For most, a Caribbean vacation is a serious splurge. The cost of the flights, hotel or resort, activities, food, and transportation stack up quickly, and traveling when the weather is at its worst can be the best bet for scoring discounts. But a slew of deals from JetBlue Vacations is adding options that might be the ticket to a Caribbean vacation for budget-minded travelers.
When they re-launched in 2020, JetBlue Vacations offered their Insider Experience packages to just two destinations: Aruba and Punta Cana. They’ve since expanded to offer the Insider Experience and all of its perks on trips to Cancun and Montego Bay. Their packages focus on some modest added perks, but it’s the included discounts that make these some of the best vacation deals currently available for the Caribbean.
On a recent JetBlue Vacations trip to Aruba, I had the chance to get familiar with the program and all of its perks. Here’s what you can expect if you decide to book a JetBlue vacation package to the Caribbean.
Flights come with perks
Booking a JetBlue Vacation doesn’t include first-class amenities, but it does come with some perks that elevate the usual in-flight experience. Early boarding—that’s Group B, to be specific—is a convenience on full flights with limited carry-on storage. After getting settled, it never hurts to kick off vacation a bit early—or sneak in a final indulgence—with the complimentary wine, cocktail, or beer during beverage service.
Considering that JetBlue is also the only US airline to offer free, high-speed in-flight wifi at every seat in its fleet and boasts the widest seats and most legroom of any US airline, this might be one of the most comfortable experiences available in economy. It certainly made my four-and-a-half-hour flight from JFK to Aruba pass by quickly.
The only catch: flight crews and gate attendants don’t seem entirely looped in on which passengers are JBV customers, so while they’ll certainly respect the early boarding and free drinks, they might not offer them upfront. It could be more organized, but I didn’t find it a hardship to mention that complimentary beverage to the flight attendants.
JetBlue plans vacation activities
Available around the clock, JetBlue Vacation’s hotline connects customers with a representative who can answer questions about upcoming reservations, help arrange transportation, and even make reservations for tours and activities. With different perks at each hotel and different discounts at each destination, it’s helpful—refreshing, even—to be able to get clarification from a human. That’s a US-based human who won’t charge extra for making reservations over the phone or put you on hold for half an hour. At least, not in my experience.
Connect with local favorites
“Ask a local” for everything from restaurant recommendations to directions is easier said than done while in the planning stage of a trip, scrolling through endless listicles and online reviews—or even on vacation, lounging by the resort pool. JetBlue closes that gap by putting its Vacations customers in touch with an “Insider”: a resident expert who is available around the clock to answer your questions, give recommendations, and even help arrange reservations and transport.
It might not be a selling point for most, but it does provide a slightly more intimate connection with someone on the ground who can help mold an itinerary or give first-hand insight into the destination. On the other hand, for the more independent (or introverted) traveler, it can be a resource in the case of sticky situations.
Transportation is a breeze
Free airport transfers are a major convenience, but free transportation on demand? That can feel like a luxury. From being dropped off at the beach for a kayak tour to being picked up from lunch afterward, having access to a driver brought a level of convenience to my Aruba trip that I would’ve had to rent a car to emulate. While JetBlue vacations don’t include a private driver—the shuttle is shared by any and all JetBlue Vacations customers at a property—we had the van to ourselves each time we needed it.
The catch: airport transfers have to be requested; they’re not automatic. There’s an option to select a transfer at checkout, and then a reminder in the confirmation email that customers can request their transfer via the hotline, as well. Any other transportation can be arranged with the hotel concierge or local insider.
“Very Important Perks”
Welcome drinks at the resort, a free massage at the on-site spa, and dining credits are some of the more common perks that the (many) partnering properties offer to JetBlue Vacations customers. In fact, these perks are listed right along with the price per night. With multiple perks per property, it’s a lot of information to sort through, but it does make it easy to pick a property that’s going to make the budget stretch—and maybe check a few extra boxes. At the Marriott Aruba, where I stayed for three nights, JetBlue guests receive a $150 credit for any of the on-site bars and restaurants. Considering that I had dinner, drinks, and a couple of breakfasts at the property—all reasonably priced—that’s effectively a $150 discount. Other perks at partner properties include free spa treatments or spa credit, a private dinner for two, and guaranteed late check-out.
Discounts at popular attractions
For travelers looking to experience a destination beyond the beach, JetBlue has partnered with local companies to offer discounts on day trips, tours, and entrance fees. In Aruba, that includes a jeep tour of Arikok National Park, a favorite of residents and visitors alike and the highlight of my time on the island.
JetBlue sends a considerable list of discounts and coupons to customers once flights are purchased—another perk to keep an eye out for. I spoke with more than one JetBlue Vacations customer who booked all of their activities at home before they realized they had discount codes, at which point it was too late to get the reduced price. Again, this is where the JetBlue helpline can come in handy; they can help customers choose discounted activities and make reservations in advance.
Built-in trip insurance
With airlines struggling to keep up with the surge in flight demand and flight cancellations on the rise, booking any vacation comes with the increased worry that a delayed flight will cut short a trip. For those flying to catch a cruise, the stakes are that much higher. Basic insurance like the Chase Sapphire travel insurance can reimburse customers for prepaid activities or rentals that were missed due to certain types of flight delays. The downside: a lengthy reimbursement process that does nothing to help travelers actually make it to their destination.
This is an area where JetBlue Vacations raises the bar. For customers who buy a flight and cruise combo, JetBlue guarantees that they’ll get you to your departure port on time or, failing that, to the following day’s port. Would you rather just reschedule the same cruise for different dates? They’ll do that too, and tack on an additional 50% off the next package. It’s a perk no one wants to have to use, but it could salvage a vacation if things go belly up.
Best price guarantee
JetBlue Vacation packages offer a Best Price Guarantee on their flight and hotel packages, giving customers 48 hours after booking to reach out if the same package is available elsewhere for a lower price. That guarantee extends to all trips originating in the US (including Puerto Rico), and the lower-priced package must be from an “approved U.S. competitor website.” Check those boxes, and JetBlue is on the hook for issuing a credit to match the lower price.