Do you recommend booking this tour with RCCL or Peat Taylor. I have heard that it is less crowded with Peat Taylor but I have also heard for safety reasons, it may be best to stick with the ship tours.
Also, is it safe to take a taxi on your own in Jamaica? We are thinking of taking one to the Jamaica Grand Renaissance Hotel for our beach time. Please advise your thoughts on this as well.
We have heard from many friends who have cruised to Jamaica that they had serious safety concerns while there so our safety is our utmost concern, although we would still like to enjoy this port if possible. Any advice is appreciated.
Personally I think Jamaica gets an unfair rap for crime towards tourists. It is actually pretty rare. Yes there is a huge crime problem among the locals mostly in Kingston but you will not be going anywhere near there. The main problem in Ocho Rios is how the locals approach to sell you goods and at how easily they are offended at the way many Americans react. The locals are very poor and the most important thing in life to them is 'respect'. When tourists instinctively react to thier approach by pulling away and some even showing disgust naturally they get hostile feeling, (and rightfully so in most cases), that we think they are beneath us and inferior. That causes their justified hostile reaction back towards us. Wherever you are one should always be cautious but no more here than elsewhere in my opinion. We go along with the locals and adapt to their culture and end up having a wonderful time and meeting many new and wonderful people. They mostly have a wonderful sense of humor and enjoy banter. Peat Taylor is supposed to be a good person but I have no personal knowledge of him. We once grabbed a taxi from one of the 'unauthorized' group with a guy nicknamed 'Cappy' and he took us all over nad we had a wonderful time. He showed us a lot of his culture and way of life and treated us with honor and respect, just as we treated him. Jamaica is a beautiful island, as are the people, and not to be missed or enjoyed.
Thanks for the detailed reply. What I have actually heard about Ocho Rios is exactly as you described. I have heard advice that you should just respond that you don't have any money with you and that they usually back off right away, hopefully this will work OK. Have you heard anything about the hotel I mentioned (Jamaica Grand Renaissance)?
Jim is correct. I was in Ocho Rios last year and we ventured on our own and yes they do try hard to work you but be nice and just as persistent yourself. If you treat them with respect, after all you are on their island, they will be respectful to you. To me, Jamaica was by far the most beautiful island we have been too. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Always be aware of your surroundings and be respectful to the "locals" and this goes for anywhere you go.
Golden Princess 12/04
Enchantment of the Seas 4/02
Hi Crickett, myself, my husband and our two boys did not do a tour through our ship in Jamiaca or anywhere for that matter. We walked out to the end of the pier and the Jamaica Port Tourist Authority had many Host/ess who helped you deal with the private cab/van operators. We hooked up with two couples who wanted to do something similiar to us. We paid 15.00 US per person and had an amazing tour. The hostess wrote the information down for us as a contract with the cab. Our room #, the cab/van number, driver name and also the rate she negotiated with the driver on our behalf. We did dicker with the driver as he started at 30.00 per person and we ended up with 15.00 per adult 10.00 per child. He had us all day.
Go to Dunns River it is commercialized but I am so thankful we went, he then took us to see some of the Flora and Fauna and where he, his grandmother and daughter all went to school, the back road into Ocho Rios where the view is absolutely amazing, we wanted to go to an authentic Jamaican Restaurant and he took us to an amazing restaurant where we had jerk chicken, ribs, beer and other yummy food, no other tourists here. Many other extra's to numerous to mention. We then had one who wanted ice cream, one who wanted jewellry and one wanted souveniers, he escorted everyone where they wanted to go and everyone was soooo happy. The end was we wanted to have Reggae, Cold Beverages and the Beach, he took us to a Beach Club that was amazing. for $6.00 US Entry kids free we received 2 coupons for beer/drinks they had all kinds of water toys, nice bar area, nice massage by the sea area and a nice restaurant. There were a few other cruisers there but certainly not as many as we run into normally. The music was unbelievable. And 5 minutes before we had to leave to make it back on the ship with minutes to spare he was there warning us we would have to leave in 5 minutes. Wonderful experience.
Jamaica is beautiful I agree, watch your wallet and be aware, like any where in Canada or US you can get yourself into trouble if you forget to be careful.
Have a wonderful time.