Exclusive Martha Stewart & MSC Cruises Excursions

Martha Stewart and MSC Cruises Discover Hidden Gems
Martha Stewart and MSC Cruises Discover Hidden Gems

Each Caribbean island has a unique story to tell and the best way to tell it is through the eyes of a local.
 
In an exclusive partnership with MSC Cruises, Martha Stewart’s new excursions go a step above the ordinary, taking you on an authentic journey of the islands to discover their hidden gems. Here, adventurous explorers will learn from experts how each island’s rich local history, geography and traditions inspire their cuisine, art and landmarks.
 
Whether participating in a hands-on cooking class, tasting authentic dishes in a local restaurant, discovering waterfalls and secluded coves, or exploring botanic gardens and organic farms, you won’t want to miss these true-to-life specialty excursions that reveal, in Martha Stewart fashion, the real flavors of the islands.  

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands)

St. John Hike to Waterlemon Cay & Snorkel Trip

Departing the port, you’ll meet your guide and be immediately transported by open-air safari bus, called the Cadillacs of the Caribbean, to Red Hook Bay on the eastern end of St. Thomas in time to catch the 20-minute ferry journey to St. John. Arriving in Cruz Bay, St. John, you’ll walk to Hercules Paté Delight, a simple restaurant known for its traditional fried patés, that sell out first thing in the morning. If you snooze, you lose. Snack on your paté, filled with chicken, beef, saltfish or seasonal conch. Next, after a quick stop at the National Park headquarters (the last chance to use proper restroom facilities before the hike), you’ll embark in an open-air safari bus into Virgin Islands National Park, stopping as you pass the stunning North Shore overlooks of Cruz Bay and its harbor, Caneel Bay, Hawksnest Beach and Trunk Bay. Hiking is a beloved pastime on St. John, with more than 20 hiking trails within its national park. Arriving at the start of the hiking trail at Leinster Bay, you’ll follow the rocky-coral shoreline about 15 minutes around the bend into a secluded cove with a stunning view of remote Waterlemon Cay, surrounded by its fringing reef. Hiking back to the start of the trail, you’ll ascend to Annaberg sugar plantation ruins for a quick tour and beautiful views of the bay below. Now, drive over to Maho Bay for a swim and snorkel in crystalline blue waters teeming with a diversity of marine life, from endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles to stingrays. Back in Cruz Bay, you’ll be delighted at De’ Coal Pot restaurant by traditional West Indian dishes such as oxtail stew, stew chicken, butter-sauce fish, curried goat and rice, as you learn from proprietor Norma Herman and her staff about the island’s traditional coal-pot cooking techniques. After lunch, you’ll ferry back to St. Thomas enjoying the picturesque journey, before heading back to port in Charlotte Amalie.


Please note: Guests should wear swimsuits (no change facilities), comfortable flat hiking shoes/reef-walkers adept for rocky trails and getting wet. Bring towels, cameras and cash for souvenirs and/or additional food and drink not included in the price of the tour. On booking, guests must indicate their snorkeling fin sizes. Guests will be provided with snorkel equipment in a mesh bag that must be carried from the start of the hike. No substitutions or specialized diets can be accommodated. Please advise of any food allergies. Menu subject to change. Guides will determine the best snorkeling spot along the hiking route daily, accounting for safety, weather and water conditions.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 25
Duration: 7.5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous 

Adult: $199 

Child: $179  
Available on: MSC Seaside

Lunch Included

Code: STO47

Costa Maya, Mexico

Bacalar Lagoon Kayaking & Pineapple Farm

Flanked on either side by dense jungle and coastal mangroves, your journey begins in Costa Maya with a 50-minute air-conditioned ride inland through rural Yucatán Peninsula to the remote eco-reserve Uch Ben Kah Jungle Retreat, where, after a safety briefing, you’ll begin a guided kayaking adventure for approximately 1 hour along the northern tip of the 26-mile-long by 1-mile-wide Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the Lake of Seven Colors for its many shades of blue and water so clear you can see the lake’s sparkling limestone bottom. Like most bodies of fresh water in the Yucatán Peninsula, underground rivers and cenotes — worshipped by the Mayans — feed the lagoon, which is abundant with waterlilies and wildlife, making it a perfect spot for bird-watching enthusiasts. Returning your kayaks, you’ll have approximately 1 hour of free time to kick back and relax. Dip in the lagoon, bask in the sunshine, sample a selection of snacks, sip an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink from the bar and enjoy the harmony of nature and beauty at Costa Maya’s tropical paradise. Next up is a real highlight of Mexican culture. After a short drive to the village of Pedro Antonio Santos, you’ll arrive at Chu’Huk Pineapple Plantation, an organic co-op run by 10 local Mayan families. In this farm-to-table experience, you’ll take a guided walk through the plantation where you’ll learn how pineapples grow, taste fresh pineapple, drink pineapple juice and sit down for a hearty Mexican lunch of authentic dishes served family style, including shrimp ceviche, chicken fajitas, tortillas and rice and beans. After lunch, you’ll head back to port, stopping briefly at the roadside fruit stands in Pedro Antonio Santos to support local farmers. Here, you’ll get a chance to purchase fresh pineapple and other local seasonal fruits and jams.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 20
Duration: 5.5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Adult: $129, Max. Age 65

Child: $116, Age 10+
Available on: MSC Seaside, MSC Armonia

Lunch Included

Code: CMY47

Cozumel, Mexico

The Perfect Margarita Mixology Session

Learning to make the perfect margarita starts at the source — tequila. But before you get to tequila tasting and margarita making, your tour will start at Cozumel’s bustling farmers market in the heart of the city, where you’ll meet with poultry farmers, fishermen and spice vendors, taste 2 tacos from the market’s local food stands and pick 2 fresh fruits from the produce stalls for your cocktail concoctions later in the day. From here, you’ll be transported to El Cedral, a sleepy yet quaint Mayan village that was once the capital of Cozumel and is home to the oldest Mayan ruins on the island, circa 800 A.D. Spanish Conquistadors arrived in 1518, tearing down much of the temple and building a Catholic church beside it, the oldest one on the island. Walking through the center of the village, you’ll arrive at La Casita, the oldest house in Cozumel and a historically protected property that showcases Mexican traditions and costumes. After a tour of the charming property and its garden, which includes the sacred ceiba tree and numerous fruit trees, free-range chickens and turkeys, you’ll settle down in the courtyard for a tasting of 3 fine tequilas (silver, aged and extra-aged), learning how tequila is made from the agave plant and the folklore surrounding the national drink. Meanwhile, a Mayan descendant will prepare traditional homemade tortillas with 3 fresh salsas to pair with your tasting, which will also include Yucatecan snacks codzitos and tamales. Leaving El Cedral, you’ll be transported to the Mayan Cacao Company, where after a brief tour and cacao demonstration, your chocolate making and margarita mixology class will begin in the site’s private kitchen. Blenders and grinding stones at the ready, you’ll learn to make your own chocolate bar before moving on to 3 margarita cocktails — a chocolate margarita, a seasonal fruit margarita and a traditional lemon margarita. Saving the best for last, you can now kick back and enjoy all the decadence.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 12
Duration: 5.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Adult: $115

Child: $103 
Available on: MSC Seaside, MSC Armonia

Code: COZAF

George Town, Cayman Islands

Swimming Horses of Cayman Experience

Arriving in George Town, you’ll be transported to the northern tip of West Bay, where owner Noland Stewart of Coral Stone Stables will share with you his passion for riding that all began when he was a young boy before growing into his stables of 19 horses and breeding program on the island. After a safety briefing, you’ll begin your 1.5-hour guided horseback adventure along the beach at Barker’s National Park, one of the most important ecosystems on Grand Cayman. Here, you’ll embark along the unspoiled shoreline, taking in the stunning views and spotting stingrays in the shallows. Now, hold on as your horse plunges all the way into the azure Caribbean for a refreshing bareback swim in what promises to be an unforgettable experience. After the horseback ride, you’ll be transported for lunch to Vivo, a restaurant located a 10-minute drive from Barker’s beach. Here, Italian owner Michele “Miki” Zama, who is passionate about organic, locally sourced farm produce, will energize you with ways to eat well. Vivo will serve a seasonal vegan tasting menu that may include organic red beetroot hummus, guacamole-topped black quinoa with sweet potato bites, homemade falafel with vegan tzatziki sauce, and more. Heading back to port, you’ll take a scenic drive past local cottages, Seven Mile Beach and the Governor's Residence, as your guide shares with you the history of Grand Cayman.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 12
Duration: 4.5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Adult: $169 

Child: $152, Age 5+
Available on: MSC Seaside, MSC Armonia

Lunch Included

Code: GCA69

Nassau, Bahamas

Bush Medicine Gardens & Tea Tour

Bush medicine is a tradition African slaves brought with them when they came here, and today there are almost 100 plants found in Nassau that can be used for medical treatment. True Bahamians all have stories of their parents and grandparents running out to the back yard to pick plants to boil into tea as cure-alls anytime a family member had a serious ailment or a common cold. Start the morning with a guided walk at the 11-acre Retreat Gardens, a property that was once the home of Arthur and Margaret Langlois, and is now a national park managed by the Bahamas National Trust. As you walk through the coppice forest, you’ll learn which indigenous plants are often used for medicinal purposes, from aloe vera, guinep, pigeon plum and lignum vitae to mahogany and satinleaf. From here, you’ll be transported to the lavish Graycliff Hotel, a historic landmark that since 1740 has housed pirates, privateers and prisoners alike, as well as lords and ladies. In Graycliff Restaurant, you’ll enjoy traditional afternoon tea, as you sip herbal bush teas and dine on delicate pastries and finger sandwiches. Before returning to port, you’ll stop at Tasty Teas, a local bush tea company run by a Bahamian mother-and-son team, where you can purchase a selection of indigenous teas that Bahamians believe can improve everything from memory loss, arthritis and high blood pressure, to jump-starting one’s libido.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 30
Duration: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Adult: $119 

Child: $107
Available on: MSC Seaside

Code: NAS31

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Konoko Falls & Murphy Hill Farm Tour

Experience Jamaica’s nature at its fullest on this waterfall hike and gastronomic farm tour. Wear your swimsuit and bring a towel. Upon arrival at Konoko Falls & Gardens, you’ll be guided through river gardens with streams tumbling into gentle waterfalls, as you hike 30 minutes up the limestone rock formation from the base of the 600-foot falls that stem from the Milford River, which feeds 2-million gallons of water a day to Ocho Rios. Continuing through Konoko’s botanical gardens and zoo, you’ll be introduced to a wide array of endemic animals and tropical plants with different aromas emanating from sinuously shaped flowers of various colors. Yssasi Lookout Point offers a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Ocho Rios and the bay below, including the ship at port, while Konoko’s on-site museum traces the history and culture of Jamaica’s original inhabitants, the Taino Indians. After leaving Konoko Falls, a scenic 30-minute drive through the countryside and hills of Claremont brings you to Murphy Hill Farm, the latest passion of owner Anna-Kay Tomlinson, the well-regarded Jamaican chef and owner of Miss T’s Kitchen Restaurant in Ocho Rios.  “This is me,” she says, eyeing the fields of cabbage and carrots and pointing to where the Scotch bonnet peppers and scallions will be planted. The idyllic farm setting, located some 1,800-feet above sea level at the highest point above Ocho Rios, offers spectacular views of the town and Caribbean below. In this farm-to-table experience, guests will walk through gardens, reaping a variety of organic seasonal vegetables and herbs that will be used to prepare a sumptuous buffet lunch cooked in the farm’s open kitchen and restaurant. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, some of Miss T’s dishes should do the trick, such as jerk chicken pasta with sundried tomatoes and crispy cassava sticks; crispy panko-crusted fish fillet in a coconut sauce served with peas and rice; smoked goat with local curries; and escovitch ackee with pickled onions, carrots, Scotch bonnet peppers, pimento and coconut-steamed bammy. With your belly full of authentic Jamaican cuisine, you’ll begin the journey downhill back to port.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 20
Duration: 5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate 
Adult: $115

Child: $103
Available on: MSC Seaside

Lunch Included

Code: OCH55

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Flavors of St. Maarten Culinary Course

One island, two faces: French and Dutch, which changed borders 16 times between 1816 and 1948, making a mark on both cultural and culinary traditions. Spend the day on the Dutch side of the island, starting with a history lesson on St. Maarten at the Emilio Wilson Museum and the restored sugar plantation at Rockland Estate, built in the 1700s. The museum tells the powerful story of Trace Wilson, who was born into slavery on the property in 1818, and her direct descendant Emilio Wilson. You will see depictions of what life was like on a plantation and learn about the customs, traditions, lifestyle and stories that earned St. Maarten the nickname “The Friendly Island.” From here, you’ll take a guided nature hike on the estate’s trail of indigenous plants, learning about native species like the calabash and frangipani tree and the folklore surrounding the albizia lebbeck, known as woman’s tongue. You’ll now be guided to Emilio’s restaurant, the plantation’s former boiler room, where you’ll have a refreshing fruit punch after your hike. Emilio’s chef will greet you in the restaurant’s kitchen before taking you on a culinary journey in the restaurant’s private wine cellar, the largest on the Dutch side of the island. In an exclusive cooking demonstration, Emilio’s chef will prepare a local creole-style red snapper or the catch of the day, as you help him make the sauce and prepare your own johnnycake, a simple staple on the island that features as a traditional side to most dishes. While waiting for the dough to rise, you’ll ride up the Soualiga Sky Explorer to the top of Sentry Hill. At 1,125 feet up, one of the highest points on the island, you’ll get extraordinary 360° views of St. Maarten and the surrounding islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Anguilla and Nevis. Up on the viewing deck’s private bar, Emilio’s bartender will introduce you to Ti Rum, a white rhum agricole concoction originating on the French side of the island and designed for slow sipping. Back at Emilio’s, you will roll and fry out your johnnycake, then head upstairs to the restaurant’s outdoor terrace to enjoy your meal, paired with a glass of Matua Sauvignon Blanc, followed by a dessert of Dutch stroopwafel with a shot of local guavaberry rum, as you enjoy views of the estate before heading back to port.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 12
Duration: 5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Adult: $129

Child: $116, Age 12+
Available on: MSC Seaside

Lunch Included

Code: SMT95

Roatán Island, Honduras

Exploring Roatán's Fishing Villages

The largest, most populated of the six Bay Islands, Roatán is considered the jewel of the Western Caribbean, famed for its barrier reef, diving and fishing cultures, coupled with its breathtaking hills and lush tropical landscapes. Leaving port at Coxen Hole, you’ll head off-the-beaten track to the east side of the island to the picturesque fishing villages of Punta Gorda, on the northern coast, and Oak Ridge, on the southern. Punta Gorda is home to about 150 families of local Garifuna people, the descendants of African slaves who arrived in Roatán from St. Vincent in 1797, after being exiled by the British following a quashed rebellion. In Punta Gorda, a Garifuna guide and a local fisherman will give an in-depth fishing demonstration, while a cook fries up the catch of the day and lets you sample the fresh fish. Over on the southern coast, boarding a traditional cayuco boat at the landing docks at B.J.’s Backyard Restaurant, you’ll get an up-close view of Oak Ridge, known as the Venice of Roatán, as the village is only accessible by boat. Passing Oak Ridge’s brightly painted wooden houses on stilts, you’ll learn how this sleepy seaside village, once inhabited by pirates, is home to family-owned fishing companies that remain the second biggest industry on the island. Your guided cayuco journey will continue through majestic mangrove tunnels toward neighboring Jonesville before your cayuco docks for lunch at Hole in the Wall restaurant, a true local hangout and boater’s respite that brings out your inner pirate. At Hole in the Wall, you’ll be treated to a traditional Honduran seafood platter served with rice and beans, vegetables and fried plantains. For those ready for something with a bit more punch, a cash bar is available. End the day on land, as you travel back to the port.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 25
Duration: 5 hours 
Difficulty: Easy
Adult: $119

Child: $107
Available on: MSC Armonia

Lunch Included

Code: ROA27

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Savor San Juan's Culinary Delights

Experience a slice of Puerto Rican paradise through this guided food and culture walking tour of Old San Juan, where you’ll stop at 5 destinations along the route of the fortified colonial city to taste local cuisine and drinks. Leaving the port, you’ll pass Plaza Dársenas, uphill to Calle del Cristo through the historic center, where you’ll pass the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, before arriving at the historic El Convento Hotel, a former convent turned boutique hotel. Here, in El Convento’s romantic interior courtyard, you’ll try a refreshing cocktail and traditional Puerto Rican fritter. Next, you’ll wind through Plaza de Armas, and past City Hall, as you make your way toward Chocobar Cortés, a chocolatier that’s been run by the Cortés family for four generations, since 1929. Delight in the chocolatier’s specialty of dark chocolate squares on cheddar cheese, churros dipped in chocolate and Puerto Rican coffee infused with chocolate. Digesting this, you’ll head upstairs to explore exhibits in the family’s art gallery run by its non-profit Fundación Casa Cortés, whose mission promotes Caribbean art and culture in the region through education. The foundation’s post-Hurricane Maria efforts, which turned its gallery into a school for 105 local children and teachers for 3 months following the devastation, have been heralded throughout Puerto Rico. Leaving Calle San Francisco, you’ll head to Lounge Cultura, a private 19th-century 3-story home turned culinary school on Calle Tanca. Here, you’ll take part in a hands-on experience making “mofongo” with cassava and stewed chicken using a mortar and pestle, and learn to shake a traditional Puerto Rican passion cocktail. With more than 80% of the world’s rum coming from Puerto Rico, no tour would be complete without a piña colada, the national drink of Puerto Rico that originated in San Juan. On this note, you’ll end the night with a quick stop for dessert at Señor Paleta, where you’ll enjoy a refreshing artisanal gelato or sorbet paleta, before heading to La Casita de Rones, the official bar and distributor of Rums of Puerto Rico. Here, you’ll get a history tour of the protected landmark building, a lesson on Puerto Rican rum, including Don Q and Barrilito, and learn how to make the fruity cocktail. As this last stop is in Plaza Dársenas, near the port, guests can either follow guides back to the ship or linger longer on their own at La Casita, enjoying its rum selection, outdoor terrace and view of the port.

 
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Maximum Number of Guests: 21
Duration: 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Adult: $135

Child: $121
Available on: MSC Seaside

Code: SJU42