Cruise Holidays - Attheta Travel

I am proud to be certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) as an Elite Cruise Counselor. The Cruise Counselor Certification Program is CLIA's most comprehensive training which requires agents to successfully complete a number of compulsory training courses and exams, attend cruise conferences, and conduct ship inspections. Anita Thompson, Attheta Travel, dba Cruise Holidays.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Incentives to Look for When Booking Your Next Cruise

We’re approaching “Wave Season” – the cruise industry’s name for January 1 through March 31, a popular time to make cruise reservations. That’s because Wave Season is when cruise lines offer some of the best booking incentives of the entire year; sometimes they even let you choose the incentive you want most. So, what should you look for?

Onboard credits. Credits are a flexible incentive because they can be used to purchase a variety of goods and services while you’re on board. Exactly how they can be used varies by cruise line, but they can often be used toward purchases in the ship’s boutiques and shops, spa and specialty dining venues, and more. Be sure to use up your onboard credits during your cruise; you can’t redeem them for cash or on a subsequent cruise.

Wi-Fi access. A cruise is a good time to disconnect from it all, so access to onboard Wi-Fi may not be important to you. But if you need to stay connected to your home or office while at sea, Wi-Fi access can cost about $30 per day, making complimentary access a nice incentive. Note that the cruise line may limit the number of devices that can connect to Wi-Fi from your cabin; limit the time you can be connected; or block streaming.

Premium beverage packages. If you’ve cruised before, you know that quite a few beverages – including soda, fresh juices, premium coffee and tea, beer, wine, and liquor – may not be included in the cruise fare. A package that provides deep discounts on these beverages or makes them complimentary is a popular booking incentive. But, pay attention to the fine print: some packages don’t include required gratuities for beverage service or exclude “super-premium” brands.

Kids sail free. To help attract families, some incentives let kids under age 12 sail free in the same cabin as their parents; others offer discounts on kids’ fares. On some cruise lines, the third and fourth passengers in a cabin can sail for free regardless of their age or relationship to the fare-paying occupants. This incentive can be an exceptional value, but be sure you’re ready to share a cabin (and its bathroom) with three other people. Also, this incentive may not be available for cruises during major holidays.

For more information about these and other booking incentives – such as complimentary shore excursions, cabin upgrades, specialty dining packages, and more – talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 22, 2024

Navigating the Cruise Ship Buffet

A welcoming destination for the hungry, a buffet is part of the dining scene on most cruise ships. Here are a few things to know (or be reminded of) before you visit the buffet on your next cruise.

The buffet should be easy to find: it’s usually on the same deck as the main pool, also called the Lido Deck. And it’s usually a casual venue, so you don’t need to be dressed up to go there. But if you’re in your swimsuit when you get hungry, you’ll need to put on some clothes and shoes before you visit the buffet (or any other dining spot on board).

Buffet service style varies by cruise line. Some are completely self-serve; some have crew members plate the food that you select; and some have a combination of self-serve and crew-served stations. Some buffets have scheduled serving hours and close overnight, but some are open 24 hours a day.

Whatever the serving style and hours of the buffet on your ship, it’s important to observe some basic rules of buffet etiquette. These include patiently waiting your turn; always using the provided utensils (not your fingers) to select food; and using a clean plate each time you return. These rules are simply good manners, and they’re essential to good buffet hygiene.

For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the buffet will have a wide variety of entrees, side dishes, and desserts, both hot and cold. Some will be rich and decadent, but there should also be plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, and lean proteins. Many buffets include some vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items, too. Most food is prepared in advance, but there may be made-to-order stations for items like omelets, pasta, or tacos.

If you’re allergic to or can’t tolerate certain foods, you may need to approach the buffet with caution. If you need to be sure about the content of a dish before you taste it, ask a server. But, remember that people sometimes use the same utensils at multiple food stations; it’s all too easy to drop a little food from one dish into another. If your allergies are severe, it may be best to eat in the main dining room or another onboard venue where the crew can accommodate your specific needs.

If you’d like to know more about dining options at sea, just ask Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, January 15, 2024

Enjoying a Cruise Ship’s Specialty Restaurants

On most cruises, several dining options are included in your fare, but many ships also have specialty dining venues you can enjoy – for an extra charge. Is the extra cost worth it? And if so, how can you make the most of a specialty dining experience?

Whether or not onboard specialty dining is worth the cost really depends on you. If you love good food with quality ingredients, sophisticated cooking techniques, and beautiful presentation, you’ll probably enjoy the experience. But if you like to be served right away and to eat quickly, specialty dining may not be the right choice for you – it’s usually a leisurely meal.

While there’s an extra charge for most specialty dining, it’s often significantly less than you would pay for a comparable meal in a fine-dining restaurant at home. To make it even more affordable, some specialty restaurants offer discounts if you make a reservation for the very first night of the cruise; if you come in for lunch rather than dinner; or if you purchase a specialty dining package (which may include more than one onboard specialty restaurant). Also, if you have any onboard credits, you may be able to use them to cover some or all of the cost of a wonderful meal in a specialty restaurant.

To make the most of a specialty dining experience, start by dressing for the occasion. These restaurants usually don’t require anything as formal as tuxedos and long gowns, but they may ask for no shorts, tank tops or flip-flops.

If you’re cruising with children who enjoy dining out, many specialty restaurants welcome children and even have special pricing for them. But if your kids would rather do their own thing, take them to the buffet or pizza stand for an early dinner, then check them into an onboard kids’ club; they’ll have fun while you savor your dinner.

One more tip: if you want more information about any item on a specialty restaurant’s menu, just ask. In the small and intimate environment of a specialty restaurant, the staff will be happy to explain ingredients and preparation, guiding you toward dishes you’ll love.

To enjoy specialty dining on your next cruise, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor. You may be able to purchase a specialty dining package and make reservations in advance; if not, your advisor may have advice for securing reservations as soon as you get on board.

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Monday, January 8, 2024

Quieter Ports of Call

If you’d like to sail to some of the world’s quieter cruise ports, here are some that – at least for now – are visited by just a few cruise lines. These emerging ports are usually called on by smaller ships operated by luxury cruise lines (which is a wonderful way to travel, of course).

Dingle, Ireland, is on a County Kerry peninsula that stretches about 30 miles into the North Atlantic. The scenery is stunning, with pristine beaches backed by rugged cliffs and mountains. There are pre-historic and early medieval ruins to explore, including the remains of Dunbeg Fort. The Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium highlights the area’s abundant marine life. There are also some sweet memorials to Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin who lived in close contact with the people of Dingle for more than 35 years.

Crotone, in Italy’s Calabria region, looks out over the blue Ionian Sea. A castle from the 16th century houses a municipal museum, and a National Archaeological Museum displays significant finds from dig sites around the area. Fires and earthquakes have caused the Cathedral of Crotone to be rebuilt a few times, but it has artifacts that are centuries old. Crotone also has wonderful restaurants, including some that have earned Michelin stars.

Asau, on the Samoan island of Savai’i, has a surprisingly turbulent history. It was partially destroyed by volcanic activity in the mid-1700s; hosted U.S. Marines during World War II; and survived a huge explosion when the New Zealand Navy tried to blast a deep-water channel through a coral reef. Today, reefs are a prized feature of Asau’s pretty harbor. The island also has lava tubes, caves, blowholes, waterfalls, rainforests, and cloud forests to explore.

Kotor, Montenegro, lies along a stunning bay where impressive mountains rise directly from the water. It takes more than an hour for a cruise ship to sail up the bay and into the city, and the scenery is breathtaking the entire way. The city’s Old Town is one of the region’s best-preserved medieval town centers and includes a cathedral from 1166. Wear good walking shoes to explore the ancient city walls, narrow streets, and charming squares. You’ll notice that cats are beloved here because they’re thought to bring good luck; the Old Town even has a cat museum.

Talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor, about cruising to these and other ports that are a little off the usual cruise ship routes.

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Monday, January 1, 2024

Cruise Dining at the Chef’s Table

It’s fascinating to learn how chefs use their skills and artistry to create culinary delights, and it’s even better to get to taste those creations, which has made the “chef’s table” dining concept popular. Fortunately for food and cruise lovers, some cruise lines offer chef’s table experiences at sea, which can be a memorable highlight of your voyage.

On a cruise, a chef’s table dinner is usually a multi-course tasting menu that’s not available anywhere else on the ship. It’s fine dining, and it’s exclusive: a chef’s table may be offered just one or two evenings of a cruise, and only for small groups (usually 12 or less). If the table isn’t actually in the ship’s galley, it’s usually in a private dining area nearby.

Here’s what you and your taste buds can expect at the chef’s table on some popular cruise lines:

Azamara Cruises offers chef’s table dinners that reflect the region the ship is sailing through; a lovely way to get familiar with the local cuisine. If you’re sailing in a wine-producing region, each course will be paired with a local vintage, too.

Oceania Cruises, known for its culinary focus, offers a variety of chef’s table menus in an intimate venue called Privee. These include a degustation (tasting) menu that starts with an amuse-bouche and ends with petit fours; a wine pairing menu; and “Best of Oceania Cruises” selections.

Princess Cruises offers chef’s table dinners for up to a dozen guests. The executive chef visits the table to explain the preparation of each course and gives some tasting suggestions, then sits down with the guests to enjoy dessert and conversation.

Royal Caribbean offers a chef’s table on selected ships and sailings. The menu offers five gourmet courses in a formal setting, and the chef de cuisine serves as host. Each course is accompanied by a special wine chosen by the head sommelier.

Ama Waterways, a river cruise line, offers a chef’s table dinner in a glass-enclosed space with beautiful river views, as well as a full view of the galley.

Most onboard chef’s table experiences come with a cover charge, although the chef’s table on Ama Waterways is an exception: reservations are required, but there’s no cover charge. Still, onboard chef’s table experiences always sell out – a good sign that it’s worth the splurge. To reserve a cruise and a place at the chef’s table, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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