Thanks! You're all signed up.

X

Return to Ocho Rios, Jamaica

SmarterTravel

The last time I was in Jamaica was on my very first cruise. I was a senior in high school, and my family and I booked an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls. I enjoyed climbing the falls, but I felt uncomfortable with the aggressive vendors and the air of poverty. On my next cruise during college, I actually stayed on the ship rather than visit Jamaica again.

Today was my first time back to Ocho Rios since then, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I stepped off the ship and walked into a very civilized port area where we met our tour in an air-conditioned waiting room. A van took us to Dolphin Cove, where Carnival was throwing a Jamaican beach bash. I had signed up for the all-inclusive package, which meant all my food, drinks, and activities were already paid for.

All of the Dolphin Cove employees were warm and friendly, asking if we were having a good time and directing us toward activities. A few were dressed as one-legged pirates and way-laid unsuspecting tourists with a gravelly “arrrrgh.” My friend and I kayaked in a sheltered bay in glass-bottomed kayaks and swam with a Cuban dolphin named Pepe. Other activities included a shark show, swimming with sting rays, and just lying in lounge chairs along the beach. The Jamaican lunch featured jerk chicken and a vegetable pocket that I likened to a Jamaican empanada. For a snack, I had some sort of fried dough and plantain cake. Shuttles left from the beach to Dunn’s River Falls and a shopping area.

Although the souvenir-sellers and hair braiders called out to passing guests, they weren’t intimidating. I never felt hassled. All in all it was a lovely excursion, but I did get the sense I wasn’t doing anything particularly Jamaican (well, except eating). We could have been on any beach on any island. And although I love to travel to experience other lands and cultures, I must, somewhat shamefully, admit I didn’t mind.

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From

Comments