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Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Peoria, Arizona
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Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Okay,you've just landed in MoBay. Just remember you are not in Kansas, Toronto or Chelsa anymore! Time as you know has come to a new standard it's called "Jamaica Time" (think slow). Depending on the day of the week and time of day that your flight arrives, immigration can be an "interesting experience". You can be met by lovely ladies singing songs or a trio playing songs and singing or NOT. Oops, I forgot something very important! As you step off the plane, you will be met by a blast of HOT/HUMID air or, sometimes, liquid sunshine". Okay, I know you are tired/anxious and want to "hurry along" NOT! Your flight can be the only one landing or a group of 5 airplanes landing within a very short span of time! First challenge, going through immigrations: Jamaica time is now a factor. The number of Immigration officers on duty depends on how many planes LAND; 1 plane = 0 to 3 officers, more then one plane = 0 to 3 officers! Remember "Jamaica time" think happy thoughts. Next challenge, luggage (lots of small dollars bills help). Agree on the price with the porter for ALL luggage. My wife and I do one carry-on only to Jamaica. The Hotel/resort pickup area is just around the corner from the baggage area (play follow the leader). If you have hotel/resort transfers, someone will meet you or guide you to a shuttle or bus for the next leg of your trip. How long do you wait you ask? Jamaica time = when the bus is full or nobody else is going your way, you are "GOOD TO GO"! I know you are going to say "I don't have a transfer", No problem, Mon! During the day (8:00 to 5:00),you can arrange for transfers at one of the tour desks (TropicalTours), price is cheaper than hiring a cab/taxi and it can be either oneway or roundtrip (price is based on # of people)! After hours, your choices are limited to taxis( agree on $$ before you get in). Don't forget to tip your driver! Next challenge; The last leg of your trip can range from 5 minutes (like mine) or up to 2 hours depending on resort location. Negril =1 1/2 hrs, Ocho Rios =1 1/2+ hrs, south coast area 1 1/2 hrs.

Okay, you have gone thru the gauntlet in getting to the resort! This next phase has the potential to be your biggest challenge OR NOT! The reason you ask? The Visitors before you have been exposed to Jamaica time, they move real slow and don't want to leave. This causes a chain reaction, rooms have to be emptied, cleaned and restocked. Unless you are part of a large group, you might have to wait awhile. Normal check out time is 10-12:00 in the morning, and CHECKIN TIME is 3:00 in the AFTERNOON!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN FORWARNED. Think "Jamaica time". SMILE and find the closest bar and order a "rum punch or Red Stripe", "No problems, Mon", your'e in Jamaica!

All in Fun, take it slow and easy

Gil

Negril, Jamaica
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21. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Some accurate observations here from Grac, as well as good followup questions...I am especially glad to see mention of the check-in time "problems" at the resorts (and sometimes even at the smaller independent properties.) I haven't stayed in a hotel/motel/vacation resort in America for years so things may have changed...but unless checking into an out-of-the-way little property, check-in time USED to be somewhere between 1 and 3pm, from what I remember. The cleaning crew needed those late morning/early afternoon hours to get the room cleaned after check-out guests. And so it goes in Jamaica. Just because you might be arriving at your destination hotel around 10am doesn't mean the hotel purposely DIDN'T book anyone in your room the day before just so your room would be ready the moment you walked into the lobby.

Be sure to have a swimsuit, change of clothes, towel, (whatever you can't live without) in a carry on bag so you can change and as mentioned, head to the pool, bar, or food center to revitalize yourself while you're waiting for your room to get cleaned and readied for you.

For those with a private driver, especially to Negril (sorry...those of you traveling by hotel shuttle or large tour bus don't get this option)..have your driver take the "top road" rather than the "bottom road" that goes along the "Hip Strip"...you can have a marvelous view of the airport from up there (and it adds no extra time to the trip.) You'll have to laugh when you see the airport/terminals. There is absolutely no way that you walk anywhere NEAR a mile to get from the farthest terminal to Customs/Immigration. For an international airport, MoBay is still quite small (unless you're from a teeny tiny town with a teeny tiny airport.) Anyone coming from a city where you have to travel by 'train'/bus/moving sidewalk to cover territory WITHIN the airport grounds themselves to get from one terminal to another, or just one end of the airport to another, you will surely wonder if some mistake hasn't been made and you have not landed at an international airport at all.

Granted, after a night of minimal sleep before you finally left your home country, and perhaps a long flight here, it may FEEL like an interminably long walk....but it isn't.

Weekends seem to have far fewer flights come in than the other days...so much so that no matter how many times we have weekend airport pickups, I still go through a mini moment of panic attack wondering if we have the pickup time incorrect...too few cars in the parking lot, too few people waiting to meet friends and loved ones, too few airport taxi drivers hoping to scoop up fares.

For those of you with a private driver who should have a sign to hold up with either your name on it or the name of the company or the name of your hotel.....no matter who or how many people approach you anywhere inside the terminal itself (or outside if you get that far) asking if you need a ride...tell them the name of the driver/company/hotel you're expecting to meet you and that is who you will be traveling with. All drivers inside the airport, JUTA personnel, even baggage personnel will have seen that sign already and SHOULD direct you to them...if they're scrupulous. That being said, there are some individuals who still try their best to tell you your driver is not there and you should follow them and they will be the ones to take care of you. Don't fall for it. Follow the directions you were given by who was to meet you. In the rare case of a delay, there WILL be individuals approach you who will offer to loan you their cel phone to call your driver/company/whomever to check on their whereabouts. I respect these people...they are hoping that your driver will not be able to make it of course, so that they can carry you...but at the same time, they are not out to trick you into missing your driver. Yes, the scam at the airport still goes on, and has for years. Often, people were met inside the terminal where someone would tell you they knew just who you were to meet and where that person was...then they would take you to a different spot than you were given for the meeting, tell you "See? Your driver is not here, let ME help you"...and all the while you're driver was outside wondering where the heck YOU were and why YOU stood HIM up!

Take your time, remember what you were told originally, no need to rush or panic. The older, somewhat heavyset woman who wears a JUTA uniform is particularly forceful (and could be perceived as intimidating) trying to waylay people and convince them that SHE is the one who will help get them their ride. (I suspect there is a nice kickback for her for every individual that she can place.)

And remember, landing at the airport is the start of your adventure....as mentioned, this isn't "just like home"...go with the adventure, marvel at the differences, you WILL soon be enjoying your frosty blended drinks with the paper umbrellas, floating in the turquoise sea and giving sighs of pure contentment.

 

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22. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Excellent post TOTTT--you should publish a travel guide to Negril. You speak so honestly and directly! Your background combined with your experiences in Negril would be a perfect match. I'd buy your "insider's guide to Jamaica". I hope to get to Negril this year and meet you because of all the wonderful feedback you receive on this forum.

Bodega, California
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23. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

TOTT-I got off the plane at the new terminal for the first time in February...the walk seemed long because with the old terminal it was mere steps to customs and immigration...also becuase we had all carry-on on that trip schlepping bags made the walk seem a bit longer.

Yes, it's a small airport but it has gotten considerably larger since my first visit in 1983!

Philadelphia
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24. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Montego Bay- Holiday Inn Sunspree- any comments on this resort? I have two teens and it seems to have lots of watersports available. It seems attractions are far apart from each other. Would you recommend the trip to Dunns Falls?

pgh,pa
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25. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

and most heard ya mon,sooon mon ann of course no wories

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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26. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Thanks for the advice,suz. This has been a very helpful thread. I have heard their is a driver called Pink Floyd who is nice...should I see if there is a way to book him? Maybe he is in the contacts thread...I think I will in any case use that particular thread to find a private driver, unless anyone can recommend anyone specific for me. :-)

burlington, iowa
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27. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

it took us 4 hr's ly to get thru customs when we came into sangster on a sun. i'm guessing this was due to a hurricane had hit mobay the day before & all flights had been cancelled that day, everyone was trying to get out as we we were coming in. it wasn't all that bad, it was hot & moved slow, but hey we were on vacation & it beat being at work! it was worth the wait, had a great time. wasn't as bad on the return trip home. karen

Peoria, Arizona
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28. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

Hi PKC59,

Talk about starting a vacation in the right frame of mind! I've seen people/s get upset because it was so HOT and HUMID!! I'll be back to MoBay in 15 days and 12 hours!

Respect,

Gil

New Jersey
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29. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

I have a couple of questions, Gil.

My husband and I are staying at the Glousteshire hotel in front of doctor cave's beach. How long is that from the airport? Also, was it with TropicalTours that you paid 16 us dollars roundtrip? Is this a bus or something?

Thanks.

Downingtown...
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30. Re: Going to Jamaica for the first time? Things you should...

I've never stayed there, let me say that first, but I have been reading the reviews. You may want to as well if you already haven't

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g147311-d251575…