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 26, 2015

Cruising the Greek Isles

Whitewashed buildings, deep blue waters, dramatic cliffs, ancient wonders and modern attractions: these are some of the highlights of a cruise of the Greek Isles.

The mainland of Greece lies at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula and includes the city of Athens and its port, Piraeus. If your cruise begins or ends in Athens, you may want to spend an extra day or two there, visiting spectacular historical sites like the Parthenon and the Acropolis.

Sprinkled in the waters around the Greek mainland (which include the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas) are thousands of islands, as many as 6,000 by some counts. Cruise ships most often call on the islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete, although some luxury lines and their small to mid-size ships visit other, less-traveled islands, too.

You’ll want to be on deck when your ship reaches Santorini. You’ll sail right into the caldera of an ancient volcano, a stunning sight. Santorini is one of the most visually dramatic of the Greek Isles, with multi-hued cliffs nearly 1,000 feet high, beaches of black volcanic stone, and pastel-tinted houses. Take the funicular railway (or a donkey) up the cliff to the town of Fira, where charming cafes overlook the sparkling water below.

While Santorini is known for rugged beauty, Mykonos is famous for its golden-sand beaches and a carefree lifestyle. The island first became a retreat for the wealthy during the 1930s; by the 1960s, it was an exclusive playground for celebrities; today, it welcomes cruise ship guests, too. Visit Paradise Beach to party, or quiet Angrari Beach to relax; or, tour romantic Little Venice or the island’s Venetian-built windmills.

When you dock in Crete, you may be surprised by how big and modern the capital city of Heraklion is. Take a closer look, and you’ll see marvelous antiquities, too: a fort built in 1540 by occupying Venetians sits right next to the harbor. You can tour the nearby Knossos Palace, which dates back to the Bronze Age: this is where the Minotaur supposedly lived in an underground maze. Or, browse the shops and stalls of Market Street, then rest in Fountain Square, watched over by the fountain’s stone lions.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the things you can see and experience on a Greek Isles cruise. Many itineraries call on ports in Turkey and Italy, too. Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, for more information about the Greek Isles.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

What’s the Difference Between Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten?

What could be more delightful than the Caribbean island of Saint Martin? The 34-square-mile island is two islands in one: the northern 60 percent is the French Collectivity of Saint-Martin; the southern 40 percent is Sint Maarten, one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The French and the Dutch divided the island between them in 1648, living happily, side-by-side, ever since.

Both sides of the island have hills and mountains cloaked in greenery, traced with hiking trails and edged with lovely beaches. Both have lots of charm, too. And yet, they are surprisingly different.

·       If you want to party, Sint Maarten is waiting for you. The cruise ship port is in the capital of Philipsburg, which bustles with activity. There are lots of restaurants and clubs, casinos, and great duty-free shopping. At the south end of Princess Juliana International Airport, watching the planes is a very popular pastime: they fly as low as 30 feet over Maho Beach in order to land on the short runway.

·       If you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, try the relaxed vibe of Saint-Martin’s beach cafes, sidewalk bistros, pastry shops, high-end shopping and outdoor markets. The busiest area is Orient Beach (read on for more about that).

·       If you’ve always wanted to sunbathe in just your skin, head for Saint-Martin. Both sides of the island have wonderful beaches, but a portion of the beautiful and famous Orient Beach is officially “clothing optional.”

·       If you want to make your spending money go further, you can do so in Sint Maarten. Both sides of the island accept dollars, but the official currency of Saint-Martin is the euro; so, exchange rates make Saint-Martin more on the expensive side for visitors from the U.S. and Canada. Of course, you might be lucky and find a happy hour in Saint-Martin where the bartender will accept the dollar as equal to the euro.

The official language of Saint-Martin is French, and in Sint Maarten it’s both Dutch and English, but English is widely spoken all around the island. And, there’s no physical barrier between the two sides of the island, go from one country to another as often as you like.

If you’re intrigued by the world’s smallest island shared by two nations, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about cruise itineraries that visit Saint Martin.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

What to Pack for a Cruise

If you haven’t cruised before – or if you have, but you brought the wrong clothes – here are some pointers on cruise packing.

Weather can change, even before you get to the cruise ship

First, a very important point: you can do laundry, or have it done for you, on the ship. That may help you pack lightly, which makes it easier for you to get your luggage through the airport and avoid paying more than you need to in baggage fees.

Second, before you pack, check your ship’s dress code (Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can give you a hand). Following the dress code is good form, a part of basic cruise courtesy. And, dress codes have become more casual, even on luxury ships. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with “resort casual” which is typically polo shirts, khaki pants and loafers for men and slacks or skirts, nice tops, and casual dresses for women.

Swim suits, athletic shorts and tank tops are appropriate only around the pool and fitness center. Most of your packing should be longer shorts, capri pants and slacks, jeans (with no holes), sport shirts, button-down shirts and nice t-shirts. Women have the option of skirts and casual dresses, too. Bring a couple of light sweaters for cool evenings, plus a warmer jacket if you are cruising in a cooler climate.

A week-long cruise may include two formal nights, with the rest split between semi-formal and casual. Evening, “casual” means something you would wear to a nice restaurant; semi-formal means something you would wear to a traditional wedding; formal means what you would wear to a fancy New Year’s Eve party, right up to ballgowns and tuxedos.

Once your packing is done, take some things out of your packed bags and put them in your carry-on bag. This will ensure you have some space in your packed bags for things you’ll pick up during your cruise!

Here’s what to put into your carry-on bag, including items you’ll need if your luggage is delayed:
·       Important medications
·       Cruise documents, passport and other identification
·       Basic toiletries, hairbrush, toothbrush
·       A casual change of clothes – such as a bathing suit, shorts and a cover-up – for relaxing on deck
·       A dressier change of clothes to wear to dinner on the ship

Finally, enjoy one of the great things about cruising: once you get on board and unpack, regardless of how long your cruise is or how many ports you visit, you won’t have to pack again until you’re ready to disembark. What a luxury!

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Don’t Wait Any Longer to Take Your First Cruise

 If you’ve never been on a cruise, you’re missing out on a relaxing vacation! Everything you need is on the ship: comfortable lodging, delicious food, daytime activities and evening entertainment. Moving between ports is as easy as it gets (the ship and crew do it all, mostly while you sleep).

So, what’s holding you back?

Princess cruise ship arriving in Ushuaia Argentina (Patagonia)

·       If it’s cost, be assured that cruising is one of the best values in vacation travel. All the features mentioned above are included in the basic fare. And, you only pay for the extras – such as beverages, spa treatments and shore excursions – that you want.

·       If you worry that you’ll get seasick, today’s ships have excellent stabilizers that minimize rolling; most passengers adjust to the slight movement of the ship very quickly. For peace of mind, you can bring along a seasickness remedy, or get some from the ship’s medical staff.

·       If you’re concerned about claustrophobia, you may be surprised by how spacious the staterooms feel, not to mention the expansive public spaces. And, it’s hard to feel closed in when you’re on deck in the fresh air.

Are you worried that you’ll stand out as a first-time cruiser? Cruise ships are essentially big, floating resort hotels, so it may feel more familiar than you think. Still, there are a few important things to know:

·       Beverages are often not included in your fare. When you board, you can purchase a beverage package that will keep you happily hydrated.

·       You may be asked to select an early or late seating in the dining room. Some ships favor multiple, open-seating restaurants, but many still have two seatings for dinner in an elegant main dining room.

·       It’s customary to tip the crew at the end of your cruise. Each cruise line handles tipping a little differently; a Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can give you the details for your cruise.

Finally, if you worry about choosing the right cruise, we understand – there’s an enormous variety of cruise lines, ships, destinations, fares and itineraries. Let your Cruise Holidays expert help you focus on what you want most. For example, where you do want to go? Do you want lots of activities on board, or a quieter experience? Are you most comfortable being casual, or do you love to dress up for dinner? Just let us know, and Anita can guide you to a fantastic cruise experience.

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