MSC Seaside – Live Journal Day 3
Today we are porting in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We are really excited because we will be participating in the Flavors of Jamaica excursion. This excursion is through MSC and we will be learning how to cook jerk chicken.
Since we have been staying in interior cabins for so long, we definitely have been taking advantage of having access to a balcony. We start every morning with an espresso and we end every night with a nightcap under the stars. We still believe that balconies are not necessary to have a great cruise but they certainly are a nice addition and add some fantastic cruise memories.
Breakfast in the Yacht Club has been wonderful and consistent. The menu is the same every morning and that works just fine for us. Sean has been loving his fresh scrambled eggs and my over-easy eggs have been cooked perfectly. There is also a really nice assortment of danishes that the servers walk around with.
One thing that I find interesting are the hours. The restaurant is open for 1.5 hours each morning and the hours seem to be related to port timing (730-9am or 8-930am). Since we have excursions, this isn’t a big deal for us on this cruise because we are already up early. But, if we had planned on staying on the ship, we would most likely miss breakfast in the restaurant because we would sleep in past 9am. (I’m not sure how many people sleep past 9am but when you have been working 80 hours a week, sleeping in has been a heavenly thought. If you do sleep in, the main buffet on the ship is open until 11am and the buffet on the Yacht Club pool deck stays open until around 10am as well.)
Flavors of Jamaica – MSC Excursion:
After breakfast it was time to head out for our excursion. One thing that was really nice was we got to meet in the Top Sail Lounge, instead of meeting in the main theater with the crowds of people going on their excursions as well. Another huge win for the Yacht Club.
In the Top Sail Lounge, we checked in with the butlers standing at the door and they gave us our tour stickers, a bottle of water and a poncho. We thought the poncho and water was a nice touch.
When our tour was ready, a butler gathered everyone and he guided us down to the gangplank to exit the ship. There wasn’t anyone in line at security so we breezed right though. The butler walked us all the way down the pier and into the main excirsion building at Ocho. I loved the personalized service. Great for someone who has never traveled before. No reason to worry, your butler has you covered.
On Our Way:
Once in the excursion building, we were met by our tour guide, Shanise. Shanise then led us to our transportation for the day. It was a nice 20 passenger van. Plenty of A/C and comfortable. Our driver was Walter and he assured us he would take great care of our journey.
It was about a 25 minute van ride to a place called Yaaman Adventure Park. Once here, we exited the van and hopped on a tractor tram. Please keep in mind the tram seating had a very high step to get to the seat. Shanise and the tractor driver were helping passengers climb up. We opted for the back seat and woah, what an adventure. The only thing we could compare it to was a wooden rollercoaster feel. Shoo, I thought my teeth were going fall right out of my head, haha. It was a rough ride but we did notice the people sitting close to the tractor were not experiencing anything like what we were. So if you want the Big Thunder Mountain experience, choose the back. Looking for something a little less bone crunching, the front is a great option.
The first stop on our tractor adventure was this guy chopping coconuts. He was demonstrating the way to take the hush off the coconut and then he poured everyone a little coconut water to try. Coconut water is delicious and super hydrating. After the water, the Shanise explained how they eat a lot of coconut in Jamaica with brown sugar. So coconut guy, carved out some coconut slices and topped them off with sugar. So tasty.
Moving on, we stopped again by this tree that has the prettiest blooms. The coolest part was we each got a bloom to open. Wait for the video on this one. You peel open the flower like a banana and the pink just starts spilling out. So pretty.
Time to cook!
We made it to our final stop to get out cooking on. The place where we cooked was this old plantation house. We got a little history lesson about the home and then we went out back to our cooking tables. We washed our hands, grabbed an apron and some rubber gloves and we were ready to cook. Now since Sean has an allergy, he will not be cooking. No big deal for us because that means he gets to document all the fun.
It was a great class. We added jerk chicken seasoning to chicken and placed it on a grill. While the chicken was cooking, we created a bok choy side dish, rolled Festival donuts into any shape we wanted and finished off by making personalized jerk chicken sauce. The sauce could be adjusted to your taste of spice. I like my stuff sweeter so more sugar for me, hehe.
Taste Test Time:
Check out how awesome that plate looks. And the taste was even better. So yummy! We had such a great time learning how to make this great meal. We even got to photograph the secret recipe when we finished (sorry, you are gonna have to go on this excursion to get the recipe. We have been sworn to secrecy 😉)
Back to the Tractor:
After eating the best meal ever, we got back on the tractor and headed back to our van. Again, sit in the front if you want to keep your lunch from coming back up, lol. Shoo, that was a ride. Once at the van, Shanise informed us that we would be going to a local store where we could purchase the jerk chicken seasoning that we used. That was cool. We weren’t interested in purchasing the seasoning but we did want a magnet.
A note to everyone about foreign shopping: Pay very close attention to the denomination that you give and make sure you get the correct change back. The woman at the store tried to short us $10. I’m not saying that everyone is out to short you but it does happen and if you are not paying attention, you could be ripped off. The register lady was super apologetic and I hope it was a mistake. Not very likely that it was but I did accept her apology and life was good again 😊
Back to the Ship:
Time to head back to the Seaside. This was a fantastic excursion. We recommend this for anyone looking for something unique or if you like to cook. Keep in mind that if you have any back problems or cannot climb up a high step, you may need to skip this one because of the tractor ride.
Yacht Club Access:
When we returned to the ship, we were greeted by a butler who escorted us through a separate line to board the ship. We walked past a huge line and we’re back on the ship in less than 5 minutes. Another great Yacht Club perk.
We are Diamond status with MSC and with that comes a free meal at one of the specialty dining restaurants. We decided to take advantage of that tonight and ate at Butcher’s Cut for dinner.
We started off with a shrimp cocktail for myself and Sean had smoked tomato soup. Both appetizers were amazing. My shrimp cocktail was cooked to perfection and Sean licked his bowl clean. A great way to start our meal.
We both opted for the 14oz NY Sirloin with smoked mashed potatoes. Wow oh wow! So good. The steak was cooked perfectly and the mashed potatoes were the perfect compliment.
We both went for the Chocolate Lava Cake and we were not disappointed. So rich and creamy. We ate as much as we could but couldn’t finish it all because we were thoroughly stuffed.
Overall Thoughts of Dinner:
We enjoyed Butcher’s Cut so much we will be coming back later in the week. A great meal!
After this exhausting day, it’s time for bed. Day 4 coming tomorrow…