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, May 30, 2022

The New Way to Muster

The muster drill may not be anyone’s favorite activity on a cruise ship, but it is one of the most important. It’s a safety drill that makes sure you and your fellow passengers know where to gather (“muster” means to collect or assemble) and what to do in the rare instance of an emergency. Some people call muster drills “lifeboat drills,” because passengers traditionally gather close to the lifeboats they’re assigned to if the ship must be evacuated; again, that’s a very rare occurrence.

The most important things to know about muster drills is that they take place before or just after embarkation, and you must participate. Muster drills are required, and the consequences for skipping them can be serious. If you don’t complete the drill, expect the crew to search for you; when they find you, they may invite you to attend a “catch-up” drill or to leave the ship.

In traditional muster drills, after a ship-wide announcement, everyone goes to their muster stations at the same time (the location of your station is usually printed on your passenger card and posted in your cabin). Some cruise lines ask you to bring a life jacket from your cabin, while others store life jackets at the muster stations. At your station, your passenger card will be scanned, or your attendance recorded in some other way as the crew provides important safety information.

But now, muster drills are changing. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, some cruise lines were rethinking their drills and moving toward a more digital experience. Now, several cruise lines conduct digital muster drills, sometimes using passenger smartphone apps.

The specifics vary by cruise line, but in a digital muster drill, passengers can review safety information by watching a video on their smartphones or cabin TVs. Some lines even allow passengers to watch the safety video before they board the ship. Then, once onboard, each passenger must physically check-in at their assigned muster station. This removes the need for everyone to gather at their muster stations at the same time, which helps with COVID-19 safeguards and is simply more convenient.

It’s still important to complete a digital muster drill, and to do so as soon as possible, perhaps even before you go to your cabin for the first time.

For more information on the muster drill procedure for your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, May 23, 2022

Cruise Ship Packages for Specialty Dining

Cruise lines have long offered beverage packages to make it easy for passengers to pre-purchase the drinks they plan to enjoy while onboard the ship. Now, some cruise lines are offering specialty dining packages, too.

Some cruise ships, especially newer and larger ships, have a dozen or more specialty restaurants, which often charge extra fees for their high-end dining. These extra fees can be quite affordable individually, but if you want to dine at a different specialty restaurant every evening of your cruise, the individual fees can add up. As with beverage packages, specialty dining packages – especially when purchased in advance of your cruise – can be a help to staying within your cruise budget.

Let’s take a look at a few cruise line dining packages:

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a specialty dining package that lets you select the number of specialty meals you want to enjoy during your cruise, with savings of about $10 per meal. The exact specialty restaurants available vary by ship, but those covered by the specialty dining package include American Diner; Cagney’s Steakhouse; Food Republic, which specializes in the fusion of global cuisines; Le Bistro, which offers sophisticated French fare; Los Lobos; Moderno Churrascaria; celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s Ocean Blue; Pincho Tapas Bar; Q Texas Smokehouse; and Sushi and Teppanyaki.

MSC Cruises has a variety of dining package options that, when purchased in advance of your cruise, can save you up to 35% on specialty restaurant fees. You can choose from packages that cover the extra fees at one, two, or three different specialty restaurants. Depending on your ship, these restaurants may include L’Atelier Bistrot; Kaito, which features sushi, sashimi, and tempura; Butcher’s Cut, which serves mouthwatering steaks; Hola Tapas Bar; Ocean Cay Seafood; and Asian Market Kitchen.

Royal Caribbean’s specialty dining packages can save you up to 40% on specialty restaurant fees. You can choose a package that sets you up to dine in three different restaurants; or, one that gives you unlimited opportunities for specialty dining, as well as discounts on bottles of wine. Again, the selection of restaurants depends on your ship, but may include Samba Grill, a Brazilian-style steakhouse; Izumi, where sushi is the star; Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen; Portside BBQ; Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine; Sabor; Chops Grill; and Jamie’s Italian from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you choose a cruise line and specialty dining package that can save you money and get your taste buds dancing.

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Discovering Nassau

If you live in North America, one of the world’s most popular, warm-weather cruise destinations is always close by: The Bahamas. This nation of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets, is sprinkled over more than 500 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the islands are less than 100 miles off the Florida coast, just north of the Caribbean.

During the winter, Bahamian weather is clear and balmy, with daytime temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. Summers are a bit warmer and wetter, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty of the islands and their palm-fringed beaches.

Most cruises to The Bahamas call on Nassau, the capital and home to about 70% of the population. It’s one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, with plenty to see and do.

History buffs will find historic sites in walking distance of the cruise ship dock, Prince George Wharf. These include buildings that date from the 17th and 18th centuries when Nassau was home to pirates and those who wanted to capture them. In Parliament Square, the Bahamian Assembly, Senate, and Supreme Court meet in pink, colonial-era buildings. Climb the Queen’s Staircase to Fort Fincastle, which offers beautiful views. Or take an excursion to the historic villages of Adelaide, Fox Hill, and Gambier, settled by Africans who gained freedom from slavery in the 1800s.

If you want to enjoy the water, take an excursion in a glass-bottom boat or ride a jet ski; go snorkeling, scuba diving or fishing; or simply enjoy a nap on a beach. Beaches popular with cruise ship visitors include Junkanoo Beach, a leisurely walk from the dock; Cable Beach, prized for soft sand and clear water; and Montagu Beach, which has another historic fort. You can also take a water taxi to Paradise Island, a beachy district where some hotels and resorts offer day packages for cruise ship passengers.

If souvenir shopping calls you, head to the Bay Street retail district, steps away from Prince George Wharf. The Straw Market offers locally made crafts and gifts, while nearby shops are filled with luxury designer goods. When you’re ready for lunch, you can find it anywhere from an outdoor market stall to a gourmet restaurant. Local delicacies include fresh conch fritters and peas n’ rice, made with brown pigeon peas.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you select a cruise to The Bahamas that includes a day in colorful Nassau.

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Monday, May 9, 2022

The World’s Largest Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line just introduced the newest and largest cruise ship in the world, the Wonder of the Seas. This mega-ship is earning positive reviews for the terrific variety of things to do, see, eat, and otherwise enjoy onboard.

What makes the Wonder of the Seas the world’s largest cruise ship? It can carry the most passengers: 6,988 at maximum capacity. But cruise ship size is often expressed in terms of gross tonnage, which is a measure of overall interior volume. At more than 236,800 gross tons, the Wonder of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship by that standard, too.

All that volume provides space for thousands of passenger cabins and suites, as well as 2,300 crew members; more than 30 restaurants, bars, and lounges; entertainment that includes a karaoke venue, a zip line, a solarium, a surf simulator, rock climbing walls, clubs for kids and teens and an ice-skating spectacular; multiple pools and whirlpools; and much more.

Operating the world’s largest cruise ship is nothing new to Royal Caribbean, which sails the five biggest cruise ships at sea: Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas. All of them are loaded with great features, and each can host more than 6,600 passengers.

If you like cruising on a big ship, consider the largest ships from some other cruise lines, too:

 MSC Cruises: MSC Grandiosa, up to 6,761 passengers; and MSC Virtuosa, up to 6,334 passengers

Costa Cruises: Costa Smeralda and Costa Toscana, up to 6,554 passengers each

 Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Epic, up to 5,183 passengers

 Princess Cruises: Sky Princess, up to 4,610 passengers

There’s a lot to like about mega-ships; they have so many activities, entertainment options, and dining venues that you really can’t get bored. However, they only visit ports that have facilities that can accommodate large ships and lots of visitors.

If the places you sail to are of more interest to you than the ship itself, consider a smaller ship – ask your professional travel advisor for suggestions. Smaller ships may not have quite as many onboard attractions, but they often provide a wider selection of itineraries.

And, whatever the size of your next cruise ship, don’t make the mistake of calling it a boat. Just remember that “a ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship.”

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Monday, May 2, 2022

Culinary Excellence at Sea

If you happen to love both fine food and cruising, you’ll be glad to know that some chefs with Michelin-starred restaurants also oversee culinary programs and specialty restaurants on cruise ships.

The highly coveted stars that the Michelin Guide awards to restaurants indicate where you can find the finest food on land. Restaurants can earn one, two or three stars; the standards are so high that there are currently just 132 restaurants in the world with three Michelin stars. As the guide explains, three stars mean a restaurant serves “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.”

Here are some of the Michelin-starred chefs who influence exceptional cuisine at sea:

Chef Daniel Boulud, the global culinary ambassador for Celebrity Cruises, has restaurants around the world. One of them – New York City’s Daniel – has two Michelin stars. You’ll soon be able to taste Boulud’s global flavors at LeVoyage on the new Celebrity Beyond, scheduled to launch this April. Guests of The Retreat, Celebrity’s ship-within-a-ship concept, can already enjoy Boulud’s dishes at Luminae at The Retreat.

Thomas Keller is the only U.S.-born chef with two different restaurants (The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., and Per Se in New York City) that have three Michelin stars. He partners with Seabourn Cruises on three restaurants, including The Colonnade, which serves great American comfort food – like barbequed ribs and clam bakes – family-style. The Patio features Keller’s Napa Burger and Yountwurst, while The Grill by Thomas Keller serves updated versions of classic steak and lobster dishes.

Chef Arnaud Lallement’s l’Assiette Champenoise is a Michelin three-star restaurant near Reims, France. He also advises on the menu at Remy, an adults-only restaurant aboard Disney Cruises’ Dream and Fantasy. Named for the main character in the film “Ratatouille,” Remy’s special dining experiences include a Champagne brunch, a five-course dessert service and six courses of small plates with wine pairings.

Marco Pierre White, the first British chef to earn three Michelin stars, partners with P&O Cruises. The restaurants he oversees restaurants for the line include the Ocean Grill aboard the Arcadia, which serves steaks and seafood in the tradition of London’s finest grill restaurants. White also creates menus for P&O’s black-tie Gala Evenings. And when he sails on a P&O ship, he presents very popular master classes in cooking, as well as hosted dinners.

To reserve your place on a cruise ship that features dishes from a Michelin-starred chef, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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