Getting ready to do a carnival 7 night with our first port in Montego Bay. Seeing lots of scary reports almost to the point of staying on board that day. Are these reports being blown out of proportion? Is it safe to go on excursions in Jamaica?
Excursions are fine in Jamaica - Mo Bay, Ocho, wherever. I'd strongly urge you to take tours through the cruise line, and those should be perfectly fine.
The big issues some of us have is with wandering off the beaten trail on your own. A friend of mine lives in Jamaica part of the year and he knows the "lay of the land". What is comfortable to him is not the same for me.
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My first cruise years ago stopped at Mo Bay & I ventured off to rent a motorbike by myself. Although nothing bad happened except having drugs pushed on me it wasn't the smartest thing to do alone. Whatever you do- do it as a group & as Dave said you'd be better off doing a ships tour even if it does cost a little more rather than trying to negotiate a deal on you own.
I too am guilty of adding to the Jamacia bashing. Let me say that I never fealt un-safe while there. What we don't like is the constant sales pitch for crap. Braiding your hair, buying some tinket, buy a braclet... on and on. By the time you get back to the ship you fell like screaming at any one coming near you to "just leave me alone"
If its your first time their, DON'T be afraid to get off the ship. DO go with a ship excursion. You can have a good time there, but be warned about the conditions. Its a poor island. They will be trying EVERYTHING to get your money (legally) and they have learned never to take four or five firm "no thank you" responses as a sign that you won't break down and buy their stuff.
It is important to note that the people of Jamaica are not a bunch of outlaws waiting to rob tourists. They are just very persistent and it gets annoying after a while. I can understand it since the island is so poor and they are doing whatever they can to make a dollar - but it has a tendency to feed on itself and be counter-productive.
I hear you about Cozumel, but you really are very safe there. You just have to understand a Latino/machismo society.
As for Jamaica, I am one of the few posters who really like it there. I like the people, the countryside is beautiful. Unfortunately they have 30%+ unemployment, half of those employed are not what we consider full time--this is a third world country. They will do everything in their power to get your money (including offering drugs or "women"). If you are with a tour group you will probably not be bothered for illegal stuff, just harassed over hair braiding, beads, etc. I have not felt unsafe with a group other than wondering at how these people drive! I would not under any circumstances go off alone, or even as a couple or small group, without some sort of guide. Like any other port in the Caribbean leave your jewelry on the ship and don't carry a bunch of cash, and for the love of Mike be back to the ship on time.
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NO, Jamaica and Cozumel both are very safe and great places to visit. you just have to use common sense just like you do anywhere here in the states. i have been to both several times and never had a problem. we didnt venture of into neighborhoods and places that were on the main streets unless we were on a rccl tour but as far as the pushy sales people --- that is everywhere. just smile, nod and keep walking. You will miss alot of beautiful sights if you dont get off the ship. Enjoy!