AAA: The Carribean is open for business

Published 4:07 pm Friday, October 13, 2017

While some islands continue to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, AAA wants travelers to know the majority of the Caribbean is still open for business.

“The Caribbean needs us now more than ever,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “These islands heavily rely on tourism to stimulate their economies. While a small number of islands work to recover, the majority are welcoming travelers right now.

“Cruise lines have identified alternative ports to give affected islands time to recover, and to ensure passengers get the tropical vacation they envisioned,” Evans continued. “As a result, Hawaii has become a popular alternative destination for some travelers. However, there is still incentive to sail the Caribbean. Cruise and tour companies are offering as much as 30-50 percent off the price for select departures to the Caribbean through the end of this year.”

The vast majority of ports in the Caribbean are now operational. Of the 62 ports in the Caribbean, approximately 75 percent (47) are welcoming cruise ships, according to the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). AAA experts recommend travelers talk with their travel agent about the popular Caribbean destinations that are listed as ‘open’ for their upcoming travels. Ports listed as ‘closed’ are working quickly to reopen, and many hope to welcome cruise ships back before the end of the year.

In addition, the Florida Keys have reopened to travelers – ahead of schedule – following Hurricane Irma.

For anyone planning a trip to a destination recently affected by a storm, AAA Travel experts offer the following tips:

Work with a travel agent – A trusted travel agent can serve as the travelers’ advocate, helping them remain informed and assisting with any itinerary changes that need to be made in the event of a storm.

Purchase travel insurance – Travel insurance is designed to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen events, such as hurricanes. Typically, travelers must have purchased travel insurance prior to a storm being “named” to receive hurricane-related coverage benefits.

Stay informed – Before, during and after a storm, travelers should check with their travel providers—including hotels, airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines, and tour operators—for the latest updates to itineraries or cancellation and rebooking policies.

Be flexible – In the event of a hurricane, travel plans may be disrupted, even for those not traveling to an affected area.

Share your plans – Before any international trip, enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.

Check for Diamonds – AAA’s professional inspectors conduct on-site evaluations of nearly 59,000 Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants across the Caribbean, United States, Canada and Mexico.