Request for advice on vacation destination (Gulf/Carib?)

Request for advice on vacation destination (Gulf/Carib?)

This is a discussion on Request for advice on vacation destination (Gulf/Carib?) within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; We're developing plans for a vacation for our extended family this winter, and would appreciate advice if you have any for us. Important: Warm: six ...

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Thread: Request for advice on vacation destination (Gulf/Carib?)

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array Paymeister's Avatar
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    Request for advice on vacation destination (Gulf/Carib?)

    We're developing plans for a vacation for our extended family this winter, and would appreciate advice if you have any for us.

    Important:
    • Warm: six of the eight live in the Midwest under 10' of snow at that time of year;
    • Beach: hope for a place for sunning, strolls, and probably body-surfing or the like. Not keen on crude oil;
    • Culture/History/Art/Architecture: we're more the museum/gallery/architecture/history types than the Hard Rock Cafe crowd,
    • Lower Crime: three of us will have permits for stateside (except CA), but a self-defense episode would wreak havoc with the evening's dinner reservations. OK, I take it more seriously than that, but you get the idea - I'm not interested in a border town drugland war zone. We're unlikely to be strolling late at night.
    • Different from home: at least one of the three kids is seriously interested in missionary work with the poor (and the grups are receptive to the idea), so encountering poverty or a wildly different way of life might be a good thing. We don't want to play "look at the zoo animals" with someone less blessed, but we don't need to be insulated like at a resort.
    • Walking distance or decent public transportation/taxis: it's hard to get a rental car for eight adults;
    • Handicap concerns my mom can't see very well so uneven ground can trip her up. And due to weight and knees I'm not keen on stairs if I can avoid them, as well as a day on my feet;
    • Restaurants and such: we love ethnic and mom-and-pop type places;
    • Agriculture/farming/biology: several of us are into farms and plants (a lower priority, but of interest if available - we did a farm tour and visited a raptor center on another trip);
    • A good place to park for a week or two: we are inclined to rent a cottage and just stay in one area rather than change hotels every night.
    • High-speed internet: I need to be able to hook into a high-speed connection either where we stay or nearby, in case something goes 'boom' at work. I'll have my laptop: all I need is a wired or wireless connection (Starbucks works, for instance).
    • In range: if possible, a direct flight from Minneapolis. We're thinking Italy or Hawaii is too far, but Mexico/Central America/Caribbean/Florida/etc. might be fine;
    • Not exorbitant: we're not into just throwing money around to impress folks. Well, except on that new 1911: "Honest, honey, really - it's an INVESTMENT!"

    Not important:
    • Five-Star facilities/resort: we're into comfort, to be sure, but don't need top-drawer or ego-stroking (we prefer metal to plastic forks, but stainless beats silver);
    • Clubs/bars/night life: we're not into drinking/dancing/clubbing/etc.
    • Casinos: Not much of a draw, anyway, but with my performance on the recent probabilities threads I would be very wise to stay away.
    • Theme Parks: Might be good for the kids (three 18-21) but not needed for the four grups and my dear silver-haired mother.

    At this point I'm vaguely intrigued in Jamaica's possibilities, but that's as likely due to the influence of an old Beach Boys song as anything else. EDIT: Just read the State Dept's warnings: maybe Barbados would be a better choice.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Paymeister; May 8th, 2010 at 11:02 AM. Reason: rethinking...
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array jwhite75's Avatar
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    We are going on a honeymoon in June to Excellence Resorts-Playa Mujeres. My friend just got back from his honey moon at Secrets-Maroma Beach. Both near Cancun. Sandals White House just underwent a renovation, in Jamaica. All three of these companies have multiple resorts for you to look at. Another valuable resource we found is Hotels and Vacation Reviews - TripAdvisor Real reviews from real users, and very helpful. We also used youtube to look at the actual rooms and see what we were getting, think actual users (amateur video) again , not professionally made and produced promo videos by travel companies or review mags. All inclusive is the way to go, a little more money up front, but you dont touch your wallet again after you board the plane unless you want to. Good luck.
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    If it were me and my time/money, I'd seriously consider a cruise. There is something for everyone, its all inclusive and once you are on the boat, you don't need to worry about anything. Its also surprisingly inexpensive when you consider all costs of vacationing. About the time you get board or fall in love with one location, its time to move onto the next.

    ...and it fits all your criteria.
    Last edited by SIXTO; May 9th, 2010 at 12:48 AM.
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    Cruise is a good idea
    Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.

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    Distinguished Member Array GunGeezer's Avatar
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    We recently got back from a cruise to the Panama Canal. We had stops in Aruba, Ceracauo, Costa Rica and of course the canal. First of all, unless we had booked a cruise ship excursion, we were not allowed to leave the port area and in some cases the ship which leads me to believe we were not entirely safe. On our Costa Rican excursion, our tour bus was stopped and boarded by men dressed as police but our tour guide and bus driver swore they were not real police and merely well organized thieves trying to extort money from tourists. We were detained for about 30 minutes and finally released after the tour guide called the real police on her cell phone. We got back to the cruise port just in time to sail. On the bus ride, most houses and shops we passed had bars and razor wire on fences and windows and doors. This was also the case on every island that we toured. Garbage littered the roadway on all the roads we traveled. We came to the realization that only a small part of the islands catered to the ultra rich. The ocean front beach property that was across the island from the cruise port. I believe you would not be safe trying to do missionary work unless you were sent to specific areas by a church or government agency that could guarantee protection. The eastern Caribbean islands were a little better but very touristy. Most of the tourist areas are controlled by Indian, Pakastani business cartels and all of the shops carry much the same stuff, diamonds, watches, liquor and cameras.
    I would stick to Florida. There are lots of things to see and do. Some very educational and some not so much but at least you have a choice. Being in the U.S. guarantees you a modicum of safety and FL. is a gun friendly place. Unlike cruise ship destinations where you cannot bring or carry weapons of any kind and can't really trust the so-called police.

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    Distinguished Member Array Agave's Avatar
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    Curacao... maybe Costa Rica
    The preceding post may contain sarcasm; it's just better that way. However, it is still intended with construction and with the Love of my L-rd Y'shua.

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    Going along with GunGeezers post, I have had the chance to spend a lot of time in Miami's Cuban neighborhoods with some "workcations" I had a really good time despite my Spanish sounding like a white boy reading from a menu and definitely being the minority changed my perspective on some things. The Cuban locals went out of their way to make the yankee white boy feel welcome. Its about as close as going to a foriegn land as you can get, but still enjoy seeing Old Glory above your head with the protection she provides.
    It's not a good suggestion for the OP, but I thought I'd just toss that in there.
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    Senior Member Array boscobeans's Avatar
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    Cruise ??

    Great value for the money, considering $100-$200 a day includes your stateroom, all meals (24hrs a day), entertainment and transporation to several different places.
    Unpack once. The ship is your hotel.
    In a seven day cruise you can visit up to 5 different places.
    You have all day to explore an Island then the ship is off to another stop while you sleep.
    Almost totally all-inclusive (only extra's are usually booze and soda).
    Cruise lines offer tours that are generally safe and rate them according to physical activity levels.
    Lots to do on a ship, for every age group. Several pools, hot tubs, enrichment activities and lectures etc.
    Food is (depending on the cruiseline)for the most part very, very good.
    Nightly entertainment (Vegas style shows(musical-comedy-magic), casino, several different types of music..etc.)

    THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE I CAN OFFER..Get advice from an experienced cruise agent who can help you choose the RIGHT cruiseline. Each line is different and depending on what you are looking for the right choice is essential.

    Been on many cruises and have never had a bad one..

    OMO

    bosco

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    A cruise, definitely a cruise...

    Great food (you WILL gain weight), something for every age group, entertainment, travel without driving, great sights to see, reasonabe prices for what you get.
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    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    Dang.....now you guys have me thinking about a cruise...and I just got to Europe...
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    VIP Member Array Sheldon J's Avatar
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    Been to Hawaii, and Mexico, and I vote for Hawaii, keep the money in US hands......
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    Member Array 4evrinblujns's Avatar
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    Key west but if your bent on leaving the free world take the cruise.

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    +1 Agave

    Quote Originally Posted by Agave View Post
    Curacao... maybe Costa Rica
    Costa Rica is perhaps the only South of the border place I'd set foot in, although I have heard that Panama is now fairly tourist friendly.


    I can't speak for Curacao but usually anything Dutch will be reasonably safe and clean.

    I think if you plan ahead you can get into various tours in Costa Rica and there is plenty to see.

    I would say Cayman Islands, but, a) it has been 40 years since I was there and I think the kids might get bored. It is really geared more for the diving crowd and maybe nowadays, nightlife.

    A couple of years back my son and friends went to Buenos Aires, and to Montevideo --when they'd had enough of old man winter. They had a good time, and these place might have museums and cultural stuff for the kids and less of a beach and sand atmosphere, though I think I heard nice stuff about Montevideo and beaches.

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    VIP Member Array boricua's Avatar
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    I think that Cuba would be perfect under your parameters... Just kidding.

    Well, I would like to suggest Puerto Rico, but I am partial to the suggestion since I was born and raised there. I am actually going to PR in June on vacation.

    Yes, there is a considerable crime rate, but IMO is concentrated primarily in the San Juan metro area. You may stay in the country side in places called "paradores' (plural form of "parador") Paradores, Small Hotels, and Country Inns in Puerto Rico | Go To Paradores. You may relax and enjoy nature. You will be close enough to take a day trip anywhere in the island, to include the 500 year old Spanish forts in Old San Juan, the Museo de Arte in Ponce, El Yunque rain forest, and of course, the beaches.
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    Hawaii v Mexico no contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon J View Post
    Been to Hawaii, and Mexico, and I vote for Hawaii, keep the money in US hands......
    No way would I set foot in Mexico ever again, although I actually think Mexico City rivals New York City in some ways.

    Hawaii of course is a US state just like Texas-- but with strong anti-gun laws.

    I've been only to Oahu, and didn't really spend enough time there to do much of the beach stuff or night life, or much of anything. We were passing through basically.

    We wound up paying a taxi to just drive us around for nearly 3 hours so we could at least say we saw something as we had so little time to be there before heading for New Zealand.

    Educational stuff-- USS Arizona memorial and related Pearl Harbor_WWII stuff; Dole Plantation for the kids.

    I am sure there is more, much more, and there are several different Islands to visit.

    The good thing about it is you never actually leave the USA.

    The downside, you never actually leave the USA.

    It is a long haul. Long flight from Dallas. Almost the same as to Europe.

    Paymeister, consider looking into the relative cost of a Carib. vacation v something like New Zealand. Sometimes you can snag bargain fares, hotels and side trips, with advanced planning.

    What you get is history, culture, museums, boat rides, and almost anything fun you can think of; good to great weather, mostly safe environment with honest non-corrupt polite and respectful and efficient officials at the airport, immigrations, and customs.

    Everyone speaks English. No animosity toward Americans.

    Downside, besides possibly extra trip expense (though not necessarily) it is a very very long long ride. Twice the distance than to Hawaii.

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