Members Speak Out: Cruise Fans Weigh in on Visiting Jamaica

May 28, 2010
Cruising Jamaica (6 p.m. EDT) -- Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Jamaica, and although the alert did not specifically mention Ocho Rios or Montego Bay -- the most common cruise ports on the island -- cruisers are a bit shaken by the intention of cruise lines to continue calls to the island.

Indeed, Cruise Critic checked in this week with executives at Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean -- all of which call regularly in Jamaica and have calls scheduled through the rest of the month -- and all reported there would be no deviation from Jamaica.

Understanding that Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, not to mention the attractions that cruise travelers most typically visit on the island of Jamaica, are removed from the chaos, we still wondered: would you want to take a cruise that calls there just now?

So we asked you. More than 50 percent of the more than 1,500 people who responded to a homepage poll on the topic said, in effect, "no way!" Only 13 percent said it was absolutely fine to go to Jamaica.

Beyond the poll, the issue prompted a heated discussion on Cruise Critic's Facebook page -- and also on the message boards' Jamaica forum. Oddly enough, most people who addressed our specific question did so with a definitive "yes" or "no," but the majority of posters also used the opportunity to express their opinions on the state of the island, the people and the politics, as well as to relay their personal travel experiences.

In a nutshell, commentary focused on a few specific points of view:

I'm Cruising Soon, and I'm Not Sure What to Do
"I will be heading to Ocho Rios is a few weeks and am quite nervous about it. I am continually checking the latest news. What comforts me is the distance of about 120 miles between Kingston and where I'll be." Rosemary Baisey Alvarez, via Facebook

"We have Falmouth on our itinerary but not decided what to do yet, hoping the cruise line has an input before we go." Karen Evans, via Facebook

"We'll sail there with Allure next year. Hope it'll be good then. From the pictures I saw, it is a beautiful island, I guess." Joanna Ding, via Facebook

"I'm scheduled to go at the end of June, but in reality, how bad can it be?? Things are bad in Mexico as well and you don't see Cruise lines stopping their calls to Cozumel, Progresso, etc..." Jessica Reyes, via Facebook

I've Been There, and I Won't Return
"After one trip to Montego bay, seeing police officers in bulletproof vests and carrying automatic weapons outside a shopping plaza, we decided that jamaica was off our vacation list forever," Michelle Middaugh, via Facebook

"Jamaica was a stop on our very first cruise & we had our teenage daughters with us... It lasted about 40 minutes and we were back on the boat. Felt like the most unsafe place we had ever been too," Matt Osterman, via Facebook

"I would stay on ship. We were at a resort about 10 years ago and felt unsafe then. We purposely won't go on a cruise that stops there. I was afraid there. Just our choice," Lonny McPherson Kronen, via Facebook

"We have been to Jamica twice. Did Dunns River and had a blast. Ocho Rios is definately not a place to wander around. Didn't feel safe outside of the ship excrusion. Probably wouldn't get off the ship if we ever went there again," Randy Bacchus, via Facebook

"No...even before the current problems it was NOT a pleasant place to dock...we were bombarded with people trying to sell us stuff...and swearing at us when we didn't...they kept saying....OH you Americans are all must buy..look at my children...etc..etc. We did buy one item after being totally harassed, and it was confiscated by customs. I will NEVER go back to Jamaica," Maureen Reilly, via Facebook

I've Been There and Loved It
"I personally liked Ocho Rios better than St Thomas. We had a great guide in Ocho Rios who took us all around. In St Thomas we rented a car and ended up in some not-so-nice areas where people were just as pushy-if not more than Ocho Rios. It's just about being smart when you travel and prepared," Meg Norris, via Facebook

"Love it!! You have to be awar of your surrounding just like any place else. Use your brain and be careful...but it's sucha beautiful place and not ALL jamican people are aggressive! Shouldn't judge a whole country by one bad experience. We should know, us americans are judged all the time from forigners!" Jennifer Bixler, via Facebook

"Yes !!! Both Ochio Rios & Mo Bay have been just fine, so has Negril - They should put Kingston on as a port for the smaller vessels whereby forcing the local officials to clean the place up!" Chris Albee, via Facebook

"Unbelievable. The riots are in Kingston- not near the cruise ports or resort areas. Why punish the entire country for one nasty drug lord gang? These good people of Jamaica rely on tourism to make their measly living. Most people of Jamaica have wonderful hearts and souls. The media scares people and makes things worse. Travel to Jamaica.. visit Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. It's a beautiful place with beautiful people," Nicole Eger DelBuono, via Facebook

You can take part in the discussion on the Cruise Critic Message Boards.

--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer

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