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 29, 2023

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!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Pink Sand Beaches

When thinking of tropical locations or relaxation vacations, most people talk about warm sun beating down on their skin, clear, blue ocean waters, and white sand between their toes.

That sounds nice, right?

But what about pink sand between your toes? Yes, there are places that actually have pink sand, and they’re beautiful! Pink sand gets its color from broken coral pieces, calcium carbonate materials from marine creatures, as well as seashells. Sometimes, the sand has the slightest highlight of pink, but the shoreline and the water’s edge is where the pink will be most vivid.

There are quite a few areas with pink sand beaches, but here are some that stand out to us!

1. Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

This beautiful beach is located on Bermuda’s South Shore and is a great place to visit if you’re looking for some relaxation.

This beach is also family friendly, with many activities such as snorkeling, boogie boarding, and paddle boarding. Because this beach is shaped like a horseshoe (hence the name), it’s sheltered from larger waves.

Bars near the beach make it easy to grab some burgers and fish sandwiches, ice cream, and Bermuda’s national drink, the Rum Swizzle.

2. Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas

This beach is located on a small island of the Bahamas (it’s so small you can travel the Harbour Island by foot!). Not only is the beach here stunning, there are soo many great activities to take part of.

One of the coolest activities you can do at Pink Sands Beach is to take a boat tour to go swim with pigs! Yes, pigs! You’ll boat over to a smaller island where you can swim alongside these porkers and even feed them. From there you’ll head over to another island where you can partake in a Bahamian food tasting!

If you’re not into swimming with pigs, that’s okay, you can always just set up a towel on the beach and enjoy the views and play in the crystal clear, blue waters!

3. Pink Beach of Barbuda, Caribbean Sea

This island is found in the northeastern Caribbean and consists of small village communities and is known for its natural beaches.

What’s cool about this island is that one side of Barbuda is touched by the Atlantic Ocean, with its dark blue color and beaches filled with driftwood, while the other side of the island is touched by the Caribbean sea, which is where you can find the pink sand beaches and bright blue waters.

Take in the natural beauty, relax and interact with locals. Barbuda isn’t known for its tourism, so you won’t see organized events and activities that you would in larger resort towns, nor will you find tourist attractions or nightlife on this island. Instead, expect blissful peace.

4. Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece

This is an island that is located on the southwest coast of Crete, Greece. It’s more of a sandbar, meaning it can be submerged under the water at certain times. If you’re hanging out in Crete, you can wade out to the island, but don’t expect to see any beach chairs there, though! If you’re up for this adventure you’ll be rewarded with sightings of rare plants and sea creatures, such as the loggerhead sea turtles. Take note – if you’re caught removing any plants or animals, you could be given a big fine!

Most of the time, you’ll see the stunning pink sand on the island and when the sand is pink, it is very pink. However, there can be times where you don’t see the pink sand: this is due to wind conditions, the season, and even the tide motions. But even if you don’t see the sand in its pink beauty, you’ll always be able to feel the softness of the sand on this island. It’s been described as “soft as dust.” The waters surrounding are warm and calm, so it’s a great spot to bring young ones to play.

This island can get busy, so if you’re looking for more of a relaxed environment, it’s recommended to go during the late spring and early summer.

Monday, May 15, 2023


If you're looking to travel somewhere with fantastic beaches and views, put Mauritius at the top of your list. This Island Country is located just east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

Île aux Cerfs, on the eastern side of Mauritius, is a private island known as a water sports paradise. You'll have plenty of fun snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming. Not only is this location great for water sports, but it's also said to have the most attractive beaches in Mauritius! Be sure to plan for a whole day here as it's only accessible by boat.

Bras d'Eau, on the northeastern side of Mauritius, is a smaller bay that resides in the lagoon of Poste Lafayette. Because of its unique position offering southern views, visitors to this spot can catch both sunrises and sunsets. If spectacular sunsets and sunrises aren’t enough, Bras d'Eau is also known as the best place to view the Milky Way on the island, so be sure to stick around after that sunset. Soaking up the island's culture is made easy here as locals frequent this spot on the weekends and during holidays.

While in Bras d'Eau, check out Bras d'Eau National Park. Take a bike or hike your way through this exotic forest that leads to the Roches Noires Caves. Here, you can view the remains of volcanic activity, which is what formed the island, and see lava tubes that connect to the sea. These are now freshwater springs that you can swim and snorkel in among the fish.

If you travel to the northeast of Mauritius, you'll find one of its territories, Rodrigues Island. Called "the jewel in the crown of the Mascarene Islands," it's 42 square miles surrounded by coral reefs, offering stunning views for diving and snorkeling. Visitors can also partake in kite-surfing, ziplining, and birdwatching.

Not only is this island nation filled with stunning views and nature, but it's also rich with history. You'll be able to visit many museums and structures to learn more about this island, such as Fort Adelaide, which overlooks Port Louis and the harbor. It was built between 1834 and 1840 to guard the city against riots during the abolition of slavery. However, it is used now for performance art and houses concerts and other events.

Another incredible stop to add to your list if you want to learn more about the history of Mauritius is the Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre (BRIC). Also located in Port Louis, this exhibition showcases the experiences of indentured laborers in Mauritius and the roles the island played in the history of indenture. Featuring objects recovered during archaeological excavations and multiple touch screen displays with information about this period, this is a great educational stop for all!

There are many other museums you may want to check out while you're visiting the island. From the small Natural History Museum which has 35,000 species on display including the extinct dodo bird, to the Mauritius Postal Museum, which displays commemorative stamps and other postal artifacts from around the world.

Though this island may be far for most, it is worth traveling the distance! With the beautiful beaches and views, to the multitude of activities, and all the educational experiences, it's a great location to learn, explore, and most importantly, relax and experience!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Why Use a Travel Advisor

  1. Relationships with suppliers – you know when you’re visiting your neighborhood restaurant where the servers are familiar and give you a new dessert to try with your meal sometimes? Companies and people love to reward loyalty and the same is true about travel providers. Travel advisors have relationships with these companies and their staff and want to keep that relationship mutually beneficial! The suppliers know that if they can keep their travel advisors’ clients happy, they’ll be more likely to send more people their way. Sometimes this can translate into extra attention, free upgrades, or even things like chocolate-covered strawberries in your room!
  2. Knowledge about products – what’s the best travel insurance and should you get it? If something were to go wrong or there were any last-minute changes, which suppliers have the best cancellation policies? Ask your advisor! They treat knowledge about travel like it’s their job (because it is!)
  3. Better rates / added benefits – you won’t always get better rates booking with an advisor, but you’ll often get more value added. In the age of online booking, it’s easier than ever to find “deals” online, but when you go through a massive online booking company, oftentimes, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Is that hotel room so cheap because it’s on the side of the building next to train tracks and faces a brick wall? With an advisor, you know exactly what you’re getting and what added benefits are coming along with it. Travel advisors also stay updated on what kind of sales are happening. If they know you’re looking for a river cruise to Europe and a big sale starts, they’ll know to pass that information along to you!
  4. Translating dreams to reality – How do you take your vague notion about a dream vacation and turn it into reality? Ask your travel advisor! They’re able to translate your wants into real locations and help you identify what pieces of your trip will matter the most.
  5. Travel logistics – How much time do you need for a layover? Would it make the most sense to rent a car, hire a driver, or something else altogether? If even starting down that train of thought is giving you sweaty palms, take a deep breath and call your travel advisor.
  6. Peace of mind – In the unfortunate event that something does go wrong, having someone on your side to help you through it and advocate for you is invaluable. Instead of being stuck internationally frantically trying to track down all of the people you need to call, you can make one call to your travel advisor and trust them to figure out the best plan for you.
  7. They get to know you – The more you use a travel advisor, the more valuable they are. With each trip you take through them, the more feedback you’re able to give them on what worked for you and what you’d skip next time, making each subsequent trip even further beyond perfect.

Monday, May 1, 2023

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, April 24, 2023

Business Meetings at Sea

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a temporary halt to many in-person business meetings and company gatherings, but these are becoming common once again. If your employer is planning a meeting of colleagues (and maybe clients, too), suggest an incredible venue for the event: a cruise ship.

There are lots of advantages to holding business meetings at sea. A big one is that the meeting can take place at any time of year; there are always ships sailing in warm and beautiful places.

Cruise ships can accommodate meetings of many types. Lots of ships have meeting space that can flex to suit groups of various sizes, from intimate conference rooms to theaters with a thousand seats or more. These spaces, both indoor and outdoor, often have sophisticated audiovisual capabilities.

A high level of customer service is standard on cruise ships. Your meeting attendees will enjoy having their cabins cleaned and refreshed daily by crew members who are trained to ensure passengers are comfortable. The common spaces on a cruise ship are also kept sparkling clean, and many ships recently updated their cleaning technologies and ventilation systems to help keep everyone on board healthy and safe.

Cruises are famous for plentiful and delicious food, and the culinary staff is accustomed to accommodating special requests. You can arrange group breakfasts, lunches and dinners, or let your attendees choose from the dining options on board. And, colleagues who need some quiet time can always relax in their cabins with room service and an in-room movie.

When the business of the day is done, cruise ships offer a terrific array of entertainment options. There are pools and whirlpools, fitness centers and sports decks, lounges with live music and dancing, and shows that rival those you can see on Broadway. The cruise line staff can also work with you to arrange exclusive performances, product displays, shore excursions, and other activities just for your group.

When you hold a business meeting on a cruise ship, you may be able to arrange some special touches. These can range from customized cabin and meeting room décor to customized menus and beverages, small gifts to be placed in attendees’ cabins, and much more. It’s even possible to charter an entire ship so that your colleagues and clients will be the only passengers on board.

To further explore the world of business meetings at sea, start by talking with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, April 17, 2023

Private Island Paradise

If you would love to spend time on a private tropical island, achieving that travel goal is quite simple; just book a cruise that calls on the cruise line’s private island. These islands are brimming with opportunities to relax, enjoy fun activities and eat delicious food – all told, a magical day in paradise. It’s easy to see why private islands are among the favorite port calls of experienced cruise passengers.

Cruise lines that have private islands include Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these lovely getaways.

Like its ships, Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas focuses on family fun. Everyone can go snorkeling, enjoy the water play areas or visit with some stingrays. There’s a fun 5k run for families who like to exercise together. Then, you can relax in the chairs, hammocks, and cabanas along Castaway Family Beach. Adults can also spend some quiet time at Serenity Bay Beach.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Caye is one of the few cruise line private islands that’s not in The Bahamas or the Eastern Caribbean. This island, just off the coast of Belize, is adjacent to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s send-largest reef complex. In addition to a pool and a white sand beach, Harvest Caye has a wildlife sanctuary, as well as delightful restaurants and shops owned and operated by Belizeans.

MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay, an old sand extraction site, is now a reserve for corals and other endangered marine life, including sea turtles and rays. There are multiple white-sand beaches, a hiking trail, kayak tours, and more. Ships remain at the island until late in the evening, so you can watch the sunset and do some stargazing in the clear Bahamian sky.

Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas promises thrills and chills: over-the-water cabanas are perfect for chilling, and giant waterslides help provide the thrills. You can take in the view from a helium balloon or go zorbing in a transparent plastic bubble. There are lots of dining options, including upscale Mediterranean cuisine at Coco Beach Club.

Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, about sailing to these or other private islands, including Princess Cruises’ Princess Cays, Holland America’s Half Moon Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay or Royal Caribbean’s Labadee on the north coast of Haiti.

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Monday, April 10, 2023

An All-Inclusive Vacation by Land or by Sea?

One of the many wonderful things about a cruise vacation is that it’s all-inclusive: your cabin, dining, and lots of onboard activities and amenities are included in your fare. But some land-based resorts also offer vacationers an all-inclusive experience. Which is best for you?

A cruise and an all-inclusive resort have some similarities, but there’s a major difference: the number of places you’ll see.

At an all-inclusive resort, activities may include local tours, but you’ll stay in one place. This can be great if you’re simply looking to relax or to really get to know the area.

In contrast, a cruise ship visits multiple destinations. The ship sails as you sleep, so you can wake up in a different port each day. This is a terrific way to become familiar with a region of the world, such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Northern Europe, the coast of Alaska, the Mexican Riviera or the South Pacific, to name just a few options. As the ship takes you from port to port, your home base will be your own comfortable cabin.

Of course, some cruise fans consider the ship itself to be their main destination. Like a land-based resort, cruise ships – especially the larger ones – have abundant options for dining and entertainment. You can work out, take a cooking lesson, see a show, join a card tournament or improve your golf swing without setting foot on land. Some ships have truly amazing features like sky-diving simulators, zip lines, and submarines for underwater exploration. Even if you want to spend most of your time relaxing in a deck chair, the scenery around you will change with each new port.

As you think about which type of all-inclusive experience you would enjoy, know that “all-inclusive” can mean different things for different cruise and resort operators. Check on exactly what’s included in your base cruise fare or daily resort rate. It may or may not include things like beverages, spa treatments, and specialty restaurant charges. To compare the expected total cost of a cruise to a land-based resort vacation, be sure to consider the cost of any extras you know you’ll want. Also, think about the cost of travel to a cruise ship dock versus a resort; one may give you the option to drive rather than fly.

For more information and considerations about all-inclusive cruise and resort vacations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, April 3, 2023

Our Trip to Antarctica

Elephant Island

In March, we returned from a 14-day cruise to Antarctica, round-trip Buenos Aires. Prior to booking our trip, we needed to decide on a “walk on the land” or a “cruise by” trip. After much consideration, we decided on the easier trip aboard the Celebrity Infinity.

We considered:

• Cost
• Embarkation/disembarkation port

• Large ship versus expedition (small) ship

• Zodiac raft to the shore

• Cold weather gear

• Drake Passage

• Cold weather and amount of time spent in Antarctica


The cost of the trip was a big driver in our decision, but I wasn’t that keen on spending several days going between the ship and the land in a Zodiac raft.  I wanted to see the penguins, but not spend a week with them.

 We were in Paradise Bay with one of the expedition ships and saw their passengers go ashore in Zodiac rafts. It didn’t look like fun to me.  Around Antarctica and the islands, the sea was fairly calm, but the weather was cold.


We had a wonderful time, but I don’t plan to return… The scenery was magnificent, but the weather was miserable. Going through the Drake Passage was a little rough, but it was manageable.  On many of our trips, we say, “we need to go back.” Not here, one and done. It was cold and the seas were rough.  Our Captain told the passengers that “we had an average trip: not the best and not the worst time going through the passage.”

 Would I recommend a cruise to Antarctica?  Yes!  You decide if you want an expedition ship for the cruise of a lifetime.

 Our next trip is to someplace warm: Africa.


Cruising Through the World’s Canals

It’s delightful to cruise the world’s oceans and rivers, but you can also cruise some canals; they are marvels of engineering that are fun and interesting to sail through. These human-made waterways usually link two larger bodies of water. Because they often cut through solid rock, they can be quite narrow, which can make for an exciting passage.

One of the narrowest canals a cruise ship can pass through is the Corinth Canal in Greece. Four miles long, with steep limestone cliffs on each side, it cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth to connect the Ionian and Aegean Seas. Attempts to build the canal began more than 2,000 years ago, but they were unsuccessful until the 1890s. With a depth of 26 feet and a maximum width of just 81 feet, the canal can accommodate some smaller cruise ships. In 2019, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 642-foot-long MS Braemar became the longest ship known to pass through the canal.

The Suez Canal has linked the Mediterranean and Red Seas since 1869. Sea-level water flows freely through this 120-mile-long canal, which passes through Egypt. You can see many landmarks along the way, including the Suez Canal Bridge at El-Qantara; the El Ferdan Railway Bridge, the world’s longest swing bridge, near Ismailia; and Great Bitter Lake, which was a dry salt basin before the canal was built.

The Panama Canal cuts through the Isthmus of Panama between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It takes a cruise ship about 12 hours to navigate the canal. It’s just 51 miles long, but it includes multiple locks that raise ships to the level of Gatun Lake, then lower them back to sea level. The ships have to be able to fit into the locks and to pass under the Bridge of the Americas on the Pacific side. The scenery along the canal is lovely; passengers often spot monkeys, toucans, iguanas, capybaras, crocodiles, and other wildlife.

Ocean and river cruise lines sail through other canals, including the North Sea Canal in the Netherlands, the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal of Central Europe, and the Soo Locks that connect Lake Superior with the Lower Great Lakes. And, you’ll soon have an opportunity to cruise through a tunnel. The Stad Ship Canal, which will be the world’s first large-scale ship tunnel, is under construction on the coast of Norway.

For more information about cruising through one of the world’s canals, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 27, 2023

New Restaurants at Sea

A cruise is a fantastic vacation choice for anyone who loves food because the food on a cruise is plentiful, fresh, and delicious. In addition to an elegant main dining room and casual buffet, many ships offer specialty restaurants, bistros, lounges, and cafes for a variety of dining options.

When a cruise line introduces a new ship, it’s an opportunity to give passengers some tempting new dining experiences. One example is Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Prima Class ships – the Prima debuted in the fall of 2022, and the Viva is scheduled to set sail this year. The Prima introduced new dining venues like Palomar, where seafood is prepared Mediterranean-style; Hasuki, an elevated hibachi dining experience; Nama, where sushi and sashimi are served on a marble-topped bar; and Los Lobos, which features mouthwatering Mexican cuisine. Even established passenger favorites like Cagney’s Steakhouse and The Commodore Room have updated menus and décor on Prima Class ships.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line introduced The Mason Jar on the Wonder of the Seas in spring 2022. The rustic farmhouse-style décor perfectly suits the food, which centers on Southern favorites like buttermilk biscuits, fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, and crab beignets. When the Icon of the Seas debuts in 2024, it will have more than 40 dining venues, 23 of them completely new to the cruise line. They will include Desserted, a milkshake bar, and The Lemon Post Bar, which will have food and drink options for both adults and kids.

When Silversea’s Silver Nova launches this summer, it will have at least eight restaurants, including the cruise line’s innovative S.A.L.T. Kitchen, where the menus are inspired by the destination. The Silver Nova will also have Silversea’s signature French restaurant, La Dame; Kaiseki, serving Asian cuisine; and The Marquee, which houses both The Grill, where passengers use hot volcanic rocks to cook food to their personal taste and Spaccanapoli, a deluxe pizzeria.

Oceania Cruises’ Vista will set sail this year with a dozen dining venues, including some brand-new culinary concepts. Aquamar will specialize in wellness-inspired dishes for breakfast and lunch, including cold-pressed juices, superfood smoothies, house-made granolas, and avocado toast. Ember will serve American classics, like braised short ribs on polenta, for lunch and dinner. Established passenger favorites like Toscana and Red Ginger will be on board, too.

To learn more about how you can enjoy these and other terrific dining venues on your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 20, 2023

When Ships Go to Dry Dock

To keep cruise ships in top condition, they go into “dry dock” now and then. Going to dry dock means the ship will be out of service for a while, and there are a few things to know if you’re planning to cruise on a ship just before or just after it visits dry dock.

First, we’ll explain a little about dry docks, which are located in shipyards around the world. A dry dock starts out filled with water so that a ship can float in. Then, the water drains away, which allows the maintenance crew to clean, inspect and make repairs and adjustments to the hull and propulsion systems.

Cruise lines often use dry dock time to do tasks like reupholster furniture, repaint walls, or replace floors. Sometimes a dry-docked ship goes through major renovations, emerging with some exciting new features. A few ships even grow while in dry dock; “stretching” inserts a new section in the middle of a ship, adding to its passenger capacity.

While unexpected damage may require a ship to head to dry dock on short notice, most visits are scheduled well in advance. If you notice a break of a few weeks or months in a ship’s schedule, it may be for the purpose of going to dry dock; your professional travel advisor can check with the cruise line to find out for sure.

Some cruise travelers prefer to avoid cruising on a ship just before or just after a scheduled visit to the dry dock. A pre-dry dock cruise really shouldn’t be affected by the upcoming pause in service, but it’s possible that some sections of the ship will be closed off so they can be prepared for maintenance or remodeling.

As with a pre-dry dock cruise, the first cruise after the dry dock really shouldn’t be different than any other. But if the work done in the dry dock isn’t quite finished when the ship floats out again, passengers might hear some work-related noise, and some venues may be closed until the work is finished. If the time in dry dock included a major remodel, the crew may still be learning some new layouts and routines. On the positive side, cruising just after the dry dock can mean you’ll enjoy a freshly updated ship.

To help you decide how comfortable you are with cruising on a ship just before or after dry dock, talk it over with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, March 13, 2023

How Sweet is a Cruise Ship Suite?

When you’re planning a cruise vacation, there are lots of reasons to consider reserving an onboard suite. The most obvious is that suites are simply bigger than regular cruise ship staterooms. Whether you’re traveling on your own or sharing a suite with others, some extra square footage can make a wonderful difference. The largest suites at sea even have living rooms, dining rooms, and multiple bedrooms, plus balcony space.

Of course, extra space on a cruise ship comes at a price, and suites always cost more than regular staterooms. But if you consider the extras that come with a suite, you may find that a suite is a sweet deal. Here are some of the included extras often enjoyed by suite passengers.

Priority check-in. On embarkation day, suite passengers move through the check-in process faster. There’s usually a special (and shorter) check-in line for suite passengers or even a private lounge area where you can have a quick snack as you wait your turn. You’ll be among the first passengers to board the ship, which is fun; you can usually enjoy the pool and buffet right away. You may have priority off-boarding and re-boarding in ports of call, too.

In-suite extras. Suites often come with an array of attractive features like luxury linens, upgraded mattresses and pillows, fresh flowers, high-end toiletries, plush bathrobes, and complimentary minibars. Some even come with a butler who can unpack for you and serve meals on your balcony; or a concierge who can make reservations for onboard specialty restaurants and arrange special shore excursions.

Suite-class extras. On many ships, suite passengers have access to special onboard areas like luxury lounges and spas, private pools, sundecks, or exclusive restaurants. Suite fares may also include extras for which other passengers have to pay separately, such as beverage packages, Wi-Fi access, laundry and dry cleaning, fitness classes, in-suite movies, and specialty restaurant cover charges. Top-level suites may even come with complimentary spa treatments, shore excursions, and gratuities for the crew.

Of course, the perks of being a suite passenger vary by cruise line and ship. To find out exactly what you can expect as a suite passenger on the ship of your choice, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. Then, add up what all the extras would cost if you paid for them separately, and you may find that a cruise ship suite fits your cruise budget. How sweet it is!

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Monday, March 6, 2023

Cruising the Rivers of South America

If you’re thinking about a river cruise, take a look at South America. This beautiful continent is laced with impressive rivers, flowing through amazing ecosystems that teem with exotic plant and animal life.

Any discussion of river cruising in South America starts with the Amazon, an enormous and intricate waterway. One of the world’s largest river systems, it’s cloaked in dense rainforest and rich in biodiversity. More than a third of the world’s known species live there. Thousands of different types of fish, birds, reptiles, and butterflies thrive in the Amazon Basin, along with unusual mammals like sloth, pink river dolphins, and giant otters. There are national parks, nature preserves, and enormous swaths of deep green jungle.

Some cruises of the Amazon sail between Belém, the river’s Atlantic Ocean port, and Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Others sail on the Rio Negro, a major tributary and one of the world’s largest blackwater rivers (the water is dark due to tannins from decayed vegetation). Some itineraries feature visits to local villages for fascinating insights into their lifestyles and customs.

There are options beyond the Amazon, too. The Paraná River, South America’s second-longest, winds through vast wetlands to Iguaçu Falls, one of the most magnificent waterfall complexes in the world. Perched at the meeting point of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, the waterfalls are higher than Niagara and stretch for more than a mile and a half. In the town of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, you can cross the Fraternity Bridge to Puerto Iguaçu, Argentina, and the Friendship Bridge to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

The Paraguay River courses through that country’s share of the Pantanal Region, the world’s largest and most pristine tropical wetland. The region is alive with marshland wildlife like storks and caiman; you may also spot monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and rare marsh deer drinking from the river. You could visit a traditional farm or tour the city of Asunción and its lovely museums, parks, and monuments.

The banks of Columbia’s Magdalena River are dotted with towns founded by Spanish conquistadors; some of the colonial architecture is well-preserved. As the river flows past green jungles and low mountains, you may see iguanas, white herons, manatees, tortoises and even the descendants of hippopotamuses originally brought to Columbia by the drug lord Pablo Escobar.

For more ideas and assistance with making your South American river cruise reservations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 27, 2023

Tips for Flying to Your Cruise Ship

 If you’re ready to cruise in 2023 and have your eye on a fantastic itinerary, how will you get to the ship? 

 Unless you live within easy driving distance of the cruise port, chances are you’ll take a flight to meet your ship and get back home after your wonderful cruise. Did you know that the cruise line can make your air travel reservations for you? 


In fact, you can receive some excellent benefits when you let the cruise line book your flights. The biggest may be that when the cruise line books your flights, they’ll help you rebook any flights delayed by weather or mechanical issues. And if an air travel delay means you’ll miss your ship’s departure, the cruise line will help you catch up with the ship in the next port of call. 


Many cruise-plus-air packages provide significant savings, as well. But be sure to work with your professional travel advisor to make sure that a cruise-plus-air package is a good financial decision for you. 


The cruise line may let you pay for your airfare over time (along with your cruise), which is another advantage. Many cruise lines require just a small deposit at the time of booking, with final payment due about 90 days before the cruise begins. Several cruise lines offer monthly payment programs, so you can spread out payments for your cruise and airfare instead of coming up with full payment right away. 


What you might give up when you select a cruise-plus-air deal is some flexibility in your air travel arrangements. Cruise-plus-air packages may have limited flight options, or you may be required to accept the flights the cruise line selects for you. Some cruise-plus-air packages provide greater flexibility in the air travel portion for a higher price. 


Be aware that some high-end cruise lines include air travel to and from the ship in the price of their cruises. When you book this type of cruise, having flight arrangements made for you is part of the luxury. 


Finally, if you don’t like to fly, there are other ways to get to a cruise ship. These include driving your own car, riding a bus, or hopping on a train: Amtrak offers passenger rail service to quite a few cities with major cruise ports, such as New York, Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor,r for more information. 

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Monday, February 20, 2023

Repositioning Cruises Feature Days at Sea

For some, the days a ship spends entirely at sea are their favorite days on a cruise. There are no port calls on sea days, so there’s lots of time to sleep in, work out, enjoy a spa treatment, stroll the promenade deck, have a leisurely lunch, read a book, relax in the pool and more.

If you enjoy sea days (or like the sound of them), consider signing up for a repositioning cruise.

Repositioning cruises happen when a cruise line moves a ship from one cruise region to another. For example, some ships that sail in Northern Europe or along the coast of Alaska during the summer move to the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera for the winter. Rather than sail without passengers, cruise lines make these sailings available to passengers who love a leisurely voyage on the water.

Some repositioning cruises are quite short; for example, a cruise that repositions a ship from Seattle to Los Angeles can be just a few days. But repositioning cruises that cross an ocean can be 14 nights or more. That provides plenty of time to experience all the activities, entertainment, and dining options on board.

The per-night rate for a repositioning cruise is often much less than for a regular sailing, although if the cruise is a long one, the total fare might stretch your budget. Also, repositioning cruises are always one-way: starting in one region and ending in another could mean higher airfare costs.

Most repositioning cruises don’t have many port calls, but the few they have are often in beautiful places that are off the usual cruise path. For example, a repositioning cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, might call on Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Many repositioning cruises cross the Atlantic, but there are other options. Some pass through the Panama Canal, so you’ll sail in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Others venture across the Pacific: for example, you could set sail in Vancouver, British Columbia, and end in Yokohama, Japan.

If you’ll embark from a chilly climate and end in a tropical one (or the other way around), plan and pack accordingly. And, because they venture so far from land, repositioning cruises might go through some choppy water; you’ll want to be prepared with your favorite remedy for motion sickness.

There’s more to know about repositioning cruises; for answers to your questions, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Considerations for Solo Cruisers

While many people cruise with a partner, friends or family members, there are passengers who choose to cruise on their own. Some simply enjoy traveling alone, while others can’t wait to meet their fellow passengers and create a new group of acquaintances.

If you would like to take a cruise on your own, here are some things to consider.

Single supplements. Most cruise ship cabins are designed for at least two people. If you want one for yourself, you may have to pay a single supplement: a fee that offsets what the cruise line loses by not selling a second fare for the cabin. While the single supplement is often discounted, it can be as much as you pay for your own fare.

If you want to avoid paying the supplement, you may have other options. If you don’t mind sharing a cabin, many cruise lines offer a roommate-matching service. And, an increasing number of ships have cabins designed for solo cruisers, including some ships in the fleets of Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and other ocean and river cruise lines.

Ship size. Solo cruisers sail on ships of all types and sizes, so think about what type of ship appeals to you most. Smaller ships with fewer passengers make it likely you’ll see the same people each day, which can make socializing easier.

Bigger ships with more passengers make it likely you’ll see different people each day, which can be an advantage if you want some uninterrupted time to relax as you cruise. However, if you want to sail on a big ship and meet some of your fellow passengers, just ask a member of the cruise director’s staff to introduce you around. Or, at dinner, ask the head waiter to seat you with other solo cruisers or with a friendly group you met at the pool or on an excursion.

Singles cruises. There’s a difference between cruising solo and taking a singles cruise, which is designed to help passengers meet potential romantic partners. It’s easy to mingle on a singles cruise because everyone is interested in meeting new people. But non-singles cruises often hold special receptions and other events for solo travelers so they can meet each other, if they choose.

To learn more about lots of wonderful options for cruising on your own, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, February 6, 2023

Amazing New Ships Set to Launch this Year

While the building of new cruise ships temporarily slowed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are quite a few incredible new ships set to debut during 2023.

Viking Ocean Cruises’ new ship, Viking Saturn, will launch early this year with the sleek Scandinavian design the fleet is known for. All of Saturn’s cabins and suites will have their own balconies.

Oceania Cruises will introduce its first new-build ship in more than ten years, Oceania Vista, in April. Highlights include a new category of balcony cabins for solo travelers and a dozen dining spots, including a new restaurant called Ember.

Resilient Lady, the third ship in the Virgin Voyages fleet, will begin sailing in May. It’s expected to have the same relaxed-yet-trendy vibe as its sister ships, with fun features like tattoo parlors and dodgeball games.

MSC Cruises’ Euribia will be powered by liquified natural gas for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Scheduled to launch in June, it’s expected to be one of the largest cruise ships on the seas.

Luxury line Silversea will unveil the Silver Nova this summer. With room for 728 guests, it will be Silversea’s largest ship, and the first designed to be completely emissions-free while in port.

The second ship in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Prima Class, Norwegian Viva, will arrive in August with lots of open spaces to enjoy, as well as infinity pools, several restaurants and a multi-story go-kart racetrack.

Seabourn Cruises will welcome a new expedition ship, Seabourn Pursuit, in September. It will be well-equipped for adventure, with two custom-built submarines, kayaks and Zodiac craft onboard.

Extreme luxury is standard on Regent Seven Seas’ ships, including the new Grandeur, set to debut in November. It will have its own version of the jaw-dropping Regent Suite, as well as four restaurants.

Celebrity Ascent, the final ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Class, will launch in December. It will include the innovative “infinite balcony” feature, as well as some cabins designed for solo travelers.

While its ships are not brand-new, Crystal Cruises is emerging from bankruptcy with a new owner and plans to relaunch the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony during 2023.

Finally, we must mention Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, scheduled to debut in early 2024 as the first ship in the line’s new Icon Class.

To find out where these new ships will sail and to make your reservations, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 30, 2023

 A Wave of Great Cruise Deals

It’s Wave Season, the time of year when cruise lines offer amazing discounts on cruise fares and bundle multiple onboard perks into special offers. Simply put, Wave Season is a post-holiday season sale on cruises. It’s not the only time of year to get an excellent price on a wonderful cruise, but Wave Season deals are definitely some of the best of the year.

Wave Season is a cruise industry tradition, and it happens throughout the first quarter of the new year, from January to March. By presenting wave upon wave of attractive deals, cruise lines hope to secure as many cruise reservations as they can for the rest of 2023 and beyond.

How can you make the most of Wave Season?

First, do some research. A Wave Season deal is truly valuable only when it’s for a cruise you really want to take. Grabbing a deal when the destination doesn’t really interest you or the ship isn’t the best fit for you is a recipe for a lackluster vacation.

So, do some searching to figure out which cruise lines and itineraries appeal to you most; your professional travel advisor can help. Then, when you see a Wave Season deal that matches your top choices, you can grab it with confidence.

Second, look beyond fare discounts. Wave Season offers excellent fares – including some “two-for-one” or “kids sail free” deals – but be sure to look for discounted or complimentary onboard perks. These can range from beverage packages and shore excursions to multi-category cabin upgrades.

Onboard credits are another attractive offer. Depending on your cruise line and ship, you may be able to spend onboard credits on spa treatments, specialty dining packages, professional photos, Wi-Fi access, and more.

Sometimes, Wave Season deals include unusual and exceptional extras, such as free airfare to the ship or a pre-cruise hotel stay. These are more common among luxury cruise lines, and their inclusion in a Wave Season deal can make luxury cruising more affordable.

Finally, remember that you can find great cruise deals at other times of the year, too. If you don’t find a Wave Season offer that appeals to you or you simply can’t commit to a future cruise right now, don’t despair. Wave Season is when virtually every cruise line offers attractive deals, but you can find fare discounts and other special offers at any time of year, especially when you work with an experienced travel advisor.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

Cruise Ports You’ll Want to Visit Again

Cruises can take you to a wonderful variety of destinations, and you can choose a different itinerary every time you sail. But some repeat cruisers find themselves going back to certain ports again and again. Here are some of our favorite repeat port calls. 


Bermuda is an island nation with lovely white and pink sand beaches. There are caves full of rock formations, historic fortresses, and velvety green golf courses. Indulge in the British tradition of high tea or take a boat ride to view pastel-colored homes from the water. 


Cozumel is a Mexican island known for shopping, but there’s much more to do. You can go snorkeling, take a diving lesson, or relax at a beach club. You can also visit the remnants of Mayan villages, go sport fishing, or drive a dune buggy around the island.  


Dubrovnik, Croatia, has a beautiful Old Town that played the role of King’s Landing in the popular “Game of Thrones” TV series. It’s fun to get an overview from atop the city walls, then explore the winding streets and historic buildings. Take the cable car up Srd Hill or sail to Lokrum island to see the botanical garden. 


Santorini, in the Greek Isles, is breathtakingly beautiful; the steep-sided, blue-water harbor was formed by a long-ago volcanic eruption. There are beaches formed from lava pebbles overlooked by whitewashed buildings, ancient ruins, charming shops, and plenty of scenic hikes. 


Venice, Italy, is full of magnificent art and architecture. The city is spread over more than 100 small islands linked by canals and bridges. It’s possible to explore Venice for days, but must-sees include St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal (especially from a gondola).  


St. Lucia is a Caribbean Island with a dramatic, mountainous landscape. You can climb Gros Piton to admire the views, take a refreshing mud bath at Sulphur Springs, stroll through a waterfall garden, snorkel off a beach, or zipline through the forest. 


Finally, the favorite return ports for many cruise fans are the private islands owned by the cruise lines. These islands, mostly in the Caribbean, are lovely and have everything you need for a wonderful, relaxing, or adventurous day. You’ll enjoy sun or shade, plenty of activities on land and in the water, refreshing beverages, and a delicious lunch. 


If you’re interested in a repeat visit to any of these or other popular cruise ports, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. 


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Monday, January 16, 2023

Packing a Cruise Wardrobe

Packing for a cruise can be a little different than packing for other types of vacations, and here’s why: 

·         Storage space in your cabin will be very limited. Packing light is always smart, but it’s truly essential for a cruise.  

·         The nearest shopping center won’t be very near when you’re out at sea, so be sure to pack your “must-have” items. 

·         Onboard laundry services are usually available, but for a fee. You can wash a few things in your bathroom sink and hang them on the retractable clothesline in your shower, but that really works only for small items. 


With all that in mind, here’s a quick overview of what to pack. 


For daytime, cruise wear has become more casual than it once was. Shorts, jeans, casual pants and skirts, t-shirts, and other everyday tops are usually fine for daytime; just be sure it’s all appropriate for the climate where you’re sailing. Bring a swimsuit and cover-up, and a little gym attire if you plan to use the fitness center. For cooler climates, pack some extra light layers. For itineraries that include religious sites, you may need clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, as well as a scarf or hat. 


Cruise line dress codes have become more casual for evenings, too, but check with your professional travel advisor on guidelines for your ship. In general, shorts, jeans, and t-shirts with slogans may not be welcome at dinner; but, long pants with button-down shirts and casual dresses may be as dressy as you need to be. Of course, you’re welcome to dress up as much as you like; and many cruises have formal nights, when glittery dresses, fashionable suits, and even tuxedos abound. 


We could devote an entire article to packing shoes for a cruise, but the main point is that they take up a lot of luggage space, so the shoes you bring should be versatile. For example, simple ballet flats and lace-up shoes can work for both day and evening; athletic sandals can be good for going to the pool and on a shore excursion. 


Accessories. Bring a few accessories – jewelry, scarves, belts, bags – that can make the same outfit look different the second or third time you wear it. 


Special note: Don’t forget the basics! It’s easy to focus so much on outer layers for day and evening that you forget to pack underwear. 


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Monday, January 9, 2023

Essential Tips for Your First Cruise

If you’re looking forward to your very first cruise, here are a few tips that can help you start out feeling like a seasoned cruiser. 


Remember that your cruise fare includes your cabin and most of the dining and entertainment on board, but some things cost a bit extra. For example, meals in the main dining room and at the buffet are included in your fare; but, your ship may also have specialty restaurants that charge a small fee. 


Most onboard dining is included in your fare, but most beverages probably are not. On many ships, the only free beverages are plain water, coffee, and tea. The good news is that cruise lines sell beverage packages that provide discounts on soft drinks, juice, specialty coffee and tea, wine, beer, cocktails, and more. 


On most ships, gratuities for the crew are automatically added to the onboard account you’ll settle at the end of the cruise, so there’s no need to tip separately. And if you pay for individual drinks or specialty restaurant meals, a service charge is automatically added to the tab. 


Your ship will offer a variety of tours and activities, called shore excursions, in each port. These fun pursuits are usually not included in your fare, except on some luxury ships. You do have the option to stay on the ship while it’s in port, which can be a nice opportunity to enjoy the pool, fitness center, spa, and other amenities. You can also tour a port on your own; just be sure to get back to the ship on time. 


Many ships offer tours on the first day of a cruise; join one to find out where everything is. 

Cruise ship designers do a terrific job, but storage space in your cabin will be limited. Pack lightly and bring clothing you can wear in different combinations. 


Finally, this is our top tip for your first cruise: work with Anita, a professional travel advisor, to select a cruise line, ship, itinerary, and cabin that meet your needs, interests, schedule, and vacation budget. Every cruise line, ship and destination offers something a little different than the others, and it can be incredibly challenging to navigate it all on your own. That’s why guidance from a professional is so important to have a great first cruise experience. Plus, cruise travel professionals earn much of their income from commissions paid by the cruise lines, rather than by you. 


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