Posted December 8th, 2004, 04:35 PM
The rum factory was but one stop on the private tour we took with our driver, Lincoln Stewart, who we've gone with three times. There are a number of drivers that do the same thing, just scroll through these pages to find one that sounds good to you.
When we first visited Jamaica
off a Carnival Victory
sailing we wanted to take a tour of the island but really don't like the ship shore excursion-type tours. On that particular sailing we walked off the pier and there were tons of drivers all vieing for our business.
One of the really cool parts of having your own driver is that they keep the sellers of stuff away from you and take you to places they feel comfortable with. They probably have some financial arrangement with those places but who cares, we don't have to mess with people trying to sell us stuff all the time.
We left the cruise pier then went up through Ferngully, the rain forrest, stopped at a place where a native guy eats fire
and you can swing from a vine like Tarzan (my kids did, I didn't- hey somebody had to hold the camera!), then on up into the jungle where we got out of the cab and made our way through the lush vegitation to pick fresh limes and plaintians (like bananas).
At each stop was a native carving something we could buy out of wood and we did get a really cool hand-carved Parrot that sits about 2 feet tall for $10..best souvenier deal we've had so far and what a story to go along with it! We watched the guy carve the thing in the jungle! Beats the heck out of the plastic refrigerator magnet I'd bought at a store on the pier.
We continued and went by Dunns River Falls where Lincoln would have stopped and we could have climbed the falls but we walked up, watched others doing it from afar and decided that would be good enough. Again, cool that we had our own driver, we could move right along.
Coming back we stopped by the rum factory, looked through it and had various samples. A couple more stops at some native shops in the middle of nowhere which were also some of the best photo ops of the whole vacation and then a stop by a guarded, gated shopping are called Soni's Plaza as we'd come with orders from back home for some Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. We'd find out later that the price we paid was several dollars US per pound less than others on our ship.
The day ended with us coming back to port, Lincoln singing
, and a wish to come back because we were now part of his "family". On the next visit he knew us by sight (a year later) and on our last visit in October we called him ahead of time to let him know we were coming and he was waiting as we walked off the ship.
Like I said there are a bunch of them out there that do this. Phil Lafayette is mentioned and recommended a bunch on this board in particular. I think it's safe to trust a name that you read a bunch of legitimate recommendations for here on the board when you can ask specific questions about them and the CC member responds.
All this was out of Ocho Rios but a similar experience can be had from Montego Bay. I might have messed up the order of our tour but you get the idea: "No Problem Mon" as they say.
Hope this helps
OH PS- Don't pass up a stop by Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville- it was one of the highlights of our whole cruise and don't pass up their gift shop, they've got some really good quality coffee mugs that we'll be using for years I'm sure.