Jamaica’s Air Traffic Controllers Call In Sick

An Air Jamaica 737 landing
Aero Icarus, Flickr

Jamaica‘s airports only experienced a small hiccup this weekend as the country’s air traffic controllers staged a sick-out in protest over low wages and mismanagement of the civil aviation authority. The posts were quickly filled by supervisors and managers and there were no reports of flight safety being compromised.

A Jamaican court has since granted an injunction to the Ministry of Labour, ordering the ATCs back to work, though there has been no response from the union representing the protesting workers.

Flights appeared to be operating more or less on schedule, though there were reports from the capital, Kingston, of delays on inbound and outbound flights. There were no delays at Sangster International in Montego Bay, Jamaica’s busiest airport.

The union had said that the sick-out will affect traffic in Jamaica’s airspace over the coming days. However, with the abandoned posts having been taken over fairly quickly by management, the impact of the protest appears to be less than hoped for.

3 great books about cruise vacations

books about cruise vacationsWhile blogging, video, interactive travel books and online travelguides have command a lot of interest, books (like with paper and ink) are still being published. Here are some of the best about cruise vacations for your weekend reading pleasure.

Selling the Sea- An inside Look at the Cruise Industry
Written by cruise industry veterans Bob Dickinson from Carnival Cruise Lines fame and Andy Vladimir this second edition features information all about the mechanics of the cruise industry as well as interviews with captains, social directors, and cruise line executives

Frommer’s Cruises and Ports of Call, 7th Edition
This is like the handbook of all cruise books and has photos of all major ship classes that sail from North American home-ports plus in-depth coverage of major ports of call in the Caribbean as well. This 7th edition has candid reviews and other useful information to supplement what you find online and here at Gadling.

Cruise Confidential A Hit Below the Waterline
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work on a cruise ship, this is the book for you. Brian David Bruns look at his life as the only American waiter on several Carnival cruise ships gives a backstage account of what it is like day to day aboard a ship at sea.

Don’t want to cut down trees for information? AOL TravelGuides are a great source for all things cruising as well. Some of the best include great warm-weather ports like Kingston, San Juan, Acapulco and Cancun.

Just the thing on a cold, snowy, Winter night or if you’re a Time-Warner subscriber, expecting another blackout.

No time for such nonsense as books? Fine then, check this video on the new Disney Dream:

You’re watching Cruise Director: Disney Dream – Behind the Scenes. See the Web’s top videos on AOL Video

Explore five cities with a “bad rap”

I grew up in Detroit. I love my city and will be the first tell anyone who thinks it’s nothing but a boarded up hellhole just how wrong they are. But I know Detroit’s bad rap comes not only from suburb-dwellers and business travelers who just breezed through, but also from the media that portrays it as a city with nothing to offer other than casinos and a punchline. But maybe the tide is changing. Anthony Bourdain went to Detroit – and liked it! And now Jaunted has included Detroit on its list of Five Cities with a Bad Rap that are still worth visiting.

Detroit is recommended for its passionate people and Motown soul, along with great food from every culture. In addition to my hometown, the list includes Kingston, Jamaica – for the hospitable people and cheap flights, Madrid, Spain – which despite its reputation as a haven for pickpockets still lures visitors with fine art and tasty tapas, Naples, Italy – where the government is making an effective bid to clean up the ancient streets, and Oakland, California – San Francisco’s little sibling, where the crime to culture ratio doesn’t lean in the direction you might assume.

With the exception of Madrid (which still sees hundreds of thousands of tourists per year), one benefit of visiting these traditionally shunned-by-tourists cities is that there are fewer crowds and a cheaper cost of travel. Plus, your tourism dollars can help the city governments invest in infrastructure, make the cities safer and cleaner, in the hopes that one day they can shed their bad reputations.

Ten musical destinations that will rock your world

Music has a way of taking you on a journey. Like any great trip, the songs that inspire us are filled with joyous highs and sobering lows, unexpected revelations and exotic uncertainties. It’s only natural then that each of us seeks out music during our travels. Whether it’s a CD stand in a bustling market in Morocco or a classically-trained violinist playing on a street corner in Paris, music offers travelers a visceral way to cut through the confusion of language and custom, revealing the true essence of a destination.

Wherever we go, melodies both familiar and exotic burst out of speakers, vibrate in concert halls, groove around city streets and drip off the walls in sweaty dance clubs. Yet it’s only in a few select spots around the world that the culture of music becomes a truly tangible attraction. These are the special places where a unique confluence of cultural cross-pollination, inherent creativity and a critical mass of kick-ass musicianship coalesces to create something truly special.

In the course of our journeys here at Gadling, we’ve uncovered some of the world’s most unique and memorable destinations for music. The following list is by no means the end-all-be-all of musical places to visit, but each of the ten spots we’ve chosen is without a doubt one-of-a-kind and a true musical hotspot. Did we choose any of your favorites? Click below for our picks…
Number 10 – Mali’s Festival in the Desert
At first glance, it would be easy to mistake Mali’s Festival in the Desert as a cruel mirage. Yet every year this wind-swept country in Northwestern Africa puts on one of the continent’s best musical events, featuring traditional Tuareg tunes as well as music from around the globe.

Number 9 – Pitch-perfect karaoke in Manila
Love it or hate it, Karaoke has spread its melodies around the world, from the drinking dens of Tokyo to the back streets of New York. But to truly experience Karaoke talent, head to Manila. Filipino cover bands are legendary for their pitch-perfect renditions of Western pop songs. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference from the originals.

Number 8 – Concert hopping in Austin, TX
They like to say everything is bigger in Texas, and Austin’s annual South by Southwest music festival certainly doesn’t disappoint. Each March, over a thousand bands from around the world descend on the state’s capital for four days of drinking, dancing and music industry schmoozing. If you’re hoping to catch rock’s next great thing or simply looking for a good time, South by Southwest is definitely one of the USA’s best music events.

Number 7 – Tokyo Record Collecting
Tokyo, Japan is one of the world’s great cultural epicenters, consuming and re-creating pop culture trends at a furious pace. This intense consumption is particularly true of music, where the Japanese excel as the world’s consummate music collectors. If you need proof of Tokyo’s status as the crown jewel for record shopping, one need only stroll the back alleyways of Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district. Along the narrow side streets you’ll stumble upon hidden second floor record shops packed floor to ceiling with obscure vinyl and out-of-print rarities.

Number 6 – New Orleans gets Jazzed

New Orleans is known as the birthplace of Jazz music. It was the city’s unique mixture of French, Spanish and African traditions that allowed the city to develop this particularly unique musical heritage, one that is evident even today. One of the best ways to experience the Big Easy’s Jazz culture is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, perhaps the world’s best showcase of this distinctly southern-tinged style.

Number 5 – The London Remix
London has a reputation as a musical chameleon, a city that takes on the world’s constantly evolving musical styles, remixing and reinterpreting in a uniquely British way. Whether it’s Punk or Techno, Indie Rock or Dubstep, London has something to suit the tastes of about every music lover. Check out this list of London music venues, this rundown of record stores, or top-notch dance clubs like Fabric if you’re looking to jump along to the beat.


Number 4 – Kingston sound system parties
Jamaica holds an outsize reputation in the world’s musical lore, having birthed world-famous artists like Bob Marley along with hundreds of other equally talented Jamaican singers, producers and musicians. Though the laid-back vibe of Tuff Gong has long-since morphed into the raw sounds of Dancehall and Ragga, you can still experience Jamaican music at its finest at some of Kingston’s weekly sound system parties like Passa Passa and Weddy Weddy Wednesday. These rough and tumble affairs take over Kingston’s parks and streets with huge speakers, raucous dancing and plenty of fun.


Number 3 – All night techno in Berlin
Something happened when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. As a divided city was slowly mended together, music fans began to take over the city’s abandoned buildings and spaces for semi-legal dance parties. It was the beginning of Techno, a music scene that would soon sweep the capital and most of Europe. Berlin today is ground zero for electronic music fans, with some of the world’s best DJ’s playing parties that can last all night and into the next day and beyond. Check out the events list at Resident Advisor for a good listing of what’s happening.

Number 2 – Shake to the rhythm of Brazilian Carnival
Much like New Orleans and Jamaica, Brazil is the product of a unique confluence of cultures, bringing together Portuguese, African and indigenous influences. Nowhere does this unique cultural history make itself better felt than during Brazil’s annual Carnival festivities, when cities across the country like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador erupt in wild displays of samba dancing and furious drumming. Check out this Rio Carnival guide to get started.



Number 1 – Find what’s new in New York City
It’s hard to even describe how important New York has been to 20th Century musical innovation. Jazz. Punk. Disco. Hip hop. Whatever your preferred style of music, you can find it here…whether its an Indie Rock show at the Bowery Ballroom or killer night of Jazz over at Blue Note, New York’s got it all. Spend a day browsing through record stores like Other Music and A-1 Records before catching a show at Mercury Lounge, S.O.B.’s or Lincoln Center.

Did we pick your favorite musical destination? Think we forgot one of the best? Leave us a comment below to continue to the debate.

Big up Kingston – Pirates & Parrotfish in Port Royal

It’s June 1692, and you’re a resident of Port Royal, a thriving settlement in the harbor of modern-day Kingston. As you gaze at the cerulean-blue harbor, your eyes linger on the silhouettes of several privateer ships. The English crown has given these ships free reign to prey upon enemy Spanish galleons loaded with gold and silver, and they’ve taken to the task with relish. In Port Royal, the privateers’ wealth and debauchery is visible everywhere. Drunken sailors stumble about, pockets bursting with pieces of eight, vessels of overflowing red wine spilling down the cobblestone. Meanwhile, ladies of the night slink from behind darkened doorways, beckoning you towards illicit pleasures.

Yet amid the usual debauchery, something feels amiss. The earth you stand upon suddenly feels unstable, vibrating with increasingly angry amplifications. Earthquake! Torrents of seawater froth with whitecaps. Shrieks of terror emanate from panicked residents. Without warning, a huge chunk of Port Royal begins to slip into the sea, swallowing a mass swarming humanity and buildings like an angry sea monster.

More than 300 years later and the ground beneath Port Royal is again calm. But much like the aftermath of that fateful disaster in 1692, it’s clear that the epicenter of Jamaica’s wealth and influence has shifted elsewhere. The fearsome buccaneers like Henry Morgan are no more. Instead, what’s been left behind is a sleepy fishing village just a few miles from Kingston proper, littered with the remains of crumbling pirate forts and some of the best seafood anywhere in the Caribbean. If you’re ready to investigate the real history of pirates in the Caribbean, click below for more.
Fort Charles + Giddy House
At one time Port Royal was home to several military installations. These forts not only guarded Kingston’s harbor from enemy attacks, they also provided safe haven for pirates preying on Spanish ships in the Caribbean. Following the 1692 earthquake, at least three of Port Royal’s forts simply disappeared into the sea.

Today, Fort Charles is Port Royal’s only remaining military fort and among the best preserved in the Caribbean. First built in 1655, the base has played host to some Britain’s most famous naval leaders, including Horatio Nelson. It’s also coincidentally the name of the fort in Pirates of the Caribbean. Coincidence? Visitors to the site can arrange tours of the grounds including some fearsome cannons and a small but well-organized museum complete with historic Port Royal artifacts. Better visit quick – at the time of our visit, authorities mentioned plans to turn the site into a legit tourist complex complete with peg-legs, parrots and eyepatches. Shiver me timbers?

Also worth an amusing five minutes of your time is the Giddy House (pictured above). Built in the 1880′s as an ammunition storehouse, the Giddy House was the victim of yet another earthquake in 1907, which left the structure intact but slanted at a rather odd angle. The slanted floors make for a fun-house style amusement and leaves many visitors “giddy” with laughter, hence its odd name.

Gloria’s Seafood
Just outside the gates of Fort Charles lies Gloria’s, yet another highly recommended Port Royal destination. After you’ve worked up an appetite learning about pirates, make a stop at this rustic seafood shop complete with al fresco seating and views of Kingston harbor. A plate of curried parrotfish with okra (right), a glass of Ting soda, and the sound of waves crashing along the shore makes for the perfect Jamaican lunch.

As you finish your meal, spend an hour or two exploring the neighborhood’s quiet and rustic charm, including the peeling facades of pastel colored buildings and clumps of tiny wooden fishing boats nestled on the shore. Port Royal today may no longer flow with stolen Spanish treasure, but its unassuming charms remain very much intact, waiting to be discovered.

Gadling was recently invited by the Spanish Court Hotel to visit Kingston, Jamaica’s unexplored capital of music, food and culture. We’ve been bringing you our observations on all this up-and-coming city has to offer. Though the trip was paid, all opinions remain our own. You can read our previous “Big up Kingston” posts HERE.