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As JetBlue continues its expansion in the Caribbean – the company’s inaugural flight from New York to Grenada is June 11 – it will also offer its Mint experience on flights from New York to Barbados starting later this year.
The premium Mint service includes private suites, wider seats, fully-flat beds, tapas-style dining, custom amenity kits and 15-inch flat screen televisions with free entertainment. With Mint service to the Caribbean, JetBlue will become the only U.S. carrier to operate regularly scheduled service with lie-flat seating to the region.
Cruise Travel / Cruises / Celebrity Cruises / Royal Caribbean / Ships / Bars / Caribbean Travel / → All Tags
Most bars on cruise ships are pretty decent – you tend to have your champagne bar, martini bar, the big lounge with the live performers, and the nightclub, which is usually pretty empty but at least you can get some dance music every once in a while thrown in amongst the 60s nights.
But Celebrity Cruises has definitely upped the cool factor with a couple of bars that can be found on all Solstice class ships: yes, there’s the Martini Bar, but this one has an actual ice-top bar with ice-blue mood lighting, and there’s the Molecular Bar specializing in fancy foams and complex cocktails by award-winning mixologist Junior Merino. And then, unique to Celebrity Reflection, is the au courant pop-up nightclub concept.
Alexander Yepremian, the Reflection’s Cruise Director, had the brainiac idea to start a nightclub that would dock in a different bar each night at 10:30 p.m., with killer names like “Liquid” and “Indulgence.” On one particular night, this writer was having a glass of Pinot Noir at the club chair-rich Cellar Masters wine bar when crew started to move in carrying lights, sound equipment and cages large enough for cage dancers to shake their booty in. By the time I left, about an hour-and-a-half later, the DJ was throwing out some sweet sounds, the crowd was swaying and imbibing, and people were lined up outside on the red carpet waiting to get in.
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Have you ever wondered what it's like to run a hotel at sea as compared to one on land? Well this is the kind of thing that occupies this writer’s brain so I took some time during my vacation aboard Celebrity Reflection to speak with the ship’s Hotel Director (because yes – they have that), Jamie Petts, to get the inside scoop.
Like a hotel GM, a ship’s Hotel Director oversees pretty much everything to do with running a regular hotel including F&B, housekeeping and guest services. But unlike a GM who also looks after revenue and bookings, Jamie’s concerns are more hands-on: getting 3,000 people off the boat and back on 25-minutes later, whether the tenders are working properly and if the pools can open on time due to rough seas.
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Relax. This story is not about Selfie Sticks.
With the ferociously brutal winter almost behind us, this contributor decided to take some desperately-needed recuperating time, not just for my hunched-over, heat-starved body but for my rattled, over-worked brain as well. I really needed to unplug both mind and spirit.
The only way to prevent me, however, from sneaking an illicit peek at my emails and “only answering a few” was to book a cruise where that privilege costs a pretty penny. Ergo, I found myself on Celebrity Cruises’ Reflection, their newest ship on the block.
Celebrity has keyed into a traveler's need to disconnect and so they teamed up with Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook and current Editor-in-Chief of Dot Complicated, and big advocate of finding a tech-life balance. The two brands came up with a series of spa and wellness treatments that encourage you to Take Care of YourSelfie. Clever marketing name aside, I didn't need to be told twice.
Beach Travel / Photo Gallery / Aruba Travel / Island Travel / Winter Travel / Caribbean Travel / → All Tags
Sorry about that snow day, northern United States.
While school is cancelled and the car needs shoveling out, it's important to remember that there are ways to get away from all that and late winter is the ideal time to book a last-minute warm weather escape. Today we're specifically thinking about the Caribbean's A-B-C Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, for which airfare has been nicely affordable almost all winter.
We made the hop to Aruba ourselves, thanks to a $350 roundtrip (yes, it can be that cheap!) on American Airlines from the Midwest.
For a few more options beyond the Caribbean, our partner CNTraveler just published 10 destinations with airfare under $400 *right now*. In addition, our buddies at TheFlightDeal and FareDealAlert have been on it this week when it comes to Hawaii fares. Right now, both United and Delta are in something of a war over offering the best prices from middle America to Honolulu. Here's proof, but book ASAP.
A tipster recently returned from Grand Case on the French side of St. Martin with a rather gloomy report.
He opined that while the restaurant scene is still among the best in the Caribbean, there is an obvious high presence of security and a “definitive edginess about it we’ve never experienced before.” Likening it to the vibe in parts of St. Thomas, this tourist said he didn’t feel safe and will likely not return, although the island had previously been among his favorite spots.
We’ve had our own experiences in Grand Case. When we first visited in 1998 to obtain scuba diving certification, it was delightful. The Hotel L’Esplanade was the perfect boutique accommodation--and we understand it still is. We returned in 2004 hoping for the same magic. While the hotel was still top notch as was the food, something was amiss. Cars seemed to “cruise” around, we saw multiple car windows that had been smashed and we found ourselves being less carefree and more cautious.
We recently gave our favorite list of beach bars in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands as well as some must-dos in St. John. Your humble correspondent thinks it’s the best island in the Caribbean. Feel free to debate me. This week we list some things NOT to do in St. John. We don’t want you to waste one precious moment in paradise.
1. Don’t go shopping on St. Thomas. If you want to buy Louis Vitton or Gucci on vacation, go to Beverly Hills. Or Paris. St. John has many charming shops that should appease your appetite to spend. Head to Mongoose Junction for unique boutiques carrying beachwear, gifts and art.
St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is only accessible by ferry – and thats a great thing. The fewer people landing on its shores the better for those of us who love it. But if you do go, don’t leave the island without experiencing these 6 things:
1. Hike down to the remote Honeymoon or Salomon Beaches: On occasion we've had them all to ourselves – or you can be a lazy ass and commandeer a dinghy there. There are several companies in town that let you play captain for the day including Calypso Charters. Pick a model with a built-in cooler and pack it with Pirate Piggy sandwiches (slow-roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and homemade mustard) from the North Shore Deli and locally made St. John Brewer's Ginger Beer Soda. Our other favorite beaches include Hawksnest and Maho Bay.
Every winter, the
nauseating infamous Beach Boys song, "Kokomo" enters the minds of Caribbean vacationers with that first line crooning, "Aruba, Jamaica, oo I want to take ya", but our contributing editor Will McGough lists what you should really know about one of Jaunted's favorite islands.
Aruba's resort-focused tourism approach tends to keep travelers quarantined in the northwest corner of the island in either the "low-rise" or "high-rise" hotel zone. As a result, while most people can tell you all about the beautiful beaches, they won't have a clue when it comes to local culture. Below, we've put together five things to help you appreciate Aruba beyond its beaches:
The Island Has Its Own Language
Although most children grow up learning Dutch, English, and Spanish, Aruba also has its own native language called Papiamento. A pidgin mix of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch, all Arubans know it and speak it between themselves. It is also the native language of nearby Curacao.
Caribbean Travel / USVI / BVI / Beach Bars / Caribbean Bars / → All Tags
The U.S. Virgin Islands and the nearby British Virgin Islands are made for island-hopping via ferry, sailboat or private charter. But oftentimes, island-hopping in these parts is really just code for bar-hopping. #dontjudge
Here's a list of our favorite beach bars to hit. Some are oldies but goodies, while others are a bit newer to the scene.
Owned by Foxy’s oldest son Seddy, the sign outside reads “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Clothes, No Problem,” which pretty much sums up Jost Van Dyke, dubbed the Barefoot Island. Seddy woos customers with his magic tricks while his wife Raquel tends bar. Open until sunset, the clientele can move over to dad’s joint for after-dark fun.
Petit St. Vincent
Each year, thousands of people head to the Caribbean to complete their scuba certification. There are endless islands to choose from, some cheaper than others and each known and regarded for different types of dives and scenery. Because of that, which destination you choose depends largely on your specific tastes and interests. And, of course, recommendations from people you trust.
If the son of the world’s best known ocean explorer falls into that latter category for you, then the brand new dive center on the tiny island of Petit St. Vincent might be right up your alley. Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famous Jacques Cousteau, opened Jean-Michel Cousteau's Caribbean Divers in November.
Island Travel / Caribbean Travel / AUA / Aruba Travel / Airports / Airlines / Prime Planespotting / AvGeek / Plane Spotting / Caribbean Airlines / Private Islands / Hotels / → All Tags
It's paradise, pure and simple. A deserted beach of white sand gently melting into clear, azure water. The waves are mere ripples, the water is of that desired "bathwater" warmth, and airplanes whizz directly overhead in the sunny sky. Welcome to one of the best, most undiscovered plane spotting locations in the Caribbean: Renaissance Island, Aruba.
It's no St. Maarten Maho Beach, but the experience will appeal to dedicated plane spotters who prize unique locations and a range of aircraft for indulging their hobby. Even sunbathers should make the easy nature walk from the Renaissance Island's developed beaches down a path to this spot, which we discovered this month while on a trip to the Southern Caribbean.
Pack your swimsuit, camera, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, and footwear a little more substantial than flip flops, and let's go...