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, September 25, 2017

What to Know Before Your First River Cruise

If you’ve booked your first river cruise in Europe, Asia or India, you already know some of the ways they differ from ocean cruises. Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect: you may discover some new tips here, too.

A more intimate experience. Most river ships carry just 100 to 200 passengers, making it easy to be social: you’ll dine and explore on shore with the same people each day, so it’s natural to make new friends. While there won’t be as many dining or entertainment venues as you would find on an ocean cruise ship, you’ll enjoy the advantages of sailing close to shore, which provides a constantly changing view and a greater feeling of connectedness to the places you visit.

River cruises do tend to attract mature travelers who have the time and resources to enjoy this type of vacation; but, a growing number of younger people – and even some families – are choosing the port-filled itineraries and easy pace of river cruising.

Easy sightseeing. Your cruise may include overnight stays in some river ports, but in general you’ll dock somewhere new each day. The smaller passenger count means you won’t need to wait in long lines when you leave or return to the ship. Plus, you’ll often step off the ship right into the center of town. You can explore on your own, or to take an organized tour of the city or inland sites.

Inclusivity. Exactly what’s included in the base fare of a river cruise varies from one cruise line to another, but you should be pleased. Many river cruise fares include shore excursions, Wi-Fi access, beverages, and maybe some special events in port, too.

Opportunities to be active. Most river cruise ships have a fitness area, though there may not be space for an expansive gym. But, there are lots of opportunities to be active on shore. Some ships sail with bicycles you can use in port; in some places, you can cycle ahead to meet the ship at the next stop. And, many shore excursions include opportunities to walk, hike or even do some serious climbing.

If you’re counting the days until your first river cruise, get ready for a wonderful experience! If you’re intrigued and want to know more, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

A Cruise May Not Cost as Much as You Think

Cruises are surprisingly affordable vacations: you get lodging, dining, entertainment and transportation between ports for a set price that compares very favorably with what you would spend if you arranged all that on your own. When people say that cruises are expensive, it may be because they purchased a cruise at the wrong time, sailed during peak season, or purchased onboard luxuries beyond their budget.

There are some simple ways to ensure the greatest value from your cruise vacation:

  • Purchasing a cruise well in advance assures the best fare. Last-minute sales, if there are any, can easily be negated by the cost of last-minute airfare to the port. Booking six months to a year in advance is often best: get more advice on this from your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
  • Peak season brings peak prices, so cruise a little before or after the busiest time. For example, look at Caribbean sailings between Spring Break and graduation season; or the Greek Isles in fall. You should encounter better prices, fewer crowds, and nice weather.
  • Drink packages (unlimited water and soft drinks for a set price) can be convenient, but think about whether it will pay off for you. Check the rules for your cruise line, which may allow you to bring your own bottled water and soft drinks on board, ensuring your preferred brands at a reasonable price.
  • Everyone loves a treatment in the onboard spa, but the prices may turn you away. Don’t give up too quickly – ask if there are discounts when the ship is in port, and you may secure a bargain price.
  • Bypass specialty restaurants that require an extra fee. The gourmet cuisine is tempting, but you can dine very well at the venues included in your base fare. 

Finally, if you love all the luxurious extras and don’t want to go without them, consider booking a cruise on a luxury line. Fares are higher, but they often include shore excursions, alternative dining, laundry services, WiFi and other amenities that cost extra on mainstream ships. Let your budget and Anita, your Cruise Holidays cruise expert, guide you!

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Cruising to Cuba

Cruising to Cuba is nothing new for Canadians, but now, it’s an option for Americans who wish to take a trip to Cuba. Canada-Cuba relations can be traced back to the 18th century and is the third most popular overseas destination for Canadians. In addition, Canada is Cuba’s largest source of tourists with more than one million citizens visiting the country annually.  More recently, there has been plenty of interest from Americans in this large and beautiful Caribbean island. Cruise lines like Azamara Club Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean are calling on Havana, and sometimes other Cuban ports, too.

The U.S. has a long-standing trade embargo with Cuba, and travel to Cuba for purely tourist activities is still prohibited; so, cruise lines are required by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control to ensure that excursions and tours have a focus on education or cultural exchange. This qualifies passengers to fit into one of the 12 categories of U.S. citizens currently allowed to visit Cuba.

The amount of time you spend in Cuba will depend on the cruise line and itinerary. You may have an 8-hour port stop in Havana, a multiple-day visit or even an overnight stay in port. Be sure to review itineraries carefully so that you know what to expect.

Havana is on Cuba’s northwestern coast, and cruise ships dock right across from the old city; some of it expertly restored, some of it crumbling, but all beautiful and historic. The main squares, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja, have architecture that spans centuries. From Plaza de Armas, la Calle Obispo leads to the Hotel Ambos Mundos, were Ernest Hemingway used to write; and El Floridita, where he sipped daquiris. The Museo de la Ciudad, the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes provide a look at the history and culture of Havana.

Other ports in Cuba include Cienfuegos on the southern coast. This city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the harmonious design of the original city streets still evident today. Cienfuegos is also a gateway to the city of Trinidad, which dates from the early 16th century and was once the center of Cuba’s sugar trade.

At the eastern tip of Cuba, the city of Santiago de Cuba cascades down a steep hillside, and there’s a strong Caribbean element to the culture. This is where Cuba's revolution began, and you can tour the Cuartel Moncada, a military barracks attacked by a group of rebels led by Fidel Castro in 1953. The attack was a failure, but an indicator of the revolution to come.

Opportunities to cruise to Cuba may change quickly in the coming months and years, so rely on Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, to keep you up to date.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

What to Pack for a Family Cruise

Cruising is an affordable and inclusive vacation that’s a natural choice for families with kids. And, when you select a family-oriented cruise line, your kids will have an abundance of activities to choose from, so no need to worry about bringing along toys and games. Still, experienced family cruisers know that there are a few simple items you can pack to make the experience even better for your family.

Walkie-talkies. Cruise lines are beginning to offer apps that enable you to communicate with other family members onboard. But for now, if you want to be able to talk with your kids no matter where they are on the ship, your best bet is to bring some two-way radios, or “walkie-talkies.” Be sure to bring chargers or extra batteries, too.

Sticky notes. These come in handy when family members sleep in. If you’re ready to go up on desk for breakfast but everyone else is snoring, leave a quick note on the stateroom door to let them know where they can find you.

Highlighter. Each morning, look through the ship’s daily list of activities and events with your kids. Let them use the highlighter to mark the things you all want to do together

Hand sanitizer. You’re likely to find hand sanitizer dispensers located around the ship, but bring a little for your stateroom, too, and encourage the kids to use it often to help protect them against viruses. You might also want to bring a small pack of sanitizing wipes to help clean doorknobs, light switches and bathroom counters in between the daily cleanings by the crew.

Power strip. To help accommodate everyone’s need to charge up their essential electrical gadgets, pack a small power strip – but only if your ship allows them. Some cruise lines don’t allow the use of power strips or extension cords to avoid stress on their electrical systems.

Refillable water bottles and day pack. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re cruising in a warm place, so bottles you can fill with ice and water come in handy. Bring a small day pack, too, so you can take them with you on shore excursions.

For more ideas on helpful items to bring on your family cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal travel expert.

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