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, January 29, 2018

Cruising the South Pacific

The South Pacific is dotted with idyllic islands – about 7,500 of them. Approximately 500 of them are inhabited, which makes deciding which islands to visit slightly more manageable. A cruise is a wonderful way to see as many islands as possible, gliding over the blue water from one fragrant port to another in comfort and style.

The islands that anchor many South Pacific itineraries include Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Fiji.

Tahiti. In addition to stunning beauty, Tahiti is known for pearls in a rainbow of colors, including rare black pearls produced by the black lip oyster. You can learn all about the island’s pearl industry and buy some to take home. But, don’t get so wrapped up in pearls that you miss the Papeete Public Market, just a block from the cruise ship dock. The market overflows with colorful fruits, vegetables, and crafts. Enjoy sipping an ice-cold coconut as you watch the flower lei makers at work.

Bora Bora. This island has a lagoon that’s generally regarded as the most magnificent in all the South Pacific – and that’s saying something. The lagoon is fronted by gorgeous beaches, but the island’s interior has a lot to offer, too. Hike (or ride in a 4x4 jeep) up verdant Mt. Otemanu, a dormant volcano. At the 2,400-foot summit, enjoy the spectacular views.

Fiji. The archipelago of islands that is Fiji is fringed with palms and protected by soft coral reefs that scuba divers love. The cosmopolitan city of Suva is the largest in the South Pacific and a center of culture. But, what many visitors enjoy most about Fiji is the friendly, welcoming people. If you have the chance, let them show you a Kava ceremony, featuring a traditional drink made from the dried root of a native pepper plant.

There are so many other islands that you can visit, such as Samoa (see the stately home of author Robert Louis Stevenson) or the heart-shaped island of Moorea (just a quick ferry ride away from Tahiti). If you venture a little closer to Australia, you might visit Vanuatu, where the water of Champagne Bay appears to fizz (a natural phenomenon created when water passes through volcanic rocks); or New Caledonia, which blends colonial French and indigenous Kanak culture.

It’s always a good time to sail the South Pacific, though you may encounter a few rain showers from November to April. Many cruise lines and ships can take you there on a wide variety of itineraries, so ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert for help!

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Cruising the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands, a truly unique spot on the planet, look a little like a science fiction movie set: there are iguanas that swim, immense tortoises that live longer than most people, birds with incredible wingspans, flightless birds, and other unusual creatures. That’s not to mention the surprisingly arid landscape, complete with lava flows, cacti, and leafless shrubs. Still, the islands are no movie set, but a protected treasure.

The Galapagos archipelago of small islands is a national park and province of Ecuador, which is about 600 miles to the east. Geographically speaking, the islands are young and seem to be in the midst of an evolutionary process that’s different from any other place on Earth. That’s exactly what makes them such a fascinating destination.

Many people who have been to the Galapagos agree that a cruise is the best way to have an immersive experience in these unforgettable islands. It’s possible to travel there on your own, and there are some small hotels and camping sites. But, after you reach the airport on Baltra Island, a cruise provides the easiest (and most luxurious) way to move between islands, and everything you need is on board.

Two well-known cruise lines that can take you to the Galapagos are Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises. Silversea’s Silver Galapagos takes 100 passengers on 7-day cruises that show you all around the islands. Celebrity sails three small ships there – the Xpedition, Xperience and Xploration – and offers a choice of itineraries ranging from 7 to 16 days. Whatever ship and itinerary you choose, the focus of any Galapagos cruise is the incredible islands and their otherworldly inhabitants.

Preparing for a Galapagos cruise includes some careful packing. Must-haves include sturdy walking or hiking shoes, plus water-friendly shoes; a light wind- and rain-proof jacket; sunscreen, a sun hat, and a water bottle to guard against the often hot, sunny and dry conditions; and a light daypack. Light-colored, lightweight, breathable clothing will serve you well as you explore the islands.

You can cruise the Galapagos at any time of year – it may be the most unusual and memorable cruise you’ll ever take. To find out more, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Cruising to Puerto Rico

The port city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a mainstay of Caribbean cruising. A variety of cruises from Florida ports call on San Juan; other itineraries sail roundtrip from San Juan, giving you the opportunity for a pre-or post-cruise stay.

The island of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, so you’ll see some familiar shops and restaurants, and the U.S. dollar is the local currency. Still, it’s unlike any other place in the U.S., with a unique mix of indigenous Taino, Carib, European and African cultures.

If you have just a day in San Juan, don’t miss the old city, a remnant of Spanish colonial days. There are narrow streets of distinctive blue cobblestones winding between buildings that date back to the 16th century. You can see San Jose Church, built in the Spanish Gothic style; Hotel El Convento, built as a convent in 1646; Casa Blanca, home of the Ponce de Leon family; and many other well-preserved buildings of historic and architectural significance.

In addition to the protection offered by massive city walls, Old San Juan was guarded by forts built in the 16th and 17th centuries, including Fort San Felipe del Morro; Fort San Cristobal, and La Fortaleza (or the Palacio de Santa Catalina), which now serves as the governor’s mansion. Old San Juan also has lovely colonial plazas and lots of art galleries, studios, and boutiques that are fun to browse.

If you have more than a day in San Juan, visit the Bacardi Rum Factory. It’s surrounded by beautiful grounds where you can enjoy a Bacardi cocktail. The tour is interesting, too, and will teach you about rum tasting and mixology.

About an hour south of San Juan is El Yunque, a tropical rainforest. Bring your hiking shoes and a rain jacket to walk the trails surrounded by ferns, flowers, and waterfalls.

Puerto Rico also has gorgeous beaches: some bustle with activity, others are secluded and quiet. There are several excellent golf courses, too, including one used by the PGA tour.

If you’re concerned about the Zika virus, note that the peak of the virus, which is spread by mosquitos, seems to have passed in Puerto Rico. You should still pack and use an effective mosquito repellent, especially if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

For more information about San Juan and how to see it via cruise, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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Monday, January 8, 2018

The Top Five Things NOT to do on a Cruise

A cruise is an opportunity for to relax and play, join in deck parties, explore new places, indulge your foodie tendencies and dance the night away. But, while you can let your hair down, a cruise isn’t exactly an “anything goes” experience. Here are some important things to avoid doing on a cruise.

Don’t throw anything overboard. Not anything, no matter how small, and not even if you think no one can see you. Anything you toss overboard could land on another part of the ship, making it a dangerous practice. The worst thing to toss is a cigarette butt; the wind could blow it back onboard, causing a fire hazard. Tossing anything overboard is enough of a rules violation to have you dismissed from the ship.

Don’t skip the muster drill. This drill is mandatory for all passengers; it lets you practice what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. The crew makes sure everyone attends, and the consequences for skipping the drill can be as serious as being dismissed from the ship.

Don’t let your kids run free. Sometimes, parents assume their kids can roam the ship on their own and come to no harm. However, kids can wander into crew areas, get lost, play with elevators or make more noise than the people around them appreciate. Know where your kids are and what they’re doing; and introduce them to the onboard kids’ club, where there will be fun (and supervised) activities.

Don’t lose track of time while on shore. If you’re on a cruise line-approved shore excursion, you’ll get back to the ship on time. But if you’re exploring on your own and enjoy yourself to the point that you’re not tracking the time, be aware that the ship will leave as scheduled – whether or not you’re on board. You don’t want to be left to figure out a way to catch up with the ship at the next port of call.

Don't forget to monitor your onboard account. A cruise provides lots of value for your vacation dollar; everything you need is included in your fare. But some “wants” are extra, and they can add up. Check your account regularly and rein in incidental purchases – such as bar drinks, shore excursions and spa treatments – as needed.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Options for Australia Cruising

Australia, vast and isolated, brims with unspoiled natural beauty and some very sophisticated coastal cities, too. A cruise is a wonderful way to see this island nation, and a wide variety of cruise options are available.

The most basic decision to make about your Australian cruise is whether to cruise between the west coast of the U.S. and Australia or to fly to Australia and make a partial or full circumnavigation along its coastline.

Sailing to or from the U.S. is a great choice if you would like to visit other destinations in the South Pacific. Stops along the way may include Hawaii, Moorea, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and New Zealand. These cruises are usually two weeks in length or more.

If you choose to cross the Pacific by air, landing in Sydney will provide the most options for cruises of Australia, although ships depart from other Eastern Seaboard cities like Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide; and, from Perth (Freemantle), the capital of Western Australia.

Once in Australia, your cruise options are more numerous than you may think. They range from quick two- or three-night cruises between Sydney and Brisbane to full circumnavigations, which take about 30 days. A full circumnavigation enables you to see many of Australia’s most spectacular treasures, including the beaches of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef, and the wild Kimberley Coast. Some itineraries include excursions to interior sights such as the Blue Mountains, Uluru, or one of many national parks.

Your Australian cruise can be aboard a large ship equipped with lots of features and amenities; or a smaller ship that’s able to visit smaller ports, such as the fishing capital of Port Lincoln; Newcastle, near the famous Hunter Valley wine region; or tiny Eden, a charming town with terrific whale-watching.

There are expedition cruises that can take you to Australia’s greatest outdoor adventure areas, including the Great Barrier Reef, where kayak excursions can take you to the reef’s more remote reaches. In the Kimberley region, expedition boats equipped with Zodiac craft can take you deep into red sandstone gorges with sheer walls and thundering waterfalls. There are some attractive options for river cruises, too.

To check out all of the ways you can take the Australian cruise of a lifetime, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

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