I am sorry to say that I regret having blown $7,000.00 on this cruise ship. I guess I should have done my research - Haiti? There is no Haiti to it - it is a private beach area where you are confined by Royal. They ran out of certain food items and drink - not the alcohol drinks of course, the stuff the kids and alcohol free adults drink. Jamaica? What a pit. The country is littered with trash and dumpy looking shacks. Royal needs to send them a message to either clean up the joint, or they are not stopping there. The beggars are too much. Cozumel? Don't drink the water - or eat the food for that matter. Another pit.
The food on the ship in the dining room was excellent as was the service. Our room was perfect. Johnny Rockets is a waste. If you get in, and are lucky to submit an order - be prepared to lose some wait waiting for your food - you'll burn some calories.
The public restrooms (men's anyway) reeked of urine.
Although Voyager is not the ship of interest to me, I have sailed RCL and loved their ships. Maybe Grandeur is the prettiest ship afloat. Loved Labadee and yes it is a private recreational area in Haiti. A gorgeous area. Mist shrowded moutains rising from beautiful beaches. But of course I always try to see the glass half full. According to US Dept of State advisory, you shouldn't want to wander into the interior of Haiti. RCL, well done.
Hey, I'm going to tell you both the same thing - the idea here is for people to provide their comments. Unlike you, it is not my intention to tell other folks what to think or say.
I forgot to mention that of my cruises on RCCL, all of them had the same problem of inconsiderate jerks placing towels, books, shoes, etc. on the sun deck chairs and recliners to "save" them. It is a rampant problem - probably on most cruise ships. Saving seats in the theater is also a habitual problem even though announcements are made before every single show that this not be done. I can't blame the cruise ship for this one - it's the inconsiderate clods that you sometimes have to cruise with that do this.
Finally, if everyone followed your beat of your drums, they would eat food that has been burned instead of sending it back, they would accept a newspaper for reading that is soaking wet because the newspaper kid tossed it in your birdbath, they would leave a full tip even though the service was pathetic.
I pointed out what I thought was good and what I thought was bad. If you disagree, then point out the whats and whys. The old saying "don't kill the messenger just because you don't like the message" applies here.
This is a great idea - move on to other stops. Like I said, the cruise industry could clean up Jamaica if they wanted to but I frankly don't think they care. We signed up for the plantation tour (Brimmer's I think). We rode in a bus and it was a fairly long ride. We enjoyed the guide on the bus ride. The driver drove like a maniac to our kid's great delight. All along the route there were just shack after shack, poverty strewn, trash, bottles, cans, you-name-it scattered everywhere. When you are done with anything in a wrapper, it's apparently a custom to simply toss it to the wind. It sickened me. I don't expect that the place look like Disneyland but if I wanted to tour poverty ravaged, trashville, I could visit a number of places in the U.S.A. The farm was a great tour, clean, educational - we loved it.
I might also mention, and I apologize if I am repeating a portion of this - but while my wife was sitting in the bus in one of the two shopping areas, some local came up to her and tried to solicit her to have sex. He would not go away and finally the bus driver sent him packing. My 17 year old managed to buy some Cuban Cigars - unbeknownst to us, and packed them back home. Last, but not least, when we left the boat and boarded a bus taxi to go to the shopping area, I observed a couple and their two small children board. I saw the father pay $21.00 to the taxi driver for the four of them. They got on the bus, we drove out of the pier area turned the corner and went two blocks (YES, TWO BLOCKS) where the bus pulled in to this shopping area and this family got off the bus. The woman said something to the driver about having just paid $21.00 for a two block bus ride. The driver said he was sorry but that "they don't want us to tell you the truth." I assume he meant the cruise folks because I didn't hear anybody ever say that this first shopping area was only two blocks from the pier. He may have meant, however, the agency that owns the cab. Neither, however, would surprise me.
If more folks would complain about the conditions of Jamaica and Cozumel, maybe then the cruise lines would take action. We're not going to change things by sitting on our thumbs and enjoying half full glasses of water.
Sounds to me like you just need to stay on the ship next cruise. It would be terrible for you to have to see poverty up close. Hey, it might make you or your kids appreciate what you have alot more and that would be a shame. Sure Jamaica is a very poor country and it is not one of my favorite cruise ports; but would I had rather we didn't go on the plantation tour or climbed Dunn's River Falls? No. We thoroughly enjoyed both activities. We also enjoyed walking thru the shops. Yes they can be pushy, but they only have you there for a very short period of time and tourism is their major income. So if they don't get it while you are there, they don't get it. And yes there is crime there, but as long as you're prudent and do your research ahead of time, knowing what to do and what not to do (like take a $21 bus ride for two blocks), you will be okay. As far as Cozumel goes, I can't understand how anyone wouldn't love that place. We thought Chankanaab was fantastic and also enjoyed the shopping in town. It must be nice to live in a wonderfull, comfortable, clean, safe environment where you never have to look at how less fortunate people have to live. Unfortunately alot of people don't have that luxury - they have to live in poverty everyday of their life.
I for one really appreciate your comments - thanks for the warnings. I wondered about the port in Haiti, but I already knew Jamica is a pit. Since the Explorer is coming out soon, identical to Voyager but on a different itinerary, the choice for me is clear, Explorer it is.
It is perfectly fine to sate what you don't like about a cruise here, by the way, that is what these forums are for. Please keep coming back.
John - stop already, you're bringing tears to my eyes. I grew up on a farm and traded shirts with the kid across the road to have something different to wear to school. I know what growing up poor is like pal. My dad never earned more than $3.00 an hour, he had an 8th grade education. Even though we didn't have much, at least we didn't have lead in our asses. We had the gumption to pick up the garbage and put it where it belonged. We didn't throw trash to the wind. I would think that if tourism is your livelihood, you would at least be interested in picking up the trash. I pointed out that Grand Cayman was gorgeous. What makes their inhabitants any different from those in Jamaica? Why is Grand Cayman so clean and Jamaica is not? Do they not both rely on tourism? Again, when I pay $7,000 to go on a cruise, I want to enjoy the sights. If I want to see poverty, crime and garbage strewn about, I'll visit just about any major city in the U.S. and I won't have to spend $7,000 to do so. You go ahead and go back to Jamaica - I'm happy for you - if it makes you feel better about yourself and the way you live to see the trash littered dump and down-trodden residents of Jamaica, then have at it. My recommendation is that the cruise ships end their stops there and maybe then the folks you're so concerned about my find their lot in life improved and see their land cleaned up for a change. It's obvious that the many, many tourists from the cruise ships have failed to improve their conditions. Maybe cutting off the flow will result in some improved living conditions there.
Thank you Paul. I always appreciate honest and frank discussion. I don't care if others disagree with my observations, that is fine. They are entitled to their opinions. What I don't like is their attacking me like I'm Mr. Negative, or I must be expecting too much - I have a silver spoon in my mouth. One of these folks stated that they couldn't believe anyone would not like Cozumel. I can't believe that there are people that don't like spinich - I love it!
Cozumel isn't Cozumel - it's Touristville and we have only ourselves to blame. Tourism has turned the joint into little more than an outdoor shopping mall.
Do yourself a favor, go to St. Thomas or Grand Cayman - those are very, very nice stops. Get away from the tourist trap areas and go for a walk. I found the neatest shops off the beaten path. The antique stores are the real treasures where you can purchase old ship items from cannon balls to compasses to flags to old treasure coins.
I agree with your comments about "inconsiderate clods," but only up to a point. The cruise lines could be more proactive in tactfully enforcing the rules. I don't mind the person who leaves a towel on a poolside deck chair while swimming in the pool, soaking in a hot tub, making a brief "head call," or procuring a beverage at the bar, but people who stake out deck chairs and immediately wander off to some other area of the ship really ought to be stopped. In the same vein, I don't mind a person saving a seat for a spouse in the theater but saving a row of seats with coats, shawls, etc., ought to be stopped. Likewise, people who show up for dinner with inappropriate attire for the formality of the evening ought to be tactfully directed to other dining venues. Consistent enforcement of the rules would lead to far fewer violations and a more pleasant cruise for everybody. Failure to enforce the rules, on the other hand, leads to the perception that some are "more equal" than others and frustration of those who try to comply.
On my last cruise that stopped in Ocho Rios, the port lecturer laid it on the line. He suggested taking a tour from the ship, saying that people who did so usually think that it's one of the best ports of call and those who don't usually think it's one of the worst. Based upon my experience, I agree completely with that comment.
The tour package which combines Prospect Plantation with the Dunn's River Falls is simply delightful. If you are going to Ocho Rios, be sure to bring a pair of SurfWalkers (available in most sporting goods stores) or something similar to climb the stairstep falls -- the mountain stream is delightfully refreshing and well shaded, the climb (with a guide) is relatively easy (one woman who did the climb was 99 years old!), and most of the shore excursions do go there. Prospect Plantation offers a guided riding tour on a tractor-drawn jitney that's absolutely fascinating. The plantation grows an impressive array of crops, and there's quite a science to the selection of which crops to plant at which altitudes (from sea level to several thousand feet). Finally, be sure to pick up some Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee to bring home as a souvenir. It's legal to bring roasted coffee beans, either whole or ground, back to the States.
Anne, I'm surprised at your comment about Labadee. I would have thought that well-travelled cruisers, such as yourself, would know that Labadee is NOT an island off of Haiti, but is a secluded part of Haiti, which itself makes up about half of the island of Hispaniola. As far as Jamaica goes, while it is not my favorite port of call, I did thoroughly enjoy our visit to Dunns River Falls last April.
All the islands in the Caribbean have their good and bad points. Ochos Rios is not one of my favorites, but it wouldn't stop me from going on a cruise. I love the Grand Caymans, but I am not thrilled that they prevented a cruise ship from docking there because many of the Americans on board were gay or that the island is trying to stop cruise ships from docking there on sundays or holidays. Cozumel is great for snorkeling. St. Marteens is beautiful, but still suffering from the hurricane damage from last year. My point is that it is important to read about ports of call before booking a cruise. You have to take the good with the bad. If you don't want to be subjected to the poverty etc., hat is rampant throughout the Caribbean and Mexio, then find another itinerary. (You don't have to walk too far off the main street in the Cayman Islands to find poverty.)
Sometimes, the value of travel for ourselves and our children is to gain a better understanding of how the rest of the world lives. The Caribbean has some beautiful sights, but unfortunately, lots of poverty as well. I recall cruising to Rio de Janiero a few years ago -- a more beautiful city one could not find -- but it is also teaming with wretched poverty and very poor air quality. After just returning from a cruise to Scandinavia, I am sure there are many Scandinavians who could travel to the U.S. and also appalled at the state of many of our inner cities and rural areas.
I just got off the Voyager yesterday. I agree w/ some of your points. We also hated Jamaica - The people were way too pushy when we walked to the shopping areas. I had heard a lot of negative comments, so I was prepared. It's sad that armed guards go along on some of the ships tours. I guess it was to be expected when you walk out & see gates w/ armed guards to keep out the taxi drivers & others soliciting you. I'm not complaining about seeing poverty, I just don't like pushy people. I didn't feel safe at all - I've heard stories about people having knives pulled on them, etc, so I just wasn't comfortable. I would never get off the ship there again if I wasn't on a ship tour.
Labadee was basically a relaxing day at the beach. As long as you stay out of the market, people don't bother you. It was very pretty to look at & had nice beaches.
Cozumel I loved. I don't agree w/ this area being tourist and St Thomas not. St Thomas is just as much a tourist mall as Cozumel. I found them about the same - Both have shop owners outside inviting you in, but neither were pushy. We went to Chankanaab for the best snorkeling I've ever done. It was a beautiful place. No regrets on that choice. The food is safe to eat at most places - they use filtered water. We ate at Hard Rock Cafe & were perfectly fine.
We've decided we do prefer the Eastern route, but at least we can say we've tried these. If Jamaica wasn't in the lineup, we'd do it again, but that'll keep us away now.
My wife and I were in Cozumel for the first time last November and absolultly loved it. The people their were VERY friendly and the sales people may have been very up front, but were not nearly as pushy as other islands. Overall we found it a very clean and nice place to be. We didn't leave the city however. Does it change outside city limits?
I've been to Ocho Rios 5 times. I hate it. I did get some great jewelry buys on pearls downtown, however. You can buy Jamaican rum at the terminal. Cozomel is fun. I like the Eastern Islands much better, however. We just booked the Explorer. The ships are in a class by themselves and worth the visits to the poor destinations. Now that Voyager is almost a year old, you'll probably get better deals than on the Explorer.
Ocho Rios is a pathetic place to stop. It's too bad that the Cruise lines don't make them clean the place up a bit. A tropical climate should be gorgeous, not strewn with litter. We enjoy cruising in the Carribean, we don't enjoy many of the stops.
I read an article the other day about crime and murder in Jamaica - it must be getting as bad as it is in the U.S. They can certainly compete with us in the trash and poverty competitions.
Don't take the comments above personally. I don't think any of us would disagree with the substance of your comments, merely the tone. Plus, I think that most of us who visit this site are in the "glass half full" mode and are only looking for pleasant thoughts about our future/past cruises (including me, since I'm actually leaving next Sunday on the Voyager). There's no question, though, that all the ports aren't perfect and all the ships and their people aren't either. I have to admit, though, that if I paid $7,000 for a cruise I'd be pretty upset no matter how perfect things were.
All I'll say is this: when I leave next Sunday afternoon, I'll be relaxed (and probably a little intoxicated), I'll be on arguably the biggest, most beautiful ship in the world, I'll be with someone I love, and I won't be working. And I'll be hard pressed to pick anything else in the world that I'd rather be doing for seven straight days.
If you want fancy, clean ports, you must go to fancy clean cities. Everyone knows that the income of the residents in Mexico & the Caribbean is pitiful!!! If the people are poor, the ports are poor & needless to say, not very clean. It is a different culture.
But if you spend less time looking for dirt & more time looking at the most beautiful & clean water you have ever seen, you will enjoy the port. Cozumel was Jaques Cousteau's favorite port in the whole world to snorkle at. My family went deep sea snorkling & had a wonderful time.
Be thankful that you do not visit Haiti, & instead, go to the private beach. The cruise line did you a big favor. Haiti is easily the poorest port in the world!!!
Respect the ports that you visit. It is their homeland no matter what the condition is & I am sure that they wish their country was better, far much more than you do. They just have governments that do not care!!!
Most importantly, look for the beauty in each port. It is there. And if you are not thrilled with the port, you do have a magnificent, floating resort to return to!!
Just saw RCI's new Caribbean brochure. The third Voyager Class ship, Adventure of the Sea, which comes out next year will have a great itinerary out of San Juan. Finally, a brand new ship sailing what is IMHO, a wonderful itinerary: Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten & St. Thomas with two full sea days to explore this megaship. If I ever choose to sail on one of these behemoths, this would probably be the itinerary that I would choose.