The cruise industry isn’t slowing down — whether it’s a host of small-ship lines ramping up stops to Cuba or the entry of new players like Virgin Voyages. But what’s next for the Caribbean, a market where, by recent estimates, the cruise industry generated almost $3.2 billion in direct expenditures annually?

To learn more, Caribbean Journal Editor in Chief Alexander Britell caught up with cruise industry thought leader Dylan Wills of Wilson Associates, who addressed the state of the industry, the potential impact of Virgin Voyages and the state of Caribbean cruising.

What’s the state of the Caribbean cruise industry?

The Caribbean has always been a very successful and amazingly popular location, but recently has seen an increase in competition as more exotic destinations become increasingly accessible. As cruise ships themselves develop and transform, their land-based counterparts need to follow suit. It is important for a cruise destination such as the Caribbean to look at new ways to attract visitors and prominently display its culture and heritage. As a designer, I take inspiration from the local culture and beautiful landscape of the cruise’s destinations, and do my best to incorporate that  into my ship designs, allowing the traveler to experience the destination on a deeper level.

How are cruise companies looking at the Caribbean differently?

The Caribbean has always been seen as an accessible luxury cruise location. One does not have to take large amounts holiday time to have an amazing Caribbean cruise. Due to its proximity to South America, travelers can easily visit the region’s beautiful destinations and amazing environments from the Caribbean. As people travel farther  for their holidays, they expect more from their experience. Cruise operators are investing in local infrastructure to encourage travel, and the environment globally to ensure that these stunning destination are maintained for generations to come.

Dylan Wills.

With the entry of cruise lines like Fathom, are cruise lines looking for different kinds of travelers or will that remain a niche market?

The cruise industry is creating new and innovative ways in which to encourage new guests. Of course, the best thing about introducing new guests, is that it gives you an opportunity to retain them as loyal customers, who will visit many destinations and have many different experiences with different brands within the same group of companies. Fathom presents  an amazing approach to cruising, in  that it immerses its guests into a real world cultural experience. Guests can visit local schools and help teach, visit villages and contribute to daily activities all while learning directly from local residents about their culture. This is a truly immersive experience, which allows you to see any destination in a very different way.

Are there any Caribbean terminals that need work?

Every global cruise terminal should grow and develop during its life. Terminals should not be viewed as a location for transiting, but should instead be considered part of the overall guest experience. They should be designed to function efficiently while conveying a sense of excitement and adventure to travelers, evoking a feeling of adventure and curiosity. Cruise terminals should also display a high level of local cultural influence.

Terminals should not be viewed as a location for transiting, but should instead be considered part of the overall guest experience.”

What do guests expect from a Caribbean cruise today that they didn’t five years ago?

The ships themselves have changed enormously over the past five years and will continue to evolve in the years to come. The shape of the ship, the way it operates, the guest experience, and the activities aboard have all seen significant improvement.

Wilson Associates has always believed that design should be an experience and an adventure within a larger story. Our designs are created from stories to provide a more fluid and enjoyable experience. We concentrate on the local environment, drawing inspiration from geography as well as cultures. As the functionality of cruise ships progresses , so do  the designs and the incorporation  of local cultural elements allowing guests to engage with and  learn about the Caribbean.

Luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas continue to show growth.

The Caribbean has always been seen a luxury destination and an area of outstanding natural beauty. As the cruise industry expands, so does the luxury experience. Shore trips and local entertainment pay a large role with the Caribbean cruise, whilst providing an equal balance of new and innovative ship based activities.

How do you think Virgin will impact the cruise market?

Virgin Voyages introduced itself into the industry as an innovative solution to bridge a gap in the market –  Millennials. This strategy will benefit the entire industry, drawing younger guests to cruise and allowing them to grow with age into more varied experiences. Each sector of the cruise industry has its unique approach: family cruises, expedition cruises, world explorer cruises, etc. Virgin Voyages will bring in a new age of travel consumers who may not have taken a cruise otherwise.

The post The State of the Caribbean Cruise Industry appeared first on Caribbean Journal.

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Total sales for existing single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops fell 3.7 percent in February, according to NAR. Delve into the market…

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Some hotels are destinations in themselves — and some places are so beautifully remote that when you get there you simply must be in a hotel.

There is a peaceful quiet relaxation from the realization that you’re miles from anywhere and no one can find you.

You know the feeling…when you look at each other and think, “this place is too cool to be real.”

Today you can be found almost anywhere on the planet and that exact point is what make the following places so special.

Here, you can actually hide away — these places are designed for doing exactly that.

If you feel separated from your reality at these places then you and your hosts will be very content.  These are special hotels and each of them uniquely Caribbean.  You wont find other places like these world-over.

Many of these hotels are located in fragile environments.  Perhaps the hotel was originally built there because of and enhances the amazing natural environment.  That is the sweet spot for environmentally conscience hotel owners, developers and increasingly educated concerned travelers.

Do you like waking up in the morning and feeling like you are a million miles from anywhere or anyone?  Then these places are for you — paces that take a little more adventure to get to but are well worth the journey; places so beautiful that when you get there you never want to leave.

Guana Island, BVI If you’re looking for seclusion and the feeling of having an island of your own, consider a stay at this 850-acre retreat, where a maximum of just 32 guests in 15 cottages enjoy seven beaches and the wildly beautiful terrain of a nature reserve literally at their doorsteps.

The post 10 Remote Caribbean Hotels That Are Worth the Journey appeared first on Caribbean Journal.

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It’s not a surprise that the Dominican Republic says it “has it all.” Because the diverse Caribbean nation has something for everyone, whether you want to gorge on gourmet delicacies, scale waterfalls or discover its pre- and post-colonial history; take in a baseball game, hike a mountain or just lounge on some of the region’s greatest white-sand beaches. CJ Travel Editor Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon brings you the best Dominican Republic vacation for all sorts of travelers, and then check in to the places we recommend you stay when you get there.

Dominican Republic Vacation

BEACH LOVER If you’re searching for miles of pristine white sand bordered by turquoise waters and leaning coconut palms, look no further than the Dom Rep’s most famous resort town, Punta Cana, where 20 miles of beachy east-coast bliss awaits. And the perfect PC perch has to be Tortuga Bay Hotel Punta Cana Resort & Club, whose 30 sophisticated suites and junior suites (designed by native son Oscar de la Renta) are serviced by solicitous concierges. Factor in 45 holes of championship golf; world-class dining and a Six Senses spa, and the sand is just the beginning of this leisurely but never boring Dominican Republic vacation.

Dominican Republic Vacation

WATER SPORTS ENTHUSIAST Sun and sea are served with sides of high-energy water sports and year-round tradewinds in Cabarete, a bohemian north-coast enclave set against a backdrop of emerald mountains that’s the perfect Dominican Republic vacation for the active traveler. Kiteboarders flock to Bozo Beach and Kite Beach, and surfers hang ten at Encuentro. And when you’re exhausted from your efforts, relax and recover at Millennium Resort & Spa, which has mod one- to three-bedroom condo-style suites; a beachfront restaurant, infinity pool and spa; and a Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding school on-site or choose from among the top places to stay in Cabarete.

Dominican Republic Vacation

ADVENTURER On the northeast coast, the peaceful Samaná Peninsula offers diversions for visitors who want to do it all. There’s humpback whale watching in the spring; the rugged trails and native birds of Los Haitises national park; as well as water sports and hiking opportunities galore. But because it also has several breezy beaches (the offshore isle of Cayo Levantado is a standout), this region suits those who want to do nothing at all. Either way, you won’t have to choose at the elegant boutique The Peninsula House in Las Terranas (the region’s original tourist hub). The hillside great house-style bed-and-breakfast is an oasis of subtle and sophisticated style, with antique reproductions in just six suites, a garden pool and its own beach club.

Dominican Republic Vacation

CULTURE VULTURE Founded in 1498, the DR’s capital of Santo Domingo is where the Americas’ first cathedral, hospital and university were built, and its well-preserved Zona Colonial is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Recognized for its architecture, theater, opera and ballet companies, as well as several museums, it is also the home of the charming 24-suite Billini Hotel, where free breakfast and Wi-Fi; ‘round-the-clock concierge service; and a slick rooftop pool and bar make it a solid choice within walking distance of the city’s sights.

Dominican Republic Vacation

GOURMAND On the island’s eastern tip, Cap Cana is a private community adjacent to Punta Cana’s airport. Completely self-sufficient, it has its own marina, Jack Nicklaus golf course, and even its own adventure park. But it’s the resorts along its three-mile white-sand stretch that draw foodies, seduced by the menus of almost 50 restaurants in the enclave, which serve up everything from tacos to imported steaks. Eden Roc at Cap Cana, arguably the best resort in the whole country, offers a luxurious base for your culinary exploration, with 34 suites and villas that come with their own golf carts for navigating the sprawling property; a club at Caletón Beach; and three superb restaurants of its own.

The post The Best Dominican Republic Vacation For Every Traveler appeared first on Caribbean Journal.

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An improving job market, growing consumer confidence, and the threat of rising mortgage rates have Americans flocking to the housing market this…

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One of the most exciting urban redevelopment projects in the Caribbean recent memory has broken ground in Nassau.

The Pointe, the $200 million project in downtown Nassau, has officially broken ground on a seven-acre waterfront site.

The project will include a mixed-use development including residential and retail space.

It is being developed by New World One Bay Street, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Construction America.

The first phase of the Pointe was a large parking garage with bottom-floor retail.

China Construction completed the first phase of the project, a 900-space parking garage with first-floor retail, last year.

The second phase of the project will include a 100-room, eight-story condominium project with oceanfront residences, slated for completion in September 2018.

It will also include a 150-room branded resort and spa with a business center, dining and retail amenities; that project is slated to debut in November 2018.

Upon completion, The Pointe will also include a marina and yacht club, 50,000 square feet of retail and office space, restaurants, upscale shopping and entertainment venues including a rooftop bar and a movie theater.

The Pointe is expected to employ 200 Bahamians during construction and create 500 permanent jobs upon completion.

“The Bahamas Government is very appreciative of the commitment, resolve and cooperation demonstrated by CCA,” said Bahamas deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis.  “In its role as General Contractor for the completion of construction at Baha Mar added to this development, we thank CCA for its demonstrated confidence in the Government and people of The Bahamas.”

Nassau is in the midst of a significant urban renaissance.

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Air carrier Norwegian is seeing surging traffic, according to the low-cost carrier’s latest report.

The company, which last year launched major new flights to Guadeloupe and Martinique, saw an increase of 12 percent in passenger growth last month, with a total of 2.1 million passengers in February.

That was 218,947 more passengers than in February 2016.

Total traffic growth increased by 24 percent, while capacity growth increased by 22 percent.

Load factor was 86.3 percent, an increase of 0.7 percentage points.

“We are very pleased to see that more passengers chose to fly Norwegian in February,” said Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos. “The growth is primarily driven by our intercontinental traffic, which is becoming increasingly important in the company’s global expansion.”

Norwegian also took delivery of three new Boeing 737-800 aircraft in February.

— Caribbean Journal staff

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