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, April 5, 2021

Relax on a Short Cruise

A long cruise is delightful, but if you have limited time to sail, take a look at quick, three- or four-night cruises that venture from several different U.S. homeports to a variety of great destinations.

A short cruise can give you a relaxing break while using just a little of your precious time off from work. Because some sail over a weekend, if you have a flexible work schedule, you may not need to use up any vacation days at all.

Short cruises are affordable, but you won’t miss out on any onboard features or activities. You’ll have access to all the same dining, spa, workout and entertainment venues as if you were sailing for a week or more.

A short cruise is also a brilliant way to try a new cruise line without making a big investment. If you like the style and service, you can book a longer cruise for the future. Just keep in mind that most short cruises use midsized ships; if you book a longer cruise with the same line, but on a larger ship, you can expect to have more activities and amenities to choose from.

Here are a few ideas for short cruises:

Sail from New York City to the Royal Dockyard in Bermuda with Norwegian Cruise Line. On either side of your visit to the pink sand beaches or green golf courses of Bermuda, days at sea provide time to try the onboard restaurants swim in the pool and more.

You can take a three-night cruise to The Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Fla., on Disney Cruise Line. Your ship will call on the Bahamian capital of Nassau, as well as Disney’s wonderful private island, Castaway Cay.

If you have four nights available to cruise, Celebrity Cruises can take you to the Western Caribbean from Miami, Fla. Onboard, you can visit the spa, sample 40 types of craft beer at Craft Social, and more. Between days spent at sea, the ship visits the lovely, beachy island of Cozumel, Mexico.

If you’d rather sail from the West Coast, Princess Cruises offers two options for a four-night getaway from Los Angeles. Visits to beautiful Santa Barbara or San Diego, Calif.; Ensenada, Mexico; and a day at sea should bring you back feeling refreshed and ready to plan your next cruise.

For more information about these and other itineraries for short getaway cruises, contact Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Glamorous Cruise Ship Godparents

For centuries, the naming of a new ship has been an occasion for special rituals. Ancient civilizations poured water and wine, installed onboard shrines, and even performed blood sacrifices to ask their gods to protect new ships and those who sailed them.

Today, all that gets sacrificed upon the naming of a new cruise ship is a bottle of champagne, wine or even whiskey, which is ceremoniously smashed against the ship’s hull as cameras capture the moment. The honor of christening the ship goes to the ship’s godmother or godfather – most often, a celebrity or other well-known person who brings attention and excitement to the occasion.

Current cruise ship godparents are a diverse and accomplished group. They include singer and actress Jennifer Hudson (Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream), Olympic Figure Skating Champion Katarina Witt (Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas), movie star Sophia Loren (godmother to 14 ships over the years, including MSC Cruises’ Bellissima), rapper Pitbull (Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape), and female education activist and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge).

Some godparents are royalty. Appropriately, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is godmother to Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is godmother to Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is godmother to Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess.

Some ships have more than one godparent. The six main cast members of the 1970-80s TV series “The Love Boat” first served as godparents of Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess, and are currently godparents of the Regal Princess. The Rockettes, the precision dance troupe based at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, are godparents of the Norwegian Breakaway, while the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders fill the role for the Norwegian Getaway.

Godparents can even be animated characters. Tinkerbell became the first animated godmother with the launch of Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder in 1998. Princess Fiona of “Shrek” fame was named godmother of Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas in 2010.

But not all cruise ship godparents are widely known. When it was time to select a godparent for Freedom of the Seas, Royal Caribbean selected Katherine Louise Calder, a woman who served as a foster mother to 400 children over more than 27 years.

While godparents don’t usually sail on the ships they sponsor, they certainly add a touch of glamour, fun, kindness and even social conscience to cruising. To plan your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Enjoy the Benefits of a Hosted Cruise

There’s an easy way to be assured of a higher level of fun and camaraderie on your next cruise – make a reservation for a hosted cruise.

Hosted cruise programs include you in a small group of passengers who benefit from the guidance of a friendly, knowledgeable cruise host. The host will sail right along with you and make sure you have all the information and assistance you need for an elevated cruise experience.

There are a few reasons why cruise hosts are a great resource. First, they simply love cruising, and they know how to help others get the most enjoyment from a cruise. Your host will know the ship and can help you with anything from finding the spa, to tipping the crew, to arranging a one-of-a-kind shore excursion.

Your host will also be familiar with the cruise itinerary and all you can do and see onshore. Based on your interests, your host can provide recommendations for how to spend your time in each port.

Being part of a hosted group means you’ll have ready-made acquaintances on board who are also ready to enjoy a great cruise experience. If you’re cruising on your own, joining a hosted group means you won’t feel alone on ship or shore.

Most hosted cruise experiences include a private reception on the first day. It’s a fun way to meet your host and the rest of the group; some of the ship’s officers may be there, too. Over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, you’ll learn about the ports of call, the amenities of the ship, and other activities planned just for your group.

Some hosted cruise programs, such as the Distinctive Voyages program from Travel Leaders, offer exclusive amenities that aren’t available to other passengers – for example, an exclusive shore excursion designed to immerse you in the local culture. Just imagine heading out with your hosted group for wine-tasting in a South African vineyard; spotting bears and other wildlife around Alaska’s historic Taku Harbor; or snorkeling among the colorful fish and coral of Bora Bora’s blue lagoon. Your group might also receive special perks like onboard credits, a private ship’s tour, or flowers and chocolates in your stateroom.

Hosted cruises are available for a wide variety of ships and itineraries, including both ocean cruises and river cruises. For more information about hosted cruises and how you can enjoy one, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Animals on Cruises

Most cruise lines have straightforward policies on cruising with pets – in most cases, it’s not allowed. That may be unhappy news for pet lovers who want to cruise, but there are good reasons why most cruise lines and ships don’t allow pets on board.

While many ships have spacious outdoor areas, they aren’t designed for the safety of pets who like to run around and explore. Some passengers may be allergic to dogs, cats or other types of pets. Plus, pets wouldn’t be allowed to disembark in most international ports of call.

Still, if you’re determined to cruise with a beloved pet, there is an option. Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 runs a kennel program on its transatlantic cruises (between Southampton and New York). While pets are not allowed to be in their owners’ staterooms, there are lovely kennels for them in a designated area of the ship. Owners are welcome to visit and play with their pets. A dedicated kennel staff takes care of feeding, exercising and cleaning up after the pets.

If you’d like to take your pet on the Queen Mary 2, be sure to make your reservations well in advance, as the kennels fill quickly. There are only 24 kennels, and sometimes one pet needs two kennels.

The general ban on sailing with pets does not include service animals, who are welcome on most cruise ships. Note that emotional support animals, while very helpful to their owners, are not considered to be service animals. In general, cruise lines define “service animals” as those that are specifically trained to do work or perform tasks to help a person who has a disability.

Requirements for service animals at sea – such as documentation that shows the animal is a service animal and has all of the necessary vaccinations – vary among cruise lines. Your professional travel advisor can provide more information about any cruise line and itinerary that you and your service animal are interested in.

When planning to cruise with a service animal, be sure to let the cruise line know as early as possible. That will provide time to arrange details, including the most convenient seating for you and your service animal in dining areas and other public spaces, space to store the animal’s food, and more. Also, keep in mind that service animals may not be able to disembark at some ports of call.

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Monday, March 8, 2021

New Health and Safety Measures for Cruising

New health and safety measures designed to guard against the spread of viruses and other germs have become part of daily life. The cruise industry is part of this movement as well.

Some new cruise health and safety measures – such as electrostatic spraying to disinfect staterooms between cruises, washing linens at higher temperatures and the installation of new, hospital-quality air filtration systems – are “behind the scenes” changes.

But others – such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance in the common areas of the ship – will be very visible. And while some may disappear over time, we expect some are here to stay. These include:

On-line and touchless check-in. Most cruise lines now conduct at least some check-in procedures online, which helps reduce the time passengers need to spend standing in line and filling out forms at embarkation. We expect this trend to continue as more cruise lines use downloadable smartphone apps to gather the pre-cruise information they need from you.

Staggered check-in times. Like online check-in, the practice of giving passengers specific check-in times for embarkation began before the COVID-19 pandemic and we expect it to become even more common. The idea is to maintain a steady flow of passengers coming on board, rather than having to manage a big crowd.

Updated muster drills. It’s essential for all passengers to be aware of what to do and where to go if there’s an emergency on board; that’s the reason for the required muster drill. Now, cruise lines are finding new ways to conduct these drills in order to avoid having bunches of passengers gather at muster stations. In some of these updated drills, on embarkation day, passengers review muster information using the cruise line app or the TV in their stateroom. Then, they go find their muster station by a certain time and have a crew member verify their completion of the drill.

Temperature checks. Expect touchless checks of body temperature at embarkation and when reboarding the ship after a shore excursion. Some cruise lines may check temperatures whenever you enter a dining venue or other common space on the ship.

Buffets with table service. The time-honored Lido Deck buffet will still be a common feature on cruise ships, but self-service will not. Instead, you’ll tell a server what you want, and your plate will be delivered to your table.

Now that you know more about what to expect, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, to make arrangements for your next cruise.

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Monday, March 1, 2021

See the World on a World Cruise

If you’ve ever thought about taking a world cruise, now may be the time to make your plans. Many cruise lines have already announced their world cruise itineraries for 2022, and they’re fabulous.

If you’re not familiar with world cruises, the name says it all. These are extended cruises – usually 100 days or more – that visit dozens of ports around the world. They generally set sail in January and return in April. Some literally sail around the world, making a full circumnavigation of the globe; some begin and end in different ports, but visit multiple continents along the way; and some concentrate on a specific region. Whatever the details of a world cruise itinerary, you can count on it being an exotic, memorable experience.

World cruises that have been announced for 2022 include the following:

Crystal Cruises’ Serenity will embark on the “Myths, Marvels & Monuments” world cruise from Miami on Jan. 17, 2022. Highlights include ports along the Mexican Riviera, in New Zealand and Australia, and around the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Passengers also have the option to join this full-circumnavigation cruise in Los Angeles on Feb. 2.

Regent Seven Seas’ Mariner will depart Jan. 5, 2022, from San Diego for a 120-night roundtrip exploration of the Pacific Rim. January will be spent in Hawaii and the South Pacific; February in New Zealand and Australia; March in Indonesia and Southeast Asia; and April in China, Japan and Alaska. This world cruise includes a variety of optional overland excursions to some of the inland wonders of New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand and China.

Cunard Line offers two world cruises for 2022. The Queen Mary 2 will sail from Southampton, England, on Jan. 9 for a 104-day voyage, visiting ports in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Australia before returning to Southampton. There’s also an option for booking half of this cruise – the 55-day segment from Southampton to Sydney, Australia. The Queen Victoria will sail a slightly longer, 108-day itinerary from Southampton, departing Jan. 10 to call on ports in the United States, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, China, the Philippines and Africa.

A world cruise is a fantastic adventure; it’s also a major investment and commitment of your time, so it requires careful planning. For all the details, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about these and other options for a 2022 or 2023 world cruise.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Staying Overnight in Port

If you’ve ever felt the urge to sample the nightlife in a port of call but had to be back on your cruise ship in time for a 4 p.m. departure, take a look at some itineraries that include overnight stays in a port or two.

An overnight stay gives you a chance to become more familiar with local culture – after all, the evening can be the best time to sample the dining and arts scenes in many ports of call. Just imagine a sunset gondola ride on a Venetian canal, or taking in a dinner-and-tango show in Buenos Aires.

Here are a few more ideas:

Many of Azamara Cruises’ itineraries feature late-night departures or overnight stays. For example, an eight-night cruise of the Iberian Peninsula includes overnight stays in Seville and Valencia, Spain. In Seville, you might explore the Real Alcazar and Sevilla Cathedral by day, then spend the evening sampling tapas – the small, delicious bites served along with drinks in many local bars (Sevilla is where tapas were invented, after all). On the same cruise, an overnight stay in Valencia provides time to tour the city’s historic architecture and the City of Arts and Sciences cultural complex; and then, to indulge in some perfect paella for dinner, with pumpkin-flavored bunyol pastries for dessert.

The more than 40 ports around the world where Celebrity Cruises docks overnight include Bangkok, Thailand, a bustling city that’s famous for vibrant nightlife. You can spend the day exploring cultural attractions like the opulent Grand Palace and the Wat Pho temple complex, which houses a famous reclining Buddha. In the evening, sample fresh, spicy Thai delicacies and admire the lights of the city on a river cruise that includes a stop at a floating night market.

To help you experience more of the wonders of the South Pacific, every Windstar Cruises itinerary that departs from Tahiti includes an overnight stay on the island of Bora Bora. After a day of exploring the mountainous island and the clear waters that surround it, you can choose to spend the night on the ship or in a luxurious, over-the-water bungalow. The 7-day and 11-day Windstar itineraries that depart from Tahiti include a second overnight stay on the island of Raiatea, known for its pearl farms.

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about cruise itineraries that include an overnight stay in a port where you’d like to spend a little extra time.

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Monday, February 15, 2021

Ocean or River: Which Type of Cruise Suits You?

Ocean cruises and river cruises both involve beautiful ships sailing on water, and both provide an exceptional vacation experience, but those experiences are incredibly different. Many travelers enjoy both types of cruises, but there are some reasons you might choose one over the other. Here’s a quick comparison.

Ships. Ocean cruise ships generally accommodate at least 1,000 passengers and sometimes as many as 6,000, plus crew. Multiple decks provide space for sunbathing, pools and hot tubs, sport courts, spas and fitness centers, Broadway-style theaters, lounges, and much more. River cruise ships are much smaller – most take on fewer than 200 passengers. They’re built slim and low to fit into small locks, glide under historic bridges and dock in relatively shallow water. Even with the smaller space, many river ships include amenities like a cocktail lounge, library, salon, gym, and perhaps even a small pool.

Itineraries. River ships don’t have room for as many onboard entertainment options as their ocean-going cousins, but they usually call on a new port every day; the focus is on exploring and enjoying the attractions on shore. Many ocean cruise itineraries include one or more days at sea, which provides time for exploring and enjoying the attractions on the ship.

Staterooms. Most ocean ships offer a variety of stateroom types, sizes, and amenities. These range from cozy interior staterooms to expansive, multi-bedroom suites; and from simple yet comfortable furnishings to the height of extravagance. River ships don’t offer much variety in their staterooms, but you can expect them to be luxurious and to have large windows (or even a small balcony) to help you appreciate the ever-changing views.

Dining. The numerous dining venues on ocean-going ships often include the classic main dining room, an all-day buffet, specialty restaurants, pizza stands and even pubs where you can grab a casual bite. River ships usually have just one dining area, but you can expect high-end cuisine that often features fresh ingredients brought on the ship that day.

Passengers. While most ocean and river cruises welcome passengers of all ages, multi-generational groups tend to choose ocean cruises, which have enough dining and entertainment options to please everyone. River cruises tend to attract adults who enjoy the more intimate atmosphere of a smaller ship and the focus on the ports of call.

Still not sure which type of cruise you like best? Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, for more information, or to help you make plans to try each type of cruise for yourself.

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Cruising is for Teens

Cruises make wonderful family vacations; today’s family-friendly cruise lines offer large, spectacularly equipped ships with spaces and activities to please family members of all ages. Cruise vacations can be especially great for an age group that is sometimes hard to please: teenagers. Here are a few reasons why teens love cruising.

It’s comfortable. Cruising means no one has to climb into the family car, fight for space in the back seat, then endure driving for hours to get from place to place. Instead, there’s space to relax and have fun while sailing from one interesting port to the next.

It’s delicious. Growing teens can burn a lot of energy – and that means they need to eat, often. Most of all of a ship’s dining options will be included in your fare, so your teens can eat as much as they need, as often as they like. In addition to the main dining room and specialty restaurants, most larger ships have burger and pizza places open for extended hours. In addition, many ships offer 24-hour room service to ease late-night hunger pangs.

It’s hard to get bored. Choose a ship that has features and activities you know your teens will enjoy. Today’s ships offer some truly incredible attractions, from thrilling waterslides and surf simulators to zip lines and ropes courses – in addition to the usual pools, hot tubs, fitness centers and games areas. If your teen likes a little pampering, you can book an appointment for a facial or manicure in the ship’s spa as a special treat.

It’s easy to meet other teens. Many ships offer special programming to bring teens together, supervised by counselors who are experienced with this age group. Onboard programs for teens often center on a lounge or games area devoted to this age group. Some cruise lines offer special shore excursions, dinners, game tournaments, pool parties, dances, and other evening entertainment just for teens, too.

It’s fun to be part of the planning process. One way to prepare your teens for a great cruise is to get them involved in the planning. Together, learn about and talk over various destinations, ships and itineraries. Discuss the options for staterooms and suites to decide which are the best fit your family and budget. Understanding all that goes into planning a vacation can be a good life lesson for teens and help ensure they enjoy the cruise they helped to choose.

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Monday, February 1, 2021

Get Cooking on a Cruise Ship

All by itself, food is a reason to cruise. You can count on delicious food emerging from the ship’s galley on a regular basis, with no effort (or clean up) on your part.

But on some ships, passengers who love to cook can do so, learning new techniques and mastering new flavor profiles in the process. Here’s a look at some cruise lines and ships that let passengers watch master chefs at work and get some hands-on instruction, too.

Holland America Line’s state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Centers are purpose-built for cooking classes and demonstrations. Some of these are delivered by the ship’s own chefs, and some by guest chefs who specialize in regional cuisine. Just think of learning to make lobster three ways (butter poached, sauced with beurre blanc, and grilled) during a cruise of the New England coast; or creating the perfect mango cheesecake while cruising the Caribbean.

Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and Marina offer hands-on cooking schools in their Culinary Centers. You don’t need to be all that experienced – classes provide lots of individual attention and guidance from master chefs, so even novices can be successful. In some ports, you can accompany your instructor in a search for fresh ingredients on shore. Class offerings include some that teach the techniques of award-winning chef Jacques Pepin, Oceania’s executive culinary director.

Princess Cruises takes passengers into the ship’s galley for a Chef’s Table event. This isn’t a “quiet hours” galley tour – participants enter the kitchen during the bustle of dinner prep, watching, learning and helping the staff prepare that evening’s dinner. Then, it’s on to a special table to enjoy the meal, which often showcases the region’s best ingredients. During the dessert course, the head chef sits down to discuss the meal, answer questions, and share a few culinary secrets.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises helps passengers expand their cooking skills in the Culinary Arts Kitchen aboard the Seven Seas Splendor and Seven Seas Explorer. The kitchens feature fully-equipped workstations with induction cooktops. Everyone from beginners to skilled cooks receive individualized, hands-on instruction from chefs trained in classic French techniques. Classes vary from one cruise to another and may celebrate the cuisines of Greece, Morocco, Patagonia, Tuscany or other flavorful destinations.

Several other cruise lines offer hands-on experiences with regional cooking techniques and ingredients via shore excursions. To explore the options and pick a ship and itinerary that will feed your culinary interests, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.


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Monday, January 25, 2021

Explore a Global Home Port

When thinking about the next cruise you want to take, consider embarking from a home port outside of North America. There are dozens of fabulous cities where you can catch a cruise ship and enjoy a memorable pre-cruise or post-cruise stay. To get your imagination fired up, here’s a quick sample of home ports around the globe – and where you could sail from each one.

London, England. Actually, only small ships can sail up the Thames to the city of London; ocean-going ships usually depart from Southampton. That’s just two hours away from London, so you can spend some pre-or post-cruise time soaking up history in the city’s museums, parks, galleries, and palaces. Many cruise itineraries are available from Southampton; for example, an 11-day London to Rome cruise may include port calls in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy. Or choose a ship that sails north to the Norwegian fjords or the capital cities around the Baltic Sea.

Hong Kong. Spread over several small islands, Hong Kong’s immense skyscrapers are surrounded by stunning natural beauty. There are markets and monasteries to visit, mountain peaks to hike, museums to tour, incredible street food to sample – even the world’s longest escalator to ride. A boat tour of Victoria Harbour is one of the best ways to enjoy views of the skyline, by day or night. Among the many cruise options is a four-day itinerary that will take you to Vietnam’s beautiful Halong Bay and back.

Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a city of amazing architecture, from the remains of a Roman temple in the Gothic Quarter to the otherworldly works of Antoni Gaudi. There are fabulous restaurants and cafes, designer boutiques, beautiful parks, and museums devoted to the works of Picasso and Miro. Before or after exploring the city, enjoy a Mediterranean cruise: a five-day itinerary can take you to Nice, Monaco, Naples, and the island of Corsica.

Cape Town, South Africa. Nestled on Africa’s southwestern coast, Cape Town offers the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, lined with shops, restaurants, and attractions. Take a hike up Lion’s Head or Signal Hill or ride the cable car to the top of Table Mountain to enjoy stunning views. Ships embark from Cape Town on a variety of African itineraries – popular ports of call include South Africa’s Durban and Namibia’s Walvis Bay.

There are so many more global home ports (and great cruises) to choose from; for guidance, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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