Any opinions I can get would be appreciated. Will be on the Carnival Miracle week of 6/4 doing the Exotic West. Carib and still haven't decided on what to do at each port. Help would be greatly appreciated.
1: Cozumel: Thinking about the Chankan(sp?)... Park but not sure if it will be open yet due to hurricane and if it is, maybe won't be back to its old self. If not there, than prob just will go to a beach...but which one is the question. Would like the cheapest one with lounges, umbrellas, rest rooms.
2: Costa Maya: Read about the new pier area they have and all that's there> Is it worth forfeiting a day at the beach for? What I read said the swimming was not good at that beach near the pier. (maybe can do both?)
3: Grand Cayman: want to spend the day at 7 mile beach but not sure where to go. Have hear many mixed opinions about different areas of that beach. Again would like least expensive nice beach with lounges and umbrellas and rest rooms.
4: Belize: Ok this port I'm sure I want to see WILDLIFE. Prob the Belize Zoo or Baboon Sanctuary. Any opinons? Plus has anyone used the Carnival ship tour to the zoo and how was it. Read that you should really book your tour with the ship at this port.[/b]
[i]Any opinions I can get would be appreciated. Will be on the Carnival Miracle week of 6/4 doing the Exotic West. Carib and still haven't decided on what to do at each port. Help would be greatly appreciated.[/i/
In Cozumel, the excursion to Tulum is fantastic. Be sure to bring a large bottle of water for each person in your party and to drink frequently while visiting the ruins to prevent dehydration. If you want something less ambitious, the Mayan ruins on the island are less extensive but much more significant, the island being sacred land in the Mayan religion.
On Grand Cayman, there are three very good options.
>> 1. Swimming with the stingrays at Stingray City consistently gets raves from those who do it, but there's probably a strong degree of self-selection involved since those who are sqeamish about swimming with slippery sea creatures don't go there.
>> 2. The "Sea and See" tour combines a harbor cruise in a semisubmersible craft, in which you sit "two across" in a compartment below the water line and look out through windows in the hull to see reefs, the wrecks of SS Callie and SS Balboa, and marine life, with a bus tour of the island's highlights -- George Town's financial district, the rock formation at Hell, the world's only sea turtle farm, and a photo stop at Seven Mile Beach.
>> 3. If you are a beach person, Grand Cayman's "Seven Mile Beach" (which really is actually "only" 5 1/2 miles long) is truly world class with glistening white sand and clear waters. It's an easy taxi ride from the tender pier in George Town.
George Town also has perhaps the best shopping in the Caribbean in a duty-free district located right across the street from the tender pier. The local shops have merchandise that's much better quality than what you find on most of the other islands and the prices are reasonable for the quality of the merchandise. Be sure to stop by the rum cake stand in the shopping district to sample their rum cakes, too. Their coconut rum cake is my favorite!
I don't know anything about either Costa Maya or Belize, so I won't speak from ignorance.
Oh how I envy you. We were on the 4/9 sailing and had a fantastic vacation. Here's what I would recommend:
Grand Cayman: We did the Swimming with Stingrays and Coral Reef Snorkeling. It was great! This was recommended by my brother-in-law and we are so glad we took his advice. You are in about 3 feet of warm, crystal clear water with the Stingrays. Your tour guide will get one for you to hold, feel, etc. You can feed them if you want (watch out for your fingers). Our guide even gave us a stingray back massage! The Coral Reef was amazing. We saw many colorful fish and one beautiful moray eel.
Cozumel: I agree with Rev22:17, Tulum is a wonder to see. It's my second favorite Mayan ruin (Chichen Itza is my first). You won't be disappointed. I would do the snorkeling but the park is still closed. The pier is destroyed. The hurricane damage is still quite visable.
Belize: Cave Tubing. This was the best of the best. We did the ship's excursion and had a blast! Many people hire outside companies but I can't see it getting much better than what we had. After a bus ride to the jungle you are given an inner tube and carry it on a 45 minute walk through the jungle. The time went by fast because it's such a beautiful walk. The time spent in the caves was a blast! The water depth is between 12 inches and 45 feet. Don't worry about falling out of your inner tube into the water, it's not a rough ride. After the cave system, it's another 25 minute ride down the river with the jungle on both sides of you. Need I say more? Afterwards, we were driven to a place where they had a Belize lunch for us. Beans and rice (their staple food, cooked in coconut milk, it's very tasty) and chicken (also very, very good). I've never seen my 15 year old son eat chicken to the bone. We got back 45 minutes past the last tender to the ship. No worries for us though, the tender waited because we were on a ship sponsored excursion.
Costa Maya: We did a Mayan ruin but would recommend Tulum over this one. We did this one because we had visited Tulum before. The people we met in Costa Maya were wonderful. The cruise director on the ship will have a half hour talk about the places you can see. I would recommend going (if you don't go you can see it on the ship's tv later).
I will be posting pictures soon. Let me know if you'd like to see some right away. Also, let me know if you have any questions about the ship, etc. It's only been 2 weeks so I remember everything well!
Renee - The better half of RobRen :-)
Carnival - Spirit: Alaska (August 8, 2007)
Carnival - Miracle: Exotic Western Caribbean (April 9, 2006)
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas: Eastern Caribbean (January 2005)
In Costa Maya if you want to go to a beach I would recommend the beach at Majahual (sp). Its about 2 miles from the port and you can get a taxi there for about $3. Its a really nice beach with restaurants and bars. They also offer snorkeling, parasailing, banana boat rides, waverunners, etc. right there. There really isn't a beach at the pier. Its a big shopping area, with restaurants and bars, and a pool.
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I have done the Belize zoo and loved it. But, keep in mind that "natural habitat" is taken a bit more literally in a 3rd world country. Have not done baboons, but folks who did seemed disappointed. P.S. Take insect repellant to the zoo!
Try this site for the X-Stream cave tubing trip....same as the cruiseline offered excursion...except better. We were transported in a van - 6 people total. We were able to go through an extra cave that the cruiseline excursion didnt do had the river all to ourselves until we ran into the larger group downriver. Excellent service...they even adjusted when our date in port changed because of a tropical storm....they were there and waiting. Plus the bonus of a less expensive trip.
Cozumel - Channunkaab National Park is supposed to be fully operational by the end of june. I would e-mail the board of tourism or cozumelinsider.com and ask. If you just want to beach it then i would suggest, Paradise, Playa del Sol or Mr. Pancho's- all very nice beaches with activities. There is also amazing snorkeling in Cozumel, have heard that the reefs were damanged by the hurricane, but there is still plenty to see - book a ships tour to do this. If you want to do a ruins tour i would suggest booking a ships excursion - its rakes a bit to get there.
Grand Caymen - your best bet for beaching on 7mile beach would be to book a day pass at one of the hotels that way you get access to the hotels facilites and amenities. 7 Mile Beach is a public beach and you can do it at no cost if you bring a towel, beachbag, and a small packable cooler.