The view above, captured by Aaron Gilson, is an incredibly common Bahamian sight: perfect crystal blue water distinctly visibly from space, sand just the right shade of white and a little bit of an unpolished edge. The island chain just off the Atlantic coast of Florida has become famous as a cruise line, gambling and resort destination. However, this photo was taken on Andros, the largest island in the Bahamas. A region famous for its blue holes, Andros is just far enough away from all of that commotion. It’s an ideal place to disconnect.
If you have a great travel photo, share it with us on our Gadling Flickr Pool and it could be selected as our Photo of the Day.
Sustainable Travel International (STI) is a global non-profit charged to help destinations, businesses and travelers protect the environment, adapt to climate change, preserve cultural heritage and more. This week, STI awarded their first-ever, Gold-Level Eco-Certification to a cruise line, honoring Royal Caribbean International for attractions and tour operations at their island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.
Encouraging green travel, STI awards certification for businesses that are engaged in responsible travel practices that focus on economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability.
CocoCay is the first operation of its kind to receive the certification, which rates on-island tours, island operations, workplace practices, guest communications and environmental management policies. Rated by an expert third-party, independent of Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean, the CocoCay operation demonstrated an ability to successfully apply its at-sea sustainability initiatives to its on-shore operations.But Royal Caribbean did not just get lucky. Winning the award took a global focus, much like we saw when sailing to their private destination of Labadee in Haiti, just after the major earthquake of a few years ago. Then, Royal Caribbean was self-charged to deliver thousands of pounds of food and supplies to the devastated island, which was also home to resident Royal Caribbean employees who work at Labadee when ships come calling.
“Royal Caribbean developed a very thorough, attainable action plan, designed to implement higher levels of sustainability over time,” said Robert Chappell, Sustainable Travel International’s Senior Director of Standards and Certification in a press release.
Will more cruise lines follow Royal Caribbean and work to get their own private islands certified green and sustainable? Probably. Other cruise lines as well have been working to make a green impact. By recycling cooking oil used on ships as fuel for vehicles on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line is making a difference.
Princess Cruises shore power program made history debuting in environmentally sensitive Juneau, Alaska, in 2001, expanding to Seattle in 2005, and then to Vancouver in 2009. Currently nine of the line’s ships have the capability to “plug in” to a shore-side power source, representing an investment for Princess of nearly $7 million in equipment.
“I’m excited to see them expand their action plan while developing innovative new solutions that are leading the way in the cruise industry,” added Chappell.
STEP is among the first global standards to be formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay is the first cruise line private island to receive the certification.
Want to know more about Sustainable Travel International? Check this video:
Have you ever landed in a place to find out you arrived just after the town’s can’t-miss event of the year? Well, hopefully that won’t happen again this year. Gadling bloggers racked their brains to make sure our readers don’t overlook the best parties to be had throughout the world in 2013. Below are more than 60 music festivals, cultural events, pilgrimages and celebrations you should consider adding to your travel calendar this year – trust us, we’ve been there.
Above image: Throughout Asia, Lunar New Year is celebrated with lantern festivals, the most spectacular of which is possibly Pingxi. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
Kumbh Mela, a 55-day festival in India, is expected to draw more than 100 million people in 2013. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
The annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Visit Istanbul, Turkey, at this time and see a festival-like atmosphere when pious Muslims break their fasts with lively iftar feasts at night. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
Festival-goers get their picture taken at a photo booth during Foo Fest, an arts and culture festival held annually in Providence, Rhode Island. [Photo credit: Flickr user AS220]
August 2–4: Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois)
August 10: Foo Fest (Providence, Rhode Island)
August 26–September 2: Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, Nevada)
August 31–September 2: Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington)
More than six million people head to Munich, Germany, for beer-related festivities during the 16-day Oktoberfest. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
During Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), family and friends get together to remember loved ones they have lost. Although practiced throughout Mexico, many festivals take place in the United States, such as this festival at La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
Safety and security tips for travelers often include common sense advice like not carrying a lot of cash, protecting valuable documents and not wearing expensive jewelry in public. But while taking precautions is good, knowing what scams or traps are set and waiting for travelers in countries around the world is better.
“While the language barrier and the cultural sites are exciting, they also open up travelers to scam artists and petty thieves,” says an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which brings up some good points.
Record serial numbers on electronics, keep valuables in your hotel safe and watch for “long hauling” where taxi drivers take a longer route to bump up the fare. These measures can be taken to ensure a visit to an unfamiliar turf goes well.
record the serial numbers of any vital electronics that could be stolen, as some cities require a serial number to file a police report.
We saw this first hand in Rouen, France, not long ago, visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral off a sailing of Azamara Club CruisesAzamara Journey. Our local guide was quick to point out that we should ignore anyone standing by the front door collection admission. Entry is free but unsuspecting tourists commonly pay scam artists a fee, believing they cannot enter without doing so.But Americans do not need to travel far to find situations that threaten safety and security.
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management offers tips for international travel as close as the Bahamas, a destination frequented by U.S. travelers on a weekend getaway. Also a popular cruise port, on the topic of safety and security, the Department of State warns travelers about commonly used services.
“The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated,” says the Department of State. “Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.”
Digging deeper, the Department of State offers information about common crime scams and reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships.
“Three separate groups of tourists were held at gunpoint and robbed at popular tourist sites in and near Nassau; each of these incidents occurred during daylight hours and involved groups of more than eight persons,” says the Department of State, adding “several other groups of tourists allegedly were victims of armed robbery at more remote locations.”
Here at home, traveling no farther than the local mall for holiday shopping can put us in situations where pick pockets, scam artists and others are out to take advantage of distracted shoppers.
Regardless of where we are, a nice day of sightseeing or shopping can turn very bad, very fast as we see in this video:
Eleuthera is a long slender snake of an island, about 110 miles long and an average of two miles wide. It has an embarrassment of beaches, which are notable not just for their number but also for their variety: a long pale strand here; a deep beach backed by reeds there; pretty pink sands elsewhere.
Flickr user trishhartmann captured this particularly dramatic Eleuthera beach, Tippy’s Beach near Governor’s Harbour, in June of this year. The clouds, the milky green waters, and the perfect sand all contribute to making this image especially compelling.