Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Caribbean Family Tripper travel guide

Your guide to Caribbean family vacations from a husband-wife team of professional travel writers and guidebook authors.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Photo of the Day Feature

Today we're starting a new feature on CaribbeanFamilyTripper: Photo of the Day (POTD). In our blog, check for a daily photo from the Caribbean, ones to remind you of a past trip or inspire you for a future trip!

Today's shot comes from Jamaica. This shot comes from poolside at Rooms on the Beach, Ocho Rios, a property that's owned and operated by SuperClubs but operates as (like the name suggests) as a rooms-only property without an all-inclusive plan. The hotel is located on Turtle Beach with a great view of the very popular cruise terminal:

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Reader Question: Cayman Turtle Farm on a Cruise Visit?

Dear CaribbeanFamilyTripper,

My family is taking our first Caribbean cruise this December and we'll be visiting Grand Cayman one day. My son (who is seven) loves turtles so someone suggested the Cayman Turtle Farm. My daughter (age 14), however, really wants to hit the beach. Is there time to do both on a day visit? I looked at the map and the turtle farm looked a distance from the cruise port. Thanks! Claire, Oklahoma City

Dear Claire,

Thanks for your email. Your whole family should be happy with a stop at the Cayman Turtle Farm which is now called Boatswain's Beach Adventure Park; the facility has been enlarged and offers not only the turtles but just about a full day's worth of activities with a huge pool, predator tanks (you can swim just on the other side of the glass from sharks!), an aviary, and more.

The park is located on the far north end of Seven Mile Beach; you'll be driving along the beach on the way there and back. There are many tours that combine a stop on Seven Mile Beach and Boatswain's Beach if you'd like to squeeze in both.

Distance-wise, it's not that far from the cruise terminal in George Town to West Bay, where Boatswain's Beach is (we still want to call it the Cayman Turtle Farm...) but traffic can be slow. Allow for plenty of time to get back; if you return early, you'll find plenty of good shopping around the cruise terminal!

Happy travels! Paris and John

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Jamaica Now Free of Malaria

We answered a reader question here a few weeks ago about malaria in the Caribbean; at the time, malaria was a problem in the La Altagracia region (near Bavaro) of the Dominican Republic and the Kingston area in Jamaica.

We're happy to report that Jamaica is now malaria-free. The Jamaica Information Service is reporting that no new cases have been reported in three months. Malaria was never a problem in the resort areas.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Reader Question: Permission for Traveling with Grandkids?

Dear CaribbeanFamilyTripper: We're planning a trip to Aruba with our two grandchildren next Easter. The trip will just include the four of us, not the children's parents. Do we need to take any special steps to travel with the kids without their parents? Dana, Atlanta

Dear Dana,

Although it's not mandatory for Aruba (like it is for Mexico), it's a good idea to travel with proof from the parents that it's OK for you to take their children out of the country. (With the rise in parental kidnappings, this same precaution should be taken any time kids are taken out of the country without both birth parents, whether this means they're traveling with a parent and stepparent, just one parent while the other one's a home or traveling on a different flight, or traveling with friends and their parents.)

Your first step is to get a notarized letter from both parents stating that it is OK for you to travel with the children. Be sure to include as many details as possible in the letter: your names (as they appear on your passports), the children's names, where you are traveling, and the dates of your trip.

You'll also want to get a notarized letter stating that it is OK for you to seek medical care for the children in case of an emergency.

For more information:
• view our sample consent letter


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jamaica's Sunset Resorts Offers Single Parent Promotion

All too many packages offer discounts for children staying in a room with two parents so we're happy to see the new Single Parent Vacation Promotion is available at Sunset Resorts. These family friendly all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica include Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Montego Bay and Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa, Ocho Rios.

The Package: The Single Parent Vacation Promotion features a 50% discount off the double occupancy published rates when accompanied by one to three children under the age of fifteen in the same room. Children under the age of 15 pay the regular child supplement.

Dates: The promotion is valid for reservations booked between now and December 15, 2007 for travel from November 1 through December 22, 2007 at Sunset Beach Resort and now through December 22, 2007 at Sunset Jamaica Grande. Offer is based on availability, restrictions and blackout dates apply, and all travel must be completed by December 22, 2007. Blackout dates include November 21 to 24, 2007. This offer is not valid at Sunset at the Palms in Negril.

Price: All-inclusive rates per single parent, reflective of the 50% savings, range from $140 - $250 per night at Sunset Beach Resort & Spa and from $162 - $287 per night, at Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa. Rates are valid for travel from now through December 22, 2007. Children up to the age of 15 are $55 per night. Maximum three children per room with one adult.

What It Includes: Rates include accommodations with a private balcony, all meals, bar beverages, wine by the glass, non-motorized water sports, tennis, entertainment, taxes, and gratuity.

Why Families Like It: Sunset Beach Resort & Spa in Montego Bay is home to the Pirate's Paradise Water Park, which has twists, turns, rides and slides for all ages. Blackbeard's Lazy River takes guests on a slow trip around the park. The Caribbean Pirate's Paradise Fort features an exciting 40-foot high Pirate's Plank Bridge and two rooftop Jacuzzis. Two shooting waterslides send guests on a zooming good time. Children age 2-12 flock to the Pirate Ship, which boasts a kid's section with their very own swimming pool and slide. A large Jacuzzi offers respite for the older set. The Pirate's Cove Teen Center offers arcade games and pool tables. Parents can pamper themselves with indulgent Jamaica themed spa treatments at the spa or enjoy non-motorized water sports.

Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios features five pools wandering through this beachside complex, featuring waterfalls, plunge pools, a meandering river, hot tubs, swim-up bars and a swaying rope bridge. The new Lighthouse Waterslide is architecturally designed like a traditional lighthouse, and features two separate, full body water slides--one enclosed and one open. The lower level of the Lighthouse includes an air-conditioned arcade featuring a variety of video games. Parents can drop the children off at the resorts fully-supervised kids clubs; Club Mongoose offers non-stop fun for younger kids including indoor and outdoor areas, a splash pool for tots and gentle 'water jet' area so little ones can cool off. A tween club, 'Jamstone' features pool tables, foosball, and video games for the older set.

For more information:
• visit www.sunsetresortsjamaica.com
• call 800-234-1707


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Carnival, M&M's Team Up Halloween Promotion

Carnival is always a family favorite in the Caribbean and next month there will be another good reason to opt for the popular cruise line: its unique Halloween promotion.

With the "Frightfully Fun" promotion, guests sailing with Carnival can enjoy a variety of fun-filled activities, everything from costume contests and Halloween-themed giveaways to scary movies, and, of course, trick or treating, with candies and other goodies from M&M'S®. During the period, Carnival guests are encouraged to bring their costumes and they can compete for a variety of prizes during the costume contest and parade. Carnival crew members will be dressed in costume, as well, and guests can have their photos taken with Carnival's own "Fun Ship" Freddy.

"At Carnival, Halloween is always a special occasion and the 'Frightfully Fun' festivities provides guests of all ages with a unique and memorable way to celebrate this festive holiday, with activities and other events not found anywhere else," said Vicki Freed, Carnival's senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Special Events for Kids: Guests ages one to 14 are also invited to go trick or treating along the ships' promenades and through various public rooms and areas, stocking up on M&M'S® signature candies, including MILKY WAY®, SNICKERS®, SKITTLES®, STARBURST® and TWIX®, all along the way.

Dates: The "Frightfully Fun" promotion, which is also sponsored by Coca Cola, will be held on all Carnival voyages departing between Oct. 13 and 30, 2007.

For More Information:
• call 1-800-CARNIVAL
• visit carnival.com


Monday, September 17, 2007

September CaribbeanFamilyTripper.com Newsletter

Dear Readers,

The peak of hurricane season has now come and gone! We've been getting very good reports from Jamaica after Hurricane Dean; damage was very spotty and all the major resorts we've heard from are back to business as usual. We've got lots of details on post-Dean conditions in Jamaica on our JamaicaTripper.com site (including some photos since the storm).

We're already getting news in of holiday packages for families in the islands. Remember: if you're considering a holiday trip to the Caribbean, now's the time to start planning! It may seem like a long way away but those holiday weeks are peak season for the islands, and there's a lot of demand at that time.

Happy travels! Paris and John

Caribbean Family Travel News

You'll find lots of new Caribbean family travel news in our travel news blog. Here are some recent headlines:
Adults Stay Free Package in St. Thomas Perfect for Older Families
Four Seasons Resort Nevis Offers Fall Package
Kids Stay Free Offer at Antigua's Jolly Beach
Beaches Adds Abby Cadabby of Sesame Street
Puerto Rico Christmas Package for Families
Baseball Theme Cruise Combines Sport, Caribbean
USVI's St. Croix Offers $250 Per Person Air Credit
St. Lucia's Coconut Bay Resort Offers Winter Special
Special Holiday Family Plan Package from MSC Cruises
Reader Question: Which of Jamaica's Beaches Resorts is Closest to the Airport?
DR's Barcelo Bavaro Palace Hotel Offering Premium Club Upgrades
Chukka Caribbean Adventures Offers 2-for-1 Sale for Jamaica Tours

Our September Contest

Congratulations to Patricia in California who won last month's prize pail. Now it's time for a new contest! Check our contest page to enter our guidebook giveaway to win an autographed copy of our Caribbean with Kids guidebook ...as well as goodies for the kids!

Ask Us!

Have a question about Caribbean travel? Feel free to drop us an email at editors@caribbeanfamilytripper.comand ask your question; we'll be answering questions in our Travel News blog!



Sunday, September 16, 2007

Adults Stay Free Package in St. Thomas Perfect for Older Families

Once kids don't fall in the child category anymore, it can be expensive to book a Caribbean vacation for everyone...but thanks to the Adults Stay Free promotion at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, up to four adults can stay in the same room for the price of two, a great promotion for older teens and college age kids.

The Package: The Adults Stay Free Promotion allows a third and fourth adult to stay free of charge when sharing a room with two paying adults staying on the resort's European Plan (EP).

As an added bonus, for a limited time, Bolongo is offering a fourth night free (savings up to $244 per room) in conjunction with the Adults Stay Free promotion for all reservations (minimum of four nights) made for travel in September and October 2007.

What It Includes: As part of Bolongo's Adults Stay Free EP vacation, travelers will enjoy accommodations in either an oceanview or beachfront room; a "discover scuba diving" in-pool lesson; complimentary use of non-motorized watersports (snorkel gear, paddle boats, sunfish sailboats, windsurfing equipment, and kayaks); and use of volleyball and tennis courts, plus equipment.

The Price: Nightly EP rack rates during the Adults Stay Free Promotion are $195 for an oceanview room and $225 for a beachfront room, valid for travel now through Oct. 31, 2007. From Nov. 1-15, nightly EP rates are $214 for an oceanview room and $244 for a beachfront room. Rates quoted do not include 15% tax and service charges and $2 per day energy surcharge.

Don't Miss Details: The Adults Stay Free Promotion is valid on all reservations made for travel now through Nov. 15, 2007. To take advantage of this promotion, reservations must be made by contacting the resort's on-island reservations department at 1-800-524-4746 or by emailing reservations@bolongobay.com. The name of the promotion must be mentioned at the time of booking. This program is valid on new bookings only and can only be combined with the fourth night free offer. The four adults must work with the existing bedding in their room, which consists of either two double beds or a queen bed with a day bed.

For More Information:
• call 1-800-524-4746/340-775-1800
• e-mail: reservations@bolongobay.com
• visit www.bolongobay.com

Friday, September 14, 2007

Four Seasons Nevis Offers Fall Package

With its quiet, safe atmosphere, the island of Nevis makes a natural family vacation destination; on the island, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis is one of the top family getaways. Now there's one more reason to choose this luxury resort: the “West Indian Summer” vacation package.

The package includes a resort credit of up to US $100 per night to be applied at checkout, and a guaranteed upgrade to ocean accommodations at the time of booking. Flexibility is a key feature, as there is no minimum stay required.

As an added perk for parents, this promotion is combinable with the Resort’s “Family Plan,” which offers a second room for children at a 50% savings.

Date: The package is available from now until December 14, 2007, with the exception of dates between November 11 and 24, 2007.

For More Information:
• visit Four Seasons Resort Nevis reservations


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kids Stay Free Offer at Antigua's Jolly Beach

The all-inclusive Jolly Beach Resort in Antigua has a very family-friendly package: from now through December 20, 2007 up to two kids 11 years and younger stay free of charge when they share a Superior category room with two adults. Kids under 3 years old stay free at Jolly Beach all the time.

Also, for bookings and travel now through December 20, 2007, guests will save an additional 15% on all rates for Single and Double Occupancy on all room categories except Supersaver. And for September travel there's a bonus savings of US$5.00 per person, each night.

When booking, be sure to specify Booking Code JBR-SUM. This offer can be combined with the Jolly Beach Honeymoon and Dream Wedding packages. To qualify for savings, bookings must be made directly with Jolly Beach Resort.

Why Families Like It: The 464-room all-inclusive is set among 40 acres of tropical gardens overlooking a mile-white sand beach. Amenities include dining options from super casual to tropical chic, a cyber café; four tennis courts, all lit for night play; basketball courts; two swimming pools, including Jolly Beach's signature Fantasy Pool with a waterfall and swim-up bar; watersports and much more.

All-inclusive rates include accommodations, all taxes, all meals, snacks and afternoon tea, house brand beverages, non-motorized watersports, activities and entertainment. All rooms are air-conditioned and face the ocean; each has a patio or balcony, direct-dial phone, cable TV, hair-dryer and rentable safe.

For more information:
• call 866-905-6559 in the US and Canada
• visit www.jollybeachresort.com


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Beaches Adds Abby Cadabby of Sesame Street

If you've got a Sesame Street fan in the family, there's another good reason to head to Beaches Resorts: Abby Cadabby, the first major muppet introduced on Sesame Street in over a decade, joins Elmo, Zoe, Grover and the rest of the gang at the resorts this fall. The daughter of Fairy Godmother and a fairy-in-training herself, Abby will be sharing her passion for magic, numbers and letters with guests of all ages beginning this September.

Abby won't just be on vacation at the resorts; she's working: look for her to be participating in Beaches’ pirate-themed treasure caravan show at Beaches Turks & Caicos to joining the rest of her furry friends during the Sesame Street Parade at all four resort locations in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos.

Abby Cadabby will also take the stage during Beaches’ exclusive Sesame Street Stage Shows, featuring live song and dance numbers. Debuting this fall is a new show, where Abby will showcase her music chops while performing “Magic in Me.”

Sandbox Savings Package: Beaches is having a fall sale with its ‘Sandbox Savings’ package. Families who book now for travel from now through October 31, 2007 can enjoy up to 45% of regular rack rates. Rates begin at $159.50 per person, per night with a three-night minimum stay. The package includes enhanced preschool entertainment and activities for island-hopping tots, through exclusive partnerships with Sesame Workshop and Crayola, as well as romantic retreats and nanny services for parents.

For more information:
• call 1-800-BEACHES
• visit www.beaches.com

Photo courtesy Beaches Resorts

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Puerto Rico Christmas Package for Families

Looking for a very Caribbean way to celebrate the holidays this year? We've just received word that the San Juan Marriott is combining old and new customs in their seasonal Holiday Traditions Package created to help guests celebrate Christmas 2007 with a Puerto Rican twist.

The Package: The Holiday Traditional Package, priced at $1,723, includes:

…Three nights for a family of four in newly renovated ocean front accommodations
…Full access to the Executive Lounge
…Authentic Puerto Rican Christmas Dinner
…A night tour of historic Old San Juan to see the old town decorated with Christmas lights and traditional decoration
…Parranda instruments to participate in the hotel’s annual event and then take home as a souvenir
…A Christmas Eve turndown treat: delicious coquito (Puerto Rican egg nog) served with a traditional dessert for Mom and Dad and milk and cookies for the kids to enjoy themselves or leave for Santa

The package is for a family of four including two adults and two children. The package is available for arrival on December 23, 24 or 25. Based on availability. Full pre-payment required. Rate does not include resort fee and taxes.

Christmas Eve dinner will be served at La Vista and in addition to the customary American and International Christmas fare, it will feature traditional Puerto Rican Christmas delicacies such as Lechon asado (roasted pork), arroz con gandules and arroz blanco con habichuelas (rice with peas and white rice with beans), pasteles, pollo guisado (chicken stew), carne frita (fried meat) and tostones (fried green banana chips).

After dinner the festivities begin. A unique holiday custom in Puerto Rico is the Parranda, a traditional Puerto Rican street parade in which participants celebrate the holiday with music, singing and dancing while playing traditional instruments such as guitarras, tamboriles, güiro maracas, or palitos. Groups of family and friends travel through the streets dancing and playing their musical instruments. Guests who book the Marriott’s Holiday Traditions Package will have the opportunity to join the resort’s staff and their families for the San Juan Marriott’s Christmas Eve parranda and show off their own musical prowess.

For More Information:
• visit the hotel website

Photo courtesy San Juan Marriott Resort and Stallaris Casino

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

MSC Cruises Offers Baseball Themed Holiday Caribbean Cruise

Do you have a little (or a big) baseball fan in the family? This December, you can combine a Caribbean cruise with a baseball dream aboard MSC Lirica.

Departing Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 14, guests will begin their extended cruise with calls at Key West, Montego Bay, Georgetown and Cozumel, with two sea days.

The sailing features a lineup of baseball greats (former New York Yankees greats Stan Bahnsen and Tom Tresh, former New York Mets star Ed Kranepool, slugger Ken Griffey Sr. and former catcher/Major League manager Jeff Torborg) and baseball-related activities, including free interactive passenger/player activities, including a player-hosted trivia game, question-and-answer sessions, a passenger pitching contest and pitching, hitting, fielding and base running clinics -- and a free autograph session.

After a turn-around in Fort Lauderdale, the ship will head for the Eastern Caribbean on its holiday cruise, calling at San Juan, Charlotte Amalie, Cayo Levantado (the line's private paradise) and Nassau, and includes two days at sea before returning to Fort Lauderdale on December 28.

Rates for Baseball Cruise: Guests who book MSC Lirica's 7-night Dec. 21 holiday sailing to the Eastern Caribbean at the starting Early Booking rate of $799 per person, double occupancy (interior stateroom) can add on the 7-night Dec. 14 Western Caribbean/Baseball Greats sailing at rates starting from just $299 per person.

All prices quoted are cruise only, per person, double occupancy; government fees/taxes additional for all guests. Offer is capacity controlled, subject to availability and restrictions apply. The 14-Night holiday Promo offer expires Sept. 30 and cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. North American residents who place a reservation only place a $100 deposit per person, based on double occupancy.

For more information:
• visit http://www.msccruisesusa.com


Monday, September 03, 2007

USVI's St. Croix Offers $250 Per Person Air Credit

With all the convenience of domestic travel for US visitors (that means no passports!), there are plenty of reasons to visit the US Virgin Islands but now there's one more: the St. Croix Fantastic Flight Promo.

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, 2007, the Department of Tourism is offering each visitor a $250 airfare credit for a minimum seven-night stay in St. Croix, based on double occupancy at participating hotels including The Buccaneer, Carambola Beach Resort, Chenay Bay Beach Resort, Club St. Croix Beach Resort, Colony Cove Beach Resort, Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino, the Hotel Caravelle, King Christian Hotel, the Palms at Pelican Cove and Sand Castle on the Beach.

The St. Croix Fantastic Flight Promo is valid for future travel dates (great times to escape that winter weather):

** December 1-20, 2007
** January 2-31, 2008
** April 1-30, 2008
** May 5-31, 2008

Reservations for this promotion can be made through a number of tour operators, including Apple Vacations, Classic Vacations, Festa Holidays, GoGo Worldwide Vacations, Island Resort Tours, The Mark Travel, Total Vacations, Travel Impressions and US Airways Vacations.

For more information:
• visit www.usvitourism.vi



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