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, March 25, 2013

Indulge your Passion for Wine on a Cruise

A glass of wine is fine any time, but even better when you sip it on a cruise ship. Whether you’re on deck toasting the sunset, savoring a multicourse gourmet meal in a specialty restaurant or simply enjoying some time in the comfort of your stateroom, a delicious wine can enhance the cruise experience.

Cruise lines appreciate wine enthusiasts and accommodate them in special ways. Many cruise lines offer wine-tasting events, a great way to spend a day at sea. Some ships offer educational programs designed to increase your knowledge and enjoyment of wine, or special dinners in which each course is paired with an ideal wine.

Cruise ship wine bars have become popular spots to relax, sample new wines and chat with other wine aficionados. Royal Caribbean offers the Vintages wine bar on its Voyager class, Freedom class and Oasis class ships. There, you can sample wines from some of the world’s most famous vintners – some available only at Vintages.

Celebrity Cruises has more than 3,500 certified sommeliers and servers who can answer your questions and make suggestions about wines you should try. There’s no shame in asking for assistance with wine selections, as Celebrity’s recently expanded onboard wine collection presents more than 500 choices. The Cellar Masters Wine Bar gives you the opportunity to sample new wines from an advanced, wine-by-the-glass dispensing system. If you’re on a Solstice class ship, be sure to visit the two-story wine tower: the impressive glass-and-steel tower holds 1,800 bottles, each maintained at the perfect serving temperature.

A different and time-honored kind of wine bar experience is available on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2. The Vueve Cliquot Champagne Bar serves seven varieties of champagne by the glass or by the bottle, along with fine sturgeon caviar, in an elegant salon.

To more fully immerse yourself in the world of wine, some cruise lines offer wine-themed cruises. River cruise line AmaWaterways’ “In Celebration of Wine” cruises sail through the wine regions that lie along Europe’s Rhone, Rhine and Danube rivers.  Through tastings, lectures, the expertise of wine hosts and vineyard excursions, passengers can learn about and taste wines where they are made.

To find out about how you can celebrate your love of wine on a cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Set Sail from a Northeastern Home Port

When Norwegian Cruise Line’s fabulous new ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, sails for Bermuda this April, it will depart from a growing region for home ports: the northeastern U.S. The Breakaway will sail from New York City, a home port that offers fantastic pre- and post-cruise opportunities.

There are lots of enjoyable sights, shops, restaurants and more to explore in other northeastern home ports, too, which include Boston, Mass.; Bayonne, N.J., just across Upper New York Bay from Brooklyn; and Baltimore, Md. Millions of people live within easy driving distance of one or more of these ports. And, driving rather than flying to your cruise ship can free up more of your vacation budget to spend on the ship and in the ports you visit.

Boston is a popular port for cruises to New England and Canada on Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean ships. These cruises are no longer limited to the height of the fall color season, but sail from May through October. Boston’s cruise ship terminal had an $11 million renovation in 2010 that produced a new, 21,000-square-foot departure lounge and the ability to handle embarking and debarking passengers at the same time – one reason why the number of cruise ships docking in Boston grew by nearly 10 percent in 2012.

Located within sight of the spires of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, Bayonne’s spacious Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal became a home port for Royal Caribbean way back in 2003. Celebrity Cruises also offers cruises to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Eastern and Southern Caribbean from Bayonne.

Baltimore is convenient starting point for cruises to New England and Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The port’s state-of-the-art, climate-controlled passenger boarding bridge is part of the appeal. In 2012, more than 240,000 passengers sailed away from Baltimore on 100 different cruises. Baltimore is also a home port for Royal Caribbean, which will soon locate the newly refurbished Grandeur of the Seas there. The renovated ship boasts new entertainment venues, more dining options, freshly updated staterooms and a number of technological upgrades.

 To find out more about where and when you can sail from the home ports of the Northeast, contact Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Parking at the Pier

With cruise ship home ports stretching along the Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf Coast and up the West Coast, millions of Americans and Canadians live within easy driving distance of a ship. While many cruise passengers opt for the ease and speed of air travel, there can be definite advantages to driving to your ship. You can spend the money you save on airfare to reserve a higher class of stateroom; you can enjoy the sights along the drive; and, you can bring back lots of purchases without worry about stuffing them all into your luggage or paying airline fees for extra baggage.

But, how easy is it to park your car at the pier? In most cases, it’s very easy, though there are fees involved. For example, if you’re sailing from New York City, parking is available at the Port of New York’s gated facilities with 24-hour security for $30 per day.

In Miami, you can park for about $20 per day. If you drive up in a large recreational vehicle, expect to pay about $40 per day. Miami also has a number of hotels close to the port that offer convenient “park and cruise” packages.

At the Port of New Orleans, parking is $16 per day at either the Erato Street terminal or the Julia Street terminal. There’s also a secure lot for oversized vehicles, where parking is $32 per day. It’s not possible to reserve a space in advance, but if the lots are full when you arrive, several nearby lots honor the port’s prices for cruise passengers.

The port of San Diego does not offer parking right at the pier, but there are a series of Park & Ride lots nearby that provide shuttle rides to the cruise ship terminal. Rates are approximately $10 to $11 per day.

Of course, if you’re within a few hours’ drive of your port and you’d like to completely avoid the hassle of finding a place to park, check into a taxi or limousine service that can deliver you to the cruise terminal and be waiting for you upon your return. Letting someone else do the driving could be a luxurious way to begin and end a wonderful cruise vacation. For more information, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

New Cruise Ships on the Horizon

From design to launch, it can take several years to produce a new cruise ship. It’s a time when excitement among cruise fans can come to a fever pitch, especially when the cruise line is ready to reveal the features and amenities of the ship.

Currently, cruise enthusiasts are buzzing about the announced features of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway. The first in a new line of “Project Breakaway” ships, Breakaway will launch this April with new options for entertainment and dining, including the line’s first gelato shop and more water slides than any other cruise ship. The Breakaway’s sister ship, the Getaway, will debut in April 2014; a third ship in the series is planned for late 2015.

In another highly anticipated launch, Princess Cruises will introduce its Royal Princess in June, followed by the Regal Princess in spring 2014. Both ships will have a spectacular, glass-enclosed walkway that cantilevers 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship and 128 feet over the water.

Few details are available yet about upcoming Quantum class of ships from Royal Caribbean, but the cruise line recently announced the names of the first two. Quantum of the Seas will debut in late 2014, and Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015. The cruise line’s CEO promises that the ships will make a “quantum leap” in setting expectations for what passengers can do on a cruise ship.

Several ships designed for river cruising will debut in the next few years. Six of Viking River Cruises’ 443-foot “Longships” are already sailing the rivers of Europe and earning positive reviews for their balcony cabins and hotel-style suites. More will set sail this year and in 2014. Viking will also enter the world of ocean-going cruises with new ships scheduled to launch in 2014 and 2015.

Avalon Waterways will launch three river cruise ships in 2014. Announced features include cabins with wall-to-wall windows that open to let in fresh air and views of European countryside, towns and cities.

In fall 2015, Holland America Line will bring out its first new ship since 2010; and, Royal Caribbean’s third Oasis-class ship will launch in mid-2016.

To make your plans to cruise on these or other new ships, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

What’s New with Disney Cruises

If you haven’t kept up with what Disney Cruise Line has to offer, you may be surprised to learn that its fleet has doubled in the past two years. The Disney Dream launched in January 2011, followed by its sister ship, the Disney Fantasy, in March 2012. Both ships carry 2,500 passengers and are significantly larger than Disney’s original ships, the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, which carry 1,754 passengers each.

Disney offers a distinctive cruise experience, starting with the elegant design of its ships, which are modeled after the luxurious ocean liners of the past.  As you might expect, the onboard experience is perfect for families; the main pools, entertainment venues and restaurants are meant for multi-generational groups to enjoy together. The Dream and Fantasy introduced an incredible new water feature: the Aqua Duck, cruising’s first onboard watercoasters. You need to be at least 42 inches tall to ride – if you’re not, you can still splash and play with the rest of the family in the Fantasy’s AquaLab, an area full of pop jets, geysers and bubblers.

Amid the family fun, each Disney ship also provides opportunities for family members from different generations to pursue their own activities. Disney’s children’s program is terrific, beginning with nurseries that care for the smallest family members (infants through age three). Kids age three to seven can join the Oceaneer’s Club for lots of supervised fun and visits from favorite Disney characters. Kids age eight through 12 are invited to join the Oceaneer Lab for high-tech interactive programs, science experiments and treasure hunts.

On the Magic and Wonder, teens age 13 to 17 can hang out in a private club filled with cushy couches and chairs, the latest video games, music listening stations and board games. The Dream and the Fantasy take the teen club concept a step further, giving those age 14 to 17 a dedicated area that includes outdoor space with hot tubs.

Disney’s ships also feature special places just for adults, which is why you’ll find a sprinkling of couples without children on board. All four ships have adults-only pools, restaurants and nightclubs. The spa is also off-limits to the younger set.

To find out more about where Disney’s ships can take you – the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Alaska, even the Panama Canal – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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