While there aren’t an amazing amount of ships that stop at Ocho Rios, there are still some that do. For any of you who have been to Jamaica, you will know what to expect. But for those who haven’t, here’s a brief summary of what you might want to do in port if you aren’t doing a shore excursion (which we did and will write about later).
The port is located well within walking distance to shops. There are the usual shops such as Del Sol, the various Tanzan Alexandr and other -ite jewelry stores that usually have the word “international” in their shop name and are located in shopping areas that have the words “harbour or ocean, plaza, shoppes” or some type of fruit in their name. They range from upscale right the way down. And there are several of them well within walking distance of the port. Harley Davidson and Del Sol are located at the Harbour Shops along with others.
We don’t tend to shop at the duty free shops aimed at cruise passengers as those are pretty much in every port and don’t vary too much and you can find plenty of information on them all over the place. So we strolled a bit further along the main street passing various shopping centers all aimed at tourists. Plenty of aggressive merchants and people are ready to play glue with you. We found that while being polite and saying no thank you works some of the time, saying that in another language and pretending not to speak English works best if you want to be nice and not have to explain why you don’t want to see someone’s T-shirt shop, buy someone’s drugs or take a taxi to the beach (which is within easy walking distance).
We were hungry for a little bite to eat so we stopped in at Mama Marley’s on the main road and had a BLT sandwich which was pretty decent. The restaurant and bar is owned by Bob Marley’s mother – or so it is promoted – we didn’t actually do any research to verify it. It is definitely a place aimed at tourists.
A bit further along the main road we came to what we really like in any destination – a supermarket aimed at locals. It was the General Food Supermarket and it was loaded with items that make for great gifts and souvenirs to bring back home including Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaican ginger biscuits, gingery mango sauce, hot mustard sauce and other sauces, guava, mango and other flavours of jam, Jamaican teas such as star anise tea, cullen mint herbal tea, ginger beer and more.
These are the things that make for interesting shopping and your vacation can last long after you return to your home. Oh yeah, we usually buy at least a magnet, cap and/or T-shirt but the supermarket is always the most interesting place to pick up things that you know you will consume rather than stick on a shelf and have to dust around.
For USD5 we could have taken a taxi back from the supermarket to the port but we decided to walk it with our four carrier bags full of goodies. The scanning process is usually interesting getting back on ship so early but it is a pleasure to get all the shopping done and then move on with exploring and doing some things. The crew looks at us like we’re strange and trying to smuggle bottles of alcohol on (which we usually don’t but sometimes a bottle is mixed in with the other bottles of sauces and ginger beer and they just wave us on).
So, while in Ocho Rios, we can strongly suggest a quick pop over to the supermarket and then a pop back to ship before doing anything. Lots of excursions in this port to do and we will definitely go back once again. We did an actual ship’s excursion this time (fairly rare for us) and will write about it in another post.