A December 1999 trip
to Jamaica by onequest
Quote: Late life home of Ian Fleming, creater of 007, and birthplace of countless athletes, Jamaica is more than a paradise for weary vacationers. Nevertheless, I've gone to Jamaica several times, just to relax and unwind. By cruise or by resort, Jamaica must be experienced firsthand to be understood and appreciated.
For first time visitors, I recommend staying on the island rather than visiting by cruise ship. Generally, cruise visitors will be bombarded by pushy hawkers and taxi drivers upon arrival. If you must visit by ship, wait until just before departure before you purchase anything. Prices that the hawkers promote drop up to 90% by cruise departure.
The best way to experience Jamaica is by staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts on the island. I will highlight two of them in the attached journals.
While in Jamaica, be sure to shop for Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and scotch bonnet hot sauces at the local grocery stores. They are 1/2 the price that you would pay at the resort.
The resort has several bars, restaurants, and activities that go on throughout the day. On the first day, we took it easy in Jamaica’s largest pool bar. Sipping Red Stripe beers and floating in the pool was pure heaven.
That evening, we went to the Internationale Room for dinner where we enjoyed continental cuisine. My husband tried the lamb chops and I tried the swordfish. There were so many other entrees to choose from, so we went back on our last evening. We savored Jamaican white wine with our dinner. The Jamaican champagne tastes like Asti Spumante, which was a bit sweet for our taste, so we were surprised at how good the white wine was. The atmosphere was distinctly elegant. The service was so attentive that it would rival any leading restaurant in the world.
The next morning, we had the breakfast buffet at Windies. There was a large variety of traditional fare such as bacon, sausage, and eggs, and Jamaican dishes such as mackerel with pak choy. We especially liked the fresh tropical fruit bar.
After breakfast, we hit the resort beach. We headed over to the watersports area to try our hands at sailing a Hobie Cat. After a thorough introduction to the vessel, we were on the high seas. The water is very calm in front of the resort because there is a coral reef that runs parallel to the land. We stayed between the reef and the land as instructed. Other watersports include glass bottom boat rides, snorkeling, water cycling, windsurfing, kayaking, and scuba diving.
On land, the Playmakers (activity coordinators) urged us to play volleyball, learn to reggae dance, enter dart and golf tournaments, and join in on the crab races. These people were model beautiful and had tons of energy and spunk. On our own, we visited the on-site 9-hole pitch and putt course, played chess on garden chess boards, and played board games and pool during the rainstorms.
Throughout the next several days, we would visit the Beach Shack for Jerk burgers, Jerk Chicken, and Jamaican Patties. One night, we enjoyed eating at Restorante de Amore, which served authentic Italian dishes and offered an antipasto bar. Before dinner every night, we went to the tree bar, where local Jazz musicians entertained us.
There was so much that we didn’t do during our weeklong stay that we will need to go back again in the next couple of years.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 2, 2001
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 3, 2001
Planes: He now has the newest airplanes in the Caribbean - Airbuses: A-321, MD-83 A-310, A-320 Lovebirds and new Atlantic Limousine the A-340. While the planes were new, we found that the seats were even smaller than American domestic flight seats. Beware any woman over a size 12 or any man taller than 5'11. On the way from Los Angeles, the flight was almost full and on the way back is was about 80% full.
Check In: We found the front desk agents to be friendly and helpful. The airline ticket was the same price as a ticket on American Airlines.
The food during the flight was disappointing. We had small portions - American traditional chicken or fish entrees on the way back and a broccoli/cheese stuffed pastry on the way there. Nothing was uniquely Jamaican or special.
Overall, the flight attendants were efficient. They were what you would expect on a domestic flight, but not up to Sandals quality. Frankly, we were hoping for the "Sandals" quality of service: plenty of smiles, friendly banter, and impeccable service.