Lively, captivating and compelling, Jamaica has a spirit all its own. Nearly 90 percent of population is of African descent, and the influence can be felt through Jamaica’s music, food, art and culture. Hailed as the birthplace of reggae, this uniquely Jamaican style of music found international fame, due largely to the success of its most famous musician and artist, Bob Marley. Marley is a local icon and his former residence is now a museum in the capital city Kingston.
Jamaica’s topography ranges from beaches to mountain ranges, valleys, plateaus and over 100 rivers. It attracts history buffs and adventurers alike thanks to the colonial architecture, coral reefs, and laid back fishing villages. Falmouth, a historic city dating back to the mid-18th century, opened its cruise port in 2011. Visit colonial sites like Water Square, Falmouth Court House, and the Cannon and Armoury at Fort Balcarres, and Appleton Estate, the oldest sugar estate and distillery on the island that still produces traditional Jamaican rum.
Ports like Montego Bay and Ochos Rios offer the quintessential Caribbean island experience with white sand beaches, lush rainforest and cascading waterfalls. At Montego Bay you can visit Dolphin Cove, a marine theme park featuring parrots, stingrays and other marine animals, feed the humming birds at Rockland Bird Sanctuary or go river rafting on the Rio Bueno. Hike to the top of Dunn’s River Falls near Ochos Rios or go kayaking at Mahogany Beach.
PLACES TO STAY
Cruisers are spoilt for choice in Jamaica. Falmouth has many resort hotels like Glistening Waters Hotel, Fisherman’s Inn, Retreat Guesthouse Luxury Suites and the Royalton White Sands Resort. In Montego Bay there’s The Gloucestershire Hotel, Secrets St. James Montego Bay and Grandiose Hotel; while in Ochos Rios you can bed down at the Jamaica Inn Resort, Sandals Royal Plantation, Hermosa Cove and Villa Resort and Suites.
Who goes there: Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line.
Best for: History buffs, music fans, rum drinkers.
Getting around: The port is within walking distance of the city’s historic centre.
Who goes there: Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises.
Best for: Beach lovers, couples, families, adventurous types.
Getting around: Downtown Montego Bay is 15-minute walk from the cruise port. Taxis are best mode of transport to reach nearby tourist spots and the best beaches.
Who goes there: Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Celebrity Cruises.
Best for: Active travellers, beach lovers, families, couples.
Getting around: The town of Ochos Rios is within walking distance but there’s not much to see. Take a taxi to see the waterfalls or beaches.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.