Ocho Rios, Jamaica Casinos - World Casino Directory

Finished my first cruise, Here's my experience

I just returned home from a 7 day on the NCL Epic. Here is my experience and advice. Feel free to ask any questions.

Day 0 - Travel to Orlando
We flew in late Friday night and booked a hotel close to port for easy transfer in the AM. We took an Uber from the airport to the Country Inn right by the port. The uber ride was around $35 and we tipped a little extra for it being so far so late at night. (approx 1am). The hotel itself was nice, but the beds are terrible. I mean..TERRIBLE.
Day 1 - Embarkation Day
We took the 10:30 am transfer from the hotel to the port. They tell you not to arrive more than an hour before boarding, but it was the only time they had available. We arrived at the port a little before 11 and walked right into the terminal with no delays. Check in was super easy and we were given boarding group 10. They started boarding a little early and we were on the ship by a little after noon.
We were unable to reserve any meal reservation before hand, so our first goal was to get those placed. They directed everyone to headliners comedy club where they had multiple computers set up to do the reservations. We were able to get the days and times we wanted with no issues, including one that very evening.
Since we smoke, our next item was to find the smoking areas. For those interested, there are 3 of them on the Epic. Deck 16 aft at Spice H20 was the one we used the most. There was also one on deck 15 mid near the pools and bar. This one is smaller and was always crammed with people. The last option is the Casino, but you can only smoke there when playing, and the casino doesn't open until you hit international waters.
We were comfortably buzzed by the time we had our Muster Drill. 3pm in your designated location. It lasted roughly 1/2 hour. We were scheduled to leave at 4pm and the sail away party started right at 4. The boat however did not move. During the sail away party there was a Code Alpha announcement which we later found out was a medical emergency.
Around 5pm the captain came on and said we would be delayed due to the emergency. We later found out that a man had died of a heart attack and they delayed so that the family could take him off the ship while we were still in port.
We finally set sail around 9pm. We were worried that we would miss our first stop in the Bahamas, but the captain assured us that we would make it on time.
We spent the next couple hours checking things out and playing a little in the casino.
Day 2 - Bahamas
We were woken up in the AM by Mandy "your Cruise Director" letting us know that we were in the Bahamas and would be starting the tender process. Our excursion wasn't until the afternoon, so we were in no hurry to get off the ship. We went to the buffet for breakfast, and hung out on board a little. Around 10 we headed to deck 6 to get in line for tendering as we didn't have a group number we needed to be in. Let me tell you, that line was ridiculous. It stretched all the way from Aft to bow. We got lucky, and they opened up another tender in the front of the ship, so we only waited about 5 minutes to get on the tender.
The water there is beautiful, and since the island is owned by NCL, all drinks were free (we had the UBP). We spent the rest of the morning chilling on the beach and wading in the water. At 1:30 we headed to the info desk to start our excursion. A short 5 minute walk to the other side of the island and we were on a boat headed to another small island. It was only about a 5 minute boat ride to get there. When we arrived, we saw them in all their glory. Pigs! big beautiful pigs!
This is one of those excursions that you never have to do again, but it was super fun and an experience to say the least. You are provided with skewers with apples on the end and the pigs will swim right up to you and eat them. We spend a couple hours doing that, petting them, feeding them, and even holding them. Like I said, not something I ever need to do again, but a fun experience non the less.
After this, we headed back to the island and then back to the ship. Overall a very fun day.
Day 3 - Sea Day
This day was spent entirely in the casino. I was lucky enough to hit a decent jackpot early in the AM, so we had the money to play all day. Had this not happened, I have no idea what we would have done.
Day 4 - Ochos Rios, Jamaica
We decided not to do an excursion here, and just wander around. If you don't like to be hassled, do an excursion. If you can handle saying no 1000 times, feel free to wander around. We went to a few shops and had some drinks at Margaritaville. Then, since we were on vacation, decided to take a drive with a local guy and see some of the sights. He took us around to see the falls and to a great overlook where we could see the whole city below. He also had some decent weed, so that was nice. By about 1 o'clock we headed back to the ship for some food and a nap. Woke up around 5, had some dinner, and then back to bed for the night.
Day 5 - Grand Cayman
This was another tender port, but since we had an excursion, we had to be in the theater at 8:30 am. We were delayed a little as we had another Code Alpha the night before and they needed to do a medical evacuation. Tender process was pretty quick and we were on the island by 9:15/9:30. There are tents set up right at the dock to meet your tour. We walked a couple blocks and got on a boat with about 50 other people to do the Reef and Wreck Snorkel Adventure. Unfortunately the water was very choppy and the sun wasn't out so we didn't get to see the blue water that is in all the pictures. Once in the water though, you can see to the bottom really well and it was still a beautiful sight. The water there is very very salty, which was nice for buoyancy, but not fun to get in your mouth. This only lasted a couple hours, and we still had plenty of time to wander around town. We picked up some more souvenirs and then made our way to Burger King for some real food. PSA- it doesn't taste the same, but was still awesome.
After getting back on the boat, we decided we would take in a show. We ordered tickets from our room TV and chilled for a couple hours before the show. We saw Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Overall it was a pretty good show. If you are easily offended, skip it.
Day 6 - Cozumel
Another non excursion day. We walked around and did some shopping, nothing too exciting. The people were much less pushy that Jamaica, so that was nice. If you are planning on buying things here, don't get them at the shops right inside the port. Walk through the mall a little. The further you get from the boat, the cheaper they are. Also, feel free to haggle.
Day 7 - Sea Day
Another day in the casino. Didn't do as well, but still had enough to last all day. Overall an ok time.
Day 8 - Disembarkation
We booked a transfer to the airport through NCL. Our disembark time was approx 9:30 and they called us a little after 9. Getting off was super easy, and the new face recognition thing they use is really smooth. Luggage pickup was a clusterf*ck, but still only took us 10 minutes or so to get our luggage. Then everything stopped. The line to get on the buses to the airport was ridiculous. We waited almost an hour to get on board. The ride is about 45 minutes to the airport. We were luck enough to get on the bus with a driver who had never been to the airport before. How do they let this happen? It was a mess. We needed terminal A, but by the time she figured everything out we were in Terminal B and decided we would just walk over to A just to get off the bus. Personally, we will never use NCL's transfer again. I'd rather pay a little more for a taxi or Uber.

Quick note on Dining - We ate at the Main dining once, specialty 3 time, and the rest was the buffet or O'sheehans. The main dining was actually very good. The buffet was fine, it was a buffet. Cagney's was amazing. La Cucina was my least favorite, should have just done Cagney's 3 times.

The big question - Is the UBP worth it? Honestly, yes, but not because I'ma huge drinker. We probably didn't get enough drinks to cover the cost. The advantage is not having to worry about anything. No matter what you want, you just give them a card and its no cost. The convenience was worth more than the actual price of the drinks. Plus you don't have to check your account every day to make sure you aren't spending too much.

Sorry this is long, but I wanted to give everyone a thorough review of my first cruise. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll be happy to answer.

TL;DR - Went on a cruise, had fun. Prefer All-Inclusive Resorts though.
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