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, November 28, 2022

Window or No Window?

Planning your next cruise involves making some important choices, including whether to choose a cabin with a window or without a window. Here are some considerations that can help you decide.

Cabins without windows (called interior or inside cabins) don’t have exterior walls, so there’s no opportunity for a sea view. But that doesn’t mean these cabins are always dark; cruise ship designers use lighting to make the inside cabins bright and welcoming. If you expect to use it just for sleeping and showering, an inside cabin can be a good choice: they are usually the lowest-priced cabins on the ship.

Amazingly, some ships use technology to equip inside cabins with exterior views. Inside cabins on some Disney Cruise Line ships have “magic portholes,” which are small screens built into the walls and linked to exterior cameras. Inside cabins on some Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships have “virtual balconies,” which are floor-to-ceiling LED screens that also show real-time views from outside. You may forget that you don’t actually have a window.

If you want a cabin with a window (called outside or ocean view cabins), you’re likely to have some options, starting with cabins that have portholes. These small, round windows bring in light and views, but usually don’t open. To have a larger window that opens, you may need to pay a bit more for an outside cabin on a higher deck.

Balcony cabins admit even more natural light and wider views through swinging or sliding glass doors. Some cruise fans simply won’t sail without a balcony, which can be an oasis of calm on a busy ship; it may not be large, but it will be all yours. If you want a bigger balcony, look at forward and aft cabins that face out over the bow or the stern of the ship, which often have larger-than-standard balconies.

If you want a balcony and your budget allows it, consider reserving a suite. In addition to more inside space, many suites come with larger balconies, or even more than one. Be sure to reserve as early as possible, as balcony cabins are very popular and can be the first type of cabin to sell out.

Of course, exactly what types of inside and outside cabins are available to you depends on the cruise line and ship you choose. Let Anita, your professional travel advisor, help you select a cruise line, ship and cabin that will provide you with a great experience.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Cruising Under Sails

For thousands of years, most ships were propelled across the water solely by the wind that filled their sails. But when steam engines were developed in the 1800s, steam-powered vehicles quickly became the preferred way to travel on land and water.

Today, most cruise ships move through the water with the help of fuel-powered engines, while most ships that have sails are small craft used for recreation or racing. Still, it’s possible to cruise on a ship powered by sails that harness the wind (these ships are equipped with engines, too, so there’s no chance of becoming becalmed in the middle of the ocean).

Along with the timeless thrill of skimming over the water under billowing sails, these smaller ships can visit lovely ports that are inaccessible to big, engine-driven ships. Plus, you can feel good about traveling in a more sustainable way. Let’s look at some options for cruising under sails.

Ponant Cruises’ Le Ponant is a three-masted luxury yacht. With just 16 staterooms and suites, sailing on Le Ponant is an intimate and sophisticated experience. Depending on the time of year, this ship sails among the Greek Isles, in the Seychelles, or along the coast of Western Australia.

Windstar Cruises has three yachts with sails: Wind Star, Wind Spirit, and Wind Surf. Wind Star and Wind Spirit each have four masts and can accommodate up to 148 passengers. In winter, Wind Star sails in Central America – including Panama Canal transits – then repositions to the Mediterranean for the rest of the year. Wind Spirit sails in the South Pacific, calling on Tahiti, Bora Bora, and their neighbors in the Society Islands and Tuamotu Islands. With five impressive masts, Wind Surf, which can carry up to 346 passengers, spends the winter in the Caribbean and sails the Mediterranean for the rest of the year.

In addition to sails, Windstar’s masted yachts are equipped with the cruise line’s unique water sports platform. Located at the rear of each ship, the platform opens up and lowers down to the water line. Passengers can borrow a variety of equipment – paddleboards, kayaks, snorkels, floatation devices, and more – to make a splash and enjoy playing in the water beneath the white sails.

As interest in sustainable cruising continues to grow, we expect cruise lines to develop more options for cruising with sails. Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to keep you informed about new ships that can capture the wind.

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Monday, November 14, 2022

Entertainment Abounds on Cruise Ships

If you’re excited about visiting faraway ports on a cruise but aren’t sure what there is to do on the ship, don’t worry. Cruise ships are loaded with ways to keep yourself busy and entertained while you’re sailing between ports or spending an entire day at sea.

Start with the pool area, where you can play in the water and relax on a chaise lounge. This is also a venue for activities like trivia games, card tournaments, and dance contests. Plus, some ships have enhanced their pool decks with water slides and other fun attractions.

Visit the fitness center to maintain your workout routine or start a new one, get advice from a trainer or join a yoga class. Many ships also have open-air sport courts, outdoor tracks for walking and running, minigolf courses, ping-pong tables and shuffleboard courts. Depending on the ship, you might also be able to try out bumper cars, laser tag, a ropes course or a climbing wall.

For some pampering, make a reservation at the onboard spa and select a massage, wrap, facial or other rejuvenating treatment. Many also offer salon services like hair styling, manicures and teeth whitening.

Most ships offer fun and informative classes that can range from napkin folding to computer skills. You might be able to learn a new dance step, work out a quirk in your golf swing, or find out how to mix the latest cocktail.

To get to know the ship better, join a behind-the-scenes tour. Some ships offer tours of the galley, where the culinary staff produces amazing quantities of delicious food; or the bridge, where officers navigate the seas and steer the ship.

Evenings on a cruise ship feature some combination of live theater, comedy routines, first-run movies, magic acts, music, dancing and more. Some ships invite passengers on stage to participate in a talent show, often with impressive results.

We should mention that many ships also have daytime and evening activities designed specifically for kids, tweens and teens, helping them socialize and have fun together.

To find out what’s happening on board each day during your cruise, check the cruise line’s app on your mobile device or the printed schedule your steward will place in your cabin. Lots of activities are included in your cruise fare, but a few – such as spa treatments – come with a fee.

For more information about onboard activities on your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, November 7, 2022

 Holiday Gifts for Cruise Travelers

The holiday shopping season is underway, and a cruise is a fantastic gift for someone you care about. But if your budget doesn’t stretch quite that far, here are some ideas for smaller gifts that will be appreciated by the cruise fan in your life (even if that cruise fan is you).

Battery operated fan. A breeze from a small fan can be refreshing in a cruise ship cabin, especially if it has no window or the window doesn’t open. Make sure the fan is battery operated; on most ships, outlets are not plentiful and power strips are not allowed.

Battery operated tealight candle. The glow of small faux candles can serve as a nightlight, or help set a serene or romantic mood.

Dry bag. Dry bags help keep electronics and other valuables dry during beach visits, waterfall hikes, kayaking adventures, and other activities near or on the water.

Fitness tracker. It’s fun to track steps taken while exploring a cruise ship or a port. Be sure to select a tracker that doesn’t require an internet connection; Wi-Fi is now available on most cruise ships, but access often comes with a fee.

Insulated mug. Standard cruise ship coffee cups are fine, but an insulated mug may do a better job of keeping a cup of coffee or tea hot while enjoying a sunrise or moonset on a balcony or up on deck.

Magnetic message board (with a marker and eraser). Passengers can leave messages for each other on handy whiteboards that cling to cabin doors, which are usually made of metal. Note that most cruise lines don’t allow message boards that leave marks on the door or extend into the passageway.

Water bottle with filtration. Water on a cruise ship is safe to drink, but a water bottle with a built-in filter can be helpful on shore excursions. As the bottle is filled, the filter will remove particulates and pathogens.

Waterproof e-reader. A cruise is a great time to catch up on reading, but books can take up a lot of luggage space. A slim e-reader saves space, and waterproofing means there are no worries about using it around the ship’s pool.

Waterproof tote bag. A tote bag comes in very handy for carrying belongings around on the ship and on shore excursions.

If you’d like more gift ideas for friends and family members who love to cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 31, 2022

Onboard Credits and How to Use Them

For any cruise passenger, onboard credits (or OBCs) are wonderful things. In simplest terms, they are currency you can use to pay for a variety of goods and services onboard. How can you get OBCs? There are several ways, which include:

Cruise promotions. Some cruise lines offer OBCs instead of, or along with, fare discounts. And, cruise lines often give professional travel advisors onboard credits to pass on to their clients.

Loyalty and referrals. A cruise line you’ve sailed with before may offer OBCs as an incentive for a future cruise, or as a reward when a friend books a cruise on your recommendation.

Credit cards. You may receive OBCs when you sign up for your favorite cruise line’s branded credit card.

Shareholder benefits. If you own enough shares of a cruise line’s stock, you may receive OBCs whenever you take a cruise on that line.

Complaint compensation. It’s not a very fun way to get OBCs, but if you have a complaint, OBCs may be part of any compensation the cruise line may offer to you.

Once you have onboard credits, there are lots of ways to use them:

Beverage and dining packages. If you’ve cruised before, you know that most beverages are not included in your cruise fare; but, you can use OBCs to purchase beverage packages that provide discounts on soda, cocktails, beer, wine, specialty coffees, and other drinks. If your ship has specialty restaurants with cover charges, you can also pay for them with OBCs.

Shore excursions. A few luxury cruise lines include shore excursions in their fares, but on many cruises, onshore activities come with fees you can pay for with OBCs.

Spa treatments. In onboard spas, treatments can start at $100 or more. If you’d like a massage or some other pampering, it’s a delightful use of OBCs.

Wi-Fi access. While many cruise ships now make Wi-Fi available, they often charge hourly or daily rates. If you need to stay in touch while sailing, this is another good use of OBCs.

Fun and helpful extras. You can use OBCs to buy things in onboard shops and boutiques, or for extras like laundry services. Some cruise lines allow passengers to use OBCs as gratuities for the crew, but a few specifically disallow this.

OBCs are usually non-transferable and non-refundable, so when you have some, be sure to use them before they expire. For more tips about onboard credits, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

Ports Off the Usual Cruise Routes

Any cruise can be a wonderful and carefree vacation, but not all cruises are alike. There’s a wide variety of cruise experiences available to you; and, much of what you experience on a cruise depends on the size of the ship.

Today’s largest cruise ships have lots of incredible features. Along with room for thousands of passengers, they have space for an amazing variety of dining and entertainment venues. Plus, they sail to some of the world’s most popular ports.

Butthere are advantages to cruising on a smaller ship – say, up to 1,500 passengers – as well. One is the ability to visit smaller ports that are a little off the usual cruise routes because they can’t accommodate larger ships. Here are a few examples.

Quepos, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is a stop for some smaller cruise ships that pass through the Panama Canal. It’s near Manuel Antonio National Park, which is known for wildlife –iguanas, capuchin, and howler monkeys, and two types of sloth – and beautiful beaches. Here, you can also take a surf lesson, go deep-sea fishing, or zipline through the forest canopy.

Nafplion is a charming Greek town on the Aegean Sea that was a busy trading center in the Middle Ages, so it’s steeped in history. Stroll the Arvantia Promenade, visit the Archaeological Museum, or climb the steps to Palamidi Castle to enjoy the stunning view. There are markets full of handmade crafts and a lovely beach, too.

Molde, nestled along Norway’s Romsdal Fjord, offers beautiful Nordic scenery; a flightseeing tour over the mountains and glaciers is a breathtaking experience. There are some surprises here, too, including rose gardens that flourish in the summer and Moldejazz – one of Europe’s oldest jazz festivals – every July.

Kaikoura, a coastal village on the South Island of New Zealand, has a gorgeous backdrop of snow-capped mountains. This part of the coast is known for marine life, and you could spot whales, seals, dolphins, and sea birds from the Peninsula Walkway or a tour boat. You can also see the Ohau Waterfall or tour the Fyffe House to learn about Māori heritage and the region’s whaling history.

In addition to fascinating ports, there are other delightful reasons to cruise on smaller ships. For example, many smaller ships belong to luxury cruise lines, so you can expect a high level of comfort and service. For more information about small ship cruising, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 17, 2022

What to Know Now About Cruise Line COVID Rules

Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ended its COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters, the U.S. doesn’t have any federal requirements for cruise passenger vaccination, testing or masking. But, that doesn’t mean that all such requirements have disappeared. Because COVID and its variants can spread between people in close quarters, including cruise ships, cruise lines have their own requirements and protocols, which continue to evolve.

So, what does this mean for you the next time you cruise?

First, keep in mind that cruise lines’ COVID-related requirements for vaccination, testing, and masking can change at any time in response to COVID developments. And, the CDC still provides COVID management guidance and recommendations to cruise lines.

Regarding vaccination, some cruise lines continue to require all passengers to be fully vaccinated (although some of them make exceptions for children). Some cruise lines accept a limited number of unvaccinated passengers, often with the requirement of a negative COVID test completed shortly before boarding. Others have begun to eliminate vaccination requirements for passengers, except where vaccination is required by ports of call.

As for testing, some cruise lines no longer require pre-cruise COVID test requirements for fully vaccinated passengers, though testing may still be required in order to disembark at certain ports on the itinerary. Some lines now require pre-cruise COVID tests only for longer cruises (often defined as two weeks or more). But most cruise lines still have onboard testing requirements for guests who are exposed to people who have symptoms or test positive for COVID during a cruise.

Many cruise lines have made masks optional for passengers, though they may still encourage masking in indoor common areas. For now, you can expect to see crew members wearing masks as they do their jobs. Cruise lines also continue to follow heightened cleaning and sanitation protocols to help prevent any spread of illness among guests and crew.

Any time you make plans to cruise, it’s important to consider your personal health, especially if you have a higher risk of developing serious illness if you catch COVID or any other virus. Before you make your reservations, check in with your doctor’s office. They can help you ensure you’re prepared to sail and advise on any precautions that you should take while cruising.

Finally, stay connected with Anita, your professional travel advisor, for the latest updates on COVID vaccination, testing, and masking requirements for your favorite cruise lines.

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