The MSC Seashore is a new ship from the Seaside class ships and CP Travel Ambassador Brian Schmidt got a chance to visit Ochos Rios, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. Find out why his favorite place was going to Hell.
What specific cities and /or countries did you visit? Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; Miami, FL
What was your favorite memory from this trip? Going to Hell. This Hell was much more enjoyable than the Hell that you might think I was referencing. It is an area on Grand Cayman with a unique limestone rock formation and a fun gift shop where you can mail your friends and family a postcard from Hell. The gift shop owner and his family were so very personable and told us stories about the are and their family history.
Top excursions and landmarks/sites to visit: The dolphin encounter in Cozumel was fabulous. We spent most of our time with a mother and daughter pair of dolphins. The mother dolphin was 25 years old and her baby was two and still nursing. We learned so much about dolphins and their behaviors. Did you know that the color of the dolphin varies based on where they are from and this coloring protects them from predators. The underbelly is a light color to blend in with the sky and the tops of the dolphins are colored to blend with the bottom of the ocean.
Were there any standout restaurants or foodie must-haves on this trip? The Jerk Chicken an Jerk Fish in Ocho Rios Jamaica was incredible. We had this for lunch near Puetro Seco Beach but talked with many other travelers during our cruise who also found great jerk recipes in other spots across the island.
How would you describe the people and culture of this destination? Any interesting cultural lessons? This was my first cruise on the MSC cruise line. I was surprised by the high ratio of international guests on the cruise given we departed from a North American port. I was told that less than 25% of the guests on our sailing were from the United States or Canada. It felt like we had departed from Barcelona or Southampton and not Miami. As we mingled with others, we talked to people for Ireland, Israel, Spain and so many other far away places. While we definitely found cultural differences, we were struck more by the similarities. People and their family life challenges are more alike than different.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about this destination? Ocho Rios only has four rivers. While the town's name translates to eight rivers, there are only four. Dunn's River, Cave River, Roaring River and Turtle River are the rivers in Ocho Rios. If somebody tells you there are eight rivers in Ocho Rios, just say "Nutten no go so"...which brings me to the next interesting thing about Jamaica. The local Jamaican Creole dialect is a mixture of languages such as English, West and Central African. According to our tour guide, the 17th century slaves made it up to confuse the slave masters.
Top 5 Tips and recommendations for this trip:
- Be sure to visit the Turtle Center on Grand Cayman. You can swim with turtles and delve into turtle facts. I had no idea turtles could be so much fun.
- Bring cash for the straw markets. The best souvenirs are in the little straw markets along the itinerary but many only deal in cash. US dollar was accepted everywhere.
- Starboard side rocks on this itinerary. I always feel like the port versus starboard balcony is a bit of a crapshoot. On this itinerary, it will give you a clear view of MSC's private island, Ocean Cay.
- Enjoy downtown Miami. Take some time before the cruise to shop and dine in Miami.
- Save a little bit of money at Dolphinaris in Cozumel. They provide lockers for a charge but they also provide a free secluded cubby that is within your sight the entire time you are with the dolphins. If you have a buddy that isn't swimming with you, have them take pictures because you can't have cameras in the pool and they charge for the pictures their photographer takes.
Did you travel via cruise ship? If so, please describe the experience and some of the standout features that you ere excited about. We sailed on the MSC Seashore and I have to say that this was one of the most beautiful ships I've ever sailed. While the layout of the ship had me lost in multiple dead-ends at time, the visual appeal is completely stunning. The infinity pools and sunning decks on the lower levels was amazing. The Cabaret Rouge lounge area was beautiful with stunning photo opportunities. Luckily, I was not sailing with my daughters because we would have spent endless hours taking selfies and photoshoots.
What makes this destination a must-see in your opinion? The itinerary of our cruise was great but honestly the MSC Seashore ship was the "must-see". I cannot wait to go on another Seaside class ship. The cabins are spacious and well designed. The decor is stunning. The pools and sunning areas are spacious and spread out across the ship. There was a nice variety of lounges and sitting areas to have a drink and enjoy some conversation.
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