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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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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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


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reader Question: Our Passports Aren't Back Yet!

We applied for US passports for the whole family this summer but our passports still aren't here! We are booked for a trip to Aruba next month. What should we do? --Gina B., Burmingham, AL

Dear Gina:

You're in luck; American travelers can travel to the Caribbean through September 30 by showing proof that they're waiting for a passport. Go to http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/status/status_2567.html to print out a form that shows you're waiting (and waiting...)

You can also check the status of your passport application online. Processing times are taking much longer than usual so your wait isn't unusual right now, unfortunately. Travelers who are traveling within the next two weeks should contact the passport agencies for help; if you're traveling within the next seven days, contact the National Passport Agency directly via phone or email.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reader Question: Is Malaria a Problem in the Caribbean?

Thanks for your question. In general, malaria isn't a widespread problem in the region. The Dominican Republic has had a problem for the last several years in the Punta Cana area. You'll find more information on the specific warning on the Dominican Republic Consular Information Sheet.

Another area of concern is Kingston, Jamaica. The outbreak there is waning but it is a concern. Most family travelers never get anywhere close to Kingston, however, but fly in and out of the Montego Bay area where there is no warning. You'll find current information on the Kingston outbreak on the CDC site.

Two good resources for current malaria warnings are:

• the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
US State Department

The state department site includes information on specifics about any other health concerns on each island.

All in all, malaria and other mosquito diseases aren't a big concern in the Caribbean but it's always a good idea to carry bug sprays and lotions (and far cheaper to bring them from home than to buy them on the road!)



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