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The Rules of Travel - Must Read

IF YOU ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN, PLEASE CHECK WITH THE APPROPRIATE CONSULATE TO DETERMINE DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR TRAVEL AND FOR YOUR RE-ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES.

A single parent traveling with a minor child or children or minor children traveling alone or accompanying another family other than his/her own must have additional documentation on all international flights … please check with your airline for these requirements and/or any additional requirements imposed by the country or countries you plan to visit.

Important Customs Information

Check-in and Baggage Security Notice – Heightened security at airports worldwide results in longer check-in and security procedures for all travelers. Please be sure you check-in early. Many International airports require 100% of all baggage to be searched – this includes your carry-on luggage and, at random, your person. It is prudent to travel light! (Also See “Packing” below).

Reconfirm you flights with your airline at 48 hours prior to departure (both going and coming). Also, check with your airlines for the time they want you to check-in (each airline is different) and what their baggage restrictions are.

Protect your valuables and yourself so use the “lock-box” at the front desk if you room doesn’t have its own personal safe (most resorts do). Lock your doors when you leave the room and when you go to bed at night … and test the doors (especially a sliding door to the patio or balcony) to make SURE it is locked properly and the lock holds when you tug on it !!! At times we get caught up in the moment and let our “view of paradise” cloud what is otherwise good judgment and common sense … DON'T DO IT!

GETTING THERE
Always be aware of your flight times (going and coming). A lot of couples believe it is ultimately important to leave on vacation or (most often) a honeymoon, the day after a big party or wedding … this is fine as long as the party doesn’t go into the “wee hours” and the flight doesn’t leave at “dawn-early” … too many couples spend the first few days of their trip just recovering from getting there (not a good way to start the vacation). The same principle holds true for your return flight (see “Know Your Flights And Your Destination” below) Time Zone Converter
 

Know Your Flights And Your Destination

Frequent Flyer Miles and the flights offered by many airlines are becoming extremely limited and, when available, may offer few flight and time options. Be aware that flights departing from a number of Caribbean Islands early in the morning may require you to depart your resort prior to “dawn-early”. With check-in requirements averaging 1 ½ to 2 hours prior to flight departure, a 1 hour or 1 ½ hour drive to the airport means that an 8:45 flight time could require you be up and en route by 5:00 AM. If you wish to use frequent flyer miles plan as FAR AHEAD as you possibly can … also be aware of potential holiday blackout periods when many airlines will NOT accept frequent flyer miles for travel.

A number of Caribbean islands have more than one airport. Know where you are going to stay and which airport is the best for your travel plans.

PACKING & AIRPORT REGULATIONS
Travel light! One check-in bag and one carry-on bag (that can easily fit in the overhead compartment above your seat) is wisest. Your carry-on bag may be more important than you think should the rest of your bags “mis-connect” or get “mis-routed” you could be left without some very important basic needs to start your vacation. Here are a few “carry-on” dos and don’ts:

DON’T Carry On

 Nail clippers, nail files, manual razors and/or razor blades, scissors and the like – these should be placed in your check-in luggage.

 Leave pocketknives and such AT HOME (no matter how small).

  Flammable Liquids or Solids: Fuel, paints, lighters, lighter refills, matches

 Pressure containers: Spray cans, butane fuel, scuba tanks, propane tanks, CO2 cartridges, self-inflating rafts.

 Weapons: Firearms, ammunition, gunpowder, mace, tear gas or pepper spray

Other Hazardous Materials: Dry ice, gasoline powered tools, wet-cell batteries, camping equipment with fuel, radioactive materials, poisons, and infectious substances.

Beware... Many common items used everyday in the home or workplace may seem harmless, however, when transported by air, they can be very dangerous. In flight, variations in temperature and pressure can cause items to leak, generate toxic fumes or start a fire.

It's the law... You must declare your hazardous materials to the airline, air package carrier, or U.S. Postal Service. Violators of Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Parts 171-180) may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $ 25,000 for each violation, and in appropriate cases, a criminal penalty of up to $500,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years.

There are certain exceptions for personal care… medical needs, sporting equipment, and items to support physically challenged passengers.

For example:

Personal care items: containing hazardous materials (e.g., flammable perfume, aerosols) totaling no more than 75 ounces may be carried on board. Contents of each container may not exceed 16 fluid ounces.

Matches and lighters may only be carried on your person. However, "strike anywhere" matches, lighters with flammable liquid reservoirs and lighter fluid are forbidden.

 Firearms and ammunition may not be carried by a passenger on an aircraft. However, unloaded firearms may be transported in checked luggage if declared to the agent at check in and placed in a suitable container. Handguns must be in a locked container. Boxed small arms ammunition for personal use may be transported in checked luggage. Amounts may vary depending on the airline.

Dry ice (4 pounds or less) for packing perishables may be carried on board an aircraft provided the package is vented.

Electric wheelchairs must be transported in accordance with airline requirements. The battery may need to be dismounted.

DO PACK and Carry On

All prescription medication

All jewelry

Tooth brush/paste – hair brush/comb

Swimwear – change of under garments – a “resort casual” change of clothes (with appropriate footwear) – and other such items that could become VERY useful should your bags go to Barbados instead of the Bahamas, Jericho instead of Jamaica, or Tasmania instead of Tahiti. You can ALWAYS find toilet articles upon arrival – but the “bare essentials” to get to the beach, go to dinner, etc. may be a little more difficult (and a lot more costly).

Cameras and camera equipment

Any and all personal identification and all documentation relating to your travel arrangements should be carried on your person NOT in your carry-on luggage and DEFINITELY NOT IN YOUR CHECK-IN LUGGAGE!!

 

SUN & RAIN
Without the rain a tropical island wouldn’t be a tropical island – while everyone understands the phrase “poop happens!” not everyone understands that “rain happens”. Plan ahead !!!  Don’t let rainy days make you (or your vacation) miserable. Think of things you might like to do (or see) if you are unfortunate enough to get caught up in a few days of “liquid sunshine”.

  1. Remember – even if it’s cloudy the UV rays of the sun WILL burn you! Too many people end up miserable from sun burns after staying out all day when it’s cloudy … remember you WILL get burned, so take precautions.
  2. Sometimes travelers miss one of the world’s most relished pastimes … “people watching” … rainy days are great times to meet people or just sit around and people watch.
  3. Your mindset will be the single major determination to the success of your vacation (or honeymoon)! Try to remember your vacation is to “get away from it all” and to spend time together, as much as it is about the beach, et al.

Value” Versus “Cost
 
It isn’t always about the money! Most well traveled vacationers understand “value” versus “cost” – cheap is not always a good value … just as high cost doesn’t insure good value.

VALUE can be defined “worth as measured in usefulness or importance” – to get the most out of your vacation (or honeymoon), your task is to, first, ask yourself “what do we want” and then to find out what resort or resorts will provide you with your wants. THERE WILL BE TRADE-OFFS, but the fewer the trade-offs you have the better value you will have for your vacation. DETERMINE YOUR PASSIONS and then work through some basic guidelines:

  1. Determine “what we want on this vacation” … it constantly surprises us how many people haven’t really made this determination … do you want “laid back”? … quiet sophistication or an all-out party atmosphere? … maybe a combination of the two? … is a GREAT beach the key to your happiness or is it OUTSTANDING service? … Is golf, scuba, tennis, water skiing or sightseeing a primary factor in your travel plans? … or is it the “chill factor” (as in we just want to chill-out and veg…)? How about excellent food and drinks … or a large room with a view? In MOST instances it will be a combination of many of the above factors … put them in your order of importance THEN go to step #2;
  2. Determine your budget … and how long you want to stay on vacation. More often than not, these two items will go hand-in-hand because your budget (coupled to your choices in #1) may not let you stay as long as you’d like to stay! (or, happily, let you stay a few extra nights) … or … you may want to switch a few of your priorities around to help you find a resort which meets MOST of your “we wants” and is priced to let you stay longer.
  3. The trade-offs may have already begun … and now you can start determining where the “best value” may be for your trip … for example:
    1. Is it worth $500 to $1000 more to have an oceanview?
    2. Can you be happy with a few less primary “wants” for a nicer vacation resort?
    3. Is “the room” not as important as the other included offerings or is the room more important than those inclusions?
  4. Now, consider something very few people think about … who are you going to be vacationing with? Sometimes a great vacation experience is determined by the people you meet, the interaction you have and the “comfort level” you have on that vacation. As an example, a fun-loving, party-hardy couple with a rather limited budget may not feel completely at home (and at ease) in a low-key, quiet and high-end sophisticated environment … or … the couple wanting to just get away from it all may not be terribly happy with a resort catering to the “action set”, or a resort with a lot of families and children! NOT ALL RESORTS ARE FOR EVERYBODY … and the last thing you want to do is to feel “a bit out of place” when you are on vacation!!!

DETERMINE YOUR VALUE QUOTIENT – take the time to THINK about your vacation and DETERMINE what is “worthwhile” and what is of lesser or little importance to you … THEN look for the resorts that you believe most closely fit into your measure of importance and worth with as few trade-offs as possible.
 

DON’T BE SHY
Don’t wait. Should you have a problem – should you not like your room – if you don’t have good service – if something seems “amiss” – DON’T just “wait and see” if it will fix itself --- DON’T BE SHY – let the person (or people) in charge know immediately that you are not at ease with your circumstances … and … if an attempt is not made to rectify the situation quickly … go to the manager of the resort or the ship's pursers desk!!! If you tell “someone” about a dissatisfaction, you may find that “someone” may or may not be able to, or care to find a remedy for you … and that is UNACCEPTABLE … At all resorts the “buck stops” at the General Manager … be nice, be a bit patient and be realistic … but DON’T just wait around and do nothing !!

The truth of the matter is … every day is not paradise in paradise. “Stuff happens” and, at times, it’s unavoidable, however, quite often it can be rectified easily and quickly (IF you’re talking to the right person).

Know what to expect by doing your homework – learn about your room options, your meal options, your daily activity options, etc. It doesn’t do you any good to complain about the menu offerings if you are a “health enthusiast” staying at Junky Haven’s Fried Food Resort & Spa !!! Nor will you get much sympathy at the Cheapside Cot & Bunk Hostile when you try to tell someone (actually anyone) that you really expected “better” and would like to be upgraded to, at least, a presidential suite !!!

If you find yourself in an unsatisfactory or unhappy situation START WRITING – take notes, write down times, dates and peoples names (as well as what is said at the time). If you end up in what you believe to be  “the vacation from hell” you will want to be able to document your experiences in those “fire and brimstone” situations.

If you have a pre-existing physical condition … let someone know, before you go.

Remember, nowhere does it say your destiny is predetermined at a resort … and by just accepting something that makes you uncomfortable and, after your return, complaining about it, doesn’t do much good at all – don’t by shy – but DO be realistic – and a bit patient and, by all means, be gracious!

KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
Don’t rely on the pictures and the rhetoric you find in brochures – remember, a lot of what you see and read is designed as “sales tools” – designed to make you WANT to be there (wherever “there” might be) … so do a little homework.

Start with knowing yourself. Think about what the #1 thing is you are looking forward to on your vacation – then work on #2 & #3 (if you go beyond that you will know you REALLY, REALLY need to get away SOONEST).  And … it’s not always a matter of “what you want” it may also be a matter of “what you don’t want”!

Consider any number of factors in choosing your resort:

  • Menus – does it appear these are “your type of foods” – check out the menus (if you don’t see any information about the foods offered you may want to ask for details).
  • Nightlife – are you looking for romantic evenings, dancing to a combo on the verandah? … or … a nightclub (or two) that will knock your socks off with live and disco-styled dancing? Are you most interested in the theme nights and beach parties or the stage shows and piano bars? Do you want 24-hour parties or do you want to “party at will” and be able to escape back to a “quieter and more gentle” Caribbean hideaway? Make some decisions – and you will find your resort selection becomes easier and easier.
  • Dress codes – many resorts require a minimum dress code of “casual elegance” or “resort elegant” in at least one of their restaurants … which usually means the women get to where casual, but stylish eveningwear (tea length and cocktail dresses, pants suits, et al) and the men wear slacks (even chinos are OK) and a polo-styled shirt (sometimes a sports jacket is required over these casual items for certain restaurants). In the evening don’t expect to walk into one of the nicer restaurants in shorts or swimwear – you are likely not to be seated, you will be unhappy and the resort will be unhappy having to confront you with “the rules”. Don’t want to have to “dress up” – all these resorts always have other eateries with little or no dress codes.
  • Special diets – most of the resorts aren’t overly “health conscious” when it comes to food. The term “gourmet” in itself conjures up rather elaborate and sumptuous FEASTS … if you are really looking for resorts catering to mainly the highly “health conscious” vacationer has a few options for you (actually very few) but even at most of the other “feast conscious” resorts you will be able to find enough healthy foods to see you through … just remember … if it doesn’t specifically state “health foods” et al … you WILL be somewhat limited in your selections.
  • Options and additional expenses – you need to be comfortable with what IS included (or not included) at your choice of resorts … even the most all-inclusive resort can not be totally all-inclusive for all people! Here are a few examples:
  • No resort offers free jet skiing or parasailing (the liability factor is just too high)
  • Only a very few resorts offer horseback riding (again the liability factor)
  • Water skiing, though included at nearly every resort, may not be possible for that particular resort’s beach and will require you go (transfers included) to a sister resort to ski.
  • Scuba diving clinics and lessons do NOT mean “free scuba diving” – though most of the resorts DO include free scuba diving, read the fine print to be sure.
  • Deep Sea Fishing is generally NOT included at these resorts (with the rare exception at one or two Fijian resorts). Deep Sea Fishing is often available and often an expensive “option”.
  • Land Tours are seldom included at resorts (with the obvious exception of the Aventura Spa Palace Resort in Mexico) but are also available at an additional cost.
  • Laundry is seldom included at resorts (with the exception of Grand Lido Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Jamaica) but is available at an additional cost in most resort settings in the Caribbean.
  • Gift shops and spa services generally are “optional” venues though a few resorts do offer credits or massage inclusions beginning at various room categories.
  • Though we say the all-inclusive concept means “leave your wallet at home”, common sense has to dictate that there WILL be a few things you will likely want to pay for and/or purchase. ALSO, “leaving your wallet at home” doesn’t mean for you to also leave you credit cards at home … at check-in, many resorts require you to offer a credit card against “possible additional expense items” to be used only if you charge gift shop, spa, laundry to your room … or for phone calls.
  • Know before you go … think through what is included- what you might (or might not) want to do that is NOT included, etc.
  • Physical impairments – from anything as simple as a sprained toe to needing a walker or wheel chair … there are a few resorts that are simply NOT friendly for the physically impaired – too hilly, no elevators, no ramps, etc., so be sure to let us know before you make a final resort selection … or if that sprained ankle happens just before departure also let us know – we will notify the resort and make every effort to be sure you have accommodations suitable to your needs.
  • Mental impairments – in this case we are talking about ATTITUDE, ATTITUDE, ATTITUDE … (also see “The Smart Money” above) … yet another old axiom (sorry about that) is “knowledge is power” and in this instance it also means your awareness and understanding of your vacation is going to go A LONG, LONG WAY to making your vacation just GREAT!  Though these things don’t happen very often (and seldom happen in pairs) they DO happen and by understanding and being prepared for the “potential” really helps you along:
  • Flights ARE delayed – sometimes you expect to arrive at your destination before noon only to get in just after the OTHER 12:00 (midnight) … not fun, not good … you’ve lost the better part of a day … but if you let this make you “miserable” you are doing yourself an injustice … you still have nearly ALL your vacation left – don’t let “miserable” be the first emotion you have on vacation!


  • Flights ARE cancelled – and you have to be rescheduled on the next available flight - this is a rarity (and why trip protection plans are so widely taken) – there isn’t much to say here except see #a  just above.
  • It rains and rains and rains – not good but, unless attitudinally impaired, also not the worst thing in life … you are STILL “away from the maddening crowds” and on vacation … make the best of it … spend more time together (isn’t that one of the reasons for this vacation?) … meet people … people watch … plan ahead for what you just might want to do on a rainy day!
  • Bags don’t arrive when you do … or … bags NEVER arrive (also a rarity) … make sure you have all the basic essentials in your carry-on bags (see “Packing” above) and spend a few dollars to buy some new resort wear ! and then do what you are supposed to do … VACATION! (again, yet another reason why trip protection plans are so widely taken).
  • Inappropriate resort service, other problems? – DON’T BE SHY and DON’T PONDER or BROOD over it – do something about it IMMEDIATELY … go to the General Manager and explain the issue!
  • And Lastly (and DEFINITELY by far the LEAST) don’t believe everything you hear from other vacationers – the phrase “the last liar is always the best liar” can sometimes be applied to the mindset of a certain caliber of vacationer! NO ONE wants to admit or say “they paid more” or “they got less” than someone else … so, some vacationers are known for their particular style of “one-upmanship” trying to make YOU just a little uncomfortable and uneasy and make THEMSELVES just a little more comfortable and easy … because (as they will let you know without even asking) THEY got more and paid less and got special treatments and on and on and on … right into “barfidom” … if you’ve done your homework you can be very comfortable in the knowledge that YOU got the right deal and  YOU aren’t the ones needing to prove something to someone else. What to do? Just enjoy the show … consider it’s an added feature to the resort’s comedy entertainment schedule.
  • CRUISE INFORMATION:
    Minor Guests
    Guests under the age of 21 years must be accompanied by a parent, relative or guardian 25 years of age or older in the same stateroom. The only exception to this policy is when parents are traveling with their children in different cabins.
    Pregnancy - Are you pregnant and how many months at the time of the cruise? You must be under 27  weeks or you will be denied boarding. Insurance will not cover a pregnancy.
    Submitting Incorrect Legal Names and Spellings will result in a denial to board the ship. There is a $ 50.00 charge per person to correct the names.  

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