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, April 29, 2024

What to Know About Tender Ports

“Tenders” are part of cruising – but we’re not talking about the delicious chicken variety. A “tender port” is one where your ship won’t be able to pull right up to a dock, but will drop anchor off shore. The small boats that will ferry you from ship to shore and back again are called “tenders.”

Some cruises don’t include any tender ports, and some include several. Tender ports are usually indicated on the cruise itinerary. Some tender ports simply don’t have dock facilities; others do, but the dock area may be too small or the water too shallow to accommodate your ship. Some ports that require tenders are in appealingly remote destinations, but some are in popular vacation spots like Bar Harbor, Cabo San Lucas, and the Greek Isles.

Tender boat style varies from one ship to another. Some ships use their lifeboats, while others carry boats dedicated to tendering. Some cruise lines hire local tender boat operators; their boats may be basic or equipped with roofs to provide shade, cushioned seats, and bathroom facilities. All boats used for tendering have life vests and other safety gear.

One of the best things about a ride in a tender is the view. Trips between ship and shore may take about five to 15 minutes – time to admire views of the ship, the water, and the place you’re visiting.

There’s usually a rush to get on the first tender boats of the day; if you wait a bit, you can have a leisurely breakfast and avoid the rush. When you’re coming back from shore to ship, though, don’t wait too long: if you miss the last tender back, you may be left to make your own way to the ship’s next port.

Note that priority tendering is a common reward for members of cruise line loyalty programs – it’s a nice extra.

Tenders may not be able to operate in poor weather, so be aware that rough seas may give your ship’s captain no choice but to skip a tender port. And if you have limited mobility, a tender boat might not be for you; ask Anita, your professional travel advisor for advice and guidance.

If you want to avoid tender ports completely, look for itineraries that call on larger ports that have more extensive docking facilities. Or, look at sailing on a smaller ship that can dock at smaller piers that can’t accommodate bigger ships.

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Cruising with Limited Mobility

If you use a cane, walker, wheelchair, or other equipment to support your mobility, cruising can be a good way to see the world. Cruise ships must abide by international standards for accessibility, and cruise ships that dock in U.S. ports must meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Even older cruise ships have accessible cabins, bathrooms, restaurants, and common spaces. Newer ships are designed to make even more features easily accessible to passengers who have limited mobility or other disabilities.

To help ensure an enjoyable and happy cruise, here are a few tips:

Bigger and newer may be better. Bigger, newer ships usually have more space to work with when maximizing accessibility. However, some older ships – especially those that have been renovated – may fit your needs just as well. Ask your professional travel advisor to help you look at deck plans for ships you’re interested in; it’s important to be sure that your top choice will meet your needs.

Check for tender ports. For passengers with limited mobility, the best cruise itineraries may be those where the ship can pull up to a dock in all ports of call. When a cruise ship can’t dock (usually due to its size), it anchors off the coast and uses smaller boats, called tenders, to take passengers to shore. It can be difficult for passengers who use mobility equipment to get on and off tender boats.

Book early. Even on the biggest ships, the number of accessible cabins may be limited, so make a reservation as early as possible. If you need to check on details, such as the width of cabin and bathroom doorways, your professional travel advisor or the cruise line’s staff can help.

Consider renting the equipment you need. Instead of packing your own mobility aids and other equipment that may be difficult to bring with you, look into renting what you need. Cruise passengers can rent anything from wheelchairs to hospital beds and shower chairs to commodes from suppliers that make sure everything is waiting for you when you board the ship. Ask your professional travel advisor or cruise line to recommend an equipment rental company.

Your cruise line may ask you to complete a form that will tell them more about your mobility and your needs. Be sure to provide complete and detailed information, which will help the crew to accommodate you and ensure a terrific vacation.

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Monday, April 15, 2024

Interesting New Ports

The continuing popularity of cruising means more beautiful places at the water’s edge are becoming new ports of call or adding to their cruise ship capacity, providing new experiences even for seasoned cruisers.

Port Cabo Rojo in the Dominican Republic is the newest cruise ship port in the Caribbean. The port welcomed its very first cruise ship, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Pearl, to the dock on January 4, 2024. When development is complete, the port can accommodate up to four ships simultaneously. It’s a gateway to the Pedernales Province, the Dominican Republic’s southernmost province. There are plans to develop resorts and attractions here, but for now, there’s untouched beauty and a laid-back vibe.

Cabo Rojo is close to pristine beaches of white sand, including Bahia de las Aguilas. This gorgeous, remote beach with clear turquoise water and coral reefs that makes it lovely for swimming and snorkeling. But, you can spend an entire day just relaxing in the sun and watching for endangered hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles.

Bahia de las Aguilas is inside Parque Nacional Jaragua, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It encompasses islands, caves, and at least 400 species of flora, 130 species of birds, and rare iguanas. The park’s Laguna de Oviedo is a coastal saltwater lagoon popular with birdwatchers, who can see flamingos, herons, pelicans, and other winged species.

Far north of the Dominican Republic, Stornoway Port in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides Islands has welcomed small cruise ships for some time, but a new, deepwater port that can accommodate larger ships is scheduled to open for the summer 2024 season.

Stornoway, capital of the Lewis and Harris islands, is a center of culture in the Outer Hebrides, known for their stark and unspoiled beauty. There are beaches and rocky bays along the North Atlantic; 5,000-year-old standing stones and historic castles; calm lakes and peat bogs, grassy plains studded with flowers and rugged hills.

Stornoway has a vibrant arts scene and a museum, located in a castle, that shares the islands’ history. In local mills, fleece from Cheviot and Scottish Blackface sheep is carded, spun, and woven into warm Harris Tweed fabric crafted into shirts, jackets, handbags, and more. It’s also fun to sample local delicacies like Stornoway black pudding, kippered herring, and smoked salmon.

To find out how to sail to these or other new and growing ports, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, April 8, 2024

Homeports You’ll Want to Explore

When selecting a cruise, consider the homeport – the port city your ship calls home, where you’ll embark on your cruise. Many passengers plan to arrive at their ship’s homeport a day or two before the cruise begins so that if there’s any travel delay, they can still reach the ship on time; but if all goes well, they’ll have a day or two to enjoy the port city.

This isn’t a complete list, but here are some homeports that are great destinations in themselves:

Boston, for cruises of New England or the Eastern Caribbean. Stroll the Freedom Trail, which starts in Boston Common and links 16 of the city’s historic sites, including Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, and Old North Church. Visit the North End neighborhood for a delicious Italian meal before catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, home to home runs for more than 100 years.

New York, for cruises of Bermuda, New England, Maritime Canada, or the Eastern Caribbean. You can’t go wrong visiting iconic attractions like Central Park, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, and the Statue of Liberty. Explore unique retail neighborhoods like the Garment District, the Diamond District, and Times Square, where you can find discounted tickets for Broadway shows at the TKTS booth.

Miami, for cruises to The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Riviera Maya, the Panama Canal, or South America. Take a walking tour of the Art Deco District or see the Mediterranean Revival buildings along Espanola Way. Sample Latin restaurants in the Allapattah neighborhood or tour the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Miami Design District. Enjoy the beaches, visit Cape Florida Lighthouse, or take a tour of Everglades National Park.

New Orleans, for cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico, The Bahamas, or the Panama Canal. The flavorful blend of Creole and Cajun cuisine alone is a reason to visit; rev up for a tour of the French Quarter, the Garden District, or Mardi Gras World with a dish of gumbo, red beans, and rice or crawfish etouffee.

Seattle, for cruises to Alaska. Ride the monorail to the Space Needle for stunning views of the bays and forests that surround the city, then see the blown-glass sculptures at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Pike Place Market is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood and shop for artisan wares.

To plan a pre-cruise stay in your ship’s homeport, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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Monday, April 1, 2024

Cruising the South Pacific

If you’re looking for an island-focused cruise outside the Caribbean, look toward the South Pacific. This vast area of ocean is dotted with beautiful islands, calm blue lagoons, and coral reefs teeming with sea life.

Several cruise lines sail there, sometimes as a segment of a world cruise or during a repositioning cruise. At least two cruise lines – Paul Gauguin Cruises and Windstar Cruises – sail the South Pacific year-round. Others include Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Seabourn.

Given the time it takes to get there, South Pacific cruises tend to be at least seven to 14 days. If your cruise departs from a North American port, it’s likely to be an adventure of a month or more. With a cruise of any length, you could consider extending your vacation with a stay at a South Pacific resort (just think of relaxing in one of the charming bungalows perched over the water of Bora Bora’s lagoon).

The three main regions within the South Pacific are Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. Of the three, Polynesia may be the best-known cruise destination; it includes French Polynesia (where you’ll find Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora), the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, and Tuvalu.

Melanesia includes Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Many of the islands are mountainous, with some active volcanoes. Fiji, a cultural treasure, is also the gateway to the Yasawas, an archipelago that’s a haven for lovers of unspoiled nature.

Micronesia is a collection of small islands scattered across the northwestern South Pacific. It includes the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Most ships that cruise there are smaller expedition ships, and most cruises of Micronesia also include stops in Melanesia.

Wherever you sail in the South Pacific, you’ll find opportunities for active adventures like kayaking, snorkeling, and diving; hiking and swimming; and four-wheeling through lush tropical settings. You’ll also be able to learn about local food and culture and shop for locally-made crafts.

The tropical climate of the South Pacific is balmy all year, but there are seasonal differences. Some cruise lines sail there only during the dry season, from May through October; November through April sees more rain showers and humidity, which often enhances the beauty of the islands.

To learn more about cruising the South Pacific and the variety of available itineraries, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.

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