By Margo Roberts
There a two main reasons tourists are taking a hard look at planning their vacations on one or more of the islands of the Caribbean in 2018. First, most of these vacation spots were only scuffed by the hurricanes we heard so much about (except Puerto Rico). The second is the calling to the warm, sparkling waters of the islands after the bone-chilling cold, snow, and ice of this year; the thought of a trip to the islands is a day-dreamy treat.
According to the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, the most popular and traveled islands are welcoming guests as you read this feature. Of all the destinations, Aruba, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and (we don’t want to leave out a new favorite of American tourists) Cuba are ready to warm your hearts and souls.
There’s been a lot of news about Puerto Rico—a well-enjoyed vacation–location—most of it surrounding the devastation of the island. But, much has been accomplished in getting aid to its people along with electricity and water—although there remains work to be done. Still, the people of the island realize that much of its future success will be to keep tourists coming to its shores. To note, Puerto Rico is receiving cruise ships and passengers daily, and more than 100 hotels are open. The motto at this port is “support us by visiting us,” and that makes a great deal of sense.
As for the other island-attractions that may have been hit with heavy winds and surf, they have recovered and are functional in the usual fashion.
The islands which took the mighty punch—Anguilla and St. Barths—are coming back and have visitors returning. For 2018, most of the hotels will be reopening, but the tourist organizations remind the travelers that there are also many villas available for a stay.
There have been concerns regarding travel to the newest vacation island to US residents—Cuba. While some might question the ability to travel to the island nation, keep in mind:
• American citizens may go to Cuba under the people-to-people programs (contact an experienced travel company for details).
• Cruise ships have Cuba on their sailing itinerary and can be found staffed with Cubans, so the island culture becomes an experience as you make your way from port to port.
• Travel agents to Cuba have a list of pre-approved hotels and privately owned homes, many of which offer a more authentic experience than a cookie-cutter room which doesn’t reflect the native experience.
• Because of the rumors surrounding travel restrictions to the island, some have shied away; the result has been lower rates for everyone else.
A New Place to Land
In February 2017, the Argyle International Airport completed its first day of operation. You may not know this, but St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been a secret hideaway for the elites—probably because it had been difficult to find and transportation was difficult. But now, for those experiencing the stress of everyday life, a trip to paradise is within reach.
Other news on the horizon is that Nassau Paradise Island is expanding and enhancing its offerings to travelers. It is all about families, as you may have noticed in the water slide commercials during evening television programs. Take a look at the Baha Mar, the Coral Towers, Warwick Paradise Island, along with the Riu adults-only resort. The ever-so-famous Ocean Club has the Four Seasons moniker, and if you add the Graycliff, you’ll have a wide variety of choices at your fingertips.
It is doubtful you need any encouragement to pack your bags—but of course, sooner rather than later will ensure you get to the destination of your choice before the next nor’easter.
Enjoy your trip.