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, 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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Monday, May 24, 2021

The Evolution of Cruise Ship Dress Codes

Today, packing for a cruise means packing lightly – less luggage makes it easier to travel to and from the ship, and most staterooms have limited storage room for clothes. But in the early days of pleasure cruising – the early 1900s – passengers arrived at the docks with steamer trunks full of finery. 


Back then, many people used ship travel to emigrate from one continent to another, but pleasure cruising was something only the wealthy could afford. It was an opportunity to see more of the world, but also to show off fashionable clothing and jewelry. During the day, women wore dresses of silk, satin or damask with long, flowing skirts and tailored jackets. Men wore three-piece suits and neckties. Every evening was black tie: women dined and danced in embellished ball gowns and precious gems, while men wore formal tail coats or early versions of the tuxedo. 


Since then, cruise line dress codes have followed the gradual shift to more casual dress in workplaces and society in general. By the 1920s, on land and at sea, women began to throw away their corsets and raise their hemlines. Men’s fashion silhouettes became more relaxed, too, favoring blazers and loose trousers. 


In the 1930s, Katherine Hepburn did something truly revolutionary for women at the time; she wore trousers, a big step in the move toward more casual, comfortable clothing for daily life and travel. In the decades that followed, both fashion and cruising became more affordable, and cruise wear continued to become less formal.  


On most of today’s cruises, you won’t go wrong by packing some casual tops and bottoms you can mix and match. Daytime dress codes are increasingly determined by what you plan to do: shorts and t-shirts are appropriate for active shore excursions, while you might dress in a casual skirt and blouse, or slacks and a collared shirt, for a cultural tour. You should ask your professional travel advisor if you need any special clothing: for example, you might need water shoes for some active excursions, and some cultural sites require a head covering. 


Anita, your professional travel advisor, can also provide details about the evening dress code for your next cruise; on some cruise lines, shorts, jeans and flip-flops may not be welcome at dinner.


And for those who love a little glamour, black tie evenings – an echo from the early days of cruising – are still scheduled once or twice on many cruise itineraries. 


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Monday, May 17, 2021

All About Ship Stretching

Cruise lines are always thinking about ways to enhance their ships to ensure that passengers have a great vacation experience; sometimes, they do that by stretching a ship. 

Many cruise ships are built in blocks, with everything carefully positioned so the blocks can be seamlessly connected when the ship is assembled. This type of construction helps make it possible to separate existing blocks in order to insert additional ones. So, stretching a ship involves literally cutting it in half, gently pulling the sections apart, then inserting a new section before putting everything back together.  


It’s not easy – ship stretching is a major feat of planning, design and engineering. But it’s not rare; MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Silversea and Windstar are among the cruise operators that have stretched one or more ships. 


Cruise lines choose to stretch their ships for a number of reasons. The most common may be that stretching a ship increases capacity without the expense of building an entirely new ship. For example, in 2005, Royal Caribbean revitalized the Enchantment of the Seas by inserting a new, 73-foot section in the middle of the ship. 


And, stretching does more than create space for more staterooms. It also expands common spaces on the ship, including those that are most important to today’s cruise passengers, such as spas and fitness centers, alternative restaurants and innovative open-air spaces. For example, Silversea’s stretching of the Silver Spirit added 34 new suites and a larger pool deck. When MSC Cruises stretched its Lirica Class vessels, each ship received new lounges and waterparks as well as 194 more staterooms. 


Stretching a ship to add capacity is also much faster than building a new ship. While stretching or building a ship requires teams of engineers to do incredibly detailed work, stretching a ship usually takes just a few months; building a new ship usually takes two years or more. 


In addition to adding capacity and new features, stretching a ship can provide an opportunity to upgrade systems and technologies. When Windstar Cruises stretched its Star Class vessels, it replaced older engines with more efficient and environmentally friendly engines. 


Stretching a ship can even have aesthetic benefits, giving a ship a longer, sleeker look. And when it’s all done, there are no visible weld marks or other signs that a ship has been stretched. 

To make your plans to set sail on a cruise ship – stretched or not – talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, May 10, 2021

Will You Need a COVID-19 Vaccine to Cruise?

It’s been more than a year since most cruise ships have been able to sail from or to U.S. ports during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some cruise lines, with new cleaning equipment and safety measures in place, have already restarted operations in Europe and Asia, but U.S. cruise ship docks remain quiet. 


Some cruise lines are announcing that they will soon cruise from ports just outside the U.S., in the Bahamas or the Caribbean. But with the increasingly steady rollout of vaccines across the U.S., cruise fans are getting excited about the thought of being able to cruise from U.S. ports again. 


The question remains: will you need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before you can board a cruise ship? 


The answer isn’t fully clear yet, but several popular cruise lines have already announced that they will require passengers to be fully vaccinated before they come on board. “Fully vaccinated” generally means that a passenger has received a one-shot vaccine, or both doses of a two-shot vaccine. Some cruise lines are specifying that vaccination must be completed at least 14 days before boarding the ship. 


Cruise lines that have announced they will require COVID-19 vaccinations for some or all of their cruises include American Cruise Lines, Avalon Waterways, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, UnCruise Adventures, Virgin Voyages and Windstar. Some cruise lines – like Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas – have announced that they will require all crew members to be fully vaccinated before sailing, though they have not yet announced any vaccination requirements for passengers. 


Already, the details of vaccinations and testing requirements vary among cruise lines. For example, American Cruise Lines requires COVID vaccination and a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within four days of sailing. Avalon Waterways require proof that passengers have been fully vaccinated; or, proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within 72 hours of sailing; or, proof of having recovered from a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis within the previous 90 days. 


As for children, some cruise lines, including Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, have announced they will require guests under age 18 to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of sailing. 

As you plan your next cruise, stay in touch with Anita, your professional travel advisor, who will be able to update you on the COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for your chosen cruise line. 


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Monday, May 3, 2021

Relax in a Cruise Ship Spa

Cruising is a carefree vacation choice; just board your ship, unpack in your comfortable stateroom, and enjoy the wonderful onboard entertainment, dining and learning options while the captain and crew take you from one port to another. To make your time at sea even more stress-free, schedule a pampering treatment in your ship’s spa.

Most of today’s cruise ships have spa facilities that rival the best spas you can visit on land. And for some cruise fans, the style and menu of the onboard spa has a lot to do with their choice of cruise line and ship. Here’s a quick look at some of the spas at sea.

Canyon Ranch – a top name in spa resorts on land – takes an integrative approach to well-being in body, mind, and spirit in the spas it operates on cruise ships from multiple cruise lines. On Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, the Canyon Ranch spa + fitness facility features an array of treatments to pamper and rejuvenate the body, skin, and feet. One highlight is the Aqua Therapy Center, which offers saunas, aromatic steam, sensory showers , and hydrotherapeutic massage treatments.

On the ships of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Canyon Ranch provides a menu of Serene Spa & Wellness services created just for the cruise line. There’s a focus on natural ingredients and treatments from around the world; for example, you can enjoy a rejuvenating massage that uses Himalayan salt stones, or one that features a combination of warm basalt stones and cooled jade.

Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships include the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, which extends beyond the spa to AquaClass staterooms that are equipped with spa-style showers, aromatherapy diffusers and more. The spa offers an extensive menu of treatments and a Persian Garden, a sauna and steam room where the heated lounge chairs have ocean views.

The spas on Holland America Line’s Pinnacle-class ships include thermal suites with heated ceramic loungers, horizontal rain showers (yes, you can take a shower while laying down), seawater hydrotherapy pools, and more. Dedicated spa staterooms with special perks offer passengers a more immersive spa experience.

The ships of Viking Ocean Cruises feature LivNordic Spas; in the Nordic tradition, they offer alternating hot and cold therapies to stimulate the circulatory system. The spas include thermal suites with unique water-vapor fireplaces, dry saunas, cold plunge pools, warmed ceramic loungers, rustic cold showers, and amazing, blue-lit grottos filled with manmade snow.

For more information about these and other incredible floating spas, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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