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

Monday, December 31, 2018

Not Too Early to Plan for Spring Break Cruising

Before the winter holidays shift into high gear, take a little time to think about spring – specifically, planning a spring break cruise. Many people don’t think about making spring break cruise reservations until after New Year’s Day, but you should. Experienced cruise fans know that many of the best itineraries, staterooms, and discounts will be gone by January, so it’s smart to make your reservations now. As you plan, here are some things to keep in mind.

If you’ll cruise with kids, whether in kindergarten or about to graduate from college, their spring break is probably just a week long. So, cruises that leave from domestic ports to sail the Caribbean, Mexico’s Riviera Maya or Mexico’s Pacific Coast are good choices: you’ll have time to get to the port, cruise in delightful weather for five to seven days, and get back home before school starts again. If you’re not traveling with kids, you can look at longer cruises that set sail from domestic ports or take off for a home port in the Mediterranean, South America, or Australia.

If you’ll sail with younger kids, consider a family-oriented ship that offers special programs for kids. Many popular cruise lines offer supervised, fun and even educational activities for kids from age three to 12. Some also offer special clubs and reserved spaces for tweens and teens. If you prefer a luxury cruise experience, check carefully to see if kids programming is offered.

If you’re looking for a festive atmosphere, lots of popular cruise lines offer on-board activities – dance-offs, tournaments, games, and contests – that ramp up the party well into the night. If you’re looking for a calm and relaxing cruise experience, look toward premium and luxury lines that don’t attract as many families with children, or adults who are night owls.

The type of stateroom you want can guide your choice, too. Many ships offer a dozen or more stateroom categories. If you’re sailing with a family group, ask your professional travel advisor about ships that have adjoining staterooms or suites designed for families. If it’s just two of you, you might enjoy a small suite with butler service.

Whatever your taste in cruises, a spring break cruise will provide you with some warm breezes after winter’s chill. Plan now so you can dream of your spring break cruise during the long winter nights.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Cruising to Thailand

Some people think of Thailand as a land shrouded in mystery. In reality, more than six million people visit the Kingdom of Thailand each year, and quite a few of them arrive on cruise ships.

Bangkok is a popular port although most ships dock at Laem Chabang, about two hours south. Once you’re transported to Bangkok you’ll be amazed by its mix of glittering skyscrapers and ancient temples (more than 400 of them). The must-see in Bangkok is the Grand Palace, built as the official royal residence and still used for ceremonies and state functions. The palace complex includes the most sacred temple in Thailand, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (actually made of beautiful green jade) and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, home to a famous statue of a Buddha ready to enter Nirvana.

Another popular excursion is the Damnoen Saduak floating market outside the city. A maze of canals is lined with long-tail boats piled high with a dazzling array of fruits and vegetables. It’s mainly a produce market but there are some souvenir sellers and some of the boats offer freshly cooked boat noodle soup.

Some cruises that visit Bangkok also call at Koh Samui, one of Thailand’s lovely islands. The white sand beaches are the main attraction but you can also go hiking, waterfall viewing or elephant trekking, or take an excursion to see temples along the north coast.

Another popular cruise ship port is the island of Phuket. There’s a lot to see, starting with Pha Nga Bay, where dramatic karst islands and cliffs rise straight up from the water. You’ll see why the bay has been featured in more than one Hollywood movie.

The beaches on the western shore of the island are beautiful and you can swim, snorkel and dive in the warm, clear water. From the beaches and many other spots on the island you’ll catch glimpses of the giant Big Buddha statue high on a hill. Drive or hike up to this impressive Buddha covered in white jade marble and you’ll see the smaller brass Buddha beside it while enjoying panoramic views down to the water.

For your Thai experience, you can select from several ocean cruise lines that visit Thailand or consider a river cruise as another way to discover this beautiful country. To find out more, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.


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Monday, December 17, 2018

Best add-ons for a cruise vacation

When you cruise, your fare includes everything you really need: your stateroom, dining, entertainment, and the use of many shipboard amenities. In addition, most cruise lines offer additional amenities – at a price. Which of these extras will add to your cruise enjoyment? Here are some to consider. 

Beverage packages
On a cruise ship, tap water, coffee and tea are usually gratis, but a bottle of water or glass of fountain soda can be $2 or more. A glass of wine starts at about $7. Most cruise lines offer pre-paid beverage packages that include some combination of bottled water, soda, juice, wine, and spirits at a reduced cost versus what you would spend buying one drink at a time. Give them a careful look.

Shore excursions
When your ship is in port, your cruise line will offer a variety of fun excursions on shore. Unless you’ve been to the destination before and know what you’d like to do, it’s probably best to choose and pay for an excursion in each port. You’ll have the security of knowing that the excursion is provided by a trusted operator and that it will get you back to the ship on time.

Specialty dining
Cruise ship food is delicious and you can eat well at standard shipboard dining venues like the main dining room and the lido deck buffet. But for a special experience, look at your ship’s specialty or alternative restaurants. There are surcharges, typically from $10 to $50 per person, which is most often worthwhile payment for high-quality, gourmet cuisine served in sophisticated surroundings. Specialty restaurants require reservations, which tend to go quickly, so make yours as soon as you can.

Internet access
Some cruise passengers want a few minutes of Wi-Fi access each day to post photos on their social media pages while others need more access to keep up with work, school or friends and relatives. Many cruise lines now offer cruise-long Internet packages that provide a much better value than buying an hour of access at a time.

Finally, note that the fare for a cruise on a luxury line will include some or all of these extras, making a luxury cruise a better value than you might think. Ask  Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you compare mainstream cruises (plus extras) and luxury cruises.


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Monday, December 10, 2018

What’s new in culinary cruises

Dining is always a great part of cruising – sometimes, it’s the best reason to take a cruise. Many cruises offer truly exceptional culinary experiences, on and off the ship.

Fans of “America’s Test Kitchen” can immerse themselves in the popular public television show on some of Holland America Line’s ships. On days at sea, watch live demonstrations by staff from America's Test Kitchen, taking a close-up look at the show’s unique, science-based approach to great cooking. There are hands-on workshops, too, where you can try your hand at the America’s Test Kitchen’s techniques for perfect pasta, yummy breakfasts and more.

With an amazing 29 different food and beverage venues on board, Celebrity Cruises’ new Celebrity Edge will bring new, cutting-edge culinary experiences to cruising when it debuts in December. One of the most unusual is Le Petit Chef, a small animated character who inhabits the Le Grand Bistro restaurant. Just before your dish is placed in front of you, Le Petit Chef will appear on the tabletop to show you how the dish is made.

Oceania Cruises’ culinary director is famed chef Jacques P├ępin, so you can count on the onboard dining experience being top-notch. On the Marina and Riviera, you can also get your hands and taste buds busy in a state-of-the-art show kitchen. The Culinary Center includes 12 cooking stations for classes and demonstrations with master chefs from around the world. You can also take excursions to local markets and help source ingredients you’ll enjoy later on the ship.

For serious home cooks, many Silversea cruises feature L’Ecole des Chefs by Relais & Chateaux, the international luxury hotel and restaurant group dedicated to the “the art of living.” Guest chefs share their insight into the culture and cuisine of the region you’re sailing in. Plus, you can expand your expertise with sauces, baking and more.

River cruises provide culinary adventures, too. While sailing the rivers of France, Avalon Waterways integrates the best of local cuisine into onboard and onshore experiences. For example, a cruise from Paris through the Normandy region features excursions to a hillside cheese farm and a Calvados distillery. On board, enjoy classic French dishes during a food and wine pairing dinner and a crepe-themed luncheon.

To learn about more options for memorable and delicious culinary cruises, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.


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Monday, December 3, 2018

Three Reasons to Reconsider and Choose a Cruise for Your Next Vacation

What’s stopping you from choosing a cruise for your next vacation? If you’ve heard people complain about cruising – about boring food, not enough to do on board or lackluster ports of call – there’s a good chance that the information is outdated.

Today’s cruise ships offer enough varied accommodations, creative dining, high-tech services, wellness programs, and exciting itineraries to catch anyone’s fancy. More specifically, here are three good reasons to reconsider, and then book, a cruise.

It’s So Easy.
It’s fun to learn about the incredible variety of ships, staterooms, destinations and itineraries you can choose from. And, once you make your choice, most of your vacation planning is done. You’ll have no worries about how to get from one port to another, where to stay each night, or where to find a restaurant for dinner. All you have to do is get to the ship on time, check in, settle into your stateroom, then enjoy all of the onboard amenities.

Of course, there will be a few more decisions to make, such as choosing interesting excursions for your days on shore – your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can help.

It’s So Affordable.
When you look at cruise fares, remember that they include everything you need for a great vacation: your accommodations, dining (meals, snacks and even room service) and onboard entertainment – not to mention transportation to each port on the itinerary.

There are some additional costs to consider: these are extras that are completely optional or that you control, deciding how much or little to spend. These include gratuities for the crew, excursions on shore, spa treatments, beverages and gourmet dining options.

By the way, some luxury cruises are truly all-inclusive, with fares that include all of the extras mentioned above, and even airfare to and from the port.

It’s So Appealing.
With lots to do on board, lots to experience on shore, and an atmosphere of fun and relaxation, cruising truly appeals to people of all ages and interests. It’s a great choice for a vacation with the whole family, as many ships have special activities for kids, teens, and adults, too. And, at the end of each day of fun, everyone can gather for dinner and a show.

If you’re ready to take a cruise vacation, contact Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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