Sea voyagers beware: There are pirates hitting the waters in November, and they're on their way to the Caribbean.
However, this isn't the latest Johnny Depp movie. An estimated 35,000 buccaneers — with at least some of them clad in tri-corner hats and brandishing swords — are set to invade the Cayman Islands this month in search of fun and treasure. The Caribbean getaway will play host to the annual Pirates Week National Festival, which runs Nov. 12-22.
For the thousands of would-be swashbucklers, an action-packed week awaits, filled with diversions such as costume competitions, a charity golf classic and an underwater treasure hunt. One of the event's marquee attractions is an "Illumination Night Parade," featuring boats and yachts adorned in twinkling lights sailing through the harbor.
The Caymans — a tiny nation of fewer than 60,000 people mainly known for its tourism and status as a tax haven — have played host to the event for nearly four decades, where visitors start their vacation off with a large-scale fireworks display and kickoff party.
"Pirates Week makes a sizable contribution to visitor arrivals, which attract over 11,000 unique visitors each year, visitor expenditures, hotel occupancy rates and spillover effects on the Cayman economy," said Melanie McField, executive director of the Pirates Week Festival. Pirates Week is the Cayman Islands' largest and most popular event, she said.
Many venues on the island are offering special accommodations and amenities to guests. The five-star luxurious beachfront Ritz Carlton Hotel has come up with a few special offerings for travelers this year, including a "Plundering Pirates Kayak Tour."
The voyage brings guests on a tour through time, reliving the adventures of pirates and discovering new frontiers. And like those seafaring plunderers before them, there will be plenty of strong drinks. One of the signature pirate-inspired cocktails is called the "Fog Lantern," combining cherry and vanilla rum smoked in a lantern chamber with cherry wood and cinnamon chips.
"We are proud to create memorable experiences that will encourage travelers to see the best of Grand Cayman through the eyes of some of its first visitors," said Marc Langevin, general manager of the Grand Cayman's Ritz Carlton. However, would-be revelers might be advised to make travel arrangements quickly.
"The resort always fills up quickly because of its premier location right on the ocean front which provides a great view of many of the oceanfront planned events that the island is hosting," Langevin added.