The Vacation Chronicles: Falmouth, Jamaica

2 May

After two days cruising, our first port of call was Falmouth, Jamaica.  Jamaica is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit—probably because of Cool Runnings.  GREAT MOVIE.

Falmouth dates back to 1769 and like most Caribbean islands, was once a hub in the Atlantic Slave Trade.  Also like most Caribbean islands, it saw a vast economic decline once slavery was outlawed.  Many of the original buildings still stand, and many excursions on the ship play up the history of the area.  We decided to go the other route and book an excursion to the beach.

We decided to pay a little bit more to go to a resort: Trelawny Breezes Starfish Resort (one of the few excursions Matty was allowed to go on, and he was free!)  The price included all amenities: food, drinks (alcoholic and non), activities, pools, and a private beach.  Since we were traveling with a 6 month old, having a guaranteed place to get out of the sun, have lunch, and have a variety of things to entertain him was worth the added cost.  And it was a good choice.

The beach was great, albeit a bit crowded.  However, we had no problems finding beach chairs.  We also hung out by the pool (one of many) for a bit and had no problems finding a place to sit.  Lunch was good, too.  It was buffet style with hot chicken and pork, roasted potatoes, a variety of meats, cheeses, and breads for sandwiches, fruits, a salad bar, and some local cuisine.  There was also a dessert bar—I think I tried it all and it was delish.  Matty really liked the watermelon.  BUT, there were birds all over.  Creepy ones. That would peck your toes to try to get food.  Here’s my failed attempt to stab them with a fork.

(Don’t mind the watermark–I’m trying out new video software and want to ‘play’ a bit before purchasing, so the free version added something smack-dab in the middle of my video…)

Aside from the beach, there were many activities.  Live music played all day, but the resort was big enough to find a quiet place without a problem.  There were hot tubs in secluded trees, hammocks, a playground for the kids, watersports (kayaking, banana boats, snorkeling, tubes), an arcade, a spa, and umm…a circus.  Yes, there was a trapeze and a giant trampoline and staff gives lessons on how to do stunts on both.  Huzzah!

We didn’t take advantage of anything except the beach, lunch, a few drinks of the non-alcoholic variety, and some shade.  The excursion was for 4 hours, and it was plenty of time.  Matty did such a good job just hanging out of the beach that we didn’t have to venture off to find him other activities.

We didn’t take a stroller, and it was a good choice (go Eric!).  We took our diaper bag with necessities: Babyganics sunscreen (which all 3 of us used with great results), a baby pool float (which we didn’t use since the pool water seemed a bit cold for Matty), a rubber duck and crab to play with, a few diapers, disposable diaper bags, wipes, a sippy cup, a tube of Puffs, towels) and a beach tent.  That’s right—1 bag and a beach tent.  Another family we befriended were AMAZED at how little we traveled with.  We didn’t need anything else.  Matthew ate fruit from the buffet.  The beach tent is from One Step Ahead and folds up really small into a backpack.  It also has stakes to hold it in place.  I also was able to lay inside with Matty and nurse him during the day with privacy.  Definitely worth it.

Falmouth is a relatively new port to the cruising world, and it’s said to be the “in” place to go now.  I wouldn’t go that far.  There weren’t many excursion to choose from, and those that seemed pretty exciting (you know, the ones we would have done BEFORE the baby), were decently far away—some of the excursions were listed at 7-8 hours simply because it was a two hour drive to get there.  The port is built at a sort of gated compound to keep out the crime and merchants/hagglers.  Shops and markets are set up within the compound so folks not wanting to go on an excursion can still get off the ship and putter around.  It seemed a bit too “new” though, taking away from the cultural experience of traveling, especially to such a historical significant place.  On a positive note, the tour guides were extremely nice and I enjoyed talking to few gals at length about baby-wearing.  They measured the Moby and I taught them how to tie it so they could go home and make one for their babies.  Awesome.

Oh, and yes.  We did smell some folks partaking in “extracurriculars” in the woods while on the beach.  Some stereotypes just won’t die.  That’s probably why the saying in Jamaica is they don’t have problems, only situations.

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