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, dba Cruise Holidays.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Spending Time in Barcelona

If you’re booking a cruise of the Western Mediterranean, it’s a great opportunity to get to know the city where your cruise begins or ends. If you’re flying to Europe and back, it simply makes sense to spend a few extra days in one of the region’s beautiful, historic cities.

Barcelona, capitol of the Catalonia region of Spain, is a home port for several cruise lines. This enchanting city is full of wonderful art, culture, food, architecture and sports, all at the edge of the sparkling Mediterranean.

You can spend hours strolling La Rambla, Barcelona’s busiest and most famous boulevard. It starts at Plaça de Catalunya, a lovely square that’s considered the center of the city: this is where delirious FC Barcelona fans celebrate when the beloved soccer team wins yet another cup. The tree-lined boulevard proceeds toward the Mediterranean, threading between the Gothic Quarter, the center of the old city, and the El Raval neighborhood, known for its nightlife. Along the way, you’ll see mosaics by artists Joan Miro, the Liceu opera house, the bustling La Bouqueria market, and the Font de Canaletes, a popular meeting spot. La Rambla ends at the old city port, graced with an impressive statue of Christopher Columbus.

If you stay in or near the Gothic Quarter, you’ll easily be able to explore its maze of narrow streets. Here, you can see remnants of the old Roman wall, stroll around and through medieval churches, tour the old Jewish quarter and visit the Picasso Museum. Many old buildings now house delightful boutiques and cozy places to enjoy some tapas. It’s also an easy walk to La Barceloneta, the city’s lovely beachfront neighborhood.

Barcelona is full of fabulous architecture, including buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi. His organic and playful style is best seen in beautiful Park Guell: you’ll be amazed by the mosaic work on the main terrace, the colonnaded pathways, and the whimsical entrance buildings. Not far away, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica is the best-known symbol of Barcelona, despite having been continuously under construction since 1882. It’s spectacular, both inside and out.

Indulge in the cuisine of Catalonia, which favors fresh vegetables, seafood and pork. Sample some of the sweet and savory cocas (something like a flatbread pizza), with crema catalana for dessert and some sparkling cava wine.

For more ideas for spending time in Barcelona, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Travel Insurance is a Good Idea

No one wants to think about it, but certain events could disrupt your cruise vacation plans – such as illness, airline delays or an urgent family matter. Fortunately, you can easily put your mind at rest by purchasing travel insurance.

Cruise lines take responsibility for some disruptions, such as mechanical troubles. But issues like a personal illness or luggage lost by your airline are not the cruise line’s responsibility, and won’t result in any reimbursement of your costs – unless you have travel insurance. It’s a smart way to avoid losing your investment in your cruise vacation.

Insurance is available for all lengths and types of cruises, from a short 3-night cruise to a four-month world cruise. Costs vary, but will be a small percentage of the cost of the cruise. Depending on the coverage you purchase, travel insurance can provide reimbursement for any of these unfortunate situations:

·           -  An illness that forces you to cancel your trip.
·            - A missed flight or flight delay that causes you to miss your ship.
·            - Medical treatment needed while on the cruise.
·            - Medical evacuation from the ship.
·           -  Job loss that leads you to cancel your trip for financial reasons.
·           -  Cancellation due to concerns about acts of war or terrorist violence.

Some insurance providers give you add-on options, such as full coverage if you cancel for any reason at all (including simply changing your mind), or coverage for aircraft accidents and rental car collisions. Add-ons will add to the cost of the insurance, so be sure they make sense for you.

Note that travel insurance typically will not reimburse for:
·           -  Inclement weather, although a hurricane or typhoon may qualify you for trip disruption reimbursement.
·           -  Itinerary changes. If the captain decides to skip a port or choose an alternate, it’s to keep you and your fellow passengers safe and doesn’t qualify as trip disruption.

The best time to buy insurance is when you book your cruise; then, you’ll be covered for any cancellations or delays from that time on.

Most cruise lines offer insurance, but you should compare it with offerings from third-party insurers like Allianz, Travel Guard by AIG, and Travel Insured International. Third-party insurance can be more inclusive than the policies offered by the cruise lines.

Note that a travel insurance policy protects only the individual who purchases it; if you’re traveling with family members, be sure to specifically add them to your policy.

For more tips about insuring your cruise vacation, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

“Just Right” Mid-Size Ships

For some cruisers, the most important aspect of a cruise isn’t the destination, but the experience they have while on the ship. And, the onboard experience is highly influenced by ship size.

The size of a ship determines a lot, from where it can go to how many options there are for activities and entertainment. Mid-size ships can strike a perfect balance between too big and too small; as Goldilocks would say, they’re “just right.”

The smallest cruise ships carry just a few hundred passengers, and the largest sail with more than 6,000. In general, midsize ships accommodate about 600 to 2,600 passengers. That means you can look forward to meeting some delightful new friends without losing them in the crowd for the remainder of the cruise; or, you can socialize with a different group every night.

Service on mid-size ships is often a bit more personal than on a larger ship, where the crew has to take care of so many guests that service can feel a bit institutional. The crew is likely to remember your name and perhaps what flavor of preserves you like with breakfast. Some mid-size ships step the service level up a notch: for example, Regent Seven Seas’ two 708-guest ships offer a high-end, luxury cruise experience with the highest standards for pampering service.

Mid-size ships don’t lack for spacious common areas: for example, Azamara Club Cruises’ two ships, which accommodate 684 guests each, have side promenades and expansive forward views from the Visions Lounge. For dining, mid-size ships usually offer a main dining room and two or three alternative venues, which is nice for variety. Consider Viking Ocean Cruises’ new, 930-passenger Viking Star, which features the Wintergarden, a serene spot for a restoring cup of tea.

One feature that’s often missing on mid-size ships is special programming and spaces for kids; if you prefer traveling with primarily adults, the lack of children’s programming could be an advantage. Like their larger cousins, midsize ships do provide entertainment options: there’s usually a theater and some smaller spaces for live music and dancing, although there isn’t room for large-scale productions.

To select a ship and itinerary that will make you a fan of mid-size ships, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Take a Spa Vacation on a Cruise

It’s easy to understand the appeal of a spa vacation: the pampering, the special treatments, the serenity of calm surroundings, and time to rediscover the simple pleasure of feeling good.

Instead of vacationing at a land-based spa, why not look to the sea? Cruise ships have spas that rival any found on land, and some ships present a truly indulgent and immersive spa experience.

The luxurious Spa at Seabourn, found on the Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest, is a beautiful, two-deck-high facility that’s surprisingly large given the small ship size.  Features include a hydrotherapy pool, a thermal suite with herbal sauna, a relaxation room with heated loungers, a yoga room with a Kinesis wall, and a private deck for quiet relaxation. For an immersive experience, rent a Spa Villa: these private hideaways are furnished with oversized bathtubs, comfortable living areas and day beds. Here, you can relax with a personalized package of treatments, such as a 24-karat gold facial.

The spas on Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection are run by the award-winning Canyon Ranch. There’s a menu of more than 20 exclusive treatments for the face and body. You’ll love the Persian Garden, an aromatherapy-infused sauna and steam room furnished with heated relaxation loungers – and a stunning ocean view. The spa atmosphere also permeates Celebrity’s AquaClass spa cabins, a special class of staterooms with spa-style toiletries, multi-spray spa showers, upgraded linens and complimentary bottled water and iced tea. AquaClass guests also have exclusive access to the AquaSpa Café and Blu, the spa’s specialty restaurant, which both feature beautifully prepared and healthy spa fare.

Anticipation is building for next summer’s launch of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newest ship, the Seven Seas Explorer, and for the Canyon Ranch SpaClub that will be on board. The spa will have exclusive new treatments developed in partnership with lifestyle and beauty experts Red Flower: think exfoliation with organic sea salt from the North Atlantic, multi-part massage rituals, and a Moroccan mint tea and silt skin cleanse. The spa will also feature an infrared sauna, a cold room (to stimulate circulation), and a shower room with a full menu of pre-set treatments.

There’s more to know about these and other cruise ship spas, as well as their adjacent pool areas, fitness centers and salons. To start planning your floating spa getaway, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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