It is very poverty stricken. Consequently, there is alot of begging and pushiness to get you to let loose of your dollar. If you like less active excursions, we really enjoyed Mountain Valley Rafting. You float down a river in a rain forrest on a 2 seat raft with a native poling the raft along. They are knowledgable about the flora and flauna, and try to earn extra tips by getting you flowers etc. At the end there is a demonstration of picking a coconut, then making pina coladas. After an excursion, what ever you choose, you should probably go back to the ship rather than trying to explore on your own. Our driver took us to a little shopping center for some shopping, and warned us not to leave that specific area. He said it wasn't safe. And at the shopping they really tried to hustle your buck.
We took the Martha Brae raft trip also... it was very pleasurable! (However, some other people on our cruise went in the afternoon, and it POURED rain! They HATED the trip. You might consider taking an umbrella, or one of those lightweight ponchos that fold flat.)
The bus driver and tourguide gave us the option of going downtown to shop (an additional $6) after dropping some people off at the ship (they didn't want to shop).
I'll have to agree that the people in the shops were very pushy, but the were really nice! I never felt uncomfortable.
Also, the tourguide went in the shops with us (I think they probably get a "kickback" for bringing in customers.) A beggar was asking us for money on the street, and she got her away from us.
All in all, it was a great day!
Jamaica is a gorgeous island that has problems, but if you go with a reputable tour company ( ship's tour recommended) you will not have a problem. The river rafting tour on the Martha Brae River is amazing - its gorgeous, very relaxing - do a morning tour to avoid the afternoon rains.
Have heard that Marqueritaville is a great place to spend the day just relaxing, swiming,
playing water sports, its in Montego Bay.
We were in Montego Bay in January. We went shopping and every 3 feet someone was wanting to get us a cab. After a while it became very annoying. The excursion we did was the helmet dive. You don't actually dive - you put a helmet on and walk under water (about 10 feet under). It was great! You don't even get your hair wet. We also went to Margueritaville - lot of fun - But again a mob of men outside the door trying to get you in their taxi. I highly recommend booking your excursion through the cruise ship at this port. I'm not inclined to go back to Montego Bay. Grand Cayman is much nicer!
I would advise you to enjoy yourself on the ship during this port of call. We were there and shuttled into the city last winter. As we walked down the main street it got dirtier and more frightening as we went. I finally said "Let's go back to the ship'" to my husband and he fully agreed. There's absolutely nothing to see or do there. Sorry to be so negative. Jamaica is a beautiful island, but it seems that visitors are not very welcome.
Spent a week there a couple of years ago. We had a great time. Try Docs beach it was a nice place to relax and the water was very clean. Buffets place is great but VERY expensive. Best thing we did was the climb up the falls at Ocho Rios.
They are not allowed on the beach but they will paddle right up to you in the water to try to sell you stuff (including weed). They are mostly harmless and friendly, once they see you are not buying they will move on. If you can get a daypass I recommend Royal Caribbean over Sandals MoBay; really nice and that extra few miles from the airport makes all the difference. Also, check out Breezes, they offer day passes in Nassau and are even closer to the ship.
We were there in January and had been there before- go straight to the RoseHall Beach Club- a private beach. It is beautiful. We booked it on Carnival- no one bothers you much there, one man tried to sell pot to us, but if you just ignored him, he went away and one lady was braiding hair. It was a wonderful beach, beautiful water, beach chairs were plentiful, you could buy drinks, food, etc. On the way back, the bus stopped to shop, but the smart people stayed on the bus, it was 30 minutes and then back to the ship.