I was told in a previous post not to take a taxi in Ochos Rios to the Dunns Falls with children. Does anyone know why this is? Is it dangerous to take a taxi from where the Mariner docks? Is Ochos Rios have alot of violence against tourist??
We are on the 7/18 Mariner & just want to climb the Falls and then go to Margaritaville without doing any other tours or shopping & we do have some children as well as some senior citizens along.
Jamaica always has cautions of one kind or another. I know there are problems with gangs in some areas but that may not involve tourists. You can check the state dept website for anything current & others will let you know on this bd. Having been there anumber of times many yrs ago we simply do not take any cruise that stops there--I know others have a diff opinion--just a matter of personal choice!
I saw that warning also. My husband and I took our children (then 13 and 9) to Dunn's Falls on our own. We were a little nervous based on the stuff we had heard. I wanted to go so my husband went to the excursion desk to get info. Apparently some taxis are regulated and some are not. We were told to look for the ones with the red (?) plates. When you get off the ship there is someone from the tourist board standing there. Tell that person you need a taxi to take you to the falls. They will fill out a slip and direct you where to go pay. After you pay for the taxi you will proceed past the gate. The next available driver will take your party. My understanding is that the taxis without the special plates can charge what they want. When we got to the falls our driver asked what time we wanted to be picked up. We were clueless, he suggested 2 hours. We were worried about him not coming back and us missing the ship. He was right on time! I too, believe, it was about $22-24 round trip. The charge to enter the falls was about $10.00/adult. That was 2 years ago. The taxis were minivans that held about 6-8 passengers.
If you go in the morning I don't think you will have to worry about missing the boat.
We took the excursion offered by RCI. They pick you up at the dock and come back for you after you're done with the falls. On the way back to the ship they are willing to take you to Margaritaville. I found this way a little more expensive but a lot more safe. Jamaica can be a scary place, just my opinion. The falls were great, and we did a dolphin encounter, also great but really don't care if I ever see Jamaica again. Others love it, we didn't.
I did not see an excursion just for the waterfalls climb on the RC site -all had involved going to other places after or before the falls unless I am overlooking it. Also, I thought Margarataville was right next to where the ship docks so aren't you able to just walk over there right from the ship??
Two years ago five girl friends and I went to Ochos Rios on the Monarch. Three took a taxi to the Falls and did not have any problems. The other three went into town to shop and then we went to Margaritaville. Yes, Margaritaville is right next to the ships. Neither group had any problems. Walking around town you did see a lot of poor people but they did not bother us at all. We saw lots of police walking around also. I think any where you go now a days you must be very careful.
By the way I bought a beautiful black, champagne and white diamond necklace there for $300 when I came home I asked a jewelry what it was worth and they said $900.
We have friends who go to Jamaica every year to a resort and they say not to judge it by where the ships dock. They just love it there.
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My husband and I did not like Jamaica at all. We did the RCI tour to the falls and the tour guide took our picture with our camera and then demanded $5 from us. Then when we got back to the ship, we decided to take a walk into town (it's not that far). Well, a guy named Leroy followed us the whole way, talked to us, tried to sell us drugs, etc. What he wanted was $, so we paid him $5 to leave us alone.
If we ever go on a cruise again that stops at Jamaica, we'll stay on the ship. It's same with Ensenada. Ensenada seemed safe (only the little "chicklet" kids trying to sell gum) but it's boring and there is nothing to see once you've been there before.
I cannot comment on Ocho Rios, but our stop in Montego Bay will be our last. My 10 yr. old daughter was grabbed by the arm 3 times by people hoping to braid her hair. We did a ship excursion downtown, and did not feel safe at all. Next time, we too will stay on the ship!
Wow, there does seem to be a lot of negatives about Ochos Rios - I'm surprised that for a country that relies on tourism that they would treat their tourists so rudely.
I hope those with bad experiences report them to the ship's line so that maybe in the future the cruise lines will not stop here & go somewhere more inviting and safe.
Thanks for all comments - we will be rethinking what we're doing if anything in Ochos Rios.
The taxis should say JUTA on them. Those are the "safe" ones. We didn't think Ocho Rios was that bad overall. When we went, we stayed at an all-inclusive (Couples) and are going back in January on the Enchantment. The poverty is incredible there, but when you get to the Margaritaville area there is a mall that is protected from the hawkers and peddlers. THis is within walking distance of the cruise ship pier. They also have a beach and jet ski rentals and chairs and that type of stuff. If you use a reputable tour guide, like Peat Taylor, or the JUTA buses you should be fine. read up on exiting Dunns River, if you go to the right (I think) at the end you will get to avoid all the vendors there and then go back to Margaritaville to do your shopping. There are many stores in the mall area that have items. They are a little more expensive but you do not feel as "exposed".
I will be going to Ochos Rios on the Mariner of the Seas the first of August. Does anyone know of a good locat that will take you to the falls. What else is there to do there. My friends are first time cruisers and I want them to have fun. They are in the over 55 group.
Check out Peat Taylor tours on his website (probably something like www.peattaylor.com or the like). Meets you at the dock, takes you to the falls and returns right on time to get you, will drive you thought Fern Gully and around, back to the ship for lunch, and will even take you somewhere else at no extra cost in the afternoon, if you like. Very reputable and -- best of all -- gets you to the falls before the ship's tours arrive, thus you aren' t crowded. Dunn's River Falls was one of the best activities we've ever done and I would do it again right now if I were there!
Right - always look for the JUTA taxis, as the are the official ones. I like Jamaica, but I can understand why many people don't. When I'm on a cruise, i usually just go to local public beaches. I also think the beaches in Negril are beautiful, and have stayed at a couple of A/Is down there.
We did the river tubing excursion from the ship.Had a great time. The kids will really have a great time. We did. Will do it again if we ever get back to Ocho Rios. The tour picks you up at the ship and delivers you back to the ship. Couldn't be safer. Besides it is a lot easier than climbing the falls.Have a great trip.
I've been to Ocho Rios three times on cruises and once at Beaches, al all-inclusive resort. Yes, this place is dirt poor, and people will follow you around if you're passive, but we've always had a great time. There is plenty to see and do, and the people are really nice, as long as they don't think you're turning your nose up at them. In other words, if you treat them with respect, they will do the same.
Ochos Rios is great if you like to be hassled and you are into drugs. My sons have been offered drugs numerous times there. I have found the only way to go is take a ship tour and even then you still have to put up with the locals. The best thing to do there is stay on the ship and enjoy it while all the other folks are off the ship.
I too don't understand why the cruise lines continue to go to Ocho Rios. I am sure they receive many complaints on every trip.
By the way, we went to Montego Bay on the Zaandam earlier this year and it is slightly better. Still no prize, but it is not nearly as threatening environment.
I wouldn't recommend staying on the ship in any port unless you've already been. After all one of the reason people enjoy cruising is because you go to so many different places. We did not enjoy "Jamaica" but we had a blast at the falls and dolphin cove. The falls are not hard to climb and how often can you say you climbed a waterfall? There were a few spots that took some effort but it was a really fun experience overall. If you do go to the falls DEFINATELY go to the right upon exiting, you avoid the "market place". We made the mistake of going left, they had many beautiful items but EXTEMELY aggressive vendors, they grab at you and if you aren't interested in their stuff they yell at you. We tried the respect thing but got none in return. They were so aggressive that we bought nothing, we just wanted to get out of there and unfortunately for some reason we seemed to be the only ones in there so there was no one else to distract them from us.
If we ever took a cruise that stopped in Jamaica again, I think I would stay on the ship but if it's your first time, I would check things out, if nothing else you will definately have some interesting stories to tell later. And keep in mind, these are only opinions of those who've been, you might love Jamaica and wonder what we were all talking about. I have friends who enjoy it very much. We weren't prepared for all the begging for business in Jamaica as it was one of our first stops, but by the time we got to Mexico (our last stop) I was an old pro and got some great bargains! Keep that in mind also, Jamaicans will take practically any amount of money or even articles of clothing for their stuff, you can shop pretty cheap.
You will enjoy your cruise no matter what you decide to do in Jamaica, just be prepared.
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I personally did not like Ochos Rios either. Seemed like no one worked. All they did was hang out on the streets and watch tourist busses go by. I also found Roatan Honduras unappealling. Too too much poverty to be a docking point in my opinion. Countryside however was very nice once you got out of the dock area. Don't really need to go back there either.
I just got back from Jamaica two weeks ago and did not have any problems. I have been to Jamaica 3 times now and have not heard of one single problem. When you get off of the ship all you have to do is follow the dock and some person will assist you to a taxi. Make sure that the taxi is JUTA. They are well reputable. You pay in advance before you go to the falls...you set a meeting time to be picked up at...2 hours is adequate..and sure enough in two hours they are there waiting to take you back to the boat. Margaritaville is a blast and is within walking distance to the boat! Have a blast!!
Well, I don't know about the warning. However, in December 2003 on the Navigator the excursions to the Dunns River Falls was sold out. The staff at the excursions desk told me that I could take a taxi to the falls on my own. The taxi was $22 for two people roundtrip and $10 each to get into the falls. At the taxi pick up point at the pier, there was a couple that wanted to go to falls as well and they were placed in the taxi with us by a lady standing at the pier. The driver told the lady to get the couple out of his car(I won't say what he called the couple) and put them in another car. So, the lady got them out and the driver started driving us to the falls. Once, we got to the Falls he got negative about climbing them. He said "you aren't going to climb it , are you"? I told him that I was going to try. He said "OH LORD". Then he asked me if I had watershoes, and I said yes. He said "Oh Well". So, my Mom asked if the falls were that bad and he said" yes". He said that if we just wanted to see the falls that he could take us to a point, where we could see them and not have to pay to get into them. So, he did and we were bummed out of money on the street by locals(they wanted a donation from us for walking in the building were the driver took us to see the falls), but I did buy a beautiful necklace for $15.00. So, I got really discouraged from trying to climb the falls. I know that I shouldn't have, but I did. I knew before going to falls that I may not make it up them, but there is a staircase if I couldn't. It wasn't til I got home and maybe I started putting some of the pieces together after the Navigator left Ocho Rios, I realized that the driver wanted that couple out of the car so he could try to make an extra $160.00 in addition to the $22.00 off my Mom and I to drive us around Jamaica. It wouldn't have been as easy for him to discourage me from climbing the falls with that other couple in taxi and they were firm about only wanting to go to the falls. So, with that couple out of the taxi and with me being overweight it was easy for him to discourage me. However, he didn't succeed at making that $160.00. I didn't trust him from the moment I met him at the pier.
Plus, our tablemates warned us about Jamaican people. They told us to watch them, not to have a bunch of money on us, or wear any jewelry. So, we didn't . We carry $70.00 and our boarding passes on us, left the credit cards and purses on the ship.
We were in Nassau many years ago. The Bahamas people to me were alot like Jamaicans except I think Bahamians are more reckless/wild. But, both have alot of mouth and are full of it. We were on a bus in Nassau and an argument broke out between the bus driver and another car on the road. We were on the bus with mostly locals. I don't recall other tourists, but I noticed people started closing the windows on the bus. I just wish, I had followed their lead. The driver of the other car threw beer at the bus and it got all over my Mom and I. We had to go back to the ship to shower and change cloths. We were grateful that it was only beer and not a glass bottle too, because we would have been hurt. However, after that we stayed on the ship and didn't go back into Nassau.
So, due to some negative situations we didn't get the full experience of Ocho Rios or Nassau. My advice to anyone on these two islands is to book the shore excursions through the cruise. It's safer and you can skip the bull/being pushed over!
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Just returned from Western Caribbean cruise 2 days ago, on the Mariner. While in Ocho Rios, we went on a tour with Peat Taylor. I can't say enough about this wonderful day! The driver was fun, informational and courteous... no problem, mon!
The falls were awesome! Going with peat we were at the Falls before the masses from the ship... Great! With water shoes, the climb is a little tricky but not bad, and well worth it! You WILL get wet! Don't take anything on the climb that you don't want to get wet!
After the falls, the driver took us driving around the area, and all the while pointed out things of interest, then took us back to the ship for lunch, then downtown and finally to Margaritaville, all for only $30 pp. Well worth it. We were never worried aobut security, it was a nice wonderful day. Check out Peat Taylor!!
I've been to Ochos four or five times and will be there again in about 2 weeks on the Voyager. I fully agree with the comments above... unless you have a good recommendation for someone tried and true, stick with the ship excursions in Jamaica.. it's a beautiful country (geographically) but also very poor and can get scary real quick if you wander in the wrong places... you will get hassled to buy everything from local art to drugs... I generally don't even get off the ship anymore there as I've seen all I need to see.. if you haven't experienced Jamaica yet, you should, at least once....enjoy, but exercise due caution... and the price of everything is negotiable.
We did Ocho Rios in June. We did the Royal Carribean (RC) excursion to Dunn's Falls and the Dolphin Swim. What a great time we had.
The RC excursions transport everyone in airconditioned mini buses. The driver's are very nice. On the way to the falls I tipped our driver $1/per in our family. When we finished the falls you go to the parking lot to wait for the next bus. I noticed a bus pulling out of the parking lot (which meant the next bus would be in 10 minutes), when all of the sudden the bus stopped and came back for us - it was our morning driver. He had recognized me from the morning and of course remembered me tipping him. A little tip goes a long way in Ocho Rios. Anyway the buses go in a circular route from the Falls, to Dolphin Cove, to Margaritaville. I tipped him again at Dolphin Cove. Well worth the few bucks I spent.
The dolphin swim was wonderful, worth every penny. My daughter and I loved the experience. You are in the water for 30 mintues with your dolphin. We bought two pictures ($16/each) - still cheaper than a RC photo.
We have been to Ocho Rios before. Said that I would never return. We are in our 70's and climbing the Falls is out of our range. We went down to the local shopping center. We didn't feel that it was worth the trip.
Can someone tell me how to have a guided tour of the island without being taken advantage of and being overcharged like the driver wanted to charge the lady $160?
I never thought that I would consider staying on the ship at a cruise stop. This is our 12th cruise!
I also recommend Peat Taylor. Search this site for his name or go to google and you'll find him that way too. For $30, his tour can't be beat and it includes the admission to Dunn's. His company is actually fairly large and he operates several busses and vans. They will stay with you for the entire day if you like taking you around Ochi. The basic tour though ends at about noon, the rest of the day you can plan with them as you like. For example, the last time I was there I used Peat to arrange for a a snorkeling excursion after the tour. So far I've planned for at least 30 people with Peat and all have nothing but rave reviews.
We also booked with Peat Taylor on line. He took us to Fern Gully, then the Falls. Afterwards he met us and took us back to Mariner. He picked us up after lunch and brought us downtown to shop. We were very happy with Peat. On the way to the falls, he would stop to pick local plants (no-not "Marijuana") and pass around the bus. The cost of the tour was $30.00 for adults (I think it was $10 or $15 for kids). This included adm. to the falls and guide. We did not bring our son into town for shopping-glad we didn't. Right outside one of the recommended stores-all you could smell was "gonga". Glad son wasn't there. I was concerned about getting ripped off but Peat asks for payment AFTER your tour is over. Really nice guy. Don't miss the falls-even if you just climb up to the last big pool and just sit & chill!