Category: Travel

Keeping The Jamaican Vibes Alive

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel


The ways you can keep the Jamaican vibes alive when you’re off island varies depending on where you live. But, here’s some inspiration on how our team does it – starting with Nicole sharing her Caribbean experiences in Stockholm, Sweden.

So what happens when you visit the island – relish in its beauty, cherish the flavours, connect with the people, enjoy the music, and then… you come back home. The Caribbean is so vividly colourful, so home -whereever that is for you, let’s just say – home will get a run for its money trying to match the richness of this part of the world.

To not fall completely into post-Jamaica depression (what we call the state of boredom and dullness that comes when you’ve been away from the island for too long), some of us create strategies to keep the vibes alive and remain a part of Jamaica with us at home.

After 3 months traveling the Caribbean, I thought I was over reggae and dancehall, curry chicken and goat… But once I left the islands, I found myself instantly drawn to places where I again could bask in the cultures. Caribbean communities aren’t as well represented here in Stockholm, Sweden as it is in say New York – but I have found some gems I visit whenever I need to get my Caribbean fix.

Keeping The Jamaican Vibes Alive

The music

Jamaican artists do find their way to Scandinavia – just lately I went to see Konshens and I-Octane (kind of funny, as I couldn’t find a single live show with any of my favourite artists when I was in Jamaica – who knew I’d be seeing them during the winter in Stockholm instead?). It was a great night with Ital stew and Red Stripe at the bar, and afterpartying with the artists and crew, sharing stories about our countries and our experiences of them.

But what initially sparked my curiosity for the Caribbean and my love for its music, long before I ever went there, was the nightclub and movement Mosquito. For years their clubs, carnevals and block parties have been my go-to-places whenever I want to drop legs to the best riddims together with an international crowd.

So how real is it? Well let’s put this way – a friend I made in Port Antonio loves it so much she’s been flying over from Estonia to Stockholm several times since we came back to Europe, only to have a Jamaican revival at the clubs with me. Mosquito is actually a great example of the long lasting, positive impact local traveling could have on you – the founder Thomas Gylling, shares that his Jamaica/Caribbean fascination started in the late 70’s at Grandma Porter’s Guesthouse in Negril. Now, besides adding colour to Sweden’s nightlife, Mosquito is using the Caribbean vibes as a vehicle to make Stockholm a more open, fulljoyable and inclusive city. Big up!

Keeping The Jamaican Vibes Alive

The food

Jamrock is a great Jamaican/Caribbean restaurant in central Stockholm I visit every now and then. Ending a long work week with their “Finger licking fried chicken” and a rum drink, instantly takes me back to Kingston and how we started our Friday nights out. And it’s the real deal – the chefs are Jamaican, meaning the food is just as spicy and delicious as it should. And the staff adds to the experience of having been instantly transported to the island, with their friendliness and laidback professionalism. Happy as I am, they also have a food truck in the city and are soon opening a deli store with food and condiments – meaning, I’ll finallly be able to prep my own Caribbean kitchen!

The people

One of the biggest highlights of traveling the real Jamaica is the friends you’ll make, and staying in touch with them has been another way of having a piece of Jamaica at home. To lift my spirit and pass time during early morning commuting to work, I sometimes Skype with my Jamaican friends, to hear what’s new, and of course, practice patois. I’d like to think the randomness of a blonde woman suddenly bursting out a thickly accented “Waah gwaaan mi yute?” in the packed metro will lift the spirits of some fellow commuters as well.

These are some examples of what you can do to turn up the heat at home when you miss the vibrance of Jamaica. So tell us – how do you keep the vibes alive when you’re off island?

I’m a freelance writer, social changemaker and world traveler.



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Costa Cruises to Offer Traditional Italian Festivities on Holiday Cruises

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel




July 27, 2016


By: Newswire





costa cruisesCosta Cruises has announced a lineup of special events spotlighting traditional Italian festivities onboard Costa Deliziosa’s first two Caribbean sailings of the holiday season. 

Additionally, Costa is offering guests up to $200 onboard credit, per person, on bookings of the cruises, which sail back-to-back roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Costa Deliziosa’s first Caribbean voyage is a seven-night holiday sailing departing December 21, 2016, and the second is a 10-night cruise departing December 28. Onboard, decorations will include a grand Christmas tree and nativity scene in the atrium. 

After departing Fort Lauderdale December 21, Costa Deliziosa calls at Belize City, Belize, the night before Christmas. Guests will return after a day ashore and enjoy a special seven-course Christmas Eve dinner, capped off with pan d’oro, or “golden cake,” a traditional Italian dessert. Following dinner, a special midnight mass will be held. For Jewish guests, a variety of activities onboard will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, also on December 24. 

Throughout the Christmas voyage, junior cruisers will be invited to participate in holiday-themed arts and crafts sessions, sing carols around the ship and write a letter to Santa Claus. On Christmas Day guests will enjoy a white-sand Christmas at Roatan, Honduras. Santa will make an appearance onboard, bringing gifts for the kids and posing for photos. 

The seven-night itinerary also calls at Cozumel, Mexico; and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Rates for the Christmas cruise start at $695 per person, double occupancy.

Costa Deliziosa’s second sailing of the season is a 10-night cruise that includes calls in the eastern and western Caribbean. On New Year’s Eve the ship arrives at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, putting guests in the perfect mood to ring in the New Year. After a special New Year’s Eve dinner, parties are set to begin in the ship’s lounges and dance club, featuring live music, dancing and decorations. Guests will receive party favors and noisemakers to add to the celebratory atmosphere. 

During the voyage the ship also will call at Nassau, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; Roatan; and Costa Maya, Mexico. Rates begin at $1,395 per person, double occupancy. 

Visit www.costacruise.com

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Edie Rodriguez, CEO of Crystal Cruises, to Speak at ASTA Global Convention

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel




July 26, 2016


By: Newswire







Edie Rodriguez
Photo by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)

Crystal Cruises CEO Edie Rodriguez is set to speak at this year’s ASTA Global Convention. She’s slated to speak during the General Session on Tuesday, September 27. Guests must sign up for the event when registering for the convention.

Rodriguez, or “Speedy Edie” as she calls herself, is responsible for the most aggressive expansion of the Crystal Cruises brand in its 25 year history, ASTA said.

Following the acquisition of Crystal Cruises by Genting Hong Kong in May of 2015, Rodriguez was promoted to president and CEO of Crystal Cruises. Previously, Rodriguez has held senior executive positions with Carnival Cruise Lines as well as with Royal Caribbean Cruises.

The ASTA Global Convention will be held in Reno Tahoe this year from September 25 – September 28 at the Peppermill Resort.

Guests who register before August 1 will save $120 using the discount code Agents.

Visit www.astaglobalconvention.org

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Smile for me Jamaica (2/3)

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel


I stayed for a while in Kingston and travelled then almost around the whole island. From the coast to the Blue Mountains to the jungle, driving on the roads you’d expect will not have a village or a city at the end, but I always arrived.

This is my experience

Let’s start right from the beginning, in Kingston. The capital of Jamaica is often known to be very violent and very dangerous. That is, I guess, a main reason why so many travellers stay in Negril, Ocho Rios or any other place on the island, but don’t come to Kingston. Who could imagine staying for a month of travelling in Germany and not visiting Berlin – it’s capital.

I’ve been walking downtown Kingston, went to buy groceries in supermarkets and open street markets and never got annoyed by people, yes, sure I got asked to buy weed or even harder stuff, but to be honest, crossing Rua Augusta in Lisbon, Portugal, I got asked this questions day in day out.

And yes, you should not walk around Trench Town without anyone who knows the area, and may keep out in the night, but you should also know that Jamaica lives from tourism and that most of the violence is among Jamaicans. Having said this, I haven’t been in that area, unfortunately, and can’t tell you to go or not. But if you have travelled a lot, you get a feeling if you want to go to a certain district. However, would you move in a random district in Paris, Amsterdam or Bangkok? Probably not.

I can’t tell you a single situation in Kingston where I felt uncomfortable and that’s a fact. So give the capital a chance.

Moving on, I stayed a couple of nights in the Blue Mountains, in Portland, near Ocho Rios, around Negril and in Montego Bay. I have to say I never stayed directly in tourist spots.

Smile for me Jamaica (2/3)

When staying in Section, or around Hagley Gap in the Blue Mountains, latest then, I realised that Jamaica is not just sunshine and beach and it can get kinda chillin there as well. It is a different Jamaica, like in, every mountain region in the world. People are different, they are calmer, more relaxed. But the beauty of the nature stays, or let’s say, it changes but is equally beautiful. You also feel the difference about the air quality when breathing in, after a good sleep up the mountains. You learn to be more patient.

Every evening the different places offered a different view and experience. Sometimes the fog sneaked on the balcony and besides the mobile phone light, I had nothing, sometimes I sat around a table laughing my ass off, as I had just joyful people with the most hilarious stories and sense of humour around me.

Smile for me Jamaica (2/3)

When travelling around Portland I experienced the wide variety of guesthouses and people. Some had their business for 20 years and escaped Europe back then. There was more organisation and love for details, but at the same time the little Homestay in Portland opened its doors very warmly and with a big smile (Even though it was raining like shit).

This is just a slight inside in my travels in Jamaica and the love and joy was always with me. To say in general, I was always welcomed with a smile and a helpful hand. If you are open towards Jamaicans and people of the island, with your good sense of travelling and certain kind of situations you will have the time of your life.

I guess, what I loved the most about Jamaica is the joy of living that people spread. I can’t remember another travel experience, where I had to smile, grin, laugh and smirk so much as while my four weeks in Jamaica. So yeah, smile for me Jamaica, because I will always smile back.

If you are interested in this feature, please contact the Real Jamaica team! Thanks!

I am going to show you Jamaica through the perspective of my lens.



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This Week in Cruise: The Latest in Adventure Cruises

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel




July 25, 2016


By: Adam Leposa





south poleIt’s been a busy week for adventure cruise news. Here are some highlights. 

Seabourn launched new pre-cruise excursions to the South Pole on select Antarctica and Patagonia itineraries during the 2016-2017 cruise season. 

Available for guests onboard the Seabourn Quest, both packages include stays at Union Glacier Camp in the southern Ellsworth Mountains, one of a few private seasonally occupied camps in Antarctica. One package explores UNESCO World Heritage Site Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile, while the other visits Iguazu Falls National Park on the border of Brazil and Argentina

Also in Antarctica, Poseidon Expeditions announced new additions to its on-land camping slots and sea kayaking excursions. 

The cruise line has increased the number of overnight slots available per voyage from 30 to 40. Guests on Arctic or Antarctic itineraries can also participate in the line’s Sea Kayaking Club

Farther south, AdventureSmith Explorations has announced it is celebrating the launch of the newly renovated Safari Voyager with a discount on Costa Rica and Panama itineraries in 2016 and 2017. When booking before August 30, guests can save $350, with the potential to save $250 more. 

Finally, Aurora Expeditions has announced a new Galapagos Islands cruise on the 38-passenger Isabela II. The Galapagos Odyssey itinerary will offer geology lessons, hiking, wildlife encounters, and the chance to interact with a team of naturalists and wildlife specialists. The eight-night cruise sails from Baltra October 3. 

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest cruise industry news, trends and updates. 

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Poseidon Expeditions Increases Availability of Off-Ship Camping and Sea Kayaking

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel




July 21, 2016


By: Newswire





Poseidon Expeditions Increases Availability of Off-Ship Camping and Sea Kayaking

Poseidon Expeditions is adding to its on-land camping slots and sea kayaking options.  

For guests aboard the M/V Sea Spirit who wish to camp on land on Antarctic excursions, they will be supplied with mummy-shaped sleeping bags rated for temperatures to -18ºC (0ºF), a freshly laundered cotton sleeping bag liner and a full-length insulated foam sleeping pad. Guests have the option of a bivvy sack so they sleep under the stars singly or a deluxe two-person waterproof, freestanding dome tent instead.

“Last year we had only 30 overnight slots per voyage available,” said Steve Wellmeier, managing director of Poseidon’s North American sales and reservation office. “These allotments quickly sold out so this season we decided to offer 40 spaces.” 

Visit www.poseidonexpeditions.com/activities/camping/ for more information.

Guests on either Arctic or Antarctic tours will be allowed to join the Sea Kayaking Club (in groups of eight or 16, respectively), which includes an accompanying safety boat and qualified sea kayak guides. A comprehensive orientation and safety drill, polar-quality paddling suits, life jackets, and other gear come with the expedition. 

Visit www.poseidonexpeditions.com/activities/seakayakclub/ for more information.

Both adventures are unscripted as weather, ice, and wildlife will impact availability.

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The People In Jamaica – Blunt Honesty, Big Hearts, Best Friends

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel


It was a time for firsts. It was my first time going to Jamaica, and my very first time to travel all by myself. It was all kind of a “spur of the moment”­thing. I was nervous, not knowing what to expect, and I had decided to say goodbye to Norway and go to Jamaica only 10 days before leaving. I always keep an open mind, and of course going to Jamaica made no exception of this. Despite being warned by everyone about potentially being robbed, raped, kidnapped and murdered, I was pretty safe in my decision and ready for a new adventure. I’m a firm believer that every little thing is gonna be alright… no matter what.

The People In Jamaica – Blunt Honesty, Big Hearts, Best Friends

One thing I quickly picked up on was the attention from Jamaican men. As a “whitey” and “fluffy gyal” it did not take long before I got noticed. As soon as I stepped outside Sangster International Airport I got approached and before I knew it I even had places to stay throughout the island, but I kindly declined their offers. Throughout my travels I did get lots of proposals, but I never felt threatened. I quickly understood that Jamaicans are very, very honest and blunt ­ what they see is what they say, and I found it very refreshing.

I usually took their approaches with a smile and more than often struck up a conversation. That way I made new friends, found people who willingly helped me with questions or other concerns I had, and had people looking after me. Especially in Kingston this was a good trait I found in most of the people living in the neighbourhood of my hostel, and I always felt perfectly safe when I was out on my walkabouts.

The People In Jamaica – Blunt Honesty, Big Hearts, Best Friends

I found Jamaicans in general to be very proud, heartwarm, helpful and kind ­ it was a cultural experience I truly never had before. I made some connections online before I arrived and these people helped me out a lot. They really worked as a safety net for me and I was glad to have the chance to meet up with many of them during my travels.

Couchsurfing I had a great experience with a man in Montego Bay – staying with him gave me a chance to for a moment live like a true Jamaican. He was an excellent host, showing me around, introducing me to other locals in the community he lived in and they were all so friendly and open. I had a coconut at the front stairs with one of the neighbours telling me all kinds of stories those are the moments that truly stick with you. And oh, how I miss those fresh coconuts.

The People In Jamaica – Blunt Honesty, Big Hearts, Best Friends

I also stayed with a lovely woman I linked up with over Instagram, and I’m convinced she was sent from up above. I was coming down with one of those dreadful ”climate colds”, and by the time I left her house I had gotten rid the worst of my cough and stuffy nose. I’m forever greatful for her kindness. What more? Well I got myself two ”mothers” in Treasure Beach, they were so lovely and welcoming. I was the very first guest at a newly started B&B, and I was welcomed into their famiy in a way I never would have expected. I always tried taking the time to stop and talk to those I met on the road, sometimes leading to the great company I found with some locals in Negril, showing me the best time ever in the otherwise super touristy area.

I am completely in awe of all the people I met along my way and I’m sure the universe went out of its way for me to meet every single one of them ­ now they are such a big part of my love for this country. Such vibrant people with a love for life that exceeds everything. The positivity of the Jamaicans really rubs off on you, and I dare to say they made me a much better person ­ trying to adapt the «no problem»­ lifestyle into my own. Because really, there is no problem.

I’m an open-minded traveller that love to share my experiences!



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Carnival to Launch Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel




July 22, 2016


By: Newswire





build-a-bear workshop at sea onboard carnival cruise line

Carnival Cruise Line and Build-A-Bear Workshop have a new partnership that will bring Build-A-Bear Workshops to Carnival’s fleet. 

The first Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea is being rolled out aboard Carnival Dream and is expected to be fleetwide aboard all 25 Carnival ships by summer 2017.

The Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea provides children of all ages an opportunity to make their own cuddly bear that can be customized with a variety of outfits and accessories, from tutus and high-top sneakers to vacation wear like bathing suits and sunglasses. 

Each bear comes complete with its own “birth certificate” with the bear’s name and date he or she was created, as well as a logoed drawstring bag.  Additionally, the bears have their own “voice” via a recordable sound chip with children recording their own special message.

Children can also create monkeys, leopards, turtles and other furry friends, as well as a St. Jude Bear with proceeds benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of Carnival’s primary charitable partners.

Participants can make their custom-designed bears at pop-up Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea workstations located within the Camp Ocean facilities or join the ships’ cruise directors with Build-A-Bear At Sea parties held each cruise and offering music, bear-themed snacks and photo opportunities. The pop-up workstations are set up at designated times throughout the cruise and include everything to make a bear with racks filled with various outfits and accessories as well as a stuffer that allows participants to add soft stuffing.

Prices for the bears start at $20 with outfits and accessories starting at $5.

Visit goccl.com

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AdventureSmith Explorations Adds Discounted Itineraries and Renovated Ship

By M and M Travel and Tours on in Travel




July 21, 2016








safari voyager
The Safari Voyager. Photo by AdventureSmith Explorations.

AdventureSmith Explorations is expanding its portfolio. The cruise line recently added the newly renovated Safari Voyager to its collection of small ships. To celebrate the launch, guests are invited to enjoy an exclusive discount on select new 2016 and 2017 itineraries from Costa Rica and Panama. Cruises booked before August 30 will receive $350 off and the opportunity to save an additional $250 more.

The Safari Voyager, after undergoing a $4 million restoration this fall, is a 62-passenger, 174-foot yacht. The ship is equipped with kayaks, stand up paddle boards, inflatable skiffs, snorkel gear, wet suits and more.

New itineraries for the Safari Voyager include “Unchartered Isthmus,” an eight-day voyage exploring the shorelines of Costa Rica and Panama via the Pacific Coastline and the 48-mile-long Panama Canal. Guests will have the opportunity to spot wildlife like sloths, monkeys and macaws while visiting Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park, prior to snorkeling at Panama’s Granito de Oro.

Pure Panama,” another new itinerary for the Safari Voyager, taking passengers on a nine-day exploration of Panama. Guests can travel by motorized canoe to meet the local Embrá peoples, hike in the Darién Jungle, kayak along the Charges River, explore the historic UNESCO site Fort San Lorenzo and snorkel and stand up paddle board among the Las Perlas and Guna Yala islands.

The itineraries are combinable with land packages for travelers to enjoy additional savings; like the “Tropical Volcano and Cloud Forest” cruise extension, a six-day trip to Arenal  National Park and the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Prior to any discounts, the “Unchartered Isthmus” adventure starts at $2,995 per person/double, with discounts available on the Dec. 17, 2016, Jan. 7, 14, 21, Feb. 4, March 4, 18, and April 1, 15, 22, 2017 sail dates.

The “Pure Panama” trips starts at $3,795 per person/double prior to any discounts, with discounts available on all departures from April through September 2017, booked before August 30.

Visit www.adventuresmithexplorations.com

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