Feds threaten: cruise line pollution must stop

New emission rules for cruise ships and other large vessels are set to go into effect in late 2013.

A United Nations plan to control emissions from ships sailing within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. and Canadian coasts initially excluded the U.S, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which pretty much left the Caribbean wide open for uncontrolled cruise line pollution.

Ships often use lower costing fuels with high sulphur levels outside of U.S. government jurisdiction, changing to cleaner fuels as they approach U.S. ports.

Under the plan, which would now include the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, ships would be required to use cleaner fuel or install special pollution reducing equipment to reduce air pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that asthma and cancer-causing pollutants could be cut by about 90% in a decade.

Under the plan, which needs approval from the United Nations’ London-based International Maritime Organization, EPA officials could randomly show up at ports to inspect ships and enforcement will be tough. The penalties have not yet been established, but impounding ships has been suggested as one option, said Elias Rodriguez, an EPA spokesperson.

Flickr photo by lecates

Daily Pampering: St. Vincent’s first luxury resort is over the top

Welcome to the all-new Buccament Bay Resort, the first 5-star luxury resort in St. Vincent. Here, you will find he Caribbean’s first-ever Trader Vic’s, the Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, Pat Cash Tennis Academy, Harlequin Fitness Centre and Diving & Water Sports Centre, the Harlequin Performing Arts Academy, the Island Sanctuary Spa and the Little Harlequins Kids Club, along with several other bars and restaurants and a private marina. Just try to get bored. I dare you.

The 368-room resort is the first venture from new high end resort group Harlequin Hotels & Resorts. They aptly claim to be “positioned to redefine tourism on the island,” and will employ over 700 locals. Though each amenity is more impressive than the last, this veritable playground for the elite also has fabulous rooms, designed by Dallas-based interior design firm Jones Bakerwith no expense spared. Features include tropical hardwoods, natural stone, custom bedding, luxurious baths with rain showers, custom lighting and private terraces, as well as the latest in technology (of course).

If you’d like to be among the first to experience Buccament Bay Resort, click here for more information.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Five idyllic Caribbean backwaters

Beyond the Caribbean’s all-inclusive resorts, casinos, overpriced restaurants, and huge crowds are a handful of islands that have escaped mass development. These quiet islands, with their tiny populations and scattered tourist facilities, are not headed for mass-tourism overdevelopment anytime soon, and for a range of reasons-in some cases, the absence of an adequate expanse for a large runway; in others, proximity to more developed islands, or local governmental resistance, or even a decently profitable traditional economy that generates more money than tourism. For whatever reason, these backwaters should remain charming and relatively quiet for some time to come. Let your castaway fantasy flag fly.

1. Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Geographically and geologically apart from the rest of the Virgin Islands, Anegada is a limestone-based island with enormous stretches of perfect white-sand beaches. It’s hard to top Anegada’s Loblolly Bay or Cow Wreck beaches for their achievement of ideal beach status. There may be things to do on the island above and beyond lazing on the beach in a rum haze, but you’ll surely never need to discover them. Think Anguilla without the crowds (let alone the celebrities) and you’ve got a good sense of the island. Anegada can be reached by ferry from Tortola or charter plane.

2. Barbuda, Antigua & Barbuda.

Barbuda boasts some of the Caribbean’s best and least-trafficked beaches, a noteworthy frigate bird preserve, a fascinating cave complex, and Lighthouse Bay, one of the Caribbean’s most thrillingly perfect resorts. That the island hasn’t been developed to pieces seems a miracle when one contemplates how many Caribbean islands with less remarkable beaches manage to be vastly more developed. Barbuda can be reached by air and ferry from Antigua-or, if you’re lucky enough to be a guest of Lighthouse Bay, by helicopter.
3. Little Cayman, Cayman Islands.

A far cry from Grand Cayman and its densely-packed Seven Mile Beach district, Little Cayman boasts utter and complete quiet. With fewer than 200 residents, it is a backwater by any standard. Most visitors come to dive or check out the island’s interior nature preserve. The island’s beaches are not the region’s best, although locals will help direct visitors to good swimming and sunning spots. Little Cayman can be reached by air from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

4. Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe.

Mass tourism has never taken off on rum-producing Marie-Galante, a quick flight (or turbulent catamaran ride) from Pointe-à-Pitre. There are a handful of hotels on the island, though it is Marie-Galante’s friendly gîtes, operated by local residents, that really stand out. Activities include countryside exploration, rum distillery visits, and of course the island’s truly extraordinary beaches (see above.) The only downside of this relaxed rural idyll is the formidable mosquito population. Be prepared.

5. Mayreau, St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Tiny Mayreau is situated halfway down the Grenadines archipelago. The island boasts an extraordinary stretch of beach and a hilltop stone church with phenomenal views. Accommodations are restricted to one upscale resort and a cluster of simple locally-run guest houses. There is no airstrip on Mayreau. The island can be reached by ferry, water taxi, or private boat.

(Image: Flickr/origine1)


The Caribbean sans Cruise Ships

Nothing ruins a place faster than a mammoth cruise ship docking at its port–unless, of course, you happen to be on that cruise ship.

If you’re landlubber who has traveled halfway around the world to enjoy the peace and quiet of a tropical island only to have your paradise overrun by 15,000 cruise ship passengers, you know what I’m talking about. It is Hell.

So how do you avoid this crush? Is there a resource that will tell you which islands are off the cruise ship circuit but still wonderful enough to visit?

Writer David Swanson has taken on this challenge in his recent article, The Caribbean: Cruise-Ship Free.

He kicks off with the woeful example of beautiful Tortola in the British Virgin Islands–an island of 22,000 people that sees 500,000 cruise ship passengers annually. Ugh!

Swanson then keys us in on eight Caribbean islands that he promises are cruise ship free; Anguilla, Bonaire, Montserrat, Nevis, Provodenciales (Turks and Caicos), Saba, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago.

Take a moment to read through the descriptions of what each of these islands has to offer (above-and-beyond them being cruise-ship free), then pick your favorite and disappear.

Virgin Holidays & Cricket World Cup 2007

Hopeful fans of Trinidad & Tobago’s Soca Warriors raced over to Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup games and returned without a cup, but with more determination than ever for the next installment in 2010. In the meantime they get to lounge lazily on their sister islands whiling and liming away the day until the next big thing, which for Trinidad is never too long of a wait.

Sports fans can continue to cheer and root for their favorite country team during the 2007 Cricket World Cup games being held for the first time ever all over the Caribbean. Trinidad & Tobago is only one set of islands playing host and Virgin Holidays is offering packages to get you there. The matches are being held in March and April of 2007 and packages are going fast. See Virgin Holidays for more details on getting you to unspoiled West Indian beaches, then visit their partner Cavendish Hospitality to find match tickets. Other islands hosting the games include Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. St. Vincent and Guyana will also host games, but it doesn’t look as if Virgin Holidays will be offering packages to vaca in these two tropical countries.

Let the games begin, again!