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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