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Thread: Suggestions for a "plan B"?

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    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
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    Question Suggestions for a "plan B"?

    Folks,

    My wife and I are considering a second trip to the Caribbean (the first one was our honeymoon in Aruba, in May 2012). But things have changed a little since 2012.

    First, the overall economic situation here. We booked our trip in August 2011 with the American dollar worth 1.55 Brazilian reais. We traveled in 2012 with a USD 1 = BRL 2.10 rate (even then the Radisson was still affordable to us). Right now the rate is USD 1 = BRL 3.95, and it's about to get worse: This afternoon, Fitch Ratings downgraded Brazil and we lost the investment grade (Standard and Poor's had done so last September).

    Which leads to the second issue: the trip would have to be as cheap as possible. First, we considered a "non-dollarized" destination like Cartagena de Indias or San Andrés Island in Colombia, but these aren't exactly our idea of Caribbean vacations. Mexico is cheap (the cheapest place I've visited so far) but Cancún and the Mayan Riviera seem to be a bit overpriced and many trips/excursions are priced in dollars anyway. So it looks like our choices are narrowed down to "dollarized" destinations. I have miles I can use to get tickets to make the trip cheaper, but they are split between two different companies, so I can't book the whole trip with only one airline. We would love to return to Aruba (adding a few days in Bonaire for snorkeling), but maybe it won't be possible (so far I haven't found a good deal involving mileage), which means we are considering other Caribbean destinations.

    The problem is that Aruba spoiled us What we are looking for is a place with hotels close or on the beach (a beautiful one just like Palm and Eagle), so it will require little effort in case we just want to spend the day on the beach. But we would like a nice range of trips/excursions/activities available (snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking etc) as well. All of this with a reasonable price so we won't go bankrupt.

    Friends have told me about Barbados, the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos. I've also discovered I can go to St. Maarten using mileage of one airline and return with the mileage of the other one. My 2012 edition of Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands put Barbados at $$$ (iirc), while Aruba, Bahamas, St. Maarten and T&C are $$. I've done some research on the Bahamas and found cheaper prices in Grand Bahama than in Nassau. And Grace Bay in T&C is always ranked among the best beaches in the world. Haven't read much on St. Maarten yet. But where else should I look for? You have far more experience than me and my friends, so any suggestions are welcome!

    All the best from Brazil

    Marcio

  2. #2
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    When are you hoping to go? If you go in any of the respective islands "low" seasons, you'll save quite a bit, as well (including Aruba).

    St. Lucia, Dominican Republic or Cuba.

    All-inclusive and package deals will help you keep costs under control (i.e. you wont' have to keep a running total in your head).

    We found St. Maarten on the expensive side.

    Cuba is REALLY cheap... but weather can be a challenge (depending on the time of year you're planning to go). And don't expect much in the way of cuisine.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    CK1
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    Senior Member CK1's Avatar
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    Prices are changing depending on the season. When are you going and how long did you want to stay?

    Middle Season: January 05 - April 15
    Low Season: April 15 - December 19
    High Season: December 19 - January 05

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    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by act1966 View Post
    When are you hoping to go?
    Our plan is travelling in May.

    The problem with Aruba is that I can go with mileage, but can't return. I can get CWB-BON with Delta for 30,000 miles per person (I have 66,000). But I'd have to book the return trip with Gol (Brazilian airline). I have 94,000 miles with them, but the cheapest AUA-CWB tickets start at 75,000 miles per person... The opposite (going to Aruba first and returning from Bonaire) doesn't work as well.

    All the best from Brazil

    All the best from Brazil

    Marcio

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    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    If you're going in May, I'd look at some of those other islands as the weather won't be a problem.

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    Senior Member purpleangel's Avatar
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    I would not recommend Barbados. I went to Barbados after visiting Aruba, and it was a huge disappointment. Walking on the beach is pretty much limited to the resort you are staying at. There were rock wall partitions between resorts that went right down to the water line, and the beach space is tight. The resort I stayed at had no elevator, and I was on the third floor. The bellman brought my bags to the stairs that led up to where my room was, and asked me if I wanted him to bring my bags up to the room. And there were a ton of beach vendors walking around that were extremely rude. I was pretending to be asleep to avoid them, and one had the nerve to kick my chair to "wake" me up to try and sell me something.

    My take on Barbados is they have a lot of work to do if they want to be a vacation destination. I don't feel they have the hosting part down very well. From the cab driver to the bartenders at the resort, I really didn't find many who were friendly.

    Again, this was my experience with Barbados. Others may have had a better, different experience, and kudos to those folks that did.

    Good luck with your decision!!

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    CK1
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    Senior Member CK1's Avatar
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    Did you try out any of the travel sites like Expedia.com?

    I just picked Sao Paolo, Brazil (as an example) and choose two weeks in May (Friday - Saturday).
    Here is what came up:

    Start by choosing your hotel

    Fri, May 6 – Sat, May 28, 2 tickets, 1 room, 22 nights
    The trip prices shown below include Flight + Hotel, taxes and fees, but do not include baggage fees or other fees charged directly by the airline for the included flight.

    https://www.expedia.com/packagesearc...=1&paandi=true

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    i would recommend the dominican republic or cuba....an all inclusive on the beach.

    aruba spoils indeed! you started with the best.

    there are some cheap ways of visiting aruba.
    staying at an apartment kind of place instead of a resort.
    or
    renting a timeshare from an owner.....usually well under $1000 for a week.

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    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CK1 View Post
    Did you try out any of the travel sites like Expedia.com?
    Our priority was using our miles for two reasons: 1. to make travel cheaper and 2. because I have a lot of miles expiring pretty soon, and it's going to be quite expensive to renew them.

    But yes, I've been looking at plane + hotel packages as well, in case something nice fits our budget -- just couldn't find a great deal so far

    All the best from Brazil

    Marcio

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    My daughter went to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic a few weeks after we came back from Aruba this summer. She got a great deal on an all inclusive package with airfare and said it wasn't bad. It's no Aruba, but she wasn't really disappointed like she thought she would be!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

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