Six Things to Know About Caribbean Travel 2017

First there was Harvey.  Then Irma, then Maria.  And hurricane season isn’t over yet. However, many of our clients had already booked winter and spring cruises and vacations in the Caribbean, and we’re fielding a huge amount of questions.  We thought we’d share some of the latest information with all of our island lovers out there!

  1. The bad news is, many islands are practically in ruins.  The good news is, many islands were untouched, are still beautiful and open for business. These include Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, Sint Eustatius Martinique, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Guadeloupe. There are lots of great vacations available here.
  2. If you booked a Caribbean cruise with destinations in Barbuda, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, The U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica, your cruise line is busy creating new itineraries and you will be notified. Your cruise may not be sailing from the original port and could affect your flights.  Contact your cruise line or your travel agent that booked your trip sooner than later.
  3. If you booked air travel to the Caribbean or your cruise has been cancelled or rerouted, most airlines are waiving fees to change flights or reinstate frequent flier miles. Each airline has its own policy, but it’s better to deal with it now instead of waiting.  Remember, a lot of people will be trying to book new flights and there are limited seats available.
  4. The U.S. Virgin Islands have been severely damaged and all hotels are reporting some level of destruction.  Hotels on St. John and St. Thomas have closed inventory for 2017 and 2018 travel. St. Croix also took a major hit with Hurricane Maria.
  5. The situation in Puerto Rico is dismal, with severe damage across the island.  There is no power and communication with the island is limited.  Many hotels are closed, but some are expected to open sometime in November.
  6. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information available about the situation in Cuba, which was also hard hit by Hurricane Maria.  As it’s a communist country, the media doesn’t have full access to information.

If you’ve booked travel to any of these affected islands, don’t wait to contact your cruise line, airline or hotel to get your refunds. Many other people are in the same situation as you are, and they will be trying to book vacations to different islands and destinations.  There will be a lot of competition for hotels, flights and cruises. It would be wise to explore your options with a travel professional, as we have more resources and information to maneuver through this tumultuous time.

This horrific hurricane season has illustrated why working with a travel professional is advantageous.  If you book cruises, flights, hotels and auto rentals on your own, or you are on a cruise or island when a storm hits, you’ve on your own.  With a travel agency like Carefree Travel, you’ve got a travel professional working for you before, during and after a natural disaster.  And of course, it’s a great reminder about the importance of travel insurance.

If you have specific questions about booking travel to the Caribbean, we hope you’ll consider working with us.  In the meantime, let’s all pray for a quick recovery in these beautiful islands.  They have a lot of work ahead of them.