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traveling w/infant - direct flights to islands & ferries

traveling w/infant - direct flights to islands & ferries

Jul 24th, 2006, 06:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 532
traveling w/infant - direct flights to islands & ferries

We're planning a trip to the Caribbean who will be one-year-old when we travel. I've seen many of the helpful posts about travel but a few additional questions...

I think a direct flight from the US would be ideal. Which islands are serviced by "big" planes rather than puddle jumpers? From what I've learned it seems like St. Croix, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico. Have I missed any?

OR - what are the ferries like? I'm a bit paranoid about taking a boat to an island without knowing what the boats are like. Are there ultra small life jackets available? is the boat enclosed or totally open (and thus easier for a child to fall off the boat)?

Thanks for helping a well-traveled mom with her first "family travel" experience!
hlphillips2 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 04:23 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,759
You can probably also fly directly into Antigua & St. Maarten (depending on where you are departing from). If that is your primary concern, I would opt for PR. It offers a lot & is easy to naviagate. My children have little trouble on the smaller planes. Usually the droning of the engines actually puts them to sleep (4 & 15 months).
SAnParis is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 05:26 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 87
It depends on where you are flying from. In addition to the islands that you and SanParis mentioned, I've flown direct to St. Lucia, Jamaica, Aruba, Martinique and Guadeloupe from the New York area. My wife and I have 3 year old triplets and we've travelled quite a bit with them. They've never had any problems on the big or small planes. However, the big pain in the neck when you have to switch planes is not that the kids can't handle it -- the problem is carrying all of the stuff (diapers, food, bottles, toys, strollers, kids themselves, etc.) from one plane to another -- it doesn't matter how big or small the plane is. By the way, it is much easier to travel with a one year old than a three year old. Infants tend to sleep most of the way. (Give the baby a bottle during takeoff and landing so his ears don't pop.) As they get older, they sleep less and get bored much more easily and want to walk up and down the aisle, regardless of whether the seat belt sign is on or off.
dominick2 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 05:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Just to clarify you may be seeking a "Non-stop" flight rather than a "Direct" flight. The former is exactly what it says - a flight that takes off from point A and does not land until it reaches it's final destination. A Direct flight is a flight that takes off from point A and makes one or more stops before reaching it's final destination. FYI - a connecting flight meams you change planes at least during the flight.

All that said, assuming you are leaving from a major international gateway city that offers flights to the Caribbean I suspect you are actually looking for a non-stop flight rather than a direct flight. If so, depending on your city of origin you might be able to reach (in addition to the ones mentioned on your post) Grand Cayman, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Turks & Caicos, Nassau, Antigua, St. Martin, St. Lucia and/or Barbados.

To answer your other questions, taking a connecting flight doesn't necessarilly involve taking "puddle jumpers". Many flights from say San Juan are on ATR-72's which are larger 64 passenger twin engine turbo-prop planes or somewhat smaller Dash-8's. Of course, some of the local airlines do use very small planes - it will depend on the airline and the island you are trying to reach. You should know that families with small children fly on these types of planes every day without any difficulties whatsoever. Think of it as taking your child on a bus - no more no less.

As for the ferries, generally they are large boats that hold anywhere from 50 to 200 passengers. For the most part they have fully enclosed cabins with either rows of bench seating (think cushioned church pews) or individual seats. Many times the cabins are fully air-conditioned. Some have extra seating above decks for those who want to experience an open air crossing. In every case the seats are actually below protective gunwales (the sides of the ship) so that the only way a child could fall off the boat would be for someone to lift him or her up over the side. The ferries are required to have life vests which are normally stored in bins or closets throughout the ship. They have both adult and child size life jackets but doubtful there would ant "infant size" one on board. I realize your parental concerns but ferry sinkings in the Caribbean are extremely rare. Again, for what it is worth, you see parents with infants and small children on the ferries every day. It's really nothing to be concerned about.
A_Traveller is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 532
Thank you so much! I realize I'm being a completely paranoid parent, and if we were traveling to Europe I'd be better prepared for what to expect but I'm not well-versed in Caribbean travel. I guess I'm picturing ferries as being more like a Venetian vaparetto, which I wouldn't want to ride for more than 20 minutes with a squirmy child!

My main goal is avoiding small prop planes to give me the option of walking up & down aisles with the little one if necessary, since she gets bored easilly.

I live in Indianapolis, so at least two planes are a given! I can get to Miami or Atlanta on one flight if I know the next plane will take us directly to our final destination (lugging all of our things from plane to plane is certainly also an issue, thus direct flight is ideal even with a SJU stop). It's great to know that the flights out of San Juan are often big planes - it broadens our possibilities considerably!
hlphillips2 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 07:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 47
Since you mentioned flying into Atlanta, try Delta's airline website where it shows all the destinations in the Caribbean that it flies to.http://www.delta.com/planning_reserv...bean/index.jsp
aruba1006 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 04:54 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 89
When my son was 11 months old we went to visit friends in Barbados...although we stayed at their house it was a bit different than a hotel but we did find the island to be VERY child friendly - we had meals that we are lovely places (the lovelier the ealier a lunch we would do to have the atmosphere but not ruin everyones experience without children) and and friendly and many mainstream places too, the beaches shopping, car rentals with car seats all great.

In Jan. we went to St. Martin with our son who was then 1.5 and they too were VERY child friendly but we did take direct flights - we had to stop to pick people up in St.Kitts (where we are going this January) on the way back from SXM but other than a creepy landing it was no problem- and then flight to and from BBdos was LONG...but with a travelling DVD player, games, a soother and a bottle with lots of people willing to walk him up and down the aisles...great great great!! But no boats for us - travelling with a child is an adventure enough....off to St. Kitts in January and we are considering whether we will ferry across to Nevis...
Carib_dreamn is offline  

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