60 Second Geography – Aruba

 

Aruba is a relatively small island, only 20 miles long and slightly less than 6 miles across at its widest point.  It is one of the Dutch “ABC islands” consisting of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao and only 19 miles off the north shore of Venezuela. It’s easy to get around in Aruba.  The public bus is efficient and runs through the hotel zone.  Taxis, cars, motorcycles and bicycles are also available for rent.

  • They must do something right in Aruba.  It has the highest hotel occupancy rates and the highest rate of return visitors of any destination in the Caribbean.
  • Aruba’s leading industry is relaxation.  Over 500,000 people visit each year, bringing a lot of money to the island.  As a result, Aruba is quite prosperous by Caribbean standards.  The locals have good housing, healthcare and education. There is very little history of racial or social strife, so the inhabitants are friendly, warm and open with travelers.
  • The city of Oranjestad is the capital and was named after the first king of the Dutch Royal Family, Willem van Orange-Nassau, in 1824.  In Oranjestad you’ll find the Aruba Historical Museum and the oldest building in Aruba, Fort Zoutman (1796).
  • One of the real graces of Aruba is its near-perfect weather–a nearly constant phenomenon of sunny skies, warm temperatures, and cool breezes driven off the Caribbean.  This island’s low humidity and desert-like terrain is likewise nearly a full-time affair as it almost never rains and the island is far below the hurricane belt of the Caribbean.
  • Aruba’s beaches are some of the best in the Caribbean with miles of white, sugary sand.  The nearly picture-perfect beach settings and gentle surf are what many people have in mind when they think of this part of the world.  Aruba is a desert island full of cacti, iguanas, a few aloe-vera plants and unusual boulder formations.
  • While the resort area of the island has very calm, pristine beaches, the north coast features craggy limestone cliffs, caves, sand dunes, and a more energetic surf.
  • In Aruba, there are plenty of activities.  It’s a great place to experience snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing or kite surfing.  Both experienced and novice practitioners of all these sports find great outlets on Aruba.  When you tire of the beach you can dine at the restaurants or do some local shopping.
  • Are you ready to getaway to picture perfect Aruba?  Contact Island Time Travel and get started.
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Police investigate two separate deaths on cruise ship

These tragic deaths today while on a vacation away from home once again highlight the importance of always protecting your travel investment with insurance.  If you were on a cruise with a loved one, and he or she died during the cruise, did you ever think about such issues as who you would call for help, how you would cover your unanticipated living expenses while having to stay at that port of call, or how you would get your loved one’s body home?

Even the best-planned trip can incur unforeseen issues.  Travel insurance should really be thought of more as travel protection, because it is much more than just trip cancellation insurance.  Most all reputable providers, such as TravelSafe, include a 24/7 worldwide customer service help line for medical, legal, or other emergency assistance, and include medical evacuation coverage as well as coverage for repatriation of remains.

Read the article from msnbc.com here.

Related: The Value of Travel Insurance–It’s a Must Have

Hurricane Rina closes in on Mexican beach resorts

(Reuters) – Hurricane Rina closed in on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula on Tuesday, threatening beach resorts like Cancun with heavy rain and dangerous waves but steering clear of oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rina, now a Category Two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale packing winds of 110 mph, is on the cusp of becoming a major hurricane.  When sustained winds hit 111 miles per hour storms are considered major Category Three hurricanes.

Authorities in Cancun were preparing 50 shelters ahead of Rina, which is expected to make landfall on Thursday morning. Worried residents cleared out store shelves of emergency supplies like water and canned tuna in case businesses decide to shut down.

“They have already started putting away beach chairs and umbrellas at the hotel just to be safe,” said Michelle Thomson, a vacationing accountant from Texas shopping for souvenirs at a mall in Cancun.

Companies that run marine parks around Cancun moved more than two dozen dolphins, some of them pregnant, housed in areas in the hurricane’s path to safer sites further inland.

The storm could slam into other tourist hubs like Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel, popular with scuba divers and cruise ships on the Yucatán Peninsula, and will also graze the small Central American nation of Belize.

Read the full article from Reuters here.  This is one reason why we always recommend travel insurance.  TravelSafe, a leading provider, includes hurricane coverage.

Related: The Value of Travel Insurance–It’s a Must Have

Palace Resorts in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Riviera Maya to become Hard Rock Hotels

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Hard Rock International, having recently teamed with Palace Resorts on Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, will transform Palace Resorts properties in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Riviera Maya into Hard Rock Hotels. These will be “ultimate all-inclusive” properties that bring the acclaimed Hard Rock experience to these popular Mexican tourist destinations.

The new Hard Rock resorts will maintain the same superior quality and exceptional service that Palace Resorts are known for, but now with more rock n’ roll for your enjoyment. Palace Resorts will continue to own and operate each property, just as they do with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. The transformation process will begin in the coming months, with the first Hard Rock-rebranded hotel in Cancun scheduled to launch in Winter 2012, Puerto Vallarta in Spring 2012, followed by a Fall 2012 first-phase debut of Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

Cruising to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, St. Maarten, or Cozumel? Get a Day Pass to an All Inclusive Resort

Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa

Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa

Are you going on a cruise? Are one of these ports on your itinerary? While your ship is in port, relax and play at an all-inclusive beach resort! In Jamaica, you can obtain a pass to either the Sunset Beach Resort in Montego Bay or the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios. Cruisers can enjoy white sand beaches, sparkling pools, savory lunches, snacks, beverages, tropical drinks–all included. Read more about it here.

Recently I participated in an online webinar by Stuart, the owner of Resort For a Day, and learned a lot more about this unique product. I have been on many Caribbean cruises, and I sure wish the Resort for a Day program had been available to me.  Additional properties and islands have been added (please note some of the resorts are not all inclusive):

Jamaica: new port of Falmouth now available (Hilton Rose Hall & Spa)
Grand Cayman: Westin Casurina Resort and Spa on Seven Mile Beach (but not all inclusive)
Barbados: three resorts to choose from (two are not all inclusive), the Almond Casurina is all inclusive
Nassau: Paradise Island Harbour Resort
Freeport: Viva Wyndham
St. Maarten: Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa (not all inclusive, but includes a luxurious guest room, pool and beach lounge chairs, float mats, towels, and more)
Cozumel:  Cozumel Palace (all inclusive)

Some bullet points I learned about this program:
• Resort for a Day is not affiliated with the cruise lines
• Forms of payment accepted: Credit Cards and PayPal
• Full refund if your ship misses the port
• Can cancel up to 11 days prior
• Your admission to the property is reserved and guaranteed, because some resorts place a limit on the number of day passes available to cruise ship passengers.
• The island properties are NOT time shares—you will be treated as a resort guest
• Jamaica: transfers included
• Nassau: transfers not included
• Freeport: transfers included
• Grand Cayman: no food and drink included, but includes beach chair/umbrella and even a room at the Westin Casurina resort, where you can shower and relax! The resort pass is for up to four guests.
• Kids under 3 free

These day passes are as low as $69 per adult, and in many cases, INCLUDE TRANSFERS from the ship to the resort! How many shore excursions offered by the cruise lines are under $70 and include all your food and drink? Read more about it here!

National Cruise Vacation Week

Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas
Next week is National Cruise Vacation Week and most cruise lines will be offering special deals such as price cuts, reduced deposits, on board stateroom credits, and more.

Some examples:

Ama Waterways — Choice of $199 air, triple savings, or solo traveler on select departures

Avalon Waterways — Save up to $2,000 per couple on select 2012 sailings

Azamara Club Cruises — Up to $500 stateroom credit (OBC) on selected oceanview or higher staterooms

Carnival Cruise Line — Fun Select rates and up to $150 cash back per stateroom

Celebrity Cruises — Up to $150 OBC per stateroom

Cunard — Up to $300 OBC on new bookings made 10/17-10/21 only

MSC — Up to $200 SBC per cabin on select sailings

Norwegian Cruise Lines — Up to $250 OBC plus reduced deposit

Princess — Onboard Value Booklet per person (up to $325 value) plus reduced deposit

Regent Seven Seas — $100 per person shipboard credit ($200 per suite) good 10/01-11/15/11

Royal Caribbean — Up to $200 OBC per stateroom on select sailings

Silversea — $200 savings certificate

Windstar — $100 shipboard credit ($200 maximum per stateroom)

Keep in mind that the above examples are dependent on availability and may have certain limitations (e.g., selected sailing dates or stateroom categories).

Contact Island Time Travel for more details.

Also see our National Cruise Vacation Week mini-site with more info and videos!

The Most Photographed Places on Earth

The Most Photographed Places on Earth By: Gap Adventures

What is the most photographed place on earth? The question is of course impossible to answer and one can only muster a guess.  Countless places lay claim to being the most photographed place in the world, including Paris, The Taj Mahal, Walt Disney World, Niagara Falls, Angkor Wat, the Acropolis to name just a small handful.

The only thing that is widely accepted, is that the Sun is the most photographed object (sunsets and sunrises seem to be universally irresistible).  But sticking to “planet earth”, let’s take a look at some of the most photographed subjects around the world.  Judge for yourself if you consider them “photogenic”.

Here is a checklist of sorts, for people, places and things to photograph on your travels. Some of them are famous, while others may seem a little odd.  Either way, whether it’s a bridge or a toilet, some places get all the photographic glory! (Please keep in mind there is no way to verify the following claims.)

  • The Africa “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo) are considered the most photographed animals in the world.
  • La Digue island in the Seychelles claims to be the most photographed island in the world.
  • Santorini is the most photographed island in Greece often considered the most photographed island in Europe.
  • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is considered to be the most photographed event in the world.
  • Table Mountain is the most photographed landmark in South Africa.
  • Den Lille Havfrue (the little mermaid) from Copenhagen is the most photographed statue in the world.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed US landmark, and most photographed bridge in the world.
  • Designed by Frederick Hundertwasser, the Kawakawa public toilets in New Zealand are the most photographed toilets in the world!
  • Neuschwanstein castle in Germany claims to be the most photographed castle in the world.
  • The Eiffel Tower Paris is considered the most photographed structure in Europe.
  • The Evangeline Oak in Louisiana and the Lone Cyprus tree in California are each touted as the most photographed tree in the world.
  • Ayers Rock is the most photographed sunset in Australia.
  • Abbey Road is often considered the most photographed street in the world.
  • Niagara Falls may be the most photographed waterfall in the world.

If you’re ready to take your own photos, contact Island Time Travel to book your next vacation to these pictureque destinations.