Voyager of the Seas: Day 4, Jamaica

Day four of our cruise was the first port day and that was to be Falmouth, Jamaica.  We were very excited to be stopping in Jamaica because we had planned a zip line excursion there.  None of us had ever zip lined before so I had got on line months before to search out the best tour to take us.  I chose to go with Zipline Adventure Tours, a US-based company with three locations in the US and one in Jamaica.  I actually booked it through Jaital, a tour-booking company, but you can book directly with them as well.  Our price was $94 for adults and $79 for kids making our total including transportation $346 for the five-hour excursion.

Falmouth Cruise Port

Falmouth is a very new port built as a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the Jamaican Port Authority.  Check out this article from USA TODAY.  While the historic town of Falmouth has Colonial roots dating back some 200 years, it has only in the recent few years become a cruise ship destination.  Once completed, the port is expected to host an array of shops and restaurants for passengers to enjoy.  When we were there, I saw many shops but not very many restaurants as of yet.  Construction seems to be 80-90% completed on the buildings in the new port area, while restoration in the historic areas of the town of Falmouth are coming along at a slower pace.  Unfortunately, I missed getting to see Prince Harry by about a week as he was there to tour the new port on his recent visit to Jamaica.  I had read many bad reviews about Falmouth and of people saying it was not even worth getting off the ship.  I strongly disagree.  Getting off to at least walk around the port area and sit to have drinks while enjoying the view can’t hurt anyone.  While there may not be anything close to do just outside of Falmouth, you could do a tour of the historic town and Montego bay and Ocho Rios are easily accessible by taxi.  I travel to experience the world first hand, not just from the rails of a cruise ship.

We didn’t have to meet the van until 10:00 that morning so we headed up to the Windjammer as usual to get breakfast before heading out. With a quick stop to pick up my son a pair of sunglasses, we met our driver at the taxi area and once the rest of the passengers arrived we were off.  I sat in the front seat of the van mainly because I get car sick, but also because I liked to talk to the driver about the area.  He told us how the current administration is working to improve the roads and sewage system, but the fresh water system still has a ways to go.  We were heading to Lethe Estates, which would take us through Montego Bay and up into the mountains.  Here is where I was glad I was in the front because once we left the streets of Montego Bay, the roads became very curvy and bumpy.  It took almost an hour to get out to the estates, but it was a very interesting ride with beautiful scenery.

Tom (or Jerry) giving us instruction on the proper way to zip line.

Once we arrived, we were fitted into our harnesses and helmets and led to the off-road safari vehicle. We were with a group of about 12-14 people with two guides, Jungle Jane and Jerry (or might have been Tom; I never quite figured that out).  Once we were all inside the vehicle with Jerry hanging off the back, Belly, our driver gave us quite the ride up the mountain to our starting point.  Jerry briefed us on the proper way to zip line and we were off to our first 250-foot line.

I imagined I was going to have lots of anxiety before trying this for the first time.  Even though I was very excited to try this, God has equipped me well with a fear of the unknown.  My anxiety was put to rest, however, as I approached the first line and saw that it was a gently sloping hill where all I had to do was just walked off the small ledge they had dug out and then would begin gliding the 250 feet to the first platform.  It was obviously intended as an easy warm up to prepare you for the longer lines coming up; the longest and last being 1600 feet.  It was exhilarating and I couldn’t wait to get to the next line.

In between each line there is a short walk through the jungle during which Jane and Jerry would point out plants and trees along the way.  It was a warm day and I was glad for the shade of the trees.  About halfway through we stopped at a little area where Jane and Jerry prepared coconut, pineapple, and sugar cane grown there on the estate for us to sample, along with cold water and coconut water to drink.  It was a welcome break before moving on to the rope bridge and the last two lines.

 

 

The rope bridge.

Just before the last line, The Big Timba, we crossed the rope bridge.  This is where the kids can pretend they are in an Indiana Jones movie as they are crossing.  It was a lot of fun.  Everybody was anticipating the last line knowing it was the longest at 1600 feet.  It was also the highest giving you a spectacular view of the Great River.  One by one we watched each other go taking over 30 seconds from beginning to end.  The line by far was the most exhilarating for me.  Soaring above the treetops, you get a small glimpse into the life of a bird flying high in the sky.  Watch this video I made of our time zip lining.

 

Alas, our time at Lethe Estates had to come to an end, but not before one more butt-clenching ride with Belly in his safari vehicle back to where our van driver was waiting.  Once we turned in our harness and helmet, we had the opportunity to have a cold Red Stripe and sit by the banks of the beautiful Great River before heading back to town, but we were all anxious to head out as we had discussed with our driver earlier to take us for some authentic Jamaican jerk chicken and a quick shopping stop for some Blue Mountain Coffee.   We tipped our guides generously for the great day of zip lining and headed back to Montego Bay with mouths watering for jerk chicken.

We stopped at The Pork Pit, a traditional jerk restaurant located on Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay.  This is an area of about one mile long considered “the strip.”  They serve jerk chicken, pork, and even sausage.  My family tried all three and found them all to be excellent.  We then headed over to a store where our driver said was not like the tourist stores, and they would bargain with us.  I had planned on buying Blue Mountain Coffee, my favorite, but ended up coming back with some jerk spice and coconut cream rum also.

Arriving back at the port, we were ready to head up to the pool deck, grab a cold drink and relax for a while.  We watched from the rail for a while as other passengers came back, but as it had become very windy (again) and clouds were moving in, we headed up to the Viking Crown to have drinks and watch us sail away.

At dinner, our tablemates told us about the a very similar zipline excursion they had taken through the ship and we quickly decided that ours was the better deal.  Our lines were longer and it seems our equipment was better.  We didn’t have to wear any gloves in case we needed to break or pull ourselves in.  As fast as we were moving, there was no way I was going to grab that line, gloves or not.  All the work was done for us.  The one thing I think was better was that they didn’t have as long a drive to get to where they were going; however, their family was split up between the two buses and it seemed to be a huge problem trying to have them ride together.

After dinner we met our friends at the Cleopatra’s Needle lounge to see how the karaoke would be, and it was running late by a half an hour due to the trivia game scheduled before it.  We waited around until it was finished, but only stayed for a few songs because people were either really good singers or singing songs nobody knew.  In my opinion, those are two elements that make for very bad karaoke.  We stopped in the Pig and Whistle for a drink and to see what Derek and the Adult Daycare at Night Program was up to before turning in for the night.

Day five was Grand Cayman and we were looking forward to some Seven Mile Beach time and good snorkeling.  Stay tuned to hear more about it…..

More pictures…

   

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