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, August 31, 2020

Cruising to The Bahamas

It’s been a challenging year for The Bahamas, the island group that lies just 50 miles east of Miami. During the first few days of September 2019, Hurricane Dorian caused extensive damage and loss of life on several Bahamian islands. Recovery efforts continue, and the islands are looking forward to welcoming cruise passengers again soon.

Proximity to the U.S. is one of the things that makes a Bahamas cruise special. Sailing there provides an exotic island getaway, but it’s amazingly close to home. That’s why The Bahamas are a top choice for first-time cruisers who want to get their sea legs. Experienced cruisers also enjoy a quick, relaxing, and affordable getaway to The Bahamas.

The low-lying islands are fringed with sandy beaches lapped by calm water, lovely for swimming, snorkeling, and water sports. Cruise ports include Nassau and Freeport. Depending on the cruise line you choose, you may also spend a day on a well-equipped private island, such as Disney’s Castaway Cay, Holland America’s Half Moon Cay, Royal Caribbean’s CoCoCay, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay, Princess Cruises’ Princess Cays, or MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay.

Nassau, on New Providence Island, is a vibrant mix of cultural influences from West Africa, Great Britain, and the U.S.  Along the charming, tree-lined streets, you’ll find restaurants and cafes, Las Vegas-style casinos, and duty-free shopping. Still, many cruise passengers head straight for a beach resort or to tour historic Fort Fincastle or Fort Charlotte. Excursion opportunities include ATV adventures, food tours (think conch fritters and guava pastries), or a trip to nearby Balmoral Island for a stingray encounter.

Freeport is on Grand Bahama Island, one of the islands still recovering from Hurricane Dorian. Grand Bahama also features white sand beaches, as well as several golf courses. The Port Lucaya area has lots of fun shops, dining, and entertainment. The water around the island is populated by coral reefs and several shipwrecks, so there are great snorkeling and diving opportunities. You can also visit beautiful Lucayan National Park to stroll the nature trails, go kayaking through the mangroves, or explore underwater caves.

Most Bahamas-only sailings are three or four nights, departing from one of Florida’s cruise ports and calling on Nassau and Freeport. You can also visit The Bahamas as part of a longer cruise that includes the Eastern Caribbean, with departures from ports all along the Eastern Seaboard. For help choosing your Bahamas cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

That’s Entertainment: The Razzle Dazzle at Sea

Through the years, cruise lines have become better and better and giving guests “the old razzle dazzle” – that is, the magic of live theater performance. With beautiful, technology-laden venues and top-notch talent, onboard productions truly rival those on New York’s Broadway or London’s West End. Here are just some of the shows at sea that have been knocking the socks off audiences.

Wherever you might sail on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, the ship’s production of “Mamma Mia!” will have you convinced you’re in the Greek Isles, where the sweet story of love across the generations takes place. Your inner dancing queen (we all have one) will love it. The musical productions on other Royal Caribbean ships include “CATS,” “Grease” and “We Will Rock You.”

The amazing (and true) story of the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, “Jersey Boys” is an emotional journey set to the group’s greatest hits of the 1960s and 1970s. Featured on the Norwegian Bliss, the show’s documentary style and innovative four-season structure make it easy to see why “Jersey Boys” won the Tony Award for Best Musical. You can also catch these shows on other Norwegian Cruise Line ships: “Rock of Ages,” “Burn the Floor,” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

Disney’s “Tangled,” an animated film based on the fairy tale “Rapunzel,” has been transformed into a live-action production that’s the featured musical aboard the Disney Magic. There appears to be some magic involved in the show’s beautiful special effects, part of the stellar production values you expect from any Disney endeavor. On other Disney ships, you can enjoy musicals like “Beauty and the Beast,” “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular,” and “Disney’s Aladdin.”

While “The Secret Silk” hasn’t been on Broadway, it’s got the chops. Created just for Princess Cruises by Stephen Schwartz, an award-winning composer of shows like “Wicked” and “Godspell,” this Royal Princess show is based on a Japanese fable. You’ll love the songs, dances, puppetry and special effects. Other Princess ships feature the original, Broadway-style shows “Rock Opera” and “5-SKIES.”

Before you make a cruise reservation expecting to see a specific musical production, check with your professional travel advisor to be sure the show will be going on when you sail. And, some of the shows mentioned here require advance reservations – Anita, your travel advisor, can give advice on the best way to snag a seat.

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Monday, August 17, 2020

Cruise Ships are a Showcase for Art at Sea

A cruise can introduce you to a new interest or help you develop a current interest, such as art appreciation. Many cruise ships house an array of wonderful works by artists, both famous and emerging, that make time onboard even more enjoyable.

Holland America Line’s partnership with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which houses masterpieces like Rembrandt’s Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, populates a special gallery on the Westerdam with reproductions of the museum’s famous works. On other Holland America ships, onboard gallery spaces show works by emerging artists in the ports of call; for example, if a ship is in the Caribbean, the gallery features works by Caribbean artists.

The ships of Viking Ocean Cruises are decorated with the work of Nordic artists from a broad range of genres and eras. Guests can use the Viking Voyager app to follow a self-guided art tour, including some original works by Norway’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch. The cruise line also has rights to the entire digital catalog of Munch’s works, shared during “Munch Moments” in the ships’ atriums.

Original, hand-painted Disney Studios animation cels are coveted collectibles, and you can see some in the Vista Art Galleries on Disney Cruise Line ships. The galleries also feature one-of-a-kind paintings and lithographs, as well as poster reproductions that fit any budget.

Silversea’s Silver Muse has been called a “floating art gallery,” adorned with hundreds of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and mixed-media works by Italian artists. In the aptly named Arts CafĂ©, the art on display changes from time to time, but you can always settle into a comfortable chair to look at one of many art books on hand.

An art walk is a must on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, which has more than 13,000 pieces of contemporary art, from text-based works to multimedia installations. Quite a few are interactive; guests can take a seat within the 1,200 mirrored steel triangles of the Paradox Void sculpture, or begin an audiovisual experience by stepping inside the Sound Shell.

Some ships offer original art and artists’ prints for sale, sometimes during art auctions accompanied by free-flowing champagne. These auctions can be a lot of fun, but be sure that you truly love any works you purchase, and that they have proper Certificates of Authenticity.

For more information about enjoying art on your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 10, 2020

Why Use a Travel Advisor

  1. Relationships with suppliers – you know when you’re visiting your neighborhood restaurant where the servers are familiar and give you a new dessert to try with your meal sometimes? Companies and people love to reward loyalty and the same is true about travel providers. Travel advisors have relationships with these companies and their staff and want to keep that relationship mutually beneficial! The suppliers know that if they can keep their travel advisors’ clients happy, they’ll be more likely to send more people their way. Sometimes this can translate into extra attention, free upgrades, or even things like chocolate-covered strawberries in your room!
  2. Knowledge about products – what’s the best travel insurance and should you get it? If something were to go wrong or there were any last-minute changes, which suppliers have the best cancellation policies? Ask your advisor! They treat knowledge about travel like it’s their job (because it is!)
  3. Better rates / added benefits – you won’t always get better rates booking with an advisor, but you’ll often get more value-added. In the age of online booking, it’s easier than ever to find “deals” online, but when you go through a massive online booking company, oftentimes, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Is that hotel room so cheap because it’s on the side of the building next to train tracks and faces a brick wall? With an advisor, you know exactly what you’re getting and what added benefits are coming along with it. Travel advisors also stay updated on what kind of sales are happening. If they know you’re looking for a river cruise to Europe and a big sale starts, they’ll know to pass that information along to you!
  4. Translating dreams to reality – How do you take your vague notion about a dream vacation and turn it into reality? Ask your travel advisor! They’re able to translate your wants into real locations and help you identify what pieces of your trip will matter the most.
  5. Travel logistics – How much time do you need for a layover? Would it make the most sense to rent a car, hire a driver, or something else altogether? If even starting down that train of thought is giving you sweaty palms, take a deep breath and call your travel advisor.
  6. Peace of mind – In the unfortunate event that something does go wrong, having someone on your side to help you through it and advocate for you is invaluable. Instead of being stuck internationally frantically trying to track down all of the people you need to call, you can make one call to your travel advisor and trust them to figure out the best plan for you.
  7. They get to know you – The more you use a travel advisor, the more valuable they are. With each trip you take through them, the more feedback you’re able to give them on what worked for you and what you’d skip next time, making each subsequent trip even further beyond perfect.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Surf Locations to Check Out While You’re Traveling

From Blue Crush to The Endless Summer, many of us have only experienced surfing through movies, often leaving us wishing we could be surfing somewhere ourselves. Do you know some of the most popular spots in the world for surfers to flock to?

Kauai, Hawaii

If you were wanting to see where the heart of surfing began and to see what Hawaii has to offer, check out Kauai during the summer months. However, if you're more experienced, visit South Shore from November to February where you can see ocean swells that are as large as 30 – 40 feet.
  • Kalapaki Beach – This beach is great for those who are just learning to surf because of the protective break walls that help create gentle conditions to surf in.
  • Kahili Beach – If you’re a beginner and are traveling in the summer months, this will be a good beach for you because the waves are consistent and small. In the winter, the waves become longer and more powerful, making this spot more dangerous. Nevertheless, this would be a great spot for intermediate surfers.
  • Hanalei Bay – Similar to Kahili Beach, Hanalei Bay, located on the North Shore of Kauai is going to be calmer in the summer months and more powerful in the winter. So, if you’re a beginner, try coming to this spot during the summer months.
  • Kealia Beach – This beach is more open and exposed, so if you’re a beginner this will still be a good spot, you’ll just want to be a little more aware! The surf can get dangerous, so be careful!
  • Kekaha Beach – With the strong currents and rough ocean conditions, this beach might not be the best for beginners. For those who are intermediate to advanced, though, the rougher conditions make this location less crowded.

Southern California

Maybe you want to stay on the mainland and see the sunny state of California; don’t worry, there are plenty of places to surf here!
  • Huntington Beach – You might know this beach by its nickname: “Surf City USA.” This is a very popular location because of its consistent surf and is also known because it hosts the Annual Vans US Open of Surfing every year.
  • Surfrider Beach – This popular location is best surfed during the summer months. What’s great about this beach is that it accommodates all surfing levels. If you’re a beginner, you can surf closer to the shore where the waves are gentler; the further out you go, the bigger the surf will get which is best for intermediate to advanced surfers.
  • San Onofre State Beach, San Clemente – If you’re looking for a beach to spend the day with your family and friends, this is the place to go! With multiple beach areas and parking lots to play games and tailgate, everyone can have fun. If you’re coming to San Onofre to surf, there are two areas you can head to. The first is the Lower Trestles, which is located on the south side. It's known for consistently having the best waves and, because of that, you may spot a pro–surfer hanging out there. Another beach at San Onofre is Old Man’s. This easily accessible location is a great surf spot with gentle waves which is perfect for beginners.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

  • Playa Zicatela – This famous surf spot has big, powerful, and bone–breaking tubular waves. If you’re a beginner, you definitely won’t want to practice out here. Only the advanced surfers should be playing here since this surf spot has been known to break surfboards into pieces, and in some cases, caused some deaths. However, because of these tubular waves, Playa Zicatela has been considered one of the most important surf destinations in Mexico and Central America. However, if you are heading to this area and still want to surf as a beginner or an intermediate surfer, head over to La Punta, Carrizalillo, and Playa Marinero for some tamer waves.

Biarritz, France

When you think of France, do you immediately think of Paris and the Eiffel tower? Did you that there are places in France recognized for their beaches and surf spots? Fun fact: Biarritz was the birthplace of surfing in Europe and the surf is so good, many well–known surfers visit just to surf there.
Biarritz, France is located in the southwest Aquitaine region where you will find some of the most iconic beaches: La Cote des Basques and Grand Plage.
  • La Cote de Basques – This beach is great for beginners, especially from April to October and June and July. If you’re a bit on the intermediate level, you can surf all year, but from May to March and September and November the crowds are quieter and the surf is bigger.

Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa

A town known for how welcoming they are to their guests from all around the world, people love the balance of the small–town feel yet a big city for bringing people together. Jeffrey’s Bay, also known as J–Bay, has multiple beaches that have great surfing conditions for all levels of experience, especially during the months of March through October.
  • Point and Kitchen Windows – These are two beaches that will be great for beginners. They offer smaller waves that are still powerful enough to give you a longer ride.
  • Subertubes – This beach is best for intermediate to expert levels, in which you will see 12–foot waves to surf.

Uluwato, Indonesia

This is a unique place to visit especially if you’re an experienced surfer. This popular location can get a bit crowded, so it tends to be more competitive.
  • Uluwatu – Uluwatu is right under a cliff, which makes for some amazing views and an interesting way to get out to the water. If you are surfing, you have to work your way down to the ocean by climbing down a set of stairs in the Uluwatu cliff, which is essentially a cave. Once you get to the bottom, if the tide is high, you will be welcomed by the ocean within the cave. To get out of the cave into the open cove of the beach, you have to get on your surfboard and paddle out of the cave. When the tide is low and you’ve reached the bottom of the staircase, you’ll be able to just walk out of the cave to the coved beach area where you can start surfing.
No matter if you are a surfer or not, if you want to learn, or are just fascinated by the sport, you can find some neat surf spots while traveling that are worth checking out!