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, 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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