Budget Travelers Impacted By Hurricane Season

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Hurricanes Irma and Maria are bringing high winds and destruction to beautiful vacation destinations.

Many budget travelers are in the Caribbean during the fall months because prices are lower during the hurricane season. These travelers have been looking forward to a dream vacation on a tropical island only to find a threat to their lives barreling toward them.

Most all inclusive resorts have reduced prices during the fall months as hurricanes are more likely during September, October and November. In addition to low prices, all inclusive resorts are less crowded during the fall months. If you get a great week of weather, all inclusive resort vacations in the fall can be a great value. The problem is the hurricanes are growing bigger and more frequent.

If you decide to plan a fall budget vacation at an all inclusive resort, make sure you do your research. There’s a path many hurricanes take toward the northern islands in the Caribbean. The closer you get to Venezuela, the lower the chance of a hurricane.

Make sure to look at the cancellation policy of your chosen resort before you book your vacation. Most hurricanes develop over many weeks. You might have a chance to see a hurricane coming before you leave home. That is the worst time to wonder what the cancellation policy is. Understand it before you make your purchase.

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Divi Carina Bay All Inclusive Resort in St. Croix Survives Hurricane Irma

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The Divi Carina Bay All Inclusive Resort in St. Croix avoided the fate of many other resorts destroyed by Hurricane Irma. The resort experienced high winds, but suffered only minor damage. All staff and guests are safe and sound. The resort will need time to clean up, but the timeline should be fairly short due to the limited damage from the hurricane. However, hurricane Jose is churning toward the island with potential for doing more damage depending on which path the storm takes through the Caribbean.

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Cayo Coco All Inclusive Resorts In Cuba Blasted By Hurricane Irma

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All inclusive resorts in the Cayo Coco area of Cuba are taking a direct hit from hurricane Irma. If you have reservations at these resorts, start looking now into flight and resort cancellation policies. Follow your chosen resort on social media to get updates and to see pictures. The pictures from Barbuda and the Virgin Islands show terrible destruction. The damage will be similar or worse near Cayo Coco as hurricane Irma stayed south with a direct hit on Cuba.

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Beaches Turks & Caicos Hit By Hurricane Irma

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Beaches Turks & Caicos Family All Inclusive Resort experienced high wind gusts from Hurricane Irma. Many palm trees on the property were blown down, but the damage to buildings was minor. Beaches Turks & Caicos will be closed until a full assessment and repairs are completed.

Here’s the official statement from the staff at Beaches Turks & Caicos All Inclusive Resort:

Beaches Turks & Caicos can now report that following the passing of Hurricane Irma, the strongest storm ever reported in the Atlantic Ocean, all guests and staff are safe and comfortable on resort. Although the airport remains closed at this time, the team will work with local authorities to determine a timetable for safe passage home for all guests. As soon as the airport reopens, our team will conduct a full assessment of the resort and announce a reopening date. As always, we are committed to guest safety and want to ensure we deliver the experience travelers have come to expect from Beaches Turks & Caicos. Guests impacted should call 1-800-BEACHES as soon as possible to adjust upcoming vacation plans. Although it appears the worst of Hurricane Irma’s impact has now passed for the majority of the Caribbean, our thoughts remain with our brothers and sisters throughout the region, as well as those in its path in the US.

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Blackouts From Spiked Alcohol Drinks At All Inclusive Resorts In Mexico

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The past 18 months have witnessed a disturbing trend of blackouts at all inclusive resorts in Mexico.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a study that found reports of blackouts at the following resorts: Paraiso del Mar, Iberostar Paraiso Maya, Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Iberostar Cancun, Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, Grand Oasis Cancun, Secrets Akumal, Riviera Maya, and the Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an.

Blackouts have occurred in many resort areas of Mexico. It doesn’t appear to be related to any specific type of alcohol. This leads most people to conclude someone is spiking the drinks. Many people who have blacked out have reported being robbed. Others have reported vomiting, behavior changes and lingering effects that are often consistent with the effects of date rape drugs.

Hopefully the authorities will discover if there is a person or group of people spiking drinks with drugs to rob people. In the mean time, please take precautions. Leave your valuables locked in your room. Only go out in groups and if possible try to keep one person sober who will be responsible for maintaining the safety of the group.

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Regent Seven Seas Offers Best All Inclusive Cruise

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Most cruise lines don’t offer all inclusive cruising.

Manu cruise companies try to add extra fees whenever possible.  They charge extra for beverages, force customers to pay gratuities, and load any other type of charges on to your bill.

Regent Seven Seas is different.  They offer an all inclusive cruise that really is all inclusive.  Shore excursions, specialty restaurants, premium beverages, wifi, etc… are all included.  You can finally relax on the cruise without worrying how high your bill will be when you get off the ship.

Many cruise lines add a gratuity charge to your bill, but this is also included in the quoted price on Regent Seven Seas all inclusive cruises.

Is it expensive?  Yes.  Regent Seven Seas is a luxury cruise line with large rooms and all the perks of taking a luxury vacation.  The last thing you want to worry about when you finally take your vacation is a cruise line trying to add extra charges whenever they can.  This isn’t a worry on Regent Seven Seas cruise ships.  Once you pay the cost of the vacation and board the ship, your only job is to enjoy your vacation.

 

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Margaritaville All Inclusive Resorts

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Karisma Hotels & Resorts is changing some of their all inclusive resorts to the Margaritaville name.   The Margaritaville brand already has numerous hotels, resorts and restaurants but the Karisma resorts will be their first entry into the all inclusive market.

The specific Karisma all inclusive resorts being rebranded have not been announced yet.

The announcement follows a trend in the all inclusive market of big brands being used to help all inclusive resorts stick out in a crowded market.  Hard Rock, Panama Jack, Nickelodeon, etc… have all combined their brands with all inclusive resort companies in recent years.

 

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Panama Jack All Inclusive Resorts

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The Gran Caribe in Cancun and the Gran Porto in Playa del Carmen will become the first two Panama Jack all inclusive resorts.

Panama Jack is a company that makes sunscreen and beach apparel.

Panama Jack is joining with Playa Hotels and Resorts to rebrand numerous all inclusive resorts.  A multi-million dollar rebranding effort will be launched in the next few months.

Playa Hotels and Resorts had already joined forces with the Hyatt brand for some of their all inclusive resorts.  These resorts will remain with the Hyatt brand as other resorts are switched to the Panama Jack brand.

Many all inclusive resorts have been joining forces with popular brands.  Hard Rock Resorts and the new Nickelodeon all inclusive resort are examples of this trend.

Expect this rebranding trend to continue.  Many all inclusive resorts have fairly generic names that include their destination.  As more all inclusive resorts are built, it is difficult for individual resorts to stand out.  Combining forces with recognizable brand names will help the individual resorts stand out in the crowded field of options.

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Automatic Gratuity Fees On Cruise Ships

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Many cruise lines charge automatic gratuity fees.

Royal Caribbean adds $14 – $20 per day to your bill.

These charges are not included in the price quoted.

This is a rip off…

If cruise companies want customers to help subsidize their labor costs, these costs should be included in the price quoted, not automatically added to the final bill of the cruise customer.

I fully support tipping for good service.  I don’t support forced tipping.

I hope all inclusive resorts never adopt this policy.

There are services at all inclusive resorts (such as spa treatments and scuba certification) that are sometimes added to your bill, but adding a line item for gratuity (without adding it to the quoted price) would make many of us very mad.

If all inclusive resorts ever do this, don’t just accept it.  Tell the manager you don’t like charges added to your bill.  Tell the manager you will make sure everyone who asks about your vacation will hear about your opposition to forced charges you didn’t authorize or know about.

Another question to ask all resorts and cruise ships is if they charge for internet service.  Most of us have come to expect free internet service from businesses.  Most all inclusive resorts include internet service, but some cruise ships charge a daily fee.  This is another way cruise ships nickel and dime their customers after offering a lower rate in their advertisements.  Cruise ships know people want internet service on their vacation.  Not including it in the price of the cruise is a scam.

The basic message here is to know what is included in your vacation as you compare vacation options.  Many cruise companies have taken the strategy of offering a lower up front price then forcing you to buy basic services once you are trying to enjoy your vacation.

 

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