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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Premium Cruising

Cruise lines can be grouped into three distinct categories: luxury, premium and contemporary. Like contemporary cruise lines, the premium lines – such as Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises and Princess Cruises – offer a wide range of activities on board, from shopping and friendly contests to pool parties and dancing. But, a premium cruise line typically provides more upscale accommodations, amenities and service.

Premium cruise line ships tend to be smaller than those of the contemporary lines, generally accommodating 500 to 1,500 guests, though some are larger. Staterooms, on the other hand, tend to be more spacious, with higher-quality furnishings. Many premium ships have a high percentage of staterooms with private balconies. Dining is a step closer to gourmet, and entertainment is more sophisticated. Children are welcome, although special programming and facilities for kids probably won’t be as extensive as on a contemporary ship, and may be absent altogether.

Celebrity Cruises lives up to its name by treating guests like celebrities, presenting them with a mimosa or a glass of sparkling wine when they step on board. Celebrity earned headlines in 2008 with the launch of the Celebrity Solstice: its well-designed staterooms received rave reviews, as did its innovative Lawn Club, a half-acre of real, growing grass for perfect for bocce ball or a lazy picnic. Since then, Celebrity has added more ships to the Solstice class and has “Solsticized” many of its other ships.

Holland America Line maintains some charming traditions on its ships, including afternoon tea; ballroom dancing (gentleman hosts are available on cruises 10 days or more to dance with ladies who are sailing solo); and an elegant ringing of chimes to announce dinner. You’ll also find onboard tennis courts, eclectic shipboard art collections, and – on warm-weather sailings – a frosty glass of lemonade presented to you just when you are most thirsty. Holland America Line ships are also known for their Culinary Arts Centers, where you can watch and learn from experienced chefs.

The ships of Oceania Cruises combine sophisticated surroundings with a warm, casual vibe: a “do what you want, when you want” feeling. One thing you’ll want to do is sample the restaurants on board, including Toscana, which features fresh Tuscan cuisine; steaks, chops and seafood at the Polo Grill; and Waves, an open-air bistro. There’s also the Grand Dining Room, where six courses are served at dinner. Note that Oceania is happy to have children on board, but does not offer children’s programming.

It’s difficult to generalize about Princess Cruises, which has a large fleet of beautiful ships in a variety of sizes and styles. One of this line’s recent innovations is Movies Under the Stars, featuring nightly movies on giant LED screens above the main pools. The Chef’s Table program gives passengers the opportunity to observe dinner preparations in the galley while munching on hors d’oeuvres, then sitting at the chef’s table for a multi-course tasting menu. Princess is also known for organizing memorable weddings for its guests.

In addition, Cunard Line offers a combination of premium and luxury cruise experiences. Standard staterooms are premium-level, with services and dining options to match. Guests who book Cunard’s suite accommodations, however, sleep and dine in luxurious elegance that recalls the Golden Age of cruising.

To explore your options for enjoying the comfort and fun of a premium-class cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday Sales by the Cruise Lines

Some of the cruise line (including Princess) are offering Black Friday sales for future cruises.

"Princess Cruises is planning a post-Thanksgiving sale on Alaska trips -- a first for the company.
The five-day After Thanksgiving Alaska Sale, as the line is calling it, will kick off Friday and bring savings of up to $1,000 on Princess cruisetours in the state -- trips that combine a cruise along the Alaska coast with rail travel to Denali National Park and stays at Princess wilderness lodges..."

The information for the Princess is listed on our Cruise Holiday facebook page:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cruise Review – ms Eurodam in the Eastern Caribbean

We have returned from the Cruise Holidays convention, aboard the ms Eurodam.  During the seven day cruise from Ft Lauderdale, we visited: Grand Turk, San Juan, St Thomas, and Half Moon Cay (the private island of Holland America).  During the next few weeks, we will write our review of the ship and the ports of call.

During one of the sea days, we joined 200 other convention delegates in a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and completed the five-kilometer walk on board the ship to benefit the fight against breast cancer. That was nine laps around the promenade deck of the ms Eurodam.  We were glad for smooth seas… The Eurodam has a fundraiser, On Deck for the Cure, on each seven day cruise.

5k walk around the deck of ms Eurodam

Anita, after the "Walk for the Cure"

Anita, resting after the 5k walk

Anita & Garry - after the Walk for the Cure

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Diving, Snorkeling and More on Turks & Caicos Islands

The stunning barrier reef around the Turks & Caicos Islands makes this destination one of the best in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving. Snorkelers tend to take their time gliding along the long, fragile stretches of multicolored coral. Among the dozens of dive sites, a mile-high undersea wall just 400 yards off the shore of Grand Turk Island is one of the most popular.

But there’s more to this chain of tiny coral islands, just 30 miles south of the Bahamas, than what is found in the water. With average temperatures in the 80s, refreshing trade winds and 350 days of sunshine a year, cruise passengers are likely to find ideal vacation weather when they disembark at the Grand Turk Cruise Center.

Plenty of quality shopping is available in a complex at the dock, but don’t spend all of your time on the island in the shops. Venture out to stroll the beach, take a doze on a chaise lounge with a glass of tropical punch at hand, or rent a private cabana for the day and order up a massage. If you’re looking for something more active, in addition to snorkeling and diving you can kayak, fish for tuna or blue marlin, or ride through the surf on horseback. Dune buggies and bikes are available for rent, too.

If you’d like to learn more about the islands, visit the Turks & Caicos National Museum in Cockburn Town. There’s a display on the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest European shipwreck to be found in the Western Hemisphere, and some believe the ship is Christopher Columbus’ Pinta. Or, take a look at the Grand Turk Lighthouse, which has done its best to warn ships about the island’s reefs for more than 150 years.

At the end of a beautiful day on Grand Turk, you’ll board your cruise ship ready to discuss your experiences on the island over dinner. To find out which cruise itineraries include time in the relaxed beauty of the Turks & Caicos, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shopping, Sightseeing and Sand on St. Thomas

Pristine white sand and calm turquoise waters lie close to the busiest cruise ship harbor in the West Indies: Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. This port is accustomed to welcoming as many as 20,000 day visitors from cruise ships. Your ship may dock at Havensight Pier or at Crown Bay Pier – either is just a five-minute cab ride from downtown Charlotte Amalie. If the docks are full, your ship may anchor in the lovely harbor, and a tender will take you right to the center of town.

Charlotte Amalie is known for terrific shopping. A multitude of shops and boutiques are filled with fine pottery, fabric, artwork, crystal, clothing, perfume, watches and local crafts. When you get hungry, head to Market Square, an open-air market where you can try some of the fresh, local produce.

The port and downtown areas have many interesting colonial buildings form the 17th and 18th centuries. A must-see is Fort Christian, which was constructed when the island was ruled by Denmark and is the oldest standing structure in the U.S. Virgin Islands: one of the dungeons now holds a museum. St. Thomas Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the U.S. It has beautiful furnishings, made of mahogany, that rest on a sand floor. Visit Blackbeard’s Castle – actually, an old watch tower – for a great view of the island and harbor.

If you would rather spend your time in St. Thomas on the beach, you won’t have to go far. Magen’s Bay Beach, Coki Beach, and Sapphire Beach are among the island’s best, and all are within 30 minutes or less of the port. You can snorkel, scuba, windsurf, swim or simply enjoy the soft sand and warm sun.

St. Thomas also offers ferry service to two other U.S. Virgin Islands: scenic St. John and tiny Water Island, known for beautiful Honeymoon Beach.

St. Thomas is a port call on many Eastern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries. You can also find it on Panama Canal and South American itineraries, especially if the cruise sails from or returns to Florida.

For more ideas on what to see and do in St. Thomas, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Contemporary Cruising

Cruise lines can be grouped into three distinct categories: luxury, premium and contemporary. The contemporary cruise lines – such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises – are recognized for their family-friendly, large, amenity-loaded ships. These ships are like floating resorts, with lots of activities for all ages, large spaces for entertainment, sports decks, extensive spa facilities and well-run children’s programs.  These ships also tend to have a variety of dining options – everything from fast snacks to gourmet fare in stylish restaurants – in order to fuel everyone from the youngest to the most senior passengers. Still, with all they have in common, each contemporary cruise line is known for some distinctive features.

Royal Caribbean’s signature on-board activities include rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks and surf simulators. This line’s fleet includes the world’s largest cruise ships – the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, which each accommodate 5,400 passengers. Innovative features on these ships include central courtyards full of growing trees, shrubs and flowers.
Norwegian Cruise Line is known for its “Freestyle Cruising” concept, which offers open seating and extended hours in the main restaurants, as well as multiple alternative restaurants. Casual attire is acceptable all over the ship in the evenings, though you can dress up for dinner if you like.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ large fleet of 23 ships offers a huge variety of itineraries around the world. Long known as the “Fun Ships,” in recent years Carnival has upgraded its ships’ facilities, amenities, entertainment and cuisine. Carnival’s ships now boast water park features, coffee bars, expanded spas, and more comfortable staterooms.
As you might expect, Disney Cruise Lines’ ships are especially family-oriented. While there are plenty of activities a family can enjoy together, there are also on-board spaces and activities specifically for children, teens, and adults. For example, each ship has a quiet pool area for adults to enjoy while the kids are busy with pool parties, dance contests and other supervised activities.
MSC Cruises is a European line with an Italian flair. The ships’ classic interiors feature lots of marble and brass. Still, this line caters to families with a “kids sail free” policy (for those under age 11 staying in a stateroom with two paying adults), as well as entertainment and activities for all ages.
To find out more about contemporary cruise lines, as well as what premium and luxury lines have to offer, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lots of Reasons to Work with a Travel Agent

Even with a universe of online cruise, tour and other travel information at your fingertips, using the services of a travel agent makes good sense – and can save time and money, too.

Travel agents are up to date and in tune with the many travel options available for specific destinations. Rather than spend precious hours researching those options online, let your travel agent walk you through the possibilities and the advantages of each. For example, if you have a desire to explore Europe on your own, your travel agent can help you create a personalized itinerary and can arrange for hotels and transportation where and when needed. If you would like to take an organized tour, your travel agent can help you sift through hundreds of possibilities to find the one that’s best for you.

With their in-depth knowledge of the travel industry and advanced reservations technology, travel agents can find deals that are just as good – or better – than what you can find online. Agents can use their relationships with cruise lines, tour companies, car rental companies and hotels – plus their personal experience with a variety of destinations to get you the greatest value for your travel budget. Agents also know when an online deal is literally too good to be true.

Travel agents can also handle some of the important details of your trip, such as booking a limousine to take you to the theatre; making dinner reservations; and obtaining event tickets. They can schedule tee times, spa appointments, museum tours and much more.

If your itinerary is complicated – for example, if it includes a combination of air, cruise and coach travel – it’s really essential to work with a travel agent. Your agent can make sure that all of the details of an intricate itinerary are set, and will be available to provide help if things change along the way.
Remember, a travel agent will be your advocate for the value and quality you want from your leisure travel. Talk with your Cruise Holidays travel expert about everything he or she can do to make your next travel experience smooth and memorable.