Two Friends In Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios, Jamaica was the first stop on our 6-night sailing with Carnival Cruise Lines and a personal favorite port of call in the Caribbean. Not so much because of its natural beauty or attractions that draw tourists and environmentalists from around the world, but because of a local cab driver we met here years ago, visiting on another Carnival ship.

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It was our second sailing with Carnival, that one on Carnival Victory, that brought us to Ocho Rios where we simply walked off the ship and found a driver for a tour of the island. Lincoln Stewart was born and raised in Ocho Rios, in the parish of St Ann and had all the usual information one might expect a tour guide to have.

 

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But he also knew quite a bit about people in general and shared those warm, (what we would come to know as “Jamaican” ) feelings with us. Our then young family of four had a friend for life in Jamaica; something I can’t say about every place we have visited around the world.

 

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Not a wealthy nation, everyone works here. When ships come to port, that’s the starting bell, work has begun and local residents are glad to see us.

 

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Not as much work as in years past, opening of the Falmouth Cruise Center on another part of the island contributed to that, but ships nonetheless, many of which are ships from Carnival Cruise Lines, with Jamaica for decades.

 

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As Lincoln told me, “When we see the big red wings flying in, we know it will be a good day. We have hope. We will see friends,” ending that sentence as he does most with “Ya mon.”

 

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How appropriate that the first place Lincoln takes the “friends” he takes on tour is high up in the mountains for a birds-eye view of where Carnival Breeze had been docked for the day.

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Continuing to tour we went into Ferngully, the rain forest that scientists come from around the world to study.

 

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As we exited the protected area, Lincoln stopped the van, turned to me and said “The next stop is the most important stop” as it would bring one of the must-do parts of any visit to Jamaica, a Red Stripe beer.

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We ended up at Mahogany Bay, a small beach that is good for those who don’t want to stray far from where the ship is docked (you can see if from the beach), and also where the Cool Runnings party boats park. Full service is offered with food and beverages while random people perform at random times, adding some unique flavor to the place.

 

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Our day in Ocho Rios (or just ‘Ochi’ to those in the know) off that Carnival Victory sailing is not unlike a couple elements of this sailing, minus the main attraction of Carnival LIVE and rock legends Styx. Then, we also had a long call in Cozumel as we will in a couple days for the concert. That meant doing whatever you want to do during the day but be sure to be at one of the bars located right by the pier to finish it up.

 

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Already discovered bonus of a Carnival LIVE sailing: even for those on board not attending the concert, they get to enjoy the late-night call in port. On our sailing, Carnival Breeze will depart at 1AM.   There should be more itineraries like that. Just sayin’.

 

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - 151With a variety of attractions that continue to draw visitors year after year, Ocho Rios is a highly recommended port of call for any cruise line, on any itinerary.  Dunn’s River falls, where a number of those I am traveling with for this special CarnivalLIVE sailing went, is one main attraction. The crystal clear ocean around the island make for a good time where SCUBA diving and other water sports are offered in the town’s vicinity.

Today, we had two friends in Ocho Rios; Carnival, the cruise line that brought us here in the past and Lincoln, our ‘friend forever’ on the island.

Special hello from Lincoln to our friends Suzzette and Karl, Doris and Jim, Bob and Sue,  Shane and Roger, Nancy and whoever else we forgot.  Along the way while on tour, Lincoln and I tried to remember everyone we had recommended him to for a tour of the island over the last decade or so.  Many of them come back for a land tour when they can’t find a ship with Jamaica on the itinerary.

Not to sound like an advertisement for Lincoln’s services but those who would like to experience ‘his’ island can call 876-827-3014.  A week in advance is a good idea then a call from the ship upon arrival gets him to the pier.   Once ashore, just ask for Lincoln Stewart.  Everybody knows everybody here.  They’re all friends.

 

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