Saturday, March 1, 2014

MSC Divina Visits Ports of Call

Overlooking the Port of Falmouth
While every cruise visits a number of ports, our Western Caribbean itinerary on MSC Divina is somewhat out of the ordinary, with calls at Falmouth Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Great Stirrup Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. What makes it unique is that Falmouth is still relatively unknown and Great Stirrup Cay is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line and usually only visited by ships in their fleet.

An absolute highlight was our first port—the newest in Jamaica at Falmouth. Purpose built, with docking space for two cruise ships (including the world’s largest), the enclosed port area is wide open and was uncrowded as MSC Divina passengers had the entire port to themselves. A long central square is surrounded by impressive buildings housing shops with the recognizable names of merchants found throughout the Caribbean. What captured our interest were the stalls and Craft Market where local vendors displayed their wares—everything from wood carvings and handmade baskets to tee-shirts and tote bags. A draped stall even offered neck and shoulder massages for $1 a minute. Jamaica has a reputation for aggressive street vendors, but there was no pressure to buy in Falmouth—simply courteous invitations to browse and look. Also within the port area were several musicians entertaining guests with Island music on steel drums and guitar and a branch of Margaritaville—a staple for ‘burgers and, of course, Margaritas beside the large swimming pool.
Falmouth's Central Square & Water Tower
Tours offered by MSC Divina’s shore excursion staff ranged from adventurous Jamaican “bobsledding,” swimming with dolphins, climbing Dunn’s River Fall, and zip-lining over the Martha Brae River to the more sedate rafting on the river and High Tea at the nearby Good Hope Estate. For a laid-back day, guests could opt for a shuttle bus to Montego Bay’s beaches and shops at a cost of $22.90. Inside the port a Trolley Tour of historic Falmouth, with a stop at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, was available for $22.

Mel and I have been to Jamaica often and decided to spend our time further exploring the town afoot. After exiting the port we asked one of the tourism officials in a white ’safari’ style hat where we could find a spot to sit and enjoy a Red Stripe beer. She escorted us to one of the nearby souvenir stalls where the proprietor had a cooler of ice cold beers and a couple chairs. We had ring-side seats for people watching as we relaxed. Making our way further into town we mingled with the residents in the main square where the water tower is located. Falmouth is proud to boast that their town had piped water before even New York City acquired such an innovation.
After an interesting and, for us, very satisfying visit, we were off to the more often visited ports of Georgetown and Cozumel.

Stay tuned to join us for a day at the beach on Great Stirrup Cay.
Images ©


Fintan said...

Love your article. I could picture it in my mind as I was reading. Jamaica really sounds wonderful. And cruise travel has really become more affordable this past couple of years. Caribbean is so beautiful.

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Thanks! It was my pleasure to "bring you along" on the MSC Divina during our cruise.

Best, Linda

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