Port and Shore Excursions
A wonderful island to visit and this year we took an X-Rail tour through the Mayan jungle and learned a bit about the Mayan culture. It was with Wild Tours and it was the same company that the ship uses to book its tours with. We met downtown at Margaritaville and were taken by taxi to the tour site. We met up with a tour from the ship and spent three hours driving on the trail in the jungle. Make sure you take clothes that you can get dirty in. Very dirty. Very Very Dirty. They are open wheeled cars and you are driving through mud puddle and the dirt sprays up into the car. We were covered in mud when we were done. The ship says to take clothes that you can get dirty in but they do not elaborate on how dirty you will get. If you are taking a backpack, I would suggest that you put everything inside into a plastic bag as it will get dirty. We figured out that if you take a couple of straps, you can strap your backpack to the roof of the car and it will not get as dirty or wet. If you try to keep it at your feet, it will get soaked. We used the straps on the front of the pack to lash it to the roof and it stayed there and stayed dry on the way back. Not so much when we put it at our feet for the trip out. I would highly recommend this tour and enjoy getting dirty. There is running water at the end to rinse off with but you will not get clean. Your clothes will be dirty so a shirt that is old and disposable might be in order. I wore my bathing suit as the shorts so I could rinse off and took a second shirt.
We rated this port as a 5 as we have been here before, but we have been scheduled to be there 3 times and have only been once. This is one of the ports where you are tendered in from the ship to the port as there is no docks for the cruise ships. There is fragile coral reefs that would be destroyed by the construction of the cruise ship terminals. As a result, if the waves are too big, they will not be able to tender you to the shore from the ship. This cruise, we made an alternate stop in Key West instead but we did not get off the ship that day because we were going to be there on the second leg of the B2B. We stayed on board and made use of the frozen drink package we purchased :-). It was also quite cool and was threatening rain. Turned out to be a good decision on our part as the skies opened up 2 hours before the ship sailed for Miami.
This is a quaint little port and there are lots of things to do, but the ship docks at 7:00am and a lot of things are still closed at that time. Leaving at 1:30pm does not give you a whole lot of time to take some of the more adventurous tours. Last year we rented a Harley from Adventure Cycle in Key West and spent the time riding up highway 1 toward Islamorada. It was a nice ride. This year we rented a jet ski and took a guided tour around the island. It was around 65-70 degrees so we were the only ones on the tour. It was a great time and we received a lot of local information about the island from the guide.
We love Jamaica although the pressure can be a little intense to the uninitiated. If you just say no thanks and keep walking, you will be fine. Last year we did the Dunn's River Falls and White River tubing and enjoyed both tours. We used Peat Taylor Tours and booked it ourselves. We had a private bus that took us to the falls and waited for us while we climbed and then picked us up after we were finished and took us to the drop off point for tubing on the White River. When we were done, he picked us up at the bottom and took us to the ship. We asked to be dropped off at the local grocery store, General Foods, where we picked up some Jerk Chicken Spice and Blue Mountain Coffee. We then walked back to the ship on our own. It was about a 15 minute walk. The weather was in the low 80's with a little humidity but a great day none the less. This year we had a taxi driver take us on a tour of Ocho Rios and outlying areas. We asked him to take us to a place where we could get authentic Jerk Chicken and Port and he took us to Scotchies, which is a place the locals haunt and we had an absolutley wonderful lunch there. We had him take us to General Foods again this year to re-supply us with Jerk Chicken spice and Blue Mountain coffee. All in all, it was a wonderful day.