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 25, 2012

Summer Cruises of Europe

Summer is the time that many vacation travelers – new graduates, honeymoon couples, solo travelers, families and retirees alike – look toward Europe as a cruise destination. Whether you would like to take a cruise or a cruisetour (a cruise combined with a land-based tour), visit a specific port of call or just sample what the Mediterranean or the Baltic has to offer, Europe can produce your dream cruise vacation.

With growing demand for flights to Europe – as well as rising fuel costs and new fees and surcharges – airfares to Europe are currently on the high side. The Summer Olympics that will take place in London are driving up summer airfares not only for that city, but for other European capitals, like Brussels and Amsterdam, that are reasonably close to London via rail.

However, don’t let intimidating airfares rule out a European cruise this summer. There are excellent values available on a variety of European cruise itineraries – in fact, savings on your cruise fare might completely offset a higher airfare.

And, Europe offers a terrific range of cruise possibilities. There are the sunny ports along the Mediterranean coast, as well as islands like Sicily and Corsica to explore. Summer is prime time to sail the North and Baltic Seas, visiting the capitals of Scandinavia and perhaps St. Petersburg, the jewel of Russia. Istanbul and other ports around the Black Sea are beginning to emerge as cruise destinations. And, some of the major rivers of Europe, like the Rhine and the Danube, offer a different kind of cruise experience that includes sailing right into the historic hearts of inland cities and towns.

A cruise of the Greek Isles – rich with abundant natural beauty, intriguing historical sites, fabulous beaches and reliably sunny weather – is a very special experience. The country is experiencing an extended financial crisis, and this summer may see strikes, delayed or cancelled openings of seasonal hotels and restaurants, and cuts in transportation routes or the hours that attractions are open. However, if you are traveling via cruise ship, these disruptions should have very little, if any, effect on your vacation.

If you’re still worried about the price of airfare to Europe, there’s another option: consider delaying your trip until late summer or even early fall. When summer – always the busiest season for European travel – begins to wane, airfares are likely to come down. In addition, if you book now, you’ll be making your reservations far enough in advance to get better prices, as well as your top choice of flights. To decide on your European cruise itinerary, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Where Will You Sail in 2013?

If you’re looking for some insight into up-and-coming cruise destinations, it may help to look at the new itineraries the cruise lines are planning to introduce in 2013. When established cruise lines add new itineraries, it can mean that the destination is on the verge of becoming hot!

Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced that the repositioning of two ships will create an opportunity to offer new cruises of South America. While repositioning from the West Coast to New York during February and March 2013, the Carnival Splendor will sail three South American voyages: one from Long Beach, Calif., to Santiago, Chile; one from Santiago to Buenos Aires, Argentina; and one from Buenos Aires to New York. Once positioned in New York, the Splendor will sail to the Caribbean year-round. March 16-31, the Carnival Miracle will reposition from New York to Long Beach via the Panama Canal and will call on ports in five different countries: Turks & Caicos, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico. From its new home on the West Coast, the ship will sail the Mexican Riviera and the coast of Alaska.

For the summer of 2013, Celebrity Cruises plans to position six ships in Europe to visit a total of 25 countries and 88 destinations, six of which are “Celebrity Firsts:” Liverpool, England; Waterford, Ireland; Torshavn, Faroe Islands; Varna, Bulgaria; Sevastopol, Ukraine; and Kristiansand, Norway. The Celebrity Infinity will offer new, 10 and 11-night cruises of the British Isles, Norwegian fjords and Iceland; the Celebrity Constellation will sail new itineraries of the Black Sea and the Greek Isles, highlighted by an overnight stay in Odessa, Ukraine. Celebrity will also offer new cruisetour options in Europe, including an entirely new, four-night tour to Istanbul and Cappadocia, Turkey.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises also has some new ports of call on its itineraries for 2013. Mediterranean itineraries will include maiden calls on Ajaccio, Corsica; Genoa, Italy; and Lanzarote and St. Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Regent has also added some longer itineraries for guests who have the time for an extended cruise. Consider a 30-night voyage that begins in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, then crosses the Atlantic to call on Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Or, feed your taste for the exotic with a 24-night Amazon Adventure cruise, departing from Miami.

To find out where other cruise lines will be calling for the first time in 2013, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Smoking Policies at Sea

Recognizing that some cruise passengers enjoy smoking and some enjoy being free from smoke, many cruise lines designate certain areas on their ships for cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking, and others as smoke-free zones.

Most cruise lines have made their indoor areas, including passenger cabins, completely non-smoking. Some ships make exceptions in areas such as casinos, discos, and bars – either a portion or the entirety of these areas may be open for smoking.
On many ships, smoking is permitted on certain outdoor decks, often on one side of the ship. Watch for signage or the presence of ashtrays, which will help you identify where smoking is or is not allowed. Note that smoking policies and designated areas are not necessarily consistent from one ship to another, even when the ships are in the same cruise line’s fleet. Penalties for evidence of smoking in restricted areas also vary, but usually involve a significant cleaning fee.

Smoking is sometimes permitted on private balconies, even if it’s not allowed in the staterooms attached to the balconies. However, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced that all of their balconies are now non-smoking areas. A spokesperson for Princess Cruises said the change in policy reflects changing customer preferences and a global movement toward further restriction of smoking areas. Princess still welcomes passengers who smoke, and smoking will continue to be allowed in cigar lounges, in portions of the discos and casinos, and on portions of the open decks on Princess ships.

If you smoke, note that you should never, ever, toss a cigarette over a ship’s rail. It’s likely that a casually tossed cigarette will land on an open deck or balcony below the deck from which it was thrown. A single cigarette butt has the potential to start a fire that could put you, your fellow guests and the crew in danger.

To find out about the specific smoking policy in effect on the ship you plan to sail on next, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fun Features Make Solstice Class Popular

In November 2008, Celebrity Cruises introduced its first Solstice Class ship with features never before seen at sea, such as a half-acre “Lawn Club” with real, growing grass, and a “Hot Glass” glassblowing show. In addition, larger staterooms – thoughtfully designed by a group of five discerning women – and new, hip specialty restaurants created lots of Solstice Class fans. Since the first ship in the class, the Celebrity Solstice, made its debut, Celebrity has launched three more: the Celebrity Equinox, the Celebrity Eclipse and the Celebrity Silhouette. A fifth ship, the Celebrity Reflection, is scheduled to launch in October.

The Solstice Class still earns rave reviews for its more-spacious-than-usual cabins. Passengers love the roomy bathrooms, the warm colors used in the decor, and the considerable storage space. Balconies are attached to an impressive 85 percent of Solstice Class cabins.

 In addition to the Lawn Club and Hot Glass Show, each Solstice Class ship has an AquaSpa offering exclusive treatments. The Cellar Masters wine bar has with a state-of-the-art wine by-the-glass dispensing system that enables guests to sample and appreciate new tastes in wine. One of the innovative dining spots is the Silk Harvest Restaurant, which presents authentic Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes served family style, along with “small plates” that are fun to share.

The Eclipse was launched in 2010 with a few new twists. This ship was the first to have the quirky and eclectic Qsine restaurant, where the iPad menus are just the start of the fun. The menu – which includes spring rolls, sushi lollipops, lobster-escargot fritters and more – is served in unique and unexpected ways.

The Silhouette, launched in July 2011, introduced another new dining venue: the Lawn Club Grill, where you can serve as your table’s “grillmaster,” assisted by a Celebrity chef. The Silhouette’s Lawn Club is also graced by the chic cabanas of The Alcoves; and The Art Studio, where master artists provide classes in jewelry making, beading, painting and even drink mixology.

The Reflection will be equipped with all of the best-loved Solstice Class features and will be larger than its sisters, with an additional deck, room for more sun loungers and more seats in the theater.

Solstice-style features are so popular that Celebrity just finished the process of “Solsticizing” its Millennium Class ships. Some of the Solstice features added to the Millennium Class ships include the AquaClass category of staterooms, which offer the same serene ambiance as the AquaSpa; the stylish specialty restaurant Blu; the availability of Frette bathrobes and slippers, and a cool, ice-topped Martini Bar.

If you’d like to experience the trend-setting Solstice Class features on any of these ships, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Disney Wonder in Seattle

Last weekend, the Disney Wonder was in Seattle -- heading out on a maiden voyage to Alaska!  Since this was a "new ship" to the Seattle area, two good friends (Ned & Carolyn) wanted to see the Disney Wonder at the pier.

This was expected...  Ned loves cruise ships!  His idea of a great Father's Day is to get the family up early and go to the Port of Seattle to watch the cruise ships return from Alaska.  After the four ships have docked, the family will go for a well deserved breakfast before returning to the Eastside.

Our thanks to Ned & Carolyn for sending these pictures of the Disney Wonder in Seattle to post on our blog. Ned, we hope you and your family have nice weather for your Father's Day trip to the pier.  Please send pictures!  Oh yes, we wish you a Happy Father's Day at the pier.