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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cruising the Greek Isles

A cruise to the Greek Isles will give you a new understanding of the bright blue and white of the Greek flag: everywhere you look, there will be amazing blue seas and whitewashed villages under a welcoming sun. Still, each island has its own personality and charm, making the cruise a more varied experience than you might expect.

It’s possible to cruise the Greek Isles all year long, but the best time is May through October. July and August are the most popular months, and are also the region’s hottest: by cruising a bit earlier or later, you can enjoy smaller crowds and less heat. Many cruises call on one, two or all of the three most-visited Greek Isles: Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini.

Mykonos has charming cobblestoned streets lined with artisans’ studios, shops and cafes. This island, known for gorgeous beaches, has a carefree atmosphere. Try some snorkeling or diving before visiting some of the many art galleries. Or, explore the interesting ruins on the nearby island of Delos, a popular shore excursion.

Rhodes is steeped in history, having been occupied since at least the 16th century BC. Stroll through the old town of Rhodes, a World Heritage site, or visit the village of Lindos, where the remains of an impressive acropolis overlook the sea. Unfortunately, the famous Colossus of Rhodes, a massive bronze statue of the Greek god Helios that once guarded the entrance to the harbor, was destroyed by an earthquake centuries ago.

Santorini is one of the world’s most magnificent-looking islands. Your ship will sail into the caldera of an ancient volcano overlooked by steep cliffs and the town of Fira. Take a cable car up to Fira to check out the delightful shops and soak in the view at one of the many cafes, or visit Akrotiri, an archeological site preserved under a thick layer 3,600-year-old volcanic ash.

Some cruises also visit islands not as well known as these three, but just as lovely. For example, a 10-night cruise offered by Regent Seven Seas that starts in Athens sails to Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Lesbos before ending in Istanbul. A seven-night cruise by Royal Caribbean departs from Venice (Italy) for the Greek Isles of Corfu and Mykonos, then visits Dubrovnik (Croatia) before returning to Venice.

For more itinerary options for your Greek Isles cruise, talk Anita, with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Options for Antarctic Cruises

Seabourn Cruises will be the next cruise line to expand its reach to all seven continents when it begins sailing to Antarctica next year.

Beginning in November 2013, the Seabourn Quest, the luxury cruise line’s newest ship, will sail four cruises, each 21 to 24 days, between Valparaiso, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. A highlight of each voyage will be a visit to the remote, vast and beautiful continent of Antarctica.

While the ship is always an important consideration when selecting a cruise, when cruising to Antarctica it’s especially important. There are three basic types of ships that cruise to the icy waters of the White Continent – small, medium and large – and each provides a different Antarctic experience.

Many of the small ships that sail to the Antarctic were originally icebreakers, specifically designed to break through large amounts of ice and sail into remote areas. These ships usually carry 100 to 200 passengers. Some have comfortable but basic accommodations, while others are quite luxurious. These ships can get close enough to the continent for passengers to board small, inflatable boats that allow them to land and actually set foot on Antarctica. However, be aware that opportunities for Antarctic landings are always dependent on the weather. Captains and their crews are experienced in assessing weather, ice and wildlife reports to determine when and where it’s safe to land.

Medium-sized ships, like the Seabourn Quest, generally carry 200 to 500 passengers. They are often equipped with reinforced hulls; they can’t handle as much ice as an icebreaker, but they can often get close enough to the continent to launch inflatable boats or tenders. These ships usually offer more amenities than smaller ships, such as lounges, fitness centers and more expansive public spaces.

Large ships carry up to 1,500 passengers to the waters off Antarctica.  These ships provide more of the amenities cruise passengers are used to, such as entertainment venues and multiple dining spots. However, they can’t get close enough to the continent for passengers to safely tender to the shore – so, these cruises are for Antarctic sightseeing only. Still, the sightseeing can be spectacular, featuring immense icebergs, jagged snowy peaks, seals, penguins, whales and exotic sea birds such as albatross.

Anita, Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can provide more information on the different types of ships sailing to the Antarctic, as well as specific itineraries. A voyage to Antarctica can also provide the opportunity to explore the Falkland Islands, the Patagonia region of Argentina, the fjords of Chile and more.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Cruise Industry Contributes to Economy

As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the global recession of 2008-2009, the cruise industry is doing its part. The industry experienced a strong rebound from 2009 to 2010. And, during 2011, the industry continued to be an economic bright spot with a total impact on the U.S. economy of $40.4 billion, according to an independent study commissioned by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Spending in the U.S. by cruise lines, their passengers, and their crew members totaled $18.9 billion during 2011, according to the study. Cruise industry employment grew to 350,000 jobs that paid $16.5 billion in wages to U.S. workers. Those wages and salaries showed an encouraging year-over-year increase of 8.3 percent, too.

While approximately 80 percent of the economic boost provided by the cruise industry is concentrated in ten states – most of them, not surprisingly, along the coasts – the study said the economies of all 50 states benefit in some way from the North American cruise industry. Florida’s economy gained the most during 2011: the state received nearly 9 million visits from cruise passengers and crew members, with direct spending of $6.7 billion. Other states that benefit most from cruise industry spending include California, New York, Texas and Alaska.

The positive economic effect of the cruise industry was also felt in Canada. According to the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association (ACCA), the cruise industry provided more than $82 million in direct economic impact to the region during 2011, with more gains projected for 2012. The ACCA estimated direct spending by passengers and crew members in 2011 at $42 million.
 
The CLIA report also confirmed that the U.S. is the driver of the cruise industry not only in North America, but worldwide. Americans accounted for 63.5 percent of the 16.5 million cruise passengers around the globe during 2011. U.S. ports also handle 60 percent of all global cruise embarkations.

So, for the benefit of vacationers and economies everywhere, cruise on! Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert soon to make arrangements for your next cruise vacation.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Short Cruises

A leisurely cruise is a vacation to savor, but not everyone has the luxury of enough vacation time to sail away for 10 days, 14 days or longer. The good news is that if your vacation time is limited, you don’t need to rule out a cruise. Many cruise lines are now offering a greater variety of cruises that are seven nights or less.
 
Shorter cruises appeal to lots of vacationers – and not only those with limited time. There are first-time cruisers who want to “sample” a sea-going vacation before they commit to a longer voyage. There are experienced cruisers who want to try out a different part of the world before exploring it through a longer, more in-depth cruise itinerary. There are vacationers who rely on the value of a short cruise to deliver the most for their vacation dollars; and, those who want to pamper themselves with a brief, luxury-class cruise.

Shorter cruises have become an option for more vacationers as the number of home ports has expanded. With ports of embarkation located all along the East Coast, Gulf Coast and Pacific Coast, experts estimate that half the population of the U.S. lives within driving distance of a cruise port. Likewise, several cruise ports are an easy drive for residents of Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Halifax.

The variety of home ports also expands the list of short-cruise destinations beyond the popular, time-honored choices of the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean. Home ports like Boston, New Orleans, San Diego and Seattle extend the short-cruise market to places like New England and Canada, Mexico’s Caribbean coast, the Mexican Riviera, and Alaska.

The increase in shorter cruise itineraries isn’t limited to the ocean cruise market. River cruise lines are finding that shorter voyages suit many of their passengers, too. For example, four- or five-night European River cruises are growing in popularity, especially during December, when historic European Christmas Markets are open.

 There’s yet another reason to select a shorter cruise – to combine it with a land-based tour. Imagine a few days of cruising the Mediterranean or the coast of Alaska, followed by some time to explore what lies inland.

For more information on selecting a short cruise for your next vacation, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Halloween Cruises

Ghosts of pirates past, creatures from the deep, mermaids and sirens – along with an array of witches, vampires, cowboys and even giant M&Ms – are known to prowl the public spaces of cruise ships each Halloween, October 31. No need to fear: these fantastic creatures are simply your fellow cruise passengers in costume.

On a cruise, any night is a good night for a party, but none is better than Halloween. Many ships decorate their public spaces for the celebration – you may see ghosts swooping around the ship’s main atrium and haunted houses popping up on deck.

Many ships host costume parties, sometimes with attractive prizes for the most outrageous, beautiful or creative costumes. Given the setting, nautical-themed costumes are popular: in addition to pirates and mermaids, you may see penguins, sharks, sailors and characters from the Love Boat TV series.

For efficient packing, you may want to keep your costume simple, or focus on a creepy make-up effect or glamorous mask. Of course, there are always quite a few toga-clad revelers at cruise ship Halloween parties: a closer inspection will reveal that these ancient Romans have simply borrowed the sheets and towels from their cabins.

Some ships take the celebration a step further, running Halloween-themed movies and holding costume parades for kids and adults. Family-oriented cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, offer extensive programs of Halloween fun for kids, including costume-making workshops, face painting and Halloween arts and crafts. Kids will delight in scavenger hunts, on-deck trick-or-treating, and scary storytelling sessions (but not so scary that younger kids won’t eventually go to sleep that night). There may even be a different type of trick-or-treat for adult passengers, such as a cabin-to-cabin wine and cheese tasting.

On Disney Cruise Lines, even the beloved Disney characters get into the spirit, wearing special Halloween costumes. Disney chefs do their part, too, whipping up special treats for the celebration, including chocolate cake with pumpkin filling, tempting “spider cakes” and a mysterious “Witch’s Brew.”

To find out what your ship of choice has going on this Halloween, or to make a last-minute booking, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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