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 28, 2022

Cruise Line Loyalty Programs

Cruise lines love repeat customers and reward them through loyalty programs. Similar to airline frequent flier programs, cruise line loyalty programs offer special discounts and amenities, from the nice (such as a small “welcome aboard” gift) to the spectacular (such as a free cruise). 


The best cruise line loyalty program for you is probably the one offered by your favorite cruise line; it’s usually better to sail often on a line you love than to choose a line based on its loyalty program. Still, it may be helpful to take a quick look at how these programs work and some of the top-tier benefits. 


In most cruise line loyalty programs, you earn points based on how often and how long you cruise, as well as your cabin category. Most programs have four to six “tiers” to move through as you accumulate points. There are attractive rewards even at the lowest tiers, such as gift shop discounts and “members only” events. Rewards in the middle tiers may include lovely extras like complimentary internet time, priority booking for shore excursions, or discounts for onboard specialty restaurants. 


It can take time to earn enough points to qualify for the top tiers, but the rewards – such as priority boarding, cabin upgrades, and deep discounts on future cruises – can be very worthwhile.


Here are some specific examples: 

·         The top tiers of Holland America Line’s Mariner Society offer a nice benefit for families or groups of friends: on select sailings, the third and fourth guests in your cabin are free.  

·         Guests at the highest levels of MSC Cruises’ Voyager’s Club have priority status on port calls that require the use of a tender to reach the shore, which can give you hours more to explore. This program also “status matches” your tier in many other cruise line, hotel, and tour operator loyalty programs.  

·         The top level of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society provides a sweet reward – a free, seven-night Caribbean cruise in a balcony cabin, plus the opportunity to earn additional free cruises. 

·         If you sail to the top level of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitude Rewards program, you’ll enjoy a free, seven-night cruise – in a balcony cabin – to any of the cruise line’s destinations. 


Loyalty program enrollment is usually free, so you have nothing to lose by joining your favorite cruise line’s program. In fact, some lines automatically enroll you as soon as you book a cruise. For more information, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, March 21, 2022

Celebrating Women Who Command Cruise Ships

March is Women’s History Month in the United States, so it’s a good time to celebrate women who have made history by commanding cruise ships. It’s been 15 years since the first time a woman took command of a cruise ship; a welcome change from more superstitious times, when simply having women on board was thought to bring bad luck.

To give you an idea of what the job of being a cruise ship captain is like, the captain – sometimes referred to as the “ship master” or “master captain” – is responsible for the operation and safety of the entire ship and everyone on board. All of the ship’s department heads – the hotel manager, executive chef, cruise director, purser, guest relations manager, chief engineer, etc. – report to the captain, who is on-call 24 hours a day during each voyage.

A captain must have a wide range of skills and knowledge, with the ability to do everything from navigating the seas to socializing with passengers. They bring years of experience to the job; most have four-year degrees from a maritime academy, then spend a decade or two working in a variety of onboard jobs before becoming a captain.

These are some of the women who are making history as cruise ship captains:

  •       Karin Stahre-Janson of Sweden took command of Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas in 2007, making her the first woman captain of a large cruise ship.
  •       Inger Klein Thorhauge of the Faroe Islands became Cunard Line’s first woman captain in 2010.
  •          Margrith Ettlin of Switzerland became Silversea Cruises’ first woman captain in 2013.
  •          Kate McCue, the first U.S. woman to captain a cruise ship, took command of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit in 2015.
  •          Belinda Bennett of Saint Helena became the first Black woman to command a cruise ship, Windstar Cruises’ MSY Wind Star, in 2016.
  •          Serena Melani of Italy took command of Regent Seven Seas’ Splendor in 2020, making her the first woman to command a brand-new cruise ship.

In addition to these pioneers, there are women who hold top administrative leadership positions in the cruise industry, including Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, and Jan Swartz, group president of Holland America Group. And, these leaders are working to attract more women to cruise careers. For example, in 2020, Lutoff-Perlo assigned Captain Kate McCue and an international, all-female bridge and officer team to sail the Celebrity Edge on International Women’s Day – a fitting salute to women in command.

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Photo Packages Preserve Cruise Memories

Equipped with the latest smartphone cameras or standalone digital cameras, lots of passengers love to take photos throughout their cruises. And in addition to your own photos, you can purchase photos taken by the photographers who are part of the crew on many cruise ships. 


Photos taken by a ship’s roaming photographers are very high quality. Not only do these skilled professionals understand light, color, composition, and the other elements of photography, they also understand the types of photos that delight cruise passengers and help preserve wonderful cruise memories. 


Even if you know how to take excellent photos, when part of your mind is on capturing “must have” photos, you could miss out on some of the fun and relaxation of your cruise. It can be helpful to let a ship’s photographer capture some of the joyous moments.  


You can preview the images captured by your ship’s photographer and select the ones you like best. Each cruise line manages this process a little differently. Some print photos daily and hang them in a walk-through gallery; some have electronic kiosks where you can browse through digital images; and some let you preview photos on your own phone, laptop, or other devices. 


If you’d like to go beyond candid shots and have some posed photos taken, you can make an appointment with a ship’s photographer for a more formal photo session. This is a wonderful way to capture individual, family, or group portraits, especially if you’re celebrating a wedding, graduation, birthday, reunion, or other special events. 


While you can individually purchase as many photos as you like while on board, consider buying a photo package that will let you select multiple photos at a significant discount from per-photo prices. Photo packages are especially budget-friendly when purchased in advance of a cruise. Some packages even include fun accessories, like physical or digital photo frames and photo albums. Ask your professional travel advisor to help you compare the cost of purchasing individual photos with a photo package on your next cruise.  


However, many photos you decide to purchase, you can usually receive them digitally, as 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 prints, or in both digital and printed formats.  


And finally, if you’re interested in photography, ship’s photographers may offer classes you can attend while the ship is at sea. It’s a great opportunity to learn from these professionals and leave the ship a better photographer than when you stepped on board. 


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Monday, March 7, 2022

Hooray for Kids Clubs

 If you plan to cruise with some energetic kids and worry they won’t have enough to do while the ship is at sea, choose a ship with a kids club. Not all cruise lines have special clubs for kids, but those that do offer terrific activities that go beyond simply keeping kids busy; special play and learning experiences can create wonderful cruise memories. 

 Disney Cruise Line draws on Disney’s cast of beloved characters to add fun and a little glamour to its kids' club. In addition to classic characters like Mickey Mouse, kids can meet favorites from the Marvel Universe, Toy Story, Frozen, and Star Wars. The Oceaneer Club has games, scavenger hunts, and dress-up activities for younger kids. In the Oceaneer Lab, older kids enjoy cooking classes, science experiments, and lessons in drawing and animation. There are separate areas dedicated to tweens and teens, too. 


Norwegian Cruise Line’s Splash Academy provides age-appropriate activities for kids 6 months to 12 years. There are soft play spaces where parents can get down on the floor with their age-3-and-under darlings. Preschoolers love arts and crafts and storytime, while school-age kids can enjoy video games, sports, and scavenger hunts – and even learn circus skills, like plate-spinning. Norwegian ships also have a special place for teens, called Entourage, with a dance floor, foosball tables, gaming stations, and DJ simulator. 


Princess Cruises adds some education to the mix of activities at Camp Discovery with hands-on science experiments, based on the MythBusters TV show. At The Treehouse, kids ages 3 to 7 make crafts, listen to stories and climb to hang out in a padded treehouse. At The Lodge, kids ages 8 to 12 play in a Northwoods-style cabin that’s equipped with foosball and gaming stations. Like other cruise lines, Princess knows teens need their own space, and they’ll find gaming stations, air hockey tables, and a dance floor in the Beach House. 


The use of onboard kids clubs is usually included in your cruise fare. The clubs are always supervised by qualified youth staffYounger children may need to be signed in and out by their parents or guardians, but older kids and teens can usually come and go as they please. Many of the clubs have some evening activities, too, like group dinners, parties, and movie screenings. Some kids clubs even offer special kids-only shore excursions. 


Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, for more information about cruise lines with great kids clubs. 


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