Walking around Caribbean nations safe?

MomOTwins

The Mommy Fairy
Joined
Mar 5, 2018
Yes for Grand Cayman, NO for Jamaica (Been to Ocho Rios. It's completely another world. I've traveled in a few countries and big towns in the US and ... Honestly, I felt safer walking alone with my friend at 2:00 AM in an industrial park in Queens than I felt during those 3 minutes between the ship and Margaritaville).
Can you elaborate on this? Were you approached by people hawking things? Why did you not feel safe? I am asking because we were deciding between a DCL excursion and margaritaville because I had always heard if you stay in the port area it is very secure, but it sounds like that is maybe not the case.
 

mevelandry

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 22, 2013
Can you elaborate on this? Were you approached by people hawking things? Why did you not feel safe? I am asking because we were deciding between a DCL excursion and margaritaville because I had always heard if you stay in the port area it is very secure, but it sounds like that is maybe not the case.
Now, take note that this was in Ocho Rios (there's a 2-3 minutes walk between the Welcome Center and Margaritaville). Not sure how it is in the port of Falmouth or in Montego Bay (although I heard and read similar stories).

We were not only approached by people trying to sell us things, but also followed over a certain distance & I've seen people being grabbed. There was also a gate with people (outside the gate) shouting at us: "HEY YOU! COME HERE! LOOK AT ME! COME HERE I'M TRYING TO TALK TO YOU!" Not in a friendly way. More like they wanted to fight us... :scared: As soon as we got into the Island Village, it stopped (there were policemen there too). They were slightly less agressive when we came back but we were followed again.

That being said... I would recommend an excursion. Jamaica is absolutely breathtaking. You'd be missing out. My husband and I deeply regret not doing anything else than Margaritaville... It's SOOOOO pretty.

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MrsInsG

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
If you've lived in or spent any kind of time in a good-sized American city, you won't be uncomfortable. The same rules of engagement apply. If you're a small-town person, you might feel anxious.
Hmmmm... Well, my husband has been a DC cop for 29 years and he is the one that checks InterPol for crime trends in given locales. He is not, by any stretch, from a small town. The idea that every city is the same is true. Government has a large impact on crime, and being unaware of local issues, or just feeling safe because a cruise ship ports in a particular spot, is not a good idea.
 
  • kiford

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2012
    I am asking because we were deciding between a DCL excursion and margaritaville because I had always heard if you stay in the port area it is very secure, but it sounds like that is maybe not the case.
    In Falmouth, the port area is enclosed. You can't get it without a ship card and ID. I believe Margaritaville is inside the port area so only cruise ship passengers are allowed in.
     

    kiford

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2012
    I am asking because we were deciding between a DCL excursion and margaritaville because I had always heard if you stay in the port area it is very secure, but it sounds like that is maybe not the case.
    In Falmouth, the port area is enclosed. You can't get it without a ship card and ID. I believe Margaritaville is inside the port area so only cruise ship passengers are allowed in. And while there are shops and people selling stuff there, it's not like the beaches or public areas - it's fairly tightly controlled and they want tourists to feel comfortable.
     

    MomOTwins

    The Mommy Fairy
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2018
    In Falmouth, the port area is enclosed. You can't get it without a ship card and ID. I believe Margaritaville is inside the port area so only cruise ship passengers are allowed in. And while there are shops and people selling stuff there, it's not like the beaches or public areas - it's fairly tightly controlled and they want tourists to feel comfortable.
    That’s what I thought, so it sounds like ochos rios is different. Our problem is our kids are too young for all but a couple boring looking excursions (estate tours) and we are not willing to use a non-DCL company due to the risk of missing the ship, so sticking to the port seems like it may be the best choice for us.
     

    Bonnie1222

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 9, 2016
    @mevelandry I completely understand how you feel. We were in Montego Bay about 15 years ago on a Princess cruise. What stands out most was the 10+ foot walls with barbed wire and guards with rifles standing at the gates letting buses out one at a time. We had a stop for shopping on our way to the sugar cane estate and you couldn't get to the stores unless they dropped a chain blocking the driveway. I've never been back there.

    Inside the Falmouth Port I am perfectly comfortable, and we have gone so many times we have actually made friends with a couple of the shop owners. If you want local "market" type things they have an area inside the port where they are setup like a street market.

    Margaritaville is inside the port and there is a good distance between it's location and the end of the port/street area.
     
  • mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    In Falmouth, the port area is enclosed. You can't get it without a ship card and ID. I believe Margaritaville is inside the port area so only cruise ship passengers are allowed in.
    Good for them! The Island Village and Margaritaville felt like they were for cruise ship passengers only too. No vendors there except for a photograph inside Margaritaville wanting to sell us pictures. Everybody was super nice and polite over there. We've had great conversations with the staff.
     
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    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    That’s what I thought, so it sounds like ochos rios is different. Our problem is our kids are too young for all but a couple boring looking excursions (estate tours) and we are not willing to use a non-DCL company due to the risk of missing the ship, so sticking to the port seems like it may be the best choice for us.
    It's also enclosed but the vendors allowed inside are pushy (described in my previous comment) and people outside the gate can be seen and will shout at you.

    Your kids are too young for Dunn's Riverfalls? (You don't have to climb them).
     

    SuperDry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 20, 2012
    I realize that homicide is only one of the risks people worry about, and I realize that cruise ship visitors may not be at equal risk of it as residents, but it's still an interesting statistic to look at. Using the list below and ordering by homicide per capita rate, and looking at the Caribbean ports that DCL stops at, Jamaica has the highest rate. A close second is... US Virgin Islands. I would guess that most cruise ship visitors would have their guard down in USVI just because it's US soil, but it's far more dangerous (at least in terms of getting killed) than everywhere else DCL stops, except Jamaica. Bahamas is a distant third, some 60% safer than USVI. Cayman Islands is almost as safe as the mainland US.

     

    mommy2allyandaveri

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2006
    It's been years but I felt safe in Grand Cayman. We visited Jamaica, but not on a cruise. There were armed guards outside our hotel and we were told not to leave the resort unless we were on tour. No, I don't think I would walk around Jamaica.
     
  • MomOTwins

    The Mommy Fairy
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2018
    It's also enclosed but the vendors allowed inside are pushy (described in my previous comment) and people outside the gate can be seen and will shout at you.

    Your kids are too young for Dunn's Riverfalls? (You don't have to climb them).
    Yes, the DCL excursions to Dunn's River are age 6 and up.
     

    Mom24Princesses

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 7, 2005
    I’ve been to about 15 ports. But not Jamaica. I’ve also been to Brazil three times, stayed in Cancun and in the V.I.s. I am always on guard and watching, just like in any large US city. I wouldn’t go anywhere new “alone” without a plan. Last year our then 20 year old DD lived in Brazil for three months and had to travel some. (She’s fluent in Portuguese). But if you’re smart and careful you can see the world. Scariest port for us was Roatan where the gas stations had guards with machine guns. Also when our excursion bus pulled out of the gated port compound guards with automatic rifles manned the gates.

    Is Jamaica anything like that?

    The best excursion we’ve ever been on was the bus across Belize to see Xunantunich. Google it! WOW! We were a hundred yards from Guatemala and the guards had machine guns. But we always felt safe. Great adventure. When your sulky 16 year old “middle child” says “Thank you for bringing us here” you get goosebumps ( Same DD who lived in Brazil 4 years later. And studied in Italy the spring before Brazil. She isn’t sulky anymore )
     

    mevelandry

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2013
    I’ve been to about 15 ports. But not Jamaica. I’ve also been to Brazil three times, stayed in Cancun and in the V.I.s. I am always on guard and watching, just like in any large US city. I wouldn’t go anywhere new “alone” without a plan. Last year our then 20 year old DD lived in Brazil for three months and had to travel some. (She’s fluent in Portuguese). But if you’re smart and careful you can see the world. Scariest port for us was Roatan where the gas stations had guards with machine guns. Also when our excursion bus pulled out of the gated port compound guards with automatic rifles manned the gates.

    Is Jamaica anything like that?

    The best excursion we’ve ever been on was the bus across Belize to see Xunantunich. Google it! WOW! We were a hundred yards from Guatemala and the guards had machine guns. But we always felt safe. Great adventure. When your sulky 16 year old “middle child” says “Thank you for bringing us here” you get goosebumps ( Same DD who lived in Brazil 4 years later. And studied in Italy the spring before Brazil. She isn’t sulky anymore )
    Yes but to be honest, I've seen armed guards in the port of Nassau as well... And in Times Square (NYC)!
     

    ludari

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 4, 2010
    The only place I felt uncomfortable walking around was Falmouth. I quickly returned to the gated port area after only about 20-minutes.
     

    FSU Girl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2016
    I felt uncomfortable a few times when I went as a teenager, had a lot of men approach me when we were in Jamaica and St. Thomas. My parents never liked doing cruise excursions so we were always off on our own. As an adult I haven't really encountered anything to make me feel unsafe. Nassau maybe a little, but I don't get off the boat there anymore. Cozumel I've always found fine to walk around and I really liked Tortola and San Juan.
     

    kiford

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2012
    Also when our excursion bus pulled out of the gated port compound guards with automatic rifles manned the gates.

    Is Jamaica anything like that?
    I don't recall seeing armed guards in Jamaica but there are definitely guards at the entrance to the Falmouth port who check that you are a cruiser before they let you in. Even at the resort we stayed at near Negril had gigantic tall doors into the parking lot with a bar on the inside and you had to request entrance but no one was armed. In Costa Maya there were armed guards - with hands kept on automatic rifles - that checked the buses going in and out of the port area including running a mirror under the bus carriage. That was in 2005 I think so I've no idea what it's like now.
     

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