Voyager of the Seas
by Dean D
February 15, 2009
This was our 3rd family cruise and over all, it was a terrific vacation. The cruise staff was wonderful and the ship was fantastic. This is a review of the Shore Excursion, Chukka 4x4 Adventure in Montego Bay, Jamaica. After viewing the in-room excursion videos and reading the provided excursion guides, my family decided on the Chukka 4x4 Adventure in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This excursion appeared to be a safari exploration with some education and physical activity.
The initial shore side welcome went as expected; we promptly met our guide who escorted the party to the Land Cruiser vehicles. The vehicles were well kept and in working order, however not Land Rover vehicles as described in the brochure.
Upon departure our guide provided commentary on Montego Bay landmarks such as the police station, the jail, petrol storage, and KFC. Further into the tour, our guide exited the highway to a parallel road that was the former thru-way. This old road apparently was difficult to maintain due to the natural springs that wash out the road surface. The guide pointed out that natives utilize these pools on the road to launder clothes, wash cars, and collect water for home use.
Now 40 minutes into the tour, we entered an undeveloped residential property that was gated. The property provided a great view of Montego Bay, but to gain access to this property, our guide gave the gatekeeper a bottle of rum punch and two other individuals were given monetary tips or bribes. At this point of the tour our guide spent at least 20 minutes on her cell phone while the party was pacified with rum punch poured from a used milk jug.
Now 70 minutes into the tour, we continued on paved roads and briefly stopped at an old plantation property and church. For 15-20 minutes the party walked around the property and took some pictures while the guide again talked on her cell phone. From the plantation property, we entered an orange grove via a gravel road. We continued on the gravel road thru the orange grove and stopped so the guide could pick a few oranges, peel them with a rusty knife and offer samples to the party.
Two-plus hours into the tour, we continued on the gravel road thru the orange grove and stopped at the "jungle river." The river was nice; however it was far from a jungle experience. It was merely a river running thru an orange grove that is accessible via any car or bus -- no 4x4 required. Three-plus hours into the tour, we tracked back thru the grove to a waterfall, which was actually a man-made water supply and filtration plant.
Next and final stop was the outpost where you could purchase souvenirs, chicken, rum punch, and beer. The in-room video excursion guide indicated a beach to relax, but we never saw a beach and never relaxed. Instead, we were hassled to purchase their over-priced junk that was made in china.
There was a one-hour ride back that was very uncomfortable because of the gas fumes and heavy dust in the open vehicle on the gravel road. The guide picked up an individual on the way back from the roadside in a bad area that made us feel unsafe. Finally back, covered in dirt and dust, this trip was not described as is. We never would have chosen to spend our money or more importantly, our vacation in the manner. A positive perspective is that we had the opportunity to see the real Jamaica, a real dump, a true welfare state with gross corruption. I expressed my dissatisfaction to Royal Caribbean and they provided a 10% refund on the $344 tour for four. My recommendation, stay on the boat when visiting Montego Bay.