Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 4: Montego Bay, Jamaica, on the Carnival Breeze

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about how the order of ports of call will determine what we do or don’t do. Since this was our first port of three, and we were diving the next two days, we chose not to purchase a day pass at a resort. Keith, Barbara, Cindy and I discussed it over dinner the previous evening and decided to just take a cab to a nearby shopping center for some souvenirs and some Blue Mountain coffee. After a little time in Mo Bay, we’d head back to the ship and hit the pool and water slides.

That was the original plan.

We were scheduled to arrive in Mo Bay at 9 am, so I set the alarm for 8 so I could go up on deck and watch the docking procedures. Keith and Barbara thought this would be a good idea as well, so I would meet them up on Deck 11 or 12 for the best view. I got up on deck just before 9 and watched as we approached the pier and made a nice, smooth stop. Apparently Keith and Barbara decided to sleep in a little more. Hey, fine with me, I still got to watch our arrival.



Once the Breeze was tied up, I returned to our cabin and found Cindy ready for breakfast. I called Keith on the phone and found them ready to eat as well. We made our way up to Lido and thankfully most of the crowd had dissipated. We were in no hurry to get off the ship, so we took our time and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast, talking about our upcoming dives in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. A quick swing by the cabin to grab some cash and we stepped off the ship and onto Jamaican soil. Ya mon!

As we were walking to the taxi stand, inquiring about a taxi to the Rose Hall shops, a fellow passenger mentioned that they were in a taxi van. This taxi van would take us to a few shopping places and lunch as well as a driving tour of Mo Bay for $25 per person. We four looked at each other and quickly decided this would be even better. We could do a little souvenir shopping and have some authentic jerk chicken. Ya mon!

The van held about a dozen of us, and once everyone was loaded (in the van), off we went. It’s hard to appreciate just how mountainous Jamaica is until you ride around in a van. We got to stop at some really spectacular overlooks, and our driver Orel took pride in all the information he gave us. We got to see not only the less fortunate areas, but the ultra exclusive areas as well. There’s a stark contrast between the two, but I realize this isn’t limited to just Jamaica.



We stopped at one souvenir place and both Cindy and Barbara found a t-shirt and a dress, respectively. I was tempted to buy some Blue Mountain coffee, but the price wasn’t much better than what I could find on coffeeam.com so with reluctance, I decided not to buy any. I wrote in a previous blog about my love of coffee, and while it would’ve been fun to buy some locally, I would rather have the quality guarantee from coffeeam. Our driver let us shop for about 45 minutes, then he drove us around Mo Bay some more, pointing out local points of interest for another half hour. We then stopped at Scotchies, a local place known for their authentic jerk.



We ordered a small tasting of the jerk pork, jerk chicken and some “festivals.” Festivals are the Jamaican variant of hushpuppies. They are a mixture of flour and cornmeal, fried to a golden crispy exterior with a soft interior. Think of a mixture of bread and cornbread, and you’d be close.

Jerk chicken


Jerk pork


Festivals


All of the food was as tasty as I imagined it would be, and I’m glad we stopped to try it out. We ate in an open air dining area, and the sweet smoke from the cooking pits gave the whole dining area a wonderful scent. We drove around some more, through the local produce markets and headed back to the ship. What originally started out to be a quick shopping excursion turned into an informative tour and a savory lunch.

Notice I said we ordered a “small tasting” of the jerk pork and chicken. We weren’t sure how much time we’d have for a full lunch, so we opted for a small snack sized meal that we split. After boarding the ship, around 2:30, Cindy and I went up to Lido for a late lunch. Being a port day, there was only a minimal crowd. Most were still ashore enjoying Mo Bay. We decided to treat ourselves to the famous Guy Fieri burgers. Are you a fan of a really good burger? Book a Carnival cruise on a ship that has a Guy’s Burgers (not every ship in the fleet hast them yet) and let your taste buds have a real treat.



We finished our lunch and returned to the cabin to prepare our dive gear for Grand Cayman the next day (and Cozumel after that). We made sure everything was ready to go, and in the dive bag, as we wouldn’t have much time the next morning to get ready. It was just about time for dinner, so off to the MDR.

I do my best to give credit where credit is due. My choice for dinner came straight from one of our tablemates from a previous cruise on the Carnival Freedom last year. The featured appetizer was jerk chicken wings, and he ordered multiple servings of that as his appetizer and main course. Brilliant! I thought it was such a great idea that I did the same for the night’s dinner. Thank you, Brad! There are three wings per appetizer, so I just ordered six appetizers. Not missing a beat, our waiter said “And what would you like for your entrée?” I laughed and told him that just the six orders of wings would suffice for both my appetizer and entrée. I knew it would be extra work for our waiter to do this, and thanked him for doing so. He just smiled and said he was happy to do this. They brought me two plates at a time, and as I finished the second plate another two would appear shortly thereafter. They weren’t quite as good as the chicken we had at Scotchies, but they were still enjoyable.

Jerk chicken wings


In one of those rare confluences of events, all of us at the table ordered buttered pecan ice cream for dessert….all of us.

We knew that the next day would start early, like 6 am early, so we didn’t want to stay up too late. We decided to watch the Love & Marriage Show in the main theatre and call it a day after that. This show is like an adult version of The Newlywed Game, except R-rated. The Cruise Director (CD) who hosts the show, will pick the most recently wed couple, a couple who’s been married for about 10 years, and a couple who’s been married the longest. Our couples tonight were married just a few days, 15 years, and 62 years.

Just before the show started, we heard an announcement over the PA that the ship was stopping to render aid to a vessel in distress. This is actually a requirement under international maritime law to do so. We found out later from the CD that the ship rescued two Jamaican fishermen who’d been adrift for 5 days! Good for you, Carnival.

The show as hilarious, as usual, and each couple was surprisingly candid with their answers…….VERY candid at times! And the biggest reason that those under 18 aren’t allowed in the theatre. As soon as the show was over we went straight to our cabin and crawled into bed.


Next up, I’ll regale you with tales of scuba diving adventures in Grand Cayman!