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, September 21, 2015

Pre- and Post-Cruise New Orleans


Select a Caribbean cruise that departs from and/or returns to New Orleans and you’ll get an automatic bonus: some time in one of the most distinctive and historic cities in the U.S. There’s so much to take in that you could plan to spend a few days there before your cruise, after your cruise, or both.
The French Quarter is the oldest and most-visited neighborhood in New Orleans, and it’s a gem. The narrow streets are lined with Spanish-style buildings, many with ornate ironwork balconies (most were constructed during a time of Spanish rule in the late 18th century, after a fire destroyed the old French colonial buildings). Jackson Square is the heart of the Quarter, always busy with horse-drawn carriage rides, street performers and sidewalk artists; at night, palm readers will tell your fortune in front of the Cathedral of New Orleans. Some of New Orleans finest restaurants are in the quarter, serving up savory Creole and Cajun cuisine.

The French Quarter’s Bourbon Street turns into an exhilarating party zone nightly, and the crowd is lots of fun. But, don’t forget to see the rest of the Quarter: the walking tours (which morph into ghost tours in the evening) are fascinating. Afterwards, refresh yourself with beignets and café au lait at busy Café du Monde, a tradition for visitors. The French Quarter is just a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship dock, too.

There’s also a lot to see outside the French Quarter: just to the east, or downriver, is the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, where Frenchman Street has become the center of the city’s live music scene. It’s a lively backdrop for the Frenchmen Art Market, which opens at 7 p.m. Thursday through Monday and stays open for browsing until 1 a.m.

New Orleans’ loveliest homes and gardens are in the Garden District, where the live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss. This is another wonderful neighborhood for a walking tour: many of the stately homes are historic and some are owned by celebrities. For antique shopping and lunch, visit Magazine Street. The elegant Commander’s Palace, generally regarded as the finest Creole restaurant in the city, is in the neighborhood, too, just across from one of the city’s famous above-ground cemeteries.

To visit the Audubon Zoo in Uptown, or expansive City Park – which has a sculpture garden, art museum, small amusement park and more – hop on one of New Orleans’ streetcars.

For more ideas for a memorable pre- or post-cruise stay in New Orleans, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays Personal Cruise Expert.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Cruising to Cuba


The United States and Cuba, which lies just 93 miles south of the Florida Keys, recently resumed diplomatic relations; and, the U.S. is slowly lifting decades-old travel restrictions between the two countries. As a result, several cruise operators are planning new Caribbean itineraries that include port calls in Cuba.

The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba lies at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical warmth is moderated by constant trade winds, and the dry season – November to April – is an ideal time to visit. Cuba has lovely rolling plains, rugged mountains and beautiful white sand beaches along its coastline. There are also more than 4,000 offshore islands and cays, adding to the beauty of the surrounding water.

Cuban ports are fascinating because life there is still much as it was before the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The media is state-owned, as are most businesses, and Internet connectivity is available only in some large resorts specifically built for tourists. As a result, Cuba has no pop culture, no familiar brands like Starbucks or Pepsi, and no pier-side hawkers of jewelry or duty-free goods. But, the warming of U.S./Cuban relations may mean that Cuba is on its way to change: one reason you may want to visit soon.
Fathom, a new cruise line that combines Caribbean cruising with social projects on land, is planning to begin sailing to Cuba in 2016. This socially responsible approach fits with current U.S.-to-Cuba travel restrictions, which specify that Americans traveling to Cuba must engage in cultural, educational, artistic, humanitarian, or faith-based exchanges with the Cuban people.

In addition to fathom, Globus (best-known as a tour provider) and Haimark, a small-ship cruise line, plan to begin sailing from Miami to Cuba this winter. These cruises will also be structured as people-to-people exchanges, as cruising from the U.S. to Cuba for the sole purpose of leisure is not yet allowed.
In addition to the capital of Havana, cruises to Cuba may also stop in Santiago, the cradle of the Cuban Revolution; Trinidad, a picture-postcard town with cobbled streets and Spanish architecture; Cienfuegos, home to the National Botanical Garden, with more than 2,000 species of plants; or Holguin, near to Cayo Barjay, where Christopher Columbus made landfall centuries ago.

To explore all of the new possibilities for sailing to Cuba, contact Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Wine-Themed Cruises


If you appreciate wine and cruising, why not combine the two? Many cruise itineraries include wine appreciation lectures, tastings, and even shore excursions to local wineries; but, some cruises truly immerse you in wine from beginning to end. Here are a few cruises designed for wine lovers:

Celebrate National Drink Wine Day, February 18, 2016, by raising your glass on Princess Cruises 5-night cruise from Fort Lauderdale, departing February 15 on the Emerald Princess. You’ll enjoy an exclusive wine-tasting event; wines by the glass and flight in Vines Wine Bar; complimentary champagne and
chocolate-covered strawberries; and discounted shore excursions. You can also bring a bottle of your favorite wine on board with you.

A wonderful choice for singles who enjoy meeting fellow wine lovers, the Mediterranean Wine Lovers Singles Cruise aboard Norwegian Epic will depart June 19, 2016, from Barcelona. You’ll enjoy a wine tasting experience in every port you visit, including Naples, Rome, and Livorno/Florence, Italy; Cannes, France; and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. You’ll expand your knowledge of the Mediterranean, too, with a drive along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, a visit to the Tarquinia Necropolis museum, a pasta-making lesson in Tuscany, and more.

Gold medal-winning wines will be part of Oceania Cruises’ 8-night voyage from Rome to Venice, embarking July 20, 2016. Special features include a dinner with expert winemakers, a tasting of Gold Medal wines from the Sunset International Wine Competition, and classes on cooking with wine. Ports of call include Cantania, Italy; Zadar, Croatia; and Argostoli, Greece, where you’ll have more opportunities to enjoy regional wines.

If you love Zinfandel, check out Uniworld’s Rhone River Cruise, departing July 31, 2016, on the new SS Catherine from Avignon to Lyon, France. On board, you can attend the “University of Zin,” which offers a welcome party, two seminars and group dinner (featuring fine Zinfandel and other wines to drink, of course). Wine tastings will be hosted by leading winemakers from the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers group. Shore excursion opportunities will include touring the wineries at Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage Hill, the birthplace of Syrah.

There are many more options for sailing to the wine regions of the world, including Chile, Australia, South Africa, the West Coast of the U.S. and more. Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert about all the delicious possibilities.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cruising the British Isles


Full of history and trend-setting culture, the British Isles are a wonderful destination for small and mid-size cruise ships. In addition to the main islands of Great Britain (which contains England, Wales and Scotland) and Ireland, there are more than 6,000 offshore islands, including the Hebrides, Orkneys, Shetlands and Channel Islands. The major islands offer more than 19,000 miles of coastline, much of it accessible to smaller ships; the islands themselves are wonderfully scenic, offering everything from rolling green countryside, historic ports, dramatic cliffs and craggy mountain peaks.
Cruises of the British Isles range from 3- to 14-nights, and the relatively compact size of the islands means you’ll have a port call almost every day.

What can you expect to see?

London, England, isn’t a sea port; it’s on the River Thames, and only the smallest cruise ships can actually dock in London. It’s more common for London to be a pre-cruise, post-cruise or shore excursion destination, with nearby Southampton serving as its sea port. The city is not to be missed: there are fantastic museums and galleries, amazing historical sites and royal palaces, plus great shopping and dining in the many charming and quirky neighborhoods. As you sail the English coast, you might also call on Dover, Newcastle or Liverpool, England; Holyhead, Wales; or Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
Edinburgh, Scotland’s Medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town are shadowed by the impressive Edinburgh Castle. Stroll down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace, an official residence of Queen Elizabeth. Golf fans will want to visit Fife and St. Andrew’s Links, one of the oldest courses in the world. Your ship may also call on Glasgow or Invergordon, Scotland.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, is a must for fans of the television show Game of Thrones; scenes are filmed at the Castle Ward Estate, where you can take a behind-the-scenes tour. Or, visit the shipyards where the Titanic was built and the award-winning Titanic Belfast, with five stories of history and artifacts. You may also call on the Irish ports of Dublin or Cork.

You can sail the British Isles all year. Summer is the peak season, with the warmest weather and long hours of daylight, but the countryside is lovely in spring and colorful in fall. Winter weather can be chilly, especially in northern England and Scotland, but it brings the warmth of Christmas markets and other seasonal events on shore. For more information about cruising Britain, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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