Our Western Caribbean cruise is far from port-intensive, but we should disembark at least once to set foot on Jamaican soil for the first time. We's signed up in advance for a half-day tour that includes Dunn River Falls and two rides at Mystic Mountain Ocho Rios.
We walk ashore and are herded into queues, where we await our turn to board a mini-bus. We're reminded again of why large tours, especially cruise-ship tours, are best avoided. Baaah...
The tiny bus is uncomfortable, although the driving is exciting, and our first impression of Jamaica is somewhat negative, sad to say. Almost everybody we encounter has his or hand out for a tip and the job of herding groups of tourists leads to brusqueness bordering on rudeness, rather than the laid-back attitudes we've found elsewhere in the Caribbean.
As to Dunn's River Falls, it doesn't help that it's swarming with cruise-ship tourists (but how can we complain?). After stopping to rent water shoes (we didn't bother to pack ours), our bus careens up to the parking lot. From there we're escorted a quarter of a mile to the Falls. A friendly guide meets us and escorts us in our large group of about 20 up the falls. We don't fall down, we get some exercise, and we cool off in the hot and humid weather between the walk to and from the bus.
Mystic Mountain, which for us is a little bit more fun than Dunn's River Falls, starts off with a scenic ride up a chairlift. Who'd have thought we'd be riding a ski lift in Jamaica?
There's the Eurodam...
Along the way we can keep an eye on Tom and Ellyn, who check on us once in awhile to make sure we haven't fallen off.
We enjoy the beautiful views as we climb the Jamaican version of a mountain.
No, really, Brian's enjoying himself thoroughly.
We disembark and then it's time for, guess what, another line to ride the world renowned Jamaican bobsleds. Haley and Hannah are raring to go.
Tom and Ellyn are next out of the starting blocks. Tom has instructed Ellyn to take a lot of pictures of him as he steers their bobsled down the mountain. Whee, look at me everybody...
Then it's our turn. No photos of us but this YouTube video shows the exact route we followed, except for the climb back to the top.
It's essentially a mini-roller coaster that you start from the top and a surprisingly short ride.
Okay, what else is there to do? Look, there's a spider.
We stroll around for awhile longer, looking for views to block.
Now let's ride back down the mountain on the same chairlift.
It's a lush and leafy ride to be sure.
How many times do we have to say it, Ellyn? No pictures (actually we're flattered)...
Another new experience: It's the first time we've ever been asked for a tip by a lift attendant.
On the way back we slip away from the mini-bus at a mini-mall stop and wander around a fairly dismal Ocho Rios for awhile before Tom's nose leads us to an authentic looking restaurant where we enjoy some jerk chicken and Jamaican beer before reboarding the ship.
Maybe we'll give Jamaica another try sometime.