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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Customer Feedback: 4 Day sailing on the Explorer of the Sea

Customer feedback on the 4 day, round trip Seattle, sailing on the Explorer of the Sea.  Ned and Carolyn are experienced cruises, many of those on Princess. We value and share their feedback.


We have found it fair to wait a week before we give you our thoughts on a cruise. This one was a little more controversial because there was a big difference between what we have grown accustomed to on Princess. Royal Caribbean sure did not perform as well as Princess. Experienced Royal Caribbean passengers said this trip was way below what they had seen on their previous cruises. But with that said, the cruise was still darn good. Here are some of our thoughts.

Embarkation. One hour from getting in line until we had our ship pass. The line moved along but there were a lot of foks getting on. We got on board at 1 and they had the doors to the cabins closed with a note and announcements that the cabins would be available at 130

First meal. So everyone headed up to the Windjammer Buffet. Here we ran into a huge crowd with minimum staffing and a short food supply. This was not the way to start a fun cruise. The passengers were not happy.

Cabin - Loved our cabin at the back of the ship. Had a small love seat but it was better than the traditional chair. Good bed and pillows too. Very big balcony was nice. We did feel more vibrations than normal but it really bothered us only once for about 30 minutes. Never smelled exhaust

Food - We had anytime dining and chose to eat in the buffet for 2 out of 4 ouf the dinners. We had a table at the rear of the ship and enjoyed the wonderful views. Food was OK but there was plenty of it and always room to sit where we wanted. The one dinner we had in the dining room was excellent. Service in the dining room for lunch and dinner was OK but the service was really slow and disorganized. Coffee was not good. There was a pretend Starbucks that served better coffee for a charge. The line there was always long all day.

Elevators- Two sets. One in the front and two sets of 4 in mid ship. Nothing in the rear. Another irritant. Not enough elevators and they always seemed to be out of sync. We often took any elevator that came and went the opposite direction that we wanted to go just to know we would eventually get to our destination.

RC really pushed carrying your own bag off the ship which made the crowds really long on get off day.

Entertainment- Really good. The Ice show was the best cruise show we have seen. The audience gave the performers a long standing ovation. Really nice ice arena.

Staff. A major disappointment. There were not enough throughout the ship and they looked like they needed training.

Excursions- Well planned and professionally done. Very good guides and drivers.

Shopping- Pretty good selection..Prices were very high and the lines to buy anything were long.

Photos - Another plus for RC. They take your cruise card and mark every picture taken. So instead of looking at walls of pictures of everyone on the ship, you go to a computer screen and check only your pictures. Very much improved over other cruise lines. But the prices remain very high.

Disembarkation - The best we have seen.We left our area 5 minutes before scheduled time and were through customs and in the parking lot 10 minutes later. Customs was not checking anything very closely.

Seattle Port- A major problem. The Solstice was also at Pier 91. So at 930 there is this huge crowd of folks waiting for their bus or taxis. The line into the area was grid locked. It took Andrew 90 minutes to go the last mile. A cruise mate's husband went to get their car in the Parking lot and it took him 2 hours to get the half a mile to the ship. It was awful. The Port Authority folks better do something or it is going to be a long summer.

Another complication on the cruise was the TRAVEL WITH ALAN group. They had special functions on board that took up the good bars at cocktail hour. His customers were everywhere singing the praises of his deals. This is the first time we have been on a ship with them but they are a travel force in Seattle.

Summary. We really didn't think we were happy on the cruise but now that we have had time to reflect, we really did have a good time. Don't think we'd do Royal Caribbeaan again but the reason is that Princess is so darn good and we do get perks. Looking forward to our October cruise to New England on the Regal.

Ned and Carolyn

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Today, we remember those that gave their lives for our freedom. God Bless the families of those that didn't make it home.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Unique Shore Excursions

More cruise guests are looking for truly unique onshore experiences. So, cruise lines are offering some innovative new shore excursions: outings that are more active, educational, elegant or quirky than the standard bus tour.
These new-style excursions are incredibly varied. For example, you could:

  • Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Torres del Paine National Park for a day of hiking.
  • Visit the Restoration Room at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, to see classic artworks brought back to life.
  •  See the Alaskan coastline from a private catamaran.
  • Take an overnight trip from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to the temple complex at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Sound intriguing? To give you a better idea of what shore excursions can be like, here are some examples from our Cruise Holidays’ Distinctive Voyages series. Distinctive Voyages offer our clients an exclusive shore excursion on more than 300 cruises. Guests on the following cruises can look forward to these memorable, small group, VIP excursions:

Azamara Club Cruises’ 12-Night European Jewels Voyage, departing May 30, calling on Lisbon, Portugal: You’ll be transported to the village of Gradil to visit the Santana Winery, a historic, family-run wine estate. In the century-old cellars surrounded by rolling vineyards, a resident winemaker will explain how the wines are made and guide you through a tasting, along with an array of gourmet tapas.

Crystal Cruises’ 10-Day North Sea Medley, departing July 17, calling on Newcastle, England: You’ll travel to Alnwick Castle, home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and the backdrop for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter film series. It’s easy to imagine yourself as a member of the English aristocracy as you stroll the magnificent gardens.

Celebrity Cruises’ 12-Night Western Mediterranean Cruise, departing September 3, calling on Mallorca: You’ll experience country life on this beautiful Mediterranean island at Els Calderers, a working rural manor house and farm. This is a place to experience Mallorcan traditions, and you’ll learn to prepare a classic Mallorcan lunch (then enjoy it with a glass of wine).

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 16-Night Atlantic Retreat, calling on Funchal, Madeira: You’ll travel to the village of Camacha to learn about the island’s wicker industry, then to Monte Village and its landmark 18th century church. Next, you’ll board a toboggan (a wicker and wood toboggan made for the steep roadways, rather than snow) and ride to Livramento to taste some of the wine of Madeira.

To learn more about how you can enhance your next cruise with special and exclusive onshore experiences, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Spending Time in Saint Thomas

In 1917, the U.S. purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million in gold coin. When you sail into the harbor on the island of Saint Thomas, you’ll agree that the beautiful islands, which lie to the east of Puerto Rico, were worth the price.

The U.S. Virgin Islands include Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix and a sprinkling of smaller islands. Their relaxed Caribbean vibe is blended with remnants of European colonial days and some U.S.-style conveniences.

Volcanic and hilly, Saint Thomas is covered with lush green jungle and ringed by white sand beaches and the distinctively turquoise water of the Caribbean. Cruise ships dock at the capital of Charlotte Amalie, widely known for terrific duty-free shopping. There are more than 400 shops along Main Street alone. But there’s much more to Charlotte Amalie and Saint Thomas.

Charlotte Amalie is brimming with historical buildings, including Fort Christian, the oldest standing structure in the islands. Climb the 99 steps (actually 103) to see lovely manor houses from the 19th century. Take a tour of Blackbeard’s Castle, a watchtower constructed in 1679 that may have been used by the pirate Edward Teach, commonly known as Blackbeard.

If you long to spend the day on the sand, Magen’s Bay Beach is one of the world’s most beautiful. The drive to the beach is spectacular, too, with panoramic views of the harbor, the nearby British Virgin Islands and Magen’s Bay. Coki Beach is great for snorkeling and scuba diving; right next door is an attraction called Coral World, a marine park and underwater observatory that’s fun for children and adults.

For an active excursion combined with stunning views, try the zipline course on Saint Peter Mountain. There are beautiful views everywhere you look along the six ziplines and two canopy bridges. To enjoy the views without the adrenaline rush of ziplining, take the Saint Thomas Skyride, a modern cable car, up to Paradise Point and down again.

If you’ve been to Saint Thomas before or are looking for something a little different, take a 45- minute ferry ride to the island of Saint John. More than half of the island is a national park, ideal for a hike followed by a swim at Honeymoon Beach.

Most Eastern Caribbean itineraries include a call on Saint Thomas. To select one, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Staying Healthy on a Cruise

When you embark on a cruise, you step out of your daily routine into a zone where it’s easy to forget to take everyday precautions against illness. Here’s a quick guide to staying healthy. Packing List Bring these items along with you: they are likely to be available on your ship, too, but it’s more economical and convenient to bring your own.
  • Travel-size hand sanitizer
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Hat (for sun protection)
  • Sunscreen
  • Seasickness remedy
  • Enough prescription medication (and some extra) for the duration of the cruise Daily Activities

Remember to do these things each day to help stay healthy and ready to enjoy every minute of your cruise.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and after touching objects (such as railings) that many other passengers touch, too. When soap and water aren’t available, use your hand sanitizer.
  • Eat in moderation – it’s so easy to overindulge! Pace yourself; you have the entire length of the cruise to try different dining venues and menu selections.
  • Drink in moderation, too. A cruise is a time for fun, and that can certainly include the beer, wine or cocktails that you enjoy. But if you drink enough that you’re slow to get started the next morning, you’re cheating yourself out of some of the fun.
  •  Exercise every day. Keep up your usual level of activity: you can walk on the promenade deck or keep up your gym routine in the onboard fitness center. Use your water bottle to stay hydrated as you exercise. You can also enjoy walking or even more active excursions on shore. Take care not to overdo – you want to head into the evening feeling ready to have a good time, not exhausted.
  • Take any prescription medications according to your regular schedule. When you’re on vacation, it can be easy to forget!
  •  Protect yourself from sunburn by using sunscreen and wearing a sun hat outdoors.
  • If you know you’re prone to seasickness, use your choice of preventive medication to avoid it completely.

If you do become ill while on your cruise, contact the ship’s medical staff, who will be ready to help you get back out on deck as soon as possible.

Also, if you’re sailing to an area where certain vaccines are required or recommended, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can provide more information on how and when you should prepare.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Cruising to Iceland and Greenland

Cruises that venture to the Arctic reveal a beautiful world of water and ice, magnificent wildlife and dramatic Northern Lights. Cruise ships visit in summer, when the ice retreats a little; there’s 24-hour daylight; and the polar bears, walruses, whales, Arctic foxes and reindeer are at play. Some of these cruises explore the northern coast and islands of Norway or Russia; others take you to the impressive islands of Iceland and Greenland.

The main cruise port in Iceland is the capital of Reykjavik, where visitors love the city’s distinctive and quirky character. There are sleek, modern buildings that contrast with colorful row houses and whimsical street murals. Fishing is a major industry here, and fresh seafood is expertly prepared in the city’s restaurants, which also showcase other local products.

Some cruise itineraries schedule an overnight in Reykjavik to give passengers time to explore the city and to venture into the interior of volcanic rock and lava fields, glaciers and thermal pools. Visit Strokkur geyser, which erupts every 8 to 10 minutes; the beautiful Gullfoss Waterfall; the amazing views at Thingvellir National Park; or the Blue Lagoon, a stunning geothermal spa.

Ships that venture to Iceland may also call on Akureyri, gateway to Iceland’s dramatic “Land of Fire and Ice,” where glaciers meet lava flows; or Isafjordue, for a look at the Western Fjords region.
 Greenland also provides an unforgettable cruise experience. The rugged terrain of this vast island is largely unspoiled. Sailing is a way of life for Greenlanders: it’s often easier to sail along the coast to another town than to traverse the interior. And, the coastline is very beautiful, backed by craggy peaks and ice fields, and fronted by crystal-clear water and floating ice.

Ships from mainstream cruise lines usually call on Nuuk or Qaqortoq in southern Greenland. You can spend a day hiking and watching for wildlife, learning about native Inuit culture, tasting traditional Greenlandic dishes, or all of the above.

There are also fortified expedition ships that offer all-Greenland cruises: these often feature a visit to the Iluslissat Icefjord and Jakobshavn Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage site on Greenland’s west coast. This very productive glacier calves enormous icebergs that float into Disko Bay, then on to the sea.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can share more information about Arctic itineraries, plus some tips for preparing and packing for this cruise of a lifetime.

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