After Costa Rica, we had a sea day before docking in Falmouth. We awoke to another cloudy and slightly wet morning, there was definitely rain in the distance and you could feel it had been in the air recently. At the dock is a shopping area. We were notified that only shipboard excursions were being allowed due to a recent change by Jamaica. In print, we were told to have our government issued photo ID with us, but when we met to wait to exit, we were told to have our vaccine card as well. I would just say when in doubt, take it so you are prepared!
Our tour in Falmouth was river tubing. Again, just a 3.5 hour excursion, in the morning before the heat. Word to the wise if you do this one, bring mosquito repellent if you get bit!! I didn’t even think about it and I got bit like crazy (the bites are still itching days later). The bus ride took about 30 minutes each way and on the way they worked to have us all sign a waiver. Unfortunately, their waiver is now digital and many of the area had sketchy Internet, so they had to stop getting signatures until we were almost to the Good Hope Estate. At this point they stopped with a good signal and had the rest of us fill it out.
I should add the Chukka tour buses are smaller buses. Two person seats are narrow, as is the aisle.
The Good Hope Estate is also a spot that offers zip lining, horse back riding, pool etc. We saw quite a few locals and other tourists (likely land travelers) there for the other activities.
Once we arrived at Good Hope, we were given a moment to change, or remove additional clothes (shorts/tops) into our swimsuits then we were given life jackets, which needed to be worn by all. They wanted everyone in closed toe shoes like water shoes, but it was not printed anywhere as a requirement so they did let folks get away with flip flops or even barefoot. They have a shop inside that also sells water shoes. Fortunately we had planned and brought some with us. The driver gave us the opportunity to leave our bags/packs on the bus while we went down the Martha Brae River.
When we all had our life jackets on, we were walked over to a large 4-wheel drive vehicle (big step up to the seats). The truck was covered. This truck took us from the main building, across an extremely bumpy dirt road with muddy holes. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy down to the river we went. We off loaded and got in a line.
There were several guides on site and they already had most of the tubes connected. They are tied tightly together in a line of about 8 tubes. Each line of tubes had a guide who had a small blow-up raft. The guides sat backwards in the raft, facing the line of guests, and paddled backwards. One by one, people were loaded into the tubes and when each set of 8 was full, off they went!
We were at the very tail end of the line and they ran short of tubes (the 8 were full and we made #9 and #10) so the last guide ran and got two more tubes and tied them onto the end of the 8, loaded us up (all 10 of us!), and away we went.
Our guide would sing, tell stories, talk about Jamaica, and answered questions that were being tossed his way. The river was slow moving most of the way, but did have the occasional small rapid. When we hit the first one, scrape scrape, our guide got out of his raft and said oops it’s more shallow than I thought. Then said for future rapids we would need to “buns up” when he called for it lol.
The rapids really became comical along the way. Sometimes we would get stuck on a large boulder and I would tell my husband “hang on, I’m going to push off” and when I would, it would end up freeing us up more than the front of the line and before you knew it, we had swung around and made the line of tubes basically a U shape. We had a good laugh about it.
Oh, an addition on the tubes – these are not a basic innertube with a hole in it. These are large tubes, with a handle on each side that you can actually get fairly comfortable in, even with a life jacket, and there is a bottom to it. You will get a little wet in some of the larger rapids (which still aren’t too big).
The tubing lasted close to 90 minutes and towards the end, you come past a place that has a bridge. There will be someone standing on the bridge, who will take pictures of everyone in the tubes. Once back at Good Hope, you can view/purchase the photo if you want.
At the stopping point, the guide assists you in getting out of the tube one by one. There is a ladder, similar to a pool ladder with just a couple of steps. Note that footing can be tricky as it is rocky and the ground can drop off if you step around. The guide tries to keep you close to the ladder where you can stand if you need to. Then there is a fairly short trail that you walk up to the main Good Hope building.
Once back at the building, you just return your life jacket, then we had about 30 minutes to hang out, shop, have a drink (there is a bar), or even jump in the pool if you wanted to.
Then it was back on the bus to the port. You do have to walk through the shopping center, both to get to your tour bus at the beginning and to get back to the ship. Lots of shopping available for souvenirs, alcohol, spices etc.
We left port around 3pm I believe. The next day (and last) was a sea day before arriving back in Fort Lauderdale.