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 23, 2015

Cruise Line Entertainment Partnerships Cater to Kids


Several cruise lines have established partnerships with some of the world’s best-known entertainment companies in order to delight their younger passengers. Imagine seeing your child’s face light up when they meet a favorite character – maybe Dora the Explorer, Alex the Lion from “Madagascar,” or a Disney princess. Even though you’re all grown up, you might be thrilled to share a high-five with Mickey Mouse, too!

Norwegian Cruise Line has partnered Nickelodeon since 2010, and the “Nickelodeon at Sea” experience has been maximized on the groundbreaking and family-friendly Norwegian Epic. The kids will love dancing with SpongeBob SquarePants at Dora the Explorer’s Dance Party; they’ll scream with laughter at “Slime Time Live!” in the theater (and yes, someone will get “slimed” with Nickelodeon’s signature green goo). Kids can also get close to their Nickelodeon favorites at arts-and-crafts sessions, character breakfasts, and various meet-and-greets around the ship. Parents are welcome to take photos; or, hand your camera to a staff member for a photo of your whole family with a favorite character.

Royal Caribbean’s partnership with DreamWorks Animation equips selected ships with characters from blockbuster movies like “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda.” Fun-loving ogres Shrek and Fiona, the Penguins of Madagascar and others pop up tableside at character breakfasts and entertain during deck parades (the kids are invited to join in!). On the Allure of the Seas, Alex the Lion and other characters from “Madagascar” perform with high divers, swimmers and acrobats during the Madagascar Aqua Show; and, characters from “How to Train Your Dragon” are the stars of their own ice show (what happens when a dragon’s fiery breath meets ice?).

Disney Cruise Lines has a built-in partnership, so it’s no surprise that beloved Disney characters roam the ships. Every Disney ship features scheduled character greetings; the daily newsletter will have details. The irrepressible characters make surprise appearances, too, so keep your camera close at hand. Characters also feature in most of the live shows – you can even see some legendary Disney villains at the comedy revue on the Disney Dream. Finally, a farewell reception gives the kids (and you) a chance for some final hugs and photos with the gang. The characters on each ship vary a bit, but you may encounter favorites like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, Peter Pan, Cinderella, a variety of princesses, Ariel the mermaid, Captain Jack Sparrow, or Princess Anna and Queen Elsa from “Frozen.”

To find out more about options for a character-laden cruise that your kids will never forget – and that you’ll love, too – talk with Anita Thompson, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Imagine Yourself on a World Cruise

A trip around the world is the dream of many a traveler; and, a cruise around the world is a luxurious way to go. Several cruise lines offer world cruises, which usually last for three or four months and visit multiple continents – and, some itineraries truly do circumnavigate the globe.

A world cruise will take you to a stunning variety of ports, letting you experience many different destinations, cultures and cuisines. World cruises also generate a special sense of community among the passengers. There’s lots of time to relax and unwind, enjoy the amenities of the ship, attend classes and lectures, and make new friends with others who love to travel.

If a cruise this spectacular sounds like it would be beyond your budget, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert before you cross a world cruise off your bucket list. If you’ve ever thought about taking an extended winter vacation, or if you’re already a “snowbird” who spends the winter in a location warmer than your home, you may find a world cruise to be more affordable than you think.

Traditionally, world cruises begin in January and sail through March or April. There are a few exceptions, though, including an Oceania world cruise that departs from Miami on July 8, 2015. Still, most of 2015’s world cruises are underway. Looking ahead to 2016, Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity will depart from San Francisco January 24 to spend 101 nights sailing to Sydney, Bali, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and points in between.

Holland America’s Amsterdam will depart from Ft. Lauderdale January 5 for a 114-night voyage with a Panama Canal crossing. The ship will call on the western coast of South America, then sail to French Polynesia, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Europe.
Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess will depart January 3 from Ft. Lauderdale, though passengers can also join the ship on Jan. 20 in Los Angeles. The 111-night itinerary includes ports in Hawaii, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

A world cruise can be the experience of a lifetime; Anita Thompson, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can help you sort through all of the important details and choose one that will give you the most incredible memories. Your cruise expert can also help you with visas, immunizations, and other preparations to travel the world.


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Monday, March 9, 2015

Cruising the Panama Canal

A cruise that includes the Panama Canal is an opportunity to see not only one of the greatest feats of engineering in the world, but a lush and beautiful country. The canal cuts through a slender, jungle-covered isthmus that connects North and South America, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: it’s a true crossroads of the world. Begun by the French in 1880, the canal was finally finished by the U.S. in 1914 and has been busy ever since.

Several cruise lines sail to the Panama Canal, providing you with an excellent choice of ships. For this cruise, you may want to choose a cabin with large picture windows or a balcony – the better to see the canal and the scenery.

Panama Canal itineraries are available in a nice variety of lengths, too, ranging from seven days to 21 days or more. Most itineraries include stops in the Caribbean and/or along the Mexican Rivera. Some cruise lines visit the canal all year long, while others focus on the winter months (especially after the rainy season ends in November).

The most important decision you’ll make regarding your Panama Canal cruise is whether to cruise part of the canal or all of the canal.

Full-crossing itineraries will take you all the way through the canal. It’s a 50-mile scenic journey that includes three locks, Lake Gatun and the Culebra Cut through the Continental Divide. Some ships have expert lecturers on board to provide historical and engineering highlights along the way.

Partial crossing itineraries don’t go through the entire canal; instead, the ship passes through one lock, then sails a bit further, usually to the town of Gamboa. Passengers can disembark here for a variety of wonderful shore excursions.

You can also choose a “no-crossing” (or “faux-crossing”) cruise that calls on Colon, Panama, at the Atlantic/Caribbean entrance to the canal. Your cruise ship won’t enter the canal, but you can choose an excursion that will take you into the canal on a smaller boat.

There’s a lot more to know about Panama Canal cruises, and Anita Thompson, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can give you all the details on shore excursions, the Caribbean and/or Mexican portions of various itineraries, and the variety of ports from which you can sail.


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Monday, March 2, 2015

A Brief Guide to Cruise Gratuities

If you’re planning your first cruise, you may be a little confused on the topic of tips for crew members. Who should you tip, when and how? Be assured that even experienced cruisers can be confused about tips: cruise line policies on tipping vary, as do the tipping practices of individual passengers (and the advice they may give you).

On top of that, some cruise lines are changing their policies to accommodate cultural differences in tipping: for example, while Americans are accustomed to recognizing good service with a generous tip, in some European countries tips are considered to insulting to professional, well-paid servers. And, some lines are automatically charge a set amount for gratuities to your onboard account (though you have the option to adjust them).

Let’s start with the question of to tip or not to tip. Unless you are on a cruise with a “no tipping” policy – which actually means that gratuities for the crew have been built into your fare – you should tip the crew members who serve you directly. This includes cabin stewards and butlers, dining room waiters, assistant waiters, head waiters and wine stewards. These crew members not only expect tips for a job well done, they rely on tips to supplement their wages.

Tips are usually presented on the last night of the cruise. Some cruise lines equip your stateroom with envelopes for this purpose; envelopes or not, it’s always best to hand tips directly to the recipients. (By the way, it’s standard practice for the crew members who receive tips to pass a share of them on to the crew members you don’t usually see, such as the cabin cleaners and bus boys).
If another crew member – such as a bartender or a kids’ club counselor – provides exemplary service, it’s certainly acceptable for you to give them a tip.

Note that shore excursion drivers and guides, spa technicians, and luggage handlers also appreciate tips at the time of service.

As for how much to tip, most cruise lines provide suggestions for gratuities for various crew members. These guidelines are helpful, but remember that the amount of any tip is really up to you, given your opinion of the service you received. And, you should definitely include money for gratuities in your cruise budget! For more information, talk with Anita Thompson, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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