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, February 29, 2016

Big Choices When You Cruise to Alaska

Cruises to Alaska are the third most popular domestic destination for U.S. travelers this year – just a smidge behind Orlando and Maui – according to Travel Leaders Group’s 2016 Travel Trends Survey. And, there’s a surprising variety of choices for cruising the state’s rugged coastline. Two big choices for you to make are the size of your ship and the route you will take.

Ship size has a lot to do with how you will experience Alaska, with smaller (1,000 passengers or less) and larger ships to choose from.

Small ships generally belong to premium or luxury cruise lines, so the passengers tend to be older than on larger ships, which more often cater to families. Smaller ships can visit smaller ports and can more easily maneuver toward shore for spontaneous wildlife viewing. Small ship cruise fares tend to be higher, but offer good value: for example, shore excursions and other extras are often included. Staterooms are very comfortable, although balconies may be in short supply. And, onboard entertainment and dining options, while top-quality, may be limited.

Large ships have the space to offer more onboard activities, so there will be lots to do both on and off the ship: a great thing for families with children and other groups sailing together. Staterooms are larger than on small ships, and more will offer balconies. Larger ships also offer exceptional value, with lower per-day costs than smaller ships; however, shore excursions are likely to be an extra expense.

In addition, you should consider which of two basic Alaska cruise routes to take: roundtrip or one-way?

Roundtrip cruises, usually departing from Seattle or Vancouver, typically sail up the Inside Passage and call on three or four ports, such as Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan or Sitka. The scenery is spectacular, and the ports are unique and interesting.

One-way cruises will take you through the Inside Passage and beyond. They cruise either southbound or northbound between Seattle or Vancouver and Whittier or Seward, the ports for Anchorage. These itineraries take you to the wonders of Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord and perhaps another port or two. You could also combine your cruise with a land tour from Anchorage.

There’s a lot more to know about cruising to Alaska; ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to help you with these and other decisions for your ultimate Alaskan cruise adventure.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

What You Should Know About Norovirus

A cruise can be very good for your health, starting with stress relief as you take a break from your daily routine to relax and play. The last thing anyone wants is to end a cruise feeling less well than when they embarked. But, illness can spread onboard, with norovirus being the most notorious culprit. Be assured that cruise lines do all they can to guard against the spread of viruses on their ships; and, there are things you can do to protect yourself, too.
Understanding norovirus. Norovirus is a very common (only the common cold is more common). It can flourish and spread quickly wherever people gather in close proximity: schools, restaurants, hotels and many other places, including cruise ships. Norovirus is so often associated with cruise ships simply because health officials monitor illness on ships (unlike hotels and resorts), so outbreaks are quickly identified and reported.
Norovirus is often called the “stomach flu,” although it’s actually not related to the flu virus. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a low fever and headache. The symptoms usually last 24 to 48 hours.
How cruise lines work to prevent norovirus. The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps cruise lines prevent and control the introduction, transmission and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses, like norovirus, on all ships that home port or call on ports in the U.S. The VSP has strict, comprehensive standards for cleanliness and disinfection (if you’ve been on a cruise, you’ve seen first-hand the continuous cleaning by the crew). All ships receive unannounced inspections twice a year.
What you can do to stay healthy on board. Norovirus can take up to three days to become evident after a person is infected, so it’s possible that a fellow passenger will unknowingly bring the illness on board. You can pick up the virus from contact with an infected person, or from food, beverages or surfaces that have become contaminated. So, avoid infection just as you would at home: wash your hands often and don’t share food, beverages or utensils.
If you do become ill, visit the ship’s medical office, then stay in your cabin, rest, and drink plenty of water until your symptoms subside.
For more information, visit the VSP’s home page, or ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays expert.
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Monday, February 15, 2016

The Private Islands of the Bahamas

Some cruise lines not only take you to the Bahamas – they’ll treat you to a day on their own private Bahamian islands. These islands are wonderfully designed to give every guest an ideal beach day.

Princess Cruises’ has its own island called Princess Cays.  It’s on the south end of the island of Eleuthera, and it’s included on many of its Caribbean itineraries. Among its features, Princess Cays has more than a half-mile of white-sand beach for guests to enjoy.  Before you arrive, you can reserve an air-conditioned bungalow or a beach clamshell (a shaded lounge made for two), or just stretch out in one of the many lounge chairs. You can also reserve water sports equipment – including Hobie Cats, Sunfish sailboats and kayaks – or enjoy swimming and snorkeling. There’s an observation tower for marvelous views of the blue sky, blue-green water and deep green of the island. Princess even offers some excursions here, including a trip to the town of Rock Sound, which has a pristine beach and a famous blow-hole.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay drowses in the sun – until a ship arrives. Then, the palm-studded beach becomes an instant party. While the crew fires up the barbecue and strings hammocks between the palms, guests settle into lounge chairs or rentable beachfront cabanas. The hardest thing you’ll do all day is decide whether to ride a paddle boat, sail a Sunfish, or take a WaveRunner adventure. That’s in addition to swimming, sunning, snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Kids love getting up close to some fantastic sea life at the Stingray Encounter, too. Great Stirrup Cay is a feature of all of Norwegian’s Bahamas cruises.

Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay, visited by the Magic and the Wonder, is 1,000 acres of family fun. Its sandy beach is lined with lounge chairs where you can rest between swimming, snorkeling, and climbing on the play equipment in the water. You can rent bikes, kayaks, paddle boats, sailboats and other fun things. If family members want to hang out with friends of their own ages, that’s no problem. Scuttle’s Cove is for kids age three to 12; the many activities include an archaeological dig. The teens have their own beach, where they can play volleyball, soccer and more. And, parents and grandparents can visit Serenity Bay to enjoy a massage and an adult beverage.

Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert,  about other cruise lines’ private islands and how you can sail to them.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Take a Look at New Ships for 2016

Cruise lines are always looking toward new horizons: developing new destinations, itineraries and ships in order to offer every cruise traveler, from first-timers to long-time cruise fans, with a choice of fresh experiences.  Here’s a look at some of the new (or renewed) ships set to delight cruise passengers in 2016.

Crystal Cruises will enter the river cruise market with the Crystal Mozart, launching from Vienna in July. Crystal purchased and is refurbishing this river cruise ship, which is one of the largest in Europe. It has rare features like an indoor swimming pool and wraparound promenade. Crystal is also planning to debut four new-build river cruise ships during the next two years.

Cunard Line will put the Queen Mary 2 in dry dock on May 27, relaunching June 21 with fully renovated suites and restaurants. The refurbished ship will have the latest incarnation of the venerable Verandah Grill, serving gourmet French cuisine and tableside theater at lunch and dinner.

Holland America Line will please music lovers with new music venues – BB King’s Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage – on the new MS Koningsdam, set to debut in April. This will be the largest ship in the line’s fleet, and the first in the new Pinnacle Class. Solo travelers will appreciate staterooms designed for one on voyages of the Mediterranean, Baltic and British Isles.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises will launch the Explorer in July, the largest ship in its fleet of luxury vessels. It will have 369 spacious suites – from 300 to 1,500 square feet – and six open-seating restaurants for flexible gourmet dining.

Royal Caribbean will introduce another “first” at sea, the world’s largest water slide (10 stories high) on the 5,400-passenger Harmony of the Seas in June. The line will also offer new itineraries in Asia and Australia on a third Quantum Class ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which will home port in China.

Viking Cruises, best known for river cruises, has entered the ocean cruise market and will debut is third ocean-going ship, the Viking Sea, in April. For these new ships, Viking has adapted some of the most popular features of its river ships, including alfresco dining on the Aquavit Terrance.

To make your reservations on any of these ships and find out what else is new for 2016, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

World-Class Caribbean Beaches

A cruise in the Caribbean is a welcome respite any time of year. It’s beautiful, it’s balmy, and it’s convenient to the U.S. and Canada; but, it’s much more than that. The Caribbean is a world-class beach destination, and a cruise gives you an opportunity to visit and enjoy multiple Caribbean beaches, each with a unique vibe.

Forbes recently published “The Ultimate List” of the best Caribbean beaches: while it’s certainly a matter of personal choice, we agree with many of the picks. They include:

Eagle Beach, Aruba. Aruba’s widest beach is well-loved for its soft white sand, backed by low-rise resorts. There are shaded areas for picnics and a variety of water sports to enjoy. If you’re there during sea turtle nesting season (March through September), red-and-white markers will alert you to the protected nests. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to watch some tiny hatchlings make their way to the ocean.

White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. The British Virgin Islands have many beaches, and this is one of the best, with a long stretch of white sand and a reef for snorkeling. This beach is dotted with casual bars and restaurants, including the Soggy Dollar, where you can sip a cocktail called “The Painkiller.” You can hop a ferry to Jost Van Dyke from St. Thomas, St. John or Tortola.

Baie Lounge (Long Bay Beach), St. Martin. This island, shared by the Dutch and French, abounds with beaches, including some that are clothing-optional. If you’re looking for a quiet stretch of sand, head for Baie Longue, a dreamy white sand beach lapped by gentle turquoise waves. Note that there are no vendors or water sports rentals here – just peace, beauty, and the company of pelicans.

Pinney’s Beach, Nevis. Named for a plantation family, the smooth, saffron-colored sand of Pinney’s Beach stretches for four miles along the western shore of Nevis. It’s simply picture-perfect. There are some casual beach clubs and bars along the sand, as well as a Four Seasons resort. This beach is a bit rustic, and be forewarned that the water can be murky after it rains.

There are so many more top-notch beaches in the Caribbean – we haven’t even touched on the Western Caribbean and the gorgeous beaches of the Riviera Maya, Belize or Honduras. To learn more and pick a Caribbean cruise itinerary that gives you some beach time, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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