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, April 27, 2020

Voluntourism on a Cruise

Travel is a way to enjoy the beauty and diversity of our world, and many travelers want to take action to help improve the economy or ecology of the places they visit. That’s called voluntourism, and it’s taken hold in the cruise industry.

Voluntourism can help you find a balance between enjoying your cruise and knowing that you’ve done something to help and support the ports you visit along the way. Voluntourism opportunities in the cruise world range from onboard fundraising activities, to spending some time doing volunteer work onshore, to taking a charter cruise with the sole purpose of supporting a nonprofit organization.

Onboard fundraising supports programs from cancer research to preserving habitat for wildlife. Holland America’s On Deck for a Cause program invites passengers to join in a 5k walk around the decks in exchange for a $20 donation. The proceeds support cancer organizations in six different countries, so it’s an easy way to do good (and feel good because you got your exercise). Royal Caribbean holds a similar event to support the World Wildlife Fund (WWF); on some itineraries, you can also “Swim for Sea Turtles” in the ship’s pool. A purchase of WWF merchandise in the onboard gift shop supports the organization, too.

Several cruise lines – including Princess, Holland America Line and Crystal – offer shore excursions specifically designed for voluntourism. You might participate in a beach cleanup, deliver donations of food and clothing, plant trees, visit schools to deliver supplies for students, or help build new homes for hurricane victims. Some voluntourism excursions focus on animals: you could help marine scientists gather data on sea life, care for injured animals, or work on habitat preservation projects.

Some nonprofit organizations charter ships for cruises that raise funds for their causes. A portion of each cruise fare goes to support the organization, and there may be onboard auctions and activities designed to raise additional funds. Examples include cruises that raise money to provide service dogs to veterans, active military and first responders who have disabilities; cruises that support the maintenance of breeding ground habitats for sea life; and most recently, cruises that support assistance and relief for victims of Australia’s wildfires.

Choosing a cruise with voluntourism opportunities makes your vacation so much more than a great time; you’ll be doing good and spreading love, too. For more information, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Cruise Line Libations

To all lovers of cocktails and craft beer: don’t worry that you’ll need to endure a cruise without enjoying your favorite libations. Creative cocktails and brews abound on cruise ships; you can imbibe a familiar favorite or try a new taste. Here are a few of the trendsetting bars you can enjoy at sea, and their signature drinks.

The atmosphere in Celebrity Cruises’ Martini Bar is cool, thanks to the ice-topped bar. The bartenders are cool, too, putting on a bottle-flipping, glass-stacking show. If you can’t pick just one martini flavor, order the Martini Flight to try six: the flavors change over time, but you can count on trying a classic, a fruity Blue Wave, and other delicious tastes.

The Craft Social beer lounge on the Celebrity Equinox offers 40 boutique brews from around the globe; you may find Delirium Tremens from Belgium, Canada’s La Fin du Monde, or Fuller’s London Pride. Perch on a leather-upholstered bar stool or sink into a lounge chair to enjoy your beer with some upscale pub food from the Craft Social menu. A selection of wines and cocktails is available, too.

Part of the fun at Royal Caribbean’s Bionic Bar is that the bar is entirely staffed by robots. On the Harmony of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, the Bionic Bar’s mechanical arms reach up to select from the dozens of bottles suspended above them. These precise mixologists can create a seemingly endless array of cocktails. Try one of the Bionic Signature drinks: the Infinity is a refreshing combination of gin, cranberry, tonic, and lime.

Another great choice for craft beer fans is the Norwegian Escape, which features the District Brew House. A partnership with Miami-based Wynwood Brewing Company means you can delight your taste buds with 24 rotating beers on tap – from hard ciders and IPAs to milk stouts – and 50 different types of bottled beer. You’ll also find District Ale, which is brewed exclusively for the ship. On the Norwegian Bliss, a partnership with M.I.A. Beer Company adds to the District Brew House’s craft brew mix.

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about booking your cruise and, as always, enjoy your cruise cocktails and beer responsibly. Cheers!

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Monday, April 13, 2020

The Cruise Evolution

The popularity of cruising probably owes something to “The Love Boat,” the much-watched Saturday-night TV series that debuted in 1977 and ran for nearly 10 years. Each week, Hollywood stars would board a cruise ship for comedic and romantic adventures. Some scenes were filmed on real cruises along the Mexican Riviera. The actors (and the real passengers) dined in the main dining room, played shuffleboard on deck, danced in the onboard disco and indulged at the midnight buffet.

A lot has changed since then, from how cruise ships are designed to how they entertain guests. For example, the Love Boat was set on the S.S. Pacific Princess, which carried 750 passengers at most. Today, some ships can sail with 6,000 passengers; a ship that carries less than 1,000 is most often a luxury or specialty ship. Ships now have better stabilizers, which help minimize seasickness, as well as modern safety systems and eco-friendly features.

Dressing up for dinner was a daily event on the Love Boat, but today’s passengers favor more casual, “dine when and where you like” programs. They often bypass the main dining room in favor of onboard specialty restaurants, casual caf├ęs, and high-end quick-serve options. The midnight buffet has departed, but if the midnight hour finds you hungry, many ships have 24-hour room service.

Dance lessons, sunbathing and theme parties are time-honored cruise activities, but today’s ships offer so much more to do. Onboard spas offer the newest treatments (think Thai poultice massage and ginger-lime scrubs), and fitness centers have equipment and classes you may not have encountered on land yet. Depending on your ship, you might be entertained by water parks, light shows, diving demonstrations, or Broadway-style musicals in high-caliber theaters.

Staterooms have evolved, too, with more amenities in even the most economical cabins. Flat-screen TVs, minifridges, safes, hairdryers, high-end toiletries and clever spaces for storage are common. Suites come with even more, such as bathrooms with actual bathtubs, fresh flowers, and plush robes and slippers. Newer ships are designed so as many staterooms as possible have private balconies; on some ships, interior cabins have a virtual window with an ever-changing image of what’s outside the ship.

To appreciate all that’s new about cruising and all that hasn’t changed (such as the fun and romantic ambiance), talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor about the many cruise line and itinerary options available to you.

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Cruising Japan

Perched on the Pacific Ring of Fire at Asia’s eastern edge, Japan is welcoming more visitors via cruise ship. There’s a lot to discover here: in addition to the scenic mix of ocean, temples and mountain peaks, Japan is renowned for its sophisticated city life and quiet country retreats, as well as distinctive art, cuisine, cinema, technology and pop culture.

Popular ports of call in Japan include:

Tokyo. Your ship is likely to dock in the port city of Yokohama, but the metropolis of Tokyo is just 20 miles away. This may be unlike any other city you’ve ever experienced: the busy streets, neon lights, gaming parlors, markets, and myriad bars and tiny restaurants create a non-stop stimulation of the senses. Tokyo’s serene temples, shrines and parks – not to mention the elegant, high-end shops – provide a contrast to the exhilarating activity on the streets.

ShimizuThis is the gateway to Mount Fuji, the sacred, snow-capped volcano that towers over this region of Japan. While Fuji is the dominant attraction, Shimizu is a culturally rich city, with historic buildings and shrines. Shimizu is also known for delicious seafood, including tuna, crunchy sakura shrimp and young sardines called shirasu.

Kobe. Sitting on a sliver of land between Mount Rokko and the coast, Kobe has long been a center of international trade, which explains the European bakeries and international restaurants you’ll find here. Although sections of the city have been rebuilt after devastation by war or earthquakes, the Kitano-cho district features the 19th-century houses of wealthy merchants and diplomats. Kobe is also the gateway to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient imperial capital and spiritual center.

A variety of cruise lines sail in Japan, offering a wide range of itineraries. Seven-day or eight-day cruises are popular, but a longer cruise would give you more time to explore the southern islands, including Okinawa, and northern ports such as Akita and Hakodate. Some longer itineraries include other cruise destinations in Asia, such as ports in South Korea, Taipei, China, or Vietnam.

Because Japan has wonderful places to see inland, some cruises offer one or more overnight stays in port. You can book cruise-plus-land tour packages, too.

As for timing, many people like to visit Japan in spring. The abundant cherry trees are in flower from mid-March through April. Fall, when Japanese maples and other trees turn yellow, orange, red and purple, is also popular.

For more information and to choose your cruise of Japan, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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