rethinking trip to jamaica

Aug 12th, 2003, 02:22 PM
Original Poster
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rethinking trip to jamaica

I have heard a lot of negative things about Jamaica over the past couple of days, and have been warned by several people not to honeymoon there. I just spent several hours reading the archives on Jamaica and am a little concerend. We are planning on travelling around Jamaica for 2 weeks (Negril, South Beach, Blue Mountains, Port Antonio) in small hotels, but I have been receiving so many mixed messages about the positive and negative aspects of Jamica. Several relatives/friends have called me and begged us not to go because they fear for our lives. This is our honeymoon and I don't want to spend two weeks travelling in fear. Please help!
_holly_25_ is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 02:37 PM
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I have never been so I cannot offer advice in that respect. If a place gets even 50% bad reports, then I would veto the place. Why put yourself through this fear and anxiety. Weddings are enough planning without this on your mind. There are to many other places to visit. Just my opinion for what it is worth. You might try and AI and just stay at the resort. That could be an alternative. Good luck.
diann is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 02:44 PM
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I used to think that my dream honeymoon would be a trip to Jamaica. When it actually came time to plan my honeymoon, thank goodness I did my research before I booked. I spoke with some friends who stayed in Jamaica at a Sandals resort. They said they enjoyed their honeymoon but would not go back to Jamaica. They told us that for safety reasons, they could not leave their resort at night. I decided to spend my honeymoon at Caneel Bay resort in St. John, USVI, and it was wonderful. The next year my husband and I went on a cruise. We stopped in Jamaica and climbed Dunn's River Falls, took a kayaking trip, and did a little shopping. We found Jamaica to be a big disappoinment - not near as pretty as other islands we had been to and the poverty was pretty evident. I am so glad I did not choose Jamaica for our honeymoon, and we do not plan on ever visiting there again. There are many beautiful islands in the Caribbean. I suggest you do thorough research and then pick one that you know you will love. Good luck!
Becca is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 04:10 PM
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I've taken 3 trips to Jamaica mostly staying at smaller hotels instead of AI resorts. While I can't speak for anyone else, I have personally never felt unsafe. I think your perception may depend on where you're from, what other places you've traveled to, and where you stay. To me Jamaica has, for lack of a better word, a 'soul', something that I find lacking in some of the more 'antiseptic' islands. But that certainly doesn't mean that I think everyone else will like it. A friend of mine spent her honeymoon at Sandals last year and did come away with the perception that it was dangerous to leave the resort. I don't know if this is partly because she stayed at an AI or because she's from a less urban area than I am. It does seem, at least from the postings on this board, that more people who stay at AI's feel that it's unsafe to leave the resort vs. people who stay at non-AI properties.

I've also heard warnings about other places I've traveled to. Belize is a good example. The warnings were mostly from family members who had never been but rather heard from a friend of a friend, etc. Once I got there though, I found Belizeans as a whole were some of the friendliest people I've encountered. I think a lot of people have problems seeing poverty or anything that we in the U.S. would consider 'substandard' living conditions. If you can go with an open mind, then I think you'll have a great time. But if you feel that you'll have too much lingering doubts, then perhaps you should change your destination. This is supposed to be a 'once in a lifetime' trip and you don't want to have too much pre-trip stress.
Patty is online now  
Aug 12th, 2003, 06:02 PM
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My husband and I stayed at the Sandals Negril AI in Negril in November 2002. We loved it. We found the people in the Negril area were friendly. We did not feel unsafe and this was our first trip to the Caribbean. We did visit a market and the sellers were aggressive, but we simply said,"no thanks" and we had no trouble from them. While we were at the resort, we saw at least 4-5 weddings. They were very romantic. We talked to a lot of these couples and they were very pleased. I heard negatives reports about Ocho Rios, that's why we chose Negril.
riley658 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 06:17 PM
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I agree. If you are this stressed out, change plans. Security is the last thing that you should have to think about on your honeymoon.

That having been said. I think the security concerns about Jamaica are B.S.. The trips we have been to Jamaica have convinced me that folks with "security issues" generally are not speaking from experience. From the first day I began planning a trip (our honeymoon) to Jaaimca, I too read the ominous advice and warnings; none of which proved to be true. I have never once felt threatened, unsecure or afraid from any source in Jamaica. I am not saying it can't happen or hasn't happened. Of course, bad things have happened to travellers in jamaica. Yes, there are places to avoid...such as parts of Kingston, but it is a rare occurence and out of the ordinary. The weeks we have been there, if something bad or criminal was happening to travellers, we would have heard about it, word amongst travelling folks travels like wildfire. We have never come across anybody visiting or having visited Jamiaca with a story of being the victim of a crime. Again, I am not saying it hasn't happened, just that it isn't even a likelihood.

I feel no less safe in Jamaica than I have on St. John. St. John is a very beautiful place to honeymoon. Did that too. Like the poster above stated...Jamaica has a soul that I have not found anywhere else. Could just be a personal thing.

Thinking as I am typing this...I actually did feel less safe on St Thomas and St. John. I had a couple of run-ins with local that left me and my wife with uneasy feelings...haven't had that happen in Jamaica, in fact, quite the opposite. I tend to question everyone I run across who has been to Jamaica to see if it is just me. I haven't run into one returnee expressing safety conerns. Oddly enough, I had this discussion today at my conference room table. The lady had just gotten back from Ocho Rios and can't wait to go back. My experience has been in Negril.

We generally do the A/I deal. However, we always make a point to venture out one or two days into the town and environs of Negril...trouble has not found us. At one of the stops, the driver waited at least twenty minutes for us to return and went to talk to some friends. When we got back to the van, it was running, doors unlocked and he wasn't around. It hit me then...I wouldn't do that back home where I live, but here is this guy leaving his livelyhood completely unsecured (he left it running to keep the air conditioning going for our return).

You want to feel unsafe...try Miami. Everyone has different comfort levels. maybe mine is quite a low threshhold. It isn't worth chancing it on your honeymoon. The fact is, you'll be more than safe honeymooning in Jamaica, the question is whether you'll feel safe. That is determined by your own personality and perceived threats. What others my perceive as a threat, I may be blind to. But, the fact remains, our trips to Jamaica have been nothing but a trip to a beautiful island, friendly helpful, genuine people, fantastic resorts (I can only speak for the Couples chain) and a completely stress free vacations.

There are too many islands in the Caribbean to think that everyone should go to or be happy with the same one. Do your research and go with what you feel comfortable...

Have a wonderful wedding and honeymoon, wherever you may land!

atticus is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 06:19 PM
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I agree with Diann and would say that you should do whatever you want to do and not what other people think you should do.
Jamaica is one of the more beautiful islands in the world...but the beuty won't come to you in an All inclusive. You have to go out and explore the beauty. Smaller non inclusive hotels are best for doing this...and exploring the more rural parts of the island also will expose you to some of the prettiest sights you will ever see. Sunsets in Negril, Driving through Portland...especially just after it has rained and smelling that...oh wonderful earthy smell. Laying on a white sandy beach staring out at calm turqoise blue water tht just goes on for miles...being up in the Blue Mountains and just...being. Spectacular. I'm sorry that so many people come to the island and have negative experiences. Could it be that they come expecting to have a negative experience and thus fulfill the expectation?
Jamaica does have crime, does New York and Paris and Rome and everywhere else...if you're careful and don't take silly chances I think you'll feel quite safe. Congrats and HAVE FUN wherever you choose to go!! ;-)

JAGIRL is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 07:33 PM
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Thanks everyone for your candid replies. It's hard to know if we're doing the right thing, but Jamaica sounds beautiful in so many ways. Believe it or not Jamaica is one of the places that I would not want to spend in an AI. We thought that it might be special to travel around an island that takes a couple of weeks to really see. I sort of feel like we can do an AI anytime and most of the other islands are small enough that you can spend a week there and probably tour the island in a day or two (not including Dominican Republic and Cuba).
We both love mountains, doing more than sitting on a beach, and hope to explore a lush environment. We also want ot sample the local food, and truly have a once in a lifetime experience. I'm expecting poverty, being bothered by vendors and experiencing a lot of culture shock. It's just very easy to get scared when so many people speak of fear and violence.

Please keep your thoughts coming, they are very helpul.
_holly_25_ is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 09:06 PM
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Thank God so many people get scared out of Jamaica trips or I would never be able to get room and would have missed out on the best vacations of my life.
Paris was far scarier then Jamaica would ever want to be. And yes I do mean aggressive vendors. Italy had worse poverty in spots. Never mind Indio California. All in your perspective I guess. Jamaica is the most friendly country I have been to.
MoniqueU is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 09:31 PM
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I stayed at the Grand Lido Braco AI resort in Jamaica. The resort was beautiful, but I determined that I find AI resorts to be utterly boring. I did take some daytrips and felt completely safe. I felt more unsafe during my travels through Europe (not being able to sleep on a train for fear of my belongings being stolen and constantly worrying about pickpocketing).

The one thing that I mainly disliked was the beach on the GLB resort. The water is too rocky!! I could not walk in the water without those ugly "water shoes!"

I thought Dunn's River was too touristy!!! Felt like I was at an amusement park there.

For honeymooning, I would go to St. John, that's where I'll most likely be going!!!
howlermonkey is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 11:16 PM
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My wife & I have been to Jamaica 3 times & never felt unsafe. I did experience some discomfort in St Thomas (USVI) as far as safety concerns. Jamaica has a special "Vibe" most other islands don't offer, however; I have heard a lot of negative things about Jamaica from other people. When asked where they stayed they always answered, " OH, not me, some of my friends or relatives told me." But, do what you feel comfortable doing; you may get a chance to visit in the future & see what you missed...........
superdan is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 04:46 AM
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I have been to Jamaica at least half a dozen times as I have friends there and have stayed in Kingston as well as on the north coast and have never had a bad experience. And I am willing to bet that those several people who have been warning you about Jamaica in the last several days, half of them have probably never even been there! I think the key is, like anywhere else, use common sense and good judgement. On the last visit,I walked the streets of new Kingston alone (and I am a woman)while my friend was at work, mingled with the locals, asked questions when I needed to and just blended in - never once felt threatened. Of course, this was in the daytime - would think twice about doing so at night - common sense! I agree that alot of it has to do with your comfort level and indeed some people are put off by aggressive vendors, surroundings that suggest poverty etc but I maintain that there is hardly a typical tourist destination on this earth without its fair share of social ills. My husband was pickpocketed in Spain, I had my palm pilot stolen from our hotel room in NYC - and while we were upset when these ugly things happened to us, we no doubt WILL return to those places inspite of our misfortunes - it could have happened to us at home as well. So we put it in perspective and move on. The way I see it is life is meant to be lived, really lived and I know this is your honeymoon and you want it to be perfect...from reading your input, it seems to me that Jamaica offers alot of what you see yourself doing on an idyllic honeymoon. So open-minded, be prepared for an adventure, natural beauty like you have never seen, amazing local food - make sure to pack your wit and common sense along with the rest of your belongings and have yourself a fabulous honeymoon!
Enya is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 05:27 AM
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I was married at Sandals Negril in Oct. 2002, and I never felt unsafe.

My hubby and I even walked every day off the resort to Beaches Negril (about 2 miles up the beach, had family staying there). We never felt threatened or unsafe.

On Jamaica, you will encounter poverty, agressive vendors, and drug dealers. Just tell them "No thanks" and they will leave you alone. I found that the vendors, etc. were much more aggressive in the Bahamas.

Jamaica is a beautiful island, and I agree with the above posters that the island has a special "vibe" that we love. So much, in fact, that we are returning to Negril next week!

That said, I would do whatever makes you feel the best, it IS your honeymoon! Just do what you want, not what everyone else says... Good Luck!
babyblue78 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 06:33 AM
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Been to Jamaica 3 times and am considering a 4th. My wife is not keen on the idea but not for safety reasons, rather to go somewhere we have not been to. We had no problems there. FYI I once got asked to buy cocaine on the lobby of our hotel in Honolulu! It was an Outrigger hotel on Waikiki beach.
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 09:30 AM
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Another pro-Jamaica traveler here.

I have been to Negril twice in as many years, once with hubby and once with a group of ladies. Never did I feel unsafe. I love Negril and hubby and I are in the early planning stages for trip #3.

We did do an All-inclusive, but it was not your typical mega-AI. We stayed up on the cliffs at an Island Outpost property called the Caves. It has 10 rooms spread out among several acres, fabulous made to order food (no buffets!) Great staff, a small Aveda spa, pool, incredible grounds - you won't find another place like it in Negril. I can't say enough great things about the place. I would definitely recommend it for a honeymoon!

Happy travels -

gingele is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 01:19 PM
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Jamaica is a wonderful place but, you have to be street smart. You need to be very careful when getting off of the beaten path. I love Jamaica and everything it has to offer but, you need to be careful. I WOULD NOT wear my new wedding ring, take a swatch watch and have a blast. As long as you use your head you will be fine.
cayman420 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 01:24 PM
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For the people who stayed at the Sandals resorts and never felt "unsafe" spare me! They never even really had a Jamaican experience. If you are planning to stay at all-inclusives then of course you will be safe. If you are still planning on going to Jamaica then, get out there, meet the most wonderful people in the world and experience their culture and awesome food. Remember one thing, they can at times be over bearing (straw market) but be polite and respectful and you will receive the same. Just be careful walking the beach late night, and dont put yourself into a situation that you would not be comfortable in while in the U.S.
cayman420 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 01:37 PM
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Give me break, Cayman420. When people stay at Sandals, you can leave the resort. When you are going for a wedding, it was just less stuff for us to worry about. For those that choose to stay at the resort, they are likely to get a "sterilized" Jamaican experience if they never leave the resort.

We took a cab with a great driver. We went into the mountains, stopped at some great jerk and Red Stripe dives, went to the market, Xtabi, etc on 3 different days.

One more thing..... I hate when people act like they know everything about someone elses experiences. I happen to be an experienced Caribbean traveler, and I realize that both AI's and non-AI's have their pros and cons.
babyblue78 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 03:19 PM
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Your getting lots of "good" advice.
Here's my 2 cents worth.
You like mountains and ocean and culture; how about Costa Rica?
With 2 weeks you've got plenty of time to explore.
Just a thought.
Pete1222 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 03:45 PM
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Right on Babyblue. We stay at A/I's AND travel off resort to experience Negril. Why would anyone go to a foreign country and put themselves in a dangerous situation that they would not put themselves in back home? DUH.

Any country that sees a million or more visitors in a year will see some crime. Ain't no such thing as a crime free country or a country you can visit to act stupid.

atticus is offline  

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