A Cruiser’s Guide to Montego Bay

Want to maximise your port time in Montego Bay?  Here’s my guide to the popular Jamaican port of call.

About Montego Bay

Montego Bay is a north Jamaican cruise port that is an alternative to Ocho Rios or Falmouth, which are two of the other nearby cruise ports.  Affectionately called MoBay, it is the second largest city in Jamaica by area and fourth biggest by population.

At the cruise terminal

Montego Bay’s cruise terminal is a large empty building and it’s here where you can meet for your day’s excursions.  From this building you can walk outside but just remember you will need to take your photo ID and cruise card in order to re-enter the building.  Outside the building you will find wooden kiosks selling souvenirs (at this point I purchased my obligatory Christmas decoration to add to my collection!).  A word of warning, be careful here, some of our friends came away with additional purchases after the market ladies put bracelets on them before they could say no.

You cannot get taxis inside this area, you need to go outside of the gates.  If you do decide to travel independently, ensure that you choose a government approved and licensed vehicle, which will have red licence plates with two letters and four digits.

For smokers, there is a designated smoking area on the grass, opposite the cruise terminal building.

Excursions

A lot of advice online suggests that you should book excursions for your visit to Montego Bay for your safety.  There are many options to choose from:

  • 4×4 Jeep safari
  • Catamaran trips
  • Zip lining
  • Horseback riding and swim
  • Rafting on the Martha Brae River
  • Rose Hall
  • River tubing
  • Beach trips

Martha Brae River Rafting

Based on my research before the cruise, I pre-booked the rafting on the Martha Brae River.  I discovered by booking this excursion directly with the Jamaica Rafting Company at $60 per person, it was cheaper than the same cruise-led excursion ($70pp), saving $20 in total for myself and Mr S.  What was even better was that we found we were still with the cruise ship excursion (small triumph, fist pump).  To contact the rafting company directly, you can email info@jamaicarafting.com.

The small bus we boarded to Martha Brae comfortably seated 21 passengers and we were introduced to our driver and tour guide who was able to point out landmarks and gave us a flavour of life on Jamaica, including teaching us some common Jamaican phrases such as “Ya man” and “No problems”.  It was this journey that reassured me that booking an excursion had been the right decision.  We drove past many homes without proper roofs, burnt out cars and people loitering on street corners.  These sights were punctuated by luxury, gated, all-inclusive resorts in juxtaposition to the real Jamaica going on outside the high walls of the complexes.

Arriving at the river rafting, we were greeted with a complimentary fruit juice and a life jacket and shown to our raft for the journey.  Each bamboo raft seats two passengers and is owned by its raft captain, who builds and maintains the raft.  These rafts have a lifespan of around four months.  They are the Jamaican equivalent of a Venetian gondola.

IMG_0799

The Martha Brae rafting was so tranquil and relaxing.  The light shone through the bamboo trees, which lined the river and creaked faintly in the breeze as we snaked our way along the river for an hour and a half.

IMG_0804

On the way we passed a few vendors on the river bank selling t-shirts, artwork, carvings, towels and beer.  Once we said “No thank you” they didn’t hassle us any further and wished us a good day.  There was only one vendor we bought from and we had to give him top marks for his sale technique.  This involved him throwing his miniature bamboo raft model into the water next to us.  We picked it up for closer inspection and he shouted “$5!”.  “But how do we pay?” I shouted back, still drifting down the river away from him and with that he waded into the waist-deep water to collect his money.  When we returned to the tour bus it was apparent that almost everyone had bought one of his miniature bamboo rafts!

The rafting was an excellent excursion choice, it certainly lived up to my expectations and I would definitely recommend this for a half day excursion whilst in port.

What else can I do?

On the return journey to the cruise port. the tour stopped at the Shoppes at Rose Hall – a lot of cruise excursions stop here.  There were a lot of souvenir and jewellery shops in a pleasant setting and if you want to grab some souvenirs quickly, this may not be the cheapest but it will save you time – our tour guide gave us 15 minutes to explore!  We opted for window shopping before discovering a guy fresh coconut water, served straight from the coconut, only a straw needed!

Once back at the cruise port there are a number of options available to maximise your time in Jamaica for the afternoon.  Why not try one of the following:

Food: Go for a late lunch at Margharitaville’s rooftop terrace and enjoy beautiful sea views, and remember it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!  Thrill-seekers can take the 120ft water slide from the terrace into the sea.  Margharitaville, Gloucester Ave (Hip Strip), Montego Bay is a 10 minute taxi ride from just outside the cruise terminal.

Top food recommendation: try a Jamaican Patty, which can be purchased from one of the kiosks immediately outside the cruise terminal building.  Delicious snack!

Beaches: Visit one of the stunning beaches near the cruise port such as Doctor’s Cave Beach.  It’s $4 per person by taxi and $6 entry, you can also rent chairs and umbrellas for $6 each.

beach-1029014_960_720

Other options

Although we chose the Martha Brae river rafting, our friends decided to visit Rose Hall and go horseback riding, which includes a sea swim on the horses.  Both groups of friends enjoyed their respective excursions so I would not hesitate to go with their recommendations for my next trip to Montego Bay.

Most importantly, make the most of your time in Montego Bay, whatever your plans may be.

 

 

Advertisements

Best crepes in Grand Cayman

What better way to celebrate ‘Pancake Day’ on Shrove Tuesday, than to tell you about the delicious crepes I had on my recent visit to Grand Cayman.

Crepes, better known to us in England as pancakes, are a traditional treat eaten on Shrove Tuesday.  You can choose to eat them with a variety of sweet toppings such as Nutella, strawberries, whipped cream, peanut butter or bananas but I prefer the plain and simple: sugar and lemon.  You can also have savoury fillings… but that’s just wrong!

During my recent cruise to the Carribean, we visited Georgetown, Grand Cayman and with a little time to spare before our shore excursion (Stingray City) we wondered across the road from the tender on the South Cruise Terminal in search of coffee and came across the aptly named Cayman Creperie.

After perusing the menu I ordered a crepe with butter, sugar and lemon with a cappuccino and I was pleasantly surprised at the beautifully presented pancake that was delivered to our outside table overlooking the port.

img_1369

The Cayman Creperie is ideally situated overlooking the South Cruise Terminal at the front of the Bayshore Mall.  They use locally sourced ingredients and serve Illy coffee, I cannot recommend this place enough for a relaxed start to your day on shore in Grand Cayman, watching the cruise passengers getting on and off the tenders.

Happy Pancake Day!

 

How to stay active on a cruise

I heard somewhere once, that the average person puts on 1lb per day on a cruise.  That’s a whole stone in weight on a two week trip!

Cruise ships allow you to indulge for sure, with unlimited food and drink available around the clock, so it’s understandable that you may need to take this into account when packing your holiday clothes – I now pack ‘looser’ clothes for the second half of my cruises for the inevitable weight gain!

One thing that cruise ships do well is cater for people who want to stay active and provide lots of opportunities to burn some of those excess calories.

Fitness Suites

Almost all cruise ships have a well-equipped fitness suite on board with multiple exercise machines.  Mornings typically are the busiest time but on my last cruise I did see people leaving the fitness centre at 9pm at night!

Walking and Jogging Tracks

Walking and jogging tracks can be found on the higher decks, providing fantastic views whilst you exercise.  You don’t need to be a fitness fanatic to go for a stroll; you can burn up to 40 calories for a 15 minutes brisk walk so little and often is the key.

855827c4-ab21-400a-9891-a263e6268ec6-295-0000006cef2c0ccb_tmp

Zumba

My personal favourite is going to Zumba classes on sea days.  I’m a Zumba instructor at home and so it’s my only opportunity to be part of someone else’s class, which is a refreshing change.  Sometimes these classes are held outside, which provides a welcome breeze to keep you cool during the workout.  These classes cater for beginners and people who don’t regular attend classes and are great as exercise in disguise!

Dancing

9ed65e14-984e-4d67-a699-5a8556fe5ec8-295-0000006d460c1724_tmp

Dance classes are staple activities for most cruise ships, providing step-by-step guides to popular dances such as the Merengue and Cha Cha Cha with professional dance teachers.

Line dancing is also a popular dance activity with passengers, as well as the chance every night to have a boogie in one of the entertainment venues on board.

Sports

This is not limited to shuffleboard!  Daily sports activities can be found on every cruise so whether you fancy trying golf, basketball, volleyball or even surfing, there will be something to join in.  Royal Caribbean now also offer passengers the opportunity to get PADI certified so you can scuba dive whilst ashore.

All these activities can be quite exhausting but the beauty is that you can do as much or as little as you like… and remember, a sun lounger is never too far away!

9ef6cb1a-250d-4fbb-a48e-cfaa953e4b19-295-0000006d761bd156_tmp

5 ways to beat the post-cruise blues

I’ve just got back from my latest cruise.  I’m back at work but dreaming of being back on board. Saving for my next trip has already started (not quite sure where yet!) but in the mean time I’ve come up with five ways I’m trying to beat those post-cruise blues.

1. Mix up your favourite cocktails

Whether it’s a Margartia or a Beverley Hills Iced Tea, find your favourite cocktail recipe and start mixing! Princess Cruises have come up with their Top 10 Cocktails to help you get started, my personal favourite is the Dirty Banana.

Princess Cruises’ Top 10 Cocktails

Here’s my attempt at a Bellini

img_1341

2. Keep in touch with cruise friends

We were fortunate enough to meet up with friends on our last cruise and since leaving we have kept in touch almost every day through Facebook Messenger. We have shared photos, talked about great times on the cruise and kept up to date with what’s going on in their lives since they’ve been back home. It also help to know that others are also feeling the cruise blues!

3. Look through your cruise photos and videos

It’s nice to look back at all the places you’ve been and the shore excursions you’ve enjoyed. I’ve started to sort them into folders but instead of keeping them on your laptop or phone, why not create a beautiful photo book that you can look through every once in a while instead of leaving them to be forgotten about?

img_1342

4. Watch ITV’s The Cruise

If you haven’t watched this great TV series find it here. What made it even more special for us was that the latest series was aboard the Royal Princess, the sister ship to the Regal, which we have just come back from.  The programme is a great behind-the-scenes look at the cruise ship and its staff.  My particular favourites are front desk staff, Timothy and Emma.

7bafea86-5e60-4a44-8ff6-67ce7d2669c9-3269-000001a99ef23dec_tmp

5. Start planning your next cruise

For me, this started in my Miami hotel room during the Super Bowl, the evening of disembarkation.  Get searching for your next adventure, there are some great deals to be found and it will give you something to look forward to.

Take a look at the following sites to help you get started:

Sea the World Holidays

Iglu Cruise

Cruise.co.uk

Planet Cruise

If you have any more great suggestions on how to beat the post-cruise blues, please get in touch. It would be fantastic to know how you cope in those dark days after a cruise!

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: