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 30, 2018

Top reasons to choose a luxury ship

We think there’s no such thing as too much pampering while you’re on a cruise. It’s your chance to disconnect from the hustle and pressures of daily life; to enjoy great cuisine, fun activities and new sights while the crew and captain take care of transportation and so much more.

If you love that carefree and pampered feeling, consider taking a luxury cruise. Luxury lines take all the wonderful services and amenities provided by mainstream, family-oriented cruise lines step it all up a notch (or several). Luxury cruises also tend to be more inclusive of “extras,” such as beverages and shore excursions; so, you may find that the cost is not much more than your last mainstream cruise.

What are the differences you can expect when you choose a luxury ship? Here are a few:

There are more crew members per passenger, and the crew is trained to anticipate your needs. They will often provide what you’re thinking of – such as drawing hot bath, refreshing your drink or polishing your shoes – before you even ask.

The ship will probably be smaller, but every inch will be full of comfort and style. Generally, luxury ships carry 200 to 600 passengers. This is great for getting to know your fellow travelers, and many luxury cruisers make friendships that last long after the cruise. The ship can also visit ports that can’t accommodate large ships – so, even if you cruise in a familiar region, you may see places you haven’t seen before.

Many luxury ships offer all-suite accommodations with ocean views – no inside cabins. There is usually a balcony or verandah, too (unless you’re on a river cruise ship, where you’ll have expansive windows and perhaps a Juliette balcony). You can expect high-end amenities and finishes, including top-of-the-line toiletries and linens, fresh flowers, black-out curtains or shades and granite or marble tops in the bathroom.

For many itineraries, luxury lines offer great pre- and /or post-cruise land-based experiences. These packages give you the chance to explore the port where you’re embarking or disembarking, or an inland sight – places like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, or the Australian Outback. Sometimes, these pre- or post-stays are included in your cruise fare.

Interested? Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert about sailing with a luxury line.

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Northern Lights Cruises

Northern lights, or aurora borealis, appear when energized particles released by the sun zip through space on solar winds. As they enter the Earth’s magnetic field, they lose their energy and produce a diffused glow in luminous shades of green, red and blue. Mysterious and beautiful, the northern lights are a featured attraction on a growing selection of Artic cruises.

Be aware that these winter cruises can’t guarantee an appearance by the northern lights – there’s always an element of luck. However, the lights are quite common on clear winter nights from October through March. A variety of cruise lines and ships, small to midsize, can take you along the coast of Norway, and perhaps to Iceland and Greenland, too, with the potential to see the aurora borealis each night.

During the days, you can visit snow-covered fishing villages, ride on sleds pulled by husky dogs or reindeer, tour historic settlements, and learn about people live in a region of nearly perpetual winter.

The majority of northern lights cruises travel along the spectacularly scenic coast of Norway, stopping in ports such as Bodo, Tromso and Alta.

Just north of the Arctic Circle, Bodo is surrounded by mountains and fjords. Cultural attractions include the Salten Museum, with exhibits on commercial fishing, indigenous Sami people and Vikings. There’s World War II history in this region, too: much of Bodo’s center was destroyed by bombing, and the Bodo Cathedral is a symbol of post-war rebuilding.

Tromso’s historic center is intact, with colorful wooden houses dating from the mid-1800s (the building of wooden houses was banned after 1904). At the Polar Museum, learn about the many Arctic expeditions that have launched from Tromso. Visit the Arctic Cathedral, Tromso Museum or Polaria Aquarium; or, simply enjoy a drink in one of the many welcoming local pubs.

Alta is a historic Sami settlement where you can see petroglyphs and rock paintings created thousands of years ago. There’s little precipitation here, and the generally clear skies make it ideal for northern lights viewing and study.  If your ship stays overnight, you can have dinner or even spend the night at the Igloo Hotel, made entirely of ice and snow (with lots of furry wraps for warmth).

For more information on northern lights cruises, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Bermuda Cruise Tips

Bermuda’s high repeat visitor rates prove that it’s a cruise destination that passengers fall in love with. The pink sand beaches and authentic Bermuda shorts help draw first-time visitors, but many return to re-experience this tiny nation’s unique vibe: a blend of sophisticated and simple.

On the sophisticated side, there’s afternoon English tea and high-end shopping in Hamilton, the island’s capital. Browse the stores along Front Street, Queen Street and Church Street for upscale clothing, jewelry, leather, linen and more. Explore the alleys, too, where boutiques and galleries sell items made from Bermuda cedar, banana-leaf dolls, and locally made glass and perfume.

Bermuda has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world, so you can have a memorable day on the links. There are beautiful art galleries and museums, too, including the Bermuda National Trust Museum and a number of older homes maintained as examples of Bermudian architecture through the centuries.

On the simple side, Bermuda has blue skies, pastel-hued houses, and those lovely pink sand beaches. The long stretch of sand along Horseshoe Bay is considered to be among the pinkest and most beautiful beaches in the world, but there are dozens of beaches to visit, ranging from tiny coves to popular snorkeling sites. Renting a scooter is a fun way to get around to different beaches and other sights. Just be sure to drive on the left side (Bermuda is a former British colony) and take care on the narrow, winding and scenic roads.

Bermuda cruise tips:

In general, Bermuda has a more formal (though unwritten) dress code than other islands you may have visited. Swimwear is welcome only at the beach, so be sure to change before you head into town or to the golf course. Tailored Bermuda shorts are appropriate in any setting.

Bermuda is farther north than many people realize; it’s about 650 miles east of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Some cruise itineraries visit Bermuda only, and others stop in Bermuda before sailing on to the Bahamas. Bermuda is a featured stop on some transatlantic repositioning cruises, too.

The main season for Bermuda is April through October. Much of this is hurricane season, too; although Bermuda’s location keeps it out of the path of most storms, it’s something to be aware of.

To select a cruise line, ship and itinerary for your Bermuda sojourn, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Unique shore excursions for your next cruise

Shore excursions are a big part of what makes cruising such a special vacation experience. City tours, beach days, and drives to see natural wonders that lie inland are common, but some ports also offer excursions that are out of the ordinary. Here are a few:

Koper, Slovenia. If you love a bit of truffle oil on your french fries or pizza, you can learn how these rare “underground mushrooms” are found. Itineraries that call on Koper, Slovenia, may offer an excursion led by a local “truffle hunter” who will give you an inside look at how the delicacy is harvested. You can visit a local winery, too, and enjoy a lunch that features both truffles and wine.

Reykjavik, Iceland. This is a land of fire as well as ice, with active volcanos and bubbling geothermal features. You can take a volcano tour, which will provide the safety gear needed for trekking across steamy lava fields and exploring a lava-tube cave. After that, you may be ready for a dip in the geothermally heated water of the famed Blue Lagoon.

Honolulu, Hawaii. Sharks are both fearsome and fascinating. You can learn more about them – and encounter them face-to-face – on a Hawaiian cruise. Descend into the crystal-clear water three miles off Oahu's North Shore in a special safety cage; you don’t need diving experience, just the mask and snorkel that will be provided. Some of the 40 species of sharks that live around Hawaii will glide by to take a look at you, along with schools of tropical fish and perhaps a dolphin or two. If you have an underwater camera, bring it along!

Stockholm, Sweden. Get a drone’s-eye view of the city by hiking along the sloping rooftops of Riddarholmen, a small neighboring city. You’ll have everything you need to see Stockholm safely from several stories up, including a helmet and safety gear. The views of palaces and other historic architecture will have your head in the clouds.

Juneau, Alaska. Here, you can experience life as a sled dog musher. You’ll ride a helicopter to Norris Glacier to meet the dogs and tour their camp. It’s a hands-on experience: you’ll help brush, feed and harness the dogs before heading out over the snow-capped glacier.

For more about these and other shore excursions that will take you off the beaten path, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Stay in shape on a cruise

If you struggle to stay in shape in your daily life, you may find that it’s easier to do while you’re on a cruise. After all, you’ll have time to exercise, facilities and classes are right there on the ship, and there are lots of ways to be active on shore, too.
You’ll be able to start, maintain or enhance your usual workout routine in the ship’s fitness center. Onboard fitness centers have become more sophisticated in recent years, with state-of-the-art equipment and machines that may not have made it to your neighborhood gym yet. You can join classes, too, for boot-camp style workouts, spinning, yoga and more. If you love running, you’re likely to find a track on an upper deck, and perhaps basketball and volleyball courts.
More ways to be active on a cruise include calorie-burning leisure activities like dancing, swimming, and strolling the streets of the ports you visit. For a higher level of activity, look for shore excursions that get physical, from zip-lining and horseback riding to snorkeling and rock climbing.
Nutrition is a big part of staying healthy, and your ship will accommodate your needs. Most cruise lines make a point of including lighter selections on their menus. Plus, you can ask for a dish to be cooked in a different way – for example, ask for fish to be broiled instead of fried, and for dressings and sauces to be served on the side. For a quick meal or snack, you can always build a healthy salad or sandwich at the ship’s buffet. Of course, with all the exercise you can get while on a cruise, you may be able to indulge in a few higher-calorie treats, too.
Drinking is the counterpart to eating, and it’s important to your cruise health, too. Be sure to stay hydrated as you cruise by drinking plenty of calorie-free water. And, if you’re not sure about the water quality on shore, take some bottles of water with you when you leave the ship. If you enjoy wine, beer or cocktails, there’s no reason to abstain, but take care not to drink too many empty calories.
To take a closer look at fitness facilities and shore excursions that will keep you active while you cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Cruise the Danube in style

The Danube is one of the great rivers of Europe, and you can see it all from the stylish comfort of a river cruise ship. Most river cruise lines offer Danube itineraries on small, elegant ships that are purpose-built for river cruising. These ships don’t have the expansive dining and entertainment spaces of larger ocean-going ships; instead, they have an intimate feel and staterooms that are downright luxurious, plus highly personalized service. You’ll feel pampered as you sail effortlessly from one charming European village to another.

In addition to a lovely ship, breathtaking scenery and a close-up look at European culture, a nice thing about a Danube cruise is that a wide variety of itineraries is available.

If you have limited time to cruise, you can get a taste of the Danube on a three-night cruise between two great European cities: Budapest and Vienna.

A typical seven or eight-night cruise would take you from Passau on the Germany/Austria Border, to Vienna and on to Budapest; some itineraries travel up the Main-Danube canal to Nuremberg, too. These cruises can be combined with a pre- or post-cruise stay in the beautiful city of Prague (which is not on the Danube, but not far away). Another option is a week-long cruise of the lower Danube, which begins in Budapest and proceeds south through the stunning Iron Gates gorge between Serbia and Romania, then on to Bucharest.

For a spectacular European vacation, there are cruises of about 20 nights that will take you all the way from Amsterdam to the Black Sea, sailing through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and along the border between Romania and Bulgaria.

There’s variety in the scenery and ports of a Danube cruise, too. Expect to see fields of flowers, steep cliffs topped by brooding castles, lush vineyards, small towns and major, centuries-old cities. Pack your comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing on shore. Bicycles are often available on your ship or in port, which is also a fun way to explore.

One more note: the Danube is beautiful in all seasons and especially during December, when Christmas markets can be found all along the river. The twinkling lights, music and food (think hot sausages and gingerbread) – combined with hand-made gifts for sale – create an unforgettable experience.

To talk about the Danube itinerary that’s best for you and to select a luxurious ship, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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