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, October 21, 2019

Cruise the Winter Blues Away



Winter is coming, and you may need a break from the stretch of chilly days ahead. Why not plan a winter cruise? We have some suggestions about where to sail.

Beautiful and close to home, the Caribbean offers warmth and hospitality all year long, even during the darkest days of winter. The beaches, gardens, dive sites, hiking trails, scenic overlooks and historic ports of the Caribbean will be ready to give you the winter break you dream of, wrapped in warm temperatures and tropical breezes.

Central America is a year-round cruise destination, the North American winter is a wonderful time to cruise the Panama Canal. In addition to discovering this feat of ingenuity and engineering, you can take shore excursions to the coffee plantations, rain forests and cloud forests of Panama.

Clustered around the equator (and therefore warm all year), the Galapagos Islands will give you a memorable winter cruise experience. These isolated Pacific islands, about 600 miles west of Ecuador, are home to plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth.

At the same time winter encroaches on North America, summer comes to South America, making it an ideal time to cruise there. The hard part is choosing an itinerary because the choices include everything from the Amazon River and its mighty rainforest, to the scenic coastlines of Argentina and Chile, or even a cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Antarctica (note that it will be pretty chilly that close to the South Pole, so this may not be the best choice if you need warm weather).

It will also be summer in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, the northern and central parts of Australia can be downright hot at that time of year. Still, the ocean will be there to cool you as you enjoy the incredible scenery of New Zealand and the beaches and sights of Australia.

A European cruise won’t provide warm temperatures, but will provide the warmth of a different kind. A December river cruise will take you to some of the enchanting Christmas Markets of Europe, where you can drink mulled wine and browse for handmade treasures under twinkling lights. Or, pack your winter gear and venture north to Scandinavia to view the northern lights and visit cozy towns that will provide a warm welcome.

To make your arrangements for a cruise this winter, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor soon.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Learn Something New on a Cruise


You may not think of a cruise as a learning environment, but you can actually learn quite a lot on a cruise ship. Many cruises, especially those that include days at sea, offer fun and interesting opportunities to pick up some new skills.

Exactly what you can learn depends on your cruise line, ship, and itinerary. But, here are some of the most common things you can learn on a cruise, often at no additional charge.

Cooking. Food is an essential and enjoyable part of any cruise, and many ships offer cooking demonstrations and classes. Chef-led classes can show you how to prepare a shipboard favorite or a signature dish from the region you’re visiting.

Photography. Several cruise lines have onboard photography classes that will help you take photos like a pro. You may pick up some photo editing skills, too.

Linen Folding. You, too, can learn to fold dinner napkins into intricate patterns or construct a work of art out of a bath towel. Use these new skills to amaze your family and friends when you return home!

Languages. Some cruise lines teach you a few important phrases in the language of the place you’ll visit, which can be very helpful onshore (think of being able to order a beer, in Hawaiian, when in Hawaii). A few cruise lines offer more in-depth instruction through classes or self-paced learning.

Dance. It’s always fun to get your groove on while cruising, and many ships have dance classes to help you move like a pro. You can join a group class to refresh your dance skills, or take a private lesson with an instructor if you want to look super smooth out on the floor.

Exercise. If you want to keep (or start) a workout routine on board, ships have well-equipped gyms that probably offer a workout technique or piece of equipment that you haven’t tried before. (By the way, Cunard Line offers an elegant form of exercise – fencing lessons for adults).

History. While many shore excursions focus on activity, others focus on history and culture. Some cruise lines bring guest presenters and performers onboard to help immerse you in the history of the area. This can heighten your appreciation of what you see onshore.

For more information about cruises that provide interesting learning opportunities, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Celebrating on a Cruise


What type of special occasion can you celebrate on a cruise? Just about anything! Lots of people cruise to mark a special occasion, be it a birthday, graduation, family reunion or another life milestone.

Anything in the matrimonial category – proposals, bachelor/bachelorette parties, commitment ceremonies, weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries, vow renewals – even divorces – are often celebrated on a cruise.

Mainstream and luxury cruise lines are very experienced at helping guests celebrate special occasions. Depending on your destination and the features of your ship, you could:

Have dinner in your stateroom, a very good choice for a honeymoon, anniversary or any other romantic occasion. If you have a balcony, your room steward and waiter can set up your dinner in the open air. A beautiful sunset and ocean view will amp up the ambiance.

Have dinner in a specialty restaurant, another great choice for a romantic dinner, or a gourmet experience for a group. You may have the opportunity to make special arrangements, such as a champagne toast or a special dessert.

Have a photo session. Ship’s photographers are often available for a personal or group photoshoots. You’ll look amazing against the scenic backdrop of a cruise.

Have a delightful spa day. For a romantic couple, there are sure to be some couple’s massage and other dual treatments available. A group can have fun with the pampering treatments of their choice and relaxing in the spa’s lounge, steam room or pool.

Have fun on a shore excursion. All cruise lines offer fantastic experiences onshore, but the shore excursion desk can help you make it really special. For a couple, ask about experiences best shared by two, such as hot air balloon rides or small craft flightseeing. A group could have fun with a cooking demonstration at a local restaurant, a hike to a beautiful view, or a visit to a farm, winery or artisan workshop.

Here are a couple of tips for the best enjoyment of your onboard celebration:

First, let your professional travel advisor know what you’ll be celebrating. They can help you work with the cruise line to make arrangements.

Second, you can enjoy some special celebratory perks even with a relatively small group. Many cruise lines will arrange for a group as small as 15 to have adjacent staterooms, an onboard reception, and a discount on fares. Again, ask Anita, your travel advisor to help you.

Then, get ready to set sail and celebrate!

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Cruising in Fall Shoulder Season


Good news – it’s almost fall, shoulder season! We’re not talking about covering your shoulders against the post-summer chill but taking a wonderful cruise at a time when prices drop, promotions abound and ports are not as busy. Coming after the peak summer season and before the start of any bad winter weather, many consider fall shoulder season to be the very best time to cruise.

On some itineraries, you will see a reduction in price versus summertime fares. You should also see more value-added offers, such as discounted airfare to and from the port, or discounts on drinks packages and shore excursions.

So, where should you cruise during fall should season?

The weather will be cooler but still pleasant in Northern Europe, where you can cruise the British Isles or Scandinavia. Fall brings glorious color to the shores of a European river cruise (just be sure to sail before the Christmas Markets open, when prices will rise again). As for the Mediterranean, cruises in this region may not offer big discounts because demand remains high, but the wonderful sights onshore will be less crowded.

In the Caribbean, fall can bring some attractive pricing. It may be possible for you to stretch your budget so that you don’t have to make a choice between an Eastern or Western Caribbean itinerary. Treat yourself with a longer itinerary that visits both.

While winter is coming to the northern hemisphere, remember that September, October, and November are spring in the southern hemisphere. That means it’s almost time for the spring shoulder season in South America. In addition to fresh spring weather, there are spectacular sights and experiences along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the continent, from the rainforests of the Amazon to the rugged beauty of Cape Horn.

Shoulder season often brings memorable onshore experiences, too. With smaller crowds, tour operators, shop owners, restaurant chefs, and others are likely to have more time to welcome you and make your time onshore extra-special.

To make the most of this shoulder season, don’t delay – talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor today and book a high-value cruise.

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Amazing New Ships for 2020


To experience the newest innovations in cruising, it makes sense to consider cruising on a new ship. Several ships, now in the final stages of construction, are set to make their debuts in 2020, including the following:

Celebrity Cruises will launch the Celebrity Apex, the second ship in its Edge series, in April. Like its sister ship, the Celebrity Edge, the Apex will offer new-to-cruising features like the Magic Carpet, a space that can move up and down the ship, transforming from an expansion of the embarkation area, to a restaurant, to a bar with a Deck 16 view. The Apex will also have Infinite Veranda cabins, which use folding windows to blend the indoors and outdoors. The ship will also feature two fabulous new suite classes: the 2,500-square-foot Iconic Suite and the two-level Edge Villa. The ship will make its debut out of Southampton, England, to sail northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Princess Cruises will add to its Royal Class with the Enchanted Princess, set to launch in June. Passengers will enjoy familiar Princess features like Movies Under the Stars and the adults-only Sanctuary area. The ship will have some innovative accommodations, including Sky Suites. Each of these expansive suites will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a dining area with a skylight that will bring in the sunlight and starlight. A large balcony will provide a 270-degree view from the top of the ship, including a private view of the Movies Under the Stars screen.

In September, MSC Cruises will launch the MSC Virtuosa, with capacity for more than 6,000 passengers. Onboard, passengers will be able to browse a fine art museum, stroll an indoor promenade with restaurants, shops and an LED canopy, and be entertained by Cirque du Soleil. Families will like the new “Super Family Plus” cabins that can accommodate up to 10 people, an indoor amusement park, an outdoor water park, and two Formula 1 race car simulators.

Royal Caribbean is keeping mum on many of the details of its new ship set to debut in October, except its name: Odyssey of the Seas. The line’s second Quantum Ultra Class ship is expected to feature passenger favorites like bumper cars, a skydiving simulator and the North Star, a a glassed-in pod that extends upward for fantastic views.

Make your plans to sail on one of these fabulous new ships; talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, September 16, 2019

St. Thomas Is a Cruise Favorite


There’s a reason most ships that sail Eastern Caribbean itineraries stop in St. Thomas, the best-known of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There’s an amazing number of things to do and see packed into the island’s 32 square miles. And, it’s all set against a stunning backdrop of green mountains, fringed with natural beaches and the deep blue water of the Caribbean.

Your ship will arrive at one of two docks next to the main town of Charlotte Amalie – either Havensight Pier or Crown Bay. There are shops and diversions at both of these docks, but for serious duty-free shopping you’ll want to head into town. Along Veterans Street, there are lots of elegant shops stocked with designer fashion, fine jewelry, perfume, and liquor. If you’re looking for local art and hand-made crafts, many of the best shops and galleries are outside of the downtown so you may want to hire a driver and do a little exploring.

While the shopping is great, there’s much more to Charlotte Amalie. Historic sites include Blackbeard’s Castle, a 1679 watchtower built not by Blackbeard, but by Danish colonials to protect the harbor and Fort Christian. Fort Christian dates from 1672 and re-opened just two years ago after a decade of renovation. It houses the St. Thomas Museum. Historic places of worship include the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral and St. Thomas Synagogue.

After shopping or touring, you can visit one of more than 40 wonderful beaches. Some of the most popular are Magen’s Bay Beach, Sapphire Beach and Coki Point. Magen’s Bay is a beautiful, well-protected inlet with calm water that’s perfect for floating and playing beneath the blue sky. Sapphire Bay offers lots of water sports, including snorkeling and windsurfing. Coki Point is a lively beach known for its easy snorkeling; plus, it’s right next to Coral World Ocean Park.

While there are many ways to spend a day on St. Thomas, some cruise passengers use the stop as a gateway to nearby islands. You can take an excursion to beautiful St. John, fun-loving Jost Van Dyke, or laid-back Water Island.

To see for yourself why so many cruise passengers love to call on St. Thomas, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Say Happy Holidays with a Cruise


The winter holidays are a popular time to cruise, and ships fill quickly – but there’s still time to book a great itinerary for you and your family, especially if you work with your professional travel advisor.

If you haven’t taken a holiday season cruise before, it’s absolutely delightful. You won’t miss out on any of the festivities, music, food or fellowship that you look forward to at the holidays (and you won’t need to clean or cook while you’re afloat, unless it’s in a demonstration kitchen).

Throughout the holiday season, cruise ships are beautifully decorated with glittering ornaments and twinkling lights (providing abundant selfie opportunities). The galley crew creates special holiday dinners with traditional favorites, sometimes with a local twist. You’ll hear the sounds of the season throughout the ship, too, and crew members and passengers often get together for sing-alongs and caroling.

During December, Santa is likely to make an appearance or two, equipped with special gifts for the children on board. In fact, if you sail a popular cruise line during the holidays, expect to see lots of happy children on board; even luxury cruises may have more children and family groups than usual.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your holiday cruise:

If you look forward to attending worship services on Christmas Day, check itineraries carefully. Many onshore businesses and attractions are closed on Christmas Day, so some ships spend the day at sea and offer onboard, clergy-led worship services. Or, you may call on a port where you can attend a local church service or celebration. If you have a preference, be sure to choose your itinerary accordingly.

Pack a little bling for yourself and your stateroom. Bring some festive clothing and accessories (such as reindeer-antler headbands, holiday-themed jewelry and party hats). You can dress your stateroom up a little, too, with some sparkly ornaments, holiday cards or a small wreath for your door. Don’t bring strings of lights or candles, which are fire hazards.

Finally, leave your holiday gifts at home. You don’t want to use luggage or stateroom space for packages. You could consider the cruise itself to be one big, amazing holiday gift, or get your companions to agree to shop for gifts in the ports you visit. You may want to purchase small gifts for the crew members who serve you – after all, they’re away from home and working during the holidays.
  
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Monday, September 2, 2019

Cruise the Mexican Riviera


If you’ve explored Cozumel, Cancun and Riviera Maya, there’s another side of Mexico you should cruise: the Mexican Riviera along the Pacific Ocean. The coastline – lots of sandy beaches backed by lush green mountains – is visually stunning, and the charming ports are ready to welcome cruise ship passengers.

The Mexican Riviera is a year-round cruise destination, and there’s a lot to do. Excursions range from exciting watersports to fascinating remnants of ancient civilizations.

Ensenada is the northernmost port on the Mexican Riviera, less than 70 miles south of the U.S. Lots of visitors like to visit La Bufadora, a marine geyser that spouts water 60 feet into the air. If you like wine, you may be surprised to learn that the area around Ensenada is a developing wine district – and, you can visit some of the wineries.

At the southern tip of Baja California, Cabo San Lucas is where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, with scenic results. Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or parasailing, go fishing for marlin, or golf on a championship course. You could also venture to nearby San Jose del Cabo to see the lovely mission founded in 1730 or, drive about an hour north to see the artists’ colony and colonial buildings at Todos Santos.

The bustling port of Mazatlan has an amazing long seaside promenade and a quaint historic core. You can easily spend an afternoon touring the leafy plazas and stopping for refreshments in the shade of elegant buildings. History buffs may enjoy the nearby mining towns of Capala and Concordia, which have cobblestone streets and buildings dating from the 1600s.

The storied Sierra Madres form a mountainous backdrop for beautiful Acapulco, where you can see cliff divers do their dangerous and breathtaking work at La Quebrada. The old part of the city features the Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral, as well as murals that famed artist Diego Rivera painted during the last two years of his life.

Puerto Vallarta is a long-time resort town with a lovely seaside promenade lined with sculptures (touch one for good luck), fine beaches, and a busy market with lots of crafts, textiles and jewelry for sale. The town is also a favorite of foodies, with an emphasis on fresh, delicious seafood.

Many major cruise lines offer Mexican Riviera cruises for all or part of the year, including Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises. To explore the possibilities, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Getaway Weekend Cruising


A cruise can take you to distant lands, multiple continents, and even all the way around the globe. Or, a cruise can be a brief but fantastic getaway – a “long weekend” experience that relaxes and refreshes you. In fact, taking a weekend cruise has lots of advantages.

For one, it’s a really affordable way to cruise. Cruises, in general, are known for their great value, but weekend cruises are especially easy on your budget. And if you haven’t cruised before, a weekend sailing can be a good way to discover how wonderful a cruise vacation is.

You don’t have to use up all of your vacation days. Many weekend cruises depart on Thursday or Friday and return Sunday or Monday, so your time away from work will be minimal.

It’s an easy way to take a weekend getaway. Once you choose a ship and a stateroom, there’s no need to worry about finding things to do or making dinner reservations. All the dining and entertainment you want will be right on board.

Bring the girls, guys, or family. A weekend cruise is perfect for a group getaway. It’s affordable for everyone, with lots of fun activities to enjoy together. Plus, a three or four-day getaway isn’t so long that you’ll start to feel like you need to “get away” from each other.

Finally, a weekend away puts everyone in a good mood. Everyone wants to make the most of their time onboard, so the atmosphere will be lighthearted and fun.

Given the time available, most weekend cruises visit The Bahamas, the Caribbean or Mexico – a great break from your usual weekend routine. Here are a few of the many options:

·         Board the Norwegian Sky for Norwegian Cruise Line’s three-day Bahamas cruise from Miami, with calls in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, the cruise line’s private island.

·         Princess Cruises offers a four-day West Coast getaway on the Royal Princess, stopping at Catalina Island and Ensenada.

·         Royal Caribbean will take you from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, on a four-night cruise on the Empress of the Seas.

·         For a truly quick and memorable cruise, Disney Cruise Line offers a two-night Halloween on the High Seas cruise from San Diego to Ensenada on the Disney Wonder. (This fun and spooky cruise is offered from other ports, too, and in a variety of lengths.)

To select your weekend getaway cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Get Away to a Private Island on Your Next Cruise

If you don’t have friends who own private islands, don’t worry – just sign up for a cruise that features a visit to a private island. Several cruise lines own a small island (or part of a larger island) for the exclusive enjoyment of their guests. Most are in the Bahamas or the Caribbean, but at least one cruise line plans to establish private islands in other regions.

The private island trend began as a way for cruise lines to give guests a hassle-free beach day, complete with lounge chairs and a BBQ lunch buffet. Now, the trend is toward spectacular activities (although you can still enjoy lunch and a nap on the beach).

For example, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line recently unveiled a refurbishment of its private island in The Bahamas, “Perfect Day at CocoCay.” A new waterpark features North America’s tallest waterslide (the 135-foot Daredevil’s Peak), the Caribbean’s largest wave pool, a 1,600-foot-long zip line and a helium balloon that will take you up 450 feet to enjoy the view. Get a refreshing beverage from the swim-up bar at the freshwater Oasis Lagoon or rent a private cabana. December will bring the opening of Coco Beach Club, featuring overwater cabanas with their own water slides. Royal Caribbean plans to develop more private islands in the Caribbean and in Asia and Australia, too.

MSC Cruises is sharing some details about its new private destination in The Bahamas, Ocean Cay, scheduled to open in November. The area was a debris-strewn sand extraction site until MSC invested in it. There will be eight beaches to explore, plus Seakers Family Cove, which will offer fun and games in a shallow lagoon. An island spa will give guests the chance to be pampered while surrounded by nature. Active types can enjoy snorkeling, parasailing, paddleboarding or kayaking, followed by a sunset cruise and evening entertainment under the stars. In addition to delighting its guests, MSC plans for the island to serve as a base for marine biology and research.

Disney Cruise Line just purchased more than 700 acres of land on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, known for pink sand beaches and beautiful surf. This will be Disney’s second private island in The Bahamas, the first being Castaway Cay. Watch for more information as Disney develops its plans.

To select a cruise (on these or other cruise lines) that will give you a private island experience, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.


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Monday, August 12, 2019

Cruising with Craft Brews

If you love trying new craft beers, it’s a pastime you can indulge in on your next cruise. Whether you prefer ales or lagers, more ships are featuring places to enjoy craft brews, so you’re sure to find one suited to your palate. You’ll have company, too: a recent Travel Leaders Group survey determined that 44% of consumers make a point of trying local or regional craft beers when they travel.

If you’d like to set sail with a variety of flavorful brews, here are some options.

The Equinox and the Eclipse are two Celebrity Cruises ships that feature craft beer lounges. Originally called Gastrobar on both ships, a recent refurbishment of the Equinox brought a name change to Craft Social. In both lounges, you’ll find about 40 boutique brews on tap or in bottles. There are also cocktails, a nice wine list, and a wide selection of gourmet bar bites, from steamed pork buns to truffled grilled cheese. The ambiance is sophisticated coziness, with low lighting, flat-screen TVs for viewing a game, and music in the evening.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s District Brew House, found on the Bliss and the Escape, offers more than 70 beers, including 24 rotating beers on tap and about 50 types of bottled beer. Some come from Miami-based Wynwood Brewing Company, with many other breweries represented, too. The cushy leather furniture creates a welcoming pub experience with wonderful views of the sea (or of the keg room, if you prefer). The District isn’t just for beer, though – if your companions would rather have craft cocktails, the District has them, along with gastropub-style small plates to share.

Several Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships have a Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade (a “barcade”), which serves a variety of domestic and international craft beers and ciders. If you find a selection your whole group likes, you can order pitchers. If you want to do some tasting, order a flight. In this casual spot, sports are always on big TVs, with local games and matches taking priority. You can order up classic bar food like Buffalo chicken wings, burgers, nachos, and stuffed potato skins. Then, try your skill at games like Connect Four, Jenga or foosball, or try for the high score on a variety of arcade games.

To make sure craft beer is part of your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

The Quieter Caribbean

The Caribbean is a top cruise destination, and ports like St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Aruba are among the most popular places for cruise ships to visit. There’s a reason for that: these ports are full of wonderful things to see and do, from adventurous excursions to a lazy day at the beach.

However, there are other Caribbean ports that, while quieter, have just as much to offer. When planning your next Caribbean cruise, ask your professional travel advisor about itineraries that include some of these less-visited cruise ports.

Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands, is surrounded by clear, calm water beloved by snorkelers, divers, yacht captains, and fish. The mountainous island offers hiking trails and white sand beaches where you can sun, swim or kayak. Or, take a day trip to surrounding islands like lively Jost Van Dyke or Virgin Gorda, where you can explore the “Baths” – boulder formations that shelter cool grottos – and the Treasure Caves of Norman Island.

Bonaire’s protective reef makes this island a paradise for snorkelers and divers. Windsurfing, kayaking, bird watching, kiteboarding, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding excursions are all available on Bonaire, as are tours of a flamingo sanctuary and a sanctuary for donkeys. Visitors are welcome to help feed the gentle herd.

St. Kitts was repeatedly fought over by the British and French in the 17th and 18th centuries, and pirates did brisk business from the port of Basseterre. Now its own nation with sister island Nevis, St. Kitts offers unspoiled beauty, hiking up an extinct volcano, rides on a scenic railway originally built to transport sugarcane, and the impressive Brimstone Hill Fortress.

St. Croix is the largest and perhaps most relaxed of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s a great place for history buffs with the Christiansted National Historic Site featuring Fort Christiansvaern and other historic structures. You can also tour rum factories, take a bike tour along the coast, or check out the Danish Creole architecture in Frederiksted.

Dominica is a special island – in a region full of natural beauty. Hence its nickname, the “Nature Island.” The mountains are covered with pristine rain forest, a dozen major waterfalls and pools of freshwater or bubbling hot springs, heated by volcanic activity beneath the surface. The deep water around the island makes it a great spot for whale-watching, too.

To discuss a cruise itinerary that features less-traveled Caribbean destinations, talk to Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Cruising to a UNESCO World Heritage Site


When your cruise sails to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s an automatic must-see. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated more than 1,000 sites around the world that are considered irreplaceable due to their outstanding cultural or natural importance.
Here are just a few of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can visit on a cruise:

The Amazon
The Amazon River and its massive drainage basin in and around northern Brazil is one of the most biodiverse areas on earth. It teems with wildlife like electric fish, giant otters, black caimans and freshwater dolphins, and colorful flora. Some cruises of the Caribbean include the eastern portion of the Amazon, but you can also find cruises that focus solely on the famous river.

Glacier Bay
Glacier Bay National Park, a highlight of many cruises of Alaska’s Inside Passage, protects sensitive marine ecosystems and ancestral homelands of the Tlingit people. About 80% of visitors arrive via cruise ship – the best way to watch tidewater glaciers calve new icebergs into the bay.

Acropolis of Athens
This ancient citadel above the capital of Greece is populated with historically important buildings. The Parthenon is the best known but there are remains of other structures of classical Doric and Ionic design. Many cruise ships visit Athens on itineraries that include the Greek Isles or ports along the Adriatic coast.

Great Barrier Reef
The world’s largest living organism stretches more than 1,400 miles just off the coast of Queensland, Australia. In addition to beautiful corals, the reef supports many species of fish, sea snakes, marine turtles, sponges, dugongs, dolphins, whales and sea birds. Look for a cruise itinerary that stops at the Whitsunday Islands. From there, you can take glass-bottom boat, snorkeling or diving tours of the reef.

Komodo National Park
Up to 10 feet long and weighing up to 300 pounds, the world’s largest lizard – the impressive Komodo dragon – dominates the ecosystem of Komodo National Park, which includes three of Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands. The rugged and beautiful islands are also home to water buffalo, unusual birds and adorable civets. You can visit the park on a variety of Indonesian cruises, some departing from Australian ports.

There are so many more UNESCO World Heritage sites you can cruise to – talk about the possibilities with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Cruise Among the Fjords of Norway



The coastline of Norway, decorated with fjords and waterfalls, is dramatic and exciting. It’s a different type of cruise experience and a spectacular alternative to cruises of Southeastern Alaska.

Several ice ages helped to carve the Norwegian coastline with deep, U-shaped valleys. When the ice melted, these glacial valleys filled with water, forming the deep, breathtaking fjords you can sail among today.

With a wide variety of itinerary lengths and ship types – mainstream, premium, luxury and expedition – you have lots of choices for cruising Norway. To start, many people choose a 7- to 10-day cruise that focuses on the fjords along the southern third of the coast. Options for cruise lines include Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, MSC and others. To maximize your time among the fjords, look for a cruise that departs from Oslo or Bergen and visits ports like Stavanger, Geiranger, Alesund and Flam.

If you’d like to sail further north, check out itineraries from Hurtigruten. This Norway-based line has amazing itineraries that will take you beyond the Arctic Circle to the wonders of Tromso and the North Cape, prime areas for incredible northern lights viewing. This line has ships specially designed to sail up narrow fjords and into small ports.

If you can tear your eyes away from the scenery, choose from shore excursions that will take you hiking or kayaking, shopping for woolen goods, learning the history and culture of Norway or tasting local foods like brunost cheese and golden cloudberries.

You can also visit Norway on a cruise that will take you to other Northern European countries, combining your fjord viewing with port visits in northern Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and the British Isles. Some cruises that include Norway also venture west to the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

As one of the world’s northernmost countries, July and August is the most popular time to cruise Norway, but you can go as early as May and as late as September. The summer days are long – in the port of Bergen, the sun is up nearly 18 hours a day during the summer solstice, giving you more time to soak up the views.

To plan your Norwegian cruise adventure, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

A Cruise Ship May be Closer Than You Think

Where can you set sail aboard a cruise ship? Most of us are familiar with the biggest cruise ship home ports, including New York, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Los Angeles. But there are more options, including some that may allow you to drive, instead of fly, to your ship. By some estimates, about half of U.S. residents live within driving distance of a cruise ship. Home ports also typically offer fun opportunities for a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Here is a list of cruise departure ports you may not be aware of:

In the northeast: 
Baltimore, MD: Board a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship bound for Bermuda, Canada or the Bahamas.

Boston, MA: Sail to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, or the New England and Canadian coast with Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, Windstar Cruises or Royal Caribbean.

Montreal, QC: From the cruise terminal in Old Montreal, sail with Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises and others down the St. Lawrence River to Maritime Canada and New England, or south as far as South America.

In the south:
Port Canaveral, FL: A quick drive from Orlando, this port provides an opportunity for a combined amusement park-and-cruise vacation. You can sail Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian to the Bahamas and all points in the Caribbean.

Tampa, FL: Tampa offers a nice selection of short cruises to Cozumel or the Bahamas, plus longer cruises of the Western Caribbean via Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America.

New Orleans, LA, or Galveston, TX: Drivable for many residents of the south-central U.S., both ports offer cruises to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Costa Maya, the Cayman Islands or Jamaica on a Disney or Royal Caribbean ship.

On the West Coast:

San Diego, CA: From San Diego, hop on a ship from Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises or others to sail to the Mexican Riviera, South America, Hawaii or the South Pacific.

San Francisco, CA: This is another place to begin a cruise to Mexico or Hawaii or sail north to see the Pacific Northwest or Southeastern Alaska. Cruise lines include Princess, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania.

Seattle, WA, or Vancouver, BC: These ports are best known for cruises to Alaska on Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Celebrity ships.

To discuss drive-to options for your next cruise, talk with Anita, your travel professional.

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Cruise to the Galapagos Islands


The Galapagos Islands have become an incredibly popular cruise destination and it’s no wonder. These small, volcanic islands are like no place else on earth. A remote province of Ecuador, which lies 550 miles to the east, the islands teem with wildlife found nowhere else on the globe. They are a World Heritage Site, a biological marine reserve, and a national park. In other words, a real treasure.

A small-ship cruise is an ideal way to visit these special islands. A luxurious ship provides easy movement between the islands, along with comfortable accommodations and exceptional dining. There are cruises as brief as four days and some as long as 18 days, which usually includes a pre-or post-cruise stay in Ecuador. To see a good variety of Galapagos habitats and species, experts recommend a cruise of at least eight days.

Cruise ship routes in the Galapagos are carefully controlled for the protection and preservation of the islands’ unique ecologies, but there are variations between itineraries. Be sure to compare carefully before you choose.

Guided shore excursions will help you fully experience the islands. Wear your sturdy walking or hiking shoes and bring your camera. You may be able to capture photos of:

Marine iguanas, the only type of iguana that forages for food in the sea.
Darwin’s finches, with species that vary in subtle ways from one island to another.
Blue-footed boobies, which have bright-blue feet they show off when courting.
Giant tortoises, versions of which used to roam most of the earth, however, now, the Galapagos are one of only two places on earth that you’ll find them.
Flightless cormorants, the only type of cormorant that has lost the ability to fly (although, with their small wings, they swim well).
Galapagos penguins, the world’s only tropical penguin.

You can sail to the islands at any time of year, but you may prefer one or the other of two main seasons:

December through May, the weather is warm (high 80s during the day) with sporadic rain and calm water.
June through November, the weather is a bit cooler and more comfortable for hiking (high 70s during the day), with little rain. A change in ocean currents means that the water, while rarely rough, may be choppy.

To plan your cruise to the Galapagos – one of the world’s most distinctive destinations – talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, July 1, 2019

Crossing the Atlantic


Does the idea of crossing the entire expanse of the Atlantic Ocean tickle your imagination? If so, talk with your professional travel advisor to explore the options for a transatlantic cruise.


These ocean crossings are truly special. With a string of consecutive days at sea, a transatlantic cruise can put the stresses of everyday life into perspective, reminding you of the vastness and beauty of the ocean and our world.

You’ll be away from the pressures of home and work and the noise of social media, if you choose. You won’t even need to worry about what to see on shore each day. You’ll have time to enjoy all the amenities of the ship (spas and swimming pools, deck games and more), to curl up with a good book for a whole day (or longer), to relax on a deck chair and simply watch the changing colors and moods of the ocean, and to try out every dining venue on board.

A transatlantic cruise also provides time to get to know your fellow passengers and make new friends. Cruise lines often schedule special guest lectures and learning sessions, giving everyone something interesting to talk about at dinner.

Some transatlantic cruises are repositioning cruises, which means the cruise line is repositioning the ship from one part of the world to another. For example, some ships sail the Caribbean through the winter, then reposition across the Atlantic to sail Europe during the summer. These cruises range from about 11 to 20 nights or more, often visiting lovely ports at the beginning or end of the cruise, or both. To provide just two examples:

A crossing from Miami to Barcelona would take about 15 days and may stop in the Azores, Lisbon, and Majorca.

A ship that’s repositioning from Copenhagen might sail for about 20 days, with stops in London, Ireland, and Bermuda before reaching Miami.

There are also transatlantic cruises that are not for the purpose of repositioning a ship. Some cruise lines offer itineraries that regularly cross the Atlantic. For example, Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 crosses the Atlantic from Southampton, England, to New York at least once a month from April through November with voyages typically lasting six days.

Transatlantic sailings tend to provide excellent value, with costs per day as little as $50 per person – with all the relaxation and pampering you’ve dreamed of.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

A Day in Aruba

Just off the northeast coast of South America, the ABC Islands of the Southern Caribbean – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – are beautiful cruise destinations. Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the islands have spectacular weather all year long. They also lie south of the paths of most Atlantic hurricane systems, so they’re a great choice for summer and early fall cruises.

Aruba, the most-visited of the three, isn’t your average tropical island. The climate is drier than you might expect, and the island is dotted with forests of cacti. If you explore them, you could see some animals found nowhere else, including the Aruban Whiptail – a blue-hued, long-tailed lizard – a brown-throated parakeet, or the endangered Aruba rattlesnake (don’t get too close).

The glittering casinos in the port of Oranjestad are an attraction, but many visitors choose Aruba due to its wonderful beaches. The southern and western shores are mostly sheltered from strong ocean currents, with stretches of soft white sand. One of the most popular is Eagle Beach – long, wide and often included on lists of the world’s best beaches. If you’re there during sea turtle nesting season (March through September), red-and-white markers will alert you to the protected nests. You might even see some tiny hatchlings make their way to the ocean.

If you have young children with you and want the calmest water, take an excursion to Baby Beach. Lovely Palm Beach, backed by resort hotels, is a good place for watersports. If you’re really feeling adventurous, Hadicurari Beach on the north shore offers strong waves and breezes for experienced swimmers and kite surfers.

The wreck of the SS Pedernales, a World War II tanker sunk by a German U-boat, is a relatively shallow but interesting snorkel site. Experienced divers can take a catamaran tour out to the wreck of the Antilla, a German freighter.

To see Aruba’s interior, choose from ATV, horseback, Jeep and bike tours. You can visit Arikok National Park to see wildlife, caves, sand dunes and limestone cliffs. Around the island, there’s also an ostrich farm, a butterfly farm, a lighthouse, and a donkey sanctuary that cares for the descendants of donkeys that were once the island’s main form of transportation.

Cruise itineraries that call on Aruba are usually seven days or more, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami or San Juan. Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you select a cruise that will bring you to this one-of-a-kind island.


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Cruising: The Best Way to Explore Hawaii


Cruising: The Best Way to Explore Hawaii

There’s more than one way to see Hawaii, and we would pick a cruise every time. Here’s why:

While they’re all stunning, each Hawaiian Island has its own unique landscape and special character, from the volcanoes of the Big Island to the towering waterfalls of Kauai. You’ll want to see more than one island, and a cruise makes that easy. You board your ship, unpack and relax, with no worries about having to repack to catch a flight each time you change islands.

A cruise is cost-efficient, too: Taking flights between islands gets expensive. Also, meals on shore can be pricey. As a cruise passenger, you’ll have the option of returning to the ship for delicious meals that are included in your cruise fare.

A cruise also guarantees some spectacular over-the-water views of the islands from the ship’s decks, if not from your very own stateroom. That’s something you don’t necessarily get from a hotel or resort, even if it’s on the water.

When you choose to cruise Hawaii, you have a choice of two basic cruise options. One is to fly to Honolulu and board a ship that cruises only among the islands. This will maximize your vacation time in Hawaii. Another option is to sail from a west coast port like San Diego, Los Angeles or Vancouver. This will give you time to enjoy the amenities of your ship as you sail across the Pacific.

However you get there, what can you plan to see on a Hawaiian cruise? Popular ports include Honolulu on the island of Oahu, with the iconic peak of Diamondhead and Waikiki Beach. A visit to the lovely and solemn USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is a must, too.

Some people say Kauai is the most beautiful of the islands. Popular shore excursions include lush Waimea Canyon or a visit to the island’s breathtaking Napali coast.

Maui is known for its laid-back, artsy ambiance, with fantastic beaches and Haleakala National Park, which offers some adventurous excursions.

The Big Island of Hawaii has plantations that produce world-famous Kona coffee, plus, the stark beauty of Volcanoes National Park.

Some cruises visit the tranquil, less-developed islands of Lanai and Molokai, too. Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, soon to make your plans for cruising the Hawaiian Islands.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Eight Thrilling Cruise Ship Attractions for Kids

The best cruise ships for families are equipped to keep kids entertained, especially while at sea. Many cruise ships offer great child- and family-friendly activities, but some offer truly heart-pumping attractions to thrill the kids. We find that Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships offer quite a few activities that fall into the “thrilling” category. (Parents, note that many of these thrills can be enjoyed by the whole family.)

Racetracks. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Joy and Bliss are the first ships at sea to offer two-level racetracks designed for competitive racing. Kids can zoom along at up to 30 mph.

Escape Rooms. Several Norwegian ships have escape rooms with a carnival theme. When a carnival act goes wrong, the kids must solve puzzles to “Escape the Big Top” before time runs out.

Ziplines. On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, kids can zip from deck 16 to 15, high above the Boardwalk neighborhood. Norwegian also features ziplines on the Getaway and Breakaway as part of a multi-level ropes course.

The Plank. Norwegian Cruise Line’s ropes courses also feature The Plank: eight feet long and just six inches wide, it extends over the ocean to give kids the experience of walking the plank, just like a pirate. (Parents, don’t worry – there’s a secure safety harness involved.)

Trapeze School. The Sea Plex on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships offers several heart-pumping experiences for kids, including Trapeze School. Kids six years of age and older can take lessons on the flying trapeze (with safety equipment).

Skydiving. The same Royal Caribbean ships offer RipCord skydiving simulators. In this glass-enclosed wind tunnel, kids can experience the feeling of free-fall skydiving.

The North Star. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class also has the North Star, an enclosed glass capsule that rises 300 feet up and extends out over the water for fabulous, 360-degree views.

Waterslides. Norwegian’s Breakaway class ships have no less than five multistory waterslides, including one that drops a pair of kids nearly straight down for several stories before spinning them through loops. Kids on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas get a warning that the Ultimate Abyss is one of the cruise world’s most thrilling waterslides. They start the 10-story drop by stepping into the mouth of a monster-like fish.

If you’re looking for a cruise ship that offers fun and thrills for your kids, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor about where these ships can take you, too.


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Monday, June 10, 2019

Wildlife on an Alaskan Cruise

The stunning scenery is a huge draw, but some people cruise Alaska for a different reason: to see the wildlife that abounds there. What animals can you expect to see – at least through binoculars, and perhaps close-up – on a cruise of southeast Alaska?

On Land
The most commonly sighted Alaskan bear may be the “rock bear,” which turns out to be a boulder on the shoreline. However, it’s common to spot brown or black bears while sailing near shore or even while hiking: some shore excursions will take you to salmon streams where bears (and eagles) love to feed on fresh fish.

Mountain goats can be spotted throughout southeast Alaska. When you sail close to craggy mountains or cliffs, watch for the shaggy, surefooted creatures on high ledges.

So that you won’t be disappointed, know that one Alaskan animal you’re unlikely to see while cruising is the moose. There’s always a chance, but they usually stay farther inland.

In the Water
Alaska’s Inside Passage is a good place to spot adorable sea otters; they swim on their backs, the better to show their cute, whiskered faces. You’re also likely to see harbor seals and colonies of sea lions – the males can weigh up to a ton.

The nutrient-rich waters of Southeast Alaska attract humpback whales, and more than 500 spend the summer in the Inside Passage. These massive creatures love to “breach,” rising out of the water and dramatically splashing down on their backs. Also present, but harder to spot, are black-and-white orcas, or “killer” whales (which are actually part of the dolphin family).

Many cruises offer whale-watching excursions (via boat or kayak), which usually include sightings of other sea life, too. If your cruise calls on Seward, take an excursion to the Alaska SeaLife Center, an excellent aquarium that offers behind-the-scenes animal encounters.

In the Air
Puffins are actually better at swimming and diving than flying; watch for their distinctive orange beaks on the water or among the rocks. The oystercatcher’s bill is orange, too, though longer and slimmer than a puffin’s; they’re most often seen wading and feeding along shorelines.

Alaska also has a large population of bald eagles. You’ll spot them soaring overhead, plucking fish from the water or resting on nests high in the trees. You can take an excursion to the Alaska Raptor Center in Ketchikan, a rehabilitation center for injured eagles, owls and other birds.

To select an Alaskan cruise for the wildlife lover in you, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.


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Monday, June 3, 2019

The Pearl of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, is perched on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, directly across the Adriatic Sea from Italy and not far from Venice. Dubrovnik has become a mainstay of Eastern Mediterranean cruise itineraries that also include Venice, Athens, and the Greek Isles. When you visit, you may find that Dubrovnik is one of your all-time favorite port calls.

Larger ships often dock in suburban Dubrovnik, where you can hop a bus or take a taxi to the historic Old Town. Some smaller ships are able to dock right in the midst of this medieval treasure, which is best experienced by walking tour. Under the terracotta roofs, you’ll find centuries-old monasteries, churches, synagogues and even one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe.

Get your bearings by first walking atop the Old Town city walls. About 80 feet high, the walls provide a birds-eye view of the historic heart of the city, the sparkling Adriatic, and the brooding mountains to the east.

Come down from the walls to walk along the narrow, cobblestoned streets (there’s no vehicle traffic in the Old Town). Take a selfie beside a fountain, such as the “big” and “small” Onofrio’s Fountains at either end of Stradun, a limestone-paved street that connects the east and west entrances to the Old Town. Look at the Renaissance-era structures that survived the massive earthquake of 1667, such as the Rector’s Palace and Sponza Palace. Browse the quirky shops, then claim a table at an open-air café and enjoy a little fresh seafood or a rozata, Dubrovnik’s signature dessert.

If you’re a fan of the popular TV show Game of Thrones, you can take a walking tour of locations used for the show. Dubrovnik is the real-life location of King’s Landing, the capital of the realm’s seven kingdoms. You can see where Ayra Stark hid from the Lannisters, the city walls attacked by the Baratheons and Lovrijenac Fortress, featured in the Battle of Blackwater.

It’s easy to spend an entire day in the Old Town. There’s a lot to see, and the people-watching is top-notch. But, there are also wonderful beaches near Old Town harbor, where you can enjoy the view and soak up the sun. Or, take a boat excursion to a nearby island. The forested island of Mljet is considered to be one of the most beautiful along the Dalmatian Coast. If you’d like an active shore excursion, try a bike tour (some include a bit of wine-tasting, too).

To find a cruise that will take you to wonderful Dubrovnik, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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Monday, May 27, 2019

Try a Different Kind of Summer Cruise

Are you looking for an alternative to the Caribbean for a summer cruise? Look to the northeast: New England and Maritime Canada aren’t just for fall color cruises. The area’s natural beauty, rich history and love of celebrations come alive in the warmer months, making it a great choice for a summer voyage. In fact, you may find that summer is the best time to sail the region. Here are a few reasons why.

Summer is prime time to follow the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s the best way to admire the Gilded Age mansions along the shore – The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms and more. Many of these were built as summer homes for the wealthiest families of the day and are at their best when the gardens are in bloom.

July and August are soft-shell lobster season in Maine. The tasty crustaceans shed their hard shells (so they can grow bigger ones), providing a seasonal treat. Soft shell lobsters are known for their sweet taste. They don’t travel well, so they are best eaten when and where they are caught (look for them on menus in Bar Harbor).

Halifax, Nova Scotia, celebrates its seafaring heritage and culture all year long, but especially in the summer. You may dock in the midst of a yacht race, an international military tattoo, a jazz festival, a celebration of indigent peoples or immigrant heritage, or even the International Busker Festival. You’ll enjoy the lively pub life of Halifax, too.

Prince Edward Island is a bucket-list destination for many fans of "Anne of Green Gables,” which is set on this island province. From mid- June through September, you can catch a musical version of the beloved book at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown. It’s been the headline event of the Charlottetown Festival, a celebration of the arts, for more than 50 years.

As an added incentive, the best time to see whales off the Atlantic coast is June through September. You may spot some playful seals, too.

You can choose from a delightful variety of itineraries of various lengths for your summer cruise of New England and Canada. Depending on your cruise line, you can embark from Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Quebec or Montreal. There are round-trip cruises, as well as one-way cruises that may enable you to experience more of the region. To explore all of the options, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.


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Monday, May 20, 2019

The Suite Life at Sea

Sailing in a cruise ship suite is a wonderful treat.  While “suite” can mean different things on different ships (and many ships have a range of suite sizes and designs), suites generally have more square footage than a regular stateroom, with separate sitting and sleeping areas. Many boast larger bathrooms, sometimes with bathtubs, and almost always have a balcony or verandah. However, suites deliver more than additional space; they come with special amenities that provide great value, too.

For example, sailing in a suite can eliminate the need to purchase onboard beverage packages. Some cruise lines include a generous beverage package in the price of a suite or stock up your suite’s minibar with complimentary beverages.

As a suite passenger, you’ll find other extras included in your fare. These may include fitness classes, in-suite movies, gratuities for the crew, WiFi access, laundry, and some ship tours or shore excursions. Ask your professional travel advisor to help you explore the extras included in suite fares for a cruise you would like to take.

And, there’s more. When you book a suite, you’ll receive priority check-in, which makes the process of boarding the ship faster and easier. You may even be escorted to a comfortable lounge to await your turn to check in – much nicer than standing in a long line. Also, when the ship visits a port, you’ll be among the first to disembark or board a tender.

More cruise lines are setting aside special spaces on their ships just for suite dwellers. You may receive a key to an exclusive lounge, sun deck or pool where you can relax and enjoy complimentary snacks, cocktails, specialty coffees, and a great view. Some ships even have specialty restaurants accessible only to suite passengers. Examples include Celebrity Cruises’ Luminae, Royal Caribbean’s Coastal Kitchen and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven Restaurant.

Butler and concierge services are increasingly popular luxury amenities for suite passengers. Your butler will unpack your bags, bring you snacks and drinks, shine your shoes, serve dinner in your suite and more. Your concierge will make spa and specialty dining reservations, help you plan a day in port, and manage any billing questions or concerns.

Finally, to enjoy the suite life at sea, be sure to make your cruise reservation as early as possible. Suites are usually the first category of accommodations to sell out.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Cruising With a Special Diet

Cruise ships are well-known for offering delicious, plentiful food that you don’t have to shop for, prepare or clean up. What’s not as well-known is that the dining staff can accommodate all kinds of special or restricted diets – important at a time when an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies or need food that’s free of fat, salt, nuts, meat, sugar, dairy, cholesterol, carbohydrates or gluten. Cruise lines are also accustomed to working with guests who need kosher, halal and vegan dining options.

Mealtime on a cruise ship used to be more of a challenge for passengers on medically restricted, religious or healthy lifestyle diets. But, that’s a thing of the past. Cruise lines today have expansive menu options and familiarity with different methods of cooking.

If you have special dietary needs, the key is to be diligent about communicating those needs. When you make your cruise reservation, let the cruise line know exactly what your dietary needs are (your professional travel advisor can help you with this). Many cruise lines have a special form for you to complete.

When you board the ship, make sure your dietary needs are on record. Ask to speak with the maître d’ or another member of the dining staff to review menu options and make sure your needs are understood (some cruise lines will automatically set up this meeting for you).

When you sit down for a meal, tell your server about your special dietary needs. And when your food arrives, don’t hesitate to ask your server about anything that doesn’t seem right. Your server and the chefs will do whatever is needed to give you delicious meals that stay within your dietary guidelines.

If you don’t have dietary restrictions but simply want to be able to make healthy dining choices while on your cruise, don’t worry. The lido deck is one place to look for a well-stocked buffet with fresh and healthy choices while main dining room menus virtually always feature healthy options, as well. Plus, you can always ask for a rich dish to be prepared in a different way. For example, with protein that’s broiled instead of sautéed, with less or no salt, and with sauces and dressings served on the side. Tasty!

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Cruise Line Private Islands

If you haven’t taken a Caribbean cruise that includes a day on a cruise line’s private island, you should definitely consider it. A day on a private island is about as relaxing and stress-free as a day can be and several cruise lines have been updating and upgrading their private islands.

For example, Princess Cays in The Bahamas – the private island of Princess Cruises since 1992 – has some updates, including refurbished bars and beach bungalows, new shops and landscaping, plus a big addition to the infrastructure: WiFi access. There’s a choice of activities, including a clear-bottom kayak adventure across a beautiful lagoon, and a great bicycle tour of the island. Guests can rent water sports equipment or interact with stingrays in at the Stingray Beach Encounter.

Royal Caribbean is currently updating one of its two private islands, CocoCay in The Bahamas, to provide what the cruise line promises will be a “Perfect Day.” A brand-new pier will open soon, and several new features are scheduled to open in May. These include the Thrill Waterpark, which will have some of North America’s tallest waterslides and a huge wave pool. A 1,600-foot zip line with a fun a water landing and Chill Island, with water-view cabanas and daybeds will also be introduced. More attractions will debut later this year, including South Beach, where guests can play volleyball, basketball, and soccer, or get on the water for paddle boarding or “zorbing” in an inflatable zorb ball.

MSC Cruises has been developing Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas, scheduled to open in November 2019. The cruise line says it’s focused on showcasing the island’s natural beauty and there will be seven different beaches for guests to enjoy. To help ensure beautiful underwater experiences, too, the cruise line has planted a coral nursery that will help develop new types of coral resistant to climate change. MSC also plans to let guests stay on the island until late in the evening so they can enjoy island sunsets and even movies on the beach.

While these private islands (and others) are in The Bahamas, cruise lines’ private islands can be found in other locations around the Caribbean, as well. Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about cruises that will take you to one of these little pieces of paradise.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Theme Cruises Amp Up the Fun

Theme cruises offer an unbeatable combination: the fun, adventure and relaxation of a cruise with a chance to immerse yourself in a favorite hobby or interest. Sound like fun? Read on.

First, it’s important to know that theme cruises can be either full-ship or partial-ship. A full-ship theme cruise means everyone on board shares the same interest. On a partial-ship theme cruise, a sizable group of people interested in the theme will be on board. Some of the venues may be devoted to the group, but many passengers will not be involved in themed activities (though they may want to learn about your group).

Some of the most popular cruise themes revolve around food, wine and craft beer, but that’s just a slice of a very large theme-cruise pie. There’s an amazing variety of theme cruises. Here are a few that are coming up soon.

Runaway to Paradise with Jon Bon Jovi. Norwegian Cruise Lines’ partnership with Sixthman delivers theme cruises focused on music, including a four-day Mediterranean journey starring Jon Bon Jovi. The Norwegian Pearl will sail from Barcelona on August 20, meeting up with Jon at Palma, Majorca. He’ll come aboard for some Q&A and a memorable concert and there will other music throughout the cruise, too, from musicians like Johnny Rzeznik and Grace Potter.

Grand Prix and Cannes. This cruise takes in two events that will get your heart pumping: the Cannes Film Festival in France and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix auto race in Monaco. You’ll enjoy overnight stays in both Cannes and Monte Carlo, soaking up the star-studded atmosphere. This 11-day cruise on the Azamara Journey begins in Rome on May 18 and will take you to Sorrento, Corsica and Barcelona, too.

Cooking with Jacques Pepin. Oceania Cruises presents an opportunity to sail and refine your kitchen skills with master chef Jacques Pepin, Oceania’s executive culinary director. Enjoy special menus, lectures, culinary demonstrations and more on this annual cruise. This year, the Oceania Marina will depart on September 17 from Amsterdam, visiting castles and vineyards before sailing into Lisbon 12 days later.

Anita, professional travel advisor can help you find theme cruises for just about any interest – crafting, dancing, investing, wellness, LBGTQ lifestyles, nature photography, history, games, and so much more.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

The Latest Cruise Trends

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) keeps a keen eye on the state of the cruise industry, and recently shared what they see as the top trends in cruising for 2019. Here’s what cruise fans can look forward to.

1.      Instagrammable Cruise Travel: With greater ability to instantly post to social media sites from a cruise ship, more of the 350 million-plus daily posts with the #travel tag will be from the deck of a cruise ship or the middle of a shore excursion.
2.      Total Restoration: Cruise lines are doing more to meet travelers’ interests in wellness through restorative spa experiences, onboard oxygen bars, healthy menu choices, and the latest fitness equipment and techniques.
3.      Achievement Over Experience: Vacationers want immersive cultural experiences beyond sightseeing, and cruise lines deliver. Shore excursions provide bucket-list experiences like exploring Machu Picchu or cooking alongside Le Cordon Bleu chefs.
4.      On-Board with Smart Tech: More cruise lines are adopting wearable digital technology such as bracelets and other devices that serve as convenient room keys, onboard credit cards and more.
5.      Conscious Travel: Cruise lines are working more closely with local communities to preserve their heritage and decrease the imprint of cruise travel while providing the benefits of tourism to local economies.
6.      Access is the New Luxury: Cruising is one of the best ways to visit certain remote destinations, such as Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands or Greenland.
7.      Gen Z at Sea: The desire to travel and a preference for authentic experiences is expected to attract the young adults of Generation Z to cruising.
8.      Off-Peak Adventures: Winter in the northern hemisphere is becoming a more popular time to cruise, whether to escape the cold in a tropical place or embrace the chill while sailing toward the Northern Lights, a penguin colony, or the Christmas Markets of Europe.
9.      Working Nomads: Some professionals find it difficult to disconnect from work for the entire length of a cruise and need to mix a little work time with their leisure. These “digital nomads” can work remotely from ships equipped with Wi-Fi, desks and work-friendly cafes.
10.  Female-Centered Cruising: Tourism and travel companies are catering to the interests of women travelers, presenting opportunities to connect and create female empowerment communities at sea.
11.  Going Solo: There are more Google searches for “solo travel” and “traveling alone” than ever before, and cruising is a great option. It provides the security of traveling in a group with the option of privacy, too.

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