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Montego Bay Cruise Port Tips

Montego Bay resort. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Montego Bay resort. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Montego Bay, Jamaica, is a western Caribbean cruise port and the tourism capital of Jamaica.

The second largest city on the island is a hub for many visitors to Jamaica. Besides a cruise terminal, the city also has the Sangster International Airport.

It is the flight destination for anyone planning to stay in hotels or resorts for Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios, among other locations. Sangster is only 70 minutes by air from Miami, FL.

Cruise ships often come to Montego Bay from embarkation ports such as Tampa, New Orleans and Galveston and continue on to Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Quick Tips

  • Mystic Mountain and Dolphin Cove are two major attractions.
  • Beaches require transportation to reach them.
  • April and July are two of the best months for weather.

Where is Montego Bay?

Montego Bay is on the northwestern coast of Jamaica. The port is about 90 minutes west of the popular cruise port at Ocho Rios and 233 miles east of the Grand Cayman cruise port.

Cruise ships often include both Montego Bay and Grand Cayman as ports of call on the same western Caribbean cruise.

Sangster International Airport is only 70 minutes by air from Miami, FL.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Cruise visitors will have shore excursions ranging from Jamaican bobsledding to bamboo rafting, ziplining, kayaking, waterfalls, beaches and dolphin swims.

Two of the most popular excursions for Montego Bay cruise visitors are near Ocho Rios.

Mystic Mountain is an entertainment complex that offers “bobsledding”, zip lining and other activities in one package. Despite the distance, it is a common cruise shore excursion.

The other one is Dunn’s River Falls, which is the most famous natural attraction in Jamaica. Visitors climb the cascading falls to the top in a daisy chain. Dunn’s River Falls is one of our favorite family excursions in the Caribbean.

Excursion operators offer either one for rates ranging between $60 to $100 or more per person depending on amenities such as food. Some offer limited versions of both in one trip.

Another well-known attraction near Ocho Rios is the Blue Hole, a natural swimming pool and waterfalls with bright blue water. Like Mystic Mountain and Dunn’s River Falls, this excursion is a 90-minute trip and may cost $100 or more per person.

Closer to Montego Bay, adventurous cruise visitors can raft or kayak on several nearby rivers.

The include whitewater rafting on Rio Bueno with gentle Class II rapids (about $75 per person) and bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River ($100+).

Like many Caribbean cruise destinations, Montego Bay has an attraction where visitors can swim and interact with dolphins. Dolphin Cove is 18 miles west of the cruise docks. Prices vary widely depending on the program from less than $100 to more than $200 per person. Discounts are available online.

One of the more unusual local attractions is the Rose Hall Great House. It’s is a chance to visit the home of the “white witch of Rose House” and hear a few horror stories to chill the bones under a hot Jamaican sun. Tickets are about $25 with discounts at the website.

The Georgian mansion is an 18th century plantation home that was refurbished in the 1960s. Decor and furnishings reflect the 18th century lifestyle. Tropical gardens add a bonus for visitors.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Some of the better beaches are on resort properties.

The city has plenty of nearby beaches with at least nine of them within five miles of the cruise port. Dump-Up Beach and Events Park is right in the city and often crowded. Belvedere, Cornwall, Doctor’s Cave and Walter Fletcher beaches are a mile or less away from downtown.

Doctor's Cave Beach is located on Montego Bay, in the northwest section of Jamaica. This pretty beach has more to offer its visitors than fine white sand.

Doctor's Cave beach is arguably one of the best locations on the island for exploring the world underneath the crystal clear water.

Aqua Sol Theme Park a few miles north of the cruise docks is mostly just a beach with an entrance fee rather than a park.

Otherwise, cruise line shore excursions to beaches often take passengers to resort beaches for the sake of a better overall experience.

Shopping / Restaurants

The closest shopping to the cruise docks is at Montego Freeport, which is a brief walk straight south.

Many-free shops are at the City Centre Shopping Mall, which is two and a half miles north of the docks. It is right by the Aqua Sol Theme Park and Dump Up Beach and Events Park.

Look for the nearby Old Fort Craft Park, which is a robust arts and crafts market. Shoppers at each place should be prepared for aggressive vendors.

Getting Around / Transportation

Some Caribbean cruise ports have great public transportation. Others do not. Montego Bay falls in the second category.

Taxi drivers in Montego Bay do not have the best reputation. Rates are metered. Be sure to ask for the rate before getting into the cab.

Possibly the best option for getting around is with cruise excursion buses. Although a cruise excursion is sometimes more expensive than taking a taxi, it’s worth considering for Montego Bay visitors.

Weather / Best Times to Go

Any month is a good time for weather in Montego Bay except for a short rainy season in May and a heavier rainy season in August, September and October caused by the annual Caribbean hurricane season.

Rainfall averages one to three inches a month from January through April and again in July, according to the Meteorological Service of Jamaica. It’s at least four inches during the other months of the year and reaches a high point of nearly seven inches in October.

The average high temperature is 88 degrees Fahrenheit or about 31 Celsius during the summer months. The averages high stay in the low 80s Fahrenheit or upper 20s Celsius during the winter.

The best months to go for a combination of warm temperatures and low risk of rain are April and July. These recommendations are based on long-term weather patterns and may vary from year to year.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

May 07, 2019

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