Over-The-Top Valentine’s Day Experiences: Day 5

If you haven’t been following, we’re tracking the world’s most luxurious travel packages with a romantic twist, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

(Missed the past four days of over-the-top coverage? Check it out here.)

Leading Hotels of the World’s Cap Jaluca in Anguilla is offering not one, but two intense romantic packages for your perusal today.

The “Tangled Up In You” includes five night’s accommodations in a new 3,290-square-foot, two-bedroom beachfront Jonquil Suite that features a private freshwater infinity pool, Jacuzzi, sitting room, full-service kitchen and oceanfront-dining terrace. The package also includes welcome and farewell amenities, full breakfast daily, a private beach dinner, an in-room massage for two, complimentary non-motorized water sports, and exclusive use of an assigned golf cart. Guests will also enjoy a one-day trip on a private boat with a crew.

Prices range from $30,755 in high season (now through March 31) to $13,765 in low season (May-October), exclusive of 20% tax and service fees.

Much like yesterday’s package, if you’re seeking luxury at a slightly lower price point, a five-night stay in an oceanfront room with many of the same amenities starts at $5,175.

[Image Credit: Cap Jaluca]

Teen sailor Laura Dekker to complete round-the-world voyage today

16-year old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker will complete her quest to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world today when she arrives back at the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. She is expected to make landfall around 3 PM local time this afternoon, exactly a year and a day after she set out on her voyage.

Dekker gained international attention when she first announced her intent to sail around the world at the age of 13. That sparked a great deal of debate on how young was too young for that kind of endeavor. Officials in the Netherlands even went so far as to step in and block her from sailing while they evaluated her skills and observed her relationship with her divorced parents. Eventually, after months of legal wrangling, she was allowed to sail, and at the age of 14 she hit the open water aboard her ship the Guppy.

Her shakedown cruise of Guppy took her to Portugal and then across the Atlantic to St. Maarten, where she tuned the vessel and prepared it for the long journey ahead. From there, it was through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. Her non-stop crossing of the Atlantic was the final hurdle to overcome before being done.

Now, more than a year and a half after she initially set out, Laura’s about to reach her goal, and break the previous “youngest around” record by eight months. That record was set back in 2010 by Aussie Jessica Watson, who was 17 at the time.

On her blog, Laura says that she is looking forward to being back on land, taking walks and enjoy fresh food, while spending time with her family. They will greet her at a ceremony in her honor upon her arrival today, where a host of journalists are expected to be on hand to interview the teen.

Congratulations to Laura on a job well done. When I was 16 I could barely circumnavigate around the block in a car.

Video: ten terrifying landings, takeoffs and flights

It is pretty safe to say that 99.99% of all flights are completely uneventful, but every now and then you’ll find yourself on a flight from hell. We’ve collected ten videos of poor takeoffs, poor landings and dreadful in-flight turbulence. Just remember – any flight you can walk away from can be considered a successful flight.

In the first video, you’ll see JetBlue flight 292 trying to land with a broken nosewheel. The amazing flight crew managed to land the plane without any real problems. This plane also went down in history as the first where the passengers were able to watch their own plane emergency on live TV thanks to the DirectTV service.

Ecuador, bumpy takeoff.

Aborted landing of a KLM 747 at St.Maarten airport – watch at the plane comes in to land but is faced with an occupied runway.

Watch as the pilot of this Concorde decided the crosswinds are too much for a safe landing. Such an amazing plane, and a real shame she’s no longer with us.

This is the aftermath of some really nasty turbulence on a Kuwait Airways flight. Passengers seem stunned, and the aisle is full of stuff from the overhead bins. Thankfully, most turbulence is limited to being thrown around a bit and almost never results in anything worse.

American Airlines coming in for a landing in Honduras at Tegucigalpa airport.

Same airport, from cockpit view.

Watch this Boeing 747 almost run out of asphalt – and witness the spotters freak out a little when 800,000 lbs of plane flies towards them.

Another awesome clip from St.Maarten airport. The beach at the end of the runway is notoriously dangerous, but that didn’t stop these people from enjoying some sun, sea and sand. Until the jet took off that is…

This is one of those landings where the passengers ask the pilot whether he landed the plane, or if he was shot down.

Teen sailor Laura Dekker completes first leg of solo circumnavigation

Dutch teenager Laura Dekker completed the first leg of her attempt to sail into the record books a few days back when she completed a solo sail across the Atlantic, reaching the island of St. Maarten in the process. The 15 year old is attempting to set a new record for the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Dekker has been hoping to make this voyage since she was 13, but her departure was delayed on more than one occasion by the Dutch government. Earlier this year they relented however, and granted her permission to sail after she demonstrated her skills and made a commitment to keeping up with her education.

The voyage officially began back in August when she sailed from the Netherlands to Gibraltar before proceeding on to the Canary Islands. Laura then spent two months there getting her 38-foot yacht, affectionately named Guppy, ready for the journey ahead. She also used that time to wait out the hurricane season before beginning her crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

On December 2 she left the Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, en route to the Caribbean. It took her 17 days to cover the 2200 nautical miles, arriving in St. Maarten this past Sunday. Dekker described the voyage as “a very nice trip.”

She’ll now spend some time in the Caribbean, sailing the islands and exploring the region before moving on to her next big leg. She says she doesn’t have any set plan at the moment, but hopes to cross through the Panama Canal, and on to the Pacific, in April or May.

Ah, the idle days of youth. Sailing the high seas, exploring tropical paradises, and seeing the world. My teen age years were much like this. And by much like this, I mean not at all.

[Photo credit: AP]

Curacao and St. Maarten become autonomous countries: what it means for travelers

Get ready for two new passport stamps: the former Netherlands Antilles has dissolved, and Curaçao and St. Maarten are now autonomous countries. Smaller islands such as Bonaire will now become Dutch municipalities. Aruba, the biggest of the ABC islands, has been a similarly autonomous state since 1986. It’s not a major status change for residents, as Curaçao has been self-governing for more than 50 years, but it will mean greater independence from the Dutch monarchy and more control over their own finances and local courts.

So what does this mean for travelers? The new independent status means more tax dollars for both Caribbean islands, meaning more money for tourism infrastructure and development. Curaçao, with one of the only UNESCO World Heritage sties in the Caribbean, has already seen huge growth in visitors from North America, up 40% this year. Development so far in Curaçao has been conservative and thoughtful, with many well-kept public beaches and no mega-hotels or high-rises spoiling the scenery. Even the island’s newest resort, the 350-room Hyatt Regency Curaçao Golf Resort, Spa, and Marina, barely makes a dent in the landscape; let’s hope the island maintains its charm.

In other news for Curaçao, the island is planning to enter the space tourism game with flights to space in 2014, perhaps the new tourism revenue stream will speed up the process.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Jessica Bee]