We took our 3 daughters (12, 10, 8 yrs) to Dunn's River Falls. We had a blast. Check out my other post in this forum ("Dunns River Falls..should we try it").
There is a very good chance that at some point while you are on the island someone will ask you if you want drugs. It is too bad, but that's the honest truth. It certainly taints the beauty of the island (and it is beautiful).
In the morning we got off ship and took a cab(van)to Dunn's River Falls.There were many van-cabs available.Wear water shoes. The kids had a great time. We saved lots of mony doing it this way instead of through the ship. I packed a snack for us in my backpack. I told the driver we had to be back at a certain time to meet the ships river tubing. The driver had us back to the ship with no problem. He waited for us in the parking lot and was looking for us as we entered the area when we returned.At the falls, we joined a group in line to climb the falls.We easily made the time to meet the group to go to the river.The road to river rafting was rugged. The drive was long enough to eat our snack and talk to other passengers. No guide hung onto my 10 year old son or husband, they were together. You didn't have to have a guide unless you wanted one. I did because I'm not adventurous and I am not in the best physical shape. He protected me guiding my tube nicely down the river and told me where the fast parts were. I won't do it again because of my physical condition, but it was an adventure I will not forget. They took digital pictures that were wonderful of my family together in the tubes.No one approached us for drugs at anytime, we were too busy climbing the falls or tubing.After it was over we got on the ship and did not shop.I saved shopping for Grand Cayman and Cozomel.Sting Ray city we booked through ship. My son didn't want to touch sting rays.He stayed on the boat, sitting on the edge watching the huge friendly rays sworm the boat. He loved it! Most children were in the water with snorkle gear floating ontop watching the rays swim under them. It was great fun. I hope this helps in your decision. Oh yes, the turtle farm and Hell, is something to miss, they are not worth your limited time.
It must depend on who you go with. We booked our tubing excursion through the ship (we were on the Caribbean Princess). There was a guide assigned to every couple. If it weren't for that, I would have had a great time.
PS--If you do decide to do this, don't forget to where sunscreen. I did forget and was red as a tomato afterward (maybe that contributed to my bad experience; oh...and that was also the day that I turned 40...no kidding...this could have all contributed to my crummy experience
Mind if I ask who you booked your river tubing excursion through? I've contacted Peat Taylor and he said we won't have to pay a thing until the excursion has ended. So, if we get there and decide, for one reason or another, that we don't want to do it, we won't be out any money. He seems very nice through his e-mails. I just want to be safe, especially since out daughters will be with us. If a guide tries to hang onto our tube, do you think they'd get offended if we ask them not to? We want it to be a fun and memorable experience. Thanks to all of you who've responded to my question. Your insight has helped so much!
We booked it through the ship, RCCL, Navigator.There was the right number of people, also, it was not overcrowded. My husband and son sometimes hung onto each others tube and sometimes they were on their own. At the beginning, they simply told the guide they didn't need them and they said ok, no problem, it was no big deal. Several other people said they didn't want a guide either and it was perfectly fine. Later a teen girl got hung up on a tree branch on the edge. She wanted a guide immediately, then.I remember seeing a couple of families of three and four hanging onto each others tube with no guide.However, if you needed a guide they were floating on the river and all you have to do is yell. A man, who wasn't hanging onto anyone, but had a girlfriend nearby, was fooling around big time and tipped his tube over. He was embarrased and had trouble getting back into his tube. Two guides rushed over to help him. The guide made my trip easier down this real river. The natural current moves you consistently along at a nice pace. However, it is a real river, not like the sleepy river at Disney World's water parks.It is a rustic place and something I will not experience in my neck of the woods. That is one reason we tried it.There is a wood bottom on the tubes, that was a good thing. Your family will love the adventure and charish the photos of going down a real river.In the end, I think I gave my guide 2-3 dollars and he was happy. I also had a wonderful conversation with him going down the river asking him many questions about Jamaca culture and life. It was very interesting. My husband and son could control their tubes to always be in sight of mine. Once in awhile my husband would grap hold of my tube with a great big smile.Wow, with all these memories, maybe I will try it again.The best thing was, we got to do 2 things without spending a bundle because of saving so much money on the falls.Unless they have changed things, noone was forced into having a guide hang onto their tube.
Aswest writter,In Grand Caymen--our friends went to Spanish Mission? shore excursion through the ship where there was a pool and snorkling from shore.Their kids loved it who were about the same age as yours. There is still time for shopping, if you do your homework. For example, just a couple of blocks from the shore there is my favorite linen shop. I have bought beautiful lace table cloths and linen ones that you can't touch back home.