Ocho Rios . . . is it really as "scary" as some have told me?

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#1
Ashburn, Virginia USA
4,519 Posts
Joined May 2003
Is it really true what they say about not getting off the ship in Ocho Rios unless you've booked a shore excursion in advance? Is it really true that the local folk actually scare those visiting their island? I find this so hard to believe. I've been on numerous shore excursions in the Caribbean (though never to Jamacia) and I can't believe that Ocho Rios is any different. People in the Caribbean, where cruise ships visit, are just trying to make a living selling their wares. I've met "aggressive" people in the Caribbean . . . heck, I've met aggression people in New York. A smile and "no thank you . . . maybe later" has always worked for me. So why are all my friends telling me Jamacia is different? I'm a 57 year-old woman (and a defense attorney to boot) that has never been intimidated by a "street salesperson" (for lack of a better word). Is there any reason that getting off the ship (without a booking a shore excursion prior) should be any reason for alarm?
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#2
USA
1,015 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
We visited Ochos Rios just about two years ago. My husband and daughter and I did the white water rafting in the morning. That afternoon, my husband didn't feel well and we were to have gone to Dunn's River Falls. My daughter (6 at the time) and I decided to go it alone. We took a bus/taxi directly to the Falls. It was late, about 2 pm by the time we got there. It was very empty, which I guess was a good thing. We had arranged the taxi driver to pick us up in 1-1/2 hours. We didn't want to have a problem finding a ride later. The taxi driver was there waiting for us in the parking lot and took us safely back to the pier.

Looking back, I suppose it was apretty gutsy move. I, too, had heard of a "safety issue". My daughter and I had looked forward to going to the Falls and we didn't want to miss it. I'm pretty proud of myself for getting us there and back.

Friends of ours were "approached" by some very aggressive people, but we were not. Best of luck to you.
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#3
New England
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Joined Apr 2004
You sound like a person who can handler herself. Just be careful and aware and you will be find. If you go on your own, make sure you use the JUTA cabs. They are regulated by the government. Have a plan for your day, scuh as where you want to go and what you want to see and you will be fine. There are aggressive vendors, but as you say, you have seen them before. Don't worry.
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#4
46 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
My wife and I are mid 40.s .I'm retired law enforcement and wear a quarter sized badge around my neck.I was approached 2 dozen times to buy weed,despite the obvious jewelry.We met a guy in his 30s who upon accepting a handshake from a citizen was handed a small bag of cocaine.We tried to stroll the streets but stopped after another resident let her two year old wander into a very busy intersection while she chased my spouse offerring to braid my wifes hair.I had the responsibility of running between autos to grab the little girl.The country and Dunns Falls are fantastic.My wife would never return.I would.You have to be very direct and say "NO" and continue walking to avoid problems.Hope this helps.It is a beautiful place.
#5
6,051 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
As noted above, caution is warranted. But I think that if you stay on the ship you'll be missing one of the richest experiences a port of call can offer.

Jamaica is a beautiful island with a tropical rainforrest that's not to be missed.

If security is a concern I'd hire a driver for the day to take you on a tour of the island. There are a number of them available right there where your ship docks, ready to take you or you can pre-arrange with one you might find recommended here on the Jamaica board. We did this on our first visit to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and it really gave us a good idea of what the island is all about.

The Jamaican people are a proud and warm people who are glad to see you. We've made friends there easily that when seen again years later welcome us like family. Yes, you'll be asked if you want to buy drugs, make no mistake about it. We just say "no thank you" and keep walking and have never had a problem. Like anyplace we might travel to that we are unfamiliar with we try to stay on the main streets and practice safe traveling procedures.
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Chris

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#6
placerville ca
2,805 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Ladycaveat....we were just in Jamaica last month. We booked a private tour with Ionie McBeam. Her website is www.ocho-rios.com. She tailored the tour to what we wanted to do and her prices are very reasonable. We were not hassled at all except when my DH stopped to take a couple pictures at Dunns River. Ionie stayed with me and DS in the car. After experiencing the unique driving style needed to manuever in Jamaica I was more than happy to let someone else take care of it.

In all honesty the folks trying to sell whatever they were selling did seem a little more enthusiastic in Jamaica, but I didn't have to witness it first hand since we had Ionie taking care of us. If she is not available her husband, Lewis, is also a guide. Ionie took us to meet him and I was very impressed with both of them. Have a great time.
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doris

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#7
6,051 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
Oh and one other thing I though of. If you want an easy and safe time you can just walk down to the end of the dock if in Ocho Rios and go to Jimmy Buffets Margarittaville which is in a shopping area thats quite nice and safe. We had a great time there and felt perfectly safe.
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#8
Ashburn, Virginia USA
4,519 Posts
Joined May 2003
dosi, you are the second on this board that has recomended Ionie McBeam. Since I will be traveling alone, I doubt I could afford a private tour . . . does she have group tours (a very, very small group tour)? Chris, I definately plan on visiting Margarittaville while in Ocho Rios. Had a ball at his place in Key West on my last cruise in September 2003. Hum . . . maybe I'm turning into a Parrot Head. Tee Hee . . .
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#9
placerville ca
2,805 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
You may want to try to see if someone on your roll call thread (assuming you have one) wants to join in, or email Ionie and ask her. She sometimes shuttles several folks around in the same day so she may be able to just fit you in somehow. Can't hurt to ask!!
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doris

"I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine"--Caskie Stinnett

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#10
Ashburn, Virginia USA
4,519 Posts
Joined May 2003
dosi . . . I plan to do that. I posted a note on the Roll Call boards about two weeks ago but because my cruise isn't until April 30th, I've only had one reply. I'm sure once the cruise date gets closer, more will post. I know on my last cruise (September 30), I got a boat load of people to join me on the stingray snorkle trip in Belize (and about a dozen others that went with me on the dolphin swim in Cosumel) . . . all thanks to the CC boards and the communications before our cruise.
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Chandris' Regina Magna 1974 - Southern Caribbean
NCL Norway 1984 - Mediterranean
Island Princess 1994 - Alaska
Celebrity's Galaxy 10/2003 - Western Caribbean
Carnival's Triumph 4/2005 - Western Caribbean
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