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 30, 2019

New Ships, Dazzling Features


Cruise lovers eagerly await new ships that promise first-at-sea attractions. Here’s a look at a few features being planned for ships that will debut in 2020. Keep in mind that we never know for sure how many great new features a ship will have until it’s ready to sail: the cruise lines like to keep some things secret, and plans can change while a ship is still under construction.

For now, we know Royal Caribbean is getting the 4,198-passenger Odyssey of the Seas ready to debut in November 2020. It will be the line’s first Quantum Ultra Class ship in North America. Royal Caribbean says the Odyssey’s top-deck SeaPlex will be the most action-packed top deck to date. It will have interactive virtual reality games for individual and group play, augmented reality gaming walls, bumper cars, and glow-in-the-dark laser tag (Yetis vs. Snow Shifters). The SeaPlex will also have familiar (but still exciting) Royal Caribbean features like surf and sky diving simulators, plus a bungee trampoline experience enhanced by virtual reality.

The Odyssey of the Seas will also feature a spectacular two-level pool deck with two open-air pools and four whirlpools, surrounded by shady casitas and hammocks. Your younger companions will also love the water fountains, cannons, and slides of Splashaway Bay.

The  Odyssey of the Seas will begin cruising from Fort Lauderdale in November before moving to Rome for Summer 2021.

Crystal Cruises, long known for elegance, will bring its standard of luxury to expedition cruising in 2020 with its new ship, the Endeavor. The 200-passenger ship, purpose-built for icy waters and polar climates, will be the most spacious expedition ship on the seas, with roomy suites complete with verandahs and butler service. There’s also room for multiple dining options, a salon and spa, a fitness center and even a casino, a first on an expedition ship.

To take passengers from the luxury of the Endeavor to rugged coastlines, the ship will be equipped with two helicopters and 7-passenger submersible vessel. Every cruise will feature an expert expedition team that will familiarize guests with local history, culture, wildlife and more.
The Crystal Endeavour will debut in August and is expected to sail to the Arctic, Antarctica, New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands, the Russian Far East, the Aleutian Islands and Alaska, among other adventurous destinations.

For more information on these and other “new in 2020” ships, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Exploring Barbados


A Caribbean cruise that calls on Barbados actually ventures a little outside the Caribbean. Lying east of the rest of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is technically in the Atlantic. In fact, there’s not much but water between Barbados and Western Africa; more on that in a moment.

Your ship will sail up to the island’s southeastern shore, where the capital of Bridgetown is flanked by stretches of white sand beach. It’s tempting to spend the day relaxing on the sand, enjoying a swim and a lunch buffet, and many visitors do just that. For something a little more adventurous, hop on a catamaran and sail to Turtle Bay, where the wild sea turtles make their nests along the beach. You can swim and snorkel in the bay alongside some of these friendly creatures.

If you venture beyond the beaches, you’ll find lots of interesting things to see and do inland. Sugar cane was once the foundation of the Barbadian economy, and while all that remains of many plantations are some atmospheric ruins, you can tour the Sunbury Plantation House. Every room of the house, which was built in 1650, is beautifully restored and filled with antiques from the plantation era. The staff will teach you to make classic rum punch, too.

Barbadian sugar cane is used to make delicious rums, and distilleries are located around the island. The most famous is Mount Gay, the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery, where you can tour and taste the distinctive, highly rated rums made there for more than 300 years.
Right in the middle of Barbados, Harrison’s Cave offers a look beneath the island’s beautiful surface. Water dripping through limestone has formed a spectacular array of stalactites and stalagmites in a series of caverns you can travel through on a tram.

You can also venture to the east side of the island and the beautiful, rugged Scotland District. Here, waves from the huge stretch of ocean between Africa and Barbados crash against the cliffs and shore. The Scotland District is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it’s actually the highest part of an ancient, elongated mountain range that lies mostly underwater, extending all the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad. If you visit, you’ll be standing on rock that’s more than 30 million years old.

To explore Caribbean itineraries that include Barbados and choose one for yourself, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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Monday, December 16, 2019

Sail the Globe on a World Cruise

Many adventurous souls dream of sailing the world. If you’re one of them, take a look at the fabulous options for taking a world cruise.

What makes a cruise a world cruise? World cruises sail three months or more, visiting multiple continents and immersing you in an array of scenery, historic sites, and modern wonders. World cruises focus on onshore and cultural experiences, and often sail on smaller, luxury ships. The crew makes things easy, taking you from port to port and filling days at sea with learning opportunities and fun activities.

Most world cruises set sail in January, with some exceptions. Some literally sail around the globe, making a full circumnavigation. Others don’t, but still visit dozens of ports, including some it’s not possible to see on any other type of cruise.

Here’s a look at a few world cruises coming up in 2020 and 2021:

A Cunard Line ship completed the first continuous circumnavigation cruise in 1922 and has sailed more world cruises than any other line. The next is roundtrip from New York, departing January 3 on the Queen Mary 2. The ship will visit 26 countries (and more than 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites) over 113 nights.

Crystal Cruises has offered world cruises for more than 20 years, and the next is a 105-day cruise from Miami to Rome, departing January 6 to sail about three-quarters of the globe.

Looking ahead to 2021, Holland America’s Great World Trips series includes a 128-day Grand World Voyage, departing from Fort Lauderdale on January 4. This full circumnavigation cruise on the Amsterdam will explore the Amazon, the Panama Canal, Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Regent Seven Seas’ 2021 World Cruise starts in Miami on January 5 and will pass through the Panama Canal to sail the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, ending in Barcelona.

For 2021, Silversea plans two world cruises. A 150-day cruise departs January 7 from Fort Lauderdale to sail Central and South America, the South Pacific, Asia, and the Mediterranean before ending in New York. Or, choose Silversea’s first-ever expedition world cruise: departing from Ushuaia on January 30, the Silver Cloud will sail to Antarctica and other adventurous destinations before arriving in Tromso, Norway, on July 16.

If this sounds wonderful but your schedule or budget won’t accommodate a full world cruise, you can choose to sail a segment of one of these exciting cruises. To sort through the options, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Last Port of Call, Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia


Port Klang is the closest cruise terminal to Kuala Lumpur, called KL by the locals.  There are no markets or sights in Klang, so be prepared for the hour commute into KL, the federal capital of Malaysia.

We are familiar with KL since I lived in the area while we built a new cellular telecom network.  However, much has changed in the past twenty years.  Malaysia wanted to be a first-world economy by the year 2020.  The people have improved the economic and the living conditions, but still have room for improvement.  Still, it was a very pleasant surprise – except for the jam.

Traffic in KL is almost like a living thing, the jam moves, grows, and blocks traffic.  Don’t go anywhere in a hurry, and always carry something to read and a bottle of water.  Take a ship tour in Malaysia (we do not recommend a private guide), the ship will wait for your tour to return to the dock.  A private guided tour can easily be delayed in the jam and you may miss sail-away.

Our first stop on the tour was to Batu Caves, a Hindu temple built in the limestone hills near KL.  To enter the caves, you must climb 285 steps – the same to exit the caves.  Don’t try the climb if you have any physical disabilities.  There is no elevator or help available.  Watch the monkeys because they are watching you…  Don’t carry anything in a plastic bag because the monkeys will try to steal it.  The locals carry food offerings into the cave in plastic bags.


The steps to the cave are narrow, wet, and dirty.  Take your time and enjoy the view – and watch the monkeys.  Be sure your knees are covered.  If not, you will be stopped at the entrance gate and told to rent a scarf to cover your knees.  When you exit the gate, the attendant will take your rented scarf and refund part of your deposit (5 Ringgit to rent, 2 Ringgit will be refunded for the scarf).


Like most places in Malaysia, there is a charge to use public restrooms.  Carry change or one Ringgit bills (25 cents).  There are no facilities, or water, in the caves.  It’s a Hindu place of worship.


Our tour included a visit to the museum, a visit with lunch at the top of the KL Tower (1379 feet), and a stop at the Petronas Twin Towers.  Unfortunately, it rained most of the afternoon and we had a limited view from the KL Tower.  Our stop at the Petronas Towers was during a rain shower so it was a quick visit.

City view from KL Tower

With the afternoon traffic and the wet roads, our return to the ship took ninety minutes.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our visit to Port Klang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Cruise the Rivers of the World


As much as we love the expansive feeling of cruising on a wide-open ocean, we highly recommend the close-to-shore experience of a river cruise, too. There’s so much to see along the interior waterways of the world: major cities, quaint villages, castles and temples, mountains and valleys, and amazing cultural treats.

Where can you take a river cruise? There are lots of possibilities.

In Europe, the Danube is a popular choice for cruising. It flows along or through 10 different countries, so you can visit wonderful destinations from Germany to the Black Sea on a single itinerary (though most cruises focus on just one of the river’s three sections: upper, middle or lower). Vienna and Budapest are two of the most popular ports on the Danube.

The Rhine is another historic European river, flowing from the Swiss Alps through Germany and the Netherlands to the North Sea. The river goes through areas of outstanding natural beauty, with castles, churches and vineyards perched on the hills above. Also, ask your professional travel advisor about cruises of the Rhone (France), Douro (Portugal), Po (Northern Italy) or Elbe (Czech Republic) Rivers.

You can also explore the beauty and history of Asia on a river cruise. China’s mighty Yangtze River was one of the first river cruise options in Asia, and it’s still a great choice. The river flows from the Tibetan Plateau to the East China Sea, but most cruises focus on the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges region.

Or, consider the Mekong River, where cruises often begin or end with a visit to Cambodia’s remote and spectacular Angkor Wat temple complex. In addition to gilded Buddhist temples and floating markets, you’ll see some of Southeast Asia’s biggest cities.

River cruises are also available in exotic destinations like India, where you can sail a portion of the Ganges, and Egypt, along the storied River Nile. There are more options than ever before for cruises of South America’s 4,000-mile-long Amazon River and its tributaries, with starting points in Brazil, Ecuador or Peru.
Africa will be the 
next continent to develop river cruises, and you can already book a short cruise on the Chobe River in Botswana, where elephants and other animals come to the river to drink.

Remember, there are close-to-home options, too, such as cruises of the Columbia, Mississippi or St. Lawrence Rivers. To get started planning your river cruise experience, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Port of call – George Town, Malaysia


Our next port of call was the city of Georgetown on Penang Island (Malaysia), another UNESCO World Heritage site.  It was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia.

The cruise terminal is within easy walking distance of the old town and Fort Cornwallis (built in 1786). On Penang, we had arranged a private tour of old George Town for our Distinctive Voyages group. 


The highlight of our tour was a two-hour trishaw (bicycle powered cart for one passenger) tour of the old town.  The trishaw drivers transported us thru the old town, Little India, and between our tour sites.  At each stop, our driver would wait for us to return to our trishaw and we would go to the next site.  A great way to visit George Town in the heat.  Since Penang is in the tropics, it’s always hot and muggy.

One of our stops was a tour of the Blue Mansion, an historical hotel and filming site for many movies including Crazy Rich Asians and Anna and the King.  Other tour stops included the Pinang Peranakan Mansion and the Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse.  We visited several Buddhist temples – another chance to go barefoot.

Each year, the beaches on Penang attract many foreign visitors for holiday, but we had other plans.  Next time, we hope to visit one of the resorts along the coast.  Next time…


Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our visit to George Town, Malaysia.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Port of call – Rangoon, Myanmar


Rangoon, the largest city in Myanmar (Burma) has two names, Rangoon and Yangon.  Today, the locals call it Yangon.  The Azamara Quest spent three days (two nights) docked in the river near the city.

Due to changing tide levels in the river, the cruise terminal is on the Yangon River, south of the city.  Unfortunately, the drive to the city is 90+ minutes.  Road construction and traffic can cause major delays.  In this port of call, we were glad we took tours offered by the ship.

A large refinery is near the cruise terminal and gas transports often block both lanes of the two-lane road as they wait to fill their tankers.  On our first visit to Yangon from the cruise terminal, we were stuck in a jam for more than an hour.  Our return to the ship from a tour was more than two hours. 

The tour of the city was fantastic!  The Shwedagon Pagoda is the primary tourist site in the city – and well worth the trip.  The pagoda, covered in gold leaf, is 326 feet tall and is visible from most of the city.  Since it’s an active religious temple, you will need to cover your shoulders and knees – and go barefoot during the visit to the pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda

On the next day, our two-day tour left the ship at 4:30 AM to catch an early morning flight to Bagan to the see the 2000+ temples in the UNESCO World Heritage site that rivals Angor Wat.  The temples in Old Bagan were built between the 10th and 13th centuries. 

The Shwezigon Pagoda is the largest temple in the area and is like the large pagoda in Rangoon.  Again, we walked the pagoda without shoes.  After visiting many temples, we ended the day at the viewing tower and taking a horse-cart ride among nearby temples.   After sunset, we enjoyed dinner and a show at our four-star hotel, the Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort.


Our third day in Myanmar was uneventful.  A slow morning at the hotel, a flight back to Yangon, and a slow return (another traffic Jam) to our ship.  After two busy days, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon on the ship.

A visit to Myanmar was high on our bucket list.  It’s the reason we agreed to host the Distinctive Voyages group on this cruise.  Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our three-day visit to Myanmar.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Port of call: Phuket, Thailand


On our group cruise in Southeast Asia, we stopped in Phuket for an overnight visit – two days on the tropical island.  The cruise pier is south of Phuket City and is in a remote location, no nearby shops or tourist sites. The only way to reach the tourist areas is on a structured tour or to take a taxi into the city. It seems that all the venues are an hour or more away from the pier.

On our first day in Phuket, we booked a beach break tour at the Dusit Thani Laguna Resort on the west side of the island.  This is the famous beach area of Phuket. Unfortunately, it rained most of the day and when not raining, it was hot and muggy – not the best day to enjoy the beach.  Since It was a 90-minute drive each way to/from the beach, we did get to see a lot of the island.

We returned to the ship in time to change and have dinner before attending an “Azamazing Evening” event in the city.  There, we enjoyed a folkloric event of song and dance by Thai performers in native attire.   An “Azamazing Evening” is a trademark event offered by Azamara where everyone on the ship is invited to a nearby venue to learn about the culture of the visited country.

Day two was another rainy day and we decided to have a quiet day on the ship and not go ashore. We spent the day enjoying the shipboard offerings of the Azamara Quest.  On a cruise ship, a port day is a great time to relax and enjoy the ship while many of the passengers are off on tour.

Our next port of call, three days in Myanmar.

Interested in an Azamara cruise?  Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Port of Embarkation: Singapore



In November, we escorted a group on the Azamara Quest, roundtrip Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Our last visit to Singapore was four years ago. The city hasn’t really changed, and we have always enjoyed our visits to the island nation.

As we left Changi Airport for the hotel, I was surprised by the lack of litter, graffiti, and exhaust fumes from older vehicles.  Then I remembered, Singapore takes pride in a clean city and environment.  You can drink the water and eat at the hawker stands (food courts).

Our recommended hotel in Singapore is the Hilton.  It’s on the north end of Orchard road, near shopping, restaurants, and the subway.  We spent three nights at the Hilton Hotel.  It’s in the heart of the city and has plenty of upscale shopping nearby.  We walked a lot and used the MRT (subway) for access to remote sites.   We didn’t go out at night but would not have any concerns about walking to nearby venues – It’s a safe city.

We visited the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel.  It’s the home of the Singapore Sling.  It’s an interesting place to visit but has become very touristy and pricy.  However, the visit to the Long Bar is recommended and you can enjoy the free peanuts and throw the empty shells on the floor - it’s a local tradition.

The subway is a great way to get around the city. The ticket kiosks are located in the terminals where you can buy a ticket: roundtrip or one way for any subway destination on the island.  Don’t throw away your used ticket, you need it to get out of the subway station at your destination.  Besides, the ticket stub is reusable, just add another segment or two to the same paper ticket.  You can use the ticket for up to 6 trips in 24 hours. Uber is not available in Singapore.

If you are going on a cruise from Singapore, be sure you know the name and address of your terminal since there are two cruise terminals on the island and they are not close to each other.   Small ships often sail out of the Harbor Front terminal, near Sentosa Island.  The other terminal is close to the Marina Sands Hotel.  Your cruise documents will list the address for the correct cruise terminal.
Enjoy your cruise!

Questions about Singapore?  Ask Anita, your travel expert at Land & Sea,                                                                                     
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Monday, October 28, 2019

The Cruise Ports of Italy

Enduring traditions in art, fashion, music and cuisine make Italy an awesome place to cruise. Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula extends into the Mediterranean Sea, creating more than 1,000 miles of beautiful coastline. There’s an abundance of cruise ship ports to explore on Italy’s western coast alone. Here are some highlights, from north to south.

Perhaps best known as the hometown of explorer Christopher Columbus, Genoa is well worth exploring. There are promenades that overlook the sea; the Stade Nuova (new streets) and fabulous palaces built when Genoa was at the height of its wealth; and many historic churches, museums and piazzas. Or, take an excursion to Portofino, a lovely holiday resort on a promontory south of Genoa.

Many passengers who disembark in Livorno immediately take off on an excursion to Pisa (to see the Leaning Power), Lucca (to see the Renaissance-era city walls), or Florence (a city filled with Renaissance art and architecture). But Livorno has a lot to offer, too. Once ruled by the Medici family, Livorno was well-fortified during the Renaissance and many towers, forts and city walls are still intact. The canals around the old Fortezza Nuova will remind you of Venice. Another option is to take an excursion to Cinque Terre, five picturesque villages that cling to rugged cliffs above the sea.

Civitavecchia is the port for Rome, which is inland from the coast. While you really can’t miss seeing Rome (the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the treasures of the Vatican and much more), Civitavecchia has its own charms. If you’ve been to Rome before, you may enjoy spending the day in its port city, which has a lovely promenade, lots of open-air restaurants and cafes, and a traditional city market.

One of the most ancient of European ports, Naples lies in the shadow of brooding Mt. Vesuvius. The city’s historic heart, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. There are a wide array of historic palaces, museums and churches to tour. From Naples, you can also take an excursion to the ruins of Pompeii, destroyed in a 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, drive along the stunning Amalfi Coast to Sorrento or take a boat to the Isle of Capri and explore this beautiful, mountainous island.

Italy is a year-round cruise destination. To explore your options, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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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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