Virgin Atlantic expands Caribbean service with new flight to St Vincent

Virgin Atlantic has recently announced the launch of a new service from Europe to St Vincent, with new flights to the Caribbean island departing from London Heathrow.

The twice-weekly service will launch in June 2021 and will operate on the airline’s A330-300 aircraft boasting 31 Upper Class, 48 Premium and 185 Economy Delight, Classic and Light seats. The new service will provide sunseekers and holidaymakers with the opportunity for a luxury break in the white sand beaches and private isles, exploring coral reefs and volcanic landscapes of the Caribbean.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented: ‘We’re delighted to launch the first flight from Europe to St Vincent and the Grenadines with our new twice weekly service planned to launch from June 2021.

‘St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as the Caribbean region as a whole, represent an extremely exciting opportunity for us. With many islands implementing rigorous Covid-19 protocols including testing before arrival and a short quarantine period for visitors, the islands are open for tourism and are a haven for travellers in search of sun. Flights to St Vincent are on sale from November 24, 2020 at www.virginatlantic.com.

‘We’re currently flying to Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and Grenada and expect to restart Tobago in the upcoming months. We look forward to launching this new service to St Vincent next year, welcoming customers onboard heading off on holiday or travelling to visit their loved ones.’

Glen Beache, CEO, St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority said: ‘The government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are extremely pleased to welcome Virgin Atlantic to our shores. It is only fitting that the most diverse destination in the Caribbean works with one of the best airlines in Europe. This partnership will not only change the way in which potential visitors look at us, but it will also play a big role in the number of times the diaspora visit their home yearly. The arrival of Virgin Atlantic will have a positive and lasting effect on the product that is St Vincent and the Grenadines.’

Customers do not need to self-isolate if travelling to England from St Vincent and the Grenadines as St Vincent and the Grenadines is exempt from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential international travel. For those travelling to St Vincent and the Grenadines, travellers from the UK must arrive with a negative PCR test taken by a certified or accredited laboratory within five days of arrival. Passengers will also be retested on arrival and must quarantine for five days in a tourism authority approved hotel, Virgin Atlantic said.

Virgin Atlantic restarted passenger flying on July 20 after a three month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is implementing additional measures.

British Airways launches flights and holiday packages to sun destinations for 2021

British Airways has announced the launch of its holiday programme to sun destinations for 2021.

The airline is offering flights and holiday packages at a discounted rate for travel throughout 2021 to sun destinations across its network, including the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, the Seychelles, Florida and Dubai.

Andrew Brem, British Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: ‘As we edge into the winter months and Brits are asked to stay at home, we know our customers are looking forward to booking warm holidays to get away and soak up some sun. It’s been quite a year, and our very special prices reflect that. With travel dates available in 2021 we’d encourage people to make the most of these special prices and jet off on a well-deserved break.’

The holiday packages on offer include a seven-night beach break with flights and hotel starting from £219 per person (pp) to Lanzarote or Tenerife in the Canary Islands in March 2021.

Holidaymakers looking to enjoy Portuguese sun can fly to the Algarve for a seven-night stay including flights from £199pp, also for travel in March next year.

For those looking to enjoy Caribbean beaches, a seven-night hotel stay and flights are available from £599pp to Saint Lucia in June 2021. Alternatively, customers can choose a seven-night stay and flights to St Kitts from £619pp for travel in May 2021. Barbados is another destination on offer for sun-seekers with a £599pp seven-night stay and flights for travel in June 2021.

Further, the company is offering a seven-night stay (including flights and hotel) to the Seychelles in June 2021 for fares from £999pp. Alternatively, customers may holiday in Mauritius with a seven-night stay and flights from £729pp in the same month.

British Airways Holidays is also offering a three-night stay and flights from £419pp for travel on selected dates to Florida in April and May next year. And finally, customers can take World Traveller flights to Dubai for a minimum of three days from £334 return on selected dates up until June 2021.

The airline’s flexible booking policy offers no change fees, or a voucher exchange, for bookings made during the sunshine campaign. Customers can move their flights or holiday in case of any change of plans, as long as their initial travel dates are before the end of August 2021.

British Airways starts new route to Montego, resumes services to Caribbean Islands

British Airways has recently announced plans to commence a new route between Gatwick and Montego Bay in Jamaica from October 13, 2020.

Montego Bay is a sought-after tourist hotspot, known for its beaches, water sports, resorts and nightlife. Flights to Montego Bay, which will be operated by a three-cabin (World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World) Boeing 777, will depart on Tuesdays and Saturdays and are now on sale on ba.com, with prices starting from £427 return. The Montego Bay service will operate over the winter period until Easter 2021.

As part of its commitment to the Caribbean, the airline resumed flying to Antigua, Barbados, Kingston and Jamaica and St Lucia in July, although with reduced frequencies.

Diane Corrie, British Airways’ commercial manager for the Caribbean, said: ‘We’re excited to be extending our network once again between London Gatwick and the Caribbean with the start of this new flight to Montego Bay in October, as well as resuming our services to Antigua, Barbados, Kingston and St Lucia.

‘We know people are keen to travel and the sunshine and beaches across the Caribbean combined with great resorts and entertainment makes it a winning destination. And with flights to our new Montego Bay route starting from under £500 return, what’s not to love?!’

Colin Pegler, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Chapter UK & Europe, said: ‘The CTO Chapter UK & Europe is greatly encouraged by BA’s return to the Caribbean. As one of the Caribbean’s most crucial and longstanding flight partners we are delighted to see such endorsement from our national carrier. It is vital to the region, our tour operator, hotel and destination partners that the resumption of airlift is quick and comprehensive as we look forward to welcoming tourists once more.’

British Airways has introduced a range of measures to keep its staff and customers safe from the health risks of Covid 19. These include: checking-in online, downloading boarding pass and where possible self-scanning their boarding passes at the departure gate; observing social distancing and using hand sanitisers that are placed throughout airports; wearing a facemask at all times and bringing enough to replace them every four hours for longer flights; urging customers to avoid travel in case of any symptoms of Covid-19; requiring cabin crew to wear PPE and a new food service, which reduces the number of interactions required with customers, among others.

CMV launches Azores cruise to West Indies this winter

In preparation for the winter ahead, CMV has launched a 30-night winter cruise to the West Indies offering UK tourists the warmth of holidays in the Caribbean Islands.

Azores, the new addition to CMV’s fleet, is set to take her maiden CMV Caribbean voyage on January 26 from Bristol Avonmouth. The cruise offers passengers the beauty and splendour of nine idyllic islands, dramatic volcanic sites, palm fringed beaches, tropical rainforests with azure seas, busy markets and picturesque sunsets.

From Avonmouth the voyage will first sail down to Lisbon and then Madeira before sailing across to the islands of the West Indies. This includes visits to Antigua, St. Barts, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada and Barbados.

CMV also offers a range of excursions that include catamaran and boat trips typically with drinks on board, journeys through the jungle, stop offs at beautiful beaches and historic landmarks. On the way back to Bristol, Azores calls into her namesake the Azores – at Ponta Delgada.

Azores accommodates 550 guests. English is spoken throughout the ship, with the cruise marked by live entertainment featuring guest speakers and craft classes.

Guests receive accommodation on a full board basis plus afternoon tea and late night snacks. CMV is currently running a Buy One Get One Free offer at its website.

Also included in the fare is a daytime activities programme, stylish ‘big show’ evening entertainment, complimentary tea and coffee (6am – 10pm) and porterage of luggage from port to cabin.

 

Travel 2 to launch travel agent campaign, focus on Caribbean and Indian Ocean

Travel 2, a UK-based long-haul tour operator, is set to launch its biggest travel agent campaign for five years, with a focus on turning the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean into its ‘cornerstone’ destinations, Travel Weekly has reported.

The tour operator will invest more than £250,000, and partner with companies including British Airways and resorts including Sandals and Elegant Resorts, to launch the six-month marketing initiative.

Agents can win weekly shopping vouchers as well as four seven-night holidays a month, and places on two mega-fam trips to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean in May 2014. As part of the campaign, agents will not know until they get to the airport where they are flying to.

The travel agent campaign has organised nine ‘beach’ parties across the country between now and March. The first two, which took place last week, in London and Birmingham, hosted more than 100 agents each and included beach-themed games, cocktails and spot prizes.

Agents can also vote for their choicest destination via the operator’s Facebook page to win £20 shopping vouchers.

Travel 2 sales and marketing director, Gordon McCreadie, said: ‘We want to put the fun back into travel and make these destinations cornerstones of our business, which they haven’t been before.

‘I want to make the brand as ‘sticky’ as possible to become the operator of choice and a credible player in these destinations,’ McCreadie said. Not a ‘large enough percentage’ think of booking Travel 2 for the Caribbean or Indian Ocean, he added.

The company organised a similar campaign two years ago with a focus on the Middle East, making it the operator’s third-biggest seller. Previously it was not in the top 10.

In the travel business for more than 30 years, Travel 2 is claimed to be a specialist in personalised holidays to Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Middle East, America, Canada and Latin America, as well as for round the world travel. Presently, Travel 2’s top destinations are the US, Australia, the Middle East and Asia.

Specialising in holidays for the independent traveller through travel agency partners, Travel 2 works with some of the world’s top airlines, hotels, car hire and cruise operators. Travel 2 is part of Stella Travel Services, a UK-based integrated travel business.

Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean island retreat reopens for business

The Great House on Necker, Sir Richard Branson’s private Caribbean island, has reopened two years after a devastating fire destroyed it in 2011.

The house, with eight bedrooms, is now ready to accept guests. Part of the Virgin Limited Edition, the Great House is one of a collection of ultra-luxury properties around the world that are available to rent exclusively.

‘Necker Island has been my home for more than 30 years and for me it is the most beautiful place in the world’ The Telegraph has quoted Sir Richard as saying. ‘The brand new Great House is the heart of the island, and I’m thrilled with the results. This signals a new dawn for Necker, which I’m very excited about,’ he added.

Popular with celebrities, The Great House is in the British Virgin Islands and is surrounded by turquoise water, coral reefs and tropical rainforest. The house has views of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and neighbouring islands.

Each of the eight guest rooms has a balcony, and feature kingsize beds and en-suite bathrooms. On the upper level is a 1,500 square foot master suite, which includes a two-person jacuzzi, a stand-alone outdoor bath and a kitchenette area with a fully-stocked fridge.

The entire island, which includes the Great House and six further one-bedroom villas, can be hired for a nightly rate of £37,500. The rate includes food and drink, use of water sports equipment and two tennis courts, as well as transfers from Virgin Gorda or Beef Island airports.

Sir Richard purchased the 74-acre island when he was just 28. It took three years to transform it into a holiday island, with rooms constructed in a Balinese style.

Oscar-winning actress, Kate Winslet, rescued Sir Richard’s 90-year-old mother, Eve, when the fire struck the buildings in August 2011.

Norwegian Cruise Line launches Caribbean Bonus Week in UK

Norwegian Cruise Line is set to launch its Caribbean Bonus Week campaign in the UK this week.

Beginning August 28, the Cruise Line will offer USD200 on-board bonus credit per stateroom to UK customers who book a sailing on its selected cruises set for sail in 2013, 2014 to 2015.

The bonus credit will be available for customers booking between August 28 and September 3, 2013. Prospective travellers can choose from five Freestyle Cruising ships, including Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic, the newest members of the fleet.

Norwegian Getaway, the newest ship in Norwegian’s fleet, will set sail on year-round 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailings from Miami after its debut in February 2014. Getaway is expected to introduce innovation and excitement to the Caribbean with features such as The Illusionarium and the first Grammy experience at sea, as well as entertainment from celebrated Broadway show Legally Blonde.

Also included in the campaign are Norwegian Epic’s new 7-night Western Caribbean from Miami itinerary, sailing to destinations such as Ocho Rios in Jamaica and Mexico’s Costa Maya. The other services on offer are Norwegian Sun’s 10- and 11- night cruises to islands like St. Thomas and St. Maarten, as well as Norwegian Gem’s Eastern Caribbean itinerary from New York.

On board the cruise, guests will be able to spend the bonus money on a range of activities including dining in speciality restaurants such as celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s Ocean Blue on board Norwegian Getaway and Breakaway; taste some exotic range of wines, spirits, beers or soft drinks from around the world in one of the 22 bars and lounges; and/or indulge in special health therapies and treatments in some of the largest spas at sea.

 

Angry Brits stage demonstration at Caribbean hotel

Angry British holidaymakers have staged a sit-in demonstration at a luxury Caribbean hotel, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The protest apparently came about when the British holidaymakers, who had booked their vacation in the Dominican Republic through travel company Thomson, suffered an invasion by a large party of locals on bargain breaks at the luxury resort, ClubHotel Riu Merengue. The rowdy newcomers allegedly defecated in the hotel swimming pool, which forced its closure, and took all of the food from the hotel buffet, leaving none for anyone else. It was also claimed that they urinated on the hotel’s sun loungers while they were in use.

The Daily Mail reported that one of the complainants, Tony Walton from Doncaster in the UK, had had his GBP12,000 family holiday ruined by the invasion, while Thomson had only offered him GBP30 as compensation. He claimed that when complaints were made to hotel staff they suggested that paying for excursions would be a way to escape from the problems at the hotel.

It was Mr Walton who arranged the sit-in at the Thomson desk, attended by between 50 and 60 other disgruntled holidaymakers, a move that eventually gained them a transfer to another hotel with fewer amenities. Mr Walton also claimed that he and a large percentage of the hotel guests had suffered stomach upsets during their stay.

Speaking to MailOnline, a spokesman for Thomson said, ‘Thomson is sorry to hear that Mr Walton was disappointed with his stay at the Riu Merengue in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We are aware that some customers expressed a disappointment with the levels of service during high occupancy and, as a gesture of goodwill, have moved them to a hotel nearby, including Mr Walton’s party. We are not aware of any reported cases of illness and the majority of customers at the hotel have opted to stay and continue their holiday. Thomson takes customer satisfaction very seriously and is currently working with the hotelier to fully investigate Mr Walton’s complaint.’

Mr Walton has said that he will be taking legal advice on his return to the UK.

 

Thomas Cook announces Manchester – Caribbean routes

Thomas Cook Airlines, a British charter airline based in Manchester, UK, has announced new flights to the Caribbean from Manchester Airport.

Providing travellers with an option to London’s current monopoly on routes to St Lucia and Antigua, Thomas Cook will be offering flights to both destinations from Manchester, via Barbados, from next winter.

The new weekly flights are scheduled to operate until the end of April next year, with the Manchester-St Lucia-Barbados route commencing on November 10, and the Manchester-Antigau-Barbados route commencing a month later on December 19. While a proportion of seats will be earmarked for passengers that have booked an accommodation package with Thomas Cook, around 80 percent of seats will be available as flight only. A late morning departure from Manchester is intended to provide passengers with a convenient amount of commuting or transiting time.

For flight only, prices start from £464 return, while accommodation inclusive packages vary in price dependent on duration of stay and level of accommodation.

Christoph Debus, head of air travel for Thomas Cook Group, said, ‘It’s fantastic news that we’re able to offer UK travellers seat-only and holidays from Manchester to some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, initially for the coming winter season. With the recent reduction in connections from Manchester to Gatwick limiting the travel options for those from the Midlands, the North and Scotland to connect with Caribbean flights from London, we’re pleased to be able to offer more flexibility and choice for our customers, competing with the very best scheduled and charter carriers.’

St Barths already preparing for Christmas revelry

Caribbean island, St. Barths, is being decked up to receive the rich and famous for this year’s Christmas holidays, as it has become one of the must-visit holiday destinations for the elite, according to elitetraveller.com.

The tiny island claims to be blessed with all of the natural assets that make it a tourist’s haven. A green-blue harbour and landing strips for private jets are just some of the many facilities that attract celebrities and the well to do.

St. Barths has villas, hotels, spas, restaurants, and numerous recreation options for those who have enough time and money on their hands. The island is especially attractive to migratory tourists intent on escaping the harsh winters in parts of Europe.

The island has ambitious plans to celebrate this year’s festive season, as it sets out to provide its Christmas visitors with a holiday to remember.

St. Barth’s Christmas celebrations will start on December 12, with ‘The Colours of Christmas in St. Barths,’ an annual two-and-half week competition that involves businesses vying with one another to create the best storefront window decorations. A panel of 10 judges will decide on the winners of the competition, and they will be announced at a December 30 cocktail party on Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia.

The Port of Gustavia will host the St. Barths Christmas Village from December 12 to 23, providing ample opportunities for shoppers to choose from the European-style market’s merchandise.

The island also hosts the annual New Year’s Eve Regatta, beginning on December 31st. It is during the Regatta that yacht owners visit the harbours for fun and friendly nautical competitions. Once the competitions come to an end, visitors are treated to live music, dance and a fireworks display.