Cruise Holidays - Attheta Travel

I am proud to be certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) as an Elite Cruise Counselor. The Cruise Counselor Certification Program is CLIA's most comprehensive training which requires agents to successfully complete a number of compulsory training courses and exams, attend cruise conferences, and conduct ship inspections. Anita Thompson, Attheta Travel, dba Cruise Holidays.

Monday, 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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