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, December 29, 2014

Popular Cruise Ships for 2015

Cruise Holidays recently conducted a survey of its agencies across North America, asking its cruise experts to use actual client booking data to help identify trends in cruise travel. We previously looked at the most popular destinations nationally and internationally; now, let’s look at the most popular ships, based on bookings for 2015.

1.     Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean. This ship’s recent $7 million refurbishment added digital signage that makes it easier to find your way around the 3,600-passenger ship; a cupcake shop; an Italian restaurant; and a nursery for the youngest guests. Royal Caribbean’s signature entertainment features, including a surfing simulator and ice skating rink, make the ship a great choice for families.

2.     Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean. First launched in 2009 with an innovative “neighborhoods” concept, this 5,400-passenger ship had a recent overhaul to add some of the dining and technology features found on the line’s newest ships. This March, the ship will unveil its Dynamic Dining program, with nearly 20 restaurants for passengers to choose from.

3.     Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Cruises. This 2,100-passenger ship serves as something of a laboratory; it’s where Celebrity tests out new dining and entertainment programs. Because there’s always something new on board, this ship tends to attract repeat passengers.

4.     Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean. This is the nearly identical twin sister of the Oasis of the Seas, but some thoughtful touches make it unique. For example, the Allure features a casual hot dog stand, a cantina, the first Starbucks at sea, and some high-end shops that are not found on the Oasis.

5.     Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises. This sophisticated, 3,046-passenger ship has all the popular features of the cruise line’s Solstice Class, including the grassy Lawn Club. It’s the largest ship in the Solstice Class, which allows more room for the luxurious suites, including the Reflection, Signature and AquaClass Spa suites.

Cruise Holidays also asked its experts which ships are most popular for group bookings (eight staterooms or more). Some of the ships above are in the top five for groups, too:

1.     Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Cruises
2.     Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises
3.     Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
4.     Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Cruise Line
5.     Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

While these ships are currently among the most popular, keep in mind that there are more than 400 wonderful cruise ships available to you; and Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert will help you arrange to sail on any one of them!


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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Banana Coast Welcomes Cruise Ships to Honduras

There’s a new cruise destination in the Western Caribbean: the Banana Coast of Honduras. Until now, cruise ships could call at the island of Roatan, a world-class snorkeling and diving destination just off the coast, but there was no option for visiting the country’s mainland. Now, the port of Trujillo offers a gateway to the rest of Honduras.

Trujillo’s natural deep-water harbor is fringed by miles of beautiful white sand beach. It’s historic too, being the place where Christopher Columbus first made landfall on the mainland of the Americas in 1502. Trujillo is also the historical center of banana production on the north coast of Honduras.

The Banana Coast has a spectacular natural setting between the sparkling Bay of Trujillo and a pair of jungle-covered mountains, Mount Capiro and Mount Calentura. Although the Banana Coast is a new stop for cruise ships, there are already more than a dozen options for excursions on shore.

To provide a few examples, you can explore the extensive rainforest on ATVs; take a walking tour of a nature park and animal rescue center; or, get acquainted with the birds, animals and plants of Honduras during a day of kayaking through a mangrove forest. It’s a thrill to ride a beautiful horse down the pristine beach, or to venture into the forest in search of waterfalls. There are also historical tours that explore a 15th-century fortress, Trujillo’s town square and cathedral, and former consulates from the town’s days as the capital of Honduras.

There are also plenty of beach and water activities available, including snorkeling, river tubing, and white-water rafting. You could also make a humanitarian visit to a local orphanage, or learn about the native Garifuna, Miskito and Pech cultures.

Cruise itineraries that include the Banana Coast are likely to include other popular Western Caribbean destinations like Mexico’s Cozumel or Costa Maya, Belize or the Cayman Islands.

The Banana Coast expects to welcome about 50,000 cruise passengers this winter, and up to 100,000 next winter. To make sure that you’re among them, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Cutting-Edge Fitness at Sea

Cruise vacations are all about breaking away from your normal routine to relax and indulge in new places, tastes and activities. That can include breaking the mold of your usual exercise routine and trying some new ways of staying fit and healthy.

Most sizable cruise ships have impressively equipped gyms; plus, your onboard workout can feature an ocean view! Following are some of the most intriguing fitness opportunities at sea.

Holland America Line’s Cardio Ki-Bo Circuit classes. These classes combine aerobic conditioning, kickboxing and other moves to help release chi, the Chinese term for essential life energy. If KI-Bo sounds a bit too intense, try an aquaerobics or yoga class.

Cunard Line’s Pilates Institute at Sea. Pilates is a form of yoga that focuses on improving strength and flexibility, and the Queen Mary 2 has staff from the famed Pilates Institute who present lectures and lead personal and group sessions. You can learn to use Pilates to release tension, improve your ease of movement, and even fix your golf swing.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Flywheel Sports studios. This line’s newest ships, including Breakaway and Getaway, feature onboard branches of Flywheel Sports, a hi-tech cycling studio. Each class is choreographed to heart-pumping music that will keep you motivated. The Getaway also has a Nexersys interactive fight training module for high-intensity training against an avatar.

Princess Cruises’ “Core.Balance.Strength. Fitness Program.” This program combines specialized classes, nutritional guidance and lifestyle counseling to cultivate a balanced lifestyle long after your cruise. Activities include yoga, Pilates and spinning classes, along with individualized training.

Celebrity Cruises Zumba Classes. Zumba fitness classes, with their upbeat rhythms and easy-to-follow choreography, have become very popular on land and at sea. Celebrity’s fitness centers offer an amazing variety of Zumba classes, from Aqua Zumba in the pool to Zumba Gold for active, older adults.

One of the best things about trying a new fitness techniques on a cruise is that the fitness centers are often integrated with very fine spas. So, after a workout, you can relax with a massage, some aquatherapy or aromatherapy, or treat yourself to a facial or manicure.

Finally, there’s nothing better than walking off an enjoyable evening meal with a leisurely stroll on deck, beneath the stars and listening to the waves.

For more ideas about ramping up your fitness while at sea, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


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Monday, December 1, 2014

River Cruising to Paris

The increasing variety of river cruise itineraries is making the non-coastal capitals of Europe more accessible to cruise travelers. Paris, France, is a perfect example: it’s 150 miles from the English Channel, and ocean-going ships must dock at the port of Le Havre or at Rouen. River cruise ships, however, can travel up the winding Seine river right into Paris, docking near the Eiffel Tower and other incredible sights in the City of Lights.

From the river, you’ll see some of the dozens of bridges that cross the Seine, including Pont Neuf, which connects both banks of the Seine to Île de la Cité, where Paris began. The island is home to the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris; climb the stairs inside the towers for a wonderful view of the city. There’s also Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel in the Gothic style; and the sobering history of the Conciergerie prison, where thousands of prisoners awaited execution during the French Revolution.

In addition to the Eiffel Tower, be sure to see the Arc de Triomphe, the magnificent arch that Napoleon intended as a monument to his military success. From the arch, follow the boulevard Champs-Élysées to Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest square. While King Louis XVI and other noteworthy Parisians were guillotined here during the French Revolution, much of the square’s history has been peaceful. Today, it’s decorated with fountains, statues and the stunning Luxor Obelisk.

Monmartre is a hilly neighborhood watched over by Sacre-Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The beautiful dome and the gardens are open to the public. The steps are a popular place to sit in the evening as the lights of Paris come on.

Paris’ Musee du Louvre is simply one of the finest art museums in the world. Everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, but there are also enormous collections of paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, plus antiquities from the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Asian empires.

Beyond its monuments and museums, Paris is full of charming streets lined with unique shops, exceptional restaurants and delightful cafes. Plan to spend a few days in the city before or after a cruise on the Seine, and you’ll dream of the day that you can return! For more information, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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