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, June 23, 2014

A Sunny River Cruise Forecast

With Europe’s 2014 river cruising season well underway, and a record number of river cruise ships traversing the historic waterways, Cruise Holidays International is sharing data indicating Amsterdam and Budapest are now the most popular river cruise destinations its agencies have booked across Europe this year. In addition, Southeast Asia has the most booked river cruise destinations outside of Europe. The information shared by Cruise Holidays is based on actual bookings by its network of cruise travel agencies for river cruises departing in 2014.

“Amsterdam is Cruise Holidays’ top river cruise destination for 2014, thanks to its role as the hub for most ‘Tulip Time’ cruises, along with many Rhine river cruises,” stated Kevin Weisner, Senior Vice President, Cruise Holidays International. “In culling the data on our river cruise bookings for 2014, Budapest, Hungary, follows closely behind. Its prime position straddling the Danube makes it a top choice for travelers who want to visit treasured European destinations throughout Germany, Austria and Hungary.”

Here are the Top 10 destinations for 2014 river cruises, according to Cruise Holidays International, along with the itineraries and rivers most commonly associated with these cities:

Amsterdam, Netherlands  “Windmills & Tulips”
Rhine (7-day), Dutch waterways (if roundtrip), some Mosel, Rhine/Main/Danube (14-day)
Budapest, Hungary “Grand Tour”*
Danube (7-day), Rhine/Main/Danube (14-day)
Paris, France
Seine (7-day), Rhone (8-10 day), Seine/Rhone (14-day)
Basel, Switzerland “Rhine River Valley”
Nuremberg, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic
Main/Danube, some Elbe
Avignon, France “Provence”
Rhone (7-day), Seine/Rhone (14-day)
Vienna, Austria
Danube (7-day or 14-day)
Chalon sur Saone, France
Bucharest, Romania
Danube (10-day or 14-day, including Black Sea)

*A “Grand Tour” is typically a 14-day cruise of the Rhine, Main, and Danube Rivers.

“The growth in popularity of European river cruising is astounding and shows no signs of slowing down.  In fact, it should be noted that availability for 2014 European river cruises is extremely limited and September is virtually sold out, especially in the more desirable suite categories,” added Weisner. “We strongly advise travelers who intend to go to Europe this year, and have yet to book their river cruise, to be as flexible as possible. But we also advise consulting with one of our Cruise Holidays agents, who can closely monitor if a cancellation arises on a particular itinerary and act quickly to secure a reservation. On the other hand, availability for non-European destinations in 2014 is still fairly abundant.”

Destinations Outside of Europe
While the vast majority of river cruisers choose European destinations, river cruise lines are increasingly adding itineraries around the globe. “This will become even more important as travelers who get a taste of river cruising in Europe find the lifestyle so appealing that they decide to visit more exotic destinations, also via a river cruise. Our Cruise Holidays river cruise experts are shoring up their knowledge of ports around the world, including in Southeast Asia, by experiencing them firsthand so they can counsel their clients on the river cruise lines that are best suited to explore these fascinating destinations,” said Weisner.

Here are the Top Five river cruise destinations in Southeast Asia, according to Cruise Holidays International:

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
Beijing, China
Shanghai, China
Hanoi, Vietnam
Siem Reap, Cambodia

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Special guests aboard cruise ships

Knowing that some cruise passengers want to use their vacation time not only to relax and play but to learn something new, many cruise lines offer enrichment programs with expert lecturers on art, history, the sciences, local culture and other topics. Sometimes, these special guests have so much star power that their presence alone is enough to make you choose a specific cruise.

For example, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recently lectured on a segment of Holland America Line’s 2014 Grand World Voyage aboard ms Amsterdam. As the ship sailed from Durban to Cape Town, Tutu spoke about his role as the first black African to serve as archbishop of Cape Town and about his work on behalf of racial equality throughout the world.

Cunard Line’s flagship, the Queen Mary 2, is welcoming special musical guests during 2014, the ship’s 10th anniversary year. When the grand ship sails from New York on August 27, James Taylor and Band will be on board to serenade guests with two special concerts. The members of London’s National Symphony Orchestra and their conductor, Anthony Inglis, will board the ship for its September 8 departure from Southampton, England. Inglis has been known to ask passengers to form a choir and sing with the symphony, and even to invite a few to take a turn with the baton.

World-famous oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau is a frequent guest host on Paul Gauguin Cruises’ m/s Paul Gauguin. He shares his love of the world’s oceans with cruise guests through lectures, video presentations, and SCUBA dives into the deep blue water. The m/s Paul Gauguin’s special watersports platform takes guests down to sea level, making it possible to dive right from the ship.

Cruise ships are known for providing wonderful dining experiences and menus designed by award-winning chefs: but, on a Celebrity Cruises ship, you can meet a true celebrity chef. Beginning this July, 13 former “chef’testants” from the Award-winning television series “Top Chef” will sail on four Celebrity voyages: one each to Bermuda, Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean. Cruise guests will have the opportunity to meet the chefs; taste their dishes; watch them work in complimentary cooking demonstrations; and even learn from them in private cooking classes.

To learn about more opportunities to sail with special cruise guests, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Lively Rio de Janeiro

Excitement about Rio de Janeiro – as well as development all around the city – has been on the rise since Brazil was announced as host of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, June 12-July 13. Matches will be played in stadiums all around Brazil, from Manaus in the north to Porto Alegre in the south. But, the honor of hosting the final match belongs to Rio and the Estadio do Maracana, one of the world’s largest soccer stadiums. Rio is also set to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, bringing even more attention to this lively and romantic city of sun and samba.

To prepare for an expected 300,000 visitors during the World Cup, the city and its residents (known as Cariocas) have been in a whirlwind of preparation. Cruise passengers who make a port call in Rio this summer and beyond will find new and revitalized transportation options around the scenic city; restaurants and sidewalk cafes ready to serve; and shops brimming with popular souvenirs like Brazilian coffee, Havaianas sandals and soccer jerseys.

Cruise ships dock at Rio’s Pier Maua, where your cruise line is likely to provide transportation to the city center or to the beaches of Copacabana; or, you can easily grab a taxi.

Rio’s historic downtown is known for beautiful churches, some dating back to the 17th century. There are excellent museums, ranging from the National Museum of Fine Arts to a museum dedicated to Brazil’s greatest star, Carmen Miranda. Your cruise line may also organize excursions to the city’s famous samba schools.

Many visitors head for the Art Deco-style statue of Christ the Redeemer, which opens its arms to the city atop 2,300-foot-high Corcovado mountain. You can ride a funicular railway up Corcovado for spectacular views of the city, nestled between Guanabara Bay and a mountainous urban forest. Or, take a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain, a dramatic symbol of Rio, for equally spectacular views.

As in any large city, visitors to Rio are cautioned to watch out for pickpockets and other petty criminals. Follow the common-sense rules sightseeing in a group and staying in well-lit areas.

A cruise that departs from or calls on Rio can take you to other notable South American ports, such as Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and around Cape Horn to Santiago, Chile, and Lima, Peru. To plan your cruise to Rio and more, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

New Cruise Options for 2015

In the midst of 2014’s summer vacation season, cruise lines are planning voyages and putting finishing touches on ships that will delight passengers during 2015 and beyond. And, it’s not too early to consider your options – reservations for many 2015 cruises are being accepted now!

For summer 2015, Royal Caribbean will move one of its Oasis Class ships from the Caribbean to Europe. Beginning in May, the Allure of the Seas will sail from Barcelona, Spain, to ports in Majorca, France and Italy. In addition to wonderful port calls, passengers will enjoy the features of Allure of the Seas’ seven themed neighborhoods.

Celebrity Cruises will unveil a new “Suite Class” of accommodations in April 2015. Suite Class will be a luxurious experience, with priority check-in, butler service, and a restaurant just for Suite Class passengers; plus, privileges in the ship’s specialty restaurants, unlimited premium beverage service and complimentary Internet access. That’s in addition to sumptuous suites such as the Reflection Suite, with a glass-walled shower that cantilevers over the ocean.

Viking, known for river cruises, will introduce Viking Ocean in 2015 – the first new major ocean cruise line in nearly a decade. The Viking Star is scheduled for delivery in early 2015 and will be joined by three more ocean-going ships through 2017. The new ships will incorporate popular features from Viking’s river ships, including an indoor/outdoor dining area. The 928-passenger ships are expected to have a boutique-hotel feel with Nordic-style spas (think snow rooms and saunas).

Disney Cruise Line has announced Northern European itineraries for 2015, marking a return to the Baltic and the first time Disney ships will venture to Norway and Iceland. The Disney Magic will sail seven- and nine-night cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark, to the Norwegian fjords that served as inspiration for the Disney movie “Frozen.” An 11-night itinerary will sail on to Scotland and Iceland, too.

For Princess Cruises, 2015 will be a celebration of its 50th year. To put a cap on it, the Pacific Princess will depart December 3 to call on Mexican Riviera ports from the line’s very first cruise, including Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, along with newer destinations like La Paz and Loreto. Guests will celebrate Princess’ half-century of cruising alongside some surprise special guests.

Norwegian Cruise Line is planning to return to South America in 2015 for the first time since 2010. The Norwegian Sun will sail 14-day cruises between Santiago (for Valparaiso), Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, from November 2015 to March 2016. The ship will call on ports in Chile, Argentina, the Falkland Islands and Uruguay.

For help making cruise plans for 2015 and beyond, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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