of coral, rather than volcanic material – offers a contrast to the rest of the British Virgin Islands. The island is protected by Horseshoe Reef, which has been the cause of more than 200 shipwrecks that are now magnets for scuba divers. Anegada also has lovely beaches, saltwater ponds, and mangrove swamps full of exotic birds.
           
As you island-hop in the British Virgin Islands, be sure to remember when your ship is scheduled to depart. It’s easy to lose track of time in the warmth and beauty of the islands, but you’ll need to allow enough time to get back to Road Harbor and board your ship.

For more information on cruising the British Virgin Islands, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.  You can find Anita on Facebook by searching for ATTHETA.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cruising the South Pacific

If you have an urge to see the South Pacific, but you aren’t sure which islands to visit, here’s some basic information for you.

First of all, you’re wise to consider experiencing the South Pacific via cruise ship. The South Pacific has wonderful land-based resorts, but you may realize greater value for your vacation dollar on a cruise, as your accommodations, meals and entertainment will all be included in your fare. Plus, you’ll easily be able to explore more than one of the lovely islands.
   
The South Pacific has about 7,500 islands sprinkled across a vast swath of the South Pacific Ocean. Only about 500 of the islands are inhabited. Photos will show you islands surrounded by thriving reef systems and gorgeous water in various shades of blue, with inviting white sand beaches backed by swaying palms. Be assured that the islands are even more beautiful when seen in person.

The islands of the South Pacific are usually divided into three major regions: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Melanesia is in the western South Pacific Ocean and includes the mountainous island nations of New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji, among others. Fiji includes the stunning Yasawa Islands, famous for their turquoise waters and coral reefs.

Micronesia is also in the western Pacific, just north of the equator. This region includes several nation-states, including Palau and the Marshall Islands. Many cruises of Melanesia also include calls on Micronesian islands.

Polynesia occupies a huge virtual triangle formed by Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. One of the best-known subregions of Polynesia is French Polynesia, which includes the very popular Society Islands, an archipelago that encompasses Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. Many cruises of Polynesia begin or end in Papeete, the lovely capital of Tahiti. The Marquesas Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga are also in Polynesia.

While there are cruise ships in the South Pacific all year long, some cruise lines visit the region seasonally, as a segment of a world cruise or when repositioning a ship. The weather is warm and balmy all year, but the very best time to sail is from May to October, when there is little rain. If you cruise the South Pacific from November to April, you’ll just need to bring along a little rain gear.

For assistance in choosing a cruise of the South Pacific, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Luxury Cruising

A luxury cruise is an incredible vacation experience, with VIP treatment at every turn. Luxury cruise lines know how to pamper their guests: expect gorgeously appointed accommodations and public spaces, serene spas offering indulgent treatments, and true gourmet dining at every meal, whether you enjoy it in an elegant restaurant or in the privacy of your own suite.

Most luxury ships are smaller and more intimate than average. The ratio of crew to passengers is also higher on luxury ships: some sail with a crew member for each guest, ensuring the most attentive and personalized service.

While the luxury lines have much in common, each has its own identity and signature amenities, too. The time-honored practices of traditional cruising, such as pre-set seating in the dining room, are a hallmark of Crystal Cruises. This line sails some of the larger ships in the luxury market, with outstanding service that makes each guest feel like the most important person on board. Crystal is also known for a unique pillow menu that guests can use to order pillows exactly to their liking.

Paul Gaugin Cruises takes luxury cruising to the South Pacific. The Paul Gaugin sails with “Les Gauguines,” a group of young French Polynesian women who serve as social hostesses, give language lessons, teach a bit of Polynesian dancing, perform blessing ceremonies for newlywed couples and generally ensure that everyone is prepared to have a wonderful time visiting the palm-fringed islands.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises includes roundtrip airfare in many of its cruise fares, as well as nearly all shore excursions, beverages, meals in alternate restaurants, gratuities, and government taxes and fees. You can choose among terrific shore excursions organized by the cruise line, or plan your own onshore experiences with the assistance of a travel concierge.

Ocean-view suites are the only type of stateroom on Seabourn Cruise Lines’ ships. Suites on the cruise lines’ smaller ships have sliding glass doors and step-out balconies, while the larger ships have full verandahs. While on board, be sure to dine at Restaurant 2, which offers innovative tapas-style small plates that are fun for those who like to share new tastes.

Silversea Cruises has a one-to-one ratio of crew to passengers to ensure sublime service. This line is also known for its “Silver Shore” programs that offer once-in-a-lifetime shoreside experiences. For example, you might enjoy dinner under the stars, prepared by a renowned chef; or, tour treasured artworks in a museum that is closed to the public, but open to you.

Many people automatically include Cunard Line in the luxury cruise realm – after all, it is the cruise line of the Queen Mary 2 and two other elegant ships. However, Cunard is really a hybrid that can provide either a luxury or a premium cruise experience, depending on the class of accommodations you choose.

For more insight into luxury cruising, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.