We did the Black River Tour, YS Falls and Appleton Rum on Saturday. We only felt rushed at the YS Falls (which was okay since Appleton was the highlight of my trip) but we had to arrive at Appleton by 3 PM since it closed at 4 PM. It may stay open later during the week. Also, this tour is normally done on Tuesdays and Fridays from SBR with a group of guests but when we arrived on Thursday and inquired about this trip we were told to talk to our tour representative the next day at our orientation scheduled for 9:30 AM. By that time, it was too late because the tour bus left at 8:45 AM so the representatives arranged for a special Saturday pickup for us. Since it was only two of us, we rode in a van. (By the way, our tour representatives told us that the tour desk should have contacted them when we inquired about this trip since the hotel is able to contact the reps when they are at another location. I assumed the tour desk didn���t know we were staying for a few days and wouldn���t be around for the next Tuesday Appleton trip.)
It took two hours to get to the Black River and the tour lasted about an hour. We searched for crocodiles (we saw four) and learned about the river. The Redstripe beer is only $1.50 and the ginger beer is only $1 at the small bar that is located on the side of the river, however, they may not be able to provide change in U.S. currency. After the tour, we stopped at a restaurant (that looked like a small banquet hall) for lunch for about 20 minutes then continued to the YS Falls. We were there about an hour. I could have stayed there a couple of hours but we had to get to Appleton. At the Falls, you can jump from a rope into the falls, you can swim and tube (I think that���s an extra $5) in the calm part of the falls and layout in the sun. Also, I think they had a small park for children. After the Falls we went to Appleton, I believe that was a 45 minute ride. Here, we tasted all of the rums, you can taste as much and as long as you want. Then we took a tour of the grounds that included watching two people from the tour press the sugarcane. Appleton actually stayed open past 4 PM that day because it started pouring rain. Since most of the tour is outside, they waited for the rain to let up a bit. After the tour it took about two hours to get back to SBR.
I had a great time and thought it was worth it. I was only interested in doing the Appleton Rum tour but the only way to do it is in the package. I think they do it this way so that you don���t go all the way (two hours) to Southern Jamaica for one tour. Again, I had a great time. Since it was only two of us, it felt like we were on a private tour. Also, the driver was knowledgeable about Jamaica's agriculture, housing, job market, religion, food, weather, history, etc.
As far as tips: For tours that involve water, bring water shoes, a bathing suit, a tote bag to hold your towel, cameras, sunglasses, sunscreen and U.S. currency in small denominations (especially if you are out in the country). Also, bring snacks and bottled beverages with you to Jamaica to nibble on during the excursions since the snacks they provide are expensive. Also, pick up T-shirts and other knickknacks from downtown stores since it will be cheaper than shopping in the hotel. Also, some of the merchants and restaurants provide free transportation to their stores/restaurants.
While I was in the airport, I took the time to stock up my bar. The airport store packages will package your items in a box so you don't have to worry about breakage. The alcohol is cheaper than at home and you are allowed two liters of alcohol duty free per person. Since liqueurs are not considered alcohol (per the worker in the liquor store at the airport) you can bring back as much as you want as long as its below the $800 overall duty free limit.
I hope my long-winded response answered your question.