Is The Cruise Port Of Falmouth, Jamaica, Actually As Terrible As People Say?

Major cruise lines, including Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival, all make stops in the Jamaican port of Falmouth. Royal Caribbean writes of horseback riding on the beach and jamming to reggae with the locals in town. It sounds like a great place to experience Jamaican culture. So, why does Falmouth have such a terrible reputation with tourists?

If this is your first time hearing about Falmouth, let us enlighten you. The port is gated and has shops and restaurants housed in Georgian-style buildings. This area of Falmouth is perfectly safe for tourists. However, in Reddit's r/Cruise forum, posters like u/floodcasso2 write that outside the port area in Falmouth is "one of the roughest tourist spots" they've ever been to and advise people not to leave the port area unless they're going on an excursion. But is Falmouth really that terrible or that unsafe? We think that depends on what kind of traveler you are.

Reasons not to travelerblog Falmouth

The issue that most travelers have with Falmouth is being overwhelmed by local vendors. Visitors recall their experience of being surrounded by aggressive vendors who refuse to leave them alone. One Reddit poster writes of having their clothes pulled at by people attempting to sell them things.

Other cruisers write about the never-ending hassle and feeling threatened when refusing to buy anything. Several more Redditors claimed to have been offered drugs in the town. While many savvy travelers have experienced high-pressure sales techniques before, Falmouth seems to take it to the next level. If all of this sounds like a nightmare, then yes, Falmouth really is terrible.

If you fall into this camp, you have a few choices when your cruise docks in Falmouth. You can stay on the ship, remain in the port area, or book a shore excursion. The gated port area is removed from the chaos. It's a fine place to walk around for a couple of hours, enjoy some live music, and get a taste of the local food. Several cruisers recommend the beef patties sold at a kiosk in the port. Falmouth is conveniently located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay where there are many exciting tourist activities. If you book an excursion, you can hike to epic waterfalls at Dunn's River Falls, visit a 200-year-old plantation house, or zipline over a lush canopy of tropical foliage.

Why you might want to venture out and give Falmouth a chance

There is a flip side to all of this, though. Many travelers say Falmouth is not that bad. Rhonda of the blog Travel? Yes Please! left the port area and went into the town. She wrote that while she was approached by many vendors on the street, it was an annoying but not dangerous experience and that the hassle died down as she moved away from the port and into the town center.

Redditor u/whataryder in the r/Cruise forum writes that she was "polite but firm" with vendors in the town of Falmouth and didn't feel physically threatened. We think it comes down to your comfort level and willingness to run the gauntlet of vendors to get to the town. Once there, you'll get to experience more authentic local culture and be able to buy souvenirs from local artisans.

As everyone's comfort level is different, we can't tell you whether to go to Falmouth on your next cruise. However, if you decide to leave the port area, make sure to read our article about how to protect your valuables on shore and be prepared to say a loud and firm "No, thank you" when approached by vendors.