Jamaica Travel Guide
Jamaica Volunteer Programs has announced a summer program that combines adventure with the chance to make a difference for local children.
Volunteers will work with orphans and create activities for them to do during the day including arts & crafts, reading, play games, and learning basic computer skills. When not helping kids, volunteers will participate in their own adventures like exploring Holywell, visiting the hills where blue mountain coffee is grown, and spending a day at Dunn’s River Falls.
So Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds are dunzo after two years of marriage. What's a pretty 26-year-old movie star to do then to recover? Take a trip to warmer climes, naturally. ScarJo has gone straight down to Jamaica with her friends, and though it's not yet apparent exactly where, her visit comes just in time to entice people to book trips to Jamaica for the post-Christmas dulls.
Will Scarlett get her groove back while in Jamaica? Hopefully not; she's still got a good-girl images and it's only like two days after she announced the end of her marriage. Regardless, a tropical trip does signal a few things, like the fact that she's going to be frolicking in a bikini under the sun while Ryan is stuck filming (and potentially moping) in Atlanta.
· Scarlett Johansson Jets to Jamaica Post-Split [JustJared]
Reports of gunfire, Molotov cocktails and drug-related violence are not what you want to hear about happening somewhere you're about to go to for vacation, but that's the case right now in Kingston, Jamaica, where gangs are clashing with police in protection of a notorious drug lord.
The Jamaican government declared a state of emergency in Kingston yesterday, due to such serious occurrences in Tivoli Gardens and Hannah Town, a slums in downtown Kingston that have barricaded themselves off while hiding Christopher "Dudus" Coke, a "Jamaican 'don' charged in the U.S. with drug and arms trafficking." The Jamaican government is attempting to capture Coke and extradite him to the United States, and the gangs of these towns aren't too happy to be losing their leader, who provides security and stability for their otherwise dangerous community.
Accidents / World's Most Dangerous Airports / Weather / American Airlines / Kingston Travel / Jamaica Travel / KIN / → All Tags
A planeful of people headed down to Kingston, Jamaica for the holidays got the shock of their lives last night when their flight, American Airlines 331 from Miami, overshot the runway during a horrible rainstorm. The plane bounced on the runway, crashed through the fence at the end of the tarmac, skidded across the roadway and lost some landing gear and at least one of its engines before coming to rest on the beach, just short of the ocean.
All 154 passengers and crew survived, but some 91 injuries have been reported, including broken bones and more minor scratches. Since this was technically a crash, the airport closed and other Kingston-bound flights were diverted to other Jamaica airports.
This incident, and the general scary island-y nature of Kingston's Norman Manley airport and its one sea-bordered runway adds it to our ever-growing list of the World's Most Dangerous Airports. To check out a picture of the American Airlines accident, head here.
· American Airlines Flight Narrowly Avoids Sea on Landing In Jamaica; Injuries Reported [NPR]
· Light injuries as plane overshoots runway [National Post]
· Travel Accidents [Jaunted]
[Image: Google Maps]
Some locales can’t seem to shake their less-than-sparkling reputations despite efforts to lock away the skeletons of yesterday. We’ve decided to highlight five of these Bad Rap Cities that are making moves to shed their grimy and gritty images in hopes of becoming more tourist-friendly. Maybe, just maybe, after reading this series you'll be willing to take a chance on them. Enjoy.
We’ve all seen the "Come to Jamaica” ads encouraging folks to experience the sparkling sea and sand with a side of reggae and jerk chicken. But those commercials never shout-out Kingston, the island’s capital. Mention the city that’s a half-million strong and you’re likely to hear a sharp intake of breath followed by mutterings of murder and mayhem. But don’t believe all the hype, says Kaci Hamilton, a travel writer and Kingstonian. “People are very hospitable here. You get invited to their homes for dinner, to go sailing or even play golf.”
She admits that crime and violence is endemic in certain areas of Kingston(stay clear of the West End), but many parts of the city are safe,surprisingly wealthy and quite beautiful, like tourist-friendly New Kingston.
Smart travelers should employ the same sense they use everywhere they go—keep eyes and ears open and stay clear of dodgy-looking places. For intrepid travelers with a sense of adventure, there’s much to discover here. Oh, and JetBlue begins service from JFK to Kingston on October 31st, with flights starting at $258 roundtrip!
Jetblue / Thrillist / Jamaica Travel / Jamaica / → All Tags
This morning, while we all blissfully dozed into the weekend, 150 prize winners, journalists and internet fameballs boarded a Jetblue flight with destination unknown. The 3-day
junket party trip is sponsored by Thrillist.com, Jetblue, and a myriad of brands like Trojan, Gillette and Starbucks.
Once at their departure gate this morning, the 150 passengers had their destination revealed along with gift bags and boxes of Red Stripe beer for the long flight; they're heading to Montego Bay, Jamaica as we type. Jetblue began flying direct from JFK to Mo Bay on May 21 of this year, and Jamaica is obviously thankful, helping to support this trip with accommodations and more.
Jamaica is a beautiful country, and I would encourage anybody to visit, but it's definitely a place where you want to keep your personal safety in mind. The island, after all, has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and while tourists generally aren't the targets, they do fall victim to plenty of street crime at resort areas. That's why the government announced recently that it would install dozens of surveillance cameras in the tourist town of Ocho Rios, home of the famous Dunn's River Falls. As the AP points out, the cameras will be set up at bus stops and other public areas, as they already are in cities like Kingston and Montego Bay.
We've regularly noted, and with something less than full satisfaction, the trend toward less airline customer service. Separately, we've had to do literal full-scale investigations to untangle increased airline baggage fees. But rarely have we gotten to do a story where an airline so shamelessly and simultaneously combined both of those:
On Monday, Air Jamaica started charging passengers $25 for the second checked bag on flights from New York to Grenada and Barbados, but the second checked bag won't be on their flight. Air Jamaica will transport the first checked bag on passengers' flights, at no charge. All other bags will be transported within seven days and must be picked up at the airport, Air Jamaica said... Passengers ticketed on or before May 10 for travel after May 11 will be allowed two free checked bags in economy and three in executive class.
On the plus side they're implementing a system to track your bag until its ready for you to personally pick up. Sure it took companies like UPS and FedEx decades of work and billions of dollars to implement setups like that. And yes even major carriers still can't tell you much more than "your luggage isn't at this airport yet" when it gets misplaced. But the good folks at Air Jamiaca are very confident that their system will work.
We missed Bridget checking out Croatia last week, but we figured we’d give her and the show a second shot when they traveled to Jamaica. They were all over the island, but came and went from Negril a couple of times. This week she swam with dolphins, drank with some old rich dude (not Hef), and ate jerk chicken and some starchy fruit that she barely choked down. With all the costume changes she does, mostly bikini focused of course, we can tell that she definitely pays extra to check two bags.
You know your country has a little theft problem when people are stealing sand from beaches. Authorities are on the trail of a team of thieves who boosted about five hundred truckloads of pristine beach sand from a planned resort at Coral Springs Beach in northwest Jamaica's Trelawny Parish. A theft of this magnitude can be devastating to a beach resort, and the project has been put on hold until they can recover or replenish their most important asset.
Hurricane Dean and its 150 mile-per-hour winds are currently heading for Mexico's Yucatan after battering Jamaica this weekend. Dean swept through Jamaica yesterday, knocking out power, ripping off roofs, and flooding many streets. However, throughout the ordeal Flickr photographer Robert Birkenes was able to take plenty of shots, including the one above, which some have guessed is a shot of Jamaica's Prime Minister checking out hurricane damage. Throughout the storm, Robert's internet connection apparently held up, for the most part, which is truly amazing.
This past weekend the storm brushed past the eastern and southern areas of the region including Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Lucia on Friday and headed straight for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands yesterday. Dean's landfall in Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula is expected today.
Both airports on Jamaica were closed, with Air Jamaica cancelling all flights and rearranging travel plans for tourists. Major tour operators like Funjet and Apple Vacations let customers rebook trips to affected and threatened destinations at no extra charge. Other airlines such as Delta and Northwest waived change penalties and added extra flights to get tourists out of Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cancun. Cruises already en route to the area changed course to avoid the storm and headed to further eastern ports of call. If you are headed to the area this week or had travel plans, contact your airline or travel provider directly before making any moves of course!.
· Air travel, cruises altered to avoid Dean [USA Today]
[Photo: Robert Birkenes]
The holiday season can be a common time to end relationships. That's an especially big problem if you've also got an expensive holiday booked. And that's the problem facing 39-year-old "insurance expert" Adam in England, who was dumped shortly before his planned (and self-paid) expensive, 5-star romantic holiday in Jamaica.
But Adam's not one to lose out on the cash (he works in insurance, remember) and he decided to auction off his ex-girlfriend's half of the trip on eBay. His fine print says "The only catch is you have to come with me." Apparently some seventy bidders so far have thought that won't be a problem, and the auction doesn't even end until January 6. While he's really only looking for a way not to lose too much money, who knows what the end result will be: remember the Croatian who married the girl who fit best into his ex-fiance's wedding dress? Have fun in Jamaica, Adam and auction-winner!
· Sunny Holiday With Me For Sale [The Sun]
· If The Dress Fits, Marry Her [Jaunted]