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, February 23, 2015

Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao

Just off the northern coast of Venezuela in the Southern Caribbean, the ABC Islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – are unique and beautiful cruise destinations. Part of the Netherlands, the islands have spectacular weather all year long, with average temperatures in the 80s and little rain; and, they are out of the path of most Atlantic hurricane systems.

This small line of islands doesn't precisely follow its “ABC” nickname: from west to east, they are Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

Aruba is dotted with cacti forests and fringed with white sand beaches on the sheltered western and southern coasts.  After docking in Oranjestad, take an excursion to lovely Eagle Beach or Palm Beach, where you can try out some water sports. Aruba offers great snorkeling for everyone from beginners through experts (experts should check out the catamaran tour to the wreck of the Antilla, a German freighter from World War II).  Many visitors are also attracted to Oranjestad’s glittering casinos. 

Curacao’s capital of Willemstad has charming colonial buildings painted in pastel pinks, blues and yellows. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is divided into two districts (Punda and Otrobanda) by Santa Anna Bay; cross the bay on the Queen Emma Bridge, a historic pontoon bridge that swings open for ship traffic. Learn about Curacao’s culture at the Museum Kura Hulanda, the Maritime Museum or the Curacao Sea Aquarium; or visit the Hato Caves, an underground world of limestone formations and waterfalls. The must-have souvenir is, of course, a bottle of Curacao liqueur.

Bonaire, surrounded by a protective reef, is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. The waters around the island are all part of Bonaire National Marine Park, which includes a sanctuary for sea horses. Windsurfing, kayaking, bird watching, kite boarding, fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding excursions are all available on Bonaire, as are tours of a flamingo sanctuary and a sanctuary for donkeys: visitors are welcome to help feed the gentle herd. Ships dock in Kralendijk, Bonaire’s capital, where Wilhelmina Square offers a Cruise Market Place with native foods, original art and clothing for sale.

Cruise itineraries that include the ABC Islands are often seven days or more, usually departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami or San Juan. Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to help you select a cruise that visits one, two or all three of these memorable islands.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Looking Ahead: What Will be New in Cruising in 2016

The cruise industry loves returning passengers, and cruise lines work hard to ensure that you can have a new experience each time you cruise. In fact, while 2015 has just begun, they are already working on new itineraries, destinations and ships that will delight you during 2016.

Disney Cruise Line is planning to call on two new Caribbean destinations in 2016: the idyllic islands of Tortola and Martinique. Tortola is known for calm waters that make it perfect for beach and sailing excursions; Martinique has an enchanting blend of French and Caribbean culture, plus stunning views from volcanic Mont Pelée.

Norwegian Cruise Line will add San Juan, Puerto Rico, as a seasonal homeport for the Norwegian Gem, which will sail seven-day itineraries in the Southern Caribbean from late October to early December 2016. In the Western Caribbean, NCL’s new island destination of Harvest Caye, Belize, will be ready to welcome guests.

Some new ships will debut during 2016, providing new onboard experiences. Royal Caribbean’s third Quantum Class ship, Ovation of the Seas, will set sail in mid-2016. Like its sister ships  Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, the Ovation will have innovative entertainment features, including bumper cars; a skydiving simulator; a North Star pod that rises above the ship for 360-degree views; and Two70, where ultra-HD technology provides cutting-edge entertainment. Royal Caribbean will also debut the third ship in its popular Oasis Class in 2016.

Viking will continue to expand into ocean cruising with the Viking Sky and the Viking Sea, which will be the second and third of four deep-water ships for this well-known river cruise line. The new ships will focus on al fresco experiences, including outdoor dining, expansive sundecks and promenades that fully encircle each ship.

Also in 2016, Holland America Line will introduce its largest ship ever: the Koningsdam, the first ship in the new Pinnacle Class. The 2,650-passenger ship will have some of Holland America’s signature features, such as a traditional teak promenade and the popular Culinary Arts Center; and some “firsts” for the cruise line, including family oceanview cabins that accommodate five (with two bathrooms!).

To check out the growing list of options for new cruise destinations, itineraries and ships during 2016 – and find out about discounts and special offers for early booking – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

A Romantic Valentine’s Day on a Cruise Ship

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year; add a day or two before or after, and you’ll have time to whisk your valentine away on a romantic cruise!

Let’s face it: cruises are inherently romantic, in part because they take you away from the daily routine. You’ll have a comfortable stateroom for two, with stewards to make the bed and fill the ice bucket for you. You can also enjoy swimming pools and hot tubs, sundecks, spa treatments, fine dining, cozy lounges and more.

Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert will help you personalize your Valentine’s Day cruise experience, starting with your stateroom; you may wish to upgrade to a room with balcony so you can enjoy fresh sea breezes and expansive views. And, some ships offer special “ship within a ship” accommodations, with private areas for relaxation.

Many ships offer specialty restaurants as an alternative to the main dining room; ask your Cruise Holidays expert how you can reserve a private table for two. A couple’s massage or other “just for two” treatment in the shipboard spa is another special way to relax together (try to book this early so your and your valentine can feel the benefits throughout the cruise).

There are romantic possibilities for time spent off the ship, too. Ask your Cruise Holidays expert about shore excursions for two: perhaps you can spend a day on a quiet beach, touring a vineyard, taking a ride in a hot air balloon or swimming at the base of a waterfall.

Your Cruise Holidays expert can provide details on specific cruises, such as the “Sail Across the Sun” Music, Food and Wine Festival cruise, departing February 13 from Miami on the Norwegian Pearl. You and your sweetie can enjoy four days of wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and musical performances, with port calls in Key West and Great Stirrup Cay.

Or, take a West Coast Getaway Cruise on the Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess, departing February 10 from Los Angeles. After four days of cruising the Pacific, you’ll get back to LA just in time to enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day in the City of Angels.

Anita, your Cruise Holidays expert can help you arrange other special touches, too, such as a vase of fresh flowers or a bottle of champagne for your stateroom. Don’t wait to make arrangements, though – Valentine’s Day isn’t far away!

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Popular Cruise Ships for 2015

Cruise Holidays recently conducted a survey of its agencies across North America, asking its cruise experts to use actual client booking data to help identify trends in cruise travel. We previously looked at the most popular destinations nationally and internationally; now, let’s look at the most popular ships, based on bookings for 2015.

1.     Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean. This ship’s recent $7 million refurbishment added digital signage that makes it easier to find your way around the 3,600-passenger ship; a cupcake shop; an Italian restaurant; and a nursery for the youngest guests. Royal Caribbean’s signature entertainment features, including a surfing simulator and ice skating rink, make the ship a great choice for families.

2.     Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean. First launched in 2009 with an innovative “neighborhoods” concept, this 5,400-passenger ship had a recent overhaul to add some of the dining and technology features found on the line’s newest ships. This March, the ship will unveil its Dynamic Dining program, with nearly 20 restaurants for passengers to choose from.

3.     Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Cruises. This 2,100-passenger ship serves as something of a laboratory; it’s where Celebrity tests out new dining and entertainment programs. Because there’s always something new on board, this ship tends to attract repeat passengers.

4.     Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean. This is the nearly identical twin sister of the Oasis of the Seas, but some thoughtful touches make it unique. For example, the Allure features a casual hot dog stand, a cantina, the first Starbucks at sea, and some high-end shops that are not found on the Oasis.

5.     Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises. This sophisticated, 3,046-passenger ship has all the popular features of the cruise line’s Solstice Class, including the grassy Lawn Club. It’s the largest ship in the Solstice Class, which allows more room for the luxurious suites, including the Reflection, Signature and AquaClass Spa suites.

Cruise Holidays also asked its experts which ships are most popular for group bookings (eight staterooms or more). Some of the ships above are in the top five for groups, too:

1.     Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Cruises
2.     Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises
3.     Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
4.     Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Cruise Line
5.     Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

While these ships are currently among the most popular, keep in mind that there are more than 400 wonderful cruise ships available to you; and, Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, will help you arrange to sail on any one of them!

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