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, August 25, 2014

Cruising into Bermuda

Lying 650 miles off the east coast of the U.S., the island nation of Bermuda is a terrific option for a relaxing cruise: the most common itinerary is five to seven nights, with Bermuda as the sole destination. The turquoise water, pink sand beaches, pastel-colored buildings and distinctly British traditions will enchant you.

The main cruise ship port is King’s Wharf, which can accommodate mid-size and larger ships. Located on Bermuda’s west end, it’s adjacent to the Royal Naval Dockyard, originally established in 1795 to keep an eye on French privateers and the United States. Now a museum, there are historical exhibits and treasures recovered from wrecked. Nearby sights include the Bermuda Arts Centre and a lighthouse that features 185 steps to a panoramic view.

When you’re ready to explore more of Bermuda – just 22 miles long and 2 miles wide – reliable bus and ferry systems can take you just about anywhere, including beaches, golf courses, and two other ports, Hamilton and St. George’s.

The mouth of the harbor and the dock facilities at Hamilton can only accommodate vessels less than 700 feet long, so if you’d like to dock there, choose a small ship. Hamilton’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring all of Bermuda, but there’s lots to see and do right in town. The dock is steps from the retailers along Front Street – where you can buy classic Bermuda shorts and English tweeds – as well as restaurants and pubs. It’s fun to stroll among the charming buildings until it’s time for high tea.

Only the smallest cruise vessels are able to dock at St. George’s, and only when the weather and waves cooperate. But, an easy ferry ride from either King’s Wharf or Hamilton will bring you to this historic town of narrow streets and notable structures, including the Old State House, the Tucker House Museum and St. Peter’s Church. Nearby, you’ll find imposing Fort St. Catherine, great snorkeling in Tobacco Bay and amazing limestone caves.

Unlike the Caribbean, about 1,000 miles to the south, Bermuda isn’t a year-round cruise destination: the season runs from April through early November. Ships depart from Boston, New York, Cape Liberty (Bayonne), Baltimore and occasionally Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. A few itineraries that combine a stay in Bermuda with other destinations, such as New England/Maritime Canada or the Bahamas.

For more information on a cruise to Bermuda, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Crossing the Atlantic on a Cruise

If you’re looking for great value in a cruise that will sail across a wide swath of the globe, consider a trans-Atlantic cruise. And, if the description “trans-Atlantic” brings to mind ships that require a big travel budget and formal attire every night, be assured that we’re talking about different kind of experience.

Twice a year, cruise lines reposition some of their ships – including some of the newest and most sought-after – between North America and Europe. For example, in the fall, ships that have been sailing fall color itineraries in New England and Maritime Canada might reposition to the Mediterranean for the winter; ships that have been calling on the ports that ring the Baltic Sea might reposition to the Caribbean. In the spring, the trans-Atlantic pattern is reversed.

Rather than let their ships cross the Atlantic empty, cruise lines sell “repositioning” cruises to vacationers who are eager to try a different kind of cruise experience. Trans-Atlantic crossings usually take six days or more, providing a string of tranquil, relaxing days at sea. Don’t worry that you’ll be bored: in addition to all the usual onboard activities and entertainment, the cruise lines organize special-interest classes, expert speakers, card tournaments, culinary demonstrations, movies and much more.

Depending on the length of the cruise, your ship may make some interesting port calls. For example, a ship that repositions from Northern Europe to Florida might take a northerly route and call on unusual places like the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Ships on their way to the Mediterranean might call on Bermuda, the Azores, and Gibraltar.

Because they are one-way routes, trans-Atlantic repositioning cruises are often available at discounted fares. Vacationers who can drive to the port of embarkation can also save on airfare, as they only have to purchase a one-way ticket. Some cruise lines even include air travel in the fares for repositioning cruises.

Because you’ll spend lots of time on the ship, pay special attention to shipboard features, stateroom amenities, and entertainment and dining options when you select a trans-Atlantic cruise. For more information and guidance regarding trans-Atlantic cruises, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Cruising Can Be So Cool

Warm-weather cruising is terrific, especially in the depths of winter, when a cruise to the sunny Mediterranean, Caribbean or South Pacific brings welcome warmth. But, during a hot summer, it’s also nice to cruise to a destination where the days are long and pleasantly cool.

Alaska’s summer high temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, great for outdoor activities and sightseeing. After a day of salmon fishing, panning for gold, kayaking or zip-lining, snuggle up in a deck chair to watch the scenery of forests, mountain peaks and glaciers. The Alaska cruise season runs from mid-May to mid-September, which is also when the northern sky stays light well past 10 p.m.

Cruise ships call on Reykjavik, Iceland, from late spring through September, taking advantage of the long daylight hours and pleasant temperatures in the 50s. Cruise ship visitors love to tour the city’s quirky and often colorful architecture; take boat tours to islands inhabited by cute Puffin birds; and shop for the hand-knitted Icelandic wool sweaters that keep the locals warm. For a therapeutic experience, visit the Blue Lagoon, a pool of mineral-rich, geothermally heated water set in a rugged landscape of lava rock.

Tromso, Norway, is north of the Arctic Circle, but summer brings temperatures in the 50s. For much of July, there’s daylight nearly 24 hours a day. Tromso is home to the world’s northernmost university, which contributes to its lively character. The city center has a notable collection of historic wooden homes and a Gothic Revival-style cathedral. A more modern church, the Arctic Cathedral, has a sleek design of concrete, steel and glass. Take the cable car up Mt. Storsteinen for a panoramic view of mountains, water and islands.

If you don’t want to wait until next summer to take a refreshingly cool cruise, consider sailing the Chilean Fjords this winter. From October through March – the South American summer – daytime temperatures average in the 60s. Cruise ships sail along Chile’s southern coast for views of stunning fjords, ice fields and glaciers. Puerto Montt, gateway to the Lakes District, was settled by German immigrants and is like a piece of Bavaria in southern Chile. If you can tear yourself away from the pretty waterfront, enjoy the beautiful scenery while hiking, rafting, fishing or horseback riding.

To discover more destinations for cool-weather cruising, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

London Calls to Cruise Enthusiasts

While London is on one of Britain’s most important waterways, the River Thames is about 40 miles from the nearest seaport. Still, London is a feature of many ocean cruise itineraries, including cruises of the British Isles, Baltic Sea and North Sea. If you can add a few days in London to the beginning or end of a cruise, you’ll have a wonderful land and sea experience.

Only a few small (and often luxurious) ships are able to dock in or close to London, either at Tower Bridge, in the historic suburb of Greenwich, or at a small cruise terminal at Tilbury. From any of those locations, it’s a quick ride via cab, Underground or train into the city.

It’s more likely that your ship will dock at Dover or Southampton on the English Channel, or Harwich on the North Sea. All three are just an hour or two from London via train. Harwich is a quiet port, but at Dover, you may want to walk atop the famed white cliffs and tour Dover Castle. At Southampton, be sure to look around the historic waterfront: this is where the Mayflower set sail for the New World and where the Titanic began its tragic maiden voyage.

Take a twirl on the London Eye, a huge Ferris wheel on the south bank of the Thames, to get a birds-eye overview of the city. The Houses of Parliament, St. Stephen’s Tower and its clock, Big Ben, are especially stunning when viewed across the river. Stroll through a chain of beautiful parks – St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington– stopping to admire Buckingham and Kensington Palaces.

The layout of London’s streets is baffling, but its center is very walkable, with a cozy pub, fashionable boutique, or national treasure seemingly on every block. Like many of London’s museums, the British Museum charges no admission to see priceless items such as the Rosetta Stone, suits of armor, Egyptian mummies and Greek antiquities.

In the evening, enjoy one of London’s many excellent restaurants – the city’s dining scene has become fabulously diverse – and take in a show at one of the theaters around Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.

As fall approaches, cruise ships will begin to leave the region for winter cruising in the Mediterranean; ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about repositioning cruises that can take you from London all the way to Italy or Greece.


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