I agree 100% with Jamaica. The locals seem especially to dislike Americans. When we were approached by undesirable people, my husband acted like he didn't understand English and spoke a "made up language", that sounded like French. Once the locals thought we weren't American, they pretty much left us alone.
Each of the four times I have visited Jamaica I found the natives to be among the friendliest people on the planet. Also, each time I have noticed ignorant, arrogant and disrespectful American tourists shocked when the natives took offence to their rude, condescending and disrespectful behavior. Respect is more than a word to Jamaicans, it is intertwined in their society and if you show them none you will get none. I always laugh when I see it happen. The American tourist is often so ignorant that no words would help. My suggestion, if you are looking to feel superior then visit another island or better yet stay home. Have a little class and respect their culture and you will have a great time and find Jamaica and it people as I do, among the friendliest people on the planet.
Being an "American tourist," I agree that some Americans can be uneducated about the culture and ways of islands...but in defense of those of us who try to educate ourselves and be respectful (we do exist!), I'd like to register my 2 cents on the worst/best island discussion. I love St. Maarten -- only been there twice, but both times was completely charmed by the people and atmosphere and easy walking distance to and from the ship....on the last visit this Jan., my small group found an almost isolated beach...which amazed me because there were five cruise ships in port at once! I've always found the shopping to be varied and reasonably priced there and I feel safe walking around Phillipsburg, investigating little shops and restaurants.
My absolutely favorite island to date however, is Barbados! Wow, what a place. We lucked out and stumbled upon a very nice, very informative taxi van driver who offered to take our motely crew to the off-the-beaten path places...especially the unbelievable Atlantic Coast -- his name was Paul and he told us up front what he would charge -- $80 to take five of us around for the whole day (renting a stick shift vehicle that looked more like a squat, square chicken pen than an auto would have cost us $110) -- we ended up giving him much more than he asked for because we got the day of a lifetime thanks to him! I loved the place so much, I'd like to go back and spend a week there.
As for worst...I hate to say any island is so bad that it would qualify for this, but Martinique gets my vote. Rundown, dirty streets lacked charm and overcharging taxi drivers (one wanted $20US just to drive one woman in our group to the nearest beach -- about a five minute drive) were a few of the annoyances...it's very clear that the locals don't like tourists, but the French government obviously likes our tourist dollars....perhaps this off-putting attitude will be rectified in coming years because the interior really is beautiful.
And I like to think I'm a typical American -- I like to think most of us aren't as Charlie says. Some, yes...but not most. :>)
Having lived in the Caribbean and now living in Florida, I have to say that there is a vacation mentality shared by Americans and Europeans alike. That seems to be; I'm on holiday and so are the rules of civility. I once asked a tourists if his kids always behaved as they were and he replied "Of course not, but we are on holiday. They deserve to enjoy themselves".
After a while, you can distinguish between tourists, travelers and vacationers. Tourists want to soak up the culture and experience but seem to get lost in the process. Travelers know what they are doing, have a great time and get along fine in any situation, and a vacationer's world is a fifty foot circle. "I spent $3000 on this trip and no one is going to get in my way of having a good time" seems to be the rallying cry in central Florida.
The locals know that vacationers will spend money on anything, tourists can be taken but you feel badly doing it, and travelers get their money's worth.
We were to San Blas around 1992. The people were not friendly but at that time, I don't think they were offering tours of their homes. I wouldn't care to go their again. By the way, my vote for least favorite port would have to be Santo Domingo.
Very well put. I'm the vacationer! HA
Going on Grandeur of the Seas in March. Saving saving saving and I'm going to have fun! Although, not a huge shopper so I won't have to worry about the locals.
Actually, people who save, save, save usually appreciate their surroundings and get their money's worth. They are the ones it's fun to steer to the really good, cheap, authentic places to eat and to introduce to your shopowner friends. In case you think I'm a softy, I enjoyed doing it because I knew it ruin some blowhards day when they recounted the details of their visit.
I have never been to Jamiaca but many friends and family have. Their consensus is don't leave the all inclusive or if cruise stay on the ship.
My least fave place is Nassau. I hate begging or guys wanting to sell us "the best grass". we even had a little girl try to sell us a broken doll. I realy didn't like it.
I went here after going to Bermuda on previous cruise so maybe am biased.
Dreamweaer, I was just thinking the same thing. Puerto Rico is the worst island for me. I have been there 4 times,once for a month, and the last time we went my husband vowed that he would never set foot on the island again. Horrible place.
P.S- I would love to find Morris, your guide in Jamaica. We are going to be there in August.
I'd say that my least favorite island has to be one that our ship wasn't even scheduled to visit. It was Tortola in the British V.I. and the story of why our Cunard vessel stopped there is too long to tell. Suffice it to say that there was simply nothing of interest to see or do, and it was the most boring port of call we've ever seen. Now this was 25 years ago, and maybe Tortola has come of age since then and picked up the pace.
Other than that, I have no "worst of the worst". We've only been to Jamaica once, Ocho Rios, and thought it was very nice. St. John and St. Thomas have always been favorites of ours, and we liked St. Maarten/Martin & Aruba too. I worked in Puerto Rico for 2 months in '87 and really liked Isla Verde and Ponce. One thing that I disliked about P.R. was
that when travelling around the island, I saw that all of the hwy. signs were in Spanish only! Pretty sad for a U.S. commonwealth.
I would have to say ours was Nassau. We had a tour of the city with a guide who obviously hated Americans and had a taxi full of them. How much tip did he think he was going to get by bad-mouthing Americans!! He said Bahamians are smarter than Americans and they don't have crime there but as the tour progressed, some of the buildings had iron bars covering the doors. Go figure. Then we got out at one place and there were two wild dogs that were starving and dug food out of trash cans and were then fighting over it showing their teeth. I was really upset about that since our dog is a "human" and sleeps in bed with us and is never starving. I guess if we had gone somewhere besides the city tour, it wouldn't have left this bad taste in our mouth. Oh yes and 2 taxi drivers were actually yelling and fighting over the us in our presence to see who could have the big group for more tips. What a day!
Apparently you haven't done a great deal of traveling! I have seen starving dogs in Mexico, many islands in the Caribbean, Rio, and in Greece on one of the islands a dog thought my mink coat was food, and almost ripped it off me. Very sad!
I have nothing negative to say of all the ports I've visited: Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Nassau, St. Thomas or St. Maarten...had a wonderful time @ all of them.
In Montego Bay we went on a glass bottom boat tour, and then shopped around a little downtown on the way back to the pier. It wasn't the best, but I can't say I encountered any overly rude sales people!
Going on Southern Caribbean cruise in November, and anxious to see San Juan. If I could miss 4 college classes (I really can't afford to do that though) I would like to go down early with some members of my group who are and stay for an extra two days...but I can't!
I think a lot of people really don't make the effort to learn/understand the different cultures, and look down on them because their country isn't as "advanced" as the USA...you are going on vacation to get away from the USA for awhile, so why don't you appreciate the differences! I can think of a lot of dangerous places in the US too...I'll always give any island a chance, and would def. go back to Jamaica if the opportunity presents itself! =)
Definitely St. Lucis, the pit of the Caribbean. It's sad, people live in awful structures made of what looked literally like cardboard.
My husband and I ventured from the ship to find a beach, I got very nervous, this one guy kept wanting to sell hubby pot or something. When we finally got to a beach we found a Sandals resort with machine gun toting security guards, so we hung out there.
We asked the guard to help us get safely get back to the ship. He got us on a city bus and we were fine. Never, ever again.
My favorite island so far in the Caribbean is Aruba.
Here's my ranking, from "Best Port" to "I'll never visit there again!" :
1. Grand Cayman
2. St. Maarten/St Martin
3. St John
6. St. Thomas
7 Puerto Rico
11. Santo Domingo
12. Key West
17. Not even if they gave me a free trip - Jamaica
Have a cute story to tell you regarding St. Thomas, which by the way is one of my favorite islands. Mother took me on my first cruise 23 years ago, and after leaving the ship in St. Thomas we saw a group of men gatherine on the dock, and the air was permeated with the odor of pot. Mother looked at me and innocently said "my the people here are so happy." I told her Mother you would be happy too if you were HIGH all day, and didn't have to work. She said "oh is that what that odor is." We had a lot of laughs and fun traveling together.
Okay - I'll put in my two cents. My husband and I travel fairly often for pleasure (about once a month) and I have traveled on business by myself or for pleasure with a girlfriend around the US. Our travels take us to the Caribbean about once a year (have taken three cruises there and some land vacations). I feel I am a "safe" traveler - always aware of my surroundings, don't carry anything bulky with me, don't flash money, jewelry, etc. We are in our late 20s.
Least Favorite: Jamaica (Cruise was 12/2000)
Reasons: Walking from the Dunns Falls back to the bus was challenging. People would literally stand in our way in the path to sell things, and when we would walk to try to go around them, they too would move to continue keeping their body between us and the bus. Also, while in a store shopping later that afternoon in Ochos Rios, my husband was approached and asked if he wanted to purchase "ganga". I understand that is some sort of drug. We had heard stories prior to our cruise that tourists would be offered drugs, but we never imagined it to be in a place of retail.
Second least favorite: St Croix (while on land vacation in Christiansted 12/2001)
Reason: Although some areas were very pretty and Christiansted was wonderful to hang out in, I did feel uncomfortable if my husband was not with me. I had about four men watching me as I went to a pay phone late one afternoon, and it was not even dusk/dark outside. I know, I know, they could have just been watching... but I still had an uneasy feeling. I went back to our hotel room as opposed to making the call.
Just a note to say that I have done some traveling. Been to 49 States, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nassau, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Martin, Holland, France, England, Swizterland, Belguim, Italy and never have seen starving dogs until Nassau and that's why that sight kind of upset me.
Judging from the post, it would seem that the best and worst ports of call are really depending on what you like. there are travelers and then there are tourist, and even sometimes we are a little of both. Strange thing is, for me one port of call can represent both the best and worst places. Take Progresso for example, as a port it is so boring, yet it is the gateway to some of the best tours out there. Chichen Itza and Uxmal are two of the more profound cultural/historical sites in the new world. Nearby is the lovely real Mexican city of Meridia. Is Progresso a good or bad port? That depends on a person's point of view.
JAMAICA: It does have its problems, yet the traveler in me enjoyed riding across the Island and seeing how other people live. The homes may be poor but it is cool how they are painted the different bright colors. Is it a good stop or a bad stop? That depends on one's point of view.
San Juan, If you enjoy forts, cobblestone streets, and historic squares, then you will likely enjoy San Juan. If history is not your thing, then you might wish to skip it. But don't skip this port of call if you are interested in rain forest. Is P.R. good or bad? Depends on your taste.
So far I have visited Progresso, Cozumel, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Nassau, Half Moon Cay, San Juan, St. Thomas, and St John. I found something of interest on all these stops.
None of you have been to the worst place ever that I've been. Shot at several times and in fear all the time. Yes...................Viet Nam....................1970 for a whole year. Rained on for months at a time. Jim
Another vote for Jamaica. That's why we chose our Western Caribbean cruise...because it did NOT stop in Jamica. Several years ago, there was a comedian on the Comedy Channel who did a thing about Jamaica...he was white, and he said they were someplace with "local entertainment". Then he said the song was something like:
"Kill de white man, Kill de white man, kill de white man, kill de white man....de white man goin to die tonight".
Pretty? yes indeed., I Just didn't feel safe there and have no desire to return.