I've been faithfuly reading this motherboard for months. We're about a week away and I like to be prepared.
1. Are dinner reservations made daily, or once you're checked in, then plan for each night of your stay?
2. Glass bottom/snorkling tours, are they together, and when do they take place?
3. The Tye Dye class, should we bring our own t shirts (I'm thinking better quality=last longer)
4. Am I really limited to one dive per day? Is the boat usually full for most dives?
5. Those of you who've done the cooking class, is it very basic?
6. I see shopping tours are offered. Which one should we sign up for? Is this when I should look for coffee,
You repeaters are such a wealth of info. Not too often I can find a vacation spot and speak to experienced people that have "been there, done that a lot". Looking forward to meeting people and finally putting faces to screen names.
Have a great time! We have trip 6 booked for July. Another way to see property off resort is to take the morning power walk with Alford. You go up the road, onto trails through jungle like country side then back down through some gorgeous homes. It's about a 45 minute walk.
Originally Posted by wrldtrvlr87
Hi! I'm sure lots of folks will reply but here's my take after our trip to CTI last March:
We made all of our dinner reservations in one day. That said, I think you could probably make changes or get last minute reservations most of the time.
Watersports: We were under red flag conditions for a lot of our trip, we signed up for snorkeling every day but only got to go once. It was full so no glass bottom boat on that trip. It is the same boat. I think they sometimes schedule two snorkel trips a day, but not while we were there. It was windy and the bottom was pretty stirred up but we still had fun.
We didn't do the tie die or cooking classes, but I know some people do bring their own shirts for the reasons you mention, though some other folks have posted about being pleasantly surprised at the low cost/good quality of the shirts for sale.
I can't answer the dive question first hand, but we did befriend a guy who went on two dives a few days because there was room. I think the watersports guys wanted to help him out because there were no dives on some of the days. He seemed happy. Maybe he paid for the other dives? I didn't ask.
I went on the shopping tour to Taj Mahal by myself (my husband wanted no part of it!) and while it was OK, it turns out I could have gotten most of the same stuff on property or at the airport with a lot less high pressure sales technique. That said, I was glad to get off property and see some of the "real Jamaica" on the bus trip there/back. Most of the salespeople I spoke with at the Taj were Indian, not Jamaican. It's a lot of jewelry and t-shirt/souvenir shops in a little gated community with tour buses from other resorts. Because I wasn't looking for anything particular, I got a good deal on two watches--a nice everyday reminder of our fun in JA for my husband and me--but to get a good price I pretty much had to walk away from the store 3 times. Apparently a lot of the stores are owned by the same company, because when I left "my" sales clerk went around the back of the store I started in and found me in the second store to resume negotiations. Even then the price wasn't better than what I could find on ebay when I returned, so if you're looking for jewelry do your homework first!
I ended up buying our coffee and rum at the airport to make it easier to get through customs. BUT, I had to figure out how to get all that liquid into our checked luggage for the 2nd leg of our trip home. I didn't think about it and it led to a bit of a scramble before rechecking our bags after customs on the US end!
There's another shopping tour to Island Village, and an opportunity for souvenirs at Dunns River Falls, but we didn't do those trips so I can't offer details.
I saw your other post about drying towels and swimsuits. Our room was in block 5 and faced the side of the resort, so no one could have seen our "tacky" drying method, but we also didn't have sunshine on our balcony except during the day when we were busy getting our suits and towels wet! :-) If your room is facing the island, your railing will get morning sun, but the sun sets on the lobby/front side of the resort. I left one suit out overnight, but it stayed wet because of overnight humidity. We found that two bathing suits each was enough to have one on and one drying. but YMMV.
Hope that helps!
I cant speak for anyone else, but we made as many dinner reservations up front as we could. A lot of the places fill up fast, and while they'll likely be able to accommodate you, it may not be on the day/time you want.
The dives, yes, one per day, and it fills up absurdly fast. Last time we went, we couldnt dive at all... you need to sign up the day before, around 6am, and its usually instantly full. At least it was when we went. Was very disappointing. If this has changed in the last 2 years, someone chiming in would be good.
The shopping tour is... well... everyone has different tastes. Here's how MY shopping tour went: Load a bus not operated by Couples, so expect to tip. We were first brought to a little 'village' of shops, and we were literally assigned a shop to browse. The rationale was everyone is competing with their shop, so a shop-pimp as my wife and I called him, assigned us to a shop. Cant look at the other shops. Likely because they all carry the same "hand made" stuff. We did some absurd haggling and bought a few overpriced "handmade" items we saw elsewhere on the island, for less. Now, if the money TRULY does go to the native population, then I dont mind so much. But I cant say, it was very organized, and very professional, with a very "we're poor buy from us" facade to it. I cant tell you how many "hand-made" items we bought that we saw elsewhere on the island. We dont want tourist trap crap. We want something real.
Next we were taken to the tourist trap of the island... the big shopping district where the cruise ships dock. This place really ticked my wife and me off. All the shops there are owned by/run by indian companies. All the profits they make there, they ship back off to india. None (hardly any?) of the commerce that happens there actually helps the Jamacian economy. We were so disgusted that we left without purchasing anything. If we're spending our money in a country that could use the help, we'd like the money to stay in that country.
Thats just our personal opinions, take it or leave it, but it was how we felt. We wont be doing the trip again.
We are planning to do this also. I was hoping to just wear my Keds but this sounds like maybe I should bring my Reeboks. What do you think?
Originally Posted by Vickyj