Good morning everyone!
I hope everybody is having a fabulous Saturday!
Today, I want to tune in and talk about my trip to the Caribbean! Last week, in a torturously long post, I introduced you to the ship we sailed this time around, Carnival Horizon. If you’re interested in cruising (yessss do it) and you want to hear about my experience with this cruise line, definitely check out that post!
This week, I’m taking you into the Caribbean and we’ll be visiting our first port-of-call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica. You’ll find that much like our Transatlantic Cruise last spring, my husband and I don’t tend to stay in port and we book excursions to other locations around the country.
Waiting on the bridge for everyone to get their zip line gear on – meanwhile, I am dying.
A note on excursions: when you’re cruising, you have four fundamental options when you reach the port-of-call. The first is to stay on board (boo). The second is to explore on your own – we did this in Bermuda when we had three days in port and it was a bit stressful but also fun and we got a lot of sightseeing done on a budget. The third way is to book excursions through the ship, but the fourth way is to book excursions freelance. Booking freelance is the most affordable way to go, as there aren’t upcharges on the excursions to benefit the cruising company – however, booking through the ship gives you peace of mind that the boat won’t leave without you if your excursion runs late. Depending on where you are and how many connections you need, you can pick the best option for you.
Last April, I was in charge of excursions because Europe was my dream trip. My lovely, super tolerant husband let me hit up all the sightseeing and historical sites I wanted, because he is a good, patient man. This trip was different. Matt loves the Caribbean and he wanted to do something “fun“. Personally I thought seeing cathedral ruins and eating authentic bangers and mash was fun, but meh, what do I know?
The excursion he booked in Jamaica was as follows: Ziplining, River Tubing, and Blue Hole.
This girl was cool. She was almost as exciting about zip lining as me.
Fun fact about me: I am terrified of heights. In the last year or so, I’ve learned to convince myself that flying does not equal death, and as long as I don’t have a panoramic view, have two feet on a steady surface, and don’t think about it… I do alright. This is not the case with zip lining. Zip lining, for me, was 100% I AM DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE, TELL MY CATS I LOVE THEM.
But. Because it was quicker to get down off this horrible high place by zip lining AND because I have a little bit of FOMO (like, who knows, maybe it’ll actually be awesome? Everyone else seems happy.) I did the thing.
AAAHHHH GUYS IT WAS TERRIBLE.
The guys who worked here were great, by the way. They made me laugh when all I wanted to do was curl up and cry.
My husband is way more of an adrenaline junkie than I am. I am 100% happy sitting at home writing blog posts and reading books all day. For as much as I like seeing the world, my bliss on cruises is sitting on the balcony beside the water and reading. I am not an exciting person. I am not a zip lining person. I am never going zip lining again.
For as much as I hated it, if I was going zip lining again (which I’m not. Ever. Never ever.) I would definitely go to this company again. The equipment felt totally safe, and my crazy brain was really looking for anything that would signify my untimely demise. Plus the people were really lovely. So if you’re going to Jamaica and you like pretending you’re a bird and have no fear of death and oblivion, check out this excursion.
After narrowly escaping death, we went tubing!
This is nice, right? Just me, the river, and a firm grip on my own destiny.
I like tubing. I was 100% into this part of the day, and it was a good, relaxing middle thing after the terror that is zip lining. We had different guides for this tour, who were also great. The river was colder than I expected but amazingly refreshing. They lined us all up and got us saddled with a tube in one of the more shallow areas of the White River, and we were off!
I should say – this was more of a lazy river experience than a thrill ride. There were some rougher areas, but they were very mild. Definitely the sort of thing a kid of a reasonable age could handle.
This is as crazy as it got. Which was fun, but very low key.
There were also a lot of dead spots in the White River, and me and one other girl (the girl from the above picture, actually!) found EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. We’re just super awesome like that. And we were both just short enough that we couldn’t really reach the water to get out? I’m 5′ 2″ guys, and I have short legs, so, I was basically just flailing and trying not to look super uncool. And since my skin is on-tone with a vampire and I have hella chunky thighs, that was already a lost cause.
So I waited in these dead spots in the river for a rescue.
Oh well. It was a beautiful day and this was INFINITELY better than zip lining.
Behold! The toppled bamboo tree.
At the end, the tour guide who rescued us the most (her name was Damoon) told us we could swim if we wanted, and I was all about that. The water was so nice and reminded me of the lakes and rivers I swam in growing up.
Once we had done our circuit on the river, we all climbed out and trekked back down to the White River camp where we were served delicious jerk chicken and rice and beans. Super yummy. I was pretty nervous about having a tour with lunch, because in Europe, I wasn’t keen on any of the lunches included in the tours, but it was super tasty here.
Also Matt and I made friends with our obligatory island cat and fed it under the table. If you are thinking that we were missing our own fluffy friends, the answer is: yes.
Look at her pretty eyes and stripey tail!!!! Precious smol cat is precious.
After lunch, we headed on our last leg of the day to Blue Hole.
Blue Hole is more or less exactly what it sounds like – a swimming hole with clear, blue waters. But here’s the thing about Blue Hole. It’s less a swimming hole and more a place where people jump off waterfalls and high ledges.
Yaaaaay so much fun. Not. … … Again, my husband was really happy and super enjoyed it. For myself, I imagined delightful things like hitting the rocks and instant death, but you know, whatever. It’s cool. *silently freaks out*
Pretty, pretty waterfalls.
Blue Hole is a beautiful sight and I definitely recommend it, regardless of whether or not you intend to climb up and down waterfalls or rope swing to your death (don’t actually do that though). I actually drew the line here and after the first two jumps, I was out. I did try the rope swing situation, but I’m short and had to jump to reach and it was a bit of a precarious situation where I lost my grip and tumbled in a bit shorter than I wanted. No rocks or anything, but I was super done.
Nonetheless, it was fun to watch people jump, and the site was just… gorgeous. Waterfalls are always pretty. Unless they’re blood or something, then that’s gross and macabre.
+10pts. for imagery. Guys, don’t write travelogue posts at 5:00am before a long work day.
Seriously, though, Blue Hole was beautiful, and I’d definitely go back in a non-waterfall-leaping capacity.
All in all, I have to say that Jamaica was stunning and I had some experiences there that I’ve never had before and plan never to have again, making it very memorable. It’s also technically my first foray into the Caribbean, and it was a beautiful island. One does get a deep sense of the divide here between the touristy sites and the areas in poverty, which I expected to find as that was pretty present in the Azores as well.
I would have liked to learn more about the island, its history, and economy and what not, but as this was a “thrill” excursion, there wasn’t much around the island itself. The driver pointed out Mick Jagger’s house and the tourist resorts, but he didn’t talk about too much in the hills other than pointing out a farm here or there. I guess it’s because as tourists, we’re uncomfortable hearing about poverty in a country. And I guess in some ways, I understand. If you want people to come back and support your economy, you don’t want to make them uncomfortable. I just wish that we’d had a more authentic experience here. I like doing tourist things, but I want to see and learn about the place I’m in more than have “fun” activities. So that’s my regret in Jamaica.
My husband had a blast and like I said – I am literally never zip lining or jumping off waterfalls again, so Jamaica was very memorable for me in that way! The island is incredible and I recommend a visit if you haven’t been.
Have you been to Jamaica? What was your experience there? What did you enjoy? Share with me in the comments!