Dream Destinations - Jamaica/Cayman

We loved the short cruise we did last winter so decided to try another longer one this time, once again we were not disappointed, and the destinations were the best!

Hard Rock Cafe, Grand Cayman

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by catronma on April 7, 2007

If you are coming in from a cruise ship you can't miss it, right on the main street to the right of the port, and mixed in with Margaritaville, Harley, and all of the jewelry stores. This is a smaller Hard Rock with the bar and a small smoking area on the ground floor with the retail shop, and some additional seating upstairs. They were actually not terribly busy when we arrived (around 1pm) so seating was open given that there were at least 5 ships in port at the time, this seamed odd. They were playing the traditional Hard Rock music, but were apparently on a U2 kick, that was most of what was played over speakers and on the TV while we were there and was also a lot of what was on the walls.

Overall I was not terribly impressed, the service was very slow, and all we had was drinks, but for us Hard Rock collectors it is a must see. If you are not a die hard Hard Rock person, Margaritaville had a much better atmosphere only a few doors down. This was a clean restaurant in a good location. The retail store was a bit disorganized and crowded, probably due to its size as there was actually a bouncer letting people in to minimize the crowd in the store.

Hard Rock Cafe
43 South Church Street
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
(345) 945-2020

Hard Rock Cafe, Ocho Rios

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by catronma on April 7, 2007

Another stop at the Hard Rock! This one is also fairly small, and located in a shopping mall. It is at the front of the Taj Mahal shopping center, not a far walk at all from the port (take a left when exiting the port) so don't go paying taxis outrageous prices to go here! The retail is all on the ground floor and dining and bar upstairs. There is no smoking at all inside the restaurant or bar but there is an outside balcony with seating where smoking is allowed. You can also get a fairly decent view from the balcony so even if you don't smoke, check it out.

They were not playing any music while we were here, strange for a Hard Rock, but the staff were great, took pictures for us, kept our beer full, and gave us a rundown of they types of rum and where to get them. Again it was not busy and if you are looking for atmosphere try Margaritaville, but overall not a bad Hard Rock, attentive staff, and not to crowded.

Hard Rock Cafe
Taj Mahal Shopping Center
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
(876) 974-3333

Margaritaville, Ocho Rios

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by catronma on April 7, 2007

This is by far the best restaurant I have ever been to for atmosphere! When you walk in you first see the bar area, most people are standing around it but there are some seats, to one side is the retail shop, to the other side is half a boat that houses the DJ along with an open area that I assume is intended to be a dance floor. Looking ahead from the bar are some tables and a walkway that goes out to the beach, which you can use while dining along with the swim pads in the water. The tables on the main floor are crowded, mostly out in the sun but all have umbrellas. To the right of the bar is a pool, yes inside the restaurant, along with a tube spiral slide that comes down from the second floor.

The upstairs was almost empty but it appeared as though they were setting up for a party. More tables, and another bar, all open to see out to the ocean. It was like a giant tiki hut! The only complaint I had was the size of the bathrooms. I cannot imagine how crowded this place would be later in the evening but the women's room only had 2 stalls and no standing room! Again we did not eat here but everything that passed us looked and smelled great!
Located inside the Island Village shopping center a short walk from the port.

Island Village
Ocho Rios, Jamaica

7 Mile Beach

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by catronma on April 6, 2007

The best public beach I have seen! The sand is great, not to many rocks or shells, there are some spots with coral and rocks closer to the port end of the beach and many people brought their own snorkeling equipment to check out some of the coves. There are private homes and hotels along the beach but unlike others, they have not sectioned off portions for themselves so you can walk from end to end. It is best to get near the hotels, but the closer you get to the hotels the more crowded it gets as well. From the port it is walkable, just hang a left on the main road (church street) and start walking, it took about 35 minutes to walk to a suitable place to layout, we were by the Quality Suites hotel, the closest one to the port.

There were places to rent snorkeling equipment, jet skis, and other water sports places all along the walk and down the beach as well. The hotel bars and restaurants were all accessible from the beach to get something to eat. One of the strangest things were noticed was that many of the people working at the hotels and restaurants were Canadian, not many Cayman natives or British (as the island is British). Overall at great place to relax for a few hours if you don't want to spend money or do any shore excursions, and you get the great Caribbean beach views and bright blue water.

Seven Mile Beach
Western Shore
Grand Cayman Island

Dunns River Falls

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by catronma on April 12, 2007

A must while in Jamaica! Both my husband and I agree that this is the best vacation activity we have done anywhere! When coming in off the cruise ship, you can take a taxi from the port ($15 round-trip per person) to go to the falls. Do not let the cab guy make you pay for the round-trip up front!

The falls were crowded, at least when we were there, but there was just a short wait to buy the entrance ticket ($12 per person). You may rent a locker for $8 and also water shoes, which we did not do as we had our own. There is a waiting area to go up the falls with a group, there was a guide there waiting for them but we went up on our own. The entrance is on the beach, and it is a strange sight to be standing at the ocean with a freshwater waterfall in front of you. This is the only bad part without a guide, you may want to join the end of a group just to get a spot to go up. Once past the first few climbs, the crowd thins out and being around a group is not necessary.

There are pools that are deep enough to immerse yourself in, the rocks have some hidden holes and can be slippery, but if you go slowly and watch your step, it is much more enjoyable to be alone. Try not to fall into the trap of the shops, we were told that they couldn't find their way out of them! Small kids are not a good idea as the water can move fast in parts; the youngest one we noticed was probably around 12. There is also a stairway along the falls where you will not get wet at all but can still walk along the falls, the people-watching here is entertaining!

Dunns River Falls
Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Ocho Rios Liquor Shopping

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by catronma on November 8, 2007

We went to the Taj Mahal shopping senter where the Hard Rock cafe is located. From the ship you do not need to take a cab so don't get suckered into paying the money. Take a left from the port and keep walking you cant miss it. Aside from all of the typical t-shirt and trinket shops there is one thing to get in Jamaica... RUM! Appleton is the big local Rum and you can get it up to 190 proof but that one smells like rubbing alcohol! Of course you will have to check it when getting back onto the ship so you wont be able to drink it, however you can get around that!To save money on the onboard liquor prices bring a 1 liter water bottle with you when you exit the ship when you go to the liquor store just mention your water bottle to the person who helps you, and they will try to give you individual attention. Not only will they pour it into the bottle for you and dispose of the liquor bottle they charged us $2 less than what was marked on the bottle.Obviously this is something they do frequently but still something they try to be a little secretive about.We also had a local tell us that if we had kept walking straight past the Taj Mahal we would have run into a small local grocery store and could have paid another $3 less for the bottle making it about a $9 liter of rum.
Taj Mahal
25 Tajmahal Plaza
Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Transportation to the Port - Miami

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by catronma on April 7, 2007

When coming in from, or leaving Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Airport, don't pay the outrageous taxi or cruise line van fee. If you have the time use the Tri Rail and metro rail. The Tri Rail has a website but an all day ticket to anywhere for one person is $4, you may have to take a taxi from the Tri Rail station to the port but for example if you take the Tri Rail to Miami Airport for $4 you can get a taxi for $12 a person to the port, a total of $16 versus $30 a person that the cruise line charges for transportation. This will take some time and on the weekend the Tri Rail only stops once an hour at various stations but you can check their schedule online, they have a link at the Miami airport transportation page, or do a search for Miami Tri Rail. You may have to take a city bus to get from the Tri rail station to the airport (you do at West Palm) but your Tri Rail ticket includes bus fare, we actually noticed several people doing this to get to West Palm Beach airport because it is much cheaper to fly from their than Miami in many cases. You can also spend a little less money and go from the Tri Rail transfer station to the metro rail and for $1.25 take that a little closer still to the port and pay even less for a taxi. Though to save hastle and time it is best to just go to the Miami airport. Also if you are thinking about driving remember that parking at the port costs $10 a day, a big expense when taking a 5 or more day cruise.


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