Jamaica is a popular destination on the cruise roster, mainly for passenger liners but also for private yachts.
More than a million cruise-ship passengers sail to Jamaica annually, making it one of the world’s biggest cruise-ship destinations. Most ships hit four or five ports, sometimes spending a night, other times only a few hours. Port visits are usually one-day stopovers at either Ocho Rios, Montego Bay or Falmouth.
While cruise lines’ optional land tours are conveniently packaged to take in many of the island’s sightseeing highlights, they also move quickly and tend to shield visitors from interaction with locals. In addition, a fair percentage of the money paid for these tours stays with the organizers rather than going into the local economy. If you venture out on your own, you’re likely to enjoy a richer cultural experience. If you want to tour the island, consider hiring a local taxi driver, who will likely shed light on local issues and give you a more colorful tour. Wander the streets of the main town, poke into little shops, eat at local restaurants and buy mementos from street vendors, or veer off the beaten track. Visit small businesses and chat with the owners, buy local rums and other souvenirs in small shops instead of onboard – you’ll help fuel the local economy (and save money in the process).
Many yachties make the trip to Jamaica from North America. Upon arrival in Jamaica, you must clear customs and immigration at Montego Bay, Kingston, Ocho Rios or Port Antonio. In addition, you’ll need to clear customs at each port of call. The main ports for yachts: