Tropic Breeze Caribbean & Maldives Holidays

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Caribbean -> Caribbean Travel Notes

Travel Notes for travelling to the Caribbean


Introduction

Thank you for booking a Tropic Breeze holiday. We hope that you will enjoy a fantastic break and that the following notes and tips will help you to make the most of your holiday. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Passports & Visas

Check your passport now. It must be valid for a period of 6 months after your scheduled return.  If you do not hold a full British passport it is essential that you check if you need a visa with the relevant consulate.

Flight seats, meal requests and tickets

If you have a specific seating request or require a special meal, please advise us as soon as possible and we will request these. Please note that seats can be booked with British Airways via their website at an additional charge, we need to issue your tickets to allow you to do this and may require a larger non-refundable deposit to cover the cost.  It is not possible to pre book seats by the emergency exits.  With Virgin, you can select your seats online in Economy at a charge and in Premium and Upper class free of charge.  This can be done from the time of booking, you just need to ask for your Virgin Atlantic locator.   All seat requests are made in good faith, however, occasionally due to loading or aircraft changes, you may be offered different seating at the airline’s discretion.

Your tickets will be sent as soon as we receive them from the airline, this is usually not until about 2 - 4 weeks prior to departure. We will post them to the address of the party leader on the booking form.

If you are flying with BA or Virgin, in the UK you can check in before you leave home & print your own boarding passes, dropping your bags at the fast bag drop on arrival at the airport. Alternatively use one of the self check-in terminals at the airport and avoid the queue.  For security reasons, the airline system occasionally selects passengers at random for manual check-in.  In this case, you will not be able to check in online and will have to present your ticket to a member of check in staff at the airport.

Please check the confirmation invoice and remember to check your tickets as soon as they arrive. Contact us immediately in the unlikely event that there is a mistake. The surname and first name must be the same as they appear on your passport.  Also check the departure time & airport terminal of all flights – occasionally this will vary from the confirmation invoice.

Vaccinations

We strongly suggest that you check now with your GP, as most vaccinations need to be administered at least 4 weeks before departure (some require several boosters). For up to date advice there is a leaflet ‘Health Advice to Travellers ‘available from the department of health.

Photocopy your tickets, insurance certificate and passports

We recommend that you photocopy your tickets, insurance certificate and passports and keep the copy separately in your luggage/hand luggage. If you are unlucky enough to lose any of these documents, this could save you a lot of time!

What to Pack

Cash or Travellers Cheques?

We suggest you take US$ cash, but not more than the limit on your insurance policy.  There are ATMs in all the major towns and at some of the bigger airports.  All major credit cards are widely accepted.  Please note change will be given in local currency.

If you want to take travellers cheques we suggest that you take US$ travellers cheques, as they are widely accepted and it will save a visit to the Bank.  Remember to save some local currency (or US dollars) for your departure tax.

Island Local Currency Other Currencies
Anguilla EC Dollars US Dollars
Antigua EC Dollars US Dollars
Barbados BDS Dollars US Dollars
BVI US Dollars None
Dominica EC Dollars US Dollars
Grenada EC Dollars US Dollars
Jamaica Jamaica Dollars US Dollars
St Barths Euros None
St Kitts & Nevis EC Dollars US Dollars
St Lucia EC Dollars US Dollars
St Vincent & The Grenadines EC Dollars US Dollars
Tobago TT Dollars US Dollars

 


Luggage

Most people pack more than they will wear on the basis that it’s better to be safe than sorry! 

Please note that the baggage allowance for internal flights within the Caribbean (i.e. flights with an LI prefix) is ONE bag per passenger, maximum weight 23Kg (which is less than the BA free baggage allowance in World Traveller Plus, Club World and First Class cabins).  This allowance is not reflected on tickets.  If your baggage exceeds this allowance you may be asked to pay excess baggage charges at the transit point, and your extra bag(s) may have to be flown on a later flight.  Flights with Grenadine Airways (GAL/SVG prefix) and other small regional airlines have a baggage allowance of 20Kg per person.

Dress in the Caribbean is generally very informal, but if you are staying in one of the Plantation Houses or more formal hotels, it is expected that guests will wear covered shoes, as opposed to flip flops, a dress or trousers and shirt with collar for dinner.  Please note that camouflaged clothing and accessories are illegal on most Caribbean islands and may not be worn or used.  Most holiday items, such as sun cream, etc are widely available, but you may not be able to purchase your favourite brand.

Departure Planning

Caribbean transatlantic flights usually last at least 8 hours and Caribbean time is 5 hours behind UK time (4 hours in winter). For example, if you depart from Gatwick at 1030 you will arrive about 1830 UK time, which is 1430 local time in winter, 1330 in summer if you have an onward connecting flight there will usually be at least a 2 hour transit wait. It is therefore a very long day.

If you live a long way from your departure airport, remember that on your return you will face a drive after an overnight flight. Most inbound transatlantic flights arrive back in the UK about 0630.

Travel to the Caribbean

Departure day

All Gatwick Virgin flights depart from North Terminal, British Airways & Monarch from South Terminal.

Most of our flights leave early/mid-morning. We recommend that you check in at least 2 hours before the departure time of a scheduled flight and 3 hours for a charter flight.   Please note that the times on itineraries and tickets are in 24 hour format.

DVT

Recent press reports have highlighted the dangers of sitting still on aircraft for long periods, which can cause blot clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis).  If you are worried about this you are advised to consult your GP.

On arrival at gateway airport

You will feel the heat and humidity. It is a good idea to save a bottle of water on the plane, which will be very welcome whilst you are queuing to clear immigration and Customs.
Connecting flights
If you are travelling on a scheduled flight you can sometimes check your luggage through to your final destination.  On arrival at Antigua or Barbados you do not need to clear immigration, simply go to the transit check in desk in the arrivals hall (before immigration control).  You will be issued with your boarding card and can then go through to the departure lounge.  You may need to collect your bags and check them in again for your onward flight.  It is always worth checking with the local staff on the status of the bags as they will be able to advise on whether you should retrieve them or leave them to the baggage handlers.  However, due to the increased risk of losing your baggage in transit, you may wish to pack some essentials in your hand baggage.

There are transit check-in desks for a number of airlines in the arrivals hall, before immigration for inter-island flights and after immigration, by the baggage reclaim area, for international departures including BA.

If you are travelling on a charter flight you will always have to clear immigration into the country, collect your bags and go to the departure area to check in for your next flight.

On first arrival after a long flight, the system appears haphazard and disorganised – but don’t worry it somehow works and people are rarely left behind, even when the transatlantic flights arrive late – local airlines usually wait.  If you do miss your connecting flight, see below ‘what to do when things go wrong.’  Full details of your specific arrangements will be included in your ticket package.

On arrival at your final destination

Transfers

Included in almost all of our holidays will be a transfer, please hand your transfer voucher to the relevant representative on arrival at your final destination airport.  We do not include the cost of any child seats for use in transfer vehicles because local standards may not meet European standards.  We recommend you take your own car seats if you require them.  They can be carried free of charge on all UK departing airlines.

Road traffic

Traffic drives on the left on all the islands in our brochure (except St Barths), but many people drive imported American left-hand drive cars and some drivers, find this very confusing.  Take extreme care when crossing a road.

Car hire

If you have booked a hire car we suggest that you collect it the next morning, or have it delivered to your hotel.  You will need to purchase a local driving licence, which the hire company can arrange.  Many hire cars will not be the latest model (due to high import duties on some islands) and may be either left-hand or right-hand drive.

Hotel rooms

Your hotel room will have been booked for you at the time you made your booking with us and any special requests such as for specific rooms, twin beds etc. will have been sent to the hotel.  Whilst the hotel will do its utmost to accommodate these requests, these requests are not guaranteed.

Arrival taxes

Visitors to the British Virgin Islands will be charged an Environmental & Tourism Improvement levy of US$10 per person upon arrival into The BVI payable by cash or credit card.  The money collected will be used to facilitate environmental protection and improvement, climate change and the maintenance and development of tourist sites and other tourism related activities.

Etiquette & Local Culture

Most West Indians are charming laid back people who give tourists a very warm welcome and enjoy talking about their home.

Religion

The majority of West Indians are practising Christians and regular churchgoers.

Nudity/topless sunbathing

Please be discreet!  Topless sunbathing is illegal on many islands!

Drugs

There is a zero tolerance policy throughout the Caribbean and harsh penalties for offenders.

Tipping & tax

It is customary to tip for service at 10%.  In addition, Government tax of between 7 & 10% is added to all items. In many restaurants and bars the bill will include tax and service.

Telephone calls

To dial the UK from the Caribbean, dial the international access code (011) followed by the Country code (44 for the UK) followed by the number you wish to call in the UK omitting the 0 from the area code, e.g. Tropic Breeze would be 011 44 1752 880 880.

Excursions

There are many excursions available, your hotel manager and our representatives will have full details.  Always check that your insurance covers you for the intended activity.  In particular this applies to horse riding, windsurfing and scuba diving (not snorkelling) which are generally not included in a standard holiday insurance policy.


Health & Safety

Swimming

None of the hotels that we feature employ a pool attendant or lifeguard, so never permit your children to swim in a hotel pool without adult supervision.  Remember, always check the depth of a pool before entering it and never dive into a pool unless you are absolutely certain it is sufficiently deep.  When swimming or snorkelling in the sea, always check local conditions.  There are many dangerous currents and uneven sea beds in the Caribbean and there are no warning signs or lifeguards.  Never stand on coral or break off a bit as a souvenir.

Slippery tiles

Many tiles in bedrooms, bathrooms, pool surrounds and public areas may become very slippery when wet so please exercise extra care in these areas.

Sunburn & dehydration

In a tropical environment you are much closer to the sun than in Mediterranean latitudes.  It is extremely easy to get seriously burnt.  Exercise extreme caution and wear a sunhat. Similarly, dehydration is a common problem, drink plenty of water!

Machioneel tree

Avoid sitting under a machioneel tree as the sap is poisonous and can cause a skin irritation.

Insect bites

There are mosquitos throughout the Caribbean, so we advise you to use insect repellents and mosquito nets (where provided).  There have been recent reports of outbreaks of chikungunya disease.  Chikungunya symptoms include sudden onset of flu like illness with fever, muscle pain, headache and a rash, it can also cause joint pain for several months.  The mosquitos that spread chikungunya bite in the day.  To minimise the risk of being bitten, use insect repellents, wear appropriate clothing and mosquito nets where provided.

Child car seats

We do not include the cost of any child seats for use in transfer vehicles because local standards may not meet European standards.  We recommend you take your own car seats if you require them.  They can be carried free of charge on all UK departing airlines.  You can rent car seats locally at your own risk.

Re-confirming flights

It is not normally necessary to reconfirm flights with BA, Virgin or Monarch, but we recommend that you do reconfirm LIAT flights 48 to 18 hours before your return. This gives the airline the opportunity to advise you of any changes in the itinerary.  We cannot accept liability if you miss your return flight as a result of not reconfirming your flight.  Our reps or the hotel will usually be able to assist with reconfirmations on your behalf.

Return travel

Allow plenty of time to get to the airport, particularly if you are using a connecting inter-island flight.  Check out time at hotels is normally 1200 and all-inclusive privileges often cease at this time.  .

Remember to keep some cash for your departure tax - US$15 - US$40 per person, (varies from island to island, some are now included in your international ticket price) or the equivalent in local currency, payable at check-in, in cash (only). Please be aware that no US dollar bills with any tear, however small, are accepted by the airlines.

What to do if things go wrong

Please refer to details supplied on your transfer and accommodation vouchers where you will find the relevant telephone numbers for you to contact.  If you have an emergency which cannot be dealt with locally and is out of normal UK office hours, please call one of our emergency mobile numbers, +44 7966 583 555 or +44 7966 500 684.

If you miss your transatlantic flight

You should go to the check-in desk and explain the circumstances.  It may be possible to obtain seats via a different routing or with another carrier, but you will have to meet the cost.   If your late arrival is due to the failure of public transport, then you may be able to recover the cost from your travel insurance.

If you miss your connecting inter-island flight (Outbound)

There are frequent inter island flights and the airline will usually be able to get you seats on the next flight, usually the same day.  If it is full you can ask to go on standby and will often get a seat (If you do, keep your luggage with you in case you don’t get on).  This will not involve further cost but the tickets are not transferable to another airline.  If you have arrived on a delayed scheduled flight it will usually be that airline’s responsibility and they will arrange overnight accommodation and meet the cost involved.  If you travelled transatlantic on a charter flight, it will not be the airline’s responsibility, but you should be able to recover any additional costs incurred from your travel insurance.  Remember to obtain receipts to support a claim and evidence that your preceding flight was late.

If your luggage does not arrive

Report the loss to the airline together with the address of the hotel or charter company base.  Your luggage will usually arrive on the next flight and will be delivered to you.  It is useful to have a photo of your luggage as this will assist the ground handlers in the identification of your bags.

If you miss your connecting inter-island flight (Inbound)

We allow a minimum of 120 minutes connection time in order to minimise
the risk of missing a transatlantic flight.  However, if you are likely to
miss your onward flight, you must advise the LIAT staff at check-in and we
suggest that you also telephone our reps (number on transfer voucher) to
advise them of the situation.  They will not be able to hold the plane for you,
but will be able to advise if the flight is late, or whether there is another flight
back to the UK from a different Caribbean Island.

If you miss the transatlantic flight due to the failure of public transport, your travel insurance will normally meet the additional costs involved in returning home.  However, you have a duty to mitigate the cost, you should ring your insurer’s operations department for approval before incurring costs.  Remember to obtain written confirmation from the airline of the scheduled and actual arrival time.

If your flight is delayed overnight or cancelled

If a delay in your flight means you have to spend an extra night, either at the UK airport or in your final destination, the cost of this will usually be met by the airline, there will be limitations on your expenditure which will be notified to you by local airline staff at the time.  If your flight is cancelled, the airline will do everything it can to ensure you are on the next available service.  Please check with your travel insurance company regarding any compensation they may offer in these circumstances.

If you have an accident

If the accident is minor, check your insurance details as you can usually obtain receipts for treatment and medication and make a claim from your insurer as soon as you return to the UK.  If the accident is more serious, ring your insurers 24 hour medical helpline as soon as possible.  They will take control and arrange appropriate medication and repatriation.

If you need to return home urgently

The tickets included in our package are only valid for travel on the appropriate day.  Airlines will do their best to accommodate passengers at short notice on compassionate grounds.  Ring the local office of the airline you travelled out with, or contact our representatives who will be able to help you.

Finally...

We hope that you will have a superb holiday.  If there is anything else that you would have liked to know in advance please let us know so that we can update these notes.  We would be very pleased to hear from you on your return and learn how your holiday went and anything that we could do to improve our service. 

Updated 22 May 2018
 

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