Brits behaving badly abroad

Today the Foreign Office released British Behaviour Abroad 2011, with detailed figures on British nationals in trouble overseas (read: Brits behaving badly abroad). The period surveyed: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011.

There are lots of interesting tidbits in the survey. British nationals request consular assistance in greatest numbers in Spain and the United States, though since both of these countries are very popular destinations for people from the UK, this is perhaps not all that surprising.

The more interesting chart in the report is of which countries see the highest numbers of requests for consular assistance per visitor and resident abroad. The top five, in descending order: The Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Cyprus, and India. British nationals abroad are most likely to be arrested in Thailand, followed by the United States.

Another interesting detail: The Foreign Office claims that 43 percent of the 18-24 set know someone who has taken illegal drugs while abroad. Aggregate drug arrests are highest for British nationals abroad in Spain (171), the United States (100), Jamaica (63), Norway (55), and Thailand (51).

The good news is that the number of British nationals arrested is down, 10 percent overall and 20 percent for drug-related offenses.

The report also tabulates deaths, hospitalizations, rapes, and sexual assaults abroad. Each of these categories saw slight movement up or down in 2010-2011, with deaths, hospitalizations, and sexual assaults slightly up and rapes down.

[Image: Flickr | La Citta Vita]

25 Haunting Shipwrecks Around the World

Twisted Sifter is a web site with three simple goals. Provide content that is interesting, funny or creative, use BIG pictures whenever possible and to keep their readers up-to-date with what’s popular online. Gadling found this gallery of 25 haunting shipwrecks at Twisted Sifter who tells us

“Fellow blogger Tom Moran from Urban Ghosts inspired this post. His excellent article on ‘Ship Graveyards: Abandoned Ships, Boats and Shipyards’ sent me on a quest to find some incredible photographs of shipwrecks around the world.

The United Nations estimates that there are more than 3 million shipwrecks on the ocean floor [Source: Wikipedia]. These once mighty vessels, both sunken and beached, are a haunting reminder that nothing lasts forever. These beautiful ships used to rule the seas they traveled. Now they serve as a window into our past.”

In the gallery below, 25 Haunting Shipwrecks From Around The World, there are shipwrecks everywhere from the Canary Islands to Grand Cayman to Portugal in all shapes and sizes.


Caribbean Tsunami test hopes to save lives

It was planned long before the earthquake-turned-tsunami event in Japan to test the readiness of 33 Caribbean countries in the region’s first full-scale tsunami warning exercise. On Wednesday, March 23, a fictitious earthquake of 7.6 magnitude occurred off the coast of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Bulletins were issued by the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island and by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawaii for the rest of the area and the test was underway.

The Caribbean tsunami test, named Caribe Wave 11 did not involve communities but aimed to test the effectiveness of alert, monitoring and warning systems among all the emergency management organizations throughout the region. The test was designed to determine whether Caribbean countries are ready to respond in the event of a dangerous tsunami. Results will be reported in April.

“The earthquake and tsunami that have devastated Japan have shown how essential alert systems are,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director general.

The countries that attended the tsunami alert exercise are: Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France (Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Guyane), Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Curacao and Sint Marteen), Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos), and the United States.

Over the past 500 years, there have been 75 tsunamis in the Caribbean, which is about 10 percent of the world total during that period, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Tsunamis caused by earthquakes, landslides or volcanoes have caused 3,5000 deaths in the region since the mid-1800s

Flickr photo by Axion23

New Jamaica port open for business

It’s been a long time in the works, plagued by construction delays and setbacks, but the new cruise port in Falmouth Jamaica is finally open for business.

To celebrate the much-anticipated event, area schools were closed, local dignitaries and cruise line executives were on hand, Reggae star Shaggy performed and a marching band ended the day giving cruise passengers a royal send-off. The star of the show though was Royal Caribbean’s giant new ship, Oasis of the Seas, making its first call at the new port.

“I was here for the inaugural cruise ship visit by Voyager of the Seas one month ago and (Jamaicans) were amazed at the size of Voyager” said cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron CEO of adding “but they were blown away by the larger size and unique design of Oasis of the Seas.”

On hand too was Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding noting “Today is truly a remarkable day, the realization of a dream.” reports Seatrade Insider.

The new $180 million Falmouth port project is a joint effort between the Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean International that is already making an impact on tourism, providing local jobs and much-needed tourist spending to the island.

The two-berth Historic Falmouth Cruise Port development sits about half-way between existing ports of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay and hopes to bring cruise ship passenger numbers back up to over 1 million after dropping to 910,000 last year.

Photo courtesy Seatrade Insider

Take another look at these ten top cruise ports

If you travel by cruise ship, there’s not a lot of choice in the matter. Cruise lines have a variety of islands to visit but the choices are limited with many itineraries virtually the same from ship to ship. Still, you are not required to get in line and go along with the crowd. Consider the cruise ship no more than the way you got there when thinking of what to do ashore. Planning as though you took a flight, not a cruise ship, puts things in a way better perspective. Think of yourself as a traveler who came by sea. No, really. Think that way and even ports you may have been to several times will have a fresh, new look and feel.

If you travel by air, flying can get you to islands not serviced regularly by cruise lines or maybe islands you might have sampled on a cruise and said “I think I could come back and do this again, without the ship”. If you have ever been on a cruise you probably said that at one time or another.

Sure, a cruise vacation is often a best value for travel. Good, glad to hear it. Now let’s take that a step further and get more out of your cruise by thinking a bit differently about common cruise ports visited by most every cruise line. Let’s look at ten top Caribbean islands and cruise ports.

  1. Ocho Rios, JamaicaI think Jamaica is one of the prettiest places on the planet. As is so often the case when traveling, the people we meet along the way can make all the difference. Lincoln Stewart is a cab driver in Ocho who has lived in Jamaica all his life. However one gets to Jamaica, by sea or air, getting safely away from the tourist attractions and shore excursion mobs is key and well worth the effort to get there. Lincoln showed us “his” Jamaica, a remarkably different place than we see from a cruise ship.
  2. Cozumel, Mexico It’s almost a requirement of any cruise line and Cozumel is set up to handle the crowds. A best bet here is Paradise Beach. If you’re lucky enough to go at a time when “Tom” is around you’re in for a good time. This is the trick to making a day in port something special: Meet someone local. Get to know someone who lives there. Like so many other things in travel, the people make the difference.
  3. St Thomas-I think St Thomas was one of the most pleasant islands in the Caribbean. There are the typical third world looking parts, but as part of the United States there is an air of stability there not on other islands. Like traveling abroad, seeing a familiar brand can help make sense of otherwise unfamiliar surroundings. Throw in a US post office and feel right at home. .
  4. St John– Many who visit St John on a cruise never have the island on their itinerary. This is a common do-it-yourself shore excursion where travelers can choose to take a ferry from St Thomas to St John for a day at Trunk Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen.
  5. St Maarten-Split in two, one side French, one side Dutch, your cruise ship will probably stop on the Dutch side. A good do-it-yourself excursion would be a cab ride to the French side and a beach called Bae Rouge. You won’t find a lot of people there because it will take a couple hours round-trip to visit. Well worth the time though, this is about as secluded and pristine as beaches get. Nearby St. Barth can be visited in a day too
  6. Tortola– As part of the British Virgin Islands along with Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada, Tortola is considered the chains main island. Smugglers Cove is a popular place to go with snorkeling and amazing views. No facilities there but worth the effort to see. Divers like Tortola because of the crystal clear water and find sinkholes and ledges as well as caves and canyons.
  7. Key West, Florida– Maybe not on the top of your “Caribbean island” list but a good one to note nonetheless. A good piece of Key Lime pie can’t be beat for a real taste of Florida and the Keys. If you can’t make it the Key West Key Lime Pie Company will send you one.
  8. San Juan, Puerto Rico– San Juan gets a bad reputation for crime and other bad things that keep tourists away. Puerto Rico shouldn’t be judged by San Juan, those that live in other parts are not so proud of it and definitely prefer the West. The best beaches are in Cabo Rojo and Isabela or in close by small Island/towns like Culebra.
  9. Antigua– A good bet off a cruise ship is to take a cab for the 45 minute drive to the Allegro Resort of Pineapple Beach. There are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for each day of the year. Most of the beaches are inside the calm, protected waters of the island’s Caribbean side. All are open to the public. The trick is knowing which one is good to visit at the particular time you are there. Cab drivers know this.
  10. Barbados– This one also has two sides with the Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. East Coast beaches, including Bathsheba are good for surfers. South Coast beaches such as Carlisle Bay and Sandy Beach are popular for body surfing while Needham’s Point is one of the best for snorkeling and swimming. Black sand beaches make this one unique. A big cruise ship excursion is Harrison’s Cave but Flightseeing is probably a better bet. Best bet here? Go sailing on a catamaran.

We know Spring is just around the corner but that Old Man Winter can come back to slap us around a little on his way out the door. Just thinking about someplace warm can help. Going there is better though.