We know that Jamaica isnt quite the place to do a private shore excursion...so can anybody offer me any insight as to which cruise ship based shore excursions are good bets? if it helps we'll be in Princess Cruise Line
We'ev heard that there is a lot of beggars, especially after a hurricane, but we dont think they will bother us...we live in Atlanta...they're a VERY common sight here!
Honestly there are not a lot of beggers. There are a lot of people selling their wares. They won't ask you if you want something unless you go to the craft market, and then I would have to say beware and say no kindly.
The Cool Runnings party boat is a good bet. They take you out snorkeling and then to Dunn's River Falls. After which they give you some wonderful rum punch and take you back to the dock.
Say no firmly( but politely) if you say no " kindly" they will pester you till you die.
I thought Jamaica wasn't hit too bad, but if it was then I would probaly give to any beggers I encountered, since giving money to people whose meager homes and belonging were destroyed by an act of god( weather) is not really giving to " beggers" but just being a decent human being. To be honest if I knew my ship was going somewhere that was severely affected I would be tempted to stay on the ship, I realize that it might not be " helping the economy" but I would feel too awful being " on vacation" when there are people really suffering from the hurricane.
We did a private tour with Phil Lafayette and it was less expensive that the cruise line excursions and way more fun. He does a great tour and you are safe with him the entire day. The vendors will not bother you when you're with Phil. I highly recommend him.
We booked it through the ship (caribbean princess). You start off at the pier with a van ride up the mountains to the river. Interesting ride you get to see some of the island. We entered the river at a place called the spanish bridge. The innertubes had a metal and plywood bottom over the whole that you sat in so you don't bump your butt, and we got a little paddle to use to steer with. We floated down the river for about 1.5 to 2 hours I think. The river was probably3-5 feet deep throughout, and meandered along at a relaxing speed. There were a few areas of "rapids" (nothing like white water though) where we would speed up abit. You do get wet, we splashed alot and chased each other in the innertubes. At the end we got drinks and a sample of jerk chicken with the option to buy more along with pictures taken from the shore as we went through rapids and floated by. Everybody had a great time on this excursion people said it was better then the Dunn River falls. We were still talking about it days later with other people we met on the excursion. Again we had a really fun time. The group was pretty varied My wife and I are in our 30's there were a few teenagers in the group as well as others that were older. My wifes parents had a blast. Her Dad is afraid of water but he still went and had a good time, he floated at the back of the group with a guide the whole way. The guides were good too.
If you are really adventurous and in good shape - my daughter did the "fly in the jungle canapy" trip - They hook you up and you go through the trees in the rain forrest like Tarzen. At first list off she was scared and then said it was great.
I did not like this port at all. Of course, that was partially mine & my husbands fault. The cruise line (Carnival) told us that they STRONGLY recommended that you did not venture out on your own. So what was the first thing we did? We went out on our own into the "real" part of town. It was scary. They really do beg and do not take no for an answer. Men were following my husband around telling him to "let his wife go shopping and he could kick back and smoke some real good stuff". There were several woman who would not leave my hair alone. I would be walking and feel someone grab my hair and say "braid your hair, braid your hair". I guess to each his own, but we both did not care for Jamaica at all. Good Luck! Any questions, just ask.
I just returned from a week in Ocho Rios a couple of weeks ago. Yes, the vendors can be a bit agressive, but I have found from several trips to Jamaica that a firm "no" usually works. They are a bit more agressive on cruise ship days. If you do want to take a tour on your own off the ship I can recommend a driver. We used him all week and we got to see a lot of the island that most tourists don't see. We also went to Nine Mile/Bob Marley's birthplace, Dunn's River Falls, and through Fern Gully. Let me know if you would like his contact info.