When our cruise ship arrived at Ocho Rios, I felt like I was back in the West Virginia Hills, with the addition of palm trees. I never pictured Ocho Rios to look like this, thick foliage surrounded by lush green mountains everywhere. One could basically feel the beat of the soulful reggae Bob Marley music and coolness vibe just from breathing the air. The cruise port was a very nice one and featured some good shopping with an emphasis on local arts and crafts.
The excursion my group chose was River Tubing, offered by the cruise line. We drove in open-air zebra painted jeeps, at alarming speeds, around narrow winding hills, through lush scenery to our destination. I am not going to lie, the driving was extremely frightening. Signs indicated we were entering the Cascade rain forest. The White River, approximately two miles from our ship, geared us up with inner tubes and we began our journey into the ice cold waters.
Our group chained together until everyone was in the water, then we began our descent down the fresh water river. Along the way, we encountered the sight of cattle. Do not be scared when they suddenly appear above you as you drift near the banks.
The group float took about an hour to reach the end. Near the end were incredibly swift rapids that you had to bypass before exiting the water. Many of us flipped our tubes, myself included. Still, the river tubing was a very fun excursion and our guide, Omar, was delightful. Afterwards, there is a souvenir shop where you can purchase pictures of the float, should you choose. I bought a disk for $25 that had 8 photos of my adventures. Other cruise ship excursions to choose from were scuba diving, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, and waterfalls.
Ocho Rios translates to eight rivers and is in the northeast part of Jamaica. This is most often where the cruises dock. Near the ships were some points of interest but mostly souvenir shopping. Island Village is an “idealized Jamaican village” shopping area that blares Bob Marley music throughout. They also have an honorary statue of Bob in his memory.
While reggae music is predominant throughout Jamaica, I was disappointed that the only song we heard was “One Love”. There are plenty more reggae songs to choose from. An interesting fact is that Bob Marley albums contribute to fifty percent of reggae music sales worldwide. While at the Island Village, you may want to purchase a souvenir Rastafarian knit cap, just like the one that Bob wore.
Before boarding your ship, stop by the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Bar & Restaurant, which offer free access to their swimming pool and water slides. This is definitely the coolest Margaritaville I have ever been to. It even has a rooftop whirlpool tub and two story waterside. The nacho platter is enough for 3-4 people so order wisely, portions are huge.
Fun Fact: Dr. No, the first James Bond film, was filmed in Jamaica in 1962, the year the country gained its independence from Britain.
Trivia: The popular Jerk seasoning is made of around twenty spices, often including scallions, allspice, and/or scotch bonnet peppers.
Tip: Jamaica has good food, but not my favorite, though they do get props for their goat curry, fried dumplings, and jerked meats. Be sure to try Red Stripe, their local beer, too.
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