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, July 15, 2024

Overnight Port Stays Allow More Time on Shore

If you’ve ever had to rush back from a shore excursion to return to your cruise ship on time, you might enjoy a cruise that features one or more overnight port stays. When a ship has permission to stay in port overnight, it’s possible to enjoy a leisurely dinner in an onshore restaurant, attend an evening sporting or cultural event, or dance the night away in a local club. Plus, some daytime activities have a different look and feel at night – think European Christmas markets or Venetian gondola rides.

Many cruise lines offer overnight port stays, including Azamara, Celebrity, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Virgin Voyages, and Windstar. Overnight stays are more likely on longer cruises that call on larger port cities. And, the cruise lines offer nighttime shore excursions that arrange special experiences for you.

These are just a few of dozens of ports where it’s possible to stay overnight on a cruise:

Reykjavik, Iceland. The sun is up for long hours during the summer months, so an overnight stay gives you plenty of time to see waterfalls, geysers, and the famous Blue Lagoon.

Copenhagen, Denmark. The rides, music stages, and restaurants of Tivoli Gardens amusement park literally sparkle at night. An evening tour of the Christianshavn neighborhood via canal is lovely, too.

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Walk the Old Town at night to imagine you’re back in medieval times; take a break in a charming bar to sip a glass of rakija, a local anise-flavored spirit.

Oranjestad, Aruba. Seaside bars and clubs are fun to visit in the cooler air of the evening. You can also try your luck at a glittering oceanfront casino.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dinner at an authentic parrilla (grill restaurant) is a treat, as is a visit to Plaza Dorrego – grab a table to enjoy a beverage, listen to music, and watch tango dancers.

Kyoto, Japan. Take an evening tour of Gion, the city’s best-known geisha district. In this historic neighborhood, you can visit teahouses where geishas entertain with music and dance.

An overnight port stay also lets you enjoy the quiet early morning hours of the place you’re visiting; in fact, your ship may not depart until noon or later.

In addition to overnight stays, some cruises include late-night port departures, which also give you a chance to enjoy an evening on shore. To consider all of your options for more time in port, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, July 8, 2024

Where to Go on an Expedition Cruise

Cruise ships visit enduringly popular ports of call, with time to enjoy fabulous onboard amenities while you sail between ports. But if you have an adventurous side, a different type of cruise may have just as much appeal.

Expedition cruises sail to remote and beautiful places around the globe, including some that are difficult to visit any other way. Some are well-known “bucket list” destinations, like Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands; others, like Tristan da Cunha and Zamami, may not be as familiar to you (at least, not yet).

Tristan da Cunha, a British territory, is a small group of extremely remote, mountainous islands in the South Atlantic. The islands have no airstrip or hotel, so it’s only possible to visit by ship. In addition to natural beauty, Tristan da Cunha has amazing biodiversity and is a haven for sea birds; it’s the world’s only known breeding site for two types of petrels.

The Bissagos Islands are only 30 miles from the coast of West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau, but the islands' people have preserved their own unique customs and traditions. On these unspoiled islands, you can explore wide beaches and mangrove forests, see remnants of colonial architecture, and meet a colony of saltwater hippopotamuses.

In the North Atlantic, midway between Scotland and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are a Danish territory with Viking heritage. Sunny days are rare on these windy islands, but the alpine wildflowers and puffin birds will charm you. Active pursuits include hiking to secluded waterfalls, biking, birdwatching, fishing and even surfing.

The archipelago of Japan includes more than 14,000 islands that stretch from subarctic to subtropical zones. Zamami, a subtropical island about 40 miles from Okinawa, is occupied by lush vegetation (and a few people). Narrow strips of white sand edge a series of bays with strikingly blue water. You can snorkel along coral reefs or hike up Mount Takatsuki to an observation deck with memorable views.

There are many more adventurous places to visit via expedition cruise; ask your professional travel advisor for additional recommendations. But remember that expedition cruise ships are small (it's better to visit remote places with few facilities). While they are very comfortable and even luxurious, they don’t have all the entertainment, dining options, or other features found on larger cruise ships. On an expedition cruise, the focus isn’t on the ship – it’s on the remote spots you’ll visit.

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Monday, July 1, 2024

Medical Care on a Cruise Ship

We hope this is something you won’t really need to know, but if you ever become ill while on a cruise, medical care will be available on board. All cruise ships have onboard medical facilities staffed by trained, qualified professionals. And while the scope of care they can provide varies a bit from ship to ship, most can treat and manage a range of conditions.

You should visit the onboard medical center for the same reasons you would visit your primary care physician or an urgent care center at home, such as cold or flu symptoms, muscle strains, cuts and scrapes, or abdominal discomfort. Onboard medical centers usually stock over-the-counter medications like pain relievers and seasickness remedies, as well as some prescription medications (but if you take prescription medication, remember to bring enough of your own supply for the length of your cruise).

You should also go to the medical center for conditions that would have you calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency department at home, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, severe injury, and high blood pressure or blood sugar levels. If you need diagnostics or treatment beyond what can be provided on the ship (for example, onboard medical facilities usually don’t provide invasive testing, surgery or long-term care), the medical team will work to stabilize you and arrange a transfer to a medical facility on shore.

Note that most insurance plans don’t cover medical services and treatments you receive outside the country, whether you’re on a ship or in a medical facility on shore. This is a compelling reason to consider purchasing travel insurance, which would help cover out-of-pocket costs if you need extensive medical treatment, to be evacuated from the ship, or even to return home. Your professional travel advisor can help you select a travel insurance policy.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use the services of an onboard medical center, but it’s comforting to know it’s there. While cruising, you can help protect your health by following safety guidelines, eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest.

If you have a chronic medical condition or specific medical needs, ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you check the capabilities of the medical facilities on cruise ships you’re interested in. And, visit your physician before you pay the final installment of your cruise fare, just to make sure you’re in good shape to sail away.

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Monday, June 24, 2024

Icon of the Seas Delivers on Its Promises

Before Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas debuted, the cruise line said the new holder of the title “World’s Largest Cruise Ship” would provide fantastic family vacations. And, the Icon is delivering on that promise.

With eight distinctive neighborhoods, dozens of restaurants and bars, seven pools, a six-slide waterpark, a shape-shifting waterfall, multiple stage shows, and an ice arena – plus other long-time Royal Caribbean favorites like a rock-climbing wall, surf simulator, and mini-golf course – it’s clear that everyone in the family can have fun on board.

As the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s new Icon Class, Icon of the Seas has some features that have never been seen before. These include the Pearl, a beautiful kinetic sculpture in the atrium of the Royal Promenade. You can take a flight of stairs right through the Pearl: the interior is lined with more than 3,000 glass panels that play with light and color.

A ship designed for family entertainment needs family-sized accommodations, and the Icon delivers on this as well. More than half of the 28 stateroom categories have designs that are new to the Royal Caribbean fleet, and most were created with families in mind. For example, the Family Infinite Balcony stateroom can sleep up to six. It features an alcove with bunk beds for the kids and a separate sleeping area for adults, as well as a family-friendly split bathroom design.

For the ultimate family cruise experience, the Icon offers the Ultimate Family Townhouse, a three-level suite that accommodates up to eight in 1,772 square feet. It has a multi-level curving slide, a theater with a karaoke machine, and table tennis on the spacious patio. Plus, there are two balconies, a musical staircase, three bathrooms, and amazing ocean views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

But, the most unique feature on the Icon may be the Chief Dog Officer, a first for Royal Caribbean. She’s a Golden Retriever named Rover, whose duties include spreading love, joy, and happiness among passengers and crew.

While the Icon of the Seas is a great ship for families, anyone who loves (or wants to try) cruising is welcome to come aboard and enjoy. The ship sails seven-day Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean itineraries, roundtrip from Miami, which include a day at the cruise line’s private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay. Talk with Anita,  your professional travel advisor, about making your reservation to sail on this spectacular new ship.

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Sailing the World in 2025

If you dream of traveling the world, a world cruise can make it easy. World cruises are usually 90 days or longer – enough time to call on multiple continents. Some world cruises truly do circumnavigate the globe, while others cover a large part of it.

Several cruise lines offer world cruises, including Azamara, Cunard, Holland America, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, and Viking. Many depart in January, which makes for an adventurous start to a new year. To provide a taste of the variety found in world cruise itineraries, here’s a look at some that will set sail in 2025.

Cunard Line’s Queen Anne will set off on her first world cruise from New York on January 18, and this 98-day cruise comes close to circling the globe. The ship will take a westward path that includes a transit through the Panama Canal. Passengers will enjoy overnight stays in ports like San Francisco; Honolulu; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; Hong Kong, China; Singapore; Dubai; and Luxor, Egypt, before disembarking in Southampton, England.

Holland America Line has scheduled several Grand Voyages and World Voyages for 2025, including one on the Volendam that will sail “pole to pole” on a 133-day roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, departing January 25. The ship will sail through the Panama Canal and down the Pacific Coast of South America to Antarctica; then up South America’s Atlantic Coast, with some time to explore the Amazon River. After crossing the Atlantic, the ship will visit Morocco as well as ports in Western Europe, and Scandinavia before turning west for Iceland, Greenland, and a return to Florida.

Oceania Cruises Insignia will take 196 days to sail around the globe, departing from Miami on January 5. This six-month voyage includes port calls in more than 40 countries. Overnight stays include Manaus and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Walvis Bay, Namibia; Cape Town, South Africa; The Maldives; and Tahiti. Ports that are well off the usual cruise path include the islands of Tristan da Cunha; the Comoros islands; Borneo and Brunei; Komodo Island, Indonesia; New Caledonia; and American Samoa.

Many world cruises provide attractive extras, such as onboard credits you can spend as you like, concierge services, and complimentary shore excursions. Air transportation and onboard gratuities may be included in the cruise fare, too.

World cruises tend to sell out, so talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, soon about sailing the world in 2025.

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Truly Local Shore Excursions

It’s a thrill when you sail over the water on a cruise ship, but also when you get off the ship and explore a port of call. Many ports offer a variety of entertaining, educational, or adventurous shore excursions: guided tours, beach days, and visits to cultural sites are always popular. But, some locations offer excursions you won’t find anywhere else. Here are a few of our favorites.

On a cruise of the Alaskan coast, ships can often get close to glaciers as they meet the Gulf of Alaska. If you want to get even closer to these slow-moving rivers of ice, some itineraries offer helicopter viewing and trekking excursions. First, you’ll fly over the glaciers for breathtaking views; then, you’ll land on a glacier for a memorable hike over the ice. For even more adventure, you can add in some dogsledding behind a team of swift Alaskan huskies.

Truffles – not the chocolate kind, but the very rare kind that grows underground – deliver so much complex, earthy flavor that they’re among the world’s most prized ingredients. If your cruise takes you to Livorno, Italy, you can forage for truffles with an experienced tartufaio and a specially trained dog (some truffle hunters use pigs, but they tend to eat the truffles). The excursion may include a glass of wine and some truffle-infused delicacies, too.

Cruises that begin or end in Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, Argentina, may offer a pre-or post-cruise excursion to spectacular IguazĂș Falls, the world’s largest complex of waterfalls. Located on the inland border between Brazil and Argentina, the falls are a string of cascades more than 260 feet high and almost two miles wide. The area around the falls is beautiful, too, and is home to some rare and endangered species like jaguar, tapir, and ocelot. There are also hundreds of types of birds, butterflies, and flowers.

If your ship calls on a port in the Andalusia region of southern Spain – such as Cadiz, Malaga, or Seville – take the opportunity to experience a flamenco show. Flamenco is an art form, most often expressed through music and dance, which has a complex history but is uniquely Andalusian. The bold and elegant music, movement, and costumes tell a fascinating story, especially when accompanied by some Andalusian tapas and a glass of sangria.

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, for help selecting great shore excursions for your next cruise.

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Monday, June 3, 2024

Where to Find Live Music on Board

 There’s something wonderful about listening to live music, and most cruise lines include some live music in their entertainment programs. Imagine relaxing in a comfortable chair with a beverage beside you, floating on the waves but also on the sounds of music; or, jumping up out of your chair to dance to a live beat.

Cruise lines employ first-rate musicians to provide the soundtrack for your cruise. Depending on the ship, you might hear live music in the atrium and by the pool during the day, and in lounges and bars at night.

Holland America Line is known for presenting a variety of live music in special venues on its ships. The venues vary but may include B.B. King’s Blues Club, featuring classic rhythm & blues; Billboard Onboard, a unique piano bar; the Rolling Stone Rock Room, which highlights classic rock from “best of” lists published by Rolling Stone magazine; or the Rolling Stone Lounge, where the band might play any genre.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a variety of live music venues, too. Depending on the ship, you might hear rock hits at Syd Norman’s Pour House; dueling pianos at Howl at the Moon bar; or Merseybeat at The Cavern Club, an homage to the legendary Liverpool club where the Beatles used to perform.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has live music across its fleet, showcasing jazz, blues, big band swing, Latin music, and more. To hear some sweet tunes, look for venues like Boleros, Centrum, Jazz on 4, and the Schooner Bar. Quantum-class ships feature Music Hall, a two-deck-high venue where you can chill, dance, or even play a game of billiards. The entire club is designed for unobstructed views of the main stage, with nothing to block your enjoyment of the music.

Cruise lines that sail smaller ships present live music, too. For example, Regent Seven Seas’ Regent Signature Orchestra plays dance music all around the cruise line’s ships; and Windstar Cruises has live music in the Compass Rose lounge and bar.

Many cruise ships have main-stage productions that also feature live music from a resident combo or orchestra. Some theme cruises are entirely devoted to an era or genre of music, turning a ship into one big performance stage and the cruise into an immersive musical experience.

To find out more about the live music venues on your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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