We were in Ocho Rios the end of April and did a tour with Phil Lafayette. You get a great tour for I think it was $ 30.00 and Phil really takes care of you. We felt totally safe the entire time we were with him.We were on our own for awhile at Dunn's River Falls so some of the locals were very pushy about selling things. We were 7- 55-62 year olds and wouldn't recommend climbing the Falls. Everyone told us it was easy and it wasn't easy at all. I'd be happy to answer any ??? you may have, just e-mail me.
Well we took a taxi to the falls and payed a "guide" to take us up. We thought it was fun and easy, but if you are very old , very " fluffy" , or have bad knees don't bother, anyone else would be fine.
Avoid town, we just returned to ship after that, we had tried walking into town earlier and had no fun at all, my hubby is 6'4"" and even he felt unsafe!
On most Caribbean islands I've been to, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the islands by myself and I have never had a problem. However, I wouldn't explore Ocho Rios again by myself. I tried walking from the ship to the main shopping plaza (about a mile away) and found it very unpleasant. I was harassed from the moment I stepped off the ship. The men are very rude and crude -- it doesn't matter how old a woman is, they will yell unpleasant things at you from cars or approach you begging for money and not take "no" for an answer. I also found the salespeople in the stores and the outdoor markets extremely pushy and rude. You were not allowed to browse. I ended up buying nothing and taking a taxi back to the ship. I did take a ship excursion to the Martha Brae river. It was okay but nothing special. Again, you were constantly harassed to buy things, even while floating down the river. If I ever stop in Jamaica again on a cruise, I will either stay on a ship or arrange a stay for the day at an all-inclusive resort.
I have also stayed at a resort in Negril. Jamaica is wonderful if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort which "protect" the tourists from being harassed. The beaches are incredible and the water is fabulous for swimming. I would highly recommend the all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica. I thoroughly enjoyed the resort experience, but would not travel throughout Jamaica without a tour.
We went river tubing in Ocho Rios and had a great time. The guides met us as we got off the ship and took us up to the mountains by mini bus. There were about 50 people in our group. Spent the afternoon at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. We didn't wander too far as we were warned by the cruise director to stay close by the ship.
We did a ship's shore excursion that included botanical gardens, fern gully, and climbing Dunn's falls. Making it from the falls back to the bus in the parking area was challenging. Vendors would literally stand on the path directly in front of us to sell us stuff, and when we would say 'no thank you' and step off the path to go around them... they too would step off the path to keep their bodies between us and the bus area. After another no thank you they would back off. This is the only port where we've had people physically move to block a path like that.
We were also told that the main shopping area is okay to go to, just don't walk there, so we took a cab. The driver was great! However, in one of the stores (an established building store - not a tent or anything) we were offered "ghanga". I had no clue what that was and hubby had to explain it to me later. (duh) Needless to say, it was the first time I had ever been offered drugs, and was very surprised that it happened inside a place of business. He told the guy 'no thank you' and we left.
Our only time in port in Jamaica (Ocho Rios) was December 2000, so maybe things have changed since then. We've taken land vacations on St Croix (2001) and St John (2002) as well as three other Caribbean cruises, and haven't had the same experiences that we had in Ocho Rios.
Was there in Jan. did the white river tubing safari had a blast you got to do this one!! went to some shopping areas wasn't really worried, If you're comfortable walking in a major downtown city I don't think you would have a problem we. We stayed in the more public areas and didn't go to far off the main street. I was offered drugs 3 times though. but not harassed about it.
Jamaica is the only place I ahve ever been where someone felt the right to put their hands on me. We were told not to take the kids off the boat so we left them in Camp carnival... I am soooo glad we did! I met maybe 3 pleasent people out of the +100 people we came in contact with and 2 of them were high! THe shopping sucks thoguh their Creme liqour is wonderful! I wouldn't bother leaving the main area cause everything is the same everywhere. If you want to shop, I would recomend shopping in the plaza that Magarita ville is in. The place is fenced in and has gaurds all over the place even in the bathrooms to keep the pushy locals out.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask!
P.S. I would not recoomend the falls. While we were there we saw people falling left and right. One boy from our ship had a busted up knee, another one had a busted up chin and the other one had a sprained ankle.
We briefly walked off the ship to the first shopping area (which is a lot nicer than the Taj area). I felt safe inside the complex (open air, sales people werent pushy or didnt try to pull you in or follow you around) maybe because there was a security guard out front at the gated entrance with a large gun in hand (more like a rifle). Id been to Jamaica before and done the waterfall (yes saw lots of people fall, get hurt, and some of the guides rushed people through). I didnt care to get off the ship this last time, but I was looking for a steel drum. Thankfully I found one pretty quick. The Margaritville is pretty neat here (water slide starts inside above the bar, then dumps outside), though it was dead when we were there. Once back on the street, we were approached by men and my hubby said thats it, were going back to the ship. We enjoyed the rest of the day on a less crowded ship!
Just returned recently from Jamaica traveling on the Enchantment of the Seas. I booked a tour with Peat Taylor for our family. His fees are more than reasonable, $30 per adult includes entrance to Dunn's River Falls. I felt completely safe while on this tour. We went to Dunn's River Falls, Wassi Pottery, Fern Gully and several other places. I couldn't imagine going to Jamaica and not at least seeing Dunn's River Falls. As to whether to climb or not, I think that it depends on what kind of shape that you are in. Some areas were harder than others, but our tour took it's time and we all made it to the top. We started out at the bottom all of us holding hands. It wasn't too long after we started that I realized that I was much more stable climbing with the use of both of my hands. I had a better sense of balance that way. I think the hardest parts were where you had to step down into the pools between the some of the rocks. It was sometimes hard for me to judge how far down to step. In any case, there are plenty of places to get out of the climb and to the stairs that run along side the falls. We ended our tour at Margaritaville. Like I said, the 4 of us, all females, felt completely safe on this tour. The only place that was a little intimadating was at the falls when we exited through the exit and not the entrance. I'm not sure how we got turned around in there but we did. The vendors were all over us trying to sell us anything. I really hate to be rude, but saying a simple no just didn't work. We just had to keep moving without responding to them at all. All of this said, would I go back to Jamaica and get off the ship? Only if I was touring with a reputable guide and I would do a better job of recognizing the place where we entered the falls so I could go back out that way!
No, i Ocho Rios is not safe. We did a tour with Peat Taylor in 2001, he takes you to Dunns River Falls, Shopping, and a tour of the area. He also will take you to requested areas. We wanted some Jerk, and he took us to the Jerk stand. The biggest problem was leaving the Falls, DO NOT GO TO THE SWAP MEET as you exit. They the vendors will try to get between you and your family to purchase something, they tell you its all about the respect, they are stoned and the smell of gonga is everywhere. Pretty intimidating. When shopping at Ocho Rios it was like anywhere not pressure no problems. If you not on a tour, dont go out on your own. Use the ships excursion or hire Peat, he is very fair, and knows the area very well.
We were in Ocho Rios this past May. There was a group of 6 of us, 4 men and 2 women. We only walked from the ship to Margaritaville. I didn't feel particularly "unsafe" especially since I had 4 men with me, but the sight of the policemen/security guards wearing bullet-proof vests was a bit unnerving!
We spent the whole day at Margaritaville. So we had fun, but didn't venture too far from the ship. We did not encounter any harrassing that others encounter at places such as Dunns River Falls etc.
I most definately would not venture out and am not at all anxious to go back to Ocho Rios.
My next cruise, this Dec stops at Montego Bay. I am hoping that it's better than Ocho Rios. Anyone care to compare?
Book a tour with A-Z Jamaica planners. We toured with Oscar and felt completely safe, he was fantastic. Did the falls and we were the only ones there, did a river tubing trip and shopping, He also gave us a great tour. Go with them and you won't be disapointed
I have never been to Jamaica before, and my ship stopped in Ocho Rios in April and I still didn't get off. From everything that I have heard, I saw no reason to get off. I had a wonderful day on the ship because everyone else gets off so you practically have the ship to yourself. I was on the Mariner of the Seas, and there were not many times you had that feeling with 3,000+ people on board.
We cruise into Montego Bay and We met with our tour guide. Trevor Hudlin It was just great. He was very safe. He took us to Ocho Rios to do the Dunns River Falls. We emailed him first and planned out a great tour. Compare to the other ports we toured with the cruise his was the most professional and most complete trip. Give him an email he was great. email: **Advertising deleted***Feel free to email myself if you have more questions.
Went to Ocho Rios in February....Booked a tour with Peat Taylor....he has a website....It was about $20 not including entrance to Dunn's River....Toured Ocho Rios with him as a great guide...I would definitely get off the boat but not without booking a tour of some sort....I would highly suggest Peat....he was awesome and really reasonable....
Go for it! I loved Ocho Rios.
We are going to Ocho Rios in November - booked with Peat Taylor. Years and years ago, my grandparents had a vacation home in Montego Bay, around 1976 things started becoming bad. Unfortunately my grandfather passed away and my grandmother sold the house. Guess after that things went downhill fast. From what I understand the unrest in Jamaica overall is better than it was 20+ years ago, but good? No.
I think you are ok if you have some sort of structured excursion and don't go venturing out on your own. I've read here and on other boards that you need to exit the falls through the entrance - do not go through the exit under any circumstances.
But, remember, it's not just like this in Jamaica . . . there are a lot of beautiful countries that are extremely "socially unsettled" and just because you are vacationing there you should never let your guard down.
We were in the Dominican Republic last November - talk about unnerving.
Just have fun and go on some sort of excursion, whether with the cruiseline or a private guide that is reputable - do a lot of checking before you book.
Ochi is VERY SAFE...you just need the right info..
The problem is people dont get out of Ochi so get hassled by beggers/sales people but that is all...If you've been to Ochi before and done Dunns River ect then
a wonderful day out for some is JAMES BOND BEACH, just 15mins from Ochi.
It has 2 white sand beaches, safe bays, stunning views, bar & grill, great music and you can also, Jet Ski or horseride tours. Also has glass bottom boat & snorkle for those who havn't done it yet.
The beach is right next door to Ian Flemings Goldeneye home. He wrote all the 007 books here and is owned by Chris Blackwell of Island Outpost .
Its hassle free, got good restrooms, full wheelchair access and a playing field.
The entry price is US5 but that includes beach chairs & loungers (all other beaches charge for these).
You can also do Harmony Hall and Firefly or Brimmer Hall Plantation on the same day.
BTW..There are many drivers, all with their own 'flavour' & all doing good.
US30p.p is a standard price.
I have been to Ocho Rios 4 times,I hired taxi myself at the docks for the whope day they took me where ever I wanted to go, I got out and walked around went a local eatery with the locals and went in a couple of stores where the locals shop,I never had a problem, I wasn't bothered or harrassed if they tried to sell me something I simply said no and kept walking. Dont make eye contact give a firm but polite no and keep going they will leave you alone. Your cab driver will not take you anywhere unsafe, it is his livelyhood and how he supports his family, Just be sure and hire a JTB or Jamaican Tourist Board taxi with red liscense plates and JTB sticker on windsheild,or go with Pete Taylor or one like him. I like hiring my own and going where I want and only having my companion with me instead of 4 or 5 couples. Have fun and enjoy