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, December 27, 2021

Learn Something New on a Cruise

From creating napkin art to flipping the perfect crepe to mastering the basics of a new dance step – or a new language – it’s simply amazing what you can learn while on a cruise. Of course, a cruise is also a wonderful time to do nothing at all, but most offer some terrific onboard learning opportunities. 

 For almost 20 years, Princess Cruises’ ScholarShip@Sea program has offered multiple learning courses on each voyage, including at least six on every day at sea. Some of the more unusual courses include Navigation@Sea, which covers the history of navigation and how it’s done today; and, classes in hand-thrown pottery on the Coral Princess and the Island Princess 


Cunard Line’s ships are known for an abundance of interesting activities (fencing, anyone?). On the Queen Mary 2, these include stargazing courses taught in the ship’s incredible planetarium. The cruise line brings astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society on board to guide you through the universe. Viking Ocean Cruises’ Orion and Jupiter also have planetariums, with resident astronomers ready to show and tell you all about space and its exploration. 


If you admire the beauty of blown glass, another unique course at sea is Celebrity Cruises’ Hot Glass Class. The EquinoxEclipse, and Solstice have glass blowing studios with skilled instructors who will help you create a gorgeous piece of glass art. After your creation cools, the staff will carefully wrap it so you can take it home. 


Lots of people have recently discovered (or rediscovered) the joy of cooking, and several cruise lines offer cooking demonstrations and hands-on courses. One is Holland America Line, which equips each of its ships with a fantastic Culinary Arts Center. On Holland America’s Koningsdam, the Culinary Arts Center actually transforms into a dining venue in the evening. A three-course dinner will be prepared right before your eyes by the ship’s culinary staff, who will happily answer your questions.  


Many cruises offer scuba-diving excursions, but some Royal Caribbean itineraries go a step farther by giving you the opportunity to become a certified scuba diver during the course of the cruise. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) provides scuba training, a mix of online learning, practice in the ship’s pool, and open-water diving.  


Some of these (and many other) onboard learning opportunities are included in your cruise fare, while some require extra fees. To learn more, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, December 20, 2021

Catch the Wave Season

In cruise travel, Wave Season is the time of year that brings the very best discounts and special offers the cruise lines can dream up. When you book a cruise during Wave Season, you may be able to cruise longer, farther, and more luxuriously than you ever dreamed. 


And, Wave Season 2022 will come ashore soon. It takes place from January through March, which is traditionally the most popular time of year for cruise bookings. 


With so many deals available, sorting through and comparing them can be a challenge. So, Wave Season is a perfect time to contact your professional travel advisor; they can help you consider the options and make the best choices. 


Still, you might want to do some initial Wave Season browsing on your own. If you do, know that Wave Season cruise fares may not seem to be the lowest of the year – at least, not at first glance. It’s important to look at what’s included in the fares; the inclusions often deliver the greatest value of booking a cruise during Wave Season. 


Here are some examples of what to look for:          


Discounts on a second fare. Many cruise lines offer “buy one, get another at reduced cost” deals. The discount on the second fare may be as much as 100 percent; basically a “two for one” deal. If you’re traveling with a companion, you can arrange to share the savings. 


Onboard credits. You can use onboard credits like cash on your ship. What you can buy varies by cruise line, but often includes beverage packages, spa treatments, specialty restaurant cover charges, shore excursions, merchandise from onboard boutiques, and more; fun extras that can truly enhance your cruise experience. 


Cabin upgrades. During wave season, a fare that would usually be enough to reserve an inside cabin might include an upgrade to an outside cabin – perhaps one with a balcony. For a little more, you might even get an upgrade to a suite that comes with special benefits, such as butler service, access to an exclusive lounge, reservations at an onboard specialty restaurant, or prime seats to a popular show. 


As you shop, it’s important to compare Wave Season prices and inclusions to similar cruises outside of Wave Season; and, to read all the “fine print” to be fully informed about and confident in your deal. For help taking advantage of the best of Wave Season, contact Anita, your professional travel advisor.  

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Using Your Future Cruise Credits

If you have future cruise credits (or “FCCs”), you’re not alone – many have been issued since March 2020, when cruise lines began rescheduling cruises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

So, what’s a future cruise credit? It’s like a credit you receive from a retail store when you have to return something you purchased there. In place of a cash refund, FCCs let you apply the cost of a cruise you can’t take to a future cruise on the same line. 


Today, fewer cruises are being rescheduled due to the pandemic, but some lines are still issuing FCCs to passengers who are unable to board a ship when pre-boarding tests come back positive for COVID. 


If you have FCCs, carefully check their expiration dates; once they expire, they’re gone forever. And, many COVID-related FCCs will begin to expire on Dec. 31, 2021. Note that you don’t have to sail by the expiration date of your FCCs; you just have to use them to book a future cruise.  


Here are more helpful things to know about FCCs: 


FCCs are usually issued within a few weeks after a cruise cancellation or a denied boarding due to a positive COVID test result. The cruise line will email information about the credits to the address you provided when you booked the cruise. If you’re a member of the cruise line’s loyalty program, the credits should also show up in your loyalty account. 


The ways you can use your FCCs varies by cruise line. Some let you apply credits to the balance due on a future cruise that you already booked; others let you use credits only for a newly-booked cruise. Some lines let you divide FCCs up in order to apply them to more than one future cruise. Note that most cruise lines do not let you transfer your FCCs to another person. 


If you use FCCs to book a new cruise and find that you have some credits left over, you might be able to use them to pay for extras like beverage packages, shore excursions, gratuities for the crew or even flights to and from the port. If by some bit of bad luck a cruise you pay for with FCCs is cancelled, you’ll probably be able to use the credits again.  


Be sure to ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, for assistance to make sure you receive the best value for your future cruise credits. 


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Monday, December 6, 2021

Our Return to Cruising

In November, we boarded a cruise ship for the first time since December 2019.  We did not expect COVID to make such a difference in our lives.

Prior to boarding the Celebrity Constellation, we were required to take an Antigen test for exposure to COVID.  The test needed to be dated two days before boarding the ship - not earlier and not later than the two-day window.  We had to take our negative results with us to the pier.  We used a local clinic to get the tests and I was impressed with their efficiency.  Easy…

We flew to Tampa the day before we were to board the ship and stayed at an Embassy Suites near the airport for one night.   We were surprised to learn the hotel bar and restaurant closed at 10PM on a Saturday night.  This was caused by a staff shortage.  Again, COVID.   The next morning, our breakfast was served on disposable plates, and we were given plastic utensils. 

Celebrity gave us a specific time to arrive at the pier.  For those who arrived early, they needed to wait outside the terminal for their boarding window.   Before we could enter the terminal, we were asked (twice) to show our passports, our boarding documents, our COVID vaccination records, and our Antigen test results.

Once inside the terminal, we were again asked for these same documents, and we were required to wear a mask.  Once we boarded the ship, we could remove our masks.  Everyone onboard was vaccinated.

The muster drill process has changed.  In our stateroom, we watched a muster drill video.  Once that task was finished, we went to our muster station and checked in with one of the officers to verify that we had watched the video and they could answer our questions.  This was not in a crowded room, but a one-on-one experience.

For the duration of the cruise, life on the ship was normal – no masks required unless you went ashore.  On the ship, the crew always wore masks.  In the buffet, our food was placed in dishes by the crew, with no self-service.

On this short cruise, we visited two foreign ports.  In both ports, masks were always required.  We were allowed to take a ship-arranged tour or go on our own (no bubble).   In both ports, the locals were all wearing masks.  At one stop, Cozumel, we had our temperature taken before we entered shops or restaurants.

The cruise was enjoyable, and we are glad we had the new cruise experience.  It helped us prepare for our next cruise in late December.  Yes, cruising is back, but it is a different world – travel has changed.

Join us on a Distinctive Voyages cruise on the Celebrity Edge

7-Night Caribbean, from Ft Lauderdale

Monday, November 29, 2021

Some Destinations Are Best Seen Via Cruise Ship

You can cruise to most parts of the world that are accessible by water, but some destinations are truly best seen via cruise ship. Why? Sometimes, the scenery is most breathtaking from the sea; along some rugged coastlines, travel on the water is easier than travel on land; and, cruise ships may offer more comfortable or affordable accommodations than you can find on land. 


Here are some destinations where we think cruising is the best way to go: 


Galapagos Islands. The islands are 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, so you must fly or sail to reach them. A few islands offer hotels and campsites, but a cruise ship will move you effortlessly to multiple islands, so you’ll see more of this pristine archipelago and its biologically diverse wildlife. Knowledgeable guides will sail along with you. 


Amazon River. The Amazon is also famous for biological diversity, and the best way to see it is to sail this incredible river. The Amazon region may test your tolerance for heat, humidity, and insects; a comfortable cruise ship can do a lot to improve that tolerance. Onboard guides will help you spot gorgeous plant life and amazing animals, from sloths and jaguars to river dolphins and piranhas.


Alaska. Alaska is a vast state of beautiful landscapes and intriguing wildlife. On a cruise of the Inside Passage, part of the state’s southeastern panhandle, you can appreciate the immense natural beauty without having to cover as many miles as you would by land. You’ll sail among misty forests, majestic mountains, calving glaciers, and fantastic sea life like otters, seals, and whales. 


Norway. Like Alaska, Norway is a destination with rugged coastal beauty best seen from the water. Your ship will sail right into deep fjords, with views of snow-capped peaks and cascading waterfalls. Port calls will provide a chance to try some local flavors, like roasted elk and reindeer, fresh fish, cloudberries, and brown goat’s milk cheese. 


Antarctica. Cruising is really the only way to visit Antarctica, which has no accommodations on land (except those occupied by scientists who work there). There are a variety of itineraries but review them carefully; some take you close to the White Continent but don’t actually give you the opportunity to set foot there. A “viewing only” cruise will still deliver unforgettable scenery and take you close to penguins, seals, and more. 


Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, for more information about these and other special destinations best seen via cruise. 


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Monday, November 22, 2021

Cruise Ship Crew Members to Know

There are many people who work hard to provide you with a great cruise experience; each cruise ship has hundreds or thousands of crew members who perform their duties with skill and dedication. Some interact with passengers every day, while others work behind the scenes to provide a high standard of service to guests. 


So, who are the most important crew members to know during your cruise? Here are our picks: 


Cabin Stewards. Cabin stewards make sure that your cabin is clean and fresh. They are happy to answer questions about your cabin and the ship. They can also fulfill many special requests, from shining your shoes before dinner to finding an extra pillow, and sometimes do these things even before you ask. 


Servers. Table and buffet servers are very knowledgeable about the dishes they serve, and they can answer your questions about ingredients and preparation. They will also relay any specific dietary needs and other special requests to the chefs in the galley. If you have the same servers for multiple meals, they are likely to remember your preferences. 


Bartenders. Cruise ship bartenders are trained to make your favorite drinks just the way you like them. As with food servers, bartenders who serve you more than once will often remember your favorites. 


Cruise Director. The cruise director is an officer of the ship and has a major responsibility: to organize and manage all activities and entertainment for the guests. The cruise director is often the most visible member of the crew, making announcements, introducing entertainers, and ensuring that passengers are enjoying themselves. Large ships usually have several deputy cruise directors you can speak with if you have questions or want recommendations about onboard activities or shore excursions. When you cruise on your own, a cruise director can help you meet other passengers. 


Guest Services Staff. The guest services desk, which is a lot like the front desk of a hotel, is managed by the purser, who is the chief financial officer for the ship. The guest services staff can answer questions about your shipboard account and provide other helpful services, like resetting your cabin entry code or exchanging currency. 


Medical Staff. No one wants to need medical services during a cruise, but it does happen. That’s why every cruise ship has an onboard medical facility staffed by professionals. They can help you with anything from a mild case of seasickness to a medical emergency, including transfer to an onshore facility when needed. 


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Monday, November 15, 2021

Planning Your Holiday Season Cruise

The festive season will arrive soon, and you may be thinking about how to celebrate with family and friends. A cruise is a wonderful way to bring everyone together for the holidays; in fact, a cruise can be a fabulous holiday gift to yourself and those you love. Just imagine relaxing on deck with a refreshing drink, enjoying delicious meals complete with traditional holiday favorites, and joining in holiday-themed parties and games. Best of all, you won’t have to cook or clean up! 


While a holiday cruise is wonderfully carefree, it’s good to do some advance planning. Here are a few things to think about: 


Select a ship and itinerary that will let you celebrate the holidays as you choose. This is especially important if your cruise includes Christmas Day when many onshore attractions are closed. In some ports, you might be able to participate in local holiday observances, but options for activities may be very limited. Some ships spend Christmas Day at sea, with onboard Christmas services and lots of activities. Ask your professional travel advisor to help you select an itinerary that will provide the holiday experience you seek. 


Make your reservations as soon as you can. The holiday season is a very busy time of year for cruising and booking earlier will give you a better choice of ships, itineraries, and cabins. Be sure to make your flight reservations to and from the ship as early as possible, too. 


Most public spaces on your ship will be beautifully decorated for the season, and you may want to bring a few decorations to make your cabin festive, too. Remember to abide by your cruise line’s rules: most don’t allow lit candles, strings of lights, or door decorations that extend into the hallway. Some flat decorations for your door, battery-operated tealight candles, and miniature Christmas trees, menorahs or other symbols of the season will add holiday warmth and cheer to your cabin. 


If you want to bring some small gifts to exchange with your cruise companions, please do. However, if you’ll take a flight to meet your ship, don’t wrap the gifts before you leave home – airport security might undo your good work to inspect the packages. Instead, pack a little wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape to make your gifts pretty after you get on board. 


For more holiday cruise ideas and planning tips, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.  


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Monday, November 8, 2021

Accessing the Concierge Lounge

“Concierge” became a profession in the Middle Ages, when these trusted attendants worked to ensure the comfort of the French royal family. By the late 1800s, concierges were at work in the finest European hotels, helping guests with restaurant reservations, shopping recommendations, theater tickets, and much more. 


Today, many cruise ships sail with concierges who assist guests with onboard restaurant and spa reservations, shore excursion arrangements, and other requests. These highly trained crew members often work in a comfortable “concierge lounge.” However, these lounges – and the services of the concierge staff – are available only to certain passengers. How can you be one of them? 


It varies by cruise line, but concierge lounges are usually accessible to a cruise line’s most loyal repeat guests and to passengers in top-tier suites. So, it is worth it to show that type of loyalty to a cruise line, or to reserve a suite that comes with concierge lounge access? 


The answer depends on how much you value the services provided by the concierge staff, the amenities of the concierge lounge, and any additional perks that come with that level of access. These perks vary by cruise line, but may include anything from priority check-in to exclusive shore excursions, continental breakfasts and afternoon cocktails, private sun decks and restaurants, and even complimentary spa treatments. 


Concierge lounge amenities vary a bit by cruise line, but they all offer convenient, fun, and luxurious extras. Here are a few examples: 

·         Celebrity Cruises’ Retreat Lounge has complimentary gourmet bites and drinks all day, as well as a private restaurant, sundeck, pool and hot tub. 

·         Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven Lounge is located in the “ship-within-a-ship” Haven complex. The lounge offers refreshments all day, access to the Haven restaurant, and a private courtyard with a pool, sauna and sun deck. 

·         The Concierge Club on Royal Caribbean ships features a self-service bar during happy hour, plus hors d’oeuvres and petit fours. There’s also a huge collection of CDs and DVDs to borrow. 

·         In addition to snacks and a private sun deck, Disney Cruises’ Concierge Lounge offers a major perk: a private meet-and-greet session with Disney characters. 

It’s important to note that some very high-end cruise lines don’t offer concierge lounges because all passengers receive a high level of personal service (essentially, the entire ship is a concierge lounge). 


To select a cruise line, ship, and/or suite that comes with access to concierge services and amenities, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, November 1, 2021

When to Sail

A cruise is a wonderful way to vacation at any time, but some cruise destinations are available for only part of each year; and, some year-round destinations are at their best in certain seasons. Here’s a quick guide to where to sail when. 
Spring is a nice time to sail to Bermuda; the beaches are less crowded than in summer. And if you find the beaches just a bit chilly, there are golf courses, spas, shops and historical attractions. 
Spring is also a good time to cruise the Mediterranean before the crowds of summer arrive. Both are beautiful, but the Eastern Mediterranean tends to be a bit warmer than the Western Mediterranean in the spring. 
Summer brings Alaska’s brief cruise season, from May through September. Alaska’s cruise ports are busiest in June, July, and August, so look at May or September for lower prices. 
Summer is also the time to cruise Northern Europe; you can sail to the cities that ring the North Sea or the Baltic Sea, visit the fjords of Norway, and even cross the Arctic Circle. Or, choose to cruise one of Europe’s mighty rivers. 

Many cruise fans are surprised to hear that summer is the best time to cruise the South Pacific. May through October is the dry season there; it will still be warm and lush, but with less rain and humidity than the winter months. 
Cruises of New England and Maritime Canada sail from May through October, but September and October sailings include spectacular displays of color-changing leaves along the shore.  
As in the spring, the Mediterranean is lovely in the fall, with smaller crowds at attractions and cooler temperatures than in the summer months. 
Winter in the northern hemisphere is prime time for cruising many southern hemisphere destinations, including New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, and South America.  
If cruising Antarctica is on your travel wish list, winter is the only time to go: passenger cruises visit the White Continent from November to March. 
While the Caribbean is a year-round cruise destination, why not enjoy it as an escape from the chill of winter? There are lots of itineraries to choose from; ask your professional travel advisor about the many itineraries available in different regions of the Caribbean. 

 Finally, if you don’t mind a little seasonal chill, December is a beautiful time to cruise some European  rivers lined with festive Christmas markets.

To select a cruise for any season, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, October 25, 2021

Shipboard Fun with Shuffleboard

Cruising is a wonderful way to visit new places, meet new friends, try food you never heard of before, and play a time-honored yet trendy game called shuffleboard. 

That’s right; shuffleboard is trendy. For decades, most people thought of shuffleboard (if they thought of it at all) as a game for older people, as it doesn’t require a lot of physical activity. But, shuffleboard has recently become more popular with younger generations, and you can find shuffleboard tables, courts pick-up games and leagues at bars and clubs from New York to Seattle. 


On cruise ships, shuffleboard has been a mainstay since the 1840s, when an employee of the Peninsular and Oriental Line (known today as P&O Cruises) adapted an old tavern game called shoveboard. Who exactly created shoveboard and when is information lost to time, but the game’s history in Europe goes back at least 500 years. Aristocrats played this tabletop game, also called shovegroat or shovelpenny, with coins or other metal weights. Using their hands, they “shoved” the metal markers to a scoring area on the opposite side of the table.


If you’ve cruised before, you probably saw shuffleboard courts painted on cruise ship promenade decks or top decks. Playing the game is a fine way to spend some time in the open air, enjoying the sea breeze and views combined with friendly competition. Shuffleboard is a game that almost anyone can play, though it takes time and practice to become a really skilled player. 


A cruise ship shuffleboard court includes two large triangles, about 12 feet apart. Each triangle points toward the center of the court and is marked with zones of different point values. The game is played either one-on-one or in teams of two. The players use long-handled cues to push discs, also called pucks or hammers, over to the triangle on the other side of the court. Everyone aims for the sections of the triangle that are marked with the highest point values, and the first side to reach 75 points wins. 


Be sure to give shuffleboard a try on your next cruise. If you don’t have shuffleboard experience but have played games like bocce, curling, croquet or billiards, you’ll notice some similarities to shuffleboard. 


And if you’re very lucky, your cruise ship may feature another time-honored deck game: quoits, which involves tossing a ring, often made of rope, toward a target. It’s another fun way to spend time on deck, relaxing and enjoying the fresh air. 


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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. 

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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. 

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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 (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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!