Last month my mother and I returned from a week long cruise on MSC Cruise’s Divina. The MSC Divina returned recently to Miami as part of their North America Expansion, which includes MSC Seaside. The return from the Mediterranean has been a blessing for the American market because now we have even more options to choose from that offer beautiful Caribbean cruise ports of call. Although the MSC Divina’s inaugural Caribbean season included customized enhancements, such as adapting menus and dining times to North American preferences they also have become the first cruise ship in the world to introduce Aqua Cycling at sea as well as offering their infamous wine blending classes, in which guests work with wine experts to create, label and bottle their own blend of wine.
Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call
We have posts we will be sharing that will highlight all that the MSC Divina has to offer, but we are really excited to share a few of the wonderful Caribbean ports of call and excursions future cruiser will be enjoying.
Port of Call: Charlotte Amalie / St. Thomas
This was our very first time to visit Charlotte Amalie (aka St. Thomas) so we wanted to make sure we choose an excursion that would give us a taste for all the country had to offer so we went with the Ultimate Island Experience tour. We arrived in port at approximately 9 am and set out to find our meeting place to meet up with our tour. It was a quick gathering and soon we were heading out to discover all that St. Thomas had to offer.
We started with a narrated bus/trolley tour through the scenic roads along Skyline Driver and saw some of the most amazing beaches and tropical views of the Caribbean Sea and the British Virgin Islands. We then stopped at Drakes Seat where we caught more great photo opportunities and even a jackass waiting for a photo op with unsuspecting tourists. Before heading to Blackbeard’s Castle we spent an hour or more at Magens Bay, rated as one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
In town we got to discover the Kongens (Kings) Quarter (the Williamsburg of the Caribbean) and we learned stories about the islands past of global traders, Caribbean pirates, and the impact of slavery. As we descended the famous 99 steps we found the famous Caribbean World Amber Waterfall, the tallest and largest one in the world made up of over 12,000 amber stones. It was breathtaking.
Once we got back down to Main Street we did a bit of shopping that St. Thomas is known for and enjoyed some local cuisine from one of the off-the-beaten-path restaurants called Cuzzin’s Caribbean Restaurant and Bar. The food was amazing and the drinks were pretty darn good too. They have a great Pina Colada there that is a must. I had two.
Our excursion cost $59 each and I think it was a pretty reasonable price.
A few other excursions to choose from:
- CASTAWAY GIRL BAREFOOT SAIL & SNORKEL
- KAYAK, HIKE & SNORKEL OF CAS CAY
- TREE LIMIN ZIP LINING ADVENTURE
- ST. JOHN ISLAND WITH ANNABERG RUINS
- TORTOLA DOLPHIN ENCOUNTER
- THE LEGENDARY KON TIKI HARBOUR & BEACH CRUISE
Port of Call: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Neither my mother, nor I have ever been to Puerto Rico but it was a place on both of our bucket lists so it was a dream when we pulled into port at 8am. We made no plans and decided to explore San Juan, Puerto Rico on our own since our all-aboard was at 3:30pm. However, upon getting off the ship with a plan of shopping we realized the stores were all closed for at least another hour. Once we got on the main street we were approached by at least 6 or 7 independent tour guides offering the promise of the best tour for the best price. Since we were heading to Old San Juan for the day and all the shops were currently closed we agreed upon an hour tour for $20. This was totally NOT sanctioned by the cruise ship and it was probably not the smartest thing we have ever done, but fortunately we weren’t killed and it turned out to be a pretty awesome tour.
Our tour included checking out all the local architecture and Spanish colonial relics of the beautiful city. I immediately knew this was a place I would have to come back to and spend a week exploring. It was gorgeous. The San Cristobal Fort and San Felipe del Morro Fort were amazingly grand. To see this and knowing some of the histories just takes your breath away. The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery located in Old San Juan was one of my favorite sites to see. It is the final resting place of many of Puerto Rico’s most prominent natives and residents, and someday I hope to explore its pre-colonial grave sites.
We spent our afternoon shopping and visiting all the small shops in Old San Juan. We even found the home of the ORIGINAL Piña Colada, Barrachina and stopped in for a bite to eat and a
couple few drinks. I will warn you now, do NOT have one of their Piña Colada because if you ever do you will never be able to enjoy one from any other place…ever.
When I go back I have to visit the rainforest. I’ve been working on my list of things I missed, but want to visit in the future.
Some of the excursions that were available were:
- ATV ADVENTURE FOR TWO
- HORSEBACK RIDING
- EL MORRO & MORE: WALKING TOUR
- SAN JUAN PANORAMIC TOUR
- SAN JUAN PANORAMIC & BACARDI
Port of Call: Nassau, Bahamas
Since I have been to Nassau, Bahamas many times I decided to be my mother’s personal tour guide. We were both pretty wore out by the time we got into port after all the exploring we had been doing at the previous ports so we decided to just do a stroll and head back to the ship early. We spend the day shopping and enjoying conch fritter and other delicacies from various small restaurants along the way. Of course, before heading back to the ship we stopped at the famous straw market where we bartered and picked up some souvenirs. No trip is complete in the Bahamas without getting your hair braided so be sure to check out the video to see what I choose!
Some of the other excursions Nassau has to offer are:
- ATHOL ISLAND SNORKEL (you HAVE to snorkel in the Bahamas, it’s a must!)
- NASSAU 360°
- BALMORAL ISLAND BEACH DAY & STINGRAY ENCOUNTER
- ATLANTIS BEACH DAY & DISCOVER ATLANTIS
Follow @MSCCruisesUSA on Twitter