Day 3 of our MSC Divina Cruise: The Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Day 2 at Sea was an incredibly relaxing day. We ate, and did nothing. It was pretty perfect. Today, we would be pulling into Jamaica.
Growing up in New York, Jamaica was a popular destination. I feel like everyone on the east coast goes to the Caribbean and Mexico for their vacations because it’s so convenient. I never really had any interest in Jamaica, though. I had heard stories of safety concerns, and that it was in general not a very clean island. The people I knew had a fine vacation staying at the resort, but I’m never the type to stay at the hotel – I want to explore!
I had done some research and knew of some places that we could visit, so we figured we’d head out on the island for a few hours and see what the island had to offer.
We woke up earlier today to get to the gym before the rush of people – we got there between 7 and 7:30 and it was perfect. There were still some early birds, but for the most part we were able to get to everything we needed. Stopped by the Top Sail lounge again after for some breakfast and delicious espresso, and then headed to our room to get dressed.
Pulling into Ocho Rios, Jamaica was beautiful, although overcast and drizzly. The island is incredible green, and the water is a beautiful shade of teal. We stood our on the balcony incredibly impressed at how the captain docked the ship right at this small dock. This HUGE ship, and you’re able to pull it comfortably within inches of this small dock. Amazing!
We didn’t care much to get caught in the throngs of people exiting the ship, so we waited a bit with some more espresso before disembarking. When we were ready, the Yacht Club staff escorted us through the remaining crowds to our elevator and off the ship. It was a relatively quick and easy process, and we set off to find out way!
Watch out for hustlers!
Anyone who has been to a third world country knows that you are likely to find hustlers. Everywhere. So of course, as we exited the cruise terminal, there were TONS of cabbies trying to sell us on why they would be the best. We walked on and away from the crowds hoping to find a cheaper option. Unfortunately, one of the cab drivers pretty much followed us all the way and eventually convinced us to ride with him. Off the bat, he seemed like a nice guy, and the price seemed reasonable for all he said he’d take us to. Mick Jagger’s house, the Blue Hole, some Jamaican lunch place, and something else.
Our first stop was this bar on a hillside with a beautiful view. We got a beer, and our driver hinted at us buying him one…but I’m not so keen on buying my DRIVER a beer before he drives us around. We didn’t stay long as we were excited to get to the Blue Hole, but we were able to bring our beers which was nice. The ride to the Blue Hole is a bumpy one – the roads are not incredibly well maintained for the types of cars that make it out there often, but our driver made it seem like it was this longgggg drive to get there. We were only on that road for 10/15 minutes…really not that bad, buddy.
The Blue Hole, Jamaica
When you get there, you find more hustlers. “Here, you have to buy these shoes. You can rent for $, or buy for $”. Luckily, I do know better than to buy what they say you have to. You do have to pay for entry to the Blue Hole, and for a guide, but that was reasonable and our guide quietly told us we didn’t have to buy the shoes as the young kids tried to convince us. It seems there is this weird tension between the hustlers and the guides at the park. I was a bit uncomfortable leaving our things in the car, but our driver assured us it would remain locked (I wasn’t quite sure I trusted him, but we didn’t really have a choice). If you’re going to go, bring something waterproof where you can carry your money and passports and such so that you have them with you.
We wore our shorts and t-shirts over our bathing suits down to the hole. You start off by this one area with a rope swing, but we decided to skip it and do that at the end. You then start off on a short hike out to where the small waterfalls are. We removed our clothes and swam off in our bathing suits across a small pool of natural water where you then hiked up a bit more to the other pools. Each waterfall leads into the pool below it, so you’re able to climb up to the top one and jump off these low cliffs (10-25 feet) into the pool below. We certainly didn’t need the shoes they were trying to sell us on, but if you have sensitive feet, make sure to go with water shoes.
We ended with the rope swing, and the whole experience at the Blue Hole lasted maybe an hour.
It really was a fun experience, although our guide told us that what the driver was charging us was a rip-off…so that pissed us off. We both thought we were smarter than that and that we had talked him into a good deal, and now we found out we were just as bad as other tourists. At this point, we decided that we were done with Jamaica. We hadn’t planned to go swimming so we didn’t have towels and had to try to ring out our bathing suits in a small shack of a bathroom before getting back in the Taxi. The driver was nice enough to bring us to a pharmacy so that we could try to get some meds for my grandfather that he had forgotten (sadly, we couldn’t without a prescription), and that was when we told him that we wanted to end our adventure and head back to the cruise terminal. When we parked, we tried talking him down from the original price since we only completed half of the trip and the dude FLIPPED out on us. Told us he had already told his boss the price he would be bringing in and he couldn’t change it now, and for the ~$20 difference, we gave him the money and walked away as he continued to yell. We were done. Jamaica had lived up to our expectation and we had no desire to spend any more time there, or ever go back.
We passed all the trinket shops on the way to the ship, and had no interest in buying anything. All we wanted was to be back on our cozy ship, and to eat more delicious food.
Back aboard the MSC Divina
The process to get back on board was easy – they check your cruise card, and you’re on. We went up to the pool and got a little sun with a cocktail, and everything was right with the world again. It was still early, so Ransom was able to get in a quick nap before we had to get ready for dinner. We enjoyed another delicious dinner, and then some lovely live music inside the ship to close off the night.
I recognize that this can easily come off as me being a spoiled tourist in a 3rd world country, but I assure you it’s bigger than that. I’m used to 3rd world countries – I’ve been to many regions who are considered poor – Nepal, Bali, Mexico, etc. – but there is something about Jamaica that was different. I would go back to Nepal, because their culture is an amazing one – I would never go back to Jamaica.
Day 4 at Sea
Day 4 was another day spent at sea. We made our way to breakfast at Le Muse today and their eggs benedict was deeeelicious. I’m a big fan of eggs benedict, and they did it well! Breakfast is different from our 5 course dinner meal – you’re really meant to order one plate, but they won’t stop you if you want to eat more…you just likely won’t need to. We spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool and playing dominoes with my grandparents. Lunch at Le Muse was just as delicious, and the Top Sail lounge had lovely little appetizer sized treats throughout the day. Needless to say, we ate a lot. And slept. And ate. And then ate some more.
The next day we would be pulling into Aruba which we were stoked for!! I had been to Aruba once before, years ago, before my adventure days. This time, we would be going scuba diving!