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, April 22, 2013

New York: A Pre- or Post-Cruise Pleasure

Set to be christened by its glamorous godmothers – the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes – on May 8, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Breakaway will call New York City home. The ship’s exciting new features include The Waterfront, an outdoor boardwalk lined with open-air dining spots and lounges; and Ocean Place, a three-deck, ship-length atrium with 17 restaurants, 12 bars, numerous shops and the ship’s casino.

A cruise on the Breakaway will also be a great opportunity to enjoy a few extra days in one of the world’s most exciting cities, before or after your cruise. The hard part may be deciding which of New York’s must-see sights to take in – you’ll need to be selective. Top sights include:

Central Park. This spectacular public park in the center of Manhattan has a tree-lined mall, walking and bridle paths, a zoo, an outdoor theater and a small castle. Fountains, sculptures and bridges add to the park’s beauty. New Yorkers also come here to enjoy birding, rock climbing and swimming.

Times Square. A brightly lit crossroads known for its New Year’s Eve celebration, Times Square is the hub of the Broadway theater district. Get discounted theater tickets from the TKTS booth in the center of the square (which is actually triangular), then enjoy the shops and attractions in this always-bustling area.

The Empire State Building. Completed in 1931 and still one of the tallest skyscrapers in the U.S., this soaring Art Deco-style tower is an iconic structure. More than 100 million people have been up to the 86th floor observation deck for a panoramic view of the city.

Rockefeller Center. Get here early to watch a live broadcast of the Today Show through the large windows at NBC studio 1A. Any time of day, admire the Art Deco architecture and the gilded statue of Prometheus in the sunken plaza in front of 30 Rockefeller Center.

Chinatown. Of all New York’s historic and quirky neighborhoods, the most distinctive may be Chinatown, the largest enclave of Chinese people in the western hemisphere. On the streets lined with Chinese grocery stores, fish markets, restaurants and shops, you may feel you’ve been transported to Shanghai or Beijing.

Whether you tour the city before or after your Breakaway cruise to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Florida or the Caribbean, you’ll need a place to stay – there are hundreds of choices. Let Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise, expert help you find a place to rest in “the city that never sleeps!”

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Monday, April 15, 2013

A Graduation Gift to Remember

If your family will celebrate a high school or college graduation this year, you may be wondering what type of gift should mark such a great achievement. How about a cruise?

Before you pick a cruise, know that there’s one major difference in presenting a graduation cruise to a high-school graduate or a college graduate: most cruise lines require that passengers be at least 21 years old to travel without a chaperone. Some lines require that chaperones be at least 21; others require them to be at least 25. While you can probably send a college grad and off on a cruise alone or with a friend, someone older will probably need to accompany a high-school graduate. (Perhaps that someone could be you!)

To select a cruise that a new grad will enjoy, you may need to set your own preferences aside. While great dining opportunities or a well-appointed spa may be most important to you, the graduate may enjoy a ship that provides lots of opportunities to be active. Royal Caribbean is often a good choice for young adults, with its signature rock-climbing walls, skating rinks, surf simulators and scuba diving lessons.

Celebrity Cruises is another line with a lot of appeal for young adults. They can attend presentations on wine and proper food and wine pairings; lessons in salsa dancing and hip hop; language lessons; and hands-on classes in jewelry making, sketching and painting. On Celebrity ships that feature the Lawn Club, they can play classic lawn games, such as bocce or croquet, that they never imagined playing at sea.

You’ll also want to consider a choice of memorable destinations. If your graduate has enjoyed a spring break or two, the Caribbean or Mexico might not be tops on their list. Consider an adventurous destination like Alaska; or, a classic post-graduation destination like Europe.

If you’re saving for a high school graduate’s college tuition or to provide a new college graduate with a start in the world, you may be surprised by how affordable a cruise can be. For more information and ideas for gifting your grad with a celebration cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Don’t Under-rate These Destinations

Some travelers enjoy cruising to places they know they love, because they’ve been there before. Others want a new and different experience each time they cruise. If you fall into the second category, consider some of the cruise destinations that are less well known, and as a result often under-rated.

Cruise Holidays recently asked its expert travel agents across North America which are the most under-rated cruise destinations. The top responses were:

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik has emerged from the shadows and damage inflicted by Croatia’s war for independence from the former Yugoslavia, which ended in 1995. Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” is becoming a feature of Eastern Mediterranean cruises. The medieval Old Town is delightful for strolling and exploring monasteries and churches, shops and cafes. There are beaches and biking trails nearby; antiquities and wineries offer more options for inland excursions.

Istanbul, Turkey. Another emerging Eastern Mediterranean port, Istanbul, is an endlessly fascinating mix of east and west, sacred and secular, ancient and modern. The mix of east and west is literal: half the city is in Europe and half is in Asia, with the mighty Bosporus River running through the center. There are historic neighborhoods, churches and mosques; museums and art galleries; and an incredible 4,000-stall Grand Bazaar. On a day cruise, you can visit the Prince’s Islands just south of Istanbul, where exiled royalty once occupied the mansions.

Tallinn, Estonia. On the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn is an emerging Northern European cruise port. The city – just 50 miles from Helsinki, but formerly part of the Soviet Union – is an interesting mix of Scandinavian and Soviet influences. Like Dubrovnik, Tallinn has a medieval Old Town with historic architecture and cobblestoned streets. Strolling here, you’ll feel as though you stepped back into the 1400s. You can look at some of the antique shops, then savor a cup of coffee at a sidewalk care and watch Tallinn go by.

Other under-rated ports include Stockholm, Sweden, a charming city of islands and bridges; Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with its romantic canals; the Hawaiian Islands, where your ship can take you to more than one of these breathtakingly beautiful islands; and Barcelona, Spain, a historic city with some of the most unique architecture anywhere.

To plan a cruise that will take in one or more of these ports, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

High Value Cruising

Leisure cruising is a terrific vacation value, thanks in part to all-inclusive fares. Fares generally include accommodations, all meals and snacks, lots of entertainment and other amenities – not to mention that the ship moves you from one wonderful port to another with no effort on your part.

Still, to find out which cruise lines deliver truly exceptional value, Cruise Holidays asked the experts in its agencies across the U.S. which lines provide the best value per dollar. The top five are:

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Princess Cruises

Celebrity is a premium cruise line that delivers attentive service: for example, you’ll be handed a glass of sparkling wine or a mimosa when you step on board. Every stateroom is equipped with plush terrycloth robes, and suites come with private butler service. Concierge Class accommodations step up the amenities with luxurious bedding and a unique “pillow menu.” On Solstice Class ships, the Aqua Class cabins are perfect for spa lovers, with spa-quality toiletries and access to Blu, an intimate restaurant that serves spa cuisine. These ships also have the Lawn Club, where you can play bocce and other games, on real grass, in a country-club atmosphere.
 
Contemporary cruise line Royal Caribbean is a leader in unique shipboard amenities. Every ship has an onboard climbing wall, plus spacious pool areas, spas and fitness facilities. Freedom Class and Voyager Class ships have ice rinks where you can watch spectacular performances by professional skaters and even strap on a pair of skates for your own turn around the rink. Freedom Class ships also have the only surf simulators at sea. On the line’s incredible new Oasis Class ships, you can wander through seven feature-laden “neighborhoods,” which include a lush park, an AquaTheater, a zip line and more.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) lives up to its luxury reputation with all-suite accommodations, superb cuisine and thoughtful service. RSSC successfully combines luxury with value, as its all-inclusive fares include more than most. Cruise fares cover round-trip airfare, pre- and post-cruise land tours, as well as hotel stays, gratuities, shore excursions and all beverages, including wine and liquor. RSSC ships also have a comfortable mix of traditional and relaxed luxury: for example, while most passengers dress up for dinner, the onboard restaurants have open seating.

For more information on these and other top cruise lines, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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