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, November 26, 2012

Cruise Review: Allure of the Seas

This year, we had our annual Cruise Holidays convention aboard the Allure of the Seas, sailing to the Eastern Caribbean from Ft Lauderdale.  Prior to the start of the cruise, we spent two days in training at the Renaissance Hotel in Plantation, Florida. 

The hotel is about 10 miles west of the airport in Ft Lauderdale. Since the hotel didn’t offer a shuttle, we took a taxi from the airport.  The taxi charge (including tip) for the one way trip was $45. The hotel rooms were nice and the restaurant/bar was what you would expect from a Marriott property.  However, there is no other restaurant or lounge within easy walking from the hotel.  Personally, I prefer more dining choices than I found in the area – or the hotel.
Staying at the hotel over the weekend were several girl softball teams, in town for a tournament…  On Friday night, the girls next door to our room had a party that continued until after midnight.  I guess that team must have lost their game on Saturday because the room was quiet that night.

Duct Tape used to Attach Bag Tag
In our previous visits to Ft Lauderdale, we have stayed closer to downtown and the pier.  On our next visit to the area, we plan to return to our favorite area hotel, the Embassy Suites on 17th street. 
 
At noon on Sunday, our group left the Plantation Renaissance Hotel for the ship.  When we entered the pier, we could see the Allure of the Seas and several other cruise ships in the harbor. The Allure was much bigger than any of the other ships – much bigger.  Too big…


 I was amazed at the easy, and quick, embarkation.  Even the security screening was painless.  With 5400 passengers on board, this is NOT what I had expected.  For the embarkation process, I will give Royal Caribbean and the staff at the pier an A+ grade.  Maybe we were lucky, but it was easy to get on board the ship.
The ship has an ice ring, platform diving exhibitions, a zip line, two FlowRiders, and the musical, Chicago! Lots of things to see and do on sea days.  The ship has a sports car parked on the Royal Promenade near the shopping area and a working carousel on the boardwalk. 



Anita overlooking the Promenade

We had a balcony cabin on the starboard side of the ship, facing the ocean.   I know that sounds weird, but many of the balcony cabins on the Allure face into open air areas of the ship: Boardwalk and Park Place.
Balcony Cabins Facing Boardwalk
 
For the first time that I can remember, we had enough 110 volt plugs in the cabin for all my stuff!  In the past, we have always carried a small extension cord with multiple outlets.  This time, I didn’t take the extension cord out of our bag.


 

 
On the cruise, we had 3 sea days and 3 days in port. This was our first visit to Nassau, Bahamas.  While in port, Anita had an opportunity to tour the Disney Dream that was docked next to us.  It was her first time on a Disney ship and she was impressed with the ship.  Meanwhile, I toured downtown Nassau.  I wanted to visit the Straw Market.  However, I was very disappointed in the Straw Market and downtown Nassau. I returned to the ship without any purchases – not even a magnet.
The other two ports we visited were St Thomas and St Maarten.   We have been to both ports several times and looked forward to quiet time in these ports.  On St Maarten, we did take a 3rd party tour to the beach.  The beach was great, but the tour left a lot to be desired.  After we get a response from the tour vendor, I plan to write about the experience.  Sure glad it happened to me and not to one of our customers.

Orient Beach

To be continued (more about the Allure of the Seas).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cruising the World


Cruise lines are seeing renewed interest in world cruises: the grand voyages of 80 nights or more that take passengers to amazing variety of ports on several continents. A world cruise is a truly special experience for retirees or anyone who is able to take an extended leave of absence to see the world. If you don’t fit in either of those categories, a world cruise is still something that you can dream about doing when the time is right.

Traditionally, world cruises depart in January and return in March, April or May. However, the window of departure dates is expanding – some world cruises are departing as late as March. And, some cruise lines are meeting demand by offering more than one world cruise a year.

Some world cruises don’t literally sail around the world, but they cover a plenty of nautical miles while visiting multiple continents. Some cruises truly do circumnavigate the globe, providing passengers with unforgettable experiences in dozens of ports of call.

If you don’t have time to take an entire world cruise, some cruise lines make it possible to purchase a segment of a world cruise: for example, an 17-night segment from Miami to Lima, Peru on Crystal Cruises’ 2013 world cruise. The availability of world cruise segments helps create a mix of established and new passengers: each time a new group comes on board, there are fresh opportunities to socialize and make new friends.

Many world cruises include planned overnight stays in some ports, giving passengers more opportunity to experience the local sights and culture. Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Hong Kong and Beijing are all popular places for world cruise ships to dock for a night or two.

World cruises also tend to seek out emerging ports, such as Laguna San Rafael (Chile) and Komodo Island (Indonesia). This gives even seasoned cruisers some new experiences.

Another trend in world cruising is “boomerang” cruising. A boomerang cruise takes passengers halfway through an extended itinerary on one ship, then makes the return trip on another. This gives passengers have the fun of experiencing two fabulous cruise ships. A boomerang cruise can also provide make it possible to spend a few days, weeks or even months in the halfway location before sailing home.

To learn more about world cruises – and find one that fits your schedule, budget and interests – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
 
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Water, Water Everywhere - Expecially on the Pool Deck

Cruises are all about travel on the water, but when choosing a cruise, check out the water that’s on the ship – specifically, in the pools. Pool decks are usually among the most popular places to hang out on a cruise ship, and many ships now have more than one.

Newer ships are also introducing fantastic new water features, such as the one-of-a-kind AquaDuck Water Coaster on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream. The ride starts on Deck 16 with a thrilling drop and a loop that extends 13 feet over the side of the ship. The thrills continue through more turns, drops and rapids before the riders splash down on deck 12. This ship also features Donald’s Pool for family fun, Mickey’s Pool for young children and Nemo’s Reef for toddlers. There’s also a Quiet Cove area just for adults, with a pool and a swim-up bar.

The Aqua Park water park on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Epic features three multi-level slides that range in excitement level from mild to wild. One is a smooth ride, though it does zip right through the ship’s rock climbing wall. For the more adventurous, another slide twists and turns its way down three decks. For true thrill seekers, the Epic Plunge uses centrifugal force to spin riders around before they splash down. The Aqua Park also includes two main pools, five whirlpools, a wading pool and a Splash and Play Zone for the little ones. NCL’s Breakaway, now under construction, promises an even larger water park.

Several Princess ships also have pool areas with sliding glass roofs, a terrific feature in inclement weather. In June 2013, Princess will introduce its largest top deck pool ever on the new Royal Princess. Each evening, the pool will become the setting for a water and light show, followed by the line’s signature “Movies Under the Stars” on a large, high-definition screen.

Whether you want your ship’s pool deck to be a place to show off your cannonball dive or a soothing retreat, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert. She can help you find a ship with the perfect pool deck for you.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Connecting Thruough Social Media


One of the great things about working with travel professionals is that they are there for you before, during and after your vacation. They will help you select a cruise or tour, make your reservations, and provide advice and assistance with alternate arrangements if anything goes awry. After your vacation, they’ll want to hear about your experiences, which will help them advise other clients and serve you better on your next trip.

And, staying in touch with your travel professional before, during and after your vacation is getting easier. It wasn’t long ago that the only way to contact your travel agency was by old-fashioned land-line phone, or to take time from your day to stop in the agency’s office. Today, you can connect with your travel professional from just about anywhere, at any time, using a desk computer or a mobile device (studies show that 85 percent of international travelers use their smartphones while on vacation).

Social media applications such as Facebook have created even more new ways to connect. For example, the Cruise Holidays Facebook page, which represents Cruise Holidays professionals across North America has more than 50,000 fans. Many Cruise Holidays franchise owners across North America also have their own Facebook pages, where their fans/customers can connect with them, day or night.

For example, the next time you step off a cruise ship in a new port of call and wonder where to find a great lunch or the best local souvenirs, post a question on your travel professional’s Facebook page. Not only can your travel agent answer quickly, so can other customers who have been to that location.

Savvy travel professionals are using their Facebook pages to share great travel deals, offer prizes to customers who share their opinions through surveys, and share links to interesting travel articles. Cruise Holidays recently conducted a sweepstakes via its Facebook page in which one lucky fan won a fabulous cruise for two.

Some travel agencies get their customers involved in populating their Facebook pages, making them places for customers to post their favorite travel photos and videos (no need to wait until you return home), post reviews of cruise ships, or make recommendations about favorite destinations.

You can reach Anita Thompson by visiting her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel. We would love to hear from you!