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 26, 2016

Options for Australia Cruising

Australia’s major cruise ship port, Sydney, is included in many a world cruise and South Pacific itinerary. But if you really want to explore Australia, take a look at the coastal cruises that visit multiple ports around this vast island. These itineraries provide excellent opportunities for you to enjoy excursions to Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, historic communities, wineries, beaches, and many other attractions. 

Cruises of coastal Australia often focus on a certain portion of continent. For example, some will take you to the sunny, beach-strewn shores of Queensland in northeastern Australia, also known as the Sunshine Coast. Port calls may include Newcastle, Brisbane, Cairns, and Moreton Island, as well as emerging destinations like Mooloolaba, the Whitsunday Islands, and Port Douglas, adjacent to the Daintree Rainforest. 

Cairns is a base for excursions to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest and most spectacular coral reef. If you would like to spend more than a day or two exploring this natural wonder, there are seven-day cruises of the reef that offer a more immersive experience. These cruises offer multiple opportunities to take guided snorkel or glass-bottom boat tours along the reef, and to visit some of the beautiful nearby islands. 

Cruises of Southern Australia begin in Sydney, Melbourne, or occasionally in the western capital of Perth. Popular ports along the southern coast include Adelaide and Port Margaret, which are both gateways to Australian wine regions and aboriginal culture sites. There’s also Kangaroo Island, which is occupied by lots of kangaroos, koalas and other wildlife, as well as artists, artisans and winemakers.  

Another choice for Australian cruising is a voyage that focuses on Tasmania, where you can tour historic Port Arthur, formerly an infamous penal colony; and explore the historic waterfront of Hobart. Your best opportunity to see the endangered Tasmanian devil may be an excursion to the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, a conservation park where the marsupials – which are very cute, but known for aggressive behavior – live in safety. 

For the ultimate Australian cruise, you can also circumnavigate the continent.Circumnavigation cruises are very popular with both visitors and Australians, so they tend to sell out well in advance. 

To explore all of your options for a cruise around part of all of Australia, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal travel expert. 

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Monday, December 19, 2016

New Ships in 2017

Some exciting new ships will enter the cruise scene in 2017. Whether you cruise regularly or haven’t hit the waves for a while, one of these ships may tempt you to organize your next cruise vacation right now. 

The Viking Sun will be the third ocean-going ship for Viking Cruises, previously best known for river cruises. This 930-passenger ship will debut in an impressive way, launching December 15 from Miami to sail a 141-day world cruise, Viking’s first. 

The Silver Muse will be the new flagship for Silversea’s luxury fleet, accommodating up to 596 guests. The ship will launch in April for a 13-day cruise from Monte Carlo to Nice, followed by cruises throughout Europe, Canada, North and South American and the Caribbean. 

The Majestic Princess from Princess Cruises will launch April 4 in Rome, with a capacity of 3,560 guests. The ship will sail some Mediterranean itineraries before being deployed to China to help meet the high demand for cruise vacations there. One of the most innovative features will be a glass-bottom walkway that extends beyond the edge of the ship. 

The Norwegian Joy is also being developed specifically for the Asian market by Norwegian Cruise Line. The 3,900-passenger ship will launch next summer, and its two-level go-cart racetrack will be a “first at sea” feature. 

The MSC Meraviglia is set to launch in June: it’s a big ship (up to 5,700 passengers) with “smart” features, including virtual reality experiences. A massive dome will display LED light shows, and Cirque du Soleil will provide onboard entertainment as this MSC Cruises ship sails the Mediterranean. 

In addition to these ocean-going ships, several new ships will launch on the rivers of the world in 2017.  

The Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler from Crystal River Cruises will sail Europe’s Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers with something special: king-sized beds in every stateroom. The Bach will launch in June and the Mahler in August. 

The AmaKristina from AmaWaterways will feature staterooms with “twin” balconies: a Juliet balcony and a full exterior balcony. The new ship will begin sailing the Rhine between Amsterdam and Basel in April. 

And, coming in 2018: new ships from Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Seabourn. 

To find out how you can sail on one of the new ships of 2017, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert. 

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Cruising to Barbados

Barbados is the easternmost of Caribbean Islands; in fact, it’s technically in the Atlantic. The ocean crashes against the rugged eastern shore, most dramatically against the scenic cliffs at the island’s northern tip. The interior is beautiful, too, with fields of sugar cane and splendid plantation houses. The protected western and southern shores are lined with white sand beaches. 

It’s delightful to spend a day on Barbados basking on a sunny beach, but there are lots of other choices for an excursion. To explore the island’s interior, take a 4x4 vehicle excursion to places like Joe’s River Forest, filled with lush, towering trees; the Scotland District, which reminded early settlers of the highlands of Scotland; and Rock Hall Village, the first island community founded by emancipated slaves. 

If the turquoise water around the island call to you, hop on a catamaran and sail to Turtle Bay, where the beach is a nesting spot for wild sea turtles. You can swim in the bay alongside some of these sociable creatures. Then, sail on to Payne’s Bay, which offers excellent swimming in calm water and is surrounded by a colorful neighborhood. You can take a guided snorkel tour along the coral reef, too. 

To learn about the island’s historic sugar industry, take an excursion to Sunbury Plantation House, built in 1650. You can see every room of the beautifully restored house, filled with antiques that were part of everyday life in the plantation era. The staff will teach you how to make classic Bajan rum punch and delicious cod fish cakes, too. 

Here are two things you should know before visiting Barbados: 

One, manchineel trees grow along the beaches and in the parks of Barbados. They are pretty and leafy, and it’s tempting to enjoy their shade – however, the leaves and fruit are toxic. Simply standing under a manchineel during a rain shower will cause a serious rash on your skin. Most manchineel trees in public areas are marked with a warning sign or painted with a red X. 

Two, you’ll hear lots of honking horns from cars and buses in traffic, but they are not warnings. Honking is a way that Bajuns say hello to other drivers – just part of the friendly nature of the island. 

To explore the variety of Caribbean itineraries that include Barbados, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert. 

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Tips for Cruise Packing

There’s a lot of advice on packing for a cruise out there, and it’s all good – but, what are the most essential tips and tricks? Here are three that we think are absolute musts: 

Put some thought into what to pack (and start well in advance of your cruise). Look at the length of your cruise, the expected weather, and your ship’s dress code before you decide what to pack. Remember, clothes storage space will be limited, so you need to be selective with your wardrobe. And, all cruise ships have laundry services: some are self-service, others will do your laundry for a fee. 

Put some thought into how to pack. Look at your luggage: Can it hold everything you need, or do you need to invest in something new? If you’ll fly to your ship and back, check the luggage weight and size restrictions for your airline, as well as fees for extra or overweight bags. That may help you pack less! 

Put essential items in your carry-on bag. After you check your bags at the dock, it may be several hours before they are delivered to you. Think about what you’ll want to do during that time – change to lighter clothing, jump in the hot tub, take photos, stretch out in a lounge chair and read – and put what you’ll need into your carry-on bag, along with essential medications and documents. 

Now that you know the most essential packing tips, here are some fun ones that will enhance your comfort onboard: 

If you love coffee, bring your own mug. Cruise ships tend to serve coffee in small cups. But, you can bring your own – and a non-breakable travel mug with a top will help prevent spillage while you’re strolling the deck, too. 

Get organized. Bring a lightweight organizer that can hang on a door – the kind with plastic pockets. This packs easily, and you can use it to keep track of sunscreen, hairbrushes and accessories, toothbrushes and much more. 

Bring a few hangers. Cruise ship staterooms don’t have as many hangers as you might like. Get some inexpensive, space-saving hangers, which will take up little room in your bag. And, if you need a little extra space on the way home, you can just leave them behind. 

Anita, Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, is sure to have more packing tips and tricks – be sure to ask! 

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Monday, November 28, 2016

How to Stay Healthy on a Cruise

It’s not fun when a cruise that you’ve planned and saved for is disrupted by illness, whether from a virus, a bacteria, or a bit of overindulgence. So, take these steps to stay healthy for the duration of your cruise.

Wash your hands. Think of a cruise ship like any other public space – schools, offices, stores, restaurants – and protect yourself from picking up (or spreading) germs just as you do in those places. The best thing to do is wash your hands frequently, especially before eating or drinking.

Bring a little medicine. You don’t need an entire pharmacy, but bring small supplies of things you know will help you with minor discomforts: pain reliever, seasickness preventive, allergy medicine, antacids. If you take prescription medications, be sure to bring enough for the length of the cruise, and don’t forget to take them regularly.

Eat and drink in moderation. Food and drink are plentiful, delicious and always available. Treat yourself, but do so in moderation. It’s easy: order that rich entrée, but ask for a half-portion; enjoy a dessert, but share it with a companion. And, there are always light, healthy options available in the dining rooms, restaurants and buffets. Plus, you can order dishes the way you would make them: with less butter, no sauce, dressing on the side, etc. Also, enjoy some cocktails, wines or craft beers, but know when to stop so that you can have a great night, followed by a great morning.

Be active. If you follow a fitness routine at home, you can maintain it (or something very close to it) in the ship’s fitness center. Most onboard gyms have a variety of equipment, group classes and personal trainers. There’s often a jogging track (with a great view) on the top deck, too. Of course, don’t overdo. For moderate exercise, stroll on deck, take a dance class or try some gentle yoga.

Get a good night’s sleep. Don’t let all the fun run you down. You need sleep to enjoy each day, and to keep your body healthy and able to fight off illnesses. If you’re up late, sleep in a bit the next day – you might miss a little of the fun, but you’ll feel better.

Cruise lines take many steps to keep passengers healthy, too. Ships that sail from U.S. ports must comply with the Vessel Sanitation Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. This protocol helps to prevent or control the introduction and spread of gastrointestinal illness on ships.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Cruising the Panama Canal


For more than 100 years, the Panama Canal has been an invaluable shipping link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s a wonder of the modern world, and worth seeing just for the magnificence of its engineering. The canal is also surrounded by the lush, tropical scenery of Panama, making it that much more attractive as a cruise destination.

There are three ways to see the Panama Canal via cruise ship: a full transit of the 50-mile canal and its three sets of massive locks; a partial transit; or a day excursion from the port of Colon, on the Atlantic end of the canal.

A day excursion (or “faux transit”) from Colon won’t take you into the canal on your cruise ship, but on a smaller excursion boat. First, you’ll take a bus to the town of Gamboa. You’ll board a boat that will take you through two sets of locks, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Then, you’ll ride a motorcoach back to your ship. If you’re on a cruise that calls on Colon, be sure to check your options for this type of excursion.

A partial transit cruise may be a good choice if you have a limited amount of time, as these cruises are usually just 7 to 10 nights. This option lets you stay on your ship as you sail into the canal and go through one or two sets of locks. Your ship may bring on a canal expert who will explain the history and engineering of the canal as you cruise.

A full transit cruise can go Atlantic to Pacific or Pacific to Atlantic. You’ll spend a full day in the canal, going through all three sets of locks. Plus, you may have the opportunity to explore Panama City, on the Pacific end of the canal, with its beautiful old town and modern skyscrapers. Note that most full transit cruises are at least 14 nights, and most are not roundtrip (unless they are quite long indeed, such as a world cruise). These cruises usually stop in other lovely Central American ports, too.

Cruise season in the Panama Canal is October through April: November brings the end of the rainy season in Panama, so that may help determine your choice of departure date. Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about more options for your cruise to Panama and its storied canal.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Special Fun for Kids on Board

Some luxury and adventure cruise lines are simply for adults, and unapologetically so. They don’t necessarily ban children: they just make it clear that their onboard experience is designed for adults.

But, some cruise lines make a special effort to attract families with children, offering programs that are specifically designed to delight toddlers, kids and teens. For example, Celebrity Cruises has Toddler Time for children under three; the Fun Factory for age three to 11; and the X Club for teens.

Cruise line activities for kids often manage to mix a little education with the fun. On Celebrity ships, teens can learn to create their own videos using high-definition, wide-angle video cameras. The top videos receive prizes at the X Club Film Festival. All kids three and older can have fun with the Xbox gameplay stations and mobile consoles located around the ship. And, if a member of your family lives with autism, take note: Celebrity Cruises has earned an Autism Friendly Certification, offering sensory-friendly films, toys and menu options.

Princess Cruises’ ships offer Discovery at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Discovery Communications and the California Science Center, which delivers interactive activities for kids age three to 12. Activities vary from one sailing to another, but they include things like whale watching, roller coaster building and fun chemistry experiments. Princess also thinks about parents: you can enjoy a “night out” on board while the kids have a dinner and movie date with their new friends.

On Royal Caribbean ships, every member of the Adventure Ocean youth program staff has a four-year degree in education, recreation or a similar field, plus extensive experience working with children. Royal Caribbean has some especially nice features for teens. In addition to teen-only spaces and activities, the spas offer just-for-teens services like Acne Attack facials and Beach Babe deep-conditioning hair treatments. Royal Caribbean has a partnership with DreamWorks, and kids of all ages love finding favorite characters like Shrek and King Fu Panda strolling the decks.

There’s much more to all the children’s programs mentioned above, and several other cruise lines offer excellent programs for young passengers, too. Let Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, help you sort through the options and select a cruise line and ship that will be awesomely fun for everyone in the family.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Planning a Honeymoon Cruise

If you’re putting lots of time into planning your wedding, don’t forget about the honeymoon! A cruise is a perfect choice: romantic, fun, affordable. And, planning gets really easy when you work with a Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, who will save you time (and probably money) by searching out the best cruise line, destination and fare for you.

Still, you’ll need to make a few decisions about your honeymoon cruise. Here the most important questions to consider:

How busy do you want to be? If all you want to do is put on a swim suit and relax by the pool, that’s fantastic: look at cruises that spend some days at sea, rather than calling on a new port every day. Or, if you can’t wait to explore new places with your sweetie, look for a port-intensive itinerary.

What kind of stateroom do you want? A honeymoon cruise is special, and a good time to reserve the very best stateroom your budget allows. A balcony stateroom would be wonderful for a morning coffee or evening glass of wine together; a suite would be even better, because suites often come with perks. In a suite, you might receive complimentary wine and fruit, butler service, access to a lounge or pool just for suite passengers, or shipboard credits you can use to pay for some fun extras on board.

What kind of dining experience do you enjoy? Many larger ships offer an impressive variety of dining venues, including specialty restaurants that can provide a truly memorable and romantic dinner. Smaller ships may have just one or two dining spots, and they will be excellent – but, tables just for two may be scarce. On either type of ship, let the maître d’ know that you’re on your honeymoon and would love to have a quiet table to yourselves. (Room service is always an option, too.)

Would you like a couple’s massage? This is a great post-wedding treat. Most spas offer couple’s massages and other treatments; be sure to check out exactly what’s on your ship’s spa menu. Your personal cruise expert can help you make a spa reservation as early as possible – couple’s treatments sell out quickly.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays cruise expert, can provide more help and advice to make your honeymoon cruise everything you dream of: a wonderful start on a new life together.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Cruising in the Zika Zone

Venturing to areas where the Zika virus has become more prevalent continues to be a concern for some travelers, particularly those who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant imminently. If you are considering a cruise for this winter, you may be going to one of the areas with locally transmitted cases of Zika, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America to some of the South Pacific islands.

Zika is usually a mild illness: the majority of people who get it don’t even notice any symptoms. About 20 percent of infected people experience a mild fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, headache or muscle ache. The illness typically resolves itself within a week.

For most people, Zika poses little to no risk. However, for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it’s a different story. There is a link between Zika in a mother and congenital birth defects in their children, including microcephaly (being born with an unusually small head as a result of incomplete brain development). That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that pregnant women and women actively trying to become pregnant postpone travel to regions affected by Zika.


For all other travelers, it is important not to be fearful, but to be educated about Zika, how it’s transmitted, and how to protect yourself.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus, meaning a bite from an infected mosquito can transfer the virus to the person being bitten. Also, it’s now known that the virus can be passed between sexual partners.

There’s no vaccine for Zika, but you can protect yourself. To protect yourself against mosquitos, use an insect repellent that contains DEET, picardin or IR3535: these ingredients are considered safe and effective for pregnant women, too. Spray your clothes and exposed skin.

Take your repellent along on shore excursions so that you can reapply it as often as recommended. To avoid mosquitos, choose excursions that are mostly indoors or on air-conditioned buses.

After traveling to a Zika zone, the CDC suggests waiting before trying to conceive a child: for women, the recommended wait is two months; for men, six months.

Finally, if you’ve booked a cruise but wish to cancel due to Zika concerns, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert: some cruise lines are offering to rebook guests on a cruise away from Zika zones, or to reschedule for a later date.


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Friday, October 28, 2016

Trip Report: Regal Princess, Canada - New England, October 2016

This report was written after a seven day, round-trip from New York in October, 2016

As usual we had a wonderful trip.  

New York.  We stayed at the Marriott Marquis because of it's perfect location for us.  The hotel is very nice.  We saw Lion King which was right across the street. We got our tickets 4 hours before show time and got to sit in the front row which was fantastic.  WE love it.  The theater was a  one minute walk.  Closeness is becoming very important to us as we get older.  We took the 6 hour Gray line tour around NYC again because it was close and because it did exactly what we wanted to see. We had perfect weather in NYC which made the tour very enjoyable.

Airports-  LGA is not good.  They have solved some of the near term construction woes but it is still not good.  Cab fare was $62 to the Marriott.

Cab to ship was $49 which again is in line of what you thought.  Fares are traffic dependent and the traffic is awful all over athe NYC area.

We found out 2 days before the cruise that one of our old Air Force friends were also on the Regal.  I email and text this guy every week but we never talked about this cruise.  The messages on Facebook were classic on how we fond out that we were both going to NYC, both on the Regal and our cabins were close.   Their cabin was one deck above us and 4 behind.  We got in our cabin and looked up and there they were.  It was fun to see them. 

Embarkation - Brooklyn did a very good job.  They have plenty of people directing travelers.  Our Premier line was empty when we arrived at noon.  Then we were directed right on to the ships.  Friends that arrived from Newark at 1030 had a 30 minute wait in line and another 45 minute wait to get on the ship.

The cruise was impacted one day by the effects of Hurricane Matthew.  We learned a lot about the wide spread effects of the hurricanes that affect the seas long distances from the center..  The captain said he was getting weather information from multiple sources including Princess, other ships in the area, and their special weather companies.  They missed their forecasts. 

Regal - Very nice because it looks just like all the other Princess ships.  The Buffet area is larger but there are more people so there is the same problem of finding a place to sit. Large flat screen on the wall was great. Our balcony cabin was just like all the other Princess ships but very satisfactory.   We were glad to be in the middle of the ship when we hit the bad weather and huge waves.. HUGE.   The crew said that it was the most rocking they had ever seen on their ship.  The waves and swells were incredible.

Food - Princess continues it's slow decline in food quality. Nothing was really bad but things just aren't the same as they used to be. We have learned to love the anytime dining option.  We  enjoy eating dinners in the buffet because of the flexibility, the many choices and the time savings.  I could eat the shrimp  and french bread every night. The International Cafe is one of our favorite places.  Very good food.  Sometimes tough to find a place to sit.

Sabatini's Grill-  Boy were we disappointed.  Service and food were just not that good.  Won't pay again.  Friends ate in the Crown Grill and said the same thing.

Service -  Very good.  We only saw our steward twice the whole trip but everything was just fine. Crew was very good.

Photos -  Princess is way behind Royal Caribbean.  They still put pictures up on the walls and we never seem to be able to find them even with helpers.  Digital is the way to go.

Shopping - bigger area and nice shops.  But the price creep is slowing our shopping down. No bargains on board

Entertainment.  Plenty to do.  Theater was full for every show.  We couldn't even get a seat for one at 8 and had to go to the 1000 show..  Still too many people saving seats. We did enjoy the fountain show along with about 10 other passengers.  I guess it was too cold for the rest. 

Activities - Always plenty to do. Always very well run and they always have good attendance at everything we did.  

Excursions -  We did a Princess one in every port. The tender operation in Newport was a real adventure.  The driver had to make 2 passes before finally catching on to the ship  The waves in the harbor were mighty big.  Not sure what the captain was thinking letting folks in wheel chairs and walkers get off/on.  It was mighty rough.  The short cruise between Newport and Boston was another adventure..  The crew was forced to slow the ship down because of the very rough seas and that made us 4 hours late getting into Boston.  Princess did a fantastic job in rescheduling excursions.  They had plenty of folks in the Shore excursion desk area and in lines answering questions.  The ship got lots of compliments on how they handled all this confusion.  The folks that did not use Princess excursions were not happy because they had to either phone or email their companies. Not sure how they resolved the money issues.  Another vote for using cruise line excursions.  Bar Harbor was our favorite port.  Tender operation was smooth because the day was perfect.  Lots to do in that small town.  I had a lobster roll which is one of my all time favorites.  Saint John and Halifax were excellent too.  All our buses and tour guides were excellent.

Clientele-  Most of the Princess passengers were just like us.

Disembarkation - usually one of my least favorite parts of the vacation but this time Princess got it right.  The elevators on get off day are always full with luggage, walkers and powered chairs.  We were called 3 minutes after schedule which is the best ever.  There were plenty of port folks there to help us find our luggage.  Then the customs line took about 5 minutes. And then we were off to our bus which was very clearly marked.  We only sat on the bus for 7 minutes before leaving for LGA.  Our friends got off an hour before we did and had to sit on the bus for 40 minutes for their trip to Newark.  They were not happy campers. Both us had very bad Saturday traffic getting to our respective airports.  Our driver took all kinds of back roads because the regular freeways were gridlocked.

Value -  our friends were traveling with 3 other couples and non of the 5 couples paid the same for our balconies.  None of us got exactly the same perks.  Overall the price/value were close.

Platinum-  We sure like the perks of Platinum.  While the internet is still slow, it is nice to get a whole lot of free minutes.  We never did attend the special cocktail hours to get the free hors d'oeuvres .  They still charge for drinks and the lines were long.  The Captains reception line was again way too long for us.

Cruising-  Lots of talk about cruising and cruise lines.   Disney seems to be the best but everyone knows it is really pricey.  Carnival is probably the least popular.  Some have tried it once and usually won't do it again.  Viking was the most often river cruise line used by our friends.  This is based on a small sample size...
  
Ned and Carolyn





Monday, October 24, 2016

Tips for Cruising with Food Allergies


If worries about maintaining your special diet have prevented you from taking a cruise, know this: cruise lines go above and beyond to accommodate special dietary needs, and they do it well.

If you are vegetarian or vegan; follow a low/no fat, low/no salt, lactose/dairy free, gluten- or wheat-free, low cholesterol, low sugar, Kosher or Halal diet; or are allergic to specific foods, the ship’s culinary staff can accommodate you. But, it’s your responsibility to alert the cruise line about your special needs well in advance of your cruise. Many cruise lines have an official special needs form just for this purpose. Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can help you provide the cruise line with complete and specific information about your needs.

While on board, the chefs and crew will do their best to give you a great dining experience: but, it’s up to you to let them know if there’s been a mistake and you find a forbidden food on your plate.

Here are some tips to make sure all goes well, and you don’t go hungry:

· When you board, ask to talk with the restaurant manager in order to make sure that any special foods and drinks you require are on board. You can also ask to see menus for each day so you can plan in advance what to eat and what to avoid.

· Talk with each crew member who serves you to make sure your food doesn’t contain anything that it shouldn’t. Servers are accustomed to helping guests who have special dietary needs and will do their very best for you. Be sure to thank them for helping you remain true to your diet.

· If you are served any food that contains the wrong ingredients or is not prepared as you requested, talk with your server, who will have the galley prepare another plate for you. Then, let the maître d’ or restaurant manager know what happened to help ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

· Ask the chefs and servers at the buffet about the ingredients of any dishes you’re not sure about.

· Take a tour of the ship’s galley. You’ll be able to see for yourself how careful the staff is about food preparation, for you and everyone else on board.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Cruising to Jamaica

Just a bit larger than the state of Massachusetts, the island of Jamaica boasts three major cruise ports: Ocho Rios, Falmouth and Montego Bay. With a central spine of rugged mountains, waterfalls that cascade into deep valleys, and pretty beaches lapped by turquoise water, it’s easy to fall in love with this Eastern Caribbean destination.

Each port has its attractions, and each is a great starting point for excursions all around the island. Here’s a look at what’s unique about each Jamaican port:

Falmouth
A bustling town during Jamaica’s days as a British colony, Falmouth has been reborn as a cruise port. The cruise terminal, opened in 2011, has Georgian style: but, in Falmouth itself, you can see buildings actually constructed during the Georgian Era. Just beyond the port complex, there are gems like the Falmouth Court House and St. Peter’s Anglican Church. It’s an easy walk, but there are also trolley tours that leave from the port.

Montego Bay
Popularly known as MoBay, Montego Bay is a hotspot for reggae music, authentic Jamaican food and cultural festivals, lively beaches, golfing and duty-free shopping. Catch a shuttle or taxi into town and head to City Centre, Half Moon Village or Whitter Village to browse the jewelry, watches, perfumes, crystal, leather goods and clothing. For an unforgettable round of golf, try any of the five championships courses nearby. Montego is also near some of the great plantation houses of Jamaica, including Rose Hall, said to be haunted by the ghost of Annie Palmer, the “White Witch.”

Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios is nestled in a particularly lush part of Jamaica’s north coast with some of the island’s most famous attractions, including Dunn's River Falls, where the water cascades 600 feet into a pool right on the beach. Music fans should visit the town of Nine Mile in the mountains of St. Ann Parish, where Bob Marley was born. Gardeners will enjoy a drive through Fern Gully, a dense jungle of tropical foliage with more than 200 different species of ferns. Or, take a self-guided tour of Shaw Park botanical gardens, with 25 acres of tropical plants, flowers and trees – plus, a stunning view of the blue Caribbean.

To start planning a visit to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands via cruise ship, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Planning an Alaskan Cruise


Cruising is a great way to explore the world, but some of the most memorable destinations are actually close to home. Alaska is a U.S. destination that has some of the most incredible coastal scenery anywhere on the planet, as well as beautiful wildlife and multi-cultural experiences waiting on shore.

When we say the scenery is breathtaking, it’s no exaggeration. There are majestic mountains, dense forests, thundering waterfalls, and massive glaciers that glow deep blue and green. Along the shore, you may see brown bears, black bears or moose; Dall sheep and mountain goats scamper on the ridges. In the water, you may spot whales and seals, with seabirds gliding above.

As you plan an Alaskan cruise, the first decision is when to go. The cruise season is May to September, perfectly aligned with summer vacations. June, July and August are the warmest, with daily high temperatures from the mid-50's to mid-70's, but can also be a bit rainy. May and September are cooler but drier, and September is the best time to catch the Northern Lights.

Once you decide when to go, consider exactly where to go. There are two basic choices:

  • An Inside Passage cruise is typically a seven-night roundtrip, usually from Seattle or Vancouver. The Inside Passage is the waterway between the coast of the Southeastern Alaska panhandle and a series of islands that shield the passage to the more turbulent water of the Pacific Ocean. The main ports of call are Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

  • A Gulf of Alaska cruise is frequently a seven-night, one-way cruise between Seattle or Vancouver and Seward or Whittier, which are the seaports for Anchorage. These cruises sail the Inside Passage, but because they are one-way rather than roundtrip, they can take you farther north. These itineraries often feature a call in Sitka as well as Anchorage.

If you’d like a longer cruise, there are a few that go beyond seven nights, or you could combine your cruise with a land-based journey to the interior. Another option is an expedition cruise, which will focus on nature and wildlife. The smaller expedition cruise ships are able to dock in villages and venture into inlets that are not accessible to larger ships. Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, for more information about Alaska’s ports, onshore activities and options for land tours, too.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Cruising with the Grandkids

One of the joys of being a grandparent is spending time with your grandchildren and seeing the world through their fresh eyes. And, you can help them discover a little more of the world on a cruise. A grandparent-grandchild cruise can be a wonderful bonding experience, but it takes some preparation. Here are some tips:

First, talk with your grandchildren’s parents to find out if they think their children are ready for an extended vacation without them. If they don’t think the kids are ready, they’re right: wait another year or two. If the kids are ready, decide together how you’ll propose the idea to them.

Also, make sure you understand the kids’ eating and sleeping schedules and what they like to do during playtime. It’s important to stick to their regular schedules as much as possible; and to know what interests them so that you can avoid boredom and the crankiness that can come with it.

Also, if you have one grandchild, talk with the parents about possibly taking a friend along. Unless you and your grandchild want to spend every minute of your cruise together, he or she may enjoy having a friend to swim and play with.

Get the kids involved in choosing a cruise. Talk with them about the ships and itineraries you’re considering. Let their preferences help you make a decision, say, between two Alaska itineraries or a five-day versus seven-day Caribbean cruise.

After you decide on a destination and ship, talk with your grandchildren about exactly what they can expect from the cruise. Look at a map and the route your car or plane will take to the ship, and the ship’s route to the ports of call. Look up information about the ports and plan what you’d like to see.

Be sure to talk about what the rules will be, too: for example, no wandering the ship alone, or checking in with you every 20 minutes when playing with other kids around the pool.

Finally, be sure to get proper documentation for taking your grandchildren out of the country, including a notarized letter in which the parents authorize you to make any necessary medical decisions for the child while on the cruise.



For more tips about cruising with grandchildren and help with booking a memorable cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Cruising to Beautiful, Beachy Antigua

If you want to cruise to some beautiful beaches, look for itineraries that include a call on Antigua. This island in the Eastern Caribbean is said to have 365 beaches along its 54 miles of coastline – one for each day of the year.

Amazingly, the beaches of Antigua are quite diverse. Calm, sparkling water and soft white sand make Valley Church Beach and nearby Darkwood Beach among the most beautiful on the island. Some visitors prefer the more developed and lively Dickinson Bay Beach, which offers lots of watersports and is lined with restaurants and bars. To watch wind surfers in action – or take a lesson yourself – make your way to lovely Jabberwock Beach. You can also hop on the ferry to Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, to enjoy 17 Mile Beach, all of it covered with gorgeous pink sand.

And, there’s more to Antigua than its beaches. Cruise ships dock in the capital of St. John’s, where you can tour the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. Exhibits explain the history of the islands, which has been shaped by Arawaks, Caribs, and English colonists, among others.

One of the most popular excursions for cruise ship passengers is Nelson’s Dockyard, the only continuously working Georgian-era dockyard in the world. It was first built in the early 18th century as a repair port for the British Royal Navy, and you can still see architectural remnants of the original dockyard. Today, beautiful sailboats and yachts dock there, and many of the historic buildings have been restored as restaurants, shops and galleries.

For a spectacular view of the beauty all around you, venture up to Shirley Heights, the remnants of a former lookout fort. There’s a breathtaking view of two harbors and the hills that rise around them. If your cruise ship schedule allows, go up just before sunset – it’s a memorable experience to watch the sun go down and the twinkling lights around the harbor come on.

For a look at the sugar industry that once ruled the island, visit Betty’s Hope, a partially restored plantation. Some of the sugar mills are still there, and you can see archeological digs that are uncovering slave quarters and a rum distillery.

To discover Antigua for yourself, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about itineraries that will take you there.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Cruising Through the Holidays

Lots of people love their holiday traditions: to spend time with friends and family, share traditional meals, admire decorations and open gifts. Still, those traditions can take a lot of preparation: shopping, cooking, cleaning, organizing, wrapping, and more.

If your holiday traditions are beginning to seem more like work than joy, consider an alternative: book yourself (and as many family members as you like) on a holiday season cruise.

Cruise ships really get into the spirit of the season, celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year with decorations, traditional foods, special performances and lots of seasonal activities, from caroling to on-board religious services. And, you can expect to find your ship beautifully decorated from one end to the other.

Here are some tips for loving the holidays at sea:

Book soon. As always, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can help you find the cruise line, ship and itinerary that’s right for you. Talk with your expert as soon as possible, so that you’ll be able to get your first choices for ship, itinerary and stateroom.

The mainstream, family-oriented cruise lines are great choices if you’ll sail with multi-generational group; if it’s just you and your partner, one of the premium or luxury cruise lines will provide a quieter, more adult-oriented holiday celebration.

As for destination, the holidays are a great time to visit the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera, but you could also venture to South America, Hawaii, or the South Pacific.  Another option is a European River cruise that visits some of Europe’s beautiful Christmas markets.

Leave Gifts at Home. You don’t want to take up luggage or cabin space with gifts for those who cruise with you, so leave them at home (and, if the cruise is your gift to other family members, there’s probably no need for more!). If you can’t imagine going without gifts, plan to pick up a special small gift for each family member in the ports you visit.

Bring a Decoration. Cruise lines don’t decorate staterooms, so you could make yours a bit festive with a tiny Christmas tree or glittery ornament. No strings of lights, though – cruise lines consider them to be fire hazards.

A treat for the crew. Your crew will be away from their homes for the holidays, and working hard, too. Make their holidays more special with a seasonal card of thanks or some sweets.

For more tips and assistance with your holiday cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


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Monday, September 5, 2016

Plan Your Spring Break Cruise Now


Now that the kids are back in school and you know their spring break schedules, waste no time planning and booking a spring break cruise. It’s one of the most popular times of year for families to cruise, because everyone will be ready for a break from school, work and winter.

If you’re tempted to wait until after the winter holidays to book a spring break cruise, don’t! Your top choices for cruise dates, itineraries, accommodations and flight schedules are likely to be gone by then. Reserve now to secure your top choices, based on the ages and interests of your kids and the type of cruise experience you’re looking for.

Here are some things to consider:

If you have elementary school kids who like to play and socialize with other kids, look at cruise lines with strong “kid’s club” programs. These programs, supervised by trained counselors, keep kids active and happy – which gives you some time to relax on your own, too. Disney Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line are among the lines that you should look at.

If you have tweens and teenagers, look at ships that offer special teen-only spaces, such as lounges where they can hang out, play games, listen to music and dance. In addition to the cruise lines mentioned above, some Princess Cruise Line ships have both indoor and outdoor spaces dedicated to teens. (One more note: given teens’ love of social media, it may be important to pick a cruise line with good Wi-Fi access.)

If your children prefer to spend time with the family, kid’s clubs and activities may be less important to you. You could consider additional cruise lines that offer plenty of activities for families to enjoy together, including Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises.

Remember, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert has the in-depth knowledge that can help you find the best cruise line, ship, itinerary and accommodations for your family. And after you book, your cruise expert can help you pre-book as many activities as possible. Ships tend to sail full during spring break season, and reservations for shore excursions, spa treatments, and specialty restaurants tend to fill up quickly. The activities you can book in advance vary by cruise line and ship, so let Anita, your personal cruise expert, guide you.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Why Take a World Cruise?

Why take a world cruise? It’s simply a spectacular way to go. Most world cruises take a leisurely three to four months: some actually circumnavigate the globe, while others explore a significant part of it.

Most of the cruise lines that offer world cruises are premium or luxury lines. They use mid-size ships that carry about 600 to 1,500 guests, offering a nice social experience on days at sea.

Luxurious as they are, world cruises provide tremendous value: consider that a land-based around-the-world itinerary would include multiple flights, others forms of transport, and a variety of lodging. Plus, with a world cruise, you board the ship, unpack and settle in; there’s no need to repack until your cruise is finished.

Most world cruises depart in January (a wonderful way to start a new year). So, what do the cruise lines have in store for world cruises in 2017? There’s more variety than you may think! Some examples:

  • ·       Crystal Cruises has a 94-night round-trip world cruise from Miami, with an emphasis on South America. For a more in-depth experience in major cities, the ship will dock overnight in ports like Lima, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.


  • ·       Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth will circumnavigate the globe from Southhampton, England, calling on 25 countries on a 120-night cruise. There will be overnight stays in New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Cape Town. (The line’s two other ships will sail their own world cruise itineraries, too.)


  • ·       Holland America’s 111-night cruise, roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, begins with a transit of the Panama Canal. That’s followed by exploration of the South Pacific, Asia, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.


  • ·       Princess Cruises gives passengers the option of joining the ship in either Fort Lauderdale or Los Angeles for a 111-night cruise. This cruise calls on Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Croatia, Malta, Bermuda and more.


  • ·       Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers a 128-night voyage roundtrip from Miami. Highlights include stops in Fiji, Indonesia, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.


If you don’t have the time for a full world cruise, note that most itineraries can be split up into segments of about 10- to 30-days. Taking a segment cruise will give you a fantastic, exotic experience without committing to the full world cruise.

To make your plans to cruise the world, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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