TRAVELERS’ INSIDE SCOOP
SACRED SITES – LAND OF BOUNTIFUL
“Book of Mormon Symposium at Sea”

by Brian Mickelsen, President, MeridianTrips.com
Contributing Editor, Kristin Holt

Editor’s Note: Check out all of Meridian’s guided tours at www.meridiantrips.com. For information on the cruise with Blake Allen and Chris Heimerdinger click here.

“Don’t just travel.  Journey with a purpose.”

MeridianTrips.com  and Book of Mormon Tours invite you to experience a cruise through Mexico, the Panama Canal, and the Western Caribbean that will enhance your understanding of  the Book of Mormon while you explore an ancient world, escorted by two noted LDS speakers Chris Heimerdinger and Blake Allen.  A guided shore excursion to the ruins of Dzibanche will give you the opportunity to experience–firsthand-a site from the Book of Mormon time period that has been suggested by some scholars as a possible site of Christ’s visit to the Americas (the land Bountiful) following His resurrection.



Royal Caribbean’s magnificent vessel, Splendour of the Seas, offers luxurious amenities, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and a majestic seven-story lobby.  A stunning Crystal Canopy admits the sunlight by day, and closes at night to create a magical effect–just like dancing beneath the stars.  Top that off with fine dining, excellent entertainment, the opportunity to rest or seek excitement–whatever suits your mood!  When it comes to comfortable, luxurious travel for the whole family, there’s nothing like cruising. Splendour of the Seas sails from Galveston on the seventh of  February, 2004, to destinations in Mexico, Central America (including the Panama Canal), and the Western Caribbean.  Eleven nights on this impressive ship.

Six exciting ports of call.  A chance to rest, dine, recreate, and see the world.  All for the exceptional price of $1199 per person. What could make this vacation even more appealing?  For Latter-day Saints, it would be to add inspirational and educational lectures from those who can give insights on the Book of Mormon-making this a symposium at sea.

Chris Heimerdinger (Best-selling LDS author of numerous titles, including the Tennis Shoes Among The Nephites series and Passage to Zarahemla), will speak to Meridian Travel guests aboard the ship.  Among his talks, “The Name That Matters Most,” is a rare opportunity to hear Chris share personal experiences that shaped his career as a writer.  His thought-provoking message personally helped me, with other members of the Church, to make my own choices concerning entertainment.  Chris made a personal commitment to celebrate the truths and values of the gospel of Jesus Christ in his creative works.  This admirable standard is evident in his talks as well as in his delightful  novels.

In addition, Blake Allen, of Allen’s Book of Mormon Tours, will provide several presentations aboard ship, covering the archaeology and historical findings about the region of Dzibanche.  This subject is of special significance to this trip, as these ancient ruins are not far from where Cozumel stands today.  Some consider this area a major candidate for the city Bountiful, where Christ appeared to the Nephites.

These two special guests will not just enhance your overall experience, but transform it, fascinating and uplifting you with ideas of special significance to Latter-day Saints. 

Interspersed amidst your eleven-night cruise, in comfortable accommodations, are six ports of call, each with unique and appealing attractions.

Enjoy a full day ashore on Mexico’s largest island, Cozumel. The 28  by 10 mile island is world renowned for its dazzling white beaches and the remarkable clarity of the multi-hued azure Caribbean Ocean that laps its shores.  It’s no great surprise Jacques Cousteau declared it to be one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas of the world.  You needn’t be a diver to enjoy the tropical fish–try snorkling!  For the less-adventurous, glass-bottom boat tours offer a view of marine life.

The much-anticipated Sacred Sites Land Tour ($299 per person, but so worth it!) will begin its two-day, one-night guided expedition from Cozumel. Our Book of Mormon Tours escort, Blake Allen, will provide valuable instruction and insights.  He will impart an understanding of the history, archaeological findings, and scriptural references that support this locale as a major candidate for the site of the Land Bountiful.

Together, we’ll visit the magnificent pyramid of this ancient civilization from the Book of  Mormon period and enjoy the peace of the surrounding jungle woodland. This is a remarkable opportunity to encounter first-hand the sacred geography, history, and culture of the Book of Mormon.  Allen’s tours to the lands of the Book of Mormon are based on more than 30 years experience and over 250 escorted tours to Mesoamerica.  You will personally visit important sites and study them in a way that will bring the Book of Mormon to life.

In addition to the instructions from our guide, the tour includes comfortable travel by air-conditioned coach, hot meals, and overnight hotel accommodations.  Interested in something more than a regular hotel?  You might choose to lodge in modern grass huts in the jungle!

At the conclusion of this unforgettable experience, guests will rejoin the cruise in Belize City, Belize. Numerous early 19th-Century Belize City buildings and churches display well-preserved colonial architecture.  Visitors may opt to take an historical tour of the city, with stops at St. John’s Cathedral, Government House, The Lighthouse monument at Fort George Point, Museum of Belize, and historic Yarborough Cemetery. The final stop on this city’s tour is the Belize Tourism Village, located on the Belize River mouth, about 15 minutes away from cruise ship anchorage.

 Specifically designed to cater to cruise lines, the Village has courtyards and terminals that offer many comfort amenities, access to various tours, and shopping.  Keep your eyes open for beautiful carvings made from zericote, a two-toned wood found only in Belize.
Would you like more information? http://www.travelbelize.org/bc.html is a helpful resource.

Upon leaving Belize’s port, this voyage through the lands of The Book of  Mormon will continue through Central America, culminating in a daylight passage through the Panama Canal.  This awe-inspiring manmade structure provides easy access (and a remarkable view!) of prime rainforests.

The Panama Canal–controversial, revolutionary, amazing-took 250,000 people from all corners of the globe more than 10 years to build. Today, it stands as a monument of mankind’s ingenuity and power of conviction.

As Splendour of the Seas enters the canal, passengers will witness the Gatun Locks in operation–an early 20th Century engineering marvel. It’s astounding to watch the series of giant water stairways raise ships up and over the continental divide, without the use of pumps.  Water moves by gravity, flowing from one level to another.  When the water level in one chamber equals that of the forward chamber, the gates between them are opened, and the ship is towed forward by mules (a.k.a. towing locomotives).

After passing through the Gatun Locks, the ship will cruise into Gatun Lake, within the Isthmus of Panama.  This is a sight to behold! Passengers line the decks, ice cream and cold drinks in hand, for up-close views of the scenery and mechanisms at work.

For additional information about the Panama Canal, visit http://www.pancanal.com

Once the vessel completes its cruise in the canal, you’ll have a chance to go ashore in Panama, at Port of Cristobal. The next stop in Central America is Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central America.  The country (no
larger than West Virginia) is full of volcanic mountains, lush valleys, and virgin tropical rainforests supporting a diverse mixture of plant and animal life.  While in port, be sure to sample the bounties:  mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and papayas.

Interesting shore excursions showcase Costa Rica’s national parks and awe-inspiring countryside.  There are numerous options visitors may choose to experience while in Puerto Limon (each of these are single day excursions): aerial tram tours, visit the capital city of San Jos, raft adventurous white water rapids, horseback tours, and six-wheel drive vehicle tours–just to name a few.

After a restful day at sea, the ship will port at George Town, Grand Cayman.  This magnificent island, kissed by sparkling, turquoise waters, is a dream come true for water sports enthusiasts.  You can snorkel with stingrays, go scuba diving, sail a catamaran, take in some sport fishing, or just mellow out along the powder-soft sand of the magnificent Seven Mile Beach.  

One more port will add dimension to your cruise through the sunny Caribbean.  Montego Bay, Jamaica, offers various onshore opportunities, including visits to historical great houses and working plantations, traveling to and hiking in Dunn’s River Falls (the number one side tour in all of cruising), snorkeling or scuba expeditions, and golf championship courses.  While you’re there, soak up the rays on miles and miles of white beaches.  For more in-depth information (including shopping and transportation), see Montego Bay’s tourism site

The return leg of the journey, through the clear, iridescent waters of the Western Caribbean, will conclude at Port Galveston, Texas. This is guaranteed to be a memorable, spiritually-meaningful trip, brimming with opportunities to experience the many beauties of the Caribbean and south Atlantic coast.  Meridian Trips invites you to contact us at www.meridiantrips.com or 1-888-537-8687 and reserve your cabin today.

Chris Heimerdinger

For over ten years Chris Heimerdinger has brought adventure and fantasy to LDS readers.  His first novel, Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, published in 1989, continues to thrill readers young and old and inspire a greater appreciation for the Book of Mormon. Chris resides in Riverton, Utah, with his wife, Beth, and their four
children, Steven Teancum, Christopher Ammon, Alyssa Sariah and Elizabeth Liahona Cecelia.

One of the goals of his books is to encourage the reader to turn to the scriptures.  As Chris has stated before, “I’m most grateful when readers tell me they went to the scriptures to see how much I got right.  Better yet if they linger there.”
Visit Chris’s website at www.cheimerdinger.com

Blake Allen

Blake J. Allen is Manager and Tour Administrator for Book of Mormon Tours.  He began his traveling days as a young boy of 10 years old when he had the opportunity to visit Mexico City with his father, Dr. Joseph L. Allen, founder of Book of Mormon Tours.  Dr. Allen was conducting research in the Museum of Anthropology for his doctoral dissertation on the White God, Quetzalcoatl.  That was the beginning of an experience of a lifetime for the Allen family.  Blake spent many summers with his family traveling through the country of Mexico where he gained an appreciation and love for the Hispanic people, their culture and their history.

Blake served a mission in the Chile Santiago South Mission from 1979 to 1981.  When he returned home, he began helping in the tour business, which by this time had become a full-time job for his father.  Blake earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting at Southern Utah University with minors in both Business Administration and Spanish.  He has been taking tours to Mexico and Guatemala for 20 years.  He has a love of the Book of Mormon and enjoys being able to share those feelings with others.

Blake currently serves on the boards of the Centro Hispano and Tula Book of Mormon Archaeological Non-profits Foundations. He and his wife, Marion, live in Orem, Utah.  They have six children. You are invited to learn more about Allen’s Book of Mormon Tours at www.MeridianTrips.com

Hot Deal on a Family Cruise!

For a limited time, $299* buys a complete Caribbean seven-night voyage (both Western or Eastern) on Costa Cruise Lines (owned by Carnival Cruise Lines).Wow!  This is an unbelievably low price!  I’m certain we’ll never see anything like this come around again–especially with this much time to spare before our departure date.March is the perfect time of year to visit the Caribbean.  Leave melting snow and lingering winter yemperatures behind to bask in the tropical sunlight and warmth of the islands.  Enjoy this new ship’s delicious meals in a variety of exciting restaurants.  Expect superb entertainment aboard. Top off this fantastic opportunity with a price like this, and it’s every traveler’s dream vacation.


Interested in sailing with Blaine Yorgason and Merrill Jenson?

March 21st is the departure date for you!  Our March 28th departure features special guests Steven Kapp Perry and Marvin Payne. Don’t let this fantastic deal get away.  Contact MeridianTrips.com today, and make your reservation. *port charges $139, gov’t tax $64.  Prices are per person, based on double occupancy.


2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.