We boarded the MSC Divina in Miami to embark on a 17-day Cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. Nathan and Rachel found the cruise, and booked it, and Tera and I decided that it would be a great opportunity to travel with them, so we joined it as well. Our ports would be in the Caribbean, Madeira, Casablanca and Barcelona, with lots of days at sea. We were excited to be cruising again, especially given the opportunity to travel with Nathan and Rachel.
1. A last-minute temple trip in Puerto Rico
2. Scuba Diving in St. Maarten
3. Canyoneering in Martinique
4. Church attendance in Barbados
1. Denied hiking in Puerto Rico
2. A crazy car ride in Martenique
3. Lousy internet service
1. A last-minute temple trip in Puerto Rico - We disembarked in Puerto Rico with a car rental plan and plans to hike in the El Yunque National Forest. But we saw a group of church-clothed persons on the pier who had also descended from the ship, and Tera discovered that they were headed to the San Juan Temple to do baptisms for the dead. They invited us along, and how could we say no to that! So we had an unplanned trip to the temple, and it was wonderful.
2. Scuba Diving in St. Maarten - We did a couple great dives here, with an old cargo ship wreck, which included some swim throughs (I love swim-throughs) and resident turtles, and then a reef which included some old anchors and cannons from the 1700's and an majestic eagle ray what kept us good company. After the dive, we headed to the beach for some great swimming and lounging.
3. Canyoneering in Martinique - We did a fantastic canyoneering trek, with waterfall repelling, and cliffs jumping and all-around good time jungle trekking. It was Rachel's first time rappelling, and everything was top-notch.
4. Church attendance in Barbados - We had a lovely visit to the church in Barbados. It continues to be a wonderful experience to attend church in so many countries of the world. Afterwards, we walked back to the ship, passing by beaches and Rihanna neighborhoods. I continued on my city trek alone to see more of the city, while the kids and Tera returned to the ship for the afternoon.
1. Denied hiking in Puerto Rico - It turns out that El Yunque limits the drivers into the park, and we needed reservations to go to our intended hike. We changed plans to go to a waterfall and swimming hole instead, which was still awesome.
2. A crazy car ride in Martenique - We rented just a 4 seater car in Martenique, but brought Nathan and Rachel along for the ride to travel to our Canyoning meet-up, and took the long route, and got stuck in traffic, and had a very crowded ride for about 90 minutes. In hindsight, it was a bad idea to take on long road.
3. Lousy internet service - I've been on cruises enough to know that the internet can really be slow. I've come to expect it. But the service on the Divina, across the Atlantic was deplorably slow, with much of the time an inability to even log-in to the sites I needed. Luckily email always worked, but almost everything else was hit or miss, with an emphasis on MISS! I think the biggest bummer is that one is paying top-dollar for a "browse and stream" service, that simply isn't.
Monday May 15 - We boarded the MSC Divina and set sail from Miami
Tuesday/Wednesday May 16-17 - at sea
Thursday May 18: San Juan, Puerto Rico – We disembarked from the ship and found a group of very Latter-day Saint looking cruise guests congregated on the pier. We discovered that they were going to the San Juan temple for baptisms, and so we decided to join them. It was a wonderful morning at the teeny-tiny Puerto Rico temple. Then we drove to the El Yunque National park, and found that we needed reservations to venture into the park where we wanted to do our hike. So we spent time in and around the visitor center and took a nature walk through the jungle, and drove to an open site where we could hike down to the river for bathing and swimming, then returned to the ship.
Friday May 19: Phillipsburg. St Maarten – We walked to the nearby port scuba shop and took a wonderful morning 2-tank dive to a wreck and a great reef, seeing sharks and turtles and a majestic eagle ray and pristine coral and a swim-through wreck, and the smallest underwater found “nematode???” I’ve ever seen, a sand rays, and barracuda, and the remains of an old 1800’s wreck with cannon and 3 massive anchors encrusted with 150 year’s worth of underwater life.
Saturday May 20: Fort de France, Martenique – We rented a car much too small for six persons, and decided to drive the long way around to our canyoneering meet-up point. It was a squished drive for the 4 kids in the back. And the drive wasn’t all that exciting and we got caught in 45 delay traffic at the northern city. We finally made it to our canyon, and got full-body wet-suited up, and had an amazing and terrific time rappelling down waterfalls and canyons and jumping into pools and entering waterfall hidden caves. It was a fantastic day.
Sunday May 21: Bridgetown, Barbados – We took a cab to the church (finally finding one, after no one off the port would give us a price for the short trip), a really nice, large and active branch of about 40 people. We stayed both hours then walked to the beach, and to the Rihanna street, and returned to the boat. Tera and the kids went back aboard, and I continued on my walk to the old town and to another hotel resort and beach, I grabbed a taxi for a short part of it, and walked the rest of the way.