We love embarking at the Port of Miami. The port is excellent and easy to navigate - even for first time cruisers. BUT be careful of where you book a pre-cruise hotel room. We always stay in the downtown Miami area, but discovered the entire area closed to traffic (I mean EVERY SINGLE STREET)for a triathlon on the morning of embarkation. Getting to the port turned into a nightmare even after the streets opened at noon, because traffic was so backed up due to the area having been shut down since 3 or 4AM.
We have always enjoyed the city of Miami, but we were horrified by the poor planning of the city government on this occasion. People couldn't get out of the port or into the port. That fiasco actually affected the departure of the ships from port that day! It was absurd!!
We have been to Great Stirrup Cay on several occasions and now choose to stay on the ship rather than going ashore there. Unless you are seriously into the beach, there is nothing special about the place. It is just a barren rock with some beach on it.
We have now visited Ocho Rios twice. We took an excursion the first time and chose this time to walk into the downtown area. The tubing excursion on the White River is worth every penny, but don't waste your time on downtown! It is filthy, over priced, and the locals are obnoxious, peddling everything from hair braiding to taxi rides and trinkets. The natural beauty of the island is fantastic, and that is what we will stick with in the future! No more trips into town!
We have visited this port numerous times and chose to stay aboard ship this time since the weather was terrible that day. The shopping is okay there, and Las Palmeros restaurant (ship recommended)is quite good.