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 25, 2023

Why Cruising May Be for You

Lots of people love to cruise; more than 31 million people around the world are cruising during 2023. But if you haven’t cruised yet, you may wonder if it’s the right vacation for you. Here are three big reasons why the answer may be an enthusiastic “yes!”

First, there’s a cruise for just about any budget. Cruises of two or three days are available for very budget-friendly fares. And while longer cruises cost more, even “world cruises” that take a few leisurely months to circle the globe provide great value. Remember that lots of great dining and entertainment, as well as your accommodations and transportation between ports, are included in the base cruise fare.

While the length of a cruise is a major factor in the cost, cruise fares also reflect the level of luxury on board, the time of year, and the ports of call. A professional travel advisor with expertise in cruising can help you determine what cruise lines, ships, and itineraries best fit your budget and expectations.

Second, cruise ships are so full of activities that everyone can find something to do. Most ocean-going ships have some combination of swimming pools, whirlpools, sports courts, fitness centers, spas, theaters, art galleries, restaurants, libraries, cocktail lounges, and more. Some larger ships have utterly amazing features like water parks, gardens, and go-kart tracks.

Many ships offer supervised activities just for kids, and adults can join in the fun of tournaments, dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, and more. But if your vacation goal is to simply disconnect and relax, you’ll be able to find a quiet corner for that, too.

What we’ve discussed so far can also be said about many land-based resorts, but here’s a third big reason to cruise – you can visit multiple destinations without having to unpack, repack, and find your way from one place to another. Just get on board, settle into your stateroom, and let the captain do the work for you from one beautiful port to the next. The ship will often be on the move while you’re sleeping, so you can wake up ready to explore a new place.

If you’d like to know more about cruising – including the incredible array of cruise ships, destinations, and itineraries available to you – talk with Anita, a professional travel advisor. They can guide you into the world of cruising and help you choose a first cruise that’s likely to lead to many more.

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Monday, December 18, 2023

Visit Christmas Markets on a River Cruise

A cruise during December can be delightful, especially when it calls on the Christmas markets that sparkle along some of Europe’s major rivers. Many of these street markets have operated for hundreds of years; originally, people visited to stock up on food and other essentials for winter. Now the markets have a more festive focus, brimming with music, decorations, and delicious food and drink.

Most cruise lines that sail the rivers of Europe offer Christmas market cruises, including AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld River Cruises, Viking River Cruises, and more. To pick one, consider itineraries that visit one of the following ports or others known for their Christmas markets.

Nuremberg, Germany, has one of the most admired Christmas markets in Europe. It’s filled with the mouthwatering scents of gingerbread, almond cookies, mulled wine, and the city’s famous bratwurst. It’s also known for authenticity; the market features locally made handicrafts, like zwetschgenmännle (plum people), ornaments made from dried plums, figs, and walnuts. The market occupies the Hauptmarket, the city’s main square, which is lined with historic medieval buildings.

Strasbourg, France, has a popular Christmas market on the city’s Grand Île, a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes the Gothic-style Strasbourg Cathedral. This market takes pride in its Great Christmas Tree, which is usually at least 100 feet tall. Try Alsatian specialties like mannele, a brioche-style dough shaped to represent St. Nicholas; bredele, butter cookies spiced and cut into holiday shapes; and several varieties of vin chaud (hot mulled wine).

Budapest, Hungary, has its main Christmas market in Vörösmarty Square in the heart of the city. It’s fun to browse for handmade ornaments and wooden toys, but you should also sample Hungarian treats like paprika sausages; chimney cake, a sweet pastry baked on a rotating spit; and krampapuli, made by lighting a rum-soaked loaf of sugar and letting the resulting caramel drip into mulled wine.

Prague, Czechia, celebrates Yuletide with Christmas markets located around the city, including historic Old Town Square and Wencelas Square. You’ll find an array of ceramics, jewelry, embroidered lace, candles, and other keepsakes. When you get hungry, look for stalls selling different varieties of knedlíky (Czech dumplings); rybí polévka, a traditional fish soup; and grog, a hot drink made of rum, sugar, and lemon.

Most Christmas market cruises sail during the four weeks before Christmas. Their popularity means you should make reservations well in advance; talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, December 11, 2023

Is There a “Best Time” to Book a Cruise?

A cruise can be the vacation of a lifetime, or it can be your top vacation choice year after year. But no matter how many cruises you take, the question is: when is the best time to book a cruise?

The answer isn’t exactly simple, but in general, it’s best to buy when you and your professional travel advisor find a fare you’re comfortable with for an itinerary, schedule, and ship you like.

Here, we’ll get into some of the complexities:

Cruise lines want passengers to book their cruises early, so they offer some of the best fares as soon as a cruise opens for booking, which can be up to two years in advance. Booking early has other advantages, such as the best choice of staterooms. The cruise line may also offer incentives, like onboard credits or discounts on beverage and dining packages, which won’t be available later.

After that, what happens to the fares for a specific cruise can be hard to predict. If a cruise looks like it will sell out quickly, fares may increase. If a cruise sells slowly, the cruise line might reduce fares, especially as the sail date gets closer.

And, a lot depends on the destination. For example, cruises of Alaska are very popular and the cruise season is brief; so, if you want to sail there during the peak time of July to August, be prepared to book at least a year in advance. If you can cruise in late spring or early fall, you might find a good deal as late as three months in advance, but there’s no guarantee.

Cruises of the Arctic or Antarctic are bucket-list items for many, but the cruise seasons are short and the ships are small, so cruises tend to sell quickly. Be prepared to book more than a year in advance.

Destinations like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean welcome cruise ships of all sizes almost all year, so you can often book a cruise just a few months in advance. But if you want to sail either sea during the winter holidays or spring break, it’s best to book at least a year ahead.

While there’s no magic formula for booking a cruise at the lowest possible fare, working with a professional travel advisor – who can access cruise deals and discounts that aren’t available to the public – Anita can always help you reserve a wonderful cruise at an attractive price.

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Monday, December 4, 2023

Top Rewards for Cruise Line Loyalty

Retailers, restaurants, airlines, and hotels reward their repeat customers through loyalty programs – and cruise lines do, too. If you have a favorite cruise line, its loyalty program will enable you to earn onboard discounts and other rewards. If you haven’t cruised yet, knowing more about loyalty programs may help you pick a line for your very first cruise. Most cruise lines automatically register passengers in their loyalty programs before, during, or immediately after your first cruise with them.

Cruise line loyalty programs are free to join, and members usually begin accumulating points right away. The programs are tiered, with rewards increasing in value as you go from one tier to the next.

Common rewards in beginning tiers include discounts on things like onboard beverage packages, laundry services, and WiFi access. Middle tiers often provide deeper discounts on a wider array of extras, along with benefits like early boarding privileges or early access to specialty restaurant reservations.

In the top tiers, you can earn even deeper discounts and more valuable rewards, such as free stateroom upgrades or spa treatments. On a few cruise lines, including the following, the top reward is a free seven-night cruise in a balcony cabin:

·         Celebrity Cruises’ Captain’s Club offers a cruise to Bermuda or the Caribbean, with the potential to earn more free cruises.

·         Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society offers a cruise to the Caribbean (or a credit toward a cruise to another destination). There’s the possibility of earning additional free cruises with this line, too.

·         Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitude Rewards Program offers free cruises to any of its destinations, which is a one-time only (but incredibly special) reward.

Most cruise line loyalty programs are limited to that specific cruise line, even if it’s part of a bigger organization that operates multiple cruise lines. Exceptions include Royal Caribbean, which allows loyalty program members to use loyalty program points on multiple cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises. MSC Cruises offers a “status match” program that honors loyalty program status with dozens of other cruise lines and travel brands.

A nice feature of cruise line loyalty programs is that they don’t discard unused points at the beginning of each calendar year. You can keep your points, and continue moving up the tiers, as one year rolls over to the next.

Cruise line loyalty program rules for redeeming points can be quite complex, so don’t hesitate to ask Anita, your professional travel advisor for advice.

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Monday, November 27, 2023

Tips for Selecting Shore Excursions

Shore excursions – tours and activities in the ports of call – are a highlight of any cruise. Shore excursions are just as varied as cruise itineraries. For example, you can go flightseeing in Alaska, tour the great art galleries of Florence, or go snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef.

If you’re not sailing on a luxury line that includes excursions in your cruise fare, you’ll pay a per-person fee for each shore excursion. So, it’s important to choose excursions you’ll love. Here are a few tips for selecting the best shore excursions for you.

Do some research on the ports of call and the excursions that are available in each. Being well-informed about the places you’ll visit is the first step toward making good shore excursion choices. Then, look at the excursion options in each port; you’ll find descriptions on your cruise line’s website.

Read the shore excursion descriptions carefully. Each description explains how long the excursion will last, how much physical activity it involves, the type of transportation used, whether or not snacks and beverages are provided, and much more. Read this information thoroughly so you won’t be surprised.

Be realistic about activity levels – and attention spans. Selecting an excursion that’s beyond your physical abilities is a recipe for frustration. If an excursion requires a certain level of physical ability – such as climbing stairs or walking over uneven ground – the description will say so. Pay attention to excursion length, as well. If you think that you or one of your companions might grow tired or bored on a long excursion, look for a shorter option.

If you have a must-do shore excursion in mind, book it early. It’s often possible to book shore excursions in advance of your cruise. Popular excursions may be completely booked even before the ship sails, especially if capacity is limited. Early booking will help you avoid disappointment.

Finally, remember that shore excursions are not mandatory. You can stay on the ship while it’s in port: in fact, you might enjoy a break from touring. Spending a day on board while most passengers are onshore provides a chance to explore the ship and its amenities. A port day is often a good time to have a spa treatment, read a book by the pool, work out with a trainer, or enjoy lunch in an alternative restaurant.

For more shore excursion information and tips, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, November 20, 2023

Get Ready for the Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is introducing its newest and largest cruise ship yet: the Icon of the Seas. While everyone will be welcome aboard, the ship is expected to have a special appeal for multigenerational groups: it will have onboard spaces designed for the enjoyment of everyone from babies to seniors, as well as spaces where all ages can have a wonderful time together.

Icon of the Seas’ first cruise, departing from Miami on January 27, 2024, sold out in hours nearly a year ago. But, the Icon will sail seven-night cruises in the Caribbean all year long, and with a passenger capacity of up to 7,600, there will be lots of opportunities to sail on this incredible ship.

The Icon will feature eight “neighborhoods,” Royal Caribbean’s name for onboard areas designed for specific activities. Three neighborhoods – Royal Promenade, Central Park, and the Suite Neighborhood – will be familiar to passengers who’ve sailed on the cruise line’s Oasis Class ships.

New neighborhoods on Icon of the Seas will include Surfside, where passengers of all ages can relax and play. Thrill Island will attract older kids and adults; six heart-pumping slides will include Pressure Drop, cruising’s first open free-fall slide. Chill Island will be made for relaxing among four pools with ocean views, while the Hideaway will have a beach party vibe.

The eighth neighborhood will be a twist on the popular open-air AquaTheater found on Oasis Class ships. The steel-and-glass AquaDome will put acrobatic water and diving shows undercover to enable more lighting and other special effects, including a shape-shifting waterfall.

Royal Caribbean says the Icon will have more than 40 places to dine, drink, and be entertained. Restaurants will serve everything from kid-pleasing quick bites to all-day brunch and eight-course dinners.

As for staterooms, the ship will have 28 different categories of staterooms and suites. These will include new layouts designed to accommodate families, including a three-level Ultimate Family Townhouse.

In addition to Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean will introduce Utopia of the Seas – the sixth and final ship in the Oasis Class – in 2024. Utopia will sail three- and four-night itineraries from Port Canaveral to The Bahamas, beginning next July. And, a sister ship for Icon of the Seas, already under construction, is expected to debut in 2025.

To make your plans to sail on one of these amazing new Royal Caribbean ships, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, November 13, 2023

Onboard Extras That are Worth the Cost

When you cruise, your accommodations, meals and snacks, and lots of onboard entertainment are all included in your fare – not to mention transportation to all the ports on the itinerary. But, most cruise lines charge extra for at least some optional items. Which extras are worth your money? The answer depends on what’s important to you, but here’s a quick look at some extras you might want to include in your cruise budget.

Shore excursions. You’re cruising not only to enjoy the ship but to enjoy what’s on shore. Ship-sponsored shore excursions are designed to give you memorable experiences in port. Be sure to read the descriptions carefully and purchase excursions you’ll truly enjoy.

Specialty dining. You can dine very well in the onboard restaurants included in your fare. But if you’re celebrating a special occasion or would like an elevated dining experience, the upcharge for a specialty restaurant can be well worth it.

Beverage packages. On many ships, water, tea, coffee, and juice are included in the cruise fare; other beverages are available for an extra cost. If you enjoy flavored water, soda, specialty tea or coffee drinks, beer, wine, cocktails, or spirits, the cost of these can add up quickly. A pre-paid beverage package may save you quite a bit compared to paying for each individual drink.

Photo packages. You can certainly take your own photos on the ship, but photos taken by a professional photographer can be a wonderful cruise keepsake. If you’re traveling with friends or family, group photos can be treasured for years to come.

Wi-Fi access. If you want to get away from emails, texts, and social media during your cruise, onboard Wi-Fi access may not be important to you. But if you know you’ll need to connect to the internet while sailing, the purchase of a Wi-Fi access package is worth considering.

Spa treatments. Cruise ship spas rival the finest spas on land, and their treatments are priced accordingly. Still, pampering yourself with a detoxifying wrap, relaxing massage or rejuvenating facial can be a highlight of your time on board.

Laundry. Purchasing a laundry and dry cleaning package can help you pack lighter, which is especially helpful if you’re taking a longer cruise. Onboard laundry services might be more affordable than airline fees for extra or overweight luggage.

For more details about onboard extras, you may find worth the price, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, November 6, 2023

Going Cruising? Make a Preparation Checklist

When you’re looking forward to a cruise, vacation anticipation can make it easy to forget some important things you should do before you leave home. Here are some items for your cruise preparation checklist; completing them will help you enjoy your voyage to the fullest.

Check in online. You may be able to check-in for your cruise as early as 90 days before you sail. Visit your cruise line’s website to complete the check-in process. You may need to enter your passport information; you can also provide credit card details to make it easy to purchase items on board. When you check-in, you may also be able to make reservations for shore excursions, spa treatments, and specialty restaurants.

Download the cruise line’s app. This is a convenient way to access cruise information on your mobile device. You may be able to use the app to check in or to complete a virtual muster drill (a required safety drill). Once on board, you can use the app to view daily schedules and more.

Arrange for the care and security of your home. This may include pet and plant care. If you have a home alarm service, let them know when you’ll be away. Let your credit card provider know, too, to help avoid any payment denials when you want to make purchases while cruising. And just before you leave, give away any perishable food that’s in your kitchen.

Make a packing list. Try on all the clothes on your list to make sure they fit well, especially if you haven’t worn them recently. Be sure to include prescription medications and must-have toiletries on your packing list.

Check that you have all necessary documentation. Ask your professional travel advisor if you need to take your passport or birth certificate with you – different cruise lines and destinations have different requirements. You should also bring along the luggage tags and boarding passes provided by the cruise line (they may be mailed to you, or you may need to print them from an email).

Plan your transfers. If ground transfers aren’t included in your cruise package, think about how you’ll get to your flights, to your pre-cruise hotel (if you’ll arrive the day before embarkation), and to the ship itself. Taxis and rideshare services may be readily available, but some advance planning can help avoid last-minute panic.

For more cruise preparation tips, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Travel Tips to Help You Travel Better

As professional travel advisors, it’s our job to stay up to date and keep you informed about the ever-changing world of travel. We will send you travel tips like these throughout the year to help you travel better. Please read on and, if you have an additional question regarding these topics or others, we’re only a phone call, email or text away.


Everyone wishes to make the most of their vacation time. It’s one of the main reasons travelers turn to professionals like ourselves: Travel advisors can streamline your vacation, so you spend less time waiting and more time enjoying. Here are a few of our favorite ways that you can save valuable time on your next getaway.

Subscribe to a Pre-Screening Service
The first bottleneck many vacationers face is waiting in the long security checkpoint line that seemingly snakes for miles through the airport. To bypass this holdup, join a pre-screening service that accelerates the security process.

TSA PreCheck gives you a faster screening experience at domestic airports that is often less obtrusive.

Global Entry
expedites entry via air, land and sea into the U.S. and includes TSA PreCheck
CLEAR uses your eyes and fingertips to verify your identity and get you moving through security. All three programs cost money to join, but several travel credit cards waive the fees.

Choose Priority Boarding
Start your cruise off on the right, faster foot with priority boarding which allows you to use a dedicated security and check-in lane. This lets you skip the usual long lines at registration, and typically your accommodations will be ready before others. Priority boarding is often an included perk for suite passengers and cruise line loyalty members, but many cruise lines allow any passenger to pay for this worthwhile privilege.

Schedule Transfers
After a long flight to your destination, the last thing you want to do is queue up in a long taxi line or try to figure out where exactly your Uber driver might be. Have a professional transportation service booked and ready to whisk you away as soon as your luggage is secured. These services can either meet you inside the airport or can be easily accessed near the taxi area.

Buy Advanced Tickets
Most main attractions and museums require a ticket to enter. And for anyone who’s seen the early-morning line at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence meander down and around the Piazza della Signoria, you know how long those ticket-purchasing lines can be. Skip this line by buying tickets online before you go. Most sights have a limited number of spaces each day, so if you buy your tickets way in advance, you can guarantee your place.

Use a Travel Advisor
When a travel advisor plans your vacation, these tips and more are usually baked into the entire experience. We excel at making your travels as smooth and stress-free as possible, so you never have to worry about a thing. How to get to your hotel? Tickets to the museum? Details on shore excursions? Relax … we have it all under control.


Have you ever needed a vacation after your vacation? Did you spend so much time and energy trying to jam in all the attractions and activities during your vacation that you returned home exhausted and in need of more rest? It doesn’t have to be that way. Extending your vacation by a few days gives you the time and space to achieve your to-do list while also taking a few moments off to relax. Here are some additional benefits.

More Time to Get into Vacation Mode
Vacation mode is not a myth. It takes time to shake off the daily routine and mentally accept that you’re far away from the hustle and bustle of home life. When you give your vacation the proper space it deserves, you put yourself in a better position to de-stress and embrace the numerous benefits vacations should provide. These include a better mental state, greater physical health and a boost in overall happiness.

More Time to Explore
If you’re traveling far for your vacation, it makes sense to explore as much of that region as you can. Extending your vacation gives you the time to properly explore your vacation destination, take a day trip to a lesser-known area or even dip into a neighboring country for the day. For cruisers, a longer vacation lets you book a pre- or post-cruise experience. These are packages booked through our agency that allow you to tour the city your cruise embarks from or arrives at.

More Time to Stay Updated
In the modern world, many people are finding it possible to work from home without missing a beat. If you are able to do this, then bringing your laptop to another destination and putting in a few hours of work is worth it if it means extending your vacation. Plus, work tends to be easier to enjoy when you’re typing away from a tropical resort, hearing the call of macaws and smelling gardenias.


There isn’t much you need to know about a hotel room before you book it, besides the size of the bed, whether it’s a garden or sea view and how close it is to the ice machine. But choosing the best cabin on your next cruise entails a bit more knowledge. While cabins once were simply classified as inside, outside, veranda or suite, some ships now have more than 20 categories. Choosing one based on price alone is not wise. If you don’t like your cabin, you won’t be so thrilled with your cruise, and we don’t want that to happen. With that in mind, here are some helpful insights into picking the cabin that’s best for you.

Main Cabin Types
  • Inside Cabins: roughly 120-180 square feet, with no porthole or window
  • Outside Cabins: typically mirror images of interior cabins but with ocean views via a porthole or window
  • Balconies or Verandas: slightly larger cabins with sliding glass doors, giving you access to a small balcony large enough for a couple of chairs and a small table
  • Suites: expanded balcony rooms with either a small sitting area or separate bedrooms. They can be massive with multiple rooms, a grand piano or even a private whirlpool on your balcony.

Location, Location, Location
Usually, the least expensive, lower-deck cabins are best for those who feel the effects of motion discomfort the most, for they provide a smoother ride in rough seas. The downside is proximity, for they are the farthest from, well, everything you’d want to do on a ship. Cabins on the higher decks usually cost more, but they are close to all the fun stuff, making it immensely easier to run back to your cabin after lunch to grab your novel before hitting the pool deck. Midship cabins offer a good compromise when it comes to cost, proximity and motion control. Some staterooms are located in a private part of the ship with an exclusive restaurant and sun deck. Location matters.

Time Spent in the Cabin
Today’s ships are packed with enough activities to keep you on your toes (or on a rock-climbing wall) 24/7. But don’t assume you’ll never step foot inside your cabin. With so many things to do on board, you’ll need a good place to chill between activities. Or maybe you’ll just need a quiet sanctuary to relax, watch a movie or have a private dinner on the balcony. Every passenger spends different amounts of time in their cabin, but you’re likely to spend more time in there than you originally think.

To Splurge or Not to Splurge
Cabins range from compact to grandiose, with price tags to match. The least-expensive cabin on every ship is an interior one with limited space. Spend a little more, and you get an outside cabin with a window, and oh what a difference that window makes. Spend a little more and you get a balcony, where you can enjoy fresh air as you watch the next destination slide into view. Spend a little more and you’re in a suite, a luxurious home base for your family to reconnect after a day of adventuring. A splurge to a higher cabin category goes a long way, in our professional opinion. No one has ever complained about booking a suite, but we understand that budgets vary.

Your Cabin Is Ready
Each ship is unique, and new ships are launching yearly. How is it possible for you to keep track of all the different cabin types? Easy — ask us! Travel advisors make it their business to sail on or tour as many cruise ships as we can, so we have seen many of the cabins first-hand. Feel free to pick our brains about your next cabin selection anytime.


For those who avoid traveling in the summer to evade the higher temps, you’re missing out. A little heat isn’t so bad, especially when you’re walking down cobblestone alleyways and exploring ancient temples. Plus, there are a few major advantages to traveling during the height of summer, several of which are outlined below. The key to enjoying your time is to not sweat the small stuff, even if you’re sweating through everything else.

Some Things Simply Taste Better in the Heat
Locals in the countries you visit have a long history of surviving the off-season heat, which led them to create many of the cultural treats and beverages that are now internationally enjoyed, such as gelato and other frozen confections, as well as national beers. Experiencing these treats in their country of origin on a wonderfully warm day is an experience you never forget.

Maximizing Your Day with Naps
We often push ourselves too hard during vacations, trying to see every major site in a 50-mile radius of the resort. While this is a perfectly acceptable strategy, you often return home drained and in need of another, more-relaxing vacation. Traveling during a heated summer solves this dilemma. You typically wake up early in the morning, leisurely enjoy one or two crowd-free attractions before the sun rises too high in the sky, and then return to your luxurious hotel for a swim and a nap. You awaken late afternoon, as the sun and the temperature descend, feeling refreshed and ready to relish the local nightlife.

Take Your Time in Museums
Summer is the best time to deliberately dawdle in some of the world’s greatest museums, when you can take your time appreciating masterpieces without fighting the crowds. Plus, during summer travel, museums become chilled sanctuaries from the heat since they must keep the halls properly air conditioned to protect the art.

The Beauty of Off-Season

Two major advantages of traveling in the off-season, when rumored heat waves keep less-adventurous tourists away, are smaller crowds and lower prices. It’s only natural for travelers to plan their holidays around the weather, aiming for sunny, 68-degree days so they can enjoy standing in line with millions of other tourists who craved similar forecasts. During summer, those lines melt away in tropical destinations, making it much easier to enjoy major attractions.

Talk to Us, Your Travel & Weather Advisors
Contact us at any time to talk about the best places to visit during the summer. Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico, Las Vegas … all these fabulous destinations have off-seasons you can take advantage of.

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Monday, October 30, 2023

Alaska by Land and Sea

Alaska is a unique destination brimming with history, adventure, and natural beauty. Whether you’re traveling there for the first time or the tenth, consider exploring the magnificent coastline and the splendid interior – all on a single vacation. This is easier than you may think because several cruise lines – including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean – offer Alaskan “cruisetours” that combine a cruise and a land tour in one convenient, memorable vacation package.

Most cruisetours include a seven-day cruise of Alaska’s Inside Passage, calling on popular ports like Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka. All have interesting history and culture, gorgeous surroundings, and lots of options for fun and thrilling excursions on shore. To see icebergs being calved from glaciers of glowing blue-green ice, look for itineraries that also call on Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier. These rugged areas are generally not accessible by road, so cruising is the best way to see and appreciate them.

As for the land portion of a cruisetour, the length can range from three to 10 days or more. The focus is often on Denali National Park, one of Alaska’s scenic treasures. Stunning views of the Alaska Range include Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. The park’s pristine landscape is also home to wildlife like bears, moose, Dall sheep, caribou, snowshoe hares, and a variety of hawks, eagles, and falcons.

As an alternative or in addition to Denali, some land tours visit Wrangell-Elias National Park or the Kenai Peninsula. Some will even take you to the Canadian Rockies, including famously photogenic spots like Banff National Park and Lake Louise.

Your land travel land will use some combination of luxury rail cars and motorcoaches, always accompanied by a professional guide. Most of the accommodations are charmingly rustic lodges in serene natural settings, with simple but comfortable furnishings.

The Alaska cruisetour season begins as early as mid-April and extends into October. High season, with the warmest daytime temperatures and long hours of sunlight, is June through August. If your schedule makes it possible to enjoy a cruisetour in April or May, you can see the wonder of emerging spring in Alaska; in September or October, you can view beautiful fall colors as winter approaches.

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, to discuss the details of Alaska cruisetours and select a cruise line and itinerary that appeal to you.

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Monday, October 23, 2023

Halloween on a Cruise

Halloween is a widely celebrated festival on land, but also at sea. Many ships celebrate Halloween on the evening of October 31, but a few decorate and celebrate for all of Halloween week – or even longer.

For example, Disney Cruise Line’s ships stage Halloween on the High Seas throughout September and October. Kids dress up for onboard trick-or-treating and can meet some of their favorite Disney characters, who are disguised in their own spooky-fun costumes. Adults can attend a costume and dance party in the ship’s adults-only entertainment district. Everyone can enjoy scary movies at the poolside theater and a magical Pumpkin Tree in the ship’s atrium (which has a twisted tale to tell).

MSC Cruises starts the Halloween party in mid-October with activities like lessons in applying creepy makeup, Halloween-themed karaoke, and spooky trivia contests. Everyone can join in the costume parades and dance parties, and kids will love the not-too-scary haunted house in the children’s area.

Holland America Line offers some shore excursions that are perfect for the Halloween season, such as Mysteries of Palermo in Italy, which includes a visit to the catacombs of the Capuchin Friars; and The Ghosts of Old Quebec, set among the cobblestoned streets and buildings of Quebec City’s Old Town. On Halloween night, a pumpkin patch appears in the ship’s atrium; there are trick-or-treating and Halloween movies; and the dining room serves pumpkin-forward cuisine.

Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean all encourage guests to wear costumes on Halloween and join in themed activities. On Virgin Voyages ships, which are for adults only, the cruise line’s signature Scarlet Night transforms into Fright Night, with a promise that you won’t regret missing your usual Halloween party back home.

It’s perfectly acceptable to cruise on Halloween and not dress up, but you can expect lots of your fellow passengers and even the crew to be in costume – so why not join in? To keep things easy, it may be best to bring a costume that relies on decorated clothing and creative makeup rather than wigs, hats, and other hard-to-pack pieces. For example, a pair of cutoff jeans, a bandana, and some makeup can turn you into a pirate; a white shirt, black-framed glasses, and more makeup can transform you into an evil scientist.

For more information on ships and itineraries that let you celebrate Halloween in a costumed and pumpkin-spiced style, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 16, 2023

Cruise Ship Standards of Conduct

A cruise vacation is a time to unwind and enjoy yourself, but that doesn’t mean anything goes. When you make a cruise reservation, you agree to follow the cruise line’s standards of conduct for passengers. This isn’t meant to limit your fun, but to keep you and other passengers safe and happy as you cruise.

Still, there are consequences for those who don’t follow the standards of conduct, up to and including being removed from the ship. The following isn’t a complete list, but any of these actions may result in early dismissal.

Skipping the muster drill. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, the muster drill (a lifeboat safety drill) is an absolute must for every passenger – and yes, the crew will know if you don’t attend.

Smoking outside of designated smoking areas. Most ships have a defined area that is the only place passengers can use cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or vaping devices while on board. Cigar smoking is often not allowed at all, unless the ship has a cigar lounge.

Bringing illegal drugs on board. Because cruise ships are governed by federal law, this ban includes marijuana, even if it’s legal in your state or you use it only for medicinal purposes.

Bringing a weapon on board. Any type of gun, knife or self-defense spray like mace is usually prohibited.

Purchasing alcoholic drinks for anyone who isn’t of drinking age. The onboard drinking age may depend on your port of departure; if you’re not sure what it is, be sure to ask.

Throwing something overboard. Cruise lines must be responsible stewards of the waters they sail in, so they prohibit throwing anything at all over the ship’s railings.

Behaving in a reckless or abusive manner. This covers a wide range of misbehavior, including verbal abuse, throwing a punch or a deck chair, sitting on a deck railing, entering a restricted area, impersonating a crew member, having sex on a balcony, and more.

Stealing. Taking things that you haven’t paid for from fellow passengers or onboard shops will not be tolerated.

Sneaking a pet onboard. While there are some exceptions for service animals, pets are generally not allowed on cruise ships. (Note that Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 does have a small onboard kennel facility, which is in great demand.)

If you have any questions about these or other forbidden activities on a cruise ship, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, October 9, 2023

Secluded Caribbean Ports

Lovely weather, turquoise water, soft sand beaches, and lots of fun activities have made the Caribbean one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations. But it’s so popular that some ports may host multiple cruise ships on any given day – meaning you’ll share your time on shore with lots of other visitors.

If you want to cruise the Caribbean but would like to be on the only ship in port, look for the following ports of call as you browse itineraries with your professional travel advisor. Just know that these are smaller ports that can’t accommodate really big ships. And, they may be a bit busier from December to March, but any ship that calls on the same day as yours is also likely to carry a smaller number of passengers.

Charlestown, Nevis. The smaller of two islands that form the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis has long beaches overlooked by several volcanic summits, including 3,232-foot Mount Nevis. Ride horses along Oaulie Beach, tour a former sugar plantation in a horse-drawn buggy, or visit the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton.

Roseau, Dominica. With an extensive national park system and amazing wildlife, this island (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a hot spot for ecotourism. Hike in rainforest-covered mountains or go canyoning, then relax in natural hot springs. Or, snorkel among the sea life along Champagne Reef, where underwater volcanic vents produce a constant stream of bubbles.

St. George’s, Grenada. An array of aromatic spices – including nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and cacao – are grown on this mountainous island. There are dozens of beaches, but the most popular is Grand Anse Beach, which many consider to be one of the world’s best. Venture inland to see beautiful waterfalls, including Annandale Falls, Mt. Carmel Falls, and the Seven Sisters.

Port Elizabeth, Bequia. This tiny island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is refreshingly undeveloped. Still, there’s plenty to see, including an open-air farmers market, lovely Princess Margaret Beach, a small sanctuary for hawksbill turtles, and plenty of dive sites.

Willemstad, Curacao. Larger but not as busy as neighboring Aruba, Curacao is famous for its orange-flavored liqueur and its floating market. The island is a favorite of scuba divers and historians: the center of Willemstad is a World Heritage Site filled with colorful Dutch Colonial architecture.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, about ships that visit these and other secluded ports in the Caribbean.

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Monday, October 2, 2023

Ships for Multigenerational Cruising

If your extended family likes to vacation together and you want to include everyone – youngest to oldest – in your next getaway, consider a family cruise. It’s a lovely way to make special memories by exploring new places together.

Larger ships can be especially good for multigenerational groups because they have activities your whole crew can enjoy together: think pools, deck games, and live shows. They also have activities for specific age groups, like toddler play areas, special clubs for kids and teens, and casinos and nightclubs for adults.

These are a few big ships we think are terrific for multigenerational family groups:

On Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish, everyone loves the special effects-laden trip down the AquaMouse water slide. The whole family can also enjoy immersive experiences in themed restaurants that are based on the Marvel cinematic universe, the glittering world of Frozen, and the Golden Age of Hollywood. There are spaces and activities for kids, tweens, and teens, but also some reserved just for adults, including the Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Lounge.

If your family loves amusement park thrills, consider Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Prima, and its three-level, 14-turn go-kart track. Anyone who is under 55” tall (or just doesn’t want to drive) can watch from the observation area at the top of the track. For even more excitement visit The Drop, a heart-pumping, 10-story-high dry slide. The family can also have fun watching live entertainment in a three-story theater, splashing at the Aqua Park, or playing virtual reality games in the Galaxy Pavilion.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships are some of the largest at sea, with seven different neighborhoods brimming with activities. Your family can explore the Royal Promenade, lined with shops, cafes, and clubs; Central Park, where quiet pathways wind among real trees and flowers; Entertainment Place, which features live theater and ice-skating performances; and the carnival-themed Boardwalk, complete with a handcrafted wooden carousel. Kids can play with new friends in the Youth Zone, while adults can head to the spa and fitness center.

If your family would rather enjoy some small-ship luxury, one option is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s Evrima. This elegant yacht has a dedicated space where kids aged 4 to 12 can play and learn, with eco-themed activities led by a youth counselor.

To learn more about these and lots of other options for multigenerational family fun at sea, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, September 25, 2023

Add These Items to Your Cruise Packing List

While most who plan to take a cruise think about the clothes they’ll pack, there are some other useful items that often don’t make it to the packing list, but should. Here are some things to think about bringing along:

Magnets with hooks. Most cabin walls are magnetic, so bring some magnets with hooks to create extra hanging space for clothes, swimsuits, jewelry, and more. Just be sure the magnets are strong enough to stay up.

Snack bag (or “chip”) clips. The clips designed to seal an open bag of snacks can also fasten a towel to a lounger in a stiff sea breeze. They can work as clothes pegs on the little clothesline you may find in your cabin’s shower, too.

Battery-operated candles. Real candles aren’t allowed, but battery-operated versions make great night lights and can create a cozy or romantic feeling.

Battery-operated mini fan. You’ll want to keep it small, but a mini fan can create a little white noise for better sleep, as well as a little breeze if you’re in a windowless cabin.

Over-the-door shoe organizer. Hang one of these on the inside of your cabin door to create storage space not only for shoes but for jewelry, phone chargers, papers, makeup, and more. Choose one that folds up neatly and doesn’t need much luggage space.

Reusable water bottle. Help cut down on single-use plastics by bringing your own reusable water bottle; try one that folds or rolls up for easy packing. Fill it out and take it along on your shore excursions, too.

Small, foldable tote bag. This comes in handy for carrying sunscreen, hats, books, keycards, and other necessities to the pool or on shore.

Extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you have the bad luck to misplace or break yours, you won’t want to go without.

Sticky notes. A pad of sticky notes makes it easy to leave a question for your cabin steward.

Thank-you cards. When a crew member provides great service, a handwritten card of thanks is a nice touch.

Paper currency (in small bills). Even if you charge everything (including tips for the crew) to your cruise account, it’s helpful to have a little cash if you want to tip a tour guide, purchase a small souvenir on shore, or thank an especially helpful crew member.

Ask your professional travel advisor for more suggestions of helpful small items to pack for your next cruise.

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Working With a Cruise Travel Specialist

A cruise is a carefree vacation, but booking a cruise can be surprisingly complex and detailed. It doesn’t matter if you’ve cruised often or want to cruise for the first time: There’s a lot to know and many decisions to make. These are good reasons to work with a professional travel advisor who specializes in cruises. They can help you:

 Choose a destination. It’s fun to research cruise destinations for yourself, but a cruise travel specialist can give you personalized recommendations. Their information is often based on first-hand knowledge because cruise travel specialists tend to be experienced cruise passengers.

 Select a cruise line and ship. Different cruise lines and ships have different personalities: some are big and cheerful, some are luxurious and understated, and some are adventurous and educational. Again, a cruise travel professional can combine what they know about you with all they know about cruising to recommend ships that suit your style.

Select a cabin. Your cruise ship cabin will be your home while you’re on board, so choosing the right one is important. The array of cabin types can be bewildering, especially on a large ship. A cruise travel specialist can help you figure out which one will be most comfortable for you.

 Decide what to do on shore. Your ship will offer a variety of activities and tours in each port of call, and a cruise travel specialist’s expertise can help you make the most of your time on land.

Secure the best price. Cruise travel specialists often have access to discounts and promotions that are not available to the public. They may also be able to get you some nice onboard perks, like a welcoming bottle of wine or a complimentary spa treatment.

Getting to and from the port. A cruise travel specialist will be happy to make the airline or other travel reservations needed to get you to and from the ship.

Have peace of mind. If weather causes a delay when you’re on your way to the ship if the cruise line must change the itinerary, or if something else goes awry, don’t worry; your cruise specialist will act as your liaison with the cruise line. If there’s rebooking or refunding to be done, they will work on your behalf.

 Finally, it’s important to know that most cruise travel specialists receive their income in the form of commissions from the cruise lines – not from you.

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Monday, September 11, 2023

Why Cruise Ship Size Matters

 When thinking about cruise vacation options, you may be most interested in itineraries and ports of call. But, the size of your ship can be just as important to your decision. That’s because there are major differences in the experiences delivered by large and small ships – size determines a lot, such as how many people you’ll share the ship with, the variety of onboard activities and entertainment, and the number of dining options.

 Dividing cruise ships into “large” and “small” categories may be too simple because passenger capacity ranges from less than 100 to more than 6,000. But, we can loosely define small ships as those that carry up to 2,000 passengers and large ships as those that carry more.

 To figure out if large or small is best for you, here are a few things to consider.

Do you like to meet lots of new people, or get to know a few new friends? Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Costa have ships that carry more than 5,000 passengers, where you’ll see different people each day. These ships are also more likely to host families and other groups, too. On mid-size and smaller ships from lines like Oceania, Holland America, and Viking, you’re more likely to mix with the same passengers each day, with more adults and fewer children on board.

 Do you want to have lots to do on board, or do you enjoy a quieter atmosphere? Large ships have spaces for an amazing array of activities, from theaters and water parks to go-kart tracks and escape rooms. (If you need a break from the excitement, large ships often have some quiet, adult-only spaces as well). Small ships still have lovely amenities like pools, spas, and lounges, but there’s usually more emphasis on the destination than on onboard thrills.

Do you want to enjoy dinner in a different restaurant every evening, or are you happy trying different dishes from a single dinner menu? Large ships have multiple dining options, from casual to formal, featuring a variety of cuisines. Small ships may have just one or two dining venues, but menus will be varied (and delicious).

 There’s more to consider about cruise ship size, including differences in the available destinations – some ports that welcome small ships can’t accommodate large ones, and vice versa. To decide what size of a ship is right for your next cruise, talk it all through with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, September 4, 2023

A World of Beaches to Visit via Cruise Ship

 Beaches and Caribbean cruises simply go together, but there are wonderful beaches – including some in unexpected places – that you can visit via cruise ship. Let’s look at a few that might tempt you to cruise in a different part of the world.

 In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, you can visit more than one famous beach. Copacabana, a popular crescent of sand anchored at the north end by Sugar Loaf Mountain, hosts crowds of sunbathers, musicians, and volleyball players. Just south of Copacabana, Ipanema is usually a bit quieter, but just as beautiful.

 Four miles from downtown Sydney, Bondi Beach is a half-mile of silky sand and a perfect place to experience the vibe of Australian beach culture. There are surf schools and plenty of cafes and bars that overlook the beach. The town of Bondi Beach has some interesting Art Deco architecture, too. Another option is to take a half-hour ferry ride to Manly Beach, another surfing hot spot with a tree-lined promenade and beachfront cafes.

 Cruise passengers who call on Cadiz, Spain, can visit the nearly four-mile stretch of sparkling sand at Playa de la Barrosa. Rent a chair on the main beach or find some privacy in the sand dunes and pines that lie just to the south. If your ship calls on Barcelona, visit the seaside neighborhood of Barceloneta, where a manmade beach has become a highlight of the city. Be sure to take a selfie with the glittering Frank Gehry sculpture of a golden fish. On the sand, there are loungers and umbrellas for rent, and delicious fresh seafood dishes are served in the beachfront restaurants.

 Croatia isn’t a classic beach destination, but visitors to Dubrovnik can walk from the cruise port to Bellevue Beach at the edge of the Adriatic Sea. This pebbly, shady beach is surrounded by stunning cliffs. Plus, the water is clear and perfect for exploring an underwater cave before you enjoy a snack at the beach cafe.

 And while you may not think of Denmark as a beach destination either, the port of Skagen at the country’s northern tip has some lovely beaches. The light and views over the North Sea have inspired generations of artists. If it’s too cool to sunbathe, you can hike, watch birds, fly a kite, or explore the dunes.

 To find out how to visit any of these beaches via cruise ship, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 28, 2023

Cruise Dining News

Onboard dining is a fun and delicious aspect of any cruise, and cruise line culinary programs are always striving to reach new heights of innovation and excellence. Here are some of the tasty developments we’ve heard about in cruise ship dining.

 Fans of Crystal Cruises will be thrilled to know the brand is relaunching this summer with two refurbished, ocean-going ships and the return of a favorite onboard restaurant, UMI UMA. Created by Michelin-starred chef Nobu Matsuhisa, this specialty restaurant features his unique fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavors. Menu highlights include the chef’s signature black cod in miso as well as dishes that feature Wagyu beef and Chilean sea bass.

 To accommodate guests who follow vegan diets, Windstar Cruises will introduce a new whole-food, plant-based menu this summer on all its ships. These dishes will be minimally processed and prepared without added salt, oil, or sugar. Tempting choices include baked cauliflower croquettes with salsa verde, penne pasta with espelette pepper sauce, and tahini brownies with strawberries. Windstar ships will continue to serve dishes for vegetarians and omnivores as well.

 Oceania’s newest ship, the Vista, has a dozen dining options, and the culinary staff gives just as much attention to the onboard beverage menu. A new molecular mixology program uses naturally sourced ingredients to make reductions and syrups that add aromatic flavor to cocktails and other drinks. Specialty beverage carts like the Bubbly Bar (serving Champagne cocktails) and the Ultimate Bloody Mary Bar roam the decks. You can also make a reservation for a three-course Champagne experience that pairs bubbly from Moët & Chandon with tastes like sea bass tartare, duck foie gras terrine, and cured beef tenderloin.

 Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas won’t launch until 2024, but the cruise line has already announced that the ship will have more than 20 different dining experiences. These include Royal Caribbean’s first food hall, the Aqua Dome Market. Casual bites will include sweet and savory crepes at Crème de la Crepe; macaroni and cheese with a variety of toppings from Mac’s; pitas and bowls from Feta Mediterranean; favorites like Korean beef and broccoli at GNGR; and fresh sandwiches and salads from Toast and Garden. For an elegant dinner, visit the Empire Supper Club, where an eight-course menu will begin with caviar and proceed through expertly prepared Wagyu beef and other dishes.

 Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about experiencing these and other mouthwatering options at sea.

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Monday, August 21, 2023

Great Onboard Workouts

Most cruise ships have fitness centers where you can maintain your regular workout; many have such an excellent range of equipment and classes that you might discover a new favorite way to stay in shape. Here are a few onboard workout opportunities that may “wow” you.

Zumba classes on Celebrity Cruises use upbeat rhythms and simple choreography to deliver a total body workout. If you haven’t done Zumba before, attend the scheduled Zumba Fitness Party to learn some basic steps. Some Celebrity ships also offer Aqua Zumba for a water-supported workout in the ship’s pool, Zumbatomic classes for kids, or Zumba Gold classes for older adults.

If you like punching bag workouts, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Fight Klub incorporates punching bag work with sets of kicks for an energizing cardio session. Virgin Voyages ships have punching bags too, as well as actual boxing rings where you can spar.

Virgin offers bungee fitness classes, too. The stretchy bungee cords attached to the ceiling defy gravity, so you’ll need to engage a variety of muscle groups just to touch the floor.

Cruise ships also offer plenty of fun activities outside the walls of their fitness centers. For example, if you love water sports, check out the water sports platforms on the ships of luxury lines like Windstar and Seabourn. These onboard marinas are your launching point for paddleboarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, and more.

Several Royal Caribbean ships are equipped with a surfing simulator called the FlowRider. If you haven’t tried surfing before, you may be surprised by how much strength and balance it requires. Sign up for a group lesson to be sure you get the most from your FlowRider experience, which will be a workout for your core, legs, and upper body.

Lots of ships feature a spacious sport court on an upper deck, usually equipped with facilities for basketball, volleyball, soccer, and more. Most ships also have a track or promenade where you can stroll, jog or run as much as you like. Larger ships, like those from Disney Cruise Line, have tracks that are four-tenths of a mile or longer, meaning you can complete a 5k run in less than eight laps.

Some of these and other onboard fitness activities will be included in your cruise fare, but some may carry an extra fee. For details about all of the fitness options available on your next cruise, talk with Anita,  your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, August 14, 2023

Join us on an Exceptional Trip

As we all know, cruising is an outstanding way to travel and see the world.   Did you realize there are ways that you can maximize your experience?  What if I told you, it is EASY and FREE.  The secret is to book with a Travel Leaders Network travel advisor and have them book you on a Distinctive Voyage sailing!   A Distinctive Voyage cruise costs no extra money and includes some wonderful amenities.

1.        Welcome reception:

a.       A chance to meet your Distinctive Voyage host.

b.       Gives you a chance to meet other Distinctive Voyage guests and develop friendships.

c.       Learn about other amenities offered on the cruise.     

2.       Distinctive Voyage host holds office hours each sea day where Distinctive Voyage guests can:

a.       Ask questions.

b.       Learn about upcoming ports.

c.       Just visit with the host.

3.        Free shore excursion:

a.       At one of the ports on the cruise.

b.       This is an exclusive high-quality excursion only for the DV guests.  We hosted a DV cruise around the British Isles in 2023.  Our tour was “The Beatles and Liverpool”.  It was an outstanding tour!  Several of the guests said it was the best tour they had taken and even guests that had no interest in The Beatles left talking about the exceptional tour.

These free amenities are offered because you booked your cruise with a Travel Leaders Network advisor.  So next time you book a cruise, book with a Travel Leaders Network Advisor and ask for a Distinctive Voyage Cruise.  It will take an outstanding vacation to the next level!

Join us on one of our Distinctive Voyage tours:

1.       March 26, 2024 – Celebrity Cruise Line – Eclipse (Ship) - 12 nights Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile

2.       November 20, 2024 – Holland America Cruise Line – Zaandam (Ship) – 17 nights Hawaii round trip from San Diego, Ca


We look forward to meeting you,

Rick and Linda Poole

Monday, August 7, 2023

Cruise Planning with the Kids

A cruise is a terrific choice for a family vacation; ships from family-oriented lines like Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and others are well-equipped for family fun.

If you have school-age children, let them be involved in the excitement of planning a cruise. Guiding them through the process of choosing a destination and ship, deciding what to do on board and on shore, and keeping within a vacation budget can be a great learning experience. Just let the kids know that while their ideas and opinions are important, you get to make the final decisions.

Start by talking about where to sail. With a world of destinations to choose from, you may want to pick two or three options to discuss with the kids. For example, talk with them about the possibilities of sunning on the beaches of the Caribbean versus viewing glaciers on the coast of Alaska or visiting museums around the Mediterranean. You may learn something new about what interests your kids.

After you pick a destination, select a cruise line and ship. Do the kids want lots of onboard activities? Some of today’s larger ships have amazing features like water coasters and go-kart tracks, but your kids may be perfectly happy on a smaller ship with a nice pool. If they like to spend time with other kids, look at cruise lines that have youth programs staffed by experienced counselors. These programs group kids by age and/or interest, with a full agenda of activities and fun.

Then, talk about what everyone would like to see and do on shore. Your ship will offer a variety of shore excursions in every port. If the kids have different opinions about how to spend shore time – say, one wants to tour and shop but another wants to slide down a zipline – look for excursions that combine several activities.

You should also talk about cabin selection, with special consideration to sleeping arrangements. Will everyone be comfortable in one cabin? Do you need two or more adjacent cabins to ensure everyone can sleep well? Perhaps a family suite with a little more space (and a balcony) will be worth a little extra money.

As you talk with the kids about your upcoming cruise, keep in touch with Anita,  your professional travel advisor. If you need to resolve a difference of opinion, travel professionals are great at coming up with ideas for making everyone happy.

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