Tales of the High Seas: Voyage on the MSC Seashore
November 18, 2022
Once again, I was up bright and early. I went to the pool deck to take pictures of the Dominican Republic. I saw that we were docked and roped off. I realized I needed to be one of the first off the ship because I did not want to miss my independently booked excursion. I had originally tired to book it through the cruise line, but the excursion was all booked up and not available a few weeks out of our sailing. I engaged an independent outfitter through a reliable source and that worked out. I went to the exit and just as I got there a family started a line. These passengers on the MSC Seashore do NOT understand the concept of queuing behavior. They clogged up deck 5 hoping to jump ahead of others. There was a delay in getting the port to approve of disembarkation. Once we got the approval, I was like the first 10 people not from the Yacht Club that was off that ship. I had excellent instructions to find my group. I was so early I thought it was safe to visit the toilet at the Taino Bay open air Welcome Center. I bet I beat my group guide. But I found him due to being alerted to what he would be wearing by the outfit sending me an email prior to my departure. Five women from Minnesota, two more, and me all waited aboard our air-conditioned van. We waited about 20 minutes for two more members of our group. They eventually did show. They were a couple from Brussels. Remember, the ship holds about five thousand passengers. It takes time to get folks off the ship, so that explains the wait.
Our guide was the self-proclaimed Alexander the Great, and he dubbed us “the Great group”. Bucking tradition, our driver Jordan, did not have a nickname. Alexander was very informative as we took about a thirty-minute drive to the Saltos de Damajuaga (27 Charcos de Damajuaga). I learned much about the Dominican Republic and it was easy to learn through Alexander’s great humor. I took very little with me on this excursion. Just me and my GoPro.
Once we got there, I was outfitted with a helmet and a life vest. Our group joined another group or two. We made our way through the Dominican jungle. It was warm (85°F/29.44°C) and fairly humid. We were marching our way through a clear path to eventually stop at a station where a guy was carving stone and painting objects to make items perfect for your home décor. Afterwards, we trekked through the jungle. Sometimes we were at an incline, other times it was level. When we were outfitted with vest and helmet they gave us all ½ a litre of water. We needed it to replenish our water that our body was perspiring. As we journeyed on we spotted what Alexander referred to as a Dominican zebra (donkey). On our way to 27 Charcos we were introduced to horses, donkeys, and banana plantation farms. After the donkey, we crossed the Golden Gate bridge of the DR. We learned that the Dominican Republic has not had rain so the water levels were too low and we could only experience seven of the jumps. We were able to either jump, slide down the wet water rock, or climb down a ladder. The key to this excursion is it requires you to have zero skill. It is all about conquering your fear. This definitely was pushing my comfort level. That is what action and adventure travel is about. It is all about pushing your limits and we all have different limits. This, I was ok with; jumping off for a solo sky dive would be beyond my tolerance level.
Not only did I leap off a ledge into a deep pool of natural water, but I slid down a number of rock formations into a deep pool of water. Someone warned me I was about to jump from the highest point. I would have been better off not knowing. My guide said “ok – jump!” It took a few seconds to screw up my courage and then I was plummeting down to the cool waters of the Dominican Republic. I was like a human pin with arms at my side because who wants to have the rocks create a Dominican tatoo? No ink job for me, thank you. It felt like I was a human canon ball. Splat! Splash! I definitely needed to swim despite the buoyant life vest. Meanwhile, my suggestion is to purchase a photo package. You have one of their photographers’ taking oodles of pictures and video all for $45/ party. I was conserving my money, so I used my GoPro. We shall see.
After jumping for the first time, I wanted to do it again! I had six other jumps to get to do it again! I would get my wish. The scenery of the rocks and the jungle was unbelievable – so many sights to take in. It was breathtaking. I would estimate our trek to the first jump including rest breaks was one and a half hours. A pet peeve of mine is folx who move slow. This crowd was moving slowly. I could have done the whole trek in a half hour. Several times I got stuck behind someone who was struggling. The paths were narrow and only allowed one person at a time.
The whole time Alexander would be shouting out to the photographers, “Primo, primo, photo!” Possibly, an Indian adventurer was named, Primo. I don’t know. But Alexander and I both found it amusing. Another repeating joke is when asked “How much longer?” Alexander’s answer was always five minutes. But that’s five Dominican minutes and we are on island time so we might stop for people to rest, and we would start again in five minutes (translation twenty minutes). They designed this trek to be accessible to people of all fitness levels. I was among the fittest. Alexander named me one of his goats. In fact, he noted me chuckling when he spoke to colleagues in Spanish. Sometimes, I could get the gist, even though I do not speak Spanish. He asked if I had been to the waterfalls before and if I was Dominican. Dominican’s have all shades of brown and by this point I was gaining a nice healthy tan. He told me about the greatest export from the Dominican Republic were baseball players. I have gotten significantly tan over the three weeks and this plus my chuckling made him believe I might be Dominican.
We then finished our final jump/slide and went on to trek on to where we started. My bladder was being insistent. I couldn’t wait to use the facilities at the very beginning. I was able to hold it the whole time. I turned in my equipment, went to take care of business, and followed Alexander to the van. At the van we got to enjoy a delicious rum punch. It tasted like a tropical juice mix. The merengue was pumping through the streets of the Dominican Republic in the van.
Alexander added a mini stop to a grocery mini mart by the roadside and pointed out how the Dominican Republic economy runs. More rum punch! We climbed bac aboard the van and traveled maybe sixteen kilometers more to our drop off. Onboard time was 5:30 pm. We had over an hour. Approximately, 11:30 – 4:00 pm was designated for the excursion. I did not expect to fall in love with this excursion. It was the BEST SHORE EXCURSION ever! I forgot to bring cash with me, but I had a few Euro notes on me and I gave Alexander that. This was worth every penny I paid.
I had encountered the group of five from Minnesota as all were waiting to embark onto the ship on day one. The six of us explored Taino Bay our docking port of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. They wanted to explore most stores. All six of us explored a number of attractive stores. I probably would have enjoyed it more, but my interest was more about relieving my bladder at the Welcome Center. The facilities were exceptionally clean and there were plenty of urinals/stalls. I managed to get back on board the ship at 4:30 pm. I noticed there were free rickshaws available, but I prefer going on my own steam.
Dinner at Tribeca was at 6:15 pm. The theme was a French dinner. I ordered a pear and goat cheese salad. My main was a dish cooked similar to chicken coq au vin which was too dry but rescued by the sauce. Somehow, I had two plates of grandma’s fudge cake with vanilla sauce. On this evening I had a new table mate. I thought I was talkative. Boy! She took the cake and monopolized the conversation at the dinner table. She was quite nice, but the others were barely able to squeeze a word in edgewise. Overall, the meal was ok. After dinner, I enjoyed the main theater show, “Coast to Coast”. It was a song and dance show, primarily. I had a long day, and I was a bit tired. I found myself nodding off in the middle of the show. Was that due to the show or due to me?
NEXT: Water slides and a Mexican Cantina