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 20, 2023

When Ships Go to Dry Dock

To keep cruise ships in top condition, they go into “dry dock” now and then. Going to dry dock means the ship will be out of service for a while, and there are a few things to know if you’re planning to cruise on a ship just before or just after it visits dry dock.

First, we’ll explain a little about dry docks, which are located in shipyards around the world. A dry dock starts out filled with water so that a ship can float in. Then, the water drains away, which allows the maintenance crew to clean, inspect and make repairs and adjustments to the hull and propulsion systems.

Cruise lines often use dry dock time to do tasks like reupholster furniture, repaint walls, or replace floors. Sometimes a dry-docked ship goes through major renovations, emerging with some exciting new features. A few ships even grow while in dry dock; “stretching” inserts a new section in the middle of a ship, adding to its passenger capacity.

While unexpected damage may require a ship to head to dry dock on short notice, most visits are scheduled well in advance. If you notice a break of a few weeks or months in a ship’s schedule, it may be for the purpose of going to dry dock; your professional travel advisor can check with the cruise line to find out for sure.

Some cruise travelers prefer to avoid cruising on a ship just before or just after a scheduled visit to the dry dock. A pre-dry dock cruise really shouldn’t be affected by the upcoming pause in service, but it’s possible that some sections of the ship will be closed off so they can be prepared for maintenance or remodeling.

As with a pre-dry dock cruise, the first cruise after the dry dock really shouldn’t be different than any other. But if the work done in the dry dock isn’t quite finished when the ship floats out again, passengers might hear some work-related noise, and some venues may be closed until the work is finished. If the time in dry dock included a major remodel, the crew may still be learning some new layouts and routines. On the positive side, cruising just after the dry dock can mean you’ll enjoy a freshly updated ship.

To help you decide how comfortable you are with cruising on a ship just before or after dry dock, talk it over with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 13, 2023

How Sweet is a Cruise Ship Suite?

When you’re planning a cruise vacation, there are lots of reasons to consider reserving an onboard suite. The most obvious is that suites are simply bigger than regular cruise ship staterooms. Whether you’re traveling on your own or sharing a suite with others, some extra square footage can make a wonderful difference. The largest suites at sea even have living rooms, dining rooms, and multiple bedrooms, plus balcony space.

Of course, extra space on a cruise ship comes at a price, and suites always cost more than regular staterooms. But if you consider the extras that come with a suite, you may find that a suite is a sweet deal. Here are some of the included extras often enjoyed by suite passengers.

Priority check-in. On embarkation day, suite passengers move through the check-in process faster. There’s usually a special (and shorter) check-in line for suite passengers or even a private lounge area where you can have a quick snack as you wait your turn. You’ll be among the first passengers to board the ship, which is fun; you can usually enjoy the pool and buffet right away. You may have priority off-boarding and re-boarding in ports of call, too.

In-suite extras. Suites often come with an array of attractive features like luxury linens, upgraded mattresses and pillows, fresh flowers, high-end toiletries, plush bathrobes, and complimentary minibars. Some even come with a butler who can unpack for you and serve meals on your balcony; or a concierge who can make reservations for onboard specialty restaurants and arrange special shore excursions.

Suite-class extras. On many ships, suite passengers have access to special onboard areas like luxury lounges and spas, private pools, sundecks, or exclusive restaurants. Suite fares may also include extras for which other passengers have to pay separately, such as beverage packages, Wi-Fi access, laundry and dry cleaning, fitness classes, in-suite movies, and specialty restaurant cover charges. Top-level suites may even come with complimentary spa treatments, shore excursions, and gratuities for the crew.

Of course, the perks of being a suite passenger vary by cruise line and ship. To find out exactly what you can expect as a suite passenger on the ship of your choice, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. Then, add up what all the extras would cost if you paid for them separately, and you may find that a cruise ship suite fits your cruise budget. How sweet it is!

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Monday, March 6, 2023

Cruising the Rivers of South America

If you’re thinking about a river cruise, take a look at South America. This beautiful continent is laced with impressive rivers, flowing through amazing ecosystems that teem with exotic plant and animal life.

Any discussion of river cruising in South America starts with the Amazon, an enormous and intricate waterway. One of the world’s largest river systems, it’s cloaked in dense rainforest and rich in biodiversity. More than a third of the world’s known species live there. Thousands of different types of fish, birds, reptiles, and butterflies thrive in the Amazon Basin, along with unusual mammals like sloth, pink river dolphins, and giant otters. There are national parks, nature preserves, and enormous swaths of deep green jungle.

Some cruises of the Amazon sail between Belém, the river’s Atlantic Ocean port, and Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Others sail on the Rio Negro, a major tributary and one of the world’s largest blackwater rivers (the water is dark due to tannins from decayed vegetation). Some itineraries feature visits to local villages for fascinating insights into their lifestyles and customs.

There are options beyond the Amazon, too. The Paraná River, South America’s second-longest, winds through vast wetlands to Iguaçu Falls, one of the most magnificent waterfall complexes in the world. Perched at the meeting point of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, the waterfalls are higher than Niagara and stretch for more than a mile and a half. In the town of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, you can cross the Fraternity Bridge to Puerto Iguaçu, Argentina, and the Friendship Bridge to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

The Paraguay River courses through that country’s share of the Pantanal Region, the world’s largest and most pristine tropical wetland. The region is alive with marshland wildlife like storks and caiman; you may also spot monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and rare marsh deer drinking from the river. You could visit a traditional farm or tour the city of Asunción and its lovely museums, parks, and monuments.

The banks of Columbia’s Magdalena River are dotted with towns founded by Spanish conquistadors; some of the colonial architecture is well-preserved. As the river flows past green jungles and low mountains, you may see iguanas, white herons, manatees, tortoises and even the descendants of hippopotamuses originally brought to Columbia by the drug lord Pablo Escobar.

For more ideas and assistance with making your South American river cruise reservations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 27, 2023

Tips for Flying to Your Cruise Ship

 If you’re ready to cruise in 2023 and have your eye on a fantastic itinerary, how will you get to the ship? 

 Unless you live within easy driving distance of the cruise port, chances are you’ll take a flight to meet your ship and get back home after your wonderful cruise. Did you know that the cruise line can make your air travel reservations for you? 


In fact, you can receive some excellent benefits when you let the cruise line book your flights. The biggest may be that when the cruise line books your flights, they’ll help you rebook any flights delayed by weather or mechanical issues. And if an air travel delay means you’ll miss your ship’s departure, the cruise line will help you catch up with the ship in the next port of call. 


Many cruise-plus-air packages provide significant savings, as well. But be sure to work with your professional travel advisor to make sure that a cruise-plus-air package is a good financial decision for you. 


The cruise line may let you pay for your airfare over time (along with your cruise), which is another advantage. Many cruise lines require just a small deposit at the time of booking, with final payment due about 90 days before the cruise begins. Several cruise lines offer monthly payment programs, so you can spread out payments for your cruise and airfare instead of coming up with full payment right away. 


What you might give up when you select a cruise-plus-air deal is some flexibility in your air travel arrangements. Cruise-plus-air packages may have limited flight options, or you may be required to accept the flights the cruise line selects for you. Some cruise-plus-air packages provide greater flexibility in the air travel portion for a higher price. 


Be aware that some high-end cruise lines include air travel to and from the ship in the price of their cruises. When you book this type of cruise, having flight arrangements made for you is part of the luxury. 


Finally, if you don’t like to fly, there are other ways to get to a cruise ship. These include driving your own car, riding a bus, or hopping on a train: Amtrak offers passenger rail service to quite a few cities with major cruise ports, such as New York, Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor,r for more information. 

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Monday, February 20, 2023

Repositioning Cruises Feature Days at Sea

For some, the days a ship spends entirely at sea are their favorite days on a cruise. There are no port calls on sea days, so there’s lots of time to sleep in, work out, enjoy a spa treatment, stroll the promenade deck, have a leisurely lunch, read a book, relax in the pool and more.

If you enjoy sea days (or like the sound of them), consider signing up for a repositioning cruise.

Repositioning cruises happen when a cruise line moves a ship from one cruise region to another. For example, some ships that sail in Northern Europe or along the coast of Alaska during the summer move to the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera for the winter. Rather than sail without passengers, cruise lines make these sailings available to passengers who love a leisurely voyage on the water.

Some repositioning cruises are quite short; for example, a cruise that repositions a ship from Seattle to Los Angeles can be just a few days. But repositioning cruises that cross an ocean can be 14 nights or more. That provides plenty of time to experience all the activities, entertainment, and dining options on board.

The per-night rate for a repositioning cruise is often much less than for a regular sailing, although if the cruise is a long one, the total fare might stretch your budget. Also, repositioning cruises are always one-way: starting in one region and ending in another could mean higher airfare costs.

Most repositioning cruises don’t have many port calls, but the few they have are often in beautiful places that are off the usual cruise path. For example, a repositioning cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, might call on Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Many repositioning cruises cross the Atlantic, but there are other options. Some pass through the Panama Canal, so you’ll sail in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Others venture across the Pacific: for example, you could set sail in Vancouver, British Columbia, and end in Yokohama, Japan.

If you’ll embark from a chilly climate and end in a tropical one (or the other way around), plan and pack accordingly. And, because they venture so far from land, repositioning cruises might go through some choppy water; you’ll want to be prepared with your favorite remedy for motion sickness.

There’s more to know about repositioning cruises; for answers to your questions, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Considerations for Solo Cruisers

While many people cruise with a partner, friends or family members, there are passengers who choose to cruise on their own. Some simply enjoy traveling alone, while others can’t wait to meet their fellow passengers and create a new group of acquaintances.

If you would like to take a cruise on your own, here are some things to consider.

Single supplements. Most cruise ship cabins are designed for at least two people. If you want one for yourself, you may have to pay a single supplement: a fee that offsets what the cruise line loses by not selling a second fare for the cabin. While the single supplement is often discounted, it can be as much as you pay for your own fare.

If you want to avoid paying the supplement, you may have other options. If you don’t mind sharing a cabin, many cruise lines offer a roommate-matching service. And, an increasing number of ships have cabins designed for solo cruisers, including some ships in the fleets of Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and other ocean and river cruise lines.

Ship size. Solo cruisers sail on ships of all types and sizes, so think about what type of ship appeals to you most. Smaller ships with fewer passengers make it likely you’ll see the same people each day, which can make socializing easier.

Bigger ships with more passengers make it likely you’ll see different people each day, which can be an advantage if you want some uninterrupted time to relax as you cruise. However, if you want to sail on a big ship and meet some of your fellow passengers, just ask a member of the cruise director’s staff to introduce you around. Or, at dinner, ask the head waiter to seat you with other solo cruisers or with a friendly group you met at the pool or on an excursion.

Singles cruises. There’s a difference between cruising solo and taking a singles cruise, which is designed to help passengers meet potential romantic partners. It’s easy to mingle on a singles cruise because everyone is interested in meeting new people. But non-singles cruises often hold special receptions and other events for solo travelers so they can meet each other, if they choose.

To learn more about lots of wonderful options for cruising on your own, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 6, 2023

Amazing New Ships Set to Launch this Year

While the building of new cruise ships temporarily slowed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are quite a few incredible new ships set to debut during 2023.

Viking Ocean Cruises’ new ship, Viking Saturn, will launch early this year with the sleek Scandinavian design the fleet is known for. All of Saturn’s cabins and suites will have their own balconies.

Oceania Cruises will introduce its first new-build ship in more than ten years, Oceania Vista, in April. Highlights include a new category of balcony cabins for solo travelers and a dozen dining spots, including a new restaurant called Ember.

Resilient Lady, the third ship in the Virgin Voyages fleet, will begin sailing in May. It’s expected to have the same relaxed-yet-trendy vibe as its sister ships, with fun features like tattoo parlors and dodgeball games.

MSC Cruises’ Euribia will be powered by liquified natural gas for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Scheduled to launch in June, it’s expected to be one of the largest cruise ships on the seas.

Luxury line Silversea will unveil the Silver Nova this summer. With room for 728 guests, it will be Silversea’s largest ship, and the first designed to be completely emissions-free while in port.

The second ship in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Prima Class, Norwegian Viva, will arrive in August with lots of open spaces to enjoy, as well as infinity pools, several restaurants and a multi-story go-kart racetrack.

Seabourn Cruises will welcome a new expedition ship, Seabourn Pursuit, in September. It will be well-equipped for adventure, with two custom-built submarines, kayaks and Zodiac craft onboard.

Extreme luxury is standard on Regent Seven Seas’ ships, including the new Grandeur, set to debut in November. It will have its own version of the jaw-dropping Regent Suite, as well as four restaurants.

Celebrity Ascent, the final ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Class, will launch in December. It will include the innovative “infinite balcony” feature, as well as some cabins designed for solo travelers.

While its ships are not brand-new, Crystal Cruises is emerging from bankruptcy with a new owner and plans to relaunch the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony during 2023.

Finally, we must mention Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, scheduled to debut in early 2024 as the first ship in the line’s new Icon Class.

To find out where these new ships will sail and to make your reservations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 30, 2023

 A Wave of Great Cruise Deals

It’s Wave Season, the time of year when cruise lines offer amazing discounts on cruise fares and bundle multiple onboard perks into special offers. Simply put, Wave Season is a post-holiday season sale on cruises. It’s not the only time of year to get an excellent price on a wonderful cruise, but Wave Season deals are definitely some of the best of the year.

Wave Season is a cruise industry tradition, and it happens throughout the first quarter of the new year, from January to March. By presenting wave upon wave of attractive deals, cruise lines hope to secure as many cruise reservations as they can for the rest of 2023 and beyond.

How can you make the most of Wave Season?

First, do some research. A Wave Season deal is truly valuable only when it’s for a cruise you really want to take. Grabbing a deal when the destination doesn’t really interest you or the ship isn’t the best fit for you is a recipe for a lackluster vacation.

So, do some searching to figure out which cruise lines and itineraries appeal to you most; your professional travel advisor can help. Then, when you see a Wave Season deal that matches your top choices, you can grab it with confidence.

Second, look beyond fare discounts. Wave Season offers excellent fares – including some “two-for-one” or “kids sail free” deals – but be sure to look for discounted or complimentary onboard perks. These can range from beverage packages and shore excursions to multi-category cabin upgrades.

Onboard credits are another attractive offer. Depending on your cruise line and ship, you may be able to spend onboard credits on spa treatments, specialty dining packages, professional photos, Wi-Fi access, and more.

Sometimes, Wave Season deals include unusual and exceptional extras, such as free airfare to the ship or a pre-cruise hotel stay. These are more common among luxury cruise lines, and their inclusion in a Wave Season deal can make luxury cruising more affordable.

Finally, remember that you can find great cruise deals at other times of the year, too. If you don’t find a Wave Season offer that appeals to you or you simply can’t commit to a future cruise right now, don’t despair. Wave Season is when virtually every cruise line offers attractive deals, but you can find fare discounts and other special offers at any time of year, especially when you work with an experienced travel advisor.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

Cruise Ports You’ll Want to Visit Again

Cruises can take you to a wonderful variety of destinations, and you can choose a different itinerary every time you sail. But some repeat cruisers find themselves going back to certain ports again and again. Here are some of our favorite repeat port calls. 


Bermuda is an island nation with lovely white and pink sand beaches. There are caves full of rock formations, historic fortresses, and velvety green golf courses. Indulge in the British tradition of high tea or take a boat ride to view pastel-colored homes from the water. 


Cozumel is a Mexican island known for shopping, but there’s much more to do. You can go snorkeling, take a diving lesson, or relax at a beach club. You can also visit the remnants of Mayan villages, go sport fishing, or drive a dune buggy around the island.  


Dubrovnik, Croatia, has a beautiful Old Town that played the role of King’s Landing in the popular “Game of Thrones” TV series. It’s fun to get an overview from atop the city walls, then explore the winding streets and historic buildings. Take the cable car up Srd Hill or sail to Lokrum island to see the botanical garden. 


Santorini, in the Greek Isles, is breathtakingly beautiful; the steep-sided, blue-water harbor was formed by a long-ago volcanic eruption. There are beaches formed from lava pebbles overlooked by whitewashed buildings, ancient ruins, charming shops, and plenty of scenic hikes. 


Venice, Italy, is full of magnificent art and architecture. The city is spread over more than 100 small islands linked by canals and bridges. It’s possible to explore Venice for days, but must-sees include St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal (especially from a gondola).  


St. Lucia is a Caribbean Island with a dramatic, mountainous landscape. You can climb Gros Piton to admire the views, take a refreshing mud bath at Sulphur Springs, stroll through a waterfall garden, snorkel off a beach, or zipline through the forest. 


Finally, the favorite return ports for many cruise fans are the private islands owned by the cruise lines. These islands, mostly in the Caribbean, are lovely and have everything you need for a wonderful, relaxing, or adventurous day. You’ll enjoy sun or shade, plenty of activities on land and in the water, refreshing beverages, and a delicious lunch. 


If you’re interested in a repeat visit to any of these or other popular cruise ports, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, January 16, 2023

Packing a Cruise Wardrobe

Packing for a cruise can be a little different than packing for other types of vacations, and here’s why: 

·         Storage space in your cabin will be very limited. Packing light is always smart, but it’s truly essential for a cruise.  

·         The nearest shopping center won’t be very near when you’re out at sea, so be sure to pack your “must-have” items. 

·         Onboard laundry services are usually available, but for a fee. You can wash a few things in your bathroom sink and hang them on the retractable clothesline in your shower, but that really works only for small items. 


With all that in mind, here’s a quick overview of what to pack. 


For daytime, cruise wear has become more casual than it once was. Shorts, jeans, casual pants and skirts, t-shirts, and other everyday tops are usually fine for daytime; just be sure it’s all appropriate for the climate where you’re sailing. Bring a swimsuit and cover-up, and a little gym attire if you plan to use the fitness center. For cooler climates, pack some extra light layers. For itineraries that include religious sites, you may need clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, as well as a scarf or hat. 


Cruise line dress codes have become more casual for evenings, too, but check with your professional travel advisor on guidelines for your ship. In general, shorts, jeans, and t-shirts with slogans may not be welcome at dinner; but, long pants with button-down shirts and casual dresses may be as dressy as you need to be. Of course, you’re welcome to dress up as much as you like; and many cruises have formal nights, when glittery dresses, fashionable suits, and even tuxedos abound. 


We could devote an entire article to packing shoes for a cruise, but the main point is that they take up a lot of luggage space, so the shoes you bring should be versatile. For example, simple ballet flats and lace-up shoes can work for both day and evening; athletic sandals can be good for going to the pool and on a shore excursion. 


Accessories. Bring a few accessories – jewelry, scarves, belts, bags – that can make the same outfit look different the second or third time you wear it. 


Special note: Don’t forget the basics! It’s easy to focus so much on outer layers for day and evening that you forget to pack underwear. 


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Monday, January 9, 2023

Essential Tips for Your First Cruise

If you’re looking forward to your very first cruise, here are a few tips that can help you start out feeling like a seasoned cruiser. 


Remember that your cruise fare includes your cabin and most of the dining and entertainment on board, but some things cost a bit extra. For example, meals in the main dining room and at the buffet are included in your fare; but, your ship may also have specialty restaurants that charge a small fee. 


Most onboard dining is included in your fare, but most beverages probably are not. On many ships, the only free beverages are plain water, coffee, and tea. The good news is that cruise lines sell beverage packages that provide discounts on soft drinks, juice, specialty coffee and tea, wine, beer, cocktails, and more. 


On most ships, gratuities for the crew are automatically added to the onboard account you’ll settle at the end of the cruise, so there’s no need to tip separately. And if you pay for individual drinks or specialty restaurant meals, a service charge is automatically added to the tab. 


Your ship will offer a variety of tours and activities, called shore excursions, in each port. These fun pursuits are usually not included in your fare, except on some luxury ships. You do have the option to stay on the ship while it’s in port, which can be a nice opportunity to enjoy the pool, fitness center, spa, and other amenities. You can also tour a port on your own; just be sure to get back to the ship on time. 


Many ships offer tours on the first day of a cruise; join one to find out where everything is. 

Cruise ship designers do a terrific job, but storage space in your cabin will be limited. Pack lightly and bring clothing you can wear in different combinations. 


Finally, this is our top tip for your first cruise: work with Anita, a professional travel advisor, to select a cruise line, ship, itinerary, and cabin that meet your needs, interests, schedule, and vacation budget. Every cruise line, ship and destination offers something a little different than the others, and it can be incredibly challenging to navigate it all on your own. That’s why guidance from a professional is so important to have a great first cruise experience. Plus, cruise travel professionals earn much of their income from commissions paid by the cruise lines, rather than by you. 


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Monday, January 2, 2023

Great Cruise Ship Bars

On a cruise ship, as on land, a bar is so much more than a place to enjoy a beverage. It’s a welcoming spot where you can relax, socialize or simply enjoy the vibe. Cruise lines put a lot of thought into their onboard bars, and many of them deliver memorable experiences – not to mention delicious drinks – in fun surroundings. Here’s a look at a few of our favorites.

Fans of Star Wars will know that the Force is with them in the Hyperspace Lounge on Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Wish. Outside the “windows,” a variety of transports – from TIE fighters to the legendary Millennium Falcon – pass by, with frequent jumps to hyperspace. The cocktails are inspired by storied planets from across the Star Wars galaxy.

Some Norwegian Cruise Line ships feature the Skyy Vodka Ice Bar, where just about everything – including the bar, seating, and glassware – is made of ice. Even on a tropical itinerary, the temperature in the Ice Bar is a brisk 17 degrees, but don’t worry – you can borrow a parka to wear while you sip a cocktail.

If you enjoy a traditional British pub, you’ll love the Golden Lion on Cunard Line’s ships. Enjoy a signature Cunard ale or a Pimm’s Cup as you relax on the leather banquettes or play a game of darts. You can tuck into some traditional pub fare, too, like fish and chips or a plowman’s lunch.

In the Bionic Bar on some Royal Caribbean ships, the bartenders are robots who have no conversation, but never tire of mixing drinks. Guests use smart pads to place orders, choose from the menu or select specific ingredients for a custom drink. The robots reach up to select the right ingredients, which hang from the ceiling and mix perfect cocktails.

In Martini Bar & Crush on Celebrity Cruises ships, the bartenders are human and just as skilled at tossing and juggling bottles in the air as they are at making martinis and other drinks. Watch them perform while you enjoy a selection of caviar from the ice-topped bar.

There are many more terrific bars at sea, including Princess Cruises’ Good Spirits at Sea, Holland America Line’s Tamarind Bar, and Azamara’s new Atlas Bar. Some of them are so popular that they require reservations, so ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, about the best way to experience a great onboard bar on your next cruise.


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