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, January 31, 2022

Cruising With Adults

Family-oriented cruises can be lots of fun, but at times you may want to sail without children (yours or others) on board, especially if you crave a very quiet, relaxing and/or romantic experience at sea.

It’s possible to cruise on ships that welcome only adults, although there are just a few that have an 18+ age requirement. These include the ships of Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises; Uniworld River Cruises’ sub-brand, U by Uniworld; and Virgin Voyages.

But even on ships that welcome passengers of all ages, there are ways to avoid the younger set. Here are some tips:

Book a cruise on a ship that has spaces reserved only for adults, and use them. Many ships have adults-only pools, sun decks, and lounges (some are complimentary, and some charge a small fee). Shipboard spas, exercise classes, and cocktail lounges are often for adults only; in addition, some ships reserve certain specialty restaurants for adults. Note that in any dining venue, the later you’re seated for dinner, the more likely it is that your fellow diners will be adults.

Book a river cruise. River cruises are often not the first choice of families with children, for two main reasons. First, river cruise ships are small – usually accommodating 200 passengers or less – and simply don’t have space for the pools, clubs, shows, and games that tend to appeal to kids. Second, river cruise itineraries tend to focus on scenic cruising as well as local culture and history, rather than kid-friendly, action-packed events, and excursions.

Book a luxury cruise. As with river cruises, luxury ocean-going ships are smaller ships, with less space for kid-pleasing activities and amenities. And while luxury cruises deliver great value, they do cost more, so are less likely to be the choice of large families or multi-generational groups.

Book a long cruise. With busy work, school, and activity schedules, families often book cruises of seven days or less. Longer cruises – especially those with itineraries outside of North America and the Caribbean – tend to have fewer children on board.

Book outside of traditional school vacation times. School calendars vary, but in general, you’ll find more kids on board during the summer months, the winter holidays, and spring break. When you book outside those times, you’re likely to have fewer onboard companions under age 18. You might score an attractive off-season fare, too.

For more advice on sailing with more adults and fewer kids, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 24, 2022

A Quick Glossary of Cruise Ship Terminology

If you’ve spent some time at sea, you probably know your bow from your aft. But for first-time cruisers – and those who haven’t cruised for a while – here’s a quick list of seafaring terms that may help you navigate around the ship.

Aft (also “stern”) – Near or at the rear of the ship.

Bow (also “fore” or “forward”) – Near or at the front of the ship.

Bridge – The command center where the crew navigates the seas and steers the ship; it’s often high up and toward the bow, and usually off-limits to passengers.

Cabin (also “stateroom”) – A living/sleeping room or suite occupied by passengers.

Captain – The top officer, in command of the ship and crew.

Cruise Director – The officer in charge of onboard entertainment and social events for passengers.

Cruise Terminal – A facility where cruise ships begin and end passenger cruises, similar to an airport terminal for planes or a station for trains.

Deck – A floor or level within a cruise ship.

Gangway – A walkway you’ll use to enter and exit the ship.

Galley – The main kitchen on the ship.

Lido – The deck where the pool is located, and often a casual restaurant as well.

Muster Station – The place you gather with other passengers in the very rare event of a ship evacuation; each cruise includes a “muster drill” to show you where your muster station is.

Port – The left side of the ship as you face the bow or front.

Port of Call – A place your ship visits during your cruise.

Purser – The officer in charge of the finances of the ship and cruise, who also oversees the guest services desk.

Sea Day – A day the ship does not visit a port of call (a perfect time to enjoy the ship’s pool, spa, gym and other amenities).

Shore Excursion – Tours and other activities to enjoy onshore while the ship is visiting a port of call.

Starboard – The right side of the ship as you face the bow or front.

Steward (also “cabin attendant”) – A crew member who cleans and refreshes your cabin twice a day.

Tender – A small boat used to shuttle passengers between the ship and a dock; used when a ship can’t access a port of call directly and must anchor a short distance from the dock.

As you plan your next cruise, if you come across any unfamiliar terminology, just ask Anita, your professional travel advisor to translate for you.

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Monday, January 17, 2022

Selecting the Best Shore Excursions for You

It’s great to enjoy the wonderful spaces and activities aboard a cruise ship, and just as delightful to explore in and around the ports you visit. That’s why cruise ships offer shore excursions: fun tours and activities that let you experience local attractions, culture, food, and more.

The shore excursions available depend, of course, on your destination. Bus and walking tours, visits to historic sites, and shopping sprees are popular in many ports. But there are also lots of location-specific excursions, like dog sledding in Alaska, exploring remnants of Mayan civilization in Mexico, or taking a backstage tour at the Monte Carlo Ballet.

With so many options, it can be hard to choose between shore excursions. Here are some tips for choosing the experiences you’ll enjoy most.

Set a budget. On a luxury cruise, shore excursions may be included in your fare, and you can skip this step. But if you’ll pay for each excursion, it can be helpful to set a budget.

Know your activity limits. Most cruise lines assign activity levels to excursions, from easy to strenuous. It’s important to be realistic about your mobility and strength levels – as well as those of your cruise companions – and select excursions accordingly.

Consider your priorities. If your cruise itinerary has a certain port or onshore attraction of special interest to you, make it a priority. Pick that excursion first, then use the rest of your budget for excursions in other ports.

Do different things. If you’ll tour historic sites in one port, consider a different kind of excursion – a culinary tour, a surf lesson, or a visit to an animal rescue center – in another.

Remember, you can stay on the ship. If a port doesn’t have an excursion that appeals to you or if you have a limited budget, it’s absolutely fine to stay on the ship while in port. In fact, it can be a lot of fun to enjoy the amenities of the ship while many passengers are onshore.

Finally, while shore excursions organized by the ship may be the most affordable and convenient, some cruise passengers like to book with independent tour operators or even explore ports on their own. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, some ports are welcoming cruise passengers only if they are on ship-sponsored excursions. This is a changing situation, so stay connected with Anita, your professional travel advisor for updates about shore excursion options and requirements on your next cruise.

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Find Your Next Book in a Cruise Ship Library

Cruises are an exciting way to explore new destinations, but they also provide time to indulge in simple pleasures that busy lives don’t always have room for – such as settling into an easy chair to read a good book. 

 A well-stocked library of books ready to be borrowed was once a standard feature on cruise ships. Now, many passengers bring their own reading material on e-readers, tablet computers or smartphones. As a result, some ships have reduced the size of their libraries, or replaced them with internet cafes and wine bars. 


Still, there are still quite a few ships that feature sizable libraries; these include some of the ships of Cunard Line, Oceania Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Holland America Line, among others. 


The ships of Cunard Line have some of the most extensive libraries at sea; each has at least 7,000 books. The majority are in English, but some are in German, Spanish, French, Japanese, or Chinese. The libraries are staffed by professional librarians who can help you find a book you’ll enjoy. The furnishings – leather sofas and armchairs, wood-and-glass shelving – will make you feel like a guest at an elegant English manor house. The Queen Victoria even boasts a two-level library, with the lower level (nonfiction) connected to the upper (fiction) by a beautiful spiral staircase. 


Oceania’s InsigniaNauticaRegatta, and Sirena also feature English-style libraries, complete with marble-mantled fireplaces, comfortable chairs, thick carpets, and elegantly painted ceilings. The upcoming Vista, scheduled to debut in 2023, promises a top-deck library stylishly furnished by Ralph Lauren Home. Glass walls will provide stunning views of the sea when you happen to look up from your book. 


Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships have circular libraries with towering bookshelves that are integrated into the central atrium. Well-lit and decorated with modern art, the libraries’ high-backed chairs are cozy spots for reading. 


Holland America’s ships feature libraries that are often curated to match the destination and theme of the itinerary. For example, if you’re sailing the Caribbean, you’ll find island-themed books, travel guides, and maps among the thousands of available volumes. Holland America even runs book clubs on some longer sailings, as well as shorter itineraries that include several days at sea. The selected book is often set in the region the ship is visiting. 


If you do borrow a book from a shipboard library, just be sure to return it before you disembark. Happy reading at sea! 


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Monday, January 3, 2022

Cruising Alaska

Alaska has long been one of the most popular cruise destinations, and for good reasons. There are thousands of miles of stunning coastline, from acres of northern rainforest to massive calving glaciers, set against majestic mountain peaks. Alaska has a rich history and pockets of diverse cultural interest, including the native Tlingit traditions of Ketchikan and the Gold Rush stories of Skagway.  

 After a pause of more than a year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, coastal cruises of Alaska resumed in late July for a brief but welcome 2021 cruise season. And, several cruise lines have big plans for upcoming Alaska cruise seasons, which traditionally run from May through September. 


For example, Celebrity Cruises has announced that it will expand its Alaska cruise fleet in 2023, when the Millennium will join the Eclipse and Solstice in the Inside Passage, sometimes sailing as far north as Seward. Princess Cruises will have six ships in Alaska for 2023, including the new Discovery Princess, with a variety of cruise-only or cruise-plus-land-tour options.  

Many Alaska cruises are seven or eight days, traveling north or south through the Inside Passage between Seattle or Vancouver and Hubbard Glacier. Some longer itineraries venture into the Gulf of Alaska to visit College Fjord, the Kenai Peninsula, and Anchorage. 


Because so many cruise lines sail in Alaska, you can choose your experience; whether you’re looking for luxury, rugged adventure, or family-oriented activities, your professional travel advisor can help you find what you seek. 


There is one unknown that may influence some future Alaskan itineraries: U.S. cabotage regulations, which require cruise ships that sail between U.S. ports to call on at least one foreign port, were waived for large cruise ships sailing Alaska during 2021. We don’t know yet if this waiver will continue; if it does, it may mean that more Alaska itineraries will skip Canadian ports like Vancouver and Victoria, giving you more time in Alaska itself. 


Whatever cruise you choose, know that Alaskan weather is rarely predictable. Pack layers of clothing that you can adapt easily for warmer and cooler days. Rain is always possible, so a waterproof jacket and shoes are helpful. 


The scenery and the wildlife – whales, seals, eagles, seabirds, moose, mountain goats, and bears – are the greatest attractions of an Alaskan cruise. To enjoy them fully reserve an outside cabin if your budget allows; when you wake each morning to another stunning vista, you’ll be glad you did.  


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