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, June 27, 2016

Cruising to Belize

Belize, a small Central American country, has more than its share of coastal beauty. The reefs and cayes (small islands) that line its 150-mile coast are part of the Western Hemisphere’s largest reef system. Inland, more than half of Belize is covered with dense forests and nature preserves.

Cruise ships call on Belize City, the country’s commercial capital. Ships dock just outside of the harbor, and guests board speedy tenders for the short trip to the docks at Tourist Village. The city has some charming remnants of the days when Belize was a British colony, especially around the Fort George area. City tours are available, but many cruise guests choose excursions to dive sites, Mayan ruins, ziplines and other outdoor adventures.

There are many wonderful dive sites along the barrier reef, and some of the best are just off Ambergris Caye. The barrier reef is home to hundreds of species of hard and soft corals, fish and other sea life. (Note that the famous Great Blue Hole is for very experienced divers only.)

You can enjoy some wonderful beach time in Belize, too, on the mainland or on the cayes. A ferry can take you to Caye Caulker: the entire caye is made of white coral sand, perfect for soaking up the sun and admiring the view of the Caribbean.

Belize has more than two dozen archaeological sites related to the Mayan Empire: one of the most fascinating is Altun Ha, which was a major trading and ceremonial outpost. The largest of the temples at this site, the Temple of the Masonry Altars, is 54 feet high. You can also visit Xunantunich, where six large plazas are surrounded by more than two dozen temples; the largest is El Castillo, which visitors are allowed to climb. At the top, you’ll have a panoramic view of rainforests, mountains, and neighboring Guatemala.

There are many more options for a shore excursion in Belize, such as floating through underground caves in an inner tube; exploring a jungle via kayak, horseback or bike; or enjoying an airboat ride out on the blue water.

Belize is often included on Western Caribbean cruise itineraries. To pick a cruise that will take you there, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Going Green on a Cruise

If you’re looking for vacation options that are environmentally friendly, look at cruising. Most cruise lines operate in compliance with extensive international guidelines for environmental stewardship, and many do even more. After all, part of the appeal of cruising is the opportunity to enjoy beautiful stretches of water and the healthy marine life within.

In addition to the recycling programs that have become common during the past 20 years, ships are being built or retrofitted with solar panels, cooking oil-to-biodiesel fuel conversion systems, and energy-efficient lighting and fixtures.

Here are some other green trends in cruising:
  • ·       Onboard environmental officers whose full-time job is to ensure the effectiveness of all environmental operations at sea, in port and on private islands.
  • ·       “Zero discharge” for recycling or incinerating all solid waste, either onboard or in appropriate in-port facilities. This includes everything from paper, plastic, glass, and metal to toner cartridges, refrigerants and photo processing liquids.
  • ·       Advanced treatment systems that purify and recycle wastewater.
  • ·       Purchasing more food and other supplies in bulk and/or from environmentally responsible providers.
  • ·       Special hull coatings that reduce surface-to-water resistance and enable ships to be more fuel-efficient.
  • ·       Programs that donate furniture and other usable items from remodeled ships – beds, desks, sofas, linens, unused toiletries and more – to charitable organizations, keeping them out of landfills.
  • ·       The ability to “plug in” to local power sources while in dock, which helps reduce fuel emissions.

Specific cruise lines are making other special efforts to improve their environmental footprints. Here are a few:
  • ·       Disney Cruise Line has a program that combines scientific research with hands-on conservation to strengthen the coral reef around the cruise line’s private island, Castaway Cay.
  • ·       Royal Caribbean International has eliminated small, disposable plastic items – such as toiletry bottles, plastic plates and flatware – for reusable or biodegradable items.
  • ·       Viking Ocean Cruises built its new ocean-going ships with dual-fuel systems that produce cleaner exhaust.

While you’re onboard, you can do your part, too. You can turn off lights and turn down cooling or heating when leaving your stateroom, and use your towels and linens for more than one day. These practical steps can have a big impact when practiced by everyone onboard.

To select a cruise line with progressive green policies and practices, get help from Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Cruising the Main River

Fairy-tale castles, magnificent palaces, deep forests, sunny vineyards and medieval city centers can all be seen on a cruise of Germany’s Main River. The Main (pronounced like “mine”) is sometimes overlooked by travelers eager to cruise one of Europe’s major rivers, like the Rhine or Danube. However, the Main provides a delightful cruise experience, winding through some of the most beautiful scenery in Germany.

Cruise ships can navigate the 240 miles between Frankfurt and Bamburg, perfect for a 6- or 7-day cruise. The Main also connects to the Rhine near Frankfurt and to the Danube via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, so it can be part of a longer cruise, too.

Cruises of the Main often begin in Frankfurt, a center of commerce and culture since the days of Charlemagne. The city was bombed during World War II, but some historic structures were spared or have been reconstructed. These include the home of Germany’s most famous writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which contains his writing desk and other belongings. There are wonderful medieval houses along cobbled Romerberg Square and a dozen museums along the Museumsufer (Museum Embankment).

The Main flows through the Franconia region of Bavaria, which produces not only great beer but fine red and white wines around the city of Wurzberg. Still, Wurzburg’s most famous attraction is the spectacular Residenz, a Baroque palace that was once home to the city’s ruling prince-bishops. Much of the palace was damaged during World War II but has been painstakingly reconstructed, and the center portion is original.

The picturesque city of Bamberg is situated on seven hills, each crowned by a lovely church, abbey or castle. Bamberg’s beautiful, medieval Old Town is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the churches, the Old Town, or the historic series of tunnels under the city.

Cruises of the Main often include a call on Nuremberg, along the Rhine-Main-Danube canal. Historic sites include the three castles that watch over the city, the Old Town surrounded by 13th century walls, the Nazi Party rallying grounds, and the Toy Museum, which showcases Nuremberg’s incredible history of toy making.

The Main is lovely in spring, summer and fall, and is also an excellent choice for a Christmas markets cruise – for more information, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Cruising to the World’s Top Gardens

Whether you’re a master gardener or simply enjoy pretty flowers, a cruise can take you to some of the world’s most spectacular gardens. Late spring and summer tend to be the best time to take a cruise with a garden excursion, but tropical gardens can bloom all year; gardens in four-season areas can be gorgeous in the fall, too.

Monet’s Garden at Giverny, France. Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted his famous Water Lilies series from life in his garden at Giverny. The garden, which contains much more than water lilies, is truly awe-inspiring: the artist spent years creating a living version of his watercolor paintings, even diverting part of the Epte River to create a perfect water garden. You can also tour part of the beautiful house where Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. Giverny is an excursion on some Seine River cruises and ocean cruises that call on Le Havre.

Madeira Botanical Gardens, Funchal, Madeira, and Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands. Just a few minutes from the center of Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira, a cable car will take you up to the Madeira Botanical Garden. Have your camera ready to photograph the brilliantly colored plants laid out in a mosaic pattern, with the blue Atlantic in the distance. There are collections of succulents, medicinal plants and palm trees, plus exotic birds and a small natural history museum. Many cruise itineraries that include Madeira also call on the Canary Islands: here, take an excursion to the Palmetum, a botanical garden with an extensive and valuable collection of palms.

Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, Canada. In 1904, Robert and Jennie Butchart began to quarry limestone for their prosperous cement plant; Jennie also began making plans to create something of beauty after the quarry was exhausted. She created a sunken garden, full of colorful flowers and ornamental shrubs. Through the years, the Butcharts added an amazing variety of gardens – including rose, Italian and Japanese – and other features, such as a carousel, and totem poles. Vancouver Island is a port of call on some cruises that depart from Seattle or Vancouver for the wonders of Alaska.

To find a cruise that will satisfy your love of gardens, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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