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, November 25, 2019

Port of call – Rangoon, Myanmar

Rangoon, the largest city in Myanmar (Burma) has two names, Rangoon and Yangon.  Today, the locals call it Yangon.  The Azamara Quest spent three days (two nights) docked in the river near the city.

Due to changing tide levels in the river, the cruise terminal is on the Yangon River, south of the city.  Unfortunately, the drive to the city is 90+ minutes.  Road construction and traffic can cause major delays.  In this port of call, we were glad we took tours offered by the ship.

A large refinery is near the cruise terminal and gas transports often block both lanes of the two-lane road as they wait to fill their tankers.  On our first visit to Yangon from the cruise terminal, we were stuck in a jam for more than an hour.  Our return to the ship from a tour was more than two hours. 

The tour of the city was fantastic!  The Shwedagon Pagoda is the primary tourist site in the city – and well worth the trip.  The pagoda, covered in gold leaf, is 326 feet tall and is visible from most of the city.  Since it’s an active religious temple, you will need to cover your shoulders and knees – and go barefoot during the visit to the pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda

On the next day, our two-day tour left the ship at 4:30 AM to catch an early morning flight to Bagan to the see the 2000+ temples in the UNESCO World Heritage site that rivals Angor Wat.  The temples in Old Bagan were built between the 10th and 13th centuries. 

The Shwezigon Pagoda is the largest temple in the area and is like the large pagoda in Rangoon.  Again, we walked the pagoda without shoes.  After visiting many temples, we ended the day at the viewing tower and taking a horse-cart ride among nearby temples.   After sunset, we enjoyed dinner and a show at our four-star hotel, the Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort.

Our third day in Myanmar was uneventful.  A slow morning at the hotel, a flight back to Yangon, and a slow return (another traffic Jam) to our ship.  After two busy days, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon on the ship.

A visit to Myanmar was high on our bucket list.  It’s the reason we agreed to host the Distinctive Voyages group on this cruise.  Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert, can give you more information about our three-day visit to Myanmar.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Port of call: Phuket, Thailand

On our group cruise in Southeast Asia, we stopped in Phuket for an overnight visit – two days on the tropical island.  The cruise pier is south of Phuket City and is in a remote location, no nearby shops or tourist sites. The only way to reach the tourist areas is on a structured tour or to take a taxi into the city. It seems that all the venues are an hour or more away from the pier.

On our first day in Phuket, we booked a beach break tour at the Dusit Thani Laguna Resort on the west side of the island.  This is the famous beach area of Phuket. Unfortunately, it rained most of the day and when not raining, it was hot and muggy – not the best day to enjoy the beach.  Since It was a 90-minute drive each way to/from the beach, we did get to see a lot of the island.

We returned to the ship in time to change and have dinner before attending an “Azamazing Evening” event in the city.  There, we enjoyed a folkloric event of song and dance by Thai performers in native attire.   An “Azamazing Evening” is a trademark event offered by Azamara where everyone on the ship is invited to a nearby venue to learn about the culture of the visited country.

Day two was another rainy day and we decided to have a quiet day on the ship and not go ashore. We spent the day enjoying the shipboard offerings of the Azamara Quest.  On a cruise ship, a port day is a great time to relax and enjoy the ship while many of the passengers are off on tour.

Our next port of call, three days in Myanmar.

Interested in an Azamara cruise?  Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays travel expert.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Port of Embarkation: Singapore

In November, we escorted a group on the Azamara Quest, roundtrip Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Our last visit to Singapore was four years ago. The city hasn’t really changed, and we have always enjoyed our visits to the island nation.

As we left Changi Airport for the hotel, I was surprised by the lack of litter, graffiti, and exhaust fumes from older vehicles.  Then I remembered, Singapore takes pride in a clean city and environment.  You can drink the water and eat at the hawker stands (food courts).

Our recommended hotel in Singapore is the Hilton.  It’s on the north end of Orchard road, near shopping, restaurants, and the subway.  We spent three nights at the Hilton Hotel.  It’s in the heart of the city and has plenty of upscale shopping nearby.  We walked a lot and used the MRT (subway) for access to remote sites.   We didn’t go out at night but would not have any concerns about walking to nearby venues – It’s a safe city.

We visited the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel.  It’s the home of the Singapore Sling.  It’s an interesting place to visit but has become very touristy and pricy.  However, the visit to the Long Bar is recommended and you can enjoy the free peanuts and throw the empty shells on the floor - it’s a local tradition.

The subway is a great way to get around the city. The ticket kiosks are located in the terminals where you can buy a ticket: roundtrip or one way for any subway destination on the island.  Don’t throw away your used ticket, you need it to get out of the subway station at your destination.  Besides, the ticket stub is reusable, just add another segment or two to the same paper ticket.  You can use the ticket for up to 6 trips in 24 hours. Uber is not available in Singapore.

If you are going on a cruise from Singapore, be sure you know the name and address of your terminal since there are two cruise terminals on the island and they are not close to each other.   Small ships often sail out of the Harbor Front terminal, near Sentosa Island.  The other terminal is close to the Marina Sands Hotel.  Your cruise documents will list the address for the correct cruise terminal.
Enjoy your cruise!

Questions about Singapore?  Ask Anita, your travel expert at Land & Sea,                                                                                     
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