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I will be cruising the first week of August on the Imagination, and will be visiting Ocho Rios. Being a first time cruiser (and going solo) I am trying to figure out if I should just book my excursion through Carnival or through the excursion company itself. My concerns are 1) doing it as a solo, 2) if the port gets canceled, do I lose my money, 3) and the chance the tour would be canceled if there are not enough people. I have looked to see hoe many ships will be in Ocho Rios that day, and the Imagination is the only one scheduled. I know it will cost more, I am leaning towards the booking towards booking through Carnival... Need advice.
Lyttleone1977 aka Paula
Carnival Spirit - Alaskan Honeymoon cruise July 2010
Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas - Bankers cruise - November 2008
Well, Carnival will discourage anyone from booking a tour in OR, unless it is with them. They will scare the hooey out of you. But don't be afraid. They just don't want you out roaming around on your own (like you will be able to do in GC). We LOVED Jamiaca...so don't stay on the ship. Just know what you want to do.
We used Ionie and Lewis McBeam and had a wonderful time, and never once did we feel threatened in any fashion. The thing is...there were six of us in our family. If it were me, I'd probably book something with the ship, and hopefully you'd tour with a friend you met on the ship. Ionie does have an air-conditioned bus that seats 25 or so, so you would be with others on a tour. But we've done many tours where there is just a person by themself. The last being this past January in GC on a Captain Marvin's tour. A woman joined our group and we all had a ball. Either way, you will have a great time. I'd do whatever you are most comfortable doing.
If you do the ship tour, I doubt it will be cancelled. I think a lot of people do this tour. When we were there, after walking down the pier, the ship tours went to the outside of the pink building (we went inside and then out the front of the building).
As for cancelling and losing money. We paid Ionie when we arrived. I never gave her a CC # so we just gave her cash. I think it was $20 plus a tip (the falls were charged us $10 per person), per person. But this was several years ago, so the prices may have increased a bit. We did the falls, Fern Gulley, Soni Plaza (shopping), and drove around the area. The tour started around 8-8:30 and we were back in the parking lot by 12:30.
Ocho Rios has a secure area next to the pier (Island Village). It's a great area to loll away the afternoon. It's a short walk across the enclosed parking lot back to the ship. There's several shops, beach area, and a Margaritaville restaurant there.
This is just my opinon, but don't wander alone outside of the gated area. I've read where some people do this and have had no problems, but I'd just stay with an organized tour group (be it one you do yourself, or the ships). There will be lots of people treking back and forth from the ship to the Island Village area, so I wouldn't worry about that.
we toured with Ionie also, she is wonderful. In 2002, we had booked her and so did another group who we didn't know, but it was all fun. We're touring with her again next month and its $35 pp for our group, we're doing Dunn's river falls (entrance fee is included in her price) Fern Gulley and back to Margaritaville for lunch and shopping in the village.
If you choose to do your own thing, do as twinkletoes suggested and stay in the gated area (where M'ville and the shopping village is).
Sometimes its a good thing to stick with a ships tour, we did in Belize and Roatan in Honduras.
Enjoy your cruise! Once you start cruising, you'll never want to stop!
We're touring with her again next month and its $35 pp for our group, we're doing Dunn's river falls (entrance fee is included in her price) Fern Gulley and back to Margaritaville for lunch and shopping in the village.
Tell Ionie hello from Terri in Kansas! They are just so nice. I haven't talked with her in a bit, but I hope all is well with them.
When we were there, we left a few things in the van...water shoes, a bag with our falls video, and a bag with a couple of t-shirts. I don't know how we forget them, but we did. Lewis knew we were going back to the ship to drop off things, change clothes and then we were going to Margaritaville. He waited for us so he could return those things! Can you imagine how sad we would have been had we lost the video? It was our fault for not seeing the stuff, but it was so nice of Lewis to hang around and wait for us!