After more than a year without traveling abroad, I finally went on a vacation to Jamaica, to be precise to Beaches Ocho Rios.
This was a family vacation that my son waited so long for and we have to say that we enjoyed our time there even though there were some struggles.
Our flight going to Jamaica was delayed for more than 2 hours due to a tropical storm; another tropical storm that became a Hurricane in Cancun (Grace) hit the island in the middle of our vacation and our flight back home was delayed again and we lost our connecting flight.
Airlines are struggling like everybody else in the travel industry, we need to carry a gigantic dose of patience with ourselves because there will be hiccups no matter how well we have planned our trip.
Jamaica has very specific regulations for travelers, when you choose to travel there make sure that you understand and follow their requirements.
At the time that we traveled, August 2021, we had to be tested for Covid 72 hours before our trip, I admit that is nerve-racking because the best test would be the PCR test but due to the high raise in Covid cases is hard to receive the results in the next 72 hours.
Another test that is approved is the Antigen test but must be done at one of the approved labs, have the CLIA or ISO certification number and that can be tricky.
To avoid problems, I did the PCR test that always comes with the laboratory information and CLIA certification, my results turned around in 48 hours.
I have to say that you need to be prepared with extra doses of grace and kindness because things are not like they use to be before the pandemic.
Everywhere you look or go is understaffed and you might find long lines at airports. None if you are wise and purchase Club Mobay Vip Arrival and Departure. They will wait for you and take you to the fast-track line where a customs agent is waiting for you; in few minutes you are at your lounge or transportation to your hotel.
Beaches Ocho Rios is a nice small hotel with a lovely beach but it does need a facelift, several areas of the hotel look worn out and old; rooms are comfortable and have several activities for families with kids of all ages. The Sesame characters brought real smiles to my son that never cared for them before.
We sat one evening watching families dancing around the main pool in a silent party. The neon headphones were awesome!
During the day we enjoyed the beach and water activities that the resort offers, definitely we want to do a private snorkeling trip again, that was an unforgettable experience for both of us!
We will never forget Sonia who was the companion of our captain; she took pictures and videos for us while we were snorkeling. Our captain, sadly I can’t remember his name was super kind, brought drinks for us and took us on an island tour, showing is the fishing villas, the area where sea turtles are released, the place where one of the James Bond movies was filmed and more!
We went to two different places to snorkel, is sad that in both places the coral reefs are dying but we still got to see and experience the marine life! Is fascinating to be able to see anemones, colorful fish, urchins, corals, etc.! Our captain allowed us to touch female sea urchins, told us never to touch the black ones (males), captured for us a lobster, and the cherry on the top was that he allowed my son to drive the boat on the way back to the resort!
I am a foodie and I love good food and like to try local dishes. In the past I never had any dish at Sandals or Beaches properties that I didn’t love; this time the food was not at the same level of variety and not as flavorful as before the pandemic, but I could notice that they were struggling with a lack of personnel.
We tried the Italian restaurant called The Venetian and I was not impressed, to me the food was just okay and my son that is a pizza lover was not happy with their pizza either. The ambiance is super romantic with candle lights, and I love the area where you can get different types of bread, cheeses, olives, prosciutto, and similar. The service was good!
La Parisienne is a small restaurant, you need to go there really early, at 5 pm to get you a table or make a reservation in the morning hours with your concierge. I enjoyed the Ragout aux champignons, an appetizer with wild mushrooms, garlic cream, and puff pastry that was tasty and looked great! We had to wait for our food for at least one hour, but we could see that they were very busy and with just two servers that were completely overwhelmed so we decided to enjoy our drinks and the nice ambiance while we waited instead of complaining, sometimes we need to show grace to people, understand that we are in the middle of a pandemic and everybody is doing the best that they can.
What we did to keep us safe and not catch the covid-19
We avoid crowds whenever was possible.
At the airport, we stay away 6 feet from the person in front of us while making the TSA lines, sat down at the empty area before boarding our plane, paid for the Club Mobay VIP at our arrival and departure and we wear our N95 mask all the time from the moment we arrive at the airport to the moment we arrive at our room at the hotel.
We choose outdoor activities
We stay on the beach in the empty area or just one more family with us and keep a distance of at least 12 feet.
The water park was more crowded but we found an area in the shade where nobody else was and my son waited for the water slides to be empty before he use them.
We choose outdoor breakfast and lunch
We ate breakfast every day at Josephine’s Creperie, very few guests were there around 9 am
We ate lunch at Bar. B.Q where we tried the jerk chicken or at the Bayside restaurant that offered buffet lunch that was served by the staff only so guests didn’t touch utensils.
In all the restaurants they have a host that makes sure to give you hand sanitizer before you are seated.
Dinners were indoors but the hotel makes sure that occupancy was limited and there were more than 6 feet between tables, we feel safe eating indoors at night. We wore our masks all the time unless we were eating.
We constantly sanitize our hands
I had a hand sanitizer with me all the time and it gave me peace of mind that we disinfect our hands every time that we touched a high traffic area or before we eat anything
Build up our immunity
A month before our trip we started taking vitamins that promote immunity like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Elderberry.
We wore our masks all the time
No matter what outdoors or indoors we wore our masks when we were around a crowded area.
Is a different way of travel but the beauty of the destination and the time bonding with my son was priceless and completely worth it, it shows us that is possible to travel and be safe while you are doing it.
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Author Rossana Jeri
Bilingual English -Spanish Travel Agent