Sometimes you save money doing things on your own rather than booking shore excursions through the cruise ship and sometimes you don’t. We intended to make our own way to Mystic Mountain to ride the Jamaican Bobsled Roller Coaster when the Norwegian Pearl docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We did not book the excursion in advance on the ship thinking that we would save a significant amount of money if we got there on our own.
After disembarking the ship we found someone from Mystic Mountain operating tours from the cruise ship dock. Our options included booking directly with them, booking through the ship (which we could do right there at the dock) or walking to the attraction and buying the tickets there. Booking through the ship saved a few dollars over booking the tour directly through Mystic Mountain. Both included transportation there and back. Walking would only save the bus fare, which was $10 on Mystic Mountain’s tour or slightly less through the ship. They said the walk would take about 45 minutes. The distance the bus traveled before arriving seemed closer to a 20 minute walk, although that is just a guess. Either way it would not be worth the pittance saved, especially considering sections of the road had nowhere for people to walk.
Mystic Mountain offers several options. Guests board the Sky Explorer tram at the bottom of the mountain. It’s not optional as it provides transportation to the other attractions at the top of the mountain. Most people buy a ticket that includes a ride on the Jamaican Bobsled Roller Coaster as well as the Sky Explorer. Once at the top people can buy additional rides on the bobsled in increments of 2, 3, or 5 rides, with 5 the best deal on the price. Anyone who did not have an initial ride ticket when they came up can purchase the 5 ride ticket at the top. The other option is a zip line. Mystic Mountain also has a Tranopy tour that includes all three – Sky Explorer, bobsled, and zip line.
Cruise ships may offer combinations that include the bobsled ride and a visit to Dunn’s River Falls. If the ship doesn’t offer the Tranopy option, passengers wishing to do that can book it online or with the tour guide at the dock. We would have liked to try the zip line, but opted to skip it because we found the cost more than we cared to spend.
After disembarking the bus at the Mystic Mountain entrance, we stopped at a nearby building where employees fitted everyone with wristbands indicating which attractions they had paid for. A short scenic trail through flowering plants and over a bridge near a small waterfall led us to the lower tram station.
The ride on the Sky Explorer takes a bit of time and offers several views of the ships in port along the way. A splash of purple flowers adorned the top of one tree we passed, probably one of the sort of rain forest plants that live in the trees rather than part of the tree itself. Here and there along the forest floor large red blooms reached skyward toward the light. The tram covered quite a distance, all of it quite scenic whether traveling through the rainforest or high enough above it for ocean views.
The top of the mountain has other attractions in addition to the bobsled and zip line. People can spend as much time as they like in the free attractions. These include a hummingbird garden, butterfly garden, and the infinity pool.
The pool has a waterslide as well as an awesome view of the cruise ship docks and close-up view of the Jamaican Bobsled Roller Coaster Ride. The mountaintop also has a restaurant and some shops.
The bobsled, inspired by the Jamaican bobsled team that once competed in the winter Olympics, doesn’t actually slide down a mountain of snow. This Jamaican Bobsled Roller Coaster Ride runs through the jungle on a roller coaster style track. Unlike traditional roller coasters, the sled driver can control their speed on the track. Riders may opt to go alone or to hook two or more sleds together, with the front person controlling the speed for the entire group.
We had a great time at Mystic Mountain. Everything flowed smoothly even with two ships in port that day. The lines never got too long for the bobsled or the sky explorer. People enjoyed the pool and slide, but neither had a crowd.
We enjoyed our initial ride on the bobsled enough to buy a 5 ride ticket so we could ride it some more. They do allow more than one person to share rides on the same 5-ride ticket. Sharing that cost less than buying separate 2 or 3 ride tickets.
We also spent some time taking photos in the hummingbird garden. Much as we would have liked to stay at Mystic Mountain longer, we had paid to see the area’s most popular attraction – Dunn’s River Falls – as well. We had to take the tram back down the mountain while we still had time to go there. We didn’t have time to see the butterfly garden, though we did see a butterfly with the hummingbirds. If we had the chance to do it over we would spend our whole time in port at Ocho Rios enjoying all that Mystic Mountain has to offer and skip Dunn’s River Falls.
More Posts about Jamaica
Dunn’s River Falls (Ocho Rios)
Zip Line at Good Hope Estate (Falmouth)
River Tubing (Falmouth)
Swimming with Horses (Montego Bay)