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, March 28, 2016

Cruising to Hawaii

From the lava flows of the Big Island to the waterfalls of Kauai, Hawaii is a wonderful destination for island-hopping. All of the islands are spectacular, and each has its own unique character, climate, and traditions. There’s plenty of history here, from the ancient kingdoms of Hawaii to the heroics of World War II. And everywhere you look, there’s breathtaking beauty.

There are three basic options for a cruise of Hawaii: sailing roundtrip from Honolulu; sailing roundtrip from the West Coast; or visiting during a repositioning cruise across the Pacific. What are the advantages of each?

Roundtrip from Honolulu: This option really maximizes your time in the islands, as there are no days at sea traveling to or from the West Coast. However, to comply with U.S. laws related to passenger shipping, cruise ships that are not U.S.-flagged must call on at least one international port each time they sail: that’s why some itineraries include a call on Tabuaeran, also known as Fanning Island. This type of cruise is a good option if you have a limited amount of vacation time; most roundtrip-from-Honolulu cruises are about seven days.

Roundtrip from the U.S. or Canada: If you enjoy relaxing days at sea, you can sail to Hawaii roundtrip from several ports on the West Coast. Foreign-flagged ships that depart from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco often call on Ensenada, Mexico, to satisfy the requirement to call on an international port; ships that depart from Vancouver, British Columbia, automatically satisfy that requirement. These cruises are usually about 14 to 18 days, with several sea days in a row at the beginning and at the end of the cruise. Some longer itineraries also visit other lovely islands in the South Pacific before returning.

Repositioning: You can also explore Hawaii (and more) on a repositioning cruise, when a cruise line moves a ship from the West Coast to Asia or the South Pacific, or vice-versa. These cruises take place just once or twice a year and can be a great choice for someone who has plenty of time to travel and enjoys time at sea.

Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, not only about which type of Hawaiian cruise is for you, but when to go. Winter is peak season, late spring offers less crowded ships, and late fall can be a good time for discounts.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Cruising to St. John’s, Newfoundland

Some dispute the claim of St. John’s, Newfoundland, to be the oldest city in North America: but, there’s no doubt that by the mid-1500s, Europeans regularly sailed across the North Atlantic to fish in the waters around the Avalon Peninsula. Today, St. John’s is still a capital of the fishing trade, but also a charming, easygoing place that feels like a bit of Ireland or Scotland floated across the water and attached itself to the eastern edge of Canada.

Shorelines dotted with inlets and coves, hilly terrain and brightly colored buildings all invite cruise ship guests to explore. Ships dock right in town, just a five-minute walk from the shops along Water and Duckworth Streets, as well as the many British-style pubs of George Street. In some of these, you can take part in a “screech in” ceremony (taking a shot spiced rum before kissing a cod fish) that will make you an honorary Newfoundlander, and sample the local delicacies of fried cod cheeks and cod tongues.

Take an excursion to Signal Hill, where signal flags once alerted the town to approaching ships. At the top, Cabot Tower has exhibits about the first-ever transatlantic wireless transmission, received by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901. You can also visit the Johnson Geo Centre; most of this geological interpretation center is below ground, amidst layers of 550-million-year-old rock. There’s also an excellent exhibit on the Titanic.

Built over the former Fort Townshend, The Rooms is a major cultural attraction. It includes the Provincial Art Gallery, with works from across Canada and the world; and the Provincial Museum, with dioramas that depict the natural and cultural history of the area.

To stand on the easternmost point in North America, visit Cape Spear, about seven miles from town. Admire the rocky shore and crashing waves (you may even spot an iceberg) and tour the restored Cape Spear Lighthouse, Newfoundland's oldest surviving lighthouse.

St. John’s is featured on various cruises of New England and Maritime Canada (including some autumn color cruises), transatlantic crossings from Southampton to Boston or New York, and even some world cruises. Most ships visit St. John’s from late May through October, when the weather is most welcoming. To book a cruise that includes this historic and delightful port, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

By the way, when considering itineraries, don’t confuse St. John’s, Newfoundland, with Saint John, New Brunswick. That’s a different port, also well worth seeing. Perhaps you’ll book a cruise that includes both!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Cocktails at Sea

On a cruise ship, sipping a cocktail can be an event. Several cruise lines now offer some of the most inventive cocktails and bars found not only at sea, but anywhere on earth.

At the Bionic Bar on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ships, the bartenders won’t listen to your stories, but they will mix your drinks with precision. That’s because they’re robots, of the type originally developed to manufacture cars. You’ll order on a smart tablet, then watch as the robots pull bottles from an array hanging from the ceiling, add mixers, and stir or shake. Every now and then, they pause to dance or display a cheeky pick-up line on the bar’s digital screens.

If you like your drinks icy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic, Escape and Getaway feature the wonderfully Arctic SVEDKA and Inniskillin Ice Bar, kept at a frosty 17 degrees. The bar, the seating, and the glassware are all made of ice. You’ll be provided with a cozy parka and gloves for your time in the bar, where you can choose from tropically named cocktails (such as the Carmen Miranda or the Blue Caribbean).

Several Celebrity Cruises ships feature the World Class Bar, where craft cocktails are blended using unique mixology rituals performed by skilled bartenders. For example, order a Mystic Ketel One and watch as the bartender cools a mixture of strawberries, pineapple, aloe vera, lime juice, ginger liqueur and vodka in a special kettle, releasing a mysterious and delicious vapor.

To satisfy the chocoholic in you, Princess Cruises’ fleetwide Chocolate Journeys program includes special cocktails that combine the taste of chocolate treats with a cocktail kick. Try the Dirty Piglet (bourbon and vanilla ice cream, topped with chocolate-dipped crispy bacon), a Black Forest Shooter (layers of bourbon, Tia Maria and Cherry Heering) or Ebony and Ivory (twin glasses of tea- and chocolate-infused champagne, in perfect harmony).

To select a cruise where you can indulge in some cocktail adventures, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Tips for Choosing an Asia River Cruise

If you have the urge to explore Asia, a river cruise is a great way to go. You’ll glide along on a floating hotel, enjoying a look at life along a historic and beautiful waterway. Not long ago, China’s spectacular Yangtze River was the main option for an Asian river cruise. Now, you have Vietnam’s Mekong River and Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River added to your choice of itineraries.

The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river, flowing from glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau to the East China Sea. In addition to rural life along the river, overnight stays in Beijing and Shanghai will give you a look at urban life in China. Your ship will sail through the stunning Three Gorges region; shore excursions may include visits to local schools, temples, museums and artisan workshops.
·       Cruises are offered April to October; know that the weather can be rainy June through August.
·       Most Yangtze cruises are part of cruisetour packages of seven to 20 nights, with the cruise portion being three to five nights.

The Mekong flows through six countries, but most cruises are contained within Vietnam and combined with overnight stays in Ho Chi Minh City; Hanoi; and Siem Reap, Cambodia, gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex. Some itineraries include scenic Halong Bay, too. Your ship will sail through peaceful and beautiful scenery, but will also take you to places that show the effects of the Vietnam War. Local people will tell you that “the past is history” as they welcome you to museums, temples and workshops.
·       Cruises are offered all year, including during the May to October rainy season; the air is cooler and drier from November to February.
·       Mekong cruises are typically 14 days or more, including a week on the river.

The Irrawaddy bisects Myanmar, a country that was closed to tourism for many years under a military regime. Cruises visit some of Myanmar’s most significant cultural sites, including Bagan, where the remains of more than 2,000 temples and pagodas lie on a lovely green plain; and Mandalay, the former royal capital.
·       As on the Mekong, the temperatures are coolest from November through February; expect some rain from June to October.
·       A cruise from Bagan to Mandalay is three or four nights; seven-night cruises include the city of Yangon. Longer cruises explore gorges further up the river, or sail the Chindwin River tributary.

Once you decide which river to sail, you’ll have a choice of cruise lines, too. Get help from Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert!

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