Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cruise 2011: Day 4, Falmouth, Jamaica

Day four brought us to Falmouth, Jamaica.  On our last cruise (also a Western one), we were supposed to go to Ocho Rios, but had to divert to Montego Bay.  Falmouth, while a very old harbour, is a very new port destination for Royal Caribbean, located about 45 minutes east of Montego Bay, on Jamaica's north shore.  I decided to go down to the jogging track as we were approaching the harbour, and do a few laps.  I don't recommend doing this.  There was no ocean breeze, and the deck was full of sightseers, including many crew members.  It wasn't the most pleasant jog and I went back up to our room before we docked.

We didn't notice anything when we docked this time.  Rob wanted to be at the gangway right away to make sure we didn't miss our tour, but they won't let you wait near the gangway.  Don't worry though, if the tour is scheduled to meet at 10:15, and they don't open the gangway till 10:20, and you're the only ship in (any) port, the tour operators ARE going to wait for you!  It's a bit of a walk from the pier, through the shopping section, to the tour staging area, but not too far.  It just feels like forever when there's a couple thousand people also trying to figure out where to go.  However, I noticed this last time in Jamaica--they are well organized, very polite, and helpful.  Some of the young girls working looked a little bored, but I love that they are all dressed smartly and at least look professional.  Right down to pantyhose!
We made it to our staging area just as it started to down pour!  We were right at  a permanent roofed pavilion, so were fine, but a lot of others squished in too.  It was interesting watching the buses maneuver around the staging area...and seeing scrapes on the buses....Our last drive through Montego Bay was a little scary, and this time, it was pouring!  I was glad to see there were seatbelts on the bus, and immediately did it up!

We were curious to what this little contraption was for.  My guess was for a pack of cigarettes.
We left the pier area, and started driving through Falmouth.  One of the first things we saw was "Juici Patties"...and note the packing tape holding the SUV together:

Immediately after Juici Patties was "Beaver Tile and Hardware", complete with a beaver picture on the sign.  There was actually a couple shops with this beaver name/picture (click on pictures to make them larger).  I wonder if there's a Canadian connection.

The town of Falmouth was a little depressing.  We hadn't seen this kind of poverty when we drove around Montego Bay on our last trip.  What really got to me was seeing garbage everywhere, open water full of garbage next to homes.
This was a common sight throughout Jamaica--cinder block homes in various stages of completion.  They're very sad looking before they get their finish coat and bright colours.
Outside of Falmouth, you enter the "suburbs" and the vacation villa area.  The homes are beautiful and large.
Another partially finished home.  Someone on the bus mentioned that they had heard that if a house isn't finished, they don't have to pay taxes on it, so there's no incentive to "finish" and homes are often lived in one portion of it, while the rest is being "built".  I wonder how long it takes to build a home here?
Below, click on the photo, and you'll see a sign for a "Royal Bank of Canada".  I suppose this is a popular area for Canadians?  It was on the outskirts of Montego Bay.
Our destination was a sail and snorkel by Dreamer Catamaran.  It sails from Cornwall Beach which is a lovely "private" beach (ie--not attached to a hotel, and not public--free--there is an admission charge).  Our boat was the 65ft Island Dreamer catamaran.
This was our third catamaran snorkel trip, and I really enjoy these.  Like the one in Cozumel, this one stuck close to shore and we didn't really get sailing, but it was still fun.  I took a disposable underwater camera, and haven't got it developed yet, so no underwater photos yet.
This is the view of Cornwall Beach as we were leaving.
You could see a Carnival ship in the port, it was quite a distance away (if you're looking on Google Maps, you'll see three 1/2 circle beaches towards the north shore.  I think Cornwall Beach is the middle one.  Oh, look, it's across the street from the Canadian Consulate!
During the snorkel time, someone found a crab trapped in fishing nets--we were in a marine preserve so there shouldn't have been any fishing.
The snorkeling was great, very scenic.  The crew spent a bit of time with the beginners.  We were offered life vests, which I put on in the traditional way.  Then I noticed that the beginners had them on just around their waists.  I ditched the life jacket, and they found me a pool noodle.  I'm a lousy snorkeler....I keep holding my breath, then when I do take a big breath, it sucks in my mask, and I get freaked out, and I turn my head and get a wave down the snorkel...I can't swim down underwater either.  I finally gave up on the snorkel, and just used the mask, LOL!
After a while, I started to feel nauseous.  I nearly threw up, in the ocean!  I was sea sick while swimming in the sea.  Good grief.  The swim time was almost over by then.
After the swim, we motored around the lagoons, got to fondle a sea cucumber, LOL.  The bar was open and decently stocked.  The snack/lunch however...processed cheese slice on whole wheat raisin bread, with butter.  Strange, but edible if eaten in separate pieces.  The crew was great, they were even doing massages, although no one got to me.  I did get a bad sunburn on my scalp though--I didn't take my sun hat because I was worried about it blowing off :(  I would definitely recommend this company's trip.

Coming back to Cornwall Beach, we got to see the same coastline sights that we had seen last time as we cruised away from port  (for more pictures, and more about Montego Bay, check my previous post).
The Carnival ship from the other side of the port, we were in the lagoons.

Some better pictures of Margarita Ville.

Leaving Montego Bay, you pass all the huge (and not so huge) resorts on the shore.  Then you get back to the poverty.
And people trying to make a life, a business, out of anything.  Little tiny shops were everywhere.

Coming back into the port was really slow.  There is security to go through; someone comes on board, and we all had to hold up our Sea Pass and photo ID.  Not sure how much the guy could see from the front of the bus.  While we were waiting, I spotted this sign:
"The possession and use of Ganja on site is prohibited.  This notice serves as the first and last warning.  Anybody caught in possession of Ganja or apparatus to smoke Ganja will be dismissed".  I found that amusing and reassuring.
While waiting for our tour in the morning, I had seen a man on stilts.  Hugh was wanting to be a stilt man for Hallowe'en, so I was trying to get a picture.  I couldn't get a good one in the morning, in the rain, but he was back in the afternoon.
One of the excursions is a 'real life pirate adventure'.  This is the ship you get to go out on, while the crew does  a live re-enactment of a pirate brawl (or something).
Rob was hungry and didn't want to explore the port.  For the most part, it's all the same shops as at the other ports, with some local vendors thrown in.  Apparently, the port was restored with/by/for Royal Caribbean, said our (Jamaican) waiter, however, the bus driver said it was all new.  I think there was a lot of newly filled land, but I don't know if the buildings are old or not.

I don't know what this end building is, but it was pretty in the lowering sun.
There was a row of unfinished homes on the other side of the port.  Who knows if they are actually being worked on, or if it's on hold...
A few minutes further out, and the sun broke through the clouds.

Later on, we went to another ice show, "How to Train A Dragon".  It's a short (22 minute) show, based on the movie.  Of course, it is very well done.  I expect to see this as a touring production soon--there's a lot of money invested in this show and while there are about 5-10 ice rinks on the various Royal ships, is that enough of a run to make it profitable?

That's all I have for day 4.  I really don't remember what we did that night.  Perhaps we actually went to bed "early"?