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, October 24, 2011

Discovering the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti, covering the eastern two-thirds of this relatively large island located between Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east. The Dominican Republic has lovely mountains, protected valleys and gentle coastal plains; great beaches with serene lagoons; and year-round golf courses. The island is also known for merengue music, a love of baseball and a flavorful mix of Spanish, African and native Taino cuisines.

Cruise ships may call on the capital city of Santo Domingo on the island’s southern coast. The pier at Don Diego Quay is a short walk from the city’s Old Town area. There are many wonderful colonial era buildings, including the Alcazar de Colòn, a World Heritage site that houses an excellent art museum. Originally, the alcazar was the family home and governor’s mansion of Diego Colòn, son of Christopher Columbus. The Fortaleza Ozama is a 16th-century castle built by the Spanish to guard the entrance to the port, and was so well constructed that it served as a prison until the 1960s.

 Some ships call on Puerto Plata on the island’s north shore, where you can browse through Central Artesanal, an artist’s cooperative, for unique wood carvings, paintings and jewelry. But, you may be distracted from shopping by the city’s Victorian architecture, the surrounding mountains or the beautiful beaches. This area is also known for its rich supply of amber, with some spectacular pieces on display at the town’s Amber Museum.

Other ships dock near the village of La Romana, a great place to search for locally made crafts in the boutiques and shops located around the town.

While visiting, you’ll be able to pick from a variety of shore excursions, such as snorkeling or diving, horseback riding, golf, city tours, bird watching or a relaxing day at the beach.

One or two port calls in the Dominican Republic are often included on cruises of the Eastern Caribbean, which also encompasses the British and American Virgin Islands. Winter is a terrific time to cruise there, and a variety of cruise lengths and itineraries are available. Talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert about all of your options for discovering the Dominican Republic.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cruise to a Holiday Getaway

Cruising is always a special occasion, and never more so than during the holiday season. Ships that are already festive become more so, draped with lights and decorated with beloved symbols of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year. The ships fill with the sound of holiday music and the mouth-watering smell of traditional foods as guests enjoy the ease of celebrating on a cruise ship, where entertainment is always available and the work of menu-planning, cooking and dish-washing happens behind the scenes.

Many cruise ships observe Thanksgiving with a sumptuous meal; Hanukkah with menorah lightings and traditional foods; Christmas with caroling, visits from Santa and holiday-themed shows; and New Year’s Eve with party favors, champagne toasts and a countdown to midnight. Your ship may also offer special activities for kids and families, football games on big-screen TVs or religious services. Holiday festivities and observations vary by cruise line and by ship: talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert about the type of celebration you’re looking for. Here are other some things to consider as you plan your holiday cruise:

Think about who to bring with you. You may relish a holiday cruise as a chance to get away on your own or to spend quality time with a friend or partner. But if you will miss seeing your extended family during the holidays, ask some of them to sail along with you.

Where would you like to spend the holiday or two that will occur during your sailing – at sea or in port? Keep your answer in mind when you select your destination and itinerary. In many parts of the world, the only thing open on Christmas day is the local church. Some Caribbean islands with ties to Great Britain also celebrate Boxing Day on the day after Christmas, meaning many shops and attractions will remain closed.

Finally, book your cruise as soon as you can. The holidays are a high-demand time for cruising, and fares – as well as airfare to and from the embarkation port – can rise accordingly.

Once your cruise is booked, dig out your holiday finery and start packing!

Splendour of The Seas - East Mediterranean (10 days)

Customer comments: 10 day cruise on the Splendour of the Seas

... We just love RCI. They did a great job. This was a smaller older ship, but we liked it fine. Our junior suite was perfect. The veranda was very nice size. There were a lot of Europeans on board, but we did not have any problem with them smoking out on our deck from either cabin on our sides. It was a very nice crowd and the crew and staff could not have been more helpful, and somehow seemed genuine at all times. The room attendant was twice as good as any butler we have ever had on lines much more expensive than this one!!!

 The pics are : Venice (3 great days there at the Molino Stucky Hilton) prior to the cruise. The Giants' Staricase at the Doge's Palace, and St. Mark's Square. Then we are dining at a little spot on the canal near the Realto Bridge. The lion is at Diocletian's Palace (from 300 A.D.) at Split, Croatia; our stateroom and one of the great room-service breakfasts we had each morning before our tours; me in Old Town Corfu which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the waterfront in Crete (we loved Crete!!); In Athens we opted for the Acropolis Museum since we had been to the Acropolis before, and the museum is all new, all glass, and you can see current excavations through the glass floors on all 3 levels. It is amazing and the Parthenon is towering above. It is an amazing tour!!!!! The mosaic is from Delos (tour from Mykonos) We did this the last time and loved it so much we repeated it. The marble lions are also from Delos and there was a lot more excavation that when we were there 2 years ago. The ship shot is from Santorini (crowded, congested and hot there). The cable car is a real bottleneck in getting in and out of there. We fell in love with Katakolon and Olympia....much more impressive than we had thought it would be. The last 3 shots are from there: the stadium, lion heads from Zeus's Temple and me at the latter also. Wow, it was amazing!!! The area was beautiful with corn, melons, cotto, wine grapes and olive groves all round.

The cruise was a delight. Only problems were the intensely hot weather (115 the day we were in Croatia with 84% humidity........this continued most days but not quite as hot, finally some cooling at Katakolon). Also the flights, security, and airports in general were awful. Virgin Air prem. economy was not bad, but we had a few hassles and they lost our luggage in Venice for a day and a half. ...

Monday, October 10, 2011

The World's Largest Cruise Sale is Coming

For five years, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) held the “World’s Largest Cruise Night” each October. This event became one of the very best days to book a cruise, with many cruise lines offering deals exclusively through travel agencies, and only for that day. Last year, the World’s Largest Cruise Night generated an estimated 41,000 cruise bookings.

This year will be different. CLIA is launching a new, week-long promotion – National Cruise Vacation Week, or “The World’s Largest Cruise Sale,” October 17-23.  “Many of our partners tell us that one 24-hour period is not enough time to take full advantage of the tremendous consumer interest generated,” said Bob Sharak, CLIA’s executive vice president for marketing and distribution. “That’s the rationale for National Cruise Vacation Week and we expect it be an even greater success.”

During National Cruise Vacation Week, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert may be able to offer discounts, shipboard credits or two-for-one specials that could help you stretch your cruise budget. The savings might allow you to upgrade your accommodations or add a land tour before or after your cruise. Remember, your cruise fare will include your accommodations and all of your onboard meals and snacks, as well as daytime activities and nighttime entertainment.

If you haven’t cruised before, you'll find that a cruise ship is like a floating resort, with great service and lots of amenities. You won’t need to worry about making dinner, finding a lively nightspot, running to make connections, packing and unpacking, or finding a place to work out. And, you’ll see a new piece of the world every day as you visit different ports.

Talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert about the upcoming National Cruise Vacation Week and securing a great price for your next, or very first, cruise vacation.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yes Virginia, there is a Mt McKinley in Alaska!

My apologies to the author of the famous editorial in the New York Sun.

We have yet to see the mountain, but we know it is there. Twice in the past ten years, we have traveled to Denali National Park on cruise tours, but have not seen the mountain!  Since we spent a total of five days within viewing distance of the mountain, you would think we would get a glimpse, but no…  In fact, 70% to 80% of the visitors to the park do not see the top of the mountain. The reason?  Tourists arrive each summer when the mountain is covered in clouds.  It’s a rare summer day when the top of the mountain is exposed.

In September, two our clients travelled to the interior of Alaska on a cruise tour with Princess Cruises.  They did see the mountain and sent us photos of the view from the Princess Wilderness Lodge.  Thanks Fern for sharing the pictures of Mt McKinley. 

Now, a walk down memory lane. During our hot summer, we had fond memories of our last trip to Alaska.

 Mountain stream near Ketichikan

 River in Denali National Park

Salmon in a stream in Ketchikan

Humpback whale outside Juneau 

 Humpback Whales bubble netting (feeding)

Bald  Eagle near Ketchikan

 Passenger train, near Denali National Park

 Bald Eagle near Denali National Park

Glacier Bay National Park

Garry & Anita in Glacier Bay

Even without seeing the mountain, we have always enjoyed our trips to Alaska.  I believe it is time to start planning our next visit to Alaska...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cruising Barbados

The Southern Caribbean – roughly, the area east and south of Puerto Rico – is dotted with islands that served as colonial outposts and changed hands through the years among the French, the Dutch and the British. The island of Barbados is an exception, as it was associated only with the United Kingdom for more than 300 years until it became independent in 1966.

 Today, the island retains a British flavor – motorists drive on the left side of the road, English is spoken everywhere and you can enjoy a high tea in the late afternoon. However, these British traditions play out in a spectacular Caribbean setting of turquoise water, soft sand beaches and lush tropical foliage – quite different from London.

Strictly speaking, Barbados lies just outside the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea, about 100 miles east of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. While not officially a Caribbean island, it’s included on many cruise itineraries that also feature islands like Martinique, St. Lucia and Grenada. Barbardos lies outside the usual Atlantic hurricane belt, although some recent storms have affected the island.

Cruise ships dock at the cruise terminal in Bridgetown, where it’s an easy walk or cab ride to the capital city’s downtown area. To get a sense of local history, visit the Cathedral of Saint Michael, the statue of Lord Nelson in National Heroes Square or the collection of rare English cannons at St. Ann’s Garrison.

There are gorgeous beaches along the island’s western and southern coasts; some are secluded, others are lined with lively cafes and bars. Crane Beach, with pink sand backed by dunes and cliffs, is one of the prettiest. Some beaches, such as Harrismith Beach and Bottom Bay, have caves to explore. Note that at some beaches, the surf is too rough for swimming, while others are ideal for snorkeling and playing in the water.

The island’s north coast isn’t known for beaches, but for scenic views of the Atlantic surf pounding against the cliffs. For more great views, visit Farley Hill, a national park with the ruins of a grand manor house and a charming hilltop pagoda.

To find out more about cruising to Barbados, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.