Club Med Columbus Isle


Flight

anne63
10 Posts
09
Feb
2011
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Hi, Does anyone know how long the flight takes and what time it leaves from NY to San Salvador? Thanks
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Trish
476 Posts
09
Feb
2011
Anne,

For the upcoming season, you don't fly direct to San Sal. You fly to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and take a quick flight from there - less than 1 hour. The CM packages include the flight from FLL to San Sal.

Now, as for how long it take to get from NY to San Sal, you'll need to check on the internet or see if Adria from the Reef Police replies (she does that flight a lot).

Good luck!
Patricia

Dive now; work later!
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anne63
10 Posts
10
Feb
2011
Ok, thanks a lot!
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SHiller616
120 Posts
10
Feb
2011
We've done the trip twice from NY, arranging the NY / FLL part of the trip by ourselves to catch the FLL / ZSA flight. (it is about a 3 hr. flight) First time, we used Jet Blue, but it arrives at a different terminal, and the timing was a little tight. Second time we used Spirit - obviously, arrives and departs from same terminal, a little less stressful.

When you go to check in at FLL for the flight to San Salvador, look for a Club Med rep - you don't need to get on the same long line as all of the other people.

Have a great time!
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
11
Feb
2011
There are no Club Med charters from NY to Columbus Isle. If you book from NY, with Club Med making all your travel arrangements, they will put you on a very early morning flight from NYC to Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to connect with the weekly Club Med charter flight from FLL to San Salvador Island, Bahamas (ZSA). That charter flight is on Spirit Air: flight # 2098 departs FLL 12:15 every Saturday/arrives ZSA 1:35. The return charter flight is # 2099, departing ZSA 2:35/arriving FLL 3:57.
The flight from NYC area airports (whether LGA, JFK or EWR) is a scheduled 3 hours, but actually about 2 1/2 hours flying time. The charter from FLL to ZSA actually is just 40 minutes flying time.
Do NOT try to check your bags all the way through from NY to San Salvador Island. They will probably wind up in San Salvador, El Salvador. (FYI, the correct baggage destination code for San Salvador Island, Bahamas is ZSA.) Unless a Club Med rep in NY tells you otherwise, check them only to FLL, claim them and then take them with you when you check in again at the special Club Med section at the Spirit Airlines terminal. (As Susan mentioned, you do not have to stand on the incredibly long regular check-in line at Spirit - ask for the special Club Med section, where you will find several very nice Club Med reps who will help you get through the process very easily. The same nice Club Med reps will also be waiting for you when you emerge from Customs after your return flight back from ZSA to FLL.)
Once you've checked in with the Club Med reps at FLL and gone through security, you can take a deep breath and enjoy yourself. The Spirit departure gate area at FLL has some of the best airport take-away food anywhere if you're hungry - courtesy of Chef Allen's To Go, run by one of the best restaurants in South Florida. The charter flight is quick with spectacular views of turquoise water and lovely little islands & reefs all the way to San Sal.....
Have a wonderful time!

Adria
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
11
Feb
2011
By the way, if you choose NOT to have the Club arrange the NY to FLL flights for you, keep in mind that if you miss that charter flight from FLL, or miss your connecting flight back to NY after the charter returns a week later, there isn't much the Club can do to help you. We do have friends who prefer to take Jet Blue or other carriers into FLL, but they fly down the night before and stay over at an airport hotel to be sure they don't miss the charter. And on the way home, if you're making your own arrangements aside from the charter flights, you have to allow at least a 4 hour lay-over at FLL before the flight back to NY. When you fly back from ZSA to FLL, you have to clear US Immigration & Customs there, and the amount of time that takes can vary tremendously. Sometimes we've scooted through in under 1/2 hour; sometimes it's taken 3 hours - all depends on what other international flights have landed just before yours. It's much less stressful to have Club Med book the whole thing for you; then they will take care of everything, have Club reps there to greet & assist you at both ends, and make flights changes if necessary when there are possible connection problems.


Adria
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Trish
476 Posts
12
Feb
2011
See Anne! I told you Adria would know exactly what to do!
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JAMESSITE
1652 Posts
12
Feb
2011
I totally agree with Adria about having CM book entire trip. When we were stranded at Sandpiper over Christmas, they did all the leg work and got us flights back. Just wanted to add this as info. Sometimes you might pay a little more for a CM booking, but sometimes it can be worth it when problems arise.

Jim

How many gold bar beads?
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Robinpg
42 Posts
15
Feb
2011
hi:

I have flown to COl. Isle both ways: flying from NYC to FLL, then using the Charter from FLL , and also by doing it myself, flying directly to Nassau, and then taking the puddle jumper from Nassau to ZSA. Note that you cannot do it in one day however; you have to spend the night in Nassau (which is delightful in itself). I did it that way because I used FF miles. but in the end it sort of comes out the same.

Cheers,

Robin
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
15
Feb
2011
Robin, you can actually make the trip from NYC to Columbus Isle in one day if you catch the very early morning Jet Blue nonstop from NYC to Nassau. That normally does get you to Nassau in time to catch the daily Bahamasair flight from Nassau to San Salvador Island. We've also done it the way you did, with an overnight stay in Nassau on the way down. But schlepping all our scuba gear back & forth between the Nassau airport and a hotel (and right back to the airport again the next morning) really was a bit of a hassle for the one night stay. Even on the way back, when there are more connection possibilities after arriving back at Nassau, it can be a big hassle to clear US Immigration & Customs at the Nassau airport because of all the cruise passengers coming through via that route. I agree Nassau can be a nice stop-over - when we've done that it was also because (like you) we wanted to use frequent flyer miles, or sometimes it was because we wanted to go for a period of time that didn't match the Club charter schedules; but it's really so much easier to fly down to Ft. Lauderdale and catch the Club Med Spirit Air charter if you're going from NYC to Columbus Isle and can work with the Saturday charter flight schedule.

Adria
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anne63
10 Posts
21
Feb
2011
Ok, thanks a lot for all the information. The problem is that I am leaving from Amsterdam. I have to go to Paris first and then take the XL Airways flight directly to ZSA. XL Airways seems to be very bad, no quality, and the seats very, very tight. Since I am travelling with my husband who is quite tall and there are no business seats available I was looking for another way to get to Columbus ISle but reading all this I guess I have no choice.,
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
21
Feb
2011
From Amsterdam you can also get there the way a good friend of ours comes every summer from Ostend. He flies (first class, in his case) nonstop from London to Miami on British Air, then Miami to Nassau & Nassau to San Salvador Island on Bahamasair. There used to be non-stops on BA from London to Nassau also; don't know if they still have them, but easy for you to find out. This will cost more than the Club charter flight from Paris to ZSA, of course; but if the comfort issue is more important (as it is for my friend) then it is another way to go - and then you are also not locked in to the scheduled weekly departure dates for the Club Med charter flights. You could book "Village/Village" (land only) through Club Med and then get your own flights via Nassau. This works best, however, if you're coming for a longer period of time (more than just one week) because you might have to spend a night in Miami or Nassau on the way over, depending on the flight schedules.

Adria
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
21
Feb
2011
Just another thought: you could also fly on your own to Miami, stay over one night there & catch one of the Saturday Club Med charter flights from Ft. Lauderdale. That is a very short charter flight, just 40 minutes actual flying time from FLL to ZSA. (You would book that as part of a package with Columbus Isle including transportation from Ft. Lauderdale.) We know quite a few GM's who do it this way each summer from Europe and then stay a day or two at each end in Miami. It's a very civilized way to do it....

Adria
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anne63
10 Posts
09
Mar
2011
Hi, thanks again for all the information. We should fly from Paris non stop with XL Airways but that airline seems to be so bad (no business class seats available) now we are looking for another option. I have checked the Londen-Nassau trip and that works very well for us. We will then stay one night in Nassau but that is no problem. Hopefully Club Med will cooperate with this change because the Paris non stop is not a good idea and we will loose one night anyhow with travelling from Amsterdam to Paris becuase the flight leaves eraly in the morning. We are looking forward so much to our stay in Columbus Isle, we will stay there for two weeks in July/August and we all can't wait.
Anne
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
09
Mar
2011
Good luck, Anne. Hope you can do the London-Nassau route. It's a very civilized way to get there, especially if you book Business Class.
When we've had to spend the night in Nassau getting to Columbus Isle, we've stayed at the British Colonial Hilton, which is reasonably priced & in a great location for a one-night stay (you can walk to restaurants, easy to get from/back to airport, etc.):
http://www.hiltoncaribbean.com/index.php?destination=nassau
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g147416-d148122-Reviews-British_Colonial_Hilton_Nassau-Nassau_New_Providence_Island_Bahamas.html
When do you plan to go?
(maybe we'll see you there if it's during the summer)

Adria
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anne63
10 Posts
10
Mar
2011
Hi Adria,

Thanks for the hotel information. We will be there from July 20 till AUgust 3th. Maybe we will see you there.
Anne
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anne63
10 Posts
19
Mar
2011
Yeah we booked the flight! We'll fly from Amsterdam to Londen and then on to Nassau. We'll stay one night in Nassau, do some shopping and fly to San Salvador the next afternoon. Can't wait!!!
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
19
Mar
2011
Sounds perfect, Anne! Hope you have a fabulous time....

Adria
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Trish
476 Posts
20
Mar
2011
Anne,

Sounds like you've set it up well! There's one other thing you (or anyone reading this) should know about that XL flight from Paris. You get on the plane and half of the people on it are going to the village at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. This means two things:

First: the flight there is OK because you arrive in San Sal first. But the return is hell because you get on in San Sal and then you fly to the DR. There, you wait during a 3 hour layover for all the people from Punta Cana to join the plane. There is a waiting area with Duty Free, etc., but it's not air-conditioned and it's pretty miserable. (But this stop is required before the plane takes off back across the Atlantic because the San Sal airport doesn't have the equipment, etc. to certify the plane for a trans-Atlantic flight.)

Second: because you are also travelling with people who are going to Punta Cana (with an excellent mini-club), the plane is packed with shrieking, coughing little kids. It's a 9 hour flight of hell. Plus, when I last did it back in 2003, I am SURE it's how I caught the bronchitis that ruined my first week of diving.

Although I don't know yet if I'll have the cash to go back to Columbus this summer, I did play around with the prices on the internet last week. Ironically, it is CHEAPER for me to book a ticket from Paris to Atlanta (where my family lives) and pay for the flight to FLL and then on to San Sal vs. taking the direct flight from Paris on XL!

I am often amazed on the pricing differences on the different CM websites. The basic rule of thumb is this: if I am travelling to the N. American zone, it's cheaper for me to do my own trans-Atlantic flight and book through CM USA. But if I'm going to a village in Europe or the Middle East (Egypt, etc.), then it's cheaper for me to book through the French CM site.

Have a great trip!
Trish

Dive now; work later!
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ReefPolice
315 Posts
21
Mar
2011
Many Europeans do take that weekly Club Med charter flight from Ft. Lauderdale to San Sal. In fact, when my husband & I took the flight back from San Sal to Ft. Lauderdale last August, we originally had not-so-great seats in the back of the plane; but we lucked out because the flight attendants made an announcement asking if there was ANYONE AT ALL on that flight whose first language was English. We were the only ones who raised our hands; the other passengers were all French or Italian. We got moved up to the exit row (much more leg room), and they put my husband next to one emergency door and me next to the other emergency door. (Many of the other passengers did speak excellent English, by the way; but apparently the flight crew wanted to be sure they could communicate rapidly in case of an emergency.) So it was our lucky day for better seats, but interesting that the flight from Ft. Lauderdale was completely European passengers except for the 2 of us. This was not the situation on our previous trips to Columbus Isle earlier in the summer, but in August Columbus Isle is almost entirely European.
Anyway, it is not uncommon for folks from Europe to find ways to fly to Columbus Isle other than that XL charter flight from Paris. They come via Nassau or Miami....
(and also, despite the detour via Punta Cana and other complaints, that XL Paris charter sells out very quickly, so some people have no choice but to come via Nassau or Miami/Ft. Lauderdale)

Adria
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anne63
10 Posts
21
Mar
2011
Hi Trish and Adria,

Thanks again for all your info.
I am very relieved that we've changed our flight, despite the fact that we also travel with our four children, haha. But then our oldest is 20 and the youngest is 10 so they usually don't cry or shriek during the flight.
The oldest three are girls and they can't wait to leave although it still takes four months before we will arrive on CI. I've showed all four of them the lovely pictures of CM and especially the girls hope the GO's are as handsome as they were last year...
Anyway the six of us are looking forward to our two weeks stay over there. Can't wait...
Anne
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