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, 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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