Does anyone know how likely the cruise ships are to switch from docking in Montego Bay to Ocho Rios? From what I've seen in an article on another site, many passengers may be afraid to get off at this port. We leave this weekend so it could be very pertinent.
Although a beautiful country and the vast majority of it's people quite wonderful, Jamaica is one of the most dangerous places routinely visited by cruise ships. Most things like widespread rioting tend to be more in Kingston than Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, but that said, many cruise lines have avoided Montego Bay in the past few years.
Tourists are routinely harrassed aggressively by vendors (at best), offered illegal drugs quite routinely and even with no specific threat often feel very uncomfortable.
Call your cruise line (or have your TA do it for you) and check to see if a substitute port is offered. If you are still to dock in Montego Bay, stay in the shops within the port
and you will be perfectly fine. I personally, would not be comfortable even on a ship sponsored tour.
Having written this, a whole bunch of folks will tell you how wonderful Jamaica is and how they love it. That is their opinion , this is mine. Last year, the Jamaican army had to be called out in Kingston to put down rioting and unrest related to elections and economic difficulties. People were killed. I can skip that as a vacation destination.
Once again I agree with PapaBill, it is not a good place to be and lately has gotten worse. IMPO Don't take a chance, we have not gotten off the ship the last 2 cruises to Jamaica, and now make sure they aren't on the itineraries we do cruise to. Better to be safe than sorry.
Hello visitors, information given by the Jamaica police high command has indicated that calm has been restored between citizens of Flankers Montego bay and the police force.
At this time we have not received information regarding the ships docking in Ocho Rios.
I must admit that the Jamaica Tourist Board and the citizens of Jamaica do regret this incident and apologizes to all persons who where affected during this difficult time.
We took a western caribbean cruise during this past easter week and one of our ports was Montego Bay...I will tell you that out of the five ports we stopped at, we had the most fun and enjoyed ourselves totally in Montego Bay...we went to a lovely beach and than had lunch and drinks at margaritaville which was the best..we were with our 16 yr old daughter and after lunch we went across the street to a casino where there was no age regualtion on gambling so she played the slots with us ...we took lots of pictures and everyone was polite and friendly...at no time did we feel that our safety was being jeopardized... we even took taxis from place to place...everyone i spoke with on our cruise felt the same way...dont believe everything you hear...people love to exaggerate and believe me..if there was danger lurking, the cruise ships would not be stopping there...
I am cruising through the Canal in January on Princess. Our first stop is in Jamaica. I just found out two days ago from my TA that Princess changed our Port in Jamaica from Ocho Rios To Montego Bay! Talk about bad timing. I have not got a satisfactory explanation for this change other than "logistical reasons". Oh well, I am not going to let this ruin my Cruise but I'll think twice about getting off the Ship.
Cruise ships do stop in some ports that are dangerous. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because a cruise ship stops there that it is safe port. By and large, most ports are safe, but some have dangers too. Do some research before you go to a port and listen to the advice of the cruise line.
I returned from Ocho Rios just this past month and never felt threatened. however in town, we were offered "smoke, crack, pills, magic mushrooms, eightball?, etc" with about every third Jamaican we saw. The smell of Ganga was heavy in the air. The folks there seem to take a firm "No" okay and are careful to never touch your person. however the constant offers for drugs made it hard to enjoy our visit to downtown and the strawmarket.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the cruise line stops at islands like Jamaica who are questionable on safety just so that a good percentage of the passengers stay on the ship and make money for them! I know this sounds cynical, but the cruise line still seems to protect themselves from liability by advising passengers on safety issues on all islands and promote their shore excursions. If something happens to you on your own- tough luck! When making a port stop in Jamaica, St. Lucia or any other questionable island I either stay with a group, go on a ship sponsored shore excursion, or stay on the ship. I do know that many cruise lines stopped making port calls at the island of St. Croix due to the high crime rate, passengers getting mugged and hurt, and the high volume of passenger complaints. So until enough passengers complain or someone gets really hurt in Jamaica or any other questionable island, not much can be done except staying with a group or staying on the ship.
Research is so important, especially before you put your deposit down for that wonderful dream vacation! Don't let it become a nightmare if you don't do the research or at least be prepared to make some adjustments when visiting these islands.
I've just returned from my cruise that stopped in Montego Bay. We had a wonderful time and found the country both interesting and beautiful. I am the one that originally started this thread and needent have worried at all because we took a great tour with Tropical Tours. We were travelling with 2 kids and 2 grandparents. Don't be afraid, just get a good tour operator. The guide and driver were wonderful and the guides at the Falls were great too. We did walk through the market at the top but we didn't have any money on us and that was good enough for them.
I see that most people who take tours have no problem, I think the safety issues come form travelling on your own.And I notice alot of people just go to a bar/beach and then are fine.It's a beautiful country but not safe to explore on your own.( Seems to be the rule although there are always exceptions to any rule)
We will be taking a cab to Margaritaville, and maybe WALK over to Dr. Caves Beach...so I am sure that should be ok I hope.
We will have a GREAT time if we even stay at the beach behind Margaritaville too I guess.
Just today I heard a radio interview on a local reggae station. It highlighted speeches by Jamaica gov officials (I think) and the focus was on gangs, guns & drugs. While the overall crime rate was said to be down since the 1970s, shootings, kidnapapings and gun related and drug related crimes were said to be out of control of even gov forces. Apparently many deportees somehow return & the gangs have an intricate network established there w/ ties to the US, Great Britain & Canada. I got the impression the focus of this program was not tourists but an internal situation in the cities with spread to certain other areas.. It was a very interesting session & only confirmed for me why I have not been to Jamaica in yrs. We never book a cruise that goes there. I used to go there many yrs ago, went around quite a bit. It is such a beautiful place but just not worth feeling uncomfortable. I guess if you feel comfortable then go but if you don't then why make yourself uneasy.
I agree, it is one of the most beautiful islands in the West Carib., and it is a shame that htey are having problems. They seem to be very nice people, the few I have spoken to on previous cruises. I just don't like going somewhere that I fel uneasy..we live South of Chicago and although I love the city, we do avoid certain areas here too.