How to Get to Jamaica Without Flying
With its combination of busy coastal resorts, long, white sand beaches and lush mountains, Jamaica has few rivals in the quest to grab the lion’s share of the Caribbean tourism market. Attractions such as Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios and the Blue Mountains are well-known outside the borders of this 4,243-square-mile island in the northern Caribbean and help entice around 1.9 million stayover visitors a year. Close to Cuba and Hispaniola, and the fifth biggest cruise destination in the Caribbean, Jamaica is easy to get to without flying.
Cruise in comfort to Jamaica as one of 1.3 million annual cruise ship visitors. Jamaica has three main ports, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and the newest port at Falmouth. One of the highlights of the Western Caribbean circuit, which typically incorporates calls at Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Jamaica is served by all the major cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America and specialist lines such as Windstar and Seabourn.
Sail by yacht or motorboat along Jamaica’s 350 miles of coastline, docking at a choice of three secure marinas: Port Antonio marina, Montego Bay Yacht Club and the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club in Kingston. Jamaica benefits from easterly trade winds of around 20 knots throughout the year. Arriving crew must clear customs and immigration immediately. There are offices in Montego Bay, Kingston, Port Royal, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio.
Catch a berth on the supersize freighters that ply routes between Europe and the US. Of around 29,000 freighter ships circumnavigating the globe at any given moment, barely 1 percent accept paying passengers, typically with fewer than a dozen berths available. However, this is definitely one of the most majestic, stylish ways to arrive in Kingston, a stopover on the monthly CMA CGM voyage between Savannah, Georgia, and Cartagena, Colombia. The MSC Geneva and MSC Alessia also stop at Kingston, roughly every seven weeks. Consult www.freightercruises.com or Ford’s Freighter Travel Guide for schedules.
US Citizens require a passport and onward ticket to enter Jamaica. Canadian citizens, on the other hand, require only proof of citizenship and photo ID.
Avoid anchoring outside secure marinas which offer gated entry, and stay near tourist areas where possible. Petty crime and thefts from yachts are both growing concerns. The Caribbean hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. During this period, major storms are a threat to all marine traffic, from single-hander yachts to cargo ships. Check the forecast in advance.