Posted March 18th, 2006, 07:06 PM
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.
Have a great time!