5 reasons to spend the day at Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios

When cruising the MSC Seaside, we were ready to visit Ocho Rios, a port we’d never visited before. Jamaica in particular is special to us, since we were married there (in Negril) in 2008.

I spent hours crawling over everything I could find out about the port, excursions, the culture and what to see. We settled on an excursion that would take us to the infamous Blue Hole.


Unfortunately, before we arrived at the port, we learned the rain had turned our “blue hole” trip into a “brown hole.” Apparently, this natural wonder turns brown when there are heavy rainstorms.

I quickly turned my attention to Google seeking some sort of day pass we could purchase to a beach or resort that would allow us to still relax, but take cover if needed. Passes to resorts on sites like www.resortforaday.com were already booked or sold out. Then, I had a wonderful idea.  Why not give Couples Resorts, the same unique line of resorts we used when were married 10 years before in Jamaica, a quick phone call.

There were no information for Couples Ocho Rios/Tower Isle available online related to day passes, so maybe one of the staff members could tell me more.

I called from our room on the ship once we were in port. I quickly learned there was not only a day pass, but also a half day pass for cruise passengers that would be leaving by 3:00 p.m. All we had to do was taxi to the resort and purchase our passes in the lobby.  Here’s why taking the trip to Couples Tower Isle for even half a day, is totally worth it:

1. Couples Tower Isle offers sanctuary from the port’s chaos, cruise crowds and kids.

After exiting the cruise ship, we quickly discovered just how crazy and crowded the port area is. With port authority employees on one side of the fence talking to you and coordinating, all other taxi drivers and services are staring at you from the other side of a barbed wire fence.  It was pure madness (you can see in the video below).


Also, since this was our 10 year anniversary trip and time to relax without children, we were hoping to get away from the hustle and bustle of little people.  Once we finally left the port, we took a taxi ride over to Couples Tower Isle (20 minutes in total).

Once we arrived at Couples Tower Isle, it was like a breath of fresh air and calmness.

Not only was the lobby calm and quiet when we entered, but many of the shared spaces were not busy or crowded with plenty of space to move around.

The resort is all-inclusive and you get more for your money than other resorts offer. I was surprised to learn that we could spend $50 for a half day pass to the resort.  As a cruiser, you are on a time limit from the spots you visit to “all aboard.”  So, purchasing a pass that gave us access from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. was perfect for us.

Not to mention, we were delightfully surprised to learn that everything was included (I mean EVERYTHING). Unlimited food and drinks, access to 5 hot tubs, 2 large swimming pools and bars. The beach and lounge chairs, towels, access to a game room and more.  Basically, every amenity included except for the rooms and the spa.

Pool at Couples Tower Isle where we played pool volleyball. 
Pool at Couples Tower Isle where we played pool volleyball.

It also included access to many water sports equipment, which I outline further down. Visiting the resort was well worth our time and money.


3. The included food and drinks (and choices) were exceptionally good.

When you hear unlimited food and drinks, you automatically think the food will be lower in quality. This is not the case at Couples Tower Isle.  They have a beautiful buffet spread for lunch in the Patio Restaurant and a poolside grill that can cooks items to order such as burgers and fries and has an open area for things like ice cream, nachos and popcorn.

Patio Restaurant: lunch buffet and drinks.

The drinks were also wonderful. Every day, we learned that the resort has a different drink special which they make it large quantities. This area is self-serve as well, so you can have as much Rum Punch as you want.  They also have servers walking on the beach and pool serving drinks.

In addition, a broad selection of mixed drinks, beer and wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. I decided to try a Bob Marley and was very impressed, especially with the service received at the bar!

Try a Bob Marley, you’re in Jamaica.

4. Water sports are included with the price of you day pass.

We had a the best time playing volleyball in the pool with some of the other guests. There was also a whole agenda of activities happening at the resort throughout the day that all guests, overnight or day, can participate in.

Activities at the Couples Resort

They also have an area devoted to water sports and toys. Hydro bikes, paddle board, kayaks and other types of equipment were all included with our pass.


5. For the adventurous, Tower Isle has a small “clothing optional” island across from the main area of the resort for guests.

Most of the Jamaican Couples resorts have a dedicated nude section.  At Tower Isle, there is a namesake island well know to locals, as our taxi driver asked if we planned to go over to “the island”.

We quickly learned about the island.  It requires a one-minute boat ride from the main beach and pools areas and is a small, rocky island set away from the mainland. The resort picks guests up on the pier as needed.

Private clothing optional island across from the main resort.

The private, secluded island has a small pool, a little bit of beach, and a swim-up bar.  The one catch is if you visit, you must be willing to bare it all to experience it. The island’s policy is not “clothing optional” but rather “clothing prohibited.” For those looking for something a little different, this option might be appealing.

The Couples Tower Isle=Great, affordable fun

All and all, we had an amazing day at the resort and would happily return.  Highly recommend Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios as well as trying out many of the other Couples Resorts.

Photo from our wedding at Couples Negril.
Photo from our wedding at Couples Negril.





Packing for your MSC Seaside adventure

What to pack? We set sail on January 6, 2018 and made a few mistakes when we packed. Here’s what to remember before you embark on your MSC Seaside adventure.


Pack to help maximize the space of your room.

I know most rooms on ships are known for being smaller and space restricted, especially in places like the bathroom and shower.  The Seaside, although new and beautiful, is no exception. Plan and pack to make this small space more manageable. Don’t forget:

  • Over the door hanging organizer
  • Easy post hooks to hang bags and wet swimsuits. Our Aurea balcony only had one hook and it was on the back of the bathroom door.
  • Extra hangers, as there were only about 7 in our room.
  • Don’t bring your blow dryer, as they supply one and it will just take up more space. However, it took me four days to figure out where it was.  I found our blowdryer, in the angle drawer below the main mirror in our room.  It is easy to miss, so pay attention.


Be ready with reserves when it comes to powering your electronics.

In our room, there were only two outlets for powering U.S. electronics.  I recommend bringing a powerstrip or an international converter/adaptor if you need to charge more than two devices at a time. Many times during our cruise, I wished that I had packed my international charger/converter, especially when I tried to charge my devices in places like the coffee shop, where everything is European focused.  

Get cash before you cruise.

It’s likely a given, but don’t forget to get cash out before you cruise. There are no ATMs on board the Seaside.  Guest services will give you a cash advance if needed, but they will also charge you 5% for it.  Take care of getting any cash you need before you reach the port.

It might seem weird, but pack post-its, pen, and tape.

I can’t count the number of times I needed to write a note, fill out a form or luggage tag, and I did not have access to a pen. Due to the size of the ship and mobile devices also being turned off for text and data, it can be difficult to communicate and I found myself leaving notes the good old fashioned way for my husband (written with an eyeliner pencil).

Tape works for posting the notes, but I also used it to reseal our tags on our suitcases when we arrived at the port.


If you care for your hair, bring conditioner.

For some people not using conditioner for a whole week or more is no big deal.  For others, it means everything (a bad hair day ruins everything).  MSC provides shampoo and shower gel, but they do not provide conditioner, so don’t forget to pack it.  

On the positive side, what they do provide smells great.  I enjoyed using the products they provided.


Getting over the counter medicine and other toiletries.

If you forgot to pack something rather it be Tylenol or hairspray, there is a VERY small area inside of the liquor/alcohol shopping area that sells a subset of these types of items.  It is very small and limited, especially in comparisons to other ships.  So, do your best to remember everything you need beforehand.


Attire for various themed nights.

It wasn’t always clear, but on the MSC Seaside cruise we were on, there was a white party, a 70’s night and a Great Gatsby night. It could be fun, if you are interested in attending these types of dress-up opportunities and galas.  So be ready for anything! 


Cards, games and fun things to do.

There’s a fairly decent area where you can check out games on the Seaside, but only for two hours at a time. You will find a wide array of internationally focused games. Honestly, some of the game titles we had never heard of before.  If you do not return a game within a designated period of time, they will charge you a $50 fine.  

Playing cards Skip-Bo MSC Seaside

We love to play cards in our house and the one thing we did not pack was a normal deck of playing cards.  If you play cards, it may be easier to pack your own deck and you’ll be ready for anything.

Happy Packing!