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, October 26, 2020

Affordable Cruising

We would all like to book the finest suite on the ship for our next cruise experience, but that doesn’t fit every budget. A smaller budget doesn’t mean a cruise is out of the question, though. All cruises deliver great value, but here are a few ways to help make your next cruise more affordable.

Work with a professional travel advisor. With a wide array of cruise lines, ships, itineraries, seasons, discounts and promotions, it can be quite difficult to find the best cruise deals. A travel advisor is your best guide to a great deal; for example, they know when sailing a week earlier or choosing an older ship can make a difference. They also have access to discounts not available to the public.

Drive to and from your departure port. Driving instead of flying can save money. But, make sure the cost of round-trip airfare is not exceeded by what you would spend on gas and parking, plus the wear and tear on your vehicle.

Enjoy a shorter cruise. If you’re not comfortable with the cost of a seven-day or longer cruise, look for four- or five-day sailings. You still have a variety of destinations to choose from, including New England, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Mayan Riviera, and the West Coasts of the U.S. and Mexico.

Book an inside cabin. It’s nice to have a window, but most inside cabins are cleverly designed, with good lighting and comfortable furnishings; you really may not miss having a porthole or window. Some cruise lines have even created “virtual” windows linked to outside cameras that show the continually changing seascape.

Don’t dine in venues that have cover fees. Patronize the venues included in your fare – you’ll enjoy the food and your budget will, too. Also, fill up on free beverages (usually tap water, plain coffee and tea, and some fruit juices). To indulge in cocktails economically, ask your server about the day’s specials.

Sail with friends. Most cruise lines offer significant discounts for the third and/or fourth person in a cabin, and you can share the savings. If you’re part of a group that reserves 15 or more cabins, most cruise lines will provide one for free; again, a savings you can share.

With the savings from these suggestions, you should be able to purchase some shore excursions, which are a great way to enjoy your destination. For more ideas, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Exotic Destinations

Cruising offers a wide range of vacation adventures – everything from a relaxing “cruise to nowhere” to action-packed expeditions. You can cruise to popular destinations like the Caribbean, the Riviera Maya, or Alaska. But, cruise ships visit nearly every place on Earth that’s close to a major body of water. If you’re looking for a lesser-traveled destination, consider a cruise that visits one of the following ports.

Safaga, Egypt, is a busy commercial port on the Red Sea. But, the town itself is not a reason to visit; the red cliffs, beautiful turquoise water, and excursions to Luxor are. Just north of town is a stretch of sandy beaches where you can rent windsurfing or diving equipment; the wind is steady, and the underwater reefs are spectacular. Luxor is an often-overlooked gem of the ancient world, with temples, sphinxes, and the Valley of Kings, an incredibly well-preserved burial site for the pharaohs of Egypt.

Many ships that call on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar specifically call on the resort island of Nosy Be (Big Island), part of an archipelago off Madagascar’s northwest coast. There are great snorkeling and diving here, but if you stay above the water you can experience the wonderful scents from plantations that produce ylang ylang, cacao, coffee, and vanilla. The Lokobe Reserve has a primary forest populated by unusual animals like black lemurs, mouse lemurs, and vibrant blue panther chameleons.

Burnie, Tasmania, is an industrial city, but it’s also a foodie destination. Take a gourmet food tour to learn about and sample locally produced (and excellent) wines and whiskies, chocolates, truffles, and saffron. There are outstanding cheeses, too, including Mersey Valley and Australian Gold varieties. The island’s abundance of fresh seafood is served in dishes you may not have seen before, like scallop pie.

Experience life in the Arctic Circle on a cruise that ventures to Svalbard, an archipelago of islands about 600 miles off the northernmost point of Norway. These starkly beautiful islands were established as a whaling base in the early 1600s. Svalbard has also been a mining center and is now a base for polar research. More than half the land of this archipelago is protected from development, providing a home for magnificent polar bears, Arctic foxes, reindeer, walruses, seals, and a variety of sea birds.

For information on future cruises to these and other off-the-usual-path destinations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 12, 2020

When You Cruise Again: What to Expect

While waiting to step onboard a cruise ship in a U.S. port once again, you may be wondering how cruise policies and procedures are changing to meet new, pandemic-era health and safety needs. It’s safe to say that there will be lots of changes, some more visible than others. Here’s what we know right now about what you can expect.

 More health screenings. The highly transmissible COVID-19 virus makes it important that everyone who comes on board is healthy. Passengers could be asked to provide documentation that they are virus-free and fit to travel. Expect touchless temperature checks when you board and when entering public spaces on the ship. Hand sanitizer stations have become an onboard fixture in recent years, but expect to see even more of them, along with reminders to use them frequently.

 Masks. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says masks can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent people who have the virus from transmitting it to others. So, as on land, it’s likely that cruise passengers will be asked to wear masks at least some of the time. This may include when you’re in enclosed public spaces on the ship, or in areas where it’s not possible to keep at least 6 feet of physical distance between passengers. Some cruise lines have announced their intention to provide masks to passengers, but before you cruise again, check with your professional travel advisor on whether you should bring your own.

 Fewer passengers. To help make it easier to keep physical distance between passengers, ships are likely to reduce passenger capacity. You can also expect smaller group sizes for onboard and onshore activities, and reduced capacity in onboard entertainment, sports and dining venues.

 Less self-service. To help keep things sanitary, you probably won’t be able to serve yourself from the buffet, coffee bar or ice-cream machine. Instead, a crew member will bring your selections to you.

 Behind-the-scenes safety measures. Some cruise lines have announced upgraded air filtration systems, expanded medical facilities and staff, hourly sanitizing of high-touch items like doorknobs and deck rails, and the use of advanced electrostatic disinfection equipment.

 If these expected changes to cruising seem difficult, please remember that these are unusual times; cruise lines, crews, and passengers will get through this together. In addition, pandemic-related restrictions and requirements won’t change the best reasons to cruise: to relax, enjoy wonderful service, and see something out of the ordinary.


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Monday, October 5, 2020

Cruising the Columbia River

  Taking a cruise vacation doesn’t have to mean traveling far from home; you can explore some of America’s most beautiful and historic rivers by cruise ship. That includes the Columbia River, the largest in the Pacific Northwest, essential to the region’s culture and economy for hundreds of years.

 Most week-long Columbia River cruises sail a portion of the Snake River, too. Together, the two rivers create a 500-mile waterway from Clarkston, Washington, to Astoria, Oregon. The superb scenery incudes the sunny, rolling hills of eastern Washington, the spectacularly eroded walls of the Columbia River Gorge, brooding Mount St. Helens, and the verdant green slopes leading to the Pacific Ocean.

 Many explorers have sailed the Columbia; the best-known are Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their Corps of Discovery Expedition. They mapped the river in late 1805 and early 1806 as part of their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Your cruise ship journey will be much more comfortable than theirs, but you’ll feel the excitement of exploration all the same.

 Highlights of a Columbia River cruise include Hells Canyon, a rugged and beautiful wilderness area. The canyon is best seen on a boat tour; watch for ancient pictographs, abandoned mines, and magnificent wildlife such as elk, mule deer and big horn sheep.

 The Columbia River Gorge was formed by the slow, patient progress of water and ice cutting through the Cascade Mountains. This stunning area has numerous waterfalls – Multnomah Falls, which plunges 620 feet, is the most famous. As you pass through the 80-mile gorge, you’ll transition from dry grasslands in the east to temperate rainforest in the west (one reason to pack clothing you can easily layer).

 Fort Clatsop is where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the winter of 1805 (although the current building is a reconstruction built in 2006). You can learn about how the expedition built the original fort and survived a very harsh winter. In fact, the rest of the country was certain that the entire expedition had perished in the Pacific Northwest, so their return to St. Louis in September 1806 caused a sensation.

 Many Columbia River cruises include a pre- or post-cruise overnight stay in Portland, Oregon, as well as port calls in Astoria, at the western end of the river; The Dalles, the last stop on the Oregon Trail; and Pendleton, known for its historic wool trade.

 For more information about cruising the Columbia and other great American rivers, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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