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, April 23, 2012

Sumptuous “Chef’s Table” Dining

On your next cruise, consider dining at the “Chef’s Table” – it’s a delightful, delicious experience.
What is the chef’s table? It usually takes place at an evening meal, with a small group of guests seated at an exclusive table. Expect to enjoy multiple courses of gourmet dishes that aren’t available on the ship’s usual menus; thoughtful wine pairings with each course; a visit from the chef; and, perhaps, a tour of the galley.

Guests at the chef’s table on a Princess Cruises’ ship enjoy a Champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception with the executive chef, followed by a galley tour at the height of dinner preparations. After being seated at an exclusive table in the ship’s dining room, the group (limited to 10 guests) enjoys a multi-course menu that may include the creative use of fresh ingredients from the day’s port of call. The chef rejoins the group during dessert to discuss the fine points of the meal.
On Carnival ships, the chef’s table is limited to 12 guests. Depending on the ship, the meal may take place in an intimate, non-dining venue, such as the ship’s library or inside the galley itself. The evening begins with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a tour of the galley in full operating mode. The group then dines on special appetizers, entrĂ©es and desserts.
Norwegian Cruise Line introduced a fleet-wide chef’s table program in March 2012. The experience begins with a Champagne reception, where guests can mingle with the ship’s executive chef as well as the food and beverage director, restaurant manager, assistant maitre d’ and head wine steward. The executive chef remains with the 12 guests throughout the meal, describing the ingredients and techniques used to produce each of the nine courses.

While chef’s table programs require an extra fee, they are very popular and reservations fill quickly. Most cruise lines take on-board reservations only, so make your reservation as soon after you board the ship as possible.

For more information about ships with a chef’s table program, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Green Cruising

Panels for collecting solar energy, collection bins for recyclable materials, compact fluorescent lighting in the staterooms – all are visible signs of the cruise lines’ commitment to green initiatives. Many more environmentally conscious practices, including some that are not as visible to cruise passengers, have become common on cruise ships.
For example, new ships have hull designs and coatings that help them move more smoothly through the water, reducing fuel consumption and emissions. In staterooms and common areas, window coatings help keep the sun’s heat outside. More efficient fixtures and appliances, ranging from toilets and showerheads to ice-making machines, help reduce water and energy use.

Greater energy efficiency is also achieved through ship operations. Some cruise lines carefully schedule port arrival and departure times so ships can travel at the most fuel-efficient speeds. Cruise lines also reduce their waste streams by purchasing in bulk, reusing packaging when possible, and actively recycling glass, metal, wood, cardboard and paper. Some ships donate rather than dispose of replaced mattresses, televisions and other furnishings.

To provide their guests with the vacation of a lifetime, cruise lines depend on the beauty of the world’s waterways and their shorelines, so it makes sense to protect them. Many cruise lines donate to organizations that work to protect oceans and marine life.

As the cruise lines come up with new programs and initiatives for environmental protection, you can do play a role, too. On your next cruise, be sure to use energy wisely (for example, turn the cabin lights off and turn the air conditioning down when you leave), hang up your bath towels for re-use, and follow onboard recycling guidelines.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cruising in the Middle East

Cruises that include ports in the Middle East provide an exotic and memorable experience. The Middle East includes some of the world’s most intriguing ancient treasures and modern wonders as well.

Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, is a sleek and quickly developing city on the Persian Gulf. Its spectacular skyscrapers provide a backdrop for sparkling beaches. Venture on shore and you’ll find terrific shopping, from traditional spice markets to huge malls. If you golf, play a round on one of Dubai’s very fine courses. Or, take a desert safari: an exciting ride up and over sand dunes, with lunch at a desert oasis.

The impressive skyline of Abu Dhabi, another Emirate, earned it the nickname “Manhattan of the Middle East.” Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi has fabulous twenty-first century buildings. The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, opened in 2007, uses building materials and furnishings from around the world, including gorgeous gold-plated chandeliers, and is large enough to hold 40,000 worshippers. After a tour of other highlights of the city, high tea at the Emirates Palace Hotel is a treat.

On the Red Sea, Cairo, Egypt, has a bustling population of 16 million people. The “Arab Spring” of 2011 began in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and the energy of that revolution still infuses the city. Cairo has the world-class Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, beautiful mosques and the imposing fortress of the Citadel. Many cruise passengers take an excursion from Cairo to the ancient pyramids, or choose a day cruise of the Nile River.

The Mediterranean port of Haifa, Israel, has a lovely waterfront, terrific restaurants and the gorgeous Baha’i Gardens, which tumble down a hillside to a cluster of restored 19th century mansions serving as shops, bars and bistros. While there are lots of diversions in this multicultural city, it’s also a launching point for tours of lively Tel Aviv or the sacred cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

When cruising the Middle East, be aware of regional customs. In Muslim countries, it’s important to dress conservatively when going ashore: long-sleeved shirts and long pants (not shorts or capris) made of light cotton or linen are appropriate. Women need a head covering (a scarf will do) to visit a mosque. And, take care when you use your camera: in many places, it’s considered offensive to photograph Muslim women.

Some cruises of Middle East are segments of a world cruise or a repositioning cruise. However, there are all-Middle Eastern cruise itineraries, too – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about your options for exploring this exotic part of the world.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Practical Packing for Your Cruise

When packing for a cruise, it’s not unusual to want to pack most of your closet. After all, what if it’s warmer or cooler than expected? What if something gets spilled all over your favorite shirt, and your second-favorite shirt? What if you’re invited to dine with the captain and you have only casual clothing? To avoid over packing, remind yourself of these truths:

·       No one will care if you wear the same clothes more than once, or the same sweater against the evening chill every single night.

·       There will be laundry services on board.

·       If there’s a need for formal clothing, there will probably be a formalwear rental service on board.

·       Even the most spacious cabins and suites have limited storage space for clothing and luggage.

Your destination, itinerary and the dress code of your ship will have a lot to do with the actual clothing you choose – ask your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert for specific guidance. But, in general, choose clothes that you can layer to adjust to different temperatures. Try to limit the number of shoes you bring, but be sure to bring comfortable, closed shoes for shore excursions that involve walking or hiking.

Aside from clothing, give some thought to the non-clothing essentials that should be in your suitcase or carry-on bag. These include your passport and/or other picture ID; a camera to record your adventures; medications; sunglasses and reading glasses; sunscreen; and your own toiletries, if you’re fussy.

Items that you should also consider packing include a hat or scarf to protect against the sun or keep your hair under control on a windy deck; a small tote bag that can hold your camera, book, sunscreen, water bottle and other items as you move around the ship or port.

The cruise line will usually pre-stock your stateroom with a hair dryer, and keep in mind clothing irons are usually not allowed.  For more information, contact Anita, your personal cruise consultant.