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1st March, 2017

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Jamaica, a very different island in the Caribbean, and yet so close to Cuba. Ocho Rios, on the north coast, must have been a tourist destination for many years as it is a very pleasant little bay sheltered from the trade winds. On this day there were three cruise ships alongside, one (not us thankfully) alongside the bauxite berth. It was this berth that I believe was ‘blown up’in the first Bond film, Dr. No.

For around fifty of our passengers it was their day to leave us, having been on board for exactly four weeks and having absolutely superb weather throughout. For those staying there were two tours available, the longest was over to Dunn’s River Falls, a 600 foot waterfall that can be climbed with the help of experienced guides. A number of our more adventurous Saganauts actually completed the challenge apparently. The other tour was a more placid experience on a 30 foot bamboo raft gliding down the Maltibereon River while a skilled local ‘poler’talked about local flora and fauna, in that delightful Jamaican accent of course.

Some of the folks took a stroll into town, passing the many traders who had stalls just inside the security gate. I had a quick look and despite my uniform and obvious age, they still tried their luck, but in a humorous way. I found myself having to explain that no, I did not need a carved wooden head of a Rastafarian, a ‘Respect’fist that could be used to hold a bottle of local rum, or a garish tropical shirt that looked like it might light up even the darkest of nights. Nor did I want a small packet surreptitiously drawn from a side pocket and which I thought was probably something that might cause a UK Customs officer to raise an eyebrow.

We stayed alongside until 10.30 pm so that a local steel band could come and perform on the back deck. But this was no ordinary steel band, the singer also introduced the limbo dancing and a fire eater who seemed to want to burn every part of his skin off. We had taken precautions of course, and he would have been promptly doused by a powerful jet from a sea water hose if our watchful Safety Officer Dan had the slightest inkling that things were going to far.

Captain Philip Rentell

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