Great World Getaways: Caribbean / Mexico, Cruises, Travel News

News and information from Travel Professionals

Cruising Caribbean breaks records

September 18, 2014

The Caribbean maintains its position as the most popular cruise destination in the world, capturing more than 40 percent of all the passengers, despite the build up in the Mediterranean, South America and Australia.

Caribbean port authorities and tourism officials have taken up the challenge by upgrading their facilities and building new ports to accommodate the largest of the new ships.

Across the Caribbean, destinations are responding to industry growth with improved and expanded infrastructure, although as one port official told Cruise Industry News, “cruise lines must remember that they (the island) are not Dubai.”

And that may be happening. Barbados is in the final stages of a bid for the expansion and redevelopment of its cruise pier. There are also plans to build new piers in St. Kitts and Nevis, Curacao and Aruba. Other upgrades are underway in Guadeloupe, Martinique, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

2010 broke both cruise passenger records and overall tourist arrivals in the Caribbean. With more ships, the trend continues up as Cruise Industry News estimates a record-breaking 7.5 million passengers in the region for the calendar year 2011, up 1.4 percent from last year. The bulk of the cruise business in the Caribbean occurs during just four months, which also raises the level of competition (and congestion) among the islands.

You’re Welcome in Uganda

August 9, 2014

Photo credit: Dylan Walters

There has been a lot of information in the news lately about Uganda, but did you know that this little country was chosen by Lonely Planet as the number one destination for 2012?

Not only that, but the “Pearl of Africa” also received great recognition when they were recently chosen as 3rd Best Exhibitor (out of 180 countries) at the ITB-Berlin Convention (Billed the world’s leading travel trade show).

Boasting rich, cultural roots, and exotic wildlife, in addition to celebrations for the Golden Jubilee (50 years of independence), the country is expecting to attract somewhere around a minimum of 1.5 million visitors this year.

Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah joins the West African jungle, and exists as the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of antelopes, also boasting a diverse bird population of more than 1000 species.

From the lions stalking the plains to the chimpanzees swinging through the rainforest, adventure is in store. Everyone is welcome!

You can learn more about this culturally diverse country by reading our article here.

Cancun Underwater Museum a “Don’t Miss”

July 6, 2014

The newest and most spectacular addition to Cancun, the Underwater Sculpture Museum, is an under-sea sculpture gallery of more than 400 figures.

The monumental sculptural museum was established in the surrounding waters of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc by British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor. The project has sparked great interest worldwide and will be an ongoing project for years to come.

Taylor offers a contemporary and cultural view of how the Mayan people have evolved throughout the years.

The snorkel tour begins with a high-powered speedboat ride to the “Silent Evolution” site off Isla Mujeres. You’ll then have 40 minutes of snorkel time to enjoy the museum’s sculptures and the marine life that will swim your way.

The main body of the museum is called “The Silent Evolution” and consists of 400 life-size figures molded in pH neutral clay. The main goal of the museum is preservation, so the clay promotes marine growth to form a complex structure inhabited and colonized by various forms of marine life. Eventually coral reef will form on each sculpture, making them change appearance over time.

The total museum installation occupies some 150 square metres and weighs over 120 tons, and will one day form an artificial ecosystem where various fish and marine mammals will thrive.

(Video via  National Geographic on YouTube)

5 Awe-Inspiring Attractions Not To Be Missed

June 30, 2014

Darvaza Gas Crater | Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski

Some of the earth’s most spectacular attractions draw visitors from miles around – think, the Grand Canyon or the La Brea Tar Pits. But the world is full of odd and awe-inspiring mysteries, whether natural or man made, that are less well known but equally intriguing!

Here we’ve compiled 5 of our favorite oddities that you truly have to see to believe! (more…)

Planning for Olympics no Game

May 7, 2014

Artist's rendering of proposed facilities for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London

The London Olympic Games begin July 27, 2012, but now is the time to start planning your trip.

Demand and costs of tickets and accommodation is expected to be high. With some careful planning you can keep costs down. Opening and closing ceremony tickets start at US$32 and go up to US$3,200. Prices vary widely depending on the event – and, more importantly, at what stage you see the event.

You can find US$32 tickets to all sports events during their qualifying or preliminary rounds, but once the events progress to medal rounds, prices escalate. The least expensive seats to medal-round events range between US$48 and US$104 each, depending on the sport.

Ticket holders will receive free passes to London’s public transportation system, including the Tube and all buses, to use on the day of their ticketed Olympic event.

As for flight and accommodation costs, airlines don’t release plane ticket prices until about a year before the event. Hotel costs are easier to predict: Expensive. But you can consider staying outside of London. There are three means of securing tickets: You can book a travel package that includes tickets (But ensure you book a package with a travel agent to avoid scams), enter an official ticket lottery, or buy tickets from a broker (Not recommended).

Costa Rica is protecting itself!

April 19, 2014

Photo credit: Raphaël Fauveau

Costa Rica’s Blue Flag Ecological Program ensures ecological sensitivities

When visiting Costa Rica, you will be heartened to know that coastal environs are monitored monthly to ensure that areas adhere to The Blue Flag Ecology Program, which is a joint venture of several Costa Rican agencies, including the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, the Ministry of Environment and the National Tourism Chamber. Administered by the National Blue Flag Commission, the continued efforts of these organizations have resulted in a long list of beaches being awarded the Ecological Blue Flag.

Under the Blue Flag Ecology Program, Costa Rican beaches are evaluated according to strict criterion. The beaches are assessed on water quality of the ocean and the drinking water, waste disposal, sanitary facilities, signage, tourist safety, environmental education and involvement of the community in beach maintenance. Only beaches with a 90 percent score succeed in acquiring the Blue Flag. Beaches awarded the Blue Flag are then monitored on monthly basis for sustained maintenance.

The Blue Flag Ecology Program was founded for the purpose of improving education and information regarding the environment. Since then it has been helping to promote the protection of the natural surroundings and increasing public knowledge. The proof of this is that every year more and more beach communities of Costa Rica are competing for the Blue Flag and working for the purpose of the Blue Flag Ecology Program. The success of this program has inspired authorities to expand it to the non-coastal communities.

The livelihood of most Costa Rican coastal communities depends on its beaches. It is mainly due to the Blue Flag Ecology Program that visitors and local communities alike can enjoy the stunning beaches of Costa Rica without fear of contamination. This has led the resident community, tourism entrepreneurs and the entire coastal municipality of Costa Rica to participate actively in taking care of the beaches and contributing effectively to the various educational programs offered under the Blue Flag Ecology Program.

The Blue Flag Ecology Program has prompted many coastal communities into putting their resources to use for improving the environmental quality of life. Today Ecological Blue Flags fly proudly over many Costa Rican beaches in the Central Valley, Northern Plains, North Pacific, South Pacific, Caribbean Coast and the Central Pacific. Environmentally conscious tourists can now make a conscious choice and spend their vacations at the Ecological Blue Flag awarded beaches.

So when you are visiting Costa Rica, not only watch for the blue flag, but support this worthwhile program.

Royal Newlyweds to visit Ottawa

February 28, 2014

If you haven’t heard yet, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are coming to Ottawa

It’s official. William and Kate, the new stars of the Royal family, will be visiting Canada this summer and will be front and centre as hundreds of thousands gather in Ottawa to celebrate Canada Day this July 1.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be welcomed to the Capital by The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

Already one of the most popular times to visit Ottawa, Canada Day this year promises to be filled with more pageantry and a heightened sense of excitement and celebration as the Royal Couple kicks of their first foreign visit as a married couple. It marks the second year in a row that Ottawa has welcomed a Royal Couple for Canada Day – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip presided over the 2010 festivities.

For 2011, organizers are planning a celebration fit for a future king, with a full day of activities and entertainment showcasing the best of Canadian traditions and culture. Downtown streets surrounding Parliament Hill will be closed to traffic, allowing revellers to roam from venue to venue – and to catch a glimpse of the Royals.

Ottawa hotels are already booking up fast. Canada Day this year falls on a Friday, which will allow visitors to extend their stay over the weekend.

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All content © 2014 Sarah Eaglesfield unless otherwise noted