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 22, 2021

Cruise Ship Crew Members to Know

There are many people who work hard to provide you with a great cruise experience; each cruise ship has hundreds or thousands of crew members who perform their duties with skill and dedication. Some interact with passengers every day, while others work behind the scenes to provide a high standard of service to guests. 


So, who are the most important crew members to know during your cruise? Here are our picks: 


Cabin Stewards. Cabin stewards make sure that your cabin is clean and fresh. They are happy to answer questions about your cabin and the ship. They can also fulfill many special requests, from shining your shoes before dinner to finding an extra pillow, and sometimes do these things even before you ask. 


Servers. Table and buffet servers are very knowledgeable about the dishes they serve, and they can answer your questions about ingredients and preparation. They will also relay any specific dietary needs and other special requests to the chefs in the galley. If you have the same servers for multiple meals, they are likely to remember your preferences. 


Bartenders. Cruise ship bartenders are trained to make your favorite drinks just the way you like them. As with food servers, bartenders who serve you more than once will often remember your favorites. 


Cruise Director. The cruise director is an officer of the ship and has a major responsibility: to organize and manage all activities and entertainment for the guests. The cruise director is often the most visible member of the crew, making announcements, introducing entertainers, and ensuring that passengers are enjoying themselves. Large ships usually have several deputy cruise directors you can speak with if you have questions or want recommendations about onboard activities or shore excursions. When you cruise on your own, a cruise director can help you meet other passengers. 


Guest Services Staff. The guest services desk, which is a lot like the front desk of a hotel, is managed by the purser, who is the chief financial officer for the ship. The guest services staff can answer questions about your shipboard account and provide other helpful services, like resetting your cabin entry code or exchanging currency. 


Medical Staff. No one wants to need medical services during a cruise, but it does happen. That’s why every cruise ship has an onboard medical facility staffed by professionals. They can help you with anything from a mild case of seasickness to a medical emergency, including transfer to an onshore facility when needed. 


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Monday, November 15, 2021

Planning Your Holiday Season Cruise

The festive season will arrive soon, and you may be thinking about how to celebrate with family and friends. A cruise is a wonderful way to bring everyone together for the holidays; in fact, a cruise can be a fabulous holiday gift to yourself and those you love. Just imagine relaxing on deck with a refreshing drink, enjoying delicious meals complete with traditional holiday favorites, and joining in holiday-themed parties and games. Best of all, you won’t have to cook or clean up! 


While a holiday cruise is wonderfully carefree, it’s good to do some advance planning. Here are a few things to think about: 


Select a ship and itinerary that will let you celebrate the holidays as you choose. This is especially important if your cruise includes Christmas Day when many onshore attractions are closed. In some ports, you might be able to participate in local holiday observances, but options for activities may be very limited. Some ships spend Christmas Day at sea, with onboard Christmas services and lots of activities. Ask your professional travel advisor to help you select an itinerary that will provide the holiday experience you seek. 


Make your reservations as soon as you can. The holiday season is a very busy time of year for cruising and booking earlier will give you a better choice of ships, itineraries, and cabins. Be sure to make your flight reservations to and from the ship as early as possible, too. 


Most public spaces on your ship will be beautifully decorated for the season, and you may want to bring a few decorations to make your cabin festive, too. Remember to abide by your cruise line’s rules: most don’t allow lit candles, strings of lights, or door decorations that extend into the hallway. Some flat decorations for your door, battery-operated tealight candles, and miniature Christmas trees, menorahs or other symbols of the season will add holiday warmth and cheer to your cabin. 


If you want to bring some small gifts to exchange with your cruise companions, please do. However, if you’ll take a flight to meet your ship, don’t wrap the gifts before you leave home – airport security might undo your good work to inspect the packages. Instead, pack a little wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape to make your gifts pretty after you get on board. 


For more holiday cruise ideas and planning tips, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.  


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Monday, November 8, 2021

Accessing the Concierge Lounge

“Concierge” became a profession in the Middle Ages, when these trusted attendants worked to ensure the comfort of the French royal family. By the late 1800s, concierges were at work in the finest European hotels, helping guests with restaurant reservations, shopping recommendations, theater tickets, and much more. 


Today, many cruise ships sail with concierges who assist guests with onboard restaurant and spa reservations, shore excursion arrangements, and other requests. These highly trained crew members often work in a comfortable “concierge lounge.” However, these lounges – and the services of the concierge staff – are available only to certain passengers. How can you be one of them? 


It varies by cruise line, but concierge lounges are usually accessible to a cruise line’s most loyal repeat guests and to passengers in top-tier suites. So, it is worth it to show that type of loyalty to a cruise line, or to reserve a suite that comes with concierge lounge access? 


The answer depends on how much you value the services provided by the concierge staff, the amenities of the concierge lounge, and any additional perks that come with that level of access. These perks vary by cruise line, but may include anything from priority check-in to exclusive shore excursions, continental breakfasts and afternoon cocktails, private sun decks and restaurants, and even complimentary spa treatments. 


Concierge lounge amenities vary a bit by cruise line, but they all offer convenient, fun, and luxurious extras. Here are a few examples: 

·         Celebrity Cruises’ Retreat Lounge has complimentary gourmet bites and drinks all day, as well as a private restaurant, sundeck, pool and hot tub. 

·         Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven Lounge is located in the “ship-within-a-ship” Haven complex. The lounge offers refreshments all day, access to the Haven restaurant, and a private courtyard with a pool, sauna and sun deck. 

·         The Concierge Club on Royal Caribbean ships features a self-service bar during happy hour, plus hors d’oeuvres and petit fours. There’s also a huge collection of CDs and DVDs to borrow. 

·         In addition to snacks and a private sun deck, Disney Cruises’ Concierge Lounge offers a major perk: a private meet-and-greet session with Disney characters. 

It’s important to note that some very high-end cruise lines don’t offer concierge lounges because all passengers receive a high level of personal service (essentially, the entire ship is a concierge lounge). 


To select a cruise line, ship, and/or suite that comes with access to concierge services and amenities, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, November 1, 2021

When to Sail

A cruise is a wonderful way to vacation at any time, but some cruise destinations are available for only part of each year; and, some year-round destinations are at their best in certain seasons. Here’s a quick guide to where to sail when. 
Spring is a nice time to sail to Bermuda; the beaches are less crowded than in summer. And if you find the beaches just a bit chilly, there are golf courses, spas, shops and historical attractions. 
Spring is also a good time to cruise the Mediterranean before the crowds of summer arrive. Both are beautiful, but the Eastern Mediterranean tends to be a bit warmer than the Western Mediterranean in the spring. 
Summer brings Alaska’s brief cruise season, from May through September. Alaska’s cruise ports are busiest in June, July, and August, so look at May or September for lower prices. 
Summer is also the time to cruise Northern Europe; you can sail to the cities that ring the North Sea or the Baltic Sea, visit the fjords of Norway, and even cross the Arctic Circle. Or, choose to cruise one of Europe’s mighty rivers. 

Many cruise fans are surprised to hear that summer is the best time to cruise the South Pacific. May through October is the dry season there; it will still be warm and lush, but with less rain and humidity than the winter months. 
Cruises of New England and Maritime Canada sail from May through October, but September and October sailings include spectacular displays of color-changing leaves along the shore.  
As in the spring, the Mediterranean is lovely in the fall, with smaller crowds at attractions and cooler temperatures than in the summer months. 
Winter in the northern hemisphere is prime time for cruising many southern hemisphere destinations, including New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, and South America.  
If cruising Antarctica is on your travel wish list, winter is the only time to go: passenger cruises visit the White Continent from November to March. 
While the Caribbean is a year-round cruise destination, why not enjoy it as an escape from the chill of winter? There are lots of itineraries to choose from; ask your professional travel advisor about the many itineraries available in different regions of the Caribbean. 

 Finally, if you don’t mind a little seasonal chill, December is a beautiful time to cruise some European  rivers lined with festive Christmas markets.

To select a cruise for any season, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, October 25, 2021

Shipboard Fun with Shuffleboard

Cruising is a wonderful way to visit new places, meet new friends, try food you never heard of before, and play a time-honored yet trendy game called shuffleboard. 

That’s right; shuffleboard is trendy. For decades, most people thought of shuffleboard (if they thought of it at all) as a game for older people, as it doesn’t require a lot of physical activity. But, shuffleboard has recently become more popular with younger generations, and you can find shuffleboard tables, courts pick-up games and leagues at bars and clubs from New York to Seattle. 


On cruise ships, shuffleboard has been a mainstay since the 1840s, when an employee of the Peninsular and Oriental Line (known today as P&O Cruises) adapted an old tavern game called shoveboard. Who exactly created shoveboard and when is information lost to time, but the game’s history in Europe goes back at least 500 years. Aristocrats played this tabletop game, also called shovegroat or shovelpenny, with coins or other metal weights. Using their hands, they “shoved” the metal markers to a scoring area on the opposite side of the table.


If you’ve cruised before, you probably saw shuffleboard courts painted on cruise ship promenade decks or top decks. Playing the game is a fine way to spend some time in the open air, enjoying the sea breeze and views combined with friendly competition. Shuffleboard is a game that almost anyone can play, though it takes time and practice to become a really skilled player. 


A cruise ship shuffleboard court includes two large triangles, about 12 feet apart. Each triangle points toward the center of the court and is marked with zones of different point values. The game is played either one-on-one or in teams of two. The players use long-handled cues to push discs, also called pucks or hammers, over to the triangle on the other side of the court. Everyone aims for the sections of the triangle that are marked with the highest point values, and the first side to reach 75 points wins. 


Be sure to give shuffleboard a try on your next cruise. If you don’t have shuffleboard experience but have played games like bocce, curling, croquet or billiards, you’ll notice some similarities to shuffleboard. 


And if you’re very lucky, your cruise ship may feature another time-honored deck game: quoits, which involves tossing a ring, often made of rope, toward a target. It’s another fun way to spend time on deck, relaxing and enjoying the fresh air. 


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Monday, October 18, 2021

Slow Cruising

Life can move quickly, but there’s a growing appreciation for enjoying the things that are important to us – including travel – more slowly and mindfully. If you’re interested in the “slow travel” trend, you should consider cruising; and, river cruising may be especially well suited to your slow travel dreams. 


Slow travel grew out of the “slow food” movement, which started in the 1980s and celebrates locally produced, traditionally prepared food. Translated to travel, slow movement is all about reducing the pace. Instead of a whirlwind of activities that may leave you feeling like you need another vacation, slow travel provides time to make deeper, more memorable connections with different places, people, and cultures. 


There are several reasons why river cruising fits the slow travel trend so well. First, most river cruise ships are small, which serves a practical purpose – their low, narrow profiles let them glide smoothly under old bridges and into small, city-center docks. But, the size of river cruise ships makes them slow-travel-worthy, too, because most are not equipped with a huge variety of activity and entertainment options. That can be an advantage when you want a cruise experience that’s focused on the places and experiences waiting to be discovered onshore. And, on a river cruise, the onboard activities are often designed to help you get to know the region you’re sailing through. 


While many ocean-going cruises feature one or more days entirely at sea, river cruises usually dock in a new place each day, maximizing your opportunity to explore onshore. With a small number of passengers on board – likely less than 200, compared to 1,000 or more on many ocean-going ships – you can disembark quickly and begin soaking in the local sights, sounds, and tastes. An itinerary with overnight stays or opportunities to venture farther inland can deliver an even more immersive experience. And, even when your ship is in motion, you’re likely to remain in sight of local life on the shore. 


Many river ships also make an effort to reflect local culture in their dining rooms. Staying close to shore makes it possible to bring on fresh ingredients by day and feature them in regional specialties that evening.  


There are lots of rivers that you can cruise in Europe, Asia, India, South America and North America, too. To help you choose a river cruise that will deliver on the joys of slow travel, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, October 11, 2021

Amazing Experiences on a Cruise Ship

Cruises are filled with fun activities, from enjoying the pools and hot tubs to art classes or cooking lessons. But some cruise activities are truly spectacular – you might even find yourself doing something on a cruise ship that you wouldn’t do on land. 

For example, you can go skydiving – or at least have a simulated experience that feels like the real thing. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships have skydiving simulators, glassed-in wind tunnels that deliver the adrenaline rush of skydiving without having to leap out of a plane. Another way to get a sky-high view on a Quantum-class ship is to ride the North Star. This glass-walled capsule rises high above the ship for fantastic, 360-degree views; sunrise and sunset are especially popular times. 

Princess Cruises uses glass to provide a different type of thrill along the SeaWalk, a 60-foot walkway that extends over the side of the ship and is glassed on all sides – including the floor. Find it on the Royal Princess and Regal Princess. 

Another amazing experience for those who aren’t bothered by heights is “walking the plank” on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway-class ships. High above the water, you can walk out on the eight-foot-long, six-inch-wide plank if you dare (don’t worry, you’ll be wearing a safety harness). 

MSC Cruises gets hearts pumping with a Formula One race car simulator. Climb into the single-seat Ferrari and get the feel of driving one of the fastest cars in the world. If you “drive” well – and that’s not easy – you’ll get the checkered flag for the win. 

If you want to do something unusual but more relaxing than an adrenaline rush, visit the Ice Bar on the Norwegian Breakaway, Epic or Escape. Warm coats and gloves are provided, and you’ll need them inside the sparkling, 17-degree Fahrenheit bar where everything – including your cocktail glass – is made of ice.  

For a unique onboard experience that’s even a bit educational, visit the only planetarium at sea on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2. Sit back, explore the galaxies, and be amazed by the universe. 

When you sail on Celebrity Cruises’ Flora – the first cruise ship specifically built to visit the Galapagos Islands – you can go glamping (glamorous camping) on the top deck. After a gourmet dinner, you’ll sleep under the stars in a specially designed cabana. The crew will deliver a sunrise breakfast, too. 

To find out how you can treat yourself to these and other amazing onboard experiences, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 

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