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, December 26, 2017

Why Your Next Family Vacation Should be a Cruise

A cruise can be a sojourn for one, a romantic voyage for two, a fun break for a group of friends, or one of the easiest family vacations you’ll ever plan. Many popular cruise lines have incredible features that are well-suited to families who sail together, whether it’s parents and their kids or three or four generations of family fun. Here’s why you should choose a cruise:

Easy travel from place to place. A cruise vacation keeps you moving, with new things to see and do onboard or onshore every day. But you don’t have to worry about unpacking and re-packing as you go. Your stateroom or suite is yours for the duration, and the crew does the driving (or sailing, in this case), mostly while you are deeply asleep.

Everyone will be entertained. While your ship moves between ports or spends a day at sea, there will be onboard activities for family members of all ages. Depending on the ship you choose, there may be live shows, games and tournaments, lectures, films, libraries, fitness centers, spas, sport courts and running tracks, swimming pools and hot tubs, shopping, arcades, bowling, dance lessons, cooking demos, and ship tours. Some newer ships offer fantastic attractions like surf or sky-diving simulators, ice-skating rinks, ropes courses or zip lines.

Activities just for kids. For families with children, onboard kids’ clubs are a priceless amenity. Major cruise lines like Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney are rightfully proud of their supervised kids’ clubs, which offer age-appropriate activities and parties throughout the day and evening. Don’t tell the kids, but the activities often include some education with the fun.

Time for family bonding, too. If you’re worried that the kids will have so much fun in the kids’ club that you’ll never see them, be assured that you’ll have family time, too. Dinner in an onboard restaurant is a great time to share the fun of the day. And, there will be lots of options for family excursions on shore, where you’ll discover and enjoy new places together.

Great food. Speaking of dinner, your family will love the wide variety of fresh and delicious food available onboard, from gourmet fare to open-air buffets to pizza and burgers by the pool. Picky eaters, vegetarians and vegans, paleo eaters and foodies will all find satisfaction.

Find out where your family can go on a cruise vacation; talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal expert.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Cruising to Grand Cayman

Where the coral atop the Cayman Ridge peeks above the waters of the Western Caribbean, it forms the Cayman Islands, known for spectacular diving and other tropical pastimes. Of the three Cayman Islands – Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac – Grand Cayman is by far the largest, at about 76 square miles.

Grand Cayman is a popular port on many Caribbean cruise itineraries, and many visitors head straight for the island’s famed Seven-Mile Beach (it’s actually about 6 miles long, but that’s plenty). The entire beach is public property, meaning you can stroll the full length without having to avoid any private resort beaches. There are lots of lounge chairs shaded by umbrellas, beachfront bars and restaurants, and water sports vendors – everything you need for a great beach day.

Of course, if you prefer a quieter and more secluded beach, there are several on the western end of the island. If windsurfing is your passion, head the east end for some windsurfing.

Serious SCUBA divers flock to the Cayman Wall, a world-famous dive site. There are lots of opportunities to snorkel, too, including the wreck of a 1940’s schooner, the Cali. You can even try “snuba,” a combination of snorkeling and SCUBA (it uses long hoses attached to air tanks at the surface, rather than strapped to your back).

Lots of visiting families take an excursion to Stingray City, where you can swim with the playful, peaceful stingrays. It’s fascinating to watch stingrays glide through the water; those at Stingray City are accustomed to interacting with humans, and enjoy being hand-fed and petted.

If you like turtles better than stingrays, the Cayman Turtle Farm is a research and breeding center for five types of green sea turtles. If you’re there at the right time, you might see some new hatchlings.

Your day on Grand Cayman can also be a time to go straight to the town of Hell, at the edge of a collection of low, jagged black limestone karst formations. There’s even a red-painted post office where you can send a postcard from Hell.

There’s also some fine shopping in Grand Cayman, including hand-crafted jewelry and salvaged coins.

To find out about more attractions, museums and gardens that you can enjoy on a port call in Grand Cayman – as well as the variety of cruise lines and itineraries that can take you there – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Cruise Discounts for Military Members and Veterans

If you’re a current, retired or veteran member of the U.S. military, you may be eligible for significant discounts on some cruises. Many cruise lines offer discounts to military personnel, although the rules, qualifications, and the form the discounts take will vary. Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can help guide you to some attractive deals, but here’s basic information from some popular cruise lines to get you thinking.

Celebrity Cruises offers special rates on some sailings to active or retired members of the military, including the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or National Reserves; and the Canadian National Defense. You’ll need to bring proof of active or retired military status to the port to show during check-in.

Royal Caribbean occasionally offers special rates to active, retired or veteran military personnel on selected sailings. The rate usually applies to specific types of staterooms. In addition, the cruise line sometimes offers onboard credits to military personnel. To qualify, you’ll be asked to provide proof of eligibility when you check in to board the ship.

Princess Cruises offers up to $250 in onboard spending money to veteran, retired or active members of the U.S. and Canadian militaries. The credit can be used on any Princess cruise, at any time of year. You’ll need to complete an application form and provide proof of eligibility at least two weeks before departure.

MSC Cruises offers active and retired personnel from the U.S. and Canadian militaries up to 10% off almost all of its sailings (police officers and firefighters also qualify under MSC's Civil Service discount program). The exact discount percentage depends on the category of stateroom you book; and, you may book multiple staterooms using your discount. You just need to present your military ID badge at the time of booking. Here’s a bonus: If you are on active duty and must cancel your MSC cruise within 15 days of the departure date because you are redeployed or your leave is revoked, MSC will provide a 100% future cruise credit, good for two years. To take advantage of this, your cancellation must be accompanied by a letter from your commanding officer.

Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line also offer occasional deals for members of the military. Before you book a cruise with one of these lines, ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to check on the available military discounts.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Cruising to Hawaii

Every Hawaiian island is beautiful, yet each is unique, with a surprising diversity of scenery and activities. The best way to get acquainted with them is an unforgettable cruise: just get on board, settle in, and let the ship move you from one postcard-perfect island to another.

There are two basic ways to cruise Hawaii. The first is a one-way voyage between the West Coast and the islands, or the reverse. Either direction includes several days at sea and is a good choice if you want time before or after your Hawaiian adventure to enjoy the ship.

The second is a roundtrip flight to Hawaii with a roundtrip cruise of the islands from Honolulu. Currently, Norwegian Cruise Line is the only line to offer this option: cruises on the Pride of America are available year-round. NCL combines a seven-day island cruise with three or four days of land tours on the island of Oahu, giving you an immersion in Hawaiian history and culture.

Oahu has some of Hawaii’s most modern and most historic sights, from the gleaming city of Honolulu to the World War II memorials in Pearl Harbor. Spend time at Waikiki Beach, or see some of the world’s best surfing on the North Shore; the Polynesian Cultural Center is there, too. If you love pineapple, you’ll love it more at the Dole Plantation on Oahu, where the fruit is always fresh.

Amid islands of stunning natural beauty, Kauai manages to stand out as the most lush and beautiful. Don’t miss Waimea Canyon, an incredibly scenic gorge known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” You can see the equally scenic Napali Coast by hiking or sailing – it’s not even accessible by motor vehicle.

The island of Maui has lovely beaches and golf courses. You can swim in the ocean or in a pool below a cascading waterfall. Or, ride to the top of Haleakala volcano to see the massive crater and the 360-degree views. From Maui, you can also visit the laid-back island of Molokai.

The Big Island of Hawaii has two cruise ports: Kona and Hilo. Kona has black sand beaches and wonderful local coffee; Hilo is a festival of tropical flowers. Either port provides easy access to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, and the largest, Mauna Loa.

There’s so much to see and do in Hawaii, you may need help to decide on shore excursions! Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Cruise Cabin Secrets Revealed

A cruise ship stateroom is truly a wonder of design and engineering: an efficient space that’s well-equipped to serve as your personal sanctuary during a cruise. And, you don’t even need to make your own bed: your cabin steward will keep everything ship-shape.

While your stateroom provides everything you need, they are smaller than your average hotel room. But, we’ll let you in on a few secrets that can help you organize and make the most of the space.

For example, even frequent cruisers may not know that stateroom walls are magnetic – all of a ship’s structure is made of metal. Bring along a few refrigerator magnets to stick up important papers and notices where you can see them.

The majority of cruise ship staterooms are equipped with two beds that can be combined as one larger bed. If the beds aren’t configured the way you want when you board, just ask your cabin steward to make a change. Also, many stateroom designs allow the bed to be re-oriented – if you want to sleep with your head pointing a different direction, just let your steward know.

While you’re considering the bed, take a look under it. Some rest on a closed platform, but many have storage space underneath. It may be large enough for your suitcase and shoes, freeing up closet space.

Cruise ship bathrooms are also small and efficient, equipped with a toilet, sink, shower and a bit of counter space – but, probably not a ventilation fan. Bring along a scented air freshener that you can hang from the door handle – the type you hang from a car’s rearview mirror works well.

Cruise lines equip their staterooms with nice amenities – toiletries, a hairdryer, a safe, stationery and pens – so you won’t need to bring those items along. You can also request the use of a robe and slippers, if they aren’t already hanging in your stateroom closet.

Finally, ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to help you select a cabin that offers a little something extra (there aren’t a lot of these, so it helps to book as far in advance as possible). Depending on the ship’s design, there may be cabins that offer some extra square footage, a larger balcony, multiple windows or a larger bath.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Alaska Cruise or Alaska Cruisetour?

If you’re planning to cruise to Alaska, be sure to consider the Alaskan cruisetours offered by many cruise lines. A cruisetour is a combination of a cruise along Alaska’s scenic coastline and a land tour that will take you to part of the state’s vast interior. Some people say you can’t really experience Alaska if you do only a cruise or a land tour, but doing both will give you a true Alaskan experience.

Still, a cruisetour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re seeing Alaska via cruise because you don’t enjoy overland travel via train, bus or car, you may want to stick with a cruise only.

But if the idea of a cruisetour interests you, consider the amazing places you can see on the land tour portion. One popular destination is Denali National Park, an enormous natural treasure that includes and surrounds Denali, the highest mountain in North America. There are glaciers, forests and tundra, and impressive Alaskan wildlife, including moose, caribou, bears, wolves and Dall sheep.

Located between Anchorage and Denali, the pioneer town of Talkeetna is at the confluence of three glacial rivers, so it’s a great destination for fishing or rafting. From Talkeetna, you can also take a “flightseeing” tour to Denali, viewing the rugged peaks from above and landing on a glacier.

If you’ve already been to Denali, there’s another national park in Alaska that offers stunning mountain scenery – Wrangell St. Elias National Park, which is the largest U.S. national park. It’s home to nine of the highest peaks in the U.S. Runoff from the massive glaciers helps feed the scenic Copper River; you can also visit Kennecott, a ghost town that was once a copper mining boomtown.

There are more options for the land tour portions of your Alaskan cruisetour: talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert to learn more.

Also, talk with Anita,  your cruise expert, about whether you should take the land tour portion of your cruisetour before or after the cruise portion. Some people like to tour first, absorbing Alaskan culture before enjoying the pampering amenities of the cruise ship. Others like to cruise first, releasing the stress of daily life and relaxing on the ship before venturing into the interior. Choose which is best for you, and make your plans!

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Transatlantic Cruising

For some people, sailing across a wide expanse of water, warmed by the sun and refreshed by a cool breeze, is a thrill. If you love the “days at sea” that are part of most cruise itineraries, consider an Atlantic crossing, also known as a transatlantic cruise.

There are two kinds of transatlantic cruises. One crosses the Atlantic Ocean simply for the fun of it, which is a specialty of Cunard Line: the Queen Mary 2 regularly sails between Southampton, England, and New York City. The second repositions a ship from one cruise region to another, such as from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean or Baltic. Either type will give you a string of relaxing days at sea.

Transatlantic cruises are not entirely port-free – after all, there’s at least one on each end. The western end might be Miami, Tampa or New York; the eastern end could be Copenhagen, Southampton or Barcelona. Some itineraries visit Atlantic islands like Madeira, the Canaries, the Azores or Bermuda.

It takes a cruise ship some six to eight days to get across the Atlantic; when you add in a few island calls, the length can be 11-14 days or more. These cruises often provide very good value. But, don’t forget that you’ll need fly to Europe to begin the cruise or fly home from Europe after the cruise. You can also purchase two consecutive Atlantic crossings so that you’ll have a roundtrip cruise (with no jet lag).

So, what can you do on your days at sea?

There will be lots of activities on board, such as games, spa treatments, classes, dance lessons, lectures and behind-the scenes tours. You can curl up with a few good books or indulge in hobbies like knitting or scrapbooking.

The cruise can also be a time to increase your wellness. Visit the fitness center daily, walk on deck in the fresh air, and make healthy and delicious choices in the ship’s dining venues. Consciously relax: there’s really nowhere to rush off to. You just might finish the cruise feeling better than when you started.

Finally, catch the sunrise and sunset. With just the water, sky and sun in view, you’ll see some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. On clear nights, far away from the ambient light of populated areas, the sky will be breathtaking, too.

Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to show you some itineraries for transatlantic cruises.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

What’s a “Ship-Within-a-Ship?”

If you and your family are looking for a family-friendly cruise experience on a big ship, but want the amenities of a luxury ship, you can have both.

Most luxury cruise ships are small – less than 2,000 passengers, and sometimes no more than 200 – and while they have top-notch everything, they don’t always suit the needs of cruising families. They don’t offer special facilities or activities for children, nor do they have space for the number of dining spots or entertainment venues found on ships that accommodate 4,000 passengers or more.

The good news is that the “ship within a ship” option offered by some cruise lines will give you a luxury experience on a ship that also has lots of features to please family members of all ages and tastes.

Examples include:

The Haven, featured on nine Norwegian Cruise Line ships, is a collection of suites and other spaces for the exclusive use of Haven guests. Staterooms in The Haven are the most luxurious and spacious on the ship, and they come with a dedicated concierge and 24-hour butler service. There’s no crowding at the serene private sundeck, whirlpool, or fitness area; or in the lounge and restaurant reserved just for Haven guests. Of course, you can enjoy the rest of the ship’s amenities, too, including the Splash Academy program for kids up to age 12 and the Entourage program for teens. Haven guests also receive priority service when embarking and disembarking, priority seating at shows and in specialty restaurants, and other nice perks.

The Yacht Club is popping up on more MSC Cruises ships as the cruise line goes through a growth spurt. This ship-within-a-ship is currently available on six MSC ships. Like The Haven, the Yacht Club offers concierge and butler service, plus exclusive facilities that are generally more tranquil than those open to all passengers. It’s Yacht Club guests only at the Top Sail lounge, where the views are panoramic. There’s also a dedicated restaurant and a pool deck with a private swimming pool, whirlpools, sun deck and bar. Plus, a dedicated elevator can whisk Yacht Club guests directly to the ship’s spa for pampering treatments.

Other lines that don’t have actual luxury enclaves on their ships (at least, not yet) are experimenting with offering special amenities to passengers who book certain classes of suites. Watch for this trend to continue, giving you more opportunities to satisfy your taste for luxury cruising without sacrificing the innovative and family-friendly amenities of today’s large cruise ships. Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to steer you toward the ship-within-a-ship concept.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Cruising to the Bahamas

The Bahamas are a fantastic cruise destination: the archipelago of more than 700 islands (about 30 are inhabited) are close to home for most U.S. residents. The closest island, Bimini, is only 50 miles east of Miami, and there are lots of convenient departure ports all along the east coast.

You can cruise the Bahamas for two to eight nights at any time of year. Most days see temperatures in the 80s, with refreshing breezes and lots of sun. Any rainclouds usually pass over quickly. While the Bahamas can be affected by hurricanes, cruise ship captains are very good at monitoring conditions and avoiding rough weather.

The low, flat islands are full of unique plant and bird life. Whales and dolphins play in the turquoise water, while smaller and more colorful fish flutter around the world’s third-largest barrier reef. The Bahamas are also a great beach destination, with long stretches of powdery white or pink sand.

Common ports of call include:

Nassau, New Providence Island, home to about 70% of the nearly 400,000 residents of the Bahamas. A visit to the Straw Market is a tradition here. Many visitors purchase day passes to the Atlantis Resort, which has a fabulous waterpark, marine habitats and much more. Or, visit Fort Charlotte to tour the dungeons and underground passageways and see the beautiful views of the harbor from the ramparts.

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, was hit by a pair of hurricanes in 2004, but has fully recovered with the development of its next-door neighbor, Lucaya. Shoppers love Port Lucaya Marketplace, with 70+ boutiques. Golfers can try the Lucayan Course or the Reef Course, a challenging 7,000 yards long. Grand Bahama has some of the best diving and snorkeling in the islands, and, Lucayan National Park is just 40 acres in size but includes five ecological zones.

Several cruise lines maintain private islands in the Bahamas, which are a treat. It’s be just you and your fellow passengers on a pristine beach, with lounge chairs and hammocks for all. The crew sets up a lunch buffet, and you can work off your lunch by beachcombing, swimming or playing volleyball.

Anita, Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can help you select a Bahamas cruise that includes a stop at a private island, and perhaps islands like Abaco and Bimini, too.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Cruising to Bonaire

In the Southern Caribbean, the ABC Islands – part of the Netherlands – are unique and beautiful cruise destinations. This small line of islands doesn’t exactly follow its “ABC” nickname: from west to east, they are Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. Aruba is the best-known, and Curacao is familiar to fans of the blue-colored, orange-flavored liquor produced there. But for many cruise passengers, Bonaire is an unknown waiting to be discovered.

You’ll come ashore in the Bonaire’s laid-back capital, Kralendijk, where the stucco buildings are painted in tropical pinks, oranges and greens. A stroll through town will reveal bargains on a wide variety of interesting gemstone jewelry and items made from wood, leather, silver and ceramics. There are always prints and paintings, painted fish and locally made dolls for sale.

If you have a chance to eat lunch on shore, you’ll find Creole-influenced dishes, along with Dutch staples like smoked meats and creamy cheeses. Cactus soup in a common, and tasty, local dish.

Surrounded by a protective reef, Bonaire is a paradise for snorkelers and divers, with more than 85 marked dive sites. The waters around the island form Bonaire National Marine Park, where sea turtles, seahorses and other sea life is protected. You can also go windsurfing, kayaking, bird watching, kite boarding, fishing, or ride on a glass-bottomed boat.

Bonaire has charming small beaches sprinkled among outcroppings of coral and rock along the shore. Pink Beach offers good snorkeling and scuba diving, and there’s windsurfing at Lac Bay Beach.

In addition to the protected marine life around the island, Bonaire has protected spaces for flamingoes and donkeys. It’s one of few places in the Caribbean where flamingoes nest. Visit these delicate pink birds at Goto Meer, a saltwater lagoon; or at a flamingo sanctuary located next to one of Bonaire’s solar salt farms. The 135-acre sanctuary has contributed to an increased flamingo population – from about 1,500 to 15,000 – during the past 25 years.

Donkeys were originally brought to Bonaire to work in the island’s salt trade, but as technology improved these gentle creatures were left to roam in the wild. The Donkey Sanctuary was established by an island couple to help donkeys who are injured, orphaned or otherwise in need. Visitors can pet and help feed the herd, which often includes some adorable babies.

To find a Southern Caribbean cruise that includes time on Bonaire, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Consider a Luxury Cruise

Have you thought about taking a luxury cruise vacation, but worry it won’t fit your casual lifestyle or your budget? Read on to find out why luxury may suit you.

The ships and staterooms. Luxury ships tend to be small or mid-size, with all-suite, all-balcony accommodations. In your suite, you’ll find high-end linens and bath products, granite or marble countertops, elegant fabrics and thoughtful touches like fresh flowers or binoculars for wildlife viewing. While sophisticated, luxury ships aren’t stuffy. In recent years, dress codes have become more casual, closer to those of mainstream cruise lines.

The service. Luxury cruises sail with more crew members per guest, and the crew is trained to provide highly personalized service: they will know your name, remember your preferences and anticipate your needs. Don’t be surprised to come back to your suite to find your shoes polished (even if you didn’t ask).

The dining. There won’t be as many dining venue available as on some the largest cruise ships, but there will be options. And, your dining choices will be top-notch from breakfast through late-night snack.

The shore experience. Luxury ships don’t have the space to offer a huge variety of onboard entertainment, as larger ships do; instead, they focus on memorable on-shore experiences. Shore excursions showcase the local culture and often venture off the usual tourist path. Some luxury lines also offer concierge services for shore excursions: just describe what you’d like to do, and the staff will make it happen.

The inclusions. At first glance, luxury fares can be about twice as much as those of mainstream cruise lines. But, take a close look at what’s included in a luxury cruise fare. It will likely include gratuities; all beverages, including beer, wine and liquor; shore excursions; Wi-Fi access; access to all restaurants, with no surcharges; and laundry and dry cleaning. When you consider all the extras, it may be more affordable than you thought: it’s all part of creating an atmosphere of ease and relaxation. Luxury lines want their guests to come on board and simply enjoy, without having to sign for every drink or worry about the cost of Wi-Fi.

Let Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, help identify what cruise line and itinerary will fit your budget and travel desires.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Cruising the Norwegian Arctic

If you’ve already cruised Alaska’s coastline or even ventured to the Antarctic, here’s another cruise destination you may enjoy: Norway’s Arctic region. It’s a special place of abundant natural beauty where you can follow in the steps of early Arctic explorers.

While some adventure cruise lines sail this region all year long, the most popular time to sail is summer, with its long hours of daylight. Early in the season, itineraries tend to be a bit shorter and more southerly as winter ice continues to melt. Sailing during July or August will give you the experience of high summer in the Artic, with warmer temperatures and the tundra in full bloom. You may spot polar bears and other Artic wildlife raising their young, too. In September, the ice begins to advance again and ships return to more southerly routes.

Cruises of the Norwegian Arctic depart from a variety of North Sea ports, including Hamburg and London (Southampton). Typically, cruises are 10 nights or more, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the region. Ships sail along the west cost of Norway, threading in and out of gorgeous fjords and calling on historic towns, like Bergen and Trondheim, before crossing the Arctic Circle.

Within the Arctic Circle, popular stops include Spitsbergen (also called Longyearbyen), capital of the Svalbard Archipelago of islands. Scenery and wildlife are the stars here. There are jagged, snow-covered mountains and windswept tundra populated by artic fox, reindeer and polar bears. You can visit the Global Seed Vault and the Svalbard History Museum, or trek over Longyear Glacier – don’t be surprised if your guides carry rifles to protect against unexpected wildlife encounters.

Most itineraries also include the city of Tromso, which has a spectacular setting enhanced by the beautiful Artic Cathedral, a stunning structure of concrete, steel and glass. The Polar Museum, housed in a restored 19th-century warehouse, contains exhibits on Tromso’s history as a base for hunting expeditions and polar explorations. Take the cable car to the top of Mt. Storsteinen for panoramic views, or ride behind the friendly husky dogs at a wilderness camp.

To choose a cruise of Arctic Norway – and get advice on what to pack – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

What to Know Before Your First River Cruise

If you’ve booked your first river cruise in Europe, Asia or India, you already know some of the ways they differ from ocean cruises. Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect: you may discover some new tips here, too.

A more intimate experience. Most river ships carry just 100 to 200 passengers, making it easy to be social: you’ll dine and explore on shore with the same people each day, so it’s natural to make new friends. While there won’t be as many dining or entertainment venues as you would find on an ocean cruise ship, you’ll enjoy the advantages of sailing close to shore, which provides a constantly changing view and a greater feeling of connectedness to the places you visit.

River cruises do tend to attract mature travelers who have the time and resources to enjoy this type of vacation; but, a growing number of younger people – and even some families – are choosing the port-filled itineraries and easy pace of river cruising.

Easy sightseeing. Your cruise may include overnight stays in some river ports, but in general you’ll dock somewhere new each day. The smaller passenger count means you won’t need to wait in long lines when you leave or return to the ship. Plus, you’ll often step off the ship right into the center of town. You can explore on your own, or to take an organized tour of the city or inland sites.

Inclusivity. Exactly what’s included in the base fare of a river cruise varies from one cruise line to another, but you should be pleased. Many river cruise fares include shore excursions, Wi-Fi access, beverages, and maybe some special events in port, too.

Opportunities to be active. Most river cruise ships have a fitness area, though there may not be space for an expansive gym. But, there are lots of opportunities to be active on shore. Some ships sail with bicycles you can use in port; in some places, you can cycle ahead to meet the ship at the next stop. And, many shore excursions include opportunities to walk, hike or even do some serious climbing.

If you’re counting the days until your first river cruise, get ready for a wonderful experience! If you’re intrigued and want to know more, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

A Cruise May Not Cost as Much as You Think

Cruises are surprisingly affordable vacations: you get lodging, dining, entertainment and transportation between ports for a set price that compares very favorably with what you would spend if you arranged all that on your own. When people say that cruises are expensive, it may be because they purchased a cruise at the wrong time, sailed during peak season, or purchased onboard luxuries beyond their budget.

There are some simple ways to ensure the greatest value from your cruise vacation:

  • Purchasing a cruise well in advance assures the best fare. Last-minute sales, if there are any, can easily be negated by the cost of last-minute airfare to the port. Booking six months to a year in advance is often best: get more advice on this from your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
  • Peak season brings peak prices, so cruise a little before or after the busiest time. For example, look at Caribbean sailings between Spring Break and graduation season; or the Greek Isles in fall. You should encounter better prices, fewer crowds, and nice weather.
  • Drink packages (unlimited water and soft drinks for a set price) can be convenient, but think about whether it will pay off for you. Check the rules for your cruise line, which may allow you to bring your own bottled water and soft drinks on board, ensuring your preferred brands at a reasonable price.
  • Everyone loves a treatment in the onboard spa, but the prices may turn you away. Don’t give up too quickly – ask if there are discounts when the ship is in port, and you may secure a bargain price.
  • Bypass specialty restaurants that require an extra fee. The gourmet cuisine is tempting, but you can dine very well at the venues included in your base fare. 

Finally, if you love all the luxurious extras and don’t want to go without them, consider booking a cruise on a luxury line. Fares are higher, but they often include shore excursions, alternative dining, laundry services, WiFi and other amenities that cost extra on mainstream ships. Let your budget and Anita, your Cruise Holidays cruise expert, guide you!

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Cruising to Cuba

Cruising to Cuba is nothing new for Canadians, but now, it’s an option for Americans who wish to take a trip to Cuba. Canada-Cuba relations can be traced back to the 18th century and is the third most popular overseas destination for Canadians. In addition, Canada is Cuba’s largest source of tourists with more than one million citizens visiting the country annually.  More recently, there has been plenty of interest from Americans in this large and beautiful Caribbean island. Cruise lines like Azamara Club Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean are calling on Havana, and sometimes other Cuban ports, too.

The U.S. has a long-standing trade embargo with Cuba, and travel to Cuba for purely tourist activities is still prohibited; so, cruise lines are required by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control to ensure that excursions and tours have a focus on education or cultural exchange. This qualifies passengers to fit into one of the 12 categories of U.S. citizens currently allowed to visit Cuba.

The amount of time you spend in Cuba will depend on the cruise line and itinerary. You may have an 8-hour port stop in Havana, a multiple-day visit or even an overnight stay in port. Be sure to review itineraries carefully so that you know what to expect.

Havana is on Cuba’s northwestern coast, and cruise ships dock right across from the old city; some of it expertly restored, some of it crumbling, but all beautiful and historic. The main squares, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja, have architecture that spans centuries. From Plaza de Armas, la Calle Obispo leads to the Hotel Ambos Mundos, were Ernest Hemingway used to write; and El Floridita, where he sipped daquiris. The Museo de la Ciudad, the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes provide a look at the history and culture of Havana.

Other ports in Cuba include Cienfuegos on the southern coast. This city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the harmonious design of the original city streets still evident today. Cienfuegos is also a gateway to the city of Trinidad, which dates from the early 16th century and was once the center of Cuba’s sugar trade.

At the eastern tip of Cuba, the city of Santiago de Cuba cascades down a steep hillside, and there’s a strong Caribbean element to the culture. This is where Cuba's revolution began, and you can tour the Cuartel Moncada, a military barracks attacked by a group of rebels led by Fidel Castro in 1953. The attack was a failure, but an indicator of the revolution to come.

Opportunities to cruise to Cuba may change quickly in the coming months and years, so rely on Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to keep you up to date.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

What to Pack for a Family Cruise

Cruising is an affordable and inclusive vacation that’s a natural choice for families with kids. And, when you select a family-oriented cruise line, your kids will have an abundance of activities to choose from, so no need to worry about bringing along toys and games. Still, experienced family cruisers know that there are a few simple items you can pack to make the experience even better for your family.

Walkie-talkies. Cruise lines are beginning to offer apps that enable you to communicate with other family members onboard. But for now, if you want to be able to talk with your kids no matter where they are on the ship, your best bet is to bring some two-way radios, or “walkie-talkies.” Be sure to bring chargers or extra batteries, too.

Sticky notes. These come in handy when family members sleep in. If you’re ready to go up on desk for breakfast but everyone else is snoring, leave a quick note on the stateroom door to let them know where they can find you.

Highlighter. Each morning, look through the ship’s daily list of activities and events with your kids. Let them use the highlighter to mark the things you all want to do together

Hand sanitizer. You’re likely to find hand sanitizer dispensers located around the ship, but bring a little for your stateroom, too, and encourage the kids to use it often to help protect them against viruses. You might also want to bring a small pack of sanitizing wipes to help clean doorknobs, light switches and bathroom counters in between the daily cleanings by the crew.

Power strip. To help accommodate everyone’s need to charge up their essential electrical gadgets, pack a small power strip – but only if your ship allows them. Some cruise lines don’t allow the use of power strips or extension cords to avoid stress on their electrical systems.

Refillable water bottles and day pack. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re cruising in a warm place, so bottles you can fill with ice and water come in handy. Bring a small day pack, too, so you can take them with you on shore excursions.

For more ideas on helpful items to bring on your family cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal travel expert.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Cruising to Saint Lucia

As your cruise ship approaches the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, what you will notice first are the Pitons – dramatic twin peaks that rise a half-mile above the sea. Their beauty is simply a prelude to what you’ll find on this lovely island, where thousands of acres of protected rainforest help maintain an authentic and unspoiled feeling.

Cruise ships call on the town of Castries, where there’s some fine duty-free shopping. But, to truly see this lush, hilly and historic island, you’ll want to take an excursion.

Many visitors go to the southern part of the island to visit Soufriere, a charming town in the shadow of the Pitons, established by French colonialists in 1746. It offers great beaches including Sugar Beach, a stretch of white sand located right between the Pitons; and Malgretoute Beach, a more rugged beach of grey sand and pebbles.

From Soufriere, it’s a short distance to Sulphur Springs, often described as the world’s only “drive-in” volcano. It’s true you can literally drive right up to the edge of the steaming mineral springs. But, you’ll want to get out to really see and experience the thermal features formed by a weak spot in the crust of an enormous, collapsed volcanic crater. It’s short walk down to some bubbling pools of mud where you can enjoy a therapeutic mud bath. Then, get sparkling clean under a 50-foot waterfall in a lovely tropical garden.

There are more mineral springs nearby at Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, fed by Diamond Waterfall. The springs and garden are part of Soufriere Estate, occupied by the Devaux family since 1713. Tall, tropical trees provide shelter for the brilliantly colored flowers that grow beneath.

More options for excursions on St. Lucia include rainforest hikes, snorkeling adventures, ziplining through the rainforest canopy, skimming over the water on a catamaran, touring a rum distillery or playing a round of golf. Or, visit the working plantation at Morne Coubaril to learn about cocoa and coconut processing and enjoy a French Creole lunch.

It’s easy to cruise to St. Lucia, which is on the itineraries of many cruises of the eastern and southern Caribbean. You have your pick of cruise lengths, lines and ships, from the family-oriented to the luxurious. For help exploring your options, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Cruising the Lofoten Islands in Norway

Vikings once roamed Norway’s Lofoten Islands, carving out a rugged existence on these mountainous islands that lie inside the Arctic Circle. Today, you can roam the islands, too, with all the luxurious comforts of a modern cruise ship.

The scenery of the islands is spectacular, with dramatic peaks and cliffs that loom over sheltered bays and stretches of open water. Summer temperatures are surprisingly mild, averaging in the 50s and 60s, with long hours of daylight; the sun doesn’t really set from the end of May through mid-July.

All that daylight gives you plenty of time to explore these fascinating islands. There are tours that will take you to picturesque fishing villages flanked by white beaches and crystal-clear water. For example, Nusfjord is one of the best-preserved cod fishing villages in all of Norway – you’ll feel as if you stepped back into the late 1800s. If you’re ready for some exercise, there’s a popular cycling trail that passes through Nusfjord.

Henningsvaer is a larger fishing village spread out over several small islands – the Venice of the Arctic. The brightly painted tug boats bobbing in the harbor are a photographer’s dream. There are some fine galleries to browse in town, which is also a base for mountaineering and climbing adventures.

If you’re an experienced surfer – or want to learn how – visit the village of Unstad, the surfing capital of the Arctic (yes, surfing is a popular sport in the Lofoten Islands).

The waters around the islands also contain the recently discovered Røst Reef, believed to be the world’s largest deepwater coral reef. A day cruise will take you out among the area’s rich sea life, including sea eagles and cormorants, puffins and otters. You may even spot one of several species of whales that enjoy life within the Arctic Circle.

To learn how the Vikings lived, visit the Lofotr Viking Museum, located in a reconstructed long house on the island of Vestvagoya. This is the site of an archaeological excavation of an entire Viking village. After you browse the many artifacts in the museum, stroll the grounds and admire the surrounding views, just as Viking chieftains once did.

For more information about cruise lines and ships that visit the Lofoten Islands, often as part of a longer cruise of the scenic Norwegian coastline, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

How to bypass lines on a cruise

Among the many appealing elements of a cruise vacation are ease and convenience: everything you need is right on board, where and when you need it.

Still, there might be a wait for some of the things you want to do, especially on larger ships that sail with thousands of passengers. For example, you might need to wait in line to get on or off the ship, at the buffet, or even for a lounge chair around the pool. (Note that trying to cut the line, for whatever reason, is terribly rude and won’t be tolerated by your fellow passengers.)

The good news is, there are some simple ways to avoid waiting in line on a cruise ship. Here are a few:
  • If you tend to sail on the same cruise line most of the time, join its loyalty program. Many cruise lines maintain separate, faster-moving lines for their most loyal customers at embarkation, debarkation and the guest services desk onboard. Plus, you’ll enjoy the other perks and special offers that come with being a loyal customer.
  •  Depending on the policies of the cruise line, booking a higher-category stateroom or suite may come with perks such as priority seating for dining and shows, or access to exclusive (and less-crowded) restaurants, lounges, sun decks or pools. 
  • Just as you plan to avoid “rush hour” at home, showing up a little early or late can work well on a cruise ship. For example, early risers will have their pick of deck chairs, as will those who venture out later in the day, when some sun-worshipers have returned to their staterooms for a nap. When leaving the ship for a day of shore excursions, showing up a little early or a little late can mean shorter or no lines.
  •  And, this may be the best way to avoid lines on a cruise ship: book a cruise on a mid-sized or smaller ship. Sailing with fewer passengers minimizes the potential for waiting lines. Smaller ships often have more square footage per passenger, too, creating a spacious and uncrowded vibe. You may also find that you enjoy the higher crew-to-passenger ratio on smaller ships, which enables a higher level of service.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can help you find cruise lines, ships and accommodations that offer these types of advantages.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Cruising to Barbados

The easternmost of Caribbean islands, Barbados is known to many as the birthplace of pop singer Rihanna. But, cruise fans know Barbados as a beautiful island with gentle green hills (and some steep cliffs on the eastern side) that slope down to white sand beaches. The daytime temperature is between 75 and 90 all year, with a refreshing breeze from the trade winds.

Cruise ships dock a mile west of downtown Bridgetown, the island’s capital. Stroll down the Princess Anne Highway to Pelican Village to visit artisan boutiques, a cigar factory and a fish market; then, stroll through a lovely park and into downtown. Watch for cars driving on the left side of the road, one of the many traditions left over from Barbados’ long tenure as a British territory.

There’s a lot to see, beginning with the Mount Gay Rum Factory, producing delicious rum for three centuries. You’ll have the chance to taste and enjoy the flavors of all six varieties. Barbadians are also proud of their pottery. The family-owned Earthworks Pottery Studio is the home of beautiful hand-made, hand-painted pottery that makes a wonderful souvenir.

An island tour can take you to George Washington's House in St. Michael, once visited by the first U.S. president; Cherry Tree Hill in St. Andrew Parish, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the green hills and valleys of the island’s Scotland district; or Farley Hill National Park in St. Peter Parish, where you can explore the ruins of a grand manor house and take in more views. All around the island are places to enjoy afternoon tea, another British tradition that remains popular.

Take a tram through Harrison’s Cave, full of large caverns dotted by stalagmites, stalactites and waterfalls. Outside the cave, walk the nature trails to enjoy the plentiful flora and birdlife. You may even see some furry, playful green monkeys. For a different view of the island, the Andromeda Botanical Gardens’ lovely collections of tropical ferns, trees, orchids and palms cling to a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Barbados is known for its pristine white sand beaches: some offer water sports and other amenities, some are quite secluded and private. If you need a break from the luxurious sand, you can snorkel around reefs or shipwrecks, encountering colorful fish, sea turtles and even some seahorses.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can help you select a cruise the visits Barbados and share more ideas for a memorable day on the island.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review of Cruise on Disney Wonder - Pacific Costal Cruise

This review was written by good friends and experienced cruisers.  It is posted with additional comment.


Sorry this has taken so long but I have no excuses. Feel free to use as you see fit.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coastal Cruise  5 Nights- San Diego to Vancouver BC with a stop in San Francisco

Airline -  Alaska is one of the best. Good planes and always on time.  Baggage was available by the time we reached the claim area.

Transportation to hotel.  We took a cab that cost $17

Hotel - Stayed at the Residence Inn Bayside.  Great location across the street from the cruise terminal.  Hotel is unique in that it shares a lobby, eating area and elevators with a sister property, the Spring Hill Suites. Highly recommend this hotel.  It was great and everything worked just fine.

Embarkation - Disney had made a big deal about only showing up at our assigned time.  So we did only to be put in a long line with Celebrity Infinity passengers who all happened to be there early.  The line was horrific.  The port staff was trying to be nice by telling us just to enjoy all of our fellow passengers.It was a nice day but the line moved painfully slow.  After getting inside the gate, we had to proceed to the ship to drop off our luggage and then get back in another long line that ran the entire length of the port building.  Once you got inside there was a completely packed queing line that eventually led to Security. And yes we are still commingled with our friends from Celebrity  After getting through security, we were led to an almost empty bank of Disney check in lines.  This took 2 minutes and we were ready for our picture. Very organized and quick.  A minute later we were on the ship and heading for our cabin.  Not so fast.  The cabins were blocked off--Not ready.  The whole process was not the way you want to start a cruise.

The Disney Wonder-  Good ship. They did have a major water leak that caused a lot of pipe banging one day.

Cabin - We had an aft balcony cabin.  Two small bathrooms. One with a shower and sink and the other with the commode and sink.   We grew to like this arrangement.

Passengers - Surprising number of kids on board in the middle of May.  Happy group of travelers.

Dining - Another new plan for us.  We stayed at table 25 with our same table mates and waiters but rotated to 3 separate dining rooms.  We had the second seating at 815 which is too late for us, but we survived. Food and service were excellent.

Buffet - Always crowded all day long.  Good choices.

Photos - Best system we have seen on cruise ships.  Lots of photographers always around.  They were especially helpful and accommodating as we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge.  System is all digital and you don't have to stand in long rows of printed pictures.  Disney uses face recognition technology.  So you go to their photo computer and put in your cabin card and just like magic there are all your pictures.  The  system isn't perfect but when the pictures weren't of us we just hit a button and they disappeared.  There is an option of getting your pictures on a flash drive or prints.  We bought the 10 picture flash drive for $150.  Disney isn't pushy on the photos.  The staff was always willing to help take pictures with our camera.

Internet Service.  Another first for us.  The cost was by the Mb not by the minute  as we were used to. They gave us the first 50 Mb free but we found out we went through that in very few minutes.  Not sure what caused the high use rate. The next 100 Mb were $19 so we didn't use our phones much at all. Lots of cruisers were confused by the billing system.

Entertainment - Exceeded our expectations and they were already high.  The production shows were the best we have seen. And the shows on the outdoor decks were fantastic.  How about really good fireworks too !!!  

Meet the Disney Characters -  All day long the Disney Characters are available to meet and greet. Not each one is there all day but if you had time at 11 you could count one one or two being available  Most of the time the lines were reasonable and  they didn't make you hurry.  It was a pleasant experience. There is a set place and time for each   Disney really handled this well.

Movies - First run Disney movies were available along with all the classics.

Shopping - High priced Disney merchandise along with the usual high end classics.

Disembarkation - The best ever.  Again a unique system.  You go to your last dining room and table and have a nice breakfast.  About the time we finished , our character and color was called and we proceeded directly to the gangway.  We were off the ship in record time. There were plenty of baggage helpers and we found our bags in a minute.  Next was Canadian customs which took another 30 second with NO lines.  We estimated that it took us 10 minutes from the time we left the dining room until we were through customs.  We rented a car at National which was right in the terminal and 3 hours later we were home in Issaquah  

Value - We loved the cruise but it was very expensive. It was really fun and we have fond memories but we have them on more reasonably priced cruises We recommend Disney Cruises if you have the money.

Ned and Carolyn

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tips for the best main dining room experience

The trend in cruise ship dining is to give passengers a greater choice of venues, including specialty restaurants. Still, most ships maintain a main dining room that delivers reliably delicious food. It’s typically a large, sit-down restaurant with a multicourse menu and attentive waiter service. Most serve breakfast, lunch (sometimes only on days at sea) and dinner, changing the menu daily. Breakfast and lunch are usually open seating during set hours. Dinner is often more structured, with a choice of two assigned seating times (you’ll be expected to arrive promptly).

Whether you’ve just booked your first cruise or are looking forward to your 20th, here are some tips that will help you make the most of your time in the main dining room.

  • Meals in the main dining room are included in your cruise fare. So, go ahead and order the lobster, or any other dish that you would usually shy away from due to the cost. Or, try something you’ve never tried before. Escargot? Roasted tofu? You may discover a new favorite food.
  •  You’re not limited to one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert. If you can’t decide between two appetizers, have both. Or, make two appetizers your entrée and ask for a half portion of an entrée as an appetizer. The waiters and galley staff want you to be happy and will accommodate these requests whenever possible.
  • At dinner, ask the sommelier to help you select a wine that complements your food. Wine is often not included in your fare, so you want to make sure you’ll enjoy what you order. And, if you order a bottle but don’t finish it, the sommelier will label and save it for you to enjoy with your next dinner.
  •  Menus are marked to help guide those who have special dietary needs. Most cruise lines have vegetarian, gluten-free and heart-healthy options in the main dining room. But, you can also ask for any dish to be prepared in a specific way: with less fat or salt, for example. If your dietary restrictions are numerous or unusual, be sure to alert your cruise line’s dietary department when you book the cruise, when you board, and when you order.

For more tips on enjoying your ship’s main dining room and other onboard dining venues, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Cruising to New Zealand

The island nations of Australia and New Zealand are often paired in people’s minds and on cruise itineraries – but in reality, New Zealand couldn’t be more different from its neighbor to the west. Rugged mountains and deep valleys, thermal features, Maori culture and pastures full of grazing sheep are all part of what makes it unique. Plus, New Zealand is long and narrow and most of the country is close to a coast, which makes it perfect to explore via cruise.

While New Zealand is a featured stop on some South Pacific cruises, world cruises and repositioning cruises, other cruises really focus on New Zealand. Some sail roundtrip from Auckland, or from home ports on the east coast of Australia.

So, where can you go and what can you see on a New Zealand-intensive cruise?

Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, has a harbor full of yachts and a maritime culture. There’s a great aquarium, museums, gardens and the Sky Tower. You can tour historic villages and black-sand beaches on Auckland’s west coast, or venture out of the city to see the Waitomo Caves (glowworms hang from the ceilings) and the geothermal features at Rotorua.

In Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, ride the cable car to the top of Mount Victoria for fantastic views. Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, has excellent exhibits about Maori and European heritage. If you love the Lord of the Rings movies, this is the place to take a tour of the locations and studios. Or, take a leisurely wine tour of nearby vineyards.

Go up on deck as your ship approaches Akaroa: you’ll sail up a straight line with tall, craggy cliffs. Enjoy the atmosphere of this former French settlement, then take a kayak tour, swim with dolphins, or take an excursion to the city of Christchurch, which is rebuilding after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

Dunedin was founded by members of the Free Church of Scotland and is known for ornate Victorian buildings constructed when the city was the center of an 1860s gold rush. Take a sweet tour of the local Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory, marvel at the world’s steepest street, or tour Larnach Castle.

Longer cruises may also call on the Bay of Islands, Napier and Picton, with some scenic cruising of the Fiordland of southern New Zealand. To find out more about cruises that focus on New Zealand, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Cruises are Not Boring

Experienced cruisers may find it hard to believe, but this is a real objection travel agents hear from people who have never taken a cruise: “I’m afraid I’ll be bored.” Some people think there’s not much to do on a cruise ship. Once they take a cruise, they know: cruise ships are very well equipped with amenities and activities that invite you be as busy as you like.

In fact, it can take a whole day just to explore the amenities of a ship: pools and hot tubs, sports decks, fitness centers, shops, spas, lounges, internet cafes, libraries, theaters and more. Some larger ships combine all that with incredible features like water parks, ropes courses, observation pods, skating rinks and bowling alleys.

Here are just a few of the things you can do to keep boredom at bay while you’re on board.

·         Take an exercise class in the ship’s fitness center (exercise is always more fun in a group).
·         Indulge in some personal pampering with a spa treatment; cruise ship spas are first-rate.
·         Expand your knowledge; many ships bring experts on board to provide insight into the history and culture of the region you’re cruising.
·         Take a behind-the-scenes tour to find out just how a cruise ship (which is akin to a floating city) really works.
·         Join in deck games or tournaments (check your ship’s daily bulletin).
·         See a show, which may be anything from a sharp comedian to a full-scale, Broadway-style production.
·         Try the specialty restaurants: on larger ships, you’ll have a choice of cuisines for a memorable foodie experience.
·         Meet your fellow passengers; it’s easy to strike up a conversation around the pool or at dinner.
·         If you really have a hard time finding something to do, introduce yourself to the cruise director, who will have plenty of ideas for you.

Of course, the opportunity to rest much and do little is the very reason some people take a cruise – they need a break from hectic, overscheduled lives. If you’re one of them, rest assured that none of the activities above are mandatory.

Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about ships and itineraries that will give you the kind of amenities and activities you’re looking for on a cruise.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Beaching it on Aruba

It’s good to know your ABCs, especially when they are Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, the “ABC Islands” of the Southern Caribbean. Aruba, where cruise ships dock in the capital city of Oranjestad, is the most-visited of the three. If you haven’t cruised there yet, there are some things that may surprise you about Aruba:

·         While the island has a European flavor, thanks to Spanish and Dutch colonists, it’s just a few miles off the northern coast of South America.
·         Aruba lies well south of the path of most hurricanes that enter the Caribbean.
·         Aruba is an arid island with plenty of cactus. It’s the Caribbean island with the least annual rainfall and the most sunny days, too.

There’s a lot to do on Aruba, but the beaches are the real star of the island. The soft white sand has a high crushed shell content that keeps it cool on your feet, and the deep blue water will tempt you to wade right in. Catch a taxi from the cruise ship dock to any number of beaches, including:

·         Baby Beach, with its warm and shallow water, is perfect for families with little ones.
·         The very popular Eagle Beach is the longest stretch of white sand on the island. There are shaded picnic areas and lots of amenities.
·         Palm Beach is a good choice if you want to be active. There’s scuba, parasailing, beach volleyball and banana boat rides.
·         If you snorkel, try Malmok Beach, where you can find lots of colorful fish just 10 feet offshore. A little farther out, you’ll see the wreck of the SS Antilla, a German freighter scuttled in 1940, peeking out of the water.

There are other ways to enjoy Aruba’s beauty and enviable weather, too. Take a horseback ride to the California Lighthouse. Test your golf game at Tierra del Sol, a Robert Trent Jones-designed, par 71 course. Or, take an excursion to Arikok National Park to explore caves, cliffs, natural pools and an old gold mine.

If you need a break from the sun, there’s great duty free shopping right by the cruise ship dock. Browse the designer clothing and jewelry and select some locally made mementos, such as handmade driftwood candle holders. Aruba also has excellent casinos where you can try your luck.

Let Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, tell you about the variety of ships and itineraries that can take you to Aruba and other Southern Caribbean islands.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

How River Cruises Attract Millennials

Some think that river cruising – with its leisurely pace and emphasis on the attractions on shore, rather than on the ship – is only fun for people older than they are. So, you may be surprised to learn that a growing number of people in their 20s and 30s are choosing river cruise vacations.

In fact, river cruise lines have put some thoughtful effort into appealing to the Millennial generation. After all, one study found that 36% of Millennials (in this case, defined as ages 18-38) are interested in taking a river cruise during the next 12 months.

Why are more Millennials looking at river cruises? Perhaps because they want something new and different, and river cruises are different from the ocean cruises they may have taken with their parents.

Another theory is that Millennials enjoy experiencing the culture of a destination, and river cruises offer more time on shore, with opportunities to explore authentic sights that are off the beaten path. Accordingly, river cruise operators are developing more itineraries that will take guests to some of the less-traveled parts of the world. Examples include Avalon Waterways’ Irrawaddy River cruises that sail well north of Mandalay, to the most isolated regions of Myanmar. Viking River Cruises offers voyages along the Nile River, starting with a hotel stay in Cairo that allows time to explore colorful neighborhoods and try local dishes like koshary: rice, macaroni, lentils and chickpeas in a delicious vinegary tomato sauce.

Some overall trends in river cruising have special appeal to Millennials, too. These include an increased variety of dining options; more active shore excursions with opportunities to bike, hike or climb; and onboard options for maintaining a fitness routine.

Whatever generation you belong to, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about river cruises that suit your style and interests.

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