This entry was meant to be about Panama, I should be telling you about seeing three-toed sloths and riding the Panama Canal. But unfortunately, I was too sick to go exploring in Panama. I think it may have been the combination of antibiotics, sunshine, exercise and not drinking enough water that got me. Whatever it was, it meant that I could only manage about fifteen minutes on Panama soil before I needed to return to my cabin.
Well that was a gloomy opening paragraph, but there’s no need to feel too sorry for me – just two days later when we arrived at our next port of call, Montego Bay, Jamaica, I was already feeling a lot better. Montego Bay itself didn’t sound that appealing to us, so when we saw there was an excursion to Negril Beach we figured, based on our experiences in Curacao and Aruba, it would be easier and not much more expenseive to join the excursion rather than traipsing the city looking for transportation to a nice seaside village.
Our tour bus was packed with aging Americans, more women than men it seemed. Many of these ladies were very vocal, but despite having been to Jamaica numerous times (on previous cruises I’m guessing), they came across as being unfamiliar with the un-American ways of the Jamaicans. It was frustrating and annoying to listen to at times, but sort of amusing too. Our Jamaican guide was great – she stood at the front of our minibus and entertained and informed us all.
We trundled along the winding coastal road listening to our guide answering questions and telling us various tidbits about the Jamaican way of life. The ride was magical, we drove through villages of colourful shacks and shops, saw youngsters with shiny black skin and super-cool haircuts playing football on dusty pitches. Our road cut through lush tropical vegetation and crossed inlets that disappeared in the direction of the green forested hills where they began as streams. Still blue water sparkled under the sun in leafy coves where the only thing missing was a pirate’s galleon.
When we reached Negril Beach, the bus pulled into the carpark of a large beach bar. We were given some lunch vouchers before we made our way through the bar and out to the beach. It was spectacular – white sand, turquoise water, palm trees – truly stunning. As you can guess, we didn’t feel the need to venture far in the next few hours! Activities such as sunbathing, swimming, drinking fruity drinks and politely declining the wares of the dodgy hawkers that passed took up most of our time. We also had a go on the trampoline floating offshore but thankfully there are no pictures to prove it! We very nearly made our parasailing debut as well, but too long spent haggling over the price and stalling on the decision found us back on the bus drama-free.
Our lunch was Jamaican jerk chicken and rice. It was lovely and it was great to get a local dish. Our final stop in Jamaica was Rick’s Café where cliff diving is the main attraction. Acrobatic locals and brave tourists leap from a forty-foot precipice into the clear blue of the sheltered cove below. It was very exciting to watch and it even inspired timid me to jump from a smaller ten-foot ledge. I was petrified!
It was still bright when we pulled out of Montego Bay and the view was beautiful. Our final cruise destination had been our favourite by far. If you’re struggling to choose a Caribbean destination, consider Negril Beach, Jamaica, it’s pretty special!
Hope you enjoyed this entry, I’m off to Greece!