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Out of date and lacking practical detail
on 4 August 2014
When we visited the Caribbean many years ago, we made good use of the Lonely Planet guide to the Eastern Caribbean, which was really useful and reliable. Unfortunately, you can only get a hardcopy LP guide to the whole Caribbean now - but I invested in a copy remembering how useful the old book was.
Sadly, this guide was almost useless. Although it said it had been updated in 2011, much of the information inside hadn't been revised since 2009 or earlier, and with plenty of recent development on the islands we visited, this meant it was pretty useless. Restaurants had closed or moved, new ones had opened, and even the maps - which turned out to be the most useful part - were out of date with new or changed roads. The background about the islands, which is usually interesting and worth reading, was also out of date, and we learnt more about current affairs from our taxi driver from the airport.
Even the practical information in the guide was misleading - for example, many/most of the hotels on St Kitts now use US voltage (110V), but the guide still just says 220V. A lot of information we would have found useful just wasn't there - locations of petrol stations and supermarkets out of the capital, restaurants with children's menus, not being able to take a rental car from St Kitts to Nevis, etc.
I don't know whether the information on the other islands is equally patchy and out-dated, but reading through the rest of the book, a lot of the guide seemed aimed at people on cruises with a day at each of various islands, short on detail and practicalities. In places, the guide seemed to be written for a US audience (e.g. 'visit the US Virgin Islands without worrying about border crossings or passports…').
I'm not sure who Lonely Planet's target market is these days - on the one hand, trying a bit too hard to be cool 'liming with the locals', but there's not much practical information for younger independent travellers e.g. where to buy food without spending a fortune eating out. There's also very little information aimed at families (child friendly restaurants, toilets, etc.) So I'm guessing, middle aged Americans on cruise ships who want to feel like they're seeing the 'real' Caribbean (whatever that is)?
Considering the price, I wish I hadn't bothered buying this. We got better information from TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, the complementary magazine in the our hotel room, and our taxi driver.