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 18, 2021

Slow Cruising


Life can move quickly, but there’s a growing appreciation for enjoying the things that are important to us – including travel – more slowly and mindfully. If you’re interested in the “slow travel” trend, you should consider cruising; and, river cruising may be especially well suited to your slow travel dreams. 

 

Slow travel grew out of the “slow food” movement, which started in the 1980s and celebrates locally produced, traditionally prepared food. Translated to travel, slow movement is all about reducing the pace. Instead of a whirlwind of activities that may leave you feeling like you need another vacation, slow travel provides time to make deeper, more memorable connections with different places, people, and cultures. 

 

There are several reasons why river cruising fits the slow travel trend so well. First, most river cruise ships are small, which serves a practical purpose – their low, narrow profiles let them glide smoothly under old bridges and into small, city-center docks. But, the size of river cruise ships makes them slow-travel-worthy, too, because most are not equipped with a huge variety of activity and entertainment options. That can be an advantage when you want a cruise experience that’s focused on the places and experiences waiting to be discovered onshore. And, on a river cruise, the onboard activities are often designed to help you get to know the region you’re sailing through. 

 

While many ocean-going cruises feature one or more days entirely at sea, river cruises usually dock in a new place each day, maximizing your opportunity to explore onshore. With a small number of passengers on board – likely less than 200, compared to 1,000 or more on many ocean-going ships – you can disembark quickly and begin soaking in the local sights, sounds, and tastes. An itinerary with overnight stays or opportunities to venture farther inland can deliver an even more immersive experience. And, even when your ship is in motion, you’re likely to remain in sight of local life on the shore. 

 

Many river ships also make an effort to reflect local culture in their dining rooms. Staying close to shore makes it possible to bring on fresh ingredients by day and feature them in regional specialties that evening.  

 

There are lots of rivers that you can cruise in Europe, Asia, India, South America and North America, too. To help you choose a river cruise that will deliver on the joys of slow travel, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 

 

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Amazing Experiences on a Cruise Ship

Cruises are filled with fun activities, from enjoying the pools and hot tubs to art classes or cooking lessons. But some cruise activities are truly spectacular – you might even find yourself doing something on a cruise ship that you wouldn’t do on land. 

 
For example, you can go skydiving – or at least have a simulated experience that feels like the real thing. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships have skydiving simulators, glassed-in wind tunnels that deliver the adrenaline rush of skydiving without having to leap out of a plane. Another way to get a sky-high view on a Quantum-class ship is to ride the North Star. This glass-walled capsule rises high above the ship for fantastic, 360-degree views; sunrise and sunset are especially popular times. 
 

Princess Cruises uses glass to provide a different type of thrill along the SeaWalk, a 60-foot walkway that extends over the side of the ship and is glassed on all sides – including the floor. Find it on the Royal Princess and Regal Princess. 

 
Another amazing experience for those who aren’t bothered by heights is “walking the plank” on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway-class ships. High above the water, you can walk out on the eight-foot-long, six-inch-wide plank if you dare (don’t worry, you’ll be wearing a safety harness). 

 
MSC Cruises gets hearts pumping with a Formula One race car simulator. Climb into the single-seat Ferrari and get the feel of driving one of the fastest cars in the world. If you “drive” well – and that’s not easy – you’ll get the checkered flag for the win. 

 
If you want to do something unusual but more relaxing than an adrenaline rush, visit the Ice Bar on the Norwegian Breakaway, Epic or Escape. Warm coats and gloves are provided, and you’ll need them inside the sparkling, 17-degree Fahrenheit bar where everything – including your cocktail glass – is made of ice.  
 

For a unique onboard experience that’s even a bit educational, visit the only planetarium at sea on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2. Sit back, explore the galaxies, and be amazed by the universe. 
 

When you sail on Celebrity Cruises’ Flora – the first cruise ship specifically built to visit the Galapagos Islands – you can go glamping (glamorous camping) on the top deck. After a gourmet dinner, you’ll sleep under the stars in a specially designed cabana. The crew will deliver a sunrise breakfast, too. 

 
To find out how you can treat yourself to these and other amazing onboard experiences, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 
  

 Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel

 

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Tips for a Smooth Embarkation

Embarkation day is the first day of your cruise when you arrive at the cruise terminal and board the ship. It’s a great day because your wonderful cruise vacation is all ahead of you. Still, there are some things you can do to ensure that embarkation day goes as smoothly as possible – look at our tips. 

 
Complete your pre-cruise check-in. Most cruise lines have an online, pre-cruise check-in process that you should complete well before embarkation day. This helps ensure the cruise line has the information they need to serve you well. Enter your information carefully; for example, make sure the name on your reservation is exactly as shown on the identification you’ll bring with you (more on that in the next tip). 

Print and bring all the documents you’ll need. Most cruise lines provide online access to some important documents to print at home and bring with you, such as boarding passes and luggage tags. You’ll also need to bring the identification documents your cruise line requires, such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, or passports. If you’re not sure what documents you’ll need to bring, check with your professional travel advisor. 

Consider pre-cruise purchases. You may be able to conveniently purchase certain extras – such as beverage packages or shore excursions – before you leave home (but you can purchase them after you board the ship, too). 

Pack a small carry-on bag with essentials like medications and small toiletries; keep this bag with you and give the rest to porters at the cruise terminal (they’ll be delivered to your stateroom). Some activities will be available as soon as you board the ship, so you may want to pack a swimming suit and athletic attire in your carry-on, too. 

Arrive on time
. Many cruise lines assign specific boarding times to help avoid big crowds in the cruise terminal. You’ll have the smoothest experience if you arrive promptly. 


Get ready for your close-up
. Most cruise lines will take a photo of you and your companions as you board the ship (you can purchase it later). 

Explore the ship. Once onboard, take a look around: find your stateroom, check out the fitness center, sign up for tournaments and kids’ clubs, or stretch out on a lounge by the pool until it’s time for the sail away party. And if you’re in the mood for a little pampering, check on embarkation-day specials at the spa for a relaxing start to a fabulous cruise. 

 
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Monday, September 27, 2021

The Cruise Ports of Portugal

 With 1,000 miles of beautiful Atlantic coastline, sunny Portugal is a fantastic cruise destination. Two Portuguese ports – Lisbon and Porto – are featured on some Mediterranean itineraries, especially those that include ports in Spain, Portugal’s neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula. Madeira, a Portuguese island is a popular stop for ships making transatlantic crossings between the Mediterranean and Florida. 

 
Lisbon is a capital city of historic boulevards, castles, monuments, and museums, as well as charming neighborhoods and parks. This is one of Europe’s oldest cities, but most of its medieval buildings were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Still, the Lisbon Cathedral survived, along with the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, rare examples of Portugal’s Manueline architecture. And watch for distinctive black-and-white mosaic-style “Portuguese pavements” in the city’s plazas. If you’re interested in food, get to know some Lisbon favorites: caldo verde soup, bacalhau à brás (cod with potatoes and eggs), grilled sardines, Azeitão cheese, or bifana (a marinated pork sandwich). For something sweet, try pastéis de nata (egg custard tartlets), dusted with cinnamon. Or, head out of the city on an excursion to gorgeous Sintra-Cascais Nature Park. 

 
Porto is perched at the mouth of the Douro River and its port wine region. If you’re comfortable with heights, get a birds-eye view of the city by strolling the pedestrian deck atop the Dom Luís I Bridge. Visit a wine cellar in the Ribiera District to taste different varieties of port, or explore how salt is mined near the colorful town of Aveiro. You can also take an excursion to Portugal’s only national park, Peneda-Geres, for panoramic views of mountains, lakes, stone-walled fields and Roman-built roads. 

 
About 600 miles southwest of Lisbon, mountainous Madeira rises from the Atlantic. There’s a lot to see in the city of Funchal, where the parks are full of gorgeous palms and flowers. Tour the island’s rugged peaks in a 4x4, explore caves and waterfalls on the north side, visit fishing villages and sea pools along the western shore, or take a catamaran off the southern coast to look for whales. Snow is very rare here, but you can still take a toboggan ride down a steep street (using a woven basket sled, with two drivers to safely guide you). Like Porto, Madeira has a long and delicious winemaking history, too. 

 
To reserve your spot on a cruise that visits one or more of Portugal’s beautiful ports, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 
 

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Get Ready for a Great Solo Cruise

If you’re a solo voyager who loves to get to know unfamiliar places and people, a cruise is a terrific vacation choice. There are so many places to sail, and cruise lines are doing more to appeal to solo cruisers. 

At least a dozen cruise lines now offer cabins for one on at least some of their ships. The Norwegian Epic, with more than 100 “studio” cabins, is a great example. Studio cabin occupants also have access to the Studio Lounge, which is equipped with cozy sofas, big televisions, and beverages. It’s the perfect place to meet other solo travelers who may become companions for dinner or shore excursions. 
 
If you choose a ship that doesn’t have solo cabins, you can share a cabin with a roommate; many cruise lines offer roommate matching services. Another option is to reserve a cabin meant for two just for you, which usually requires an additional payment known as the “single supplement.” Some lines reduce this supplement for certain ships and itineraries; your professional travel advisor can help you find them. 
 
Larger cruise ships offer lots of activities and spaces where a single traveler can mingle with other passengers, but some cruise experts recommend smaller ships for those sailing on their own. With fewer passengers, you’re more likely to see the same people each day onboard and onshore, making it easier to start conversations and make new friends. 

When sailing on your own, consider taking a themed cruise, where you’re sure to meet people with a shared interest. There are lots of themed cruises to choose from, centered on music, sports, art, movies and TV shows, history, food and wine, crafts, pets, and many more fun topics. Again, your professional travel advisor is a wonderful source of information and can help you find a themed cruise you’ll enjoy. 
 
Whatever type of cruise and size of ship you decide on, getting to know your fellow passengers can start before you get on board. Look around social media to see if your cruise has a “roll call” – a private chat group just for the passengers on your cruise. It’s a fun way to meet virtually and share pre-cruise tips, knowledge about the ship and itinerary, ideas for onshore adventures, and more. 

And once you’re on board, be sure to get involved. Check the cruise line’s app for a daily schedule of activities, which may include “meet and greet” events just for solo passengers. 

Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel

 

 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Must-Try Foods in Paris

Paris is known for many things, like the Eiffel Tower, romance, and cafes. But it’s also known for its food. Here are a few bites you shouldn’t pass up on your trip to Paris.

Macarons

Macarons (also called French macaroons, not to be confused with coconut macaroons) are a convection created with meringue cookies that sandwich a flavored filling. These cookie sandwiches showed up in Paris in the 1830s from Parisian confectioners and were made popular by Laduree, a famous French bakery. It wasn’t long until the macaron became famous world-wide. It even has its very own day to celebrate! But even though these tasty treats are accessible just about everywhere these days, there’s something about trying them in the country they originated.

Croissants

These are a staple in Paris. They are convenient, easy to eat on the go, and can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways, including on their own or as part of a sandwich. The croissant became popular in France because of Marie Antoinette. The story is that she wanted the baker to replicate her favorite bakery treat from her hometown in Austria. Over time, this treat became lighter and fluffier into what we know the croissant as now.

Some say that you know if a croissant is good if you don’t need to any anything to it. However, French people like to indulge at their weekend brunch and add jam or chocolate to their croissants.

Baguette

Another staple in Paris is the baguette. In the 1920s, laws were in place that prohibited bakers from starting to bake until after 4:00 in the morning. These laws prevented them from having fresh bread in the mornings. The bakers had to be creative to find ways to have bread freshly baked for the mornings and wound up changing the bread’s shape into the baguette we know today. This allowed the bread to bake faster and made it possible for the dough to receive the maximum amount of exposed heat, which gives it that thick crust.

The baguette has been an iconic symbol of France ever since. Like the croissant, it’s a great grab-and-go snack and versatile in the ways you can enjoy it. One way people will enjoy a baguette is to cut it in half with butter and jam. It also pairs wonderfully with chocolat chaud, which is similar to a hot chocolate.

Butter

This is a unique one, but the butter in Paris is a must-try, specifically the Le Beurre Bordier. Here is how this butter is different from the rest:

They only use milk from local farmers who demonstrate the best farming practices. They also take their time when making the butter. Bordier waits 72 hours to use the milk once they get it from the cows, where milk used to make a typical brick of butter is only left to sit 6 hours. This extra time allows the cream to develop its flavor. They even knead the butter at a much slower speed.

It’s also unique because the butter is slightly different based on what season it is. The cows’ diet vastly alters how the butter comes out. When the cows graze on fresh grass in the summer, the butter is much more yellow, smoother, and tastes more savory. In the winter, the butter tends to be lighter in color due to the grass. It’s also more brittle and tastes sweeter.

They also only make the butter on-demand, so you know you’ll be getting the freshest butter!

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is a comforting soup that has become widely popular. There are no definitive stories on the origin of the French Onion Soup, but many that in the 1800s, low-income workers would use the leftover onions that they were selling to make soup to keep them warm. The soup started as just the broth, which uses caramelized onions and beef broth.

In the 1900s, people started seeing this dish in restaurants. The recipe had expanded with the addition of baked bread with a layer of cheese crumbled on top. They then bake the soup until the cheese layer gets crispy and golden brown.

When the soup started being served in restaurants, it became more acceptable amongst all the people to enjoy, not just the working and low-income families, and it's now a staple in French cuisine!

These were only a few must-try dishes to try in Paris, but it's safe to say that there are many more to discover!

Monday, September 6, 2021

Why Children Should Travel

Traveling with children can seem daunting, especially if you're traveling internationally. With long flights and long travel days, differences in cultures, and many other obstacles that can occur, it makes sense why some parents might be reluctant to bring their children on the journey with them. However, traveling with your children, particularly internationally, can provide a vast number of benefits to your children's lives. Here are just a few reasons that you should bring your offspring along on your travels.

Learning Firsthand

Most children learn about other countries' history and cultures in their classrooms at school, but when you travel with your children, they get to experience these places firsthand. Your kids will get submerged into different cultures and learn about the people, traditions, food, agriculture, and much more. This can help children better understand and learn while at school since they can relate it to their personal experiences.

More Adaptable

When you travel, no matter how prepared, there is always an opportunity for a roadblock to arise, such as lost luggage or a late flight. Many things are out of our control that interfere with our plan, which is a part of traveling, and it is an excellent way for children to learn to problem-solve and make the best of these situations when they happen.

Children may also learn that there could be different amenities than what they are used to at home. And depending on where you are traveling to, items or tools may not be as accessible as they usually would be, which is another great way children learn to adapt and go with the flow.

Compassion

As you are traveling, your children may meet other kids from those countries and might learn that those kids' way of living looks different from their own. They might recognize the differences in socioeconomic backgrounds and realize that not all children in the world have as much as they have, leading them to compassion towards others who do not have as much and appreciating what they do have.

Memories

I bet many people can recall most, if not all, the trips they have taken. What about the first toy you were gifted? Can you remember all the toys you had when you were younger? Toys are wonderful, but they're not generally as impactful as the memories we create with traveling. When children grow up, they can look back and recall all their memories from traveling, whether those memories were good, funny, or bizarre, and remember the ones they spent time with and met along the way.

Self-Discovery

When traveling to new countries, we might be stepping out of our comfort zone a little bit. Yet, each time we do, we feel a bit more confident in ourselves. Similarly, with children, someone might be nervous about the activities/excursions that you have planned. When they start to travel, and these opportunities become more common, they get braver and confidence starts to build within them. This confidence then rolls over to when they are back into their regular routine of life.

Traveling can also help children figure out their interests more imaginatively and creatively by seeing the world firsthand. For example, maybe you notice that your child loves the adventure aspect of traveling, and each time you travel to a new country, they want to figure out all the outdoor adventures they can do. Maybe your child is interested in art and is intrigued by the details of buildings and desires to visit art museums. Learning this about themselves can help guide them in figuring out hobbies they want to involve themselves in or even potential career pathways that might be enticing for them.

Taking on responsibilities is another aspect of self-discovery that children might learn while traveling. At some point, all children will have to learn to take on responsibilities. When you give children responsibilities while traveling, this can provide children with more confidence in their own abilities. Maybe their responsibilities at first are to make sure they have their belongings, and when moving hotels or going between airports, they must oversee their items. These responsibilities might increase by having them plan a portion of the trip (with guidance, of course). Not only can this build confidence in children, but it keeps them involved and allows them to express what their interests are.

Bringing your children on international trips can seem overwhelming, but we genuinely believe that you and your children can benefit from these types of travels together.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Travel Solo - Know Before You Go

Traveling solo can be a thrilling experience that pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. However, you want to make sure you prepare before venturing off! Here are some “know before you go” on solo travel.

Leave Your Contact Info with Someone at Home

When traveling, especially overseas where communication might be trickier, it’s important to let someone know your travel plans. Let them know where you’re going, where you’ll be staying, and the travel dates. This will keep your loved ones at home in the loop just in case they need to get ahold of you.

Keep Copies of Important Documents

Always keep copies of your important documents, such as your passport, social security card, and other necessary paperwork. These copies can come in handy in case you misplace one during your travels!

Network

Talk to your contacts about where you’ll be traveling to, they may have connections in those places and could connect you with other people in their network. This is great for solo traveling because it can help give you more insight from locals into where you’re going and, if you feel so inclined, you can meet up!

Bring a Book and a Journal

You may face some long travel days, and since you’ll be traveling solo, having a book to read can help entertain you. Journaling is another excellent way to keep yourself entertained; it’s also great to have so you can document your journey! Trust us on this! It’s fun and special to find your travel journals and read back and recall those travel moments later in life.

Learn How to be Alone

Traveling solo means spending time alone. Depending on your personality, this might be the most challenging part of traveling solo. Being with yourself alone in another country is a big deal but learning to slow down can create a lot of growth, and you can learn more about who you are.

You May Never Feel 100% Ready

This one speaks for itself. It’s hard to find the time and energy to commit to traveling internationally with our busy lives. But is there ever really a “perfect” time to go? You might also be thinking that you aren’t ready to travel solo yet, but again, is there really going to be a “perfect” time? If you’re considering traveling alone, take the leap!

Things Will Go Wrong... That's Okay

No matter if you’re traveling alone or with others, something will go wrong. If you’re traveling solo and something goes wrong, it might be stressful in the moment, but it’s going to make great stores to tell and will help you learn to be more flexible. Roll with it!

Keep Emergency Contact Info on You

It’s crucial that you give someone at home your information on where you’ll be traveling, but it's also essential to keep their information on you as well. Ideally, it’s great to keep this information in multiple places, such as your mobile device and your journal. This is important just in case your phone is out of battery or misplaced and you need to call home.

Understand The Cultures You’re Entering

When entering new countries, we highly recommend learning more about the local cultures before visiting. This can help prepare you for anything you might face, such as clothing restrictions or norms and understanding mannerisms.

Stay Someplace Where You’ll Meet Others

One of the coolest parts about traveling solo is the people you meet. Staying at a place like a hostel, situates you perfectly to meet like-minded individuals who might be traveling solo as well. And who knows, the people you meet on your solo adventure might turn into life-long friends!

Know Where You’re Going

It’s always a good idea to create some kind of plan before your travels. This will help give you an idea of any transportation you might need to take and how to visit each place on your list effectively.

Ask Locals for Recommendations

Talking to locals is a wonderful way to learn about the place you’re visiting. They can tell you the best places to visit that you might miss if you’re just going to the tourist attractions, and as an added bonus, they’re likely to be much less busy!

Try Not to Overpack

When traveling solo, you’re in charge of all your bags. Make sure you’re able to carry all your items before you leave and have room left for any souvenirs you might be bringing back with you.

Try to Act Confidently in Public

Acting confident is key, especially if you’re not sure where you are or where you’re going. When you show confidence, it’s less likely someone will try and take advantage of you. We’d like to believe that most people you meet wouldn’t do this, but you can never be too cautious.

Traveling solo is truly an adventure of a lifetime, and we believe it can add so much value to your life. It can be a scary one, but well worth it!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Minding Your Cruise Ship Manners

Boarding a cruise ship once again – or, for the very first time – will be exhilarating and exciting. But amid the joy, remember the time-honored rules of cruise etiquette that help make everyone’s time at sea more enjoyable. 

 

Don’t reserve lounge chairs. A common breach of etiquette is the “reserving” of lounge chairs on deck; that is, spreading your belongings across several lounges so that you can your companions can sit together later in the day. This rude practice is so widespread that some cruise lines now have policies against it; if you try it, the crew may remove your belongings to the lost and found. 

Don’t party too hard. Just as on land, drinking too much alcohol on a cruise can lower inhibitions and cause problems: being too noisy, hurting yourself or others, or setting the stage for a raging hangover that can cause you to miss the next day’s fun.  

 

Don’t be late. Be on time for dinner, shows, spa treatments and other activities so you don’t inconvenience the crew or your fellow passengers. And when you leave the ship for a shoreside activity, you absolutely must return to the ship on time. If you’re late, the ship can – and will – sail without you. 

 

Don’t let the kids get bored. If you’ll sail with children, think about how you’ll keep them occupied (and therefore, well-behaved). Take advantage of any onboard kids’ clubs and facilities, and bring a few small toys, books or games to help keep them entertained. Also, talk with them before you leave home about being considerate of other passengers and the crew. 

 

Don’t skimp on tips. Tips for the crew are often built into your cruise fare or automatically charged to your onboard account, and while it’s possible to opt-out of tipping, don’t. Cruise ship workers depend on tips for a significant portion of their income and they work hard, often behind the scenes, to provide you with a wonderful voyage. If you do have a negative experience with any crew member, visit the guest services desk to talk with a manager about it; don’t punish the entire crew by withholding tips. 

 

Don’t forget basic courtesy. Sure, you’re on vacation, but that’s no reason to skip the good manners. Saying “please” and “thank you,” holding a door open for those behind you, and saying “pardon me” instead of pushing past others will let everyone know how you would like to be treated while on board, too.  

 

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Sailing in a Spectacular Suite

It’s been proven over and over again that you can enjoy a wonderful cruise in any category of cabin; even the simplest inside cabin has everything you need to rest and relax between activities, dress up for dinner, and get a great night’s sleep. 

Still, if your budget allows it, sailing in a larger cabin does have advantages. And if you’re looking for a truly luxurious, simply over-the-top cabin for your next cruise, here’s a look at some of the most stunning and creative suites at sea. 

 

Each of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class and Quantum Class ships have a Royal Loft Suite, where a giant window wall frames a two-deck-high view. The stylish interiors vary a bit between ships, but include spacious living and dining areas, and lofted main bedrooms with a window-wall view (don’t worry, there are blackout drapes for when you want to sleep in). The most amazing part of a Royal Loft Suite may be the large balcony, with plenty of space for an outdoor dining table, lounge chairs, a bar and a private whirlpool. 

 

On the ships of Viking Ocean Cruises, the Owner’s Suite really is the owner’s suite; these cabins are used by Torstein Hagen, chair of Viking Cruises, when he’s on board. When he’s not on board, the Owner’s Suite still contains some of Hagen’s own art, books, and memorabilia for you to enjoy. The sleek, comfortable furnishings – inside and on the private verandah – are in keeping with the line’s elegant Scandinavian aesthetic. And the bathroom is lavish, with a heated floor, anti-fog mirrors, and a dry sauna with an ocean view. The 1,446-square-foot suites even have an adjoining board room with a conference table that seats 12. 

 

Yet another spectacular suite is on the horizon; now under construction, the Disney Wish includes plans for a two-story suite perched in one of the ship’s signature red funnels, promising fantastic views. A private elevator will open into a double-height living and dining area, with décor is inspired by the movie Moana and views through floor-to-ceiling windows. A spiral staircase will lead to the upper level of this 1,966-square-foot suite, where two master bedrooms will have walk-in closets and their own spacious bathrooms. The kids will have their own room with fun bunk beds, and the suite will have a library, too. 

 

To find out how you can sail in one of these or many other very special suites at sea, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 

 

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Monday, August 9, 2021

Previewing the New Disney Wish

Disney Cruise Line is preparing for the delivery of its fifth ship, the Disney Wish, set to be the first in its new Triton class. The ship is expected to begin cruising in summer 2022, with up to 4,000 passengers on board. The cruise line hasn’t released all the details yet, but here’s a preview of what we’ve heard about the new addition to this popular fleet.

First, how the ship will move is a sign of the times. In keeping with the trend toward more eco-friendly propulsion systems, the Disney Wish will be the first in its fleet to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) for power.

The Disney Wish will showcase another important design trend: the move to fewer inside (that is, windowless) cabins. About 90% of Disney Wish cabins will have a view to the outside; just 10% will be inside cabins. Plus, about 70% of the outside cabins will have private verandahs.

Disney Wish cabins are being designed with families in mind, with features like extra storage space. While we haven’t seen the actual layouts yet, Disney Cruises says family cabins will provide the feeling of separate spaces where kids and parents can relax.

Disney Concierge Level cabins are popular, and the Disney Wish will have more than other Disney ships. Concierge Level cabins come with some special services and amenities, including access to a private lounge and sundeck, exclusive onboard activities, earlier booking dates for excursions, and more.

The theme of the Disney Wish is “enchantment,” and the planned entertainment sounds enchanting indeed. To begin with, passengers will be greeted by Cinderella in a sparkling, three-story Grand Hall. Dining experiences will include a dinner theater inspired by “Frozen” – featuring Elsa, Anna, Olaf and other beloved characters – and another inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where guests will become part of an adventure alongside characters from The Avengers.

Superheroes and classic fairy tale characters are also sure to feature in the ship’s kids club activities. The ship will have spaces just for adults, too – for example, a Star Wars-themed cocktail bar, with views of storied planets, like Tatooine, through the windows.

More entertainment plans include three Broadway-style shows, two theaters with first-run movies, and fireworks displays at sea.

The Disney Wish will initially sail to the Bahamas, with stops at Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. To make your reservation to sail on this enchanting new ship, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

 

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Monday, August 2, 2021

Selecting Your Cruise Ship Cabin

Selecting a cabin for your next cruise is a little like choosing a home: you should consider location, size and price. After all, your cabin will be your home while you’re on the ship. 

 

Let’s start with location, which can have a big effect on your cruise enjoyment. The first thing to know is that “inside” cabins are very nice, but they don’t have windows (although some ships use technology to create virtual windows). If you want natural light, choose an “outside” cabin; but, the size of your window may depend on the deck your cabin is on. On lower decks, there may be a porthole or small window, while mid-level decks and higher often have larger windows, or some sliding doors that open to balconies. 

 

The vertical location of your cabin is important: cabins on lower decks usually provide the smoothest ride, good if you don’t like to feel the motion of the ship. On higher decks, you’re more likely to feel a bit of sway, but you’ll be closer to swimming pools, dining spaces and other amenities.  

 

Consider horizontal location, too. If you want one of the widest views on the ship, look at outside cabins at the bow (front) or the aft (rear) of the ship. But, know that bow cabins tend to feel the most motion; and, aft balconies can lack privacy. Mid-ship cabins usually have good stability and are often close to elevators. 

 

On some ships, all cabins are about the same size; on others, they range from about 100 square feet to lofted, multi-bedroom suites. Balconies also vary in size, from small Juliet balconies to expansive outdoor spaces. If your budget allows, treat yourself to some extra square footage and a balcony you can sit and relax on. 

 

And that brings us to price: always an important consideration. When deciding which cabin options fit your budget, remember the other costs of your cruise vacation, which may include airfare, shore excursions, a spa treatment or two, and beverages onboard. Ask your professional travel advisor to let you know about any special offers that could help you reserve a great cabin while saving more of your budget for other things. 

 

And, remember that what seems to be a great deal on a cabin may mean it has a less-attractive feature, such as a little engine noise or a partially blocked view.  Anita, your travel advisor, can help you consider all the options and make the best choice for you. 

 

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Contact-Free Technologies for Your Next Cruise 

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the cruise industry was working on new technologies to make cruising more convenient. For example, cruise line apps have made it easier for passengers to check the daily activity schedule, message each other onboard, pull up deck maps, make spa reservations, and more. But now that the whole world is more aware of the risks that come with a highly contagious virus, cruise line apps are valued for more than the convenience they deliver: they also make a cruise more contact-free. 

You can expect to see other contract-free technologies on future cruises, such as facial recognition technology. These systems scan faces to quickly recognize you as they get on or off the ship, eliminating the need for crew members to manually check your proof of identity. 

Several cruise lines now provide passengers with wristbands that store the information you need to manage many onboard tasks, from opening your stateroom door to purchasing items around the ship. These wristbands also help with contact tracing if someone on board does become ill; when the crew can quickly identify anyone who has been in contact with an infected person, they can take action to help. 

Every cruise begins with a muster drill, which prepares you to evacuate the ship safely in the unlikely event of an emergency. In traditional musters, passengers leave their staterooms and gather in groups near the ship’s lifeboats. Now, cruise lines are beginning to use technology that eliminates the need to gather at a muster station.

Instead, you’ll use your stateroom television or another device to read or listen to muster instructions. Then, you can individually report to your muster station, where crew members verify your completion of the drill. 

It’s reassuring to know there are always trained medical professionals on a cruise ship; now, telehealth technology means you may not even need to visit the sickbay to see them. Telehealth makes it possible to have a virtual exam without leaving the comfort of your stateroom. The medical staff may also be able to connect you with a specialist onshore, if needed. 

Other technologies that may not even be visible to you will help keep passengers healthy and safe. These include new ventilation and air cleaning technologies, as well as thermal scanning systems that check the temperatures of passengers and crew. 

Anita, your professional travel advisor, can help keep you up to date on new, contact-free technologies that will enhance your next cruise. 

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Make the Most of Your Time on Board


A cruise ship does much more than get passengers from one port to another; it’s a self-contained entertainment complex, too, with loads of options for fun, relaxation and education. So, how can you make the most of your time onboard? 

Our advice is to learn about your ship before you embark. The cruise line’s website has lots of information about the layout and features of the ship and the activities available during your cruise. When you know more about what’s onboard, you can make a plan. Here are a few things to consider: 

With the exception of some river cruise ships, most ships have a swimming pool – and often more than one – surrounded by lounge chairs. It’s easy to spend a whole afternoon there with a good book and a refreshing drink. And, your ship may have options like an adults-only pool or a resort-style waterpark.  

Most cruise ships have fitness centers, too, that rival the best available on land. You can keep up your usual fitness routine, or try something new, like Pilates, spinning, or cardio kickboxing. Some ships also have exercise facilities on the top deck, from walking tracks to zip lines. 

Shipboard spas are very popular; check out your spa menu in advance to see if you’d like a massage, facial or body wrap. Your spa might offer even more, like thermal loungers and snow grottos for the ultimate in hot/cold skin therapy. 

You can also enjoy onboard lectures and presentations; many ships bring experts on board to give helpful previews of the ports you’ll visit, which can help you enjoy the local sights and culture. 

If you’ll cruise with kids, plan to take advantage of any onboard programs for children. These are thoughtfully designed and staffed to ensure young children, tweens, and even teens have a great time onboard. And while the kids are with their new friends, you’ll have time to enjoy your own activities. 

While onboard, check the ship’s daily schedule (available on your stateroom TV or cruise line app) for wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, galley tours, art auctions, and other events you might enjoy. And, be sure to see the onboard shows, which might make you forget you’re not in a Broadway theater. 

One potential problem: you may not have time to do everything you want to do onboard. So, select your top priorities for onboard fun, then plan to do the rest on future cruises. 

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Monday, July 12, 2021

Indulge in Your Interests on Themed Cruises

Do you have a hobby you love, or an interest you want to explore? Ask your professional travel advisor about themed cruises that can immerse you in activities you enjoy, with the added attraction of visiting an exotic port or two. There are themed cruises on topics as diverse as dance, motorcycles, scrapbooking, holistic therapies, food and wine, sports, cats – and many more. 

Lots of themed cruises focus on music. There’s a week-long Jazz Cruise on the Celebrity Summit, scheduled to depart Miami in January with more than 100 jazz musicians on board and ready to perform. The ship will call on the beautiful islands of Curacao and Aruba, too. And that’s just one example; other music-themed cruises will surround you with the sounds of rock, country, hip-hop, soul, classical, disco, and other genres. 

Some themed cruises are based on popular television shows and movies, like Star WarsTop Chef or The Golden Girls. For fans of Star Trek, the mission to explore strange new worlds will continue aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, departing in February from Port Canaveral. The cruise will include themed events, activities, and parties, with Star Trek actors and personalities onboard to join the fun. 

Cunard Line has announced a series of themed cruises for 2022 that will celebrate culture, literature, symphony music, theater and design; these include the line’s first-ever Art & Design Week voyage, launching in August on the Queen Mary 2. As the ship crosses the Atlantic from Southampton to New York, guests will enjoy master classes and onboard exhibitions that celebrate the best of design from the past, present, and future.

Bridge enthusiasts can sharpen their game aboard the elegant ships of Silversea, which has a Bridge at Sea program available on a variety of ships during 2021 and 2022. Participants can take daily lessons and play under the supervision of expert teachers certified by the American Contract Bridge League.

Before you book your themed cruise, find out if it’s a full-ship, partial ship or theme-inspired cruise. On a full-ship themed cruise, the entire ship is devoted to the theme, making it an immersive experience. On a partial-ship themed cruise, you’ll be part of a special-interest group on board, with themed spaces and activities just for your group. And, a theme-inspired cruise welcomes a small group of passengers who are interested in the theme, with special activities for you. To learn more, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.  

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Monday, July 5, 2021

Sail a Segment of a World Cruise

The next time you step aboard a cruise ship, why not take a long cruise? If you’re yearning to get out to sea and explore new destinations, you could consider an amazing world cruise that calls on multiple continents. 

And if you don’t have time for a full world cruise (usually 100 nights or longer), consider booking a segment of a world cruise. It’s a wonderful option for enjoying a long, relaxing cruise without committing to a complete world cruise. 

More good news: there are many world cruise segments to choose from. Here’s a sampling of the segments announced for world cruises set to launch in early 2022: 

The Crystal Serenity will depart from Miami for a 116-night world cruise, but you can book one of three segments, such as the 86-night voyage from Los Angeles to Monte Carlo. 

With two world cruises scheduled for 2022, Princess Cruises has a wide variety of segments, including a 66-day voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Dubai on the Island Princess. The world cruise on the Coral Princess includes a 52-day segment from Sydney to Dover. 

On Seabourn’s 145-day world cruise, the Sojourn will sail from Los Angeles to Piraeus, the port for Athens, including a beautiful 73-day segment from Taipei to Piraeus. 

Cunard Line will have two world cruises in 2022, and each offers a choice of more than a dozen segments. On the Queen Mary, consider the 39-night sailing from New York to Singapore; or, aboard the Queen Victoria, a 51-night voyage from Hamburg to Sydney.  

You could spend a full six months aboard Oceania Cruises’ Insignia, sailing around the world beginning in Miami and ending in New York; or, choose the 29-day Los Angeles to Auckland segment, among others. 

The MSC Poesia’s roundtrip sailing from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) has a terrific selection of segments, including a 36-night stretch from Genoa to Valparaiso. 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Mariner will sail the world roundtrip from San Francisco in 2022; a number of tempting segments include a 35-night voyage from Hong Kong to San Francisco. 

Silversea is another line with two world cruises in 2022, including the industry’ first expedition-themed world cruise on the Silver Cloud; join it in Athens for an adventurous 44-night segment to Tromsø. Or, choose the Silver Whisper and sail a 24-day segment from Ushuaia to Cape Town. 

For more information on these world cruise segments or to explore dozens of others, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 

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Monday, June 28, 2021

A Quick Guide to Cruise Ship Tipping

Tipping on a cruise ship is a good thing to understand before you set sail, and even experienced cruisers can benefit from a quick review of current tipping practices. 

 

The most important thing to understand about tipping the crew on a cruise ship is that it’s customary and expected. It’s a traditional way to show appreciation for the hard work of the crew, but it’s also an important part of the crew’s compensation. Many cruise lines pay base wages with the understanding that crew members will increase their income through tips earned by doing their jobs well. 

 

It used to be common for passengers to tip crew members with cash, but that was not very convenient – it meant bringing a bunch of cash on board, then roaming around the ship to hand it out to crew members on the final evening of the cruise. 

 

So, many cruise lines have automated the tipping process by adding a service charge – usually a set amount per person, per day – to your shipboard account. Some lines even give you the option of pre-paying this service charge when you book your cruise. This is definitely more convenient for you and helps ensure a more even distribution of tips to hard-working crew members, including those who do much of their work behind the scenes. 

 

Some luxury lines have no-tipping policies; but, that can really mean that tips for the crew have already been built into your fare. 

 

While tipping is expected on cruise ships, it’s technically not required. So, it’s possible to opt-out of automatic service charges, whether that’s because you don’t like tipping or you want to tip in cash as you see fit. Just remember that it can be difficult to personally tip all of the crew members who work to give you a great cruise experience; paying the automatic service charge ensures your tips will be fully and equitably distributed. 

 

You can also choose to tip more than the standard service charge. Simply visit the passenger services desk and ask to increase the service charge amount on your shipboard account. Or, bring along some $5, $10 and $20 bills so you can tip the old-fashioned way, by handing cash to a favorite room steward, bartender, waiter, sommelier, kids club counselor, or other crew members. 

 

Finally, remember to tip people who help you out but don’t work for the cruise line, such as the baggage handlers at the port and onshore tour operators. 

 

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Monday, June 21, 2021

Décor for Your Cabin Door

Cruise ship design creates long hallways lined on each side with identical stateroom doors; you might find the visual consistency soothing, or you may feel the urge to do a little decorating that makes your door stand out. 

 

Stateroom doors are clearly numbered and carefully keyed, so there’s little chance that you would actually step into the wrong one. Still, decorating your door is a fun chance for some self-expression. Stateroom door décor often reflects a holiday or a special occasion being celebrated by the occupants, such as a birthday, wedding, anniversary, graduation, or a reunion of family or friends.

 

However, before you make any door decorating plans or buy supplies, check out the guidelines for door decorations on your ship – your professional travel advisor can help. Some cruise lines ban door decorations completely, on the basis that they could pose a safety hazard or simply cause a mess. Other lines ask passengers to follow common-sense guidelines, like these: 


·         Decorations must not extend beyond the door frame into the hallway. 


·         Decorations must not damage or leave marks on the door. Don’t plan to use paint, glue, tape or gel adhesives, thumbtacks, or anything else that would leave residue, scratch the door or make a hole in it. Stateroom doors are usually made of metal, so you can often use magnets to hold decorations up (if the metal is covered with a veneer of wood or another material, you may need rather strong magnets). Easy-release adhesive strips or poster putty are sometimes acceptable, too. 


·         Decorations must be made of fire-retardant materials. 


·         Decorations cannot include string lights (which are generally not allowed in staterooms, either). 


·         Decorations must not be offensive, rude, or inappropriate in any way. 


Fun ideas for decorating include using wrapping paper and ribbon to make the whole door look like a big holiday, wedding, birthday, or graduation gift. Banners and cutout characters can let your neighbors know you’re celebrating a special event. Old family photos can be fun décor for a reunion. If you’re not celebrating a special event but simply want to dress up your door, cutouts of sea creatures or tropical flowers can help set a carefree cruise mood. 

 

Finally, be sure to completely remove your door decorations before you disembark at the end of the cruise. If you leave decorations in place or damage the door – even accidentally – you’ll make more work for your room steward and may have to pay a fine. 

 

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Monday, June 14, 2021

New Cruises to Antarctica

Antarctica, the Earth’s southernmost continent, is so remote that there’s no record of it even being seen by humans until the 1820s. Cold, windy and almost completely covered with ice, Antarctica is a beautiful and fascinating cruise destination. 

 In fact, cruising is possibly the best way to get close to this mysterious and magnificent continent. And, several cruise operators recently announced new Antarctic itineraries; some feature scenic cruising, and others give passengers the opportunity to actually set foot on the White Continent (weather permitting). 

 

Princess Cruises has announced a new, 16-day Antarctica and Cape Horn itinerary on the Diamond Princess, sailing between Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The itinerary includes Punta Arenas, Chile, on the Strait of Magellan; Ushuaia, Argentina, at the southern end of the Patagonia region; and four days of scenic cruising along the Antarctic Peninsula. The ship will also call on the Falkland Islands, which have a fascinating history and colonies of penguins, as well as Montevideo, Uruguay, where you can tour the Old City, browse the Port Market, or enjoy a vineyard tour and wine tasting. Two announced sailing dates are Dec. 19, 2021 (Santiago to Buenos Aires), and Jan. 4, 2022 (Buenos Aires to Santiago). 

 

Adventures by Disney plans to begin visiting Antarctica this December. This Disney subsidiary (separate from Disney Cruise Line) will charter ice-class vessels to sail to the Antarctic Peninsula. These 11-night vacations begin in Buenos Aires before a flight to Ushuaia, where the ship will be waiting. Adventure guides and naturalists will be on board to provide expert insights into Antarctic history, geography and wildlife. After the ship crosses the Drake Passage, passengers will have four days to explore the Antarctic Peninsula, moving from ship to shore via Zodiac crafts. This itinerary is scheduled to depart Buenos Aires on Dec. 20, 2021, and Jan. 30 and Feb. 20, 2022. 

 

Oceania Cruises has also scheduled a new itinerary that sails between Buenos Aires and Santiago, including three days of scenic cruising along the Antarctic Peninsula. The 20-day Polar & Patagonian Quest voyage aboard the Marina calls on Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia, Argentina; the Falkland Islands; Punta Arenas, Laguna San Rafael, Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt, Chile, with two days of cruising the beautiful Chilean fjords. Departures are scheduled for Jan. 8, 2022, and Jan. 18 and Feb. 7, 2023. 

 

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about all the options for experiencing the beauty of Antarctica via cruise ship. 

 

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Monday, June 7, 2021

Cruise to a Private Island

If you dream of a carefree day on a beautiful, beachy, and – best of all – private tropical island, you can live that dream. Simply book a cruise that includes a stop at the cruise line’s private island.

Costa, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, MSC, Princess and Royal Caribbean are among the cruise lines that operate their own private islands. Technically, some are private sections of larger islands, but that doesn’t diminish the feeling of being in an exclusive paradise.

Many cruise line private islands are in The Bahamas or the Caribbean; here’s a quick look at a few.

Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay has the same vibe as its family-friendly cruise ships; Disney characters will be there to greet you and get the dance party started. Choose from multiple beaches, including one for teens, one for adults, one for active sports, and one for families to enjoy together. Kids will love the activities at Scuttle’s Cove, as well as the floating play area with two twisting water slides and a giant bucket dump. A unique feature of this island is the Castaway Cay 5k, a friendly race that you can run or walk. Then, relax by renting a kayak, paddleboat, aqua trike or luxury cabana.

Just two years ago, Royal Caribbean transformed its private island, CocoCay, to provide a “Perfect Day at CocoCay.” Guests can enjoy an enormous wave pool, a freshwater pool, a 1,600-foot-long zip line, a (tethered) helium balloon ride and deluxe cabanas. While these activities come with an extra fee, many CocoCay features are included in your cruise fare, such as the lounge chairs and umbrellas on three lovely beaches, a water play area for children, sports courts and other beach activities. Royal Caribbean also operates Labadee, a private, resort-style beach area on the island of Haiti.

MSC Cruises recently turned an abandoned sand extraction site into a private island called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. No longer a home for old scrap metal, Ocean Cay offers eight gorgeous beaches, a waterside spa, yoga classes, snorkeling adventures, and artisan boutiques. There’s also a coral nursery, with long-term plans to establish the island as a center for research into coral restoration. Some MSC itineraries include a late departure from or overnight stay at Ocean Cay, which provides time for stargazing, light shows, and other evening activities.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you select a cruise itinerary that includes a private island experience.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Understanding the Passenger Vessel Services Act

If you love to cruise, the world is yours: 70% of the earth is covered by water, much of it navigable by cruise ship. But if you’re interested in a cruise that visits only U.S. ports, you may be surprised by how few U.S.-only itineraries are available. The reason? The Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) of 1886. 

 

The PVSA, created to help promote U.S. shipping interests, prevents foreign-flagged ships from carrying passengers from one U.S. port to another, unless they also stop at a foreign port. Today, most cruise ships are built and flagged in countries other than the U.S., which means the PVSA applies to most cruises that depart from and return to a U.S. port. 

 

You may hear or read that the Jones Act is the reason cruises that depart from and return to U.S. ports must call on a foreign port, but that’s a misconception. The Jones Act (or Merchant Marine Act) of 1920 is a similar law, but it applies to sailing with cargo rather than people; it has nothing to do with cruise ships. 

 

To meet the requirements of the PVSA, roundtrip cruises that begin and end at the same U.S. port can stop at any foreign port; a call in Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico or Central America will do. But, itineraries that embark from one U.S. port and end at a different U.S. port – for example, those that go through the Panama Canal – are required to stop at a more “distant” port, such as Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, or Cartagena, Columbia. 

 

U.S.-only itineraries on ships built and flagged in the U.S. are exempt from the PVSA; examples include some U.S. river cruises, some Alaskan itineraries, and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Hawaiian cruises on the Pride of America. 

 

Cruise lines carefully plan their itineraries to comply with the PVSA and avoid the fine of $798 per passenger for a violation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection can waive these fines in certain situations, such as when a ship can’t call on the foreign port due to bad weather. 

 

It’s also possible for an individual to violate the PVSA: for example, say you’re on a roundtrip cruise from Miami that calls on the foreign port of Cozumel, Mexico. If you decide to return to Miami before the ship reaches Cozumel, that’s a violation of the PVSA.  

 

For more information about the PVSA, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 

 

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