Home Destinations Caribbean It’s time to book those spring Caribbean cruises

It’s time to book those spring Caribbean cruises

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The cold isn’t going away, so don’t you think you should?

As a travel agent, I must admit, one of the nicest things about these winter months is how good it makes an escape to the islands of the Caribbean look right now. Can’t you just feel the sun wrapping you in its warmth? Wouldn’t you like to wiggle your toes in the sand and drown away your troubles in all that beautiful turquoise water, which brings me to ask: what the heck are you waiting for?

After the devastating storms of Irma and Maria, the Caribbean is back in business, and we need to start making plans. Of course, some things have changed. For example, a few of your favorite islands, like St. Thomas, St. Barts, and Puerto Rico, are still rebuilding from the hurricane. You will definitely see evidence a catastrophic event rumbled through there domain, but, overall, from the feedback of Monroe Travel Service client Sandra Golson, who has just returned from a cruise to the islands last week, we understand the views may not be as spectacular (since so many trees have been stripped of their leaves), but the water and sun are still as wonderful as ever! Plus, the locals are even more welcoming!

This winter season, we are also missing a few very popular resorts. In St. Thomas, the Ritz Carlton and Sugar Bay Resort are not planning to re-open until next year, but you can expect the Marriott Frenchman’s Cove, Bluebeard’s Beach Club, Emerald Bay, and the Wyndham to be ready next month. In Puerto Rico, the Hilton San Juan, the Ritz Carlton and the Marriott are still closed, but every day we are getting hot deals on the 120 or so of the island hotels that are just ready and waiting for you to come on down and enjoy the sunshine!

St. Barts is still suffering from a shortage of hotel rooms. That means if you are thinking of a getaway here, you must book now; space is at a premium on this very deluxe island. It’s a mixed bag for pricing this season; we have some jaw-dropping good deals for some islands to woo you back and, then, on the other hand, the pricing can jump because demand exceeds supply. Just a word to the wise: availability for spring break or an Easter getaway is going fast. You need to be calling us now if you hope to work on your tan.

Like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Antigua, Aruba, and Grand Cayman, Cuba was one of the islands escaping the one-two punch of hurricanes Irma and Marie, yet, they they did get caught in the political storm between our two governments. President Trump’s recent restrictions has curtailed some of the independent travel to the island, but, not to worry, the people-to-people tours are still alive and well.

Also, the cruise ships porting in Cuba have been unaffected by the new rules. In fact, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have actually added a second ship to their Cuba run! Come by our office and we will give you a free brochure on your options if visiting Cuba is in your cards for 2018.

Now, if you are a Bahama fan, the big news in the travel industry is the Baha Mar Resort area is finally open—and it seems to be worth the wait. Rob and I were in Nassau in 2014 when this big project that was touted as “changing the island forever” was making waves. We did an on-site tour, and totally drank the Kool-Aid: their vision of 5 grand hotels, 40 restaurants, endless shops was so remarkable we feared Baja Mar was destined to give The Atlantis Resort a serious run for the tourist dollar.

Then, everything began to unravel. This project, which was designed to be an over-the-top luxury resort experience, became a working nightmare. There were rumors of sabotage, document theft, the power being cut at the construction site, bankruptcy filings, law suits, accusations of sweetheart deals with Bahamian officials, problems with the imported Chinese workers, and sponsorships were pulled as the list of problems grew and grew..

Suffice it to say, Baja Mar quickly became the most expensive resort development in the history of the Bahamas. Yet, after all these years, a scaled down version of Baja Mar has officially opened for you to enjoy! The resort complex now consists of 3 hotels, the largest casino in the Caribbean, several pools,numerous shops, a 30,000 square foot spa, and a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course. Our Monroe Travel Service clients have all agreed it is fabulous. Go, check it out, and see if it really is “better in the Bahamas!”

Given the Caribbean’s need for tourism and your need for a warm retreat from the winter cold, you really should be calling Monroe Travel Service to help you decide the best beach for you. Now, here’s my travel tip for today: remember how miserable we thought the cold was last week? Well, just imagine how bad it was for everyone caught in the “snow bomb cyclone” in the northern USA! Don’t you think they are ready to escape winter–soon, too? All flights pass through the same gateway (for example, Atlanta, DFW, Miami, Houston) and, since some islands are down for the count from the storm, do you see the problem?

Don’t procrastinate. Our “red hot deals” won’t last long. Go get warm in the Caribbean!

Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service, 1908 Glenmar. For travel arrangements, contact her at 318 323 3465 or info@monroetravel.com.

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