Getting there

Air


Operating from Madrid,
Iberia Airlines
, www.iberia.com, has non-stop flights to Cuba, while
Air France, www.airfrance.com, and
KLM, www.klm.com, have weekly departures to the Caribbean.
British Airways, www.britishairways.com, has direct flights from London to Antigua, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. From the USA,
American Airlines, www.aa.com, and
Continental Airlines, www.continental.com, have an extensive route network across the Caribbean.
Virgin Atlantic, www.virgin-atlantic.com, is also worth checking out.

In addition to the scheduled flights, there are a great many charter flights from Europe and North America. For details on both types of service, you are advised to consult a good travel agent. An agent will also be able to tell you if you qualify for any student or senior citizen discount on offer. From the USA, Puerto Rico and Antigua are the only islands to which student fares are available; it is worth checking these out since it may be cheaper to take a student flight then continue to your destination rather than flying direct to the island of your choice. If buying tickets routed through the USA, check that US taxes are included in the price. At certain times of the year,
Air France
have flights at very advantageous prices from several southern French cities and Paris to Guadeloupe and Martinique. A good way to save money is to keep an eye on website special offers. BA and Virgin Atlantic often have a bit of a price battle early in the year with discounts on flights to the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Many islands insist that visitors have an air ticket to their home country before being allowed to enter; for non-US citizens travelling to the Caribbean from the USA, this means a ticket from the USA to their home country, not a ticket back to the USA. Tickets to other countries will not suffice. This becomes a problem if you are not going home for 12 months since airline tickets become void after a year. Some airlines sell tickets on the six- to 12-month extended payment plan; these can be credited when you have left the islands with restrictive entry requirements. Even if you propose to take some boat trips between islands, we recommend that you purchase flights in advance and refund those that have not been used later.

Sea


Cruise lines

The most popular way of visiting the Caribbean by ship is on a cruise liner. It is possible to break your journey for a few days if you want to stay on an island but you will have to check with the company to see whether they can pick you up later. There are also sailing cruisers (eg the Windjammer and Star Clipper fleets) which allow flexible itineraries for cruising between the islands.
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
, www.windjammer.com
, which operates five tall-masted ships (
Flying Cloud
, British Virgin Islands;
Legacy
, US and British Virgin Islands;
Mandalay
, Leeward and Windward Islands;
Polynesia
, French West Indies;
Yankee Clipper
, Grenadines) and a supply ship (
Amazing Grace
), can be contacted direct in Florida. The supply ship,
MV Amazing Grace
, sails every month from West Palm Beach, picking up southbound passengers in Freeport, Bahamas and visiting lots of islands as it meets up with the
Windjammer
tall ships, delivering monthly supplies, before turning round in Trinidad after two weeks and stopping at different ports from the southbound trip.

Cargo ships

For cargo ships carrying passengers, it is recommended that you enquire in your own country. In general, it is very difficult to secure a passage on a cargo ship from Europe to the Caribbean without making full arrangements in advance. Round trips are easier to organize than one-way passages, although some companies are now offering a flight home. Fares range from about US$70-130 per person per day; cheaper than a passenger cruise, but without the continuous entertainment.


This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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