This is going to be our first cruise and I was just looking for a little direction from others who have made these stop before. I know everyone's taste are different, I'm not asking for anyone to just say "JUST DO THIS". I'd just like to get a wide over view of what would be alot of the key points of interests.
1. We'd like to go snorkling in Cozumel. Which one of the ships (Carnival) packages do you guys recommend, which one seem the better deal, why, or would it be better to make our own plans once ashore???
2. Is there any horse driven rides in Key West?
3. Are taxi's needed once the ship docks or is town right off the boat? I read some horror stories about these wild Mexican taxi drivers, so is it must to get a cab to go anywhere?
4. Are there really any "MUST" see sites at either stop that you feel should not be missed?
These are a few question right off that I can think of. So any and all responds, plus anything else everyone can add to this would be great.
Two weeks until we hit sea, Ahoy!!!
Motley>>> I am also doing this same itinerary leaving 11/20/00 on the NCL Majesty. I have been to cozumel years ago off another cruise line. Cozumel is a great place to snorkel and hit the water. We went to Chankonaab State Park the first time to snorkel and swim. I plan on being a bit more adventurous this time and go to Playa San Francisco a little further south this time. If it doesn't work out I will go directly back to the State Park as it is a known quality good time. Cab's are right at the dock and cost about $10 to get to the south beaches. State park has a entrance fee of a couple dollars. Others have suggested renting a jeep for the day for about $45.00 and drive to the other side of the island and explore the caves and rougher waters and private beaches. I may do that if we hook up with some others on the boat. I got on a chat room at www.gocozumel.com and the people were helpful and had alot of info and maps. I know nothing about Key West except jimmy buffet and sunsets! Ill learn as I go!
Oh and by the way motley...dont do the ship shore excursion if you are going to the state park...they charge you $40-50 and you are at the park for 2 hours and back to town. We split a cab, entered park, rented snorkel gear and stayed all day for $12.00 when we last went. Spend the extra $30 saved on beer or fruity umbrella drinks at the grass hut on the beach!
With regard to "must see" attractions at Cozumel, there are three:
>> The Mayan ruins at Tulum, located on the mainland,
>> The Ex Caret ruins and ecological park (which also offers snorkeling and swimming), also located on the mainland, and
>> The Mayan ruins at San Gervasio, located right on the island and combinable with a fantastic Mexican folkloric show.
Unfortunately, these attractions are mutually exclusive since the first two are full-day tours. The latter is a half-day tour, which would leave plenty of time for snorkeling or swimming at a location somewhere near San Miguel de Cozumel, where the ships call on the island.
By way of amplification, the Mayan ruins at Tulum are quite extensive and they reveal the rather advanced character of the Mayan civilization. The ruins at San Gervasio are more limited, but probably more significant since the island of Cozumel was a sacred place in the Mayan religion.
BTW, you might check on the Caribbean message board for additional information and comments regarding these ports of call since they tend to occur on Caribbean itineraries.
Will be on the 12/4 sailing of the Majesty. Sure would be interested in your comments as to your experience on the Majesty and the ports when you return, especially your thoughts on "freestyling." After 6 other traditional style cruises, we are looking forward to giving freestyling a whirl.
With all due respect to Norm's opinion......man that crap he recommended is all BORING! And besides you will spend all day traveling to the mainland to do the Tulum and eco park. I made the mistake of doing Tulem while on my honeymoon in Cancun. If you want to see the "rocks" rent the movie "against all odds" from @1985 it was filmed in cozumel and had one scene where sexy Rachel Ward takes the ferry over to Tulum to draw pictures. The eco park does sound ok but it seems to me to be the kind of place you would go to if you were staying the whole week and wanted to kill a day off the beach and out of the bars. Stick to the water while in Cozumel. Snorkle / scuba and party on the beach!
Has anyone who has ever done this itinerary in the past give me some advise? When the ship docks at Key West from Cozumel is there any customs check at disembarkment? If I were to buy a cuban cigar (or 200 kidding!) to smoke while in Key West, would I have any problems? I can't see why they wouldn't do a customs search but I also can' see how it would be feasible to do a search and still get everyone off the boat in time to enjoy the port.
Two years ago, different itinerary but included Key West, honestly don't recall a customs check of individuals. Just the standard whole ship clearance that one gets in any port before they let you loose. As for those cuban cigars, can't help you there! lol!
I probably shouldn't bother to tell you this after your nasty response to my earlier recommendation, but...
The ship-wide clearance upon entering port normally covers only immigration. It's done by INS. The Customs Service still has the right to check every passenger and crew member who disembarks for contraband, and just might be doing so. Sometimes, the agents are there with drug-sniifing dogs. Those dogs, BTW, can detect drugs and tobacco at a pretty fair distance. Methinks that the Customs Service probably is "onto" the potential for cruise ship passengers to bring Cuban cigars ashore in Key West and mail them home from there....
Basically, it's legal to posess Cuban cigars aboard the ship but it is not legal to bring them into the United States (unless you have been to Cuba on a properly authorized visit, which obviously won't be the case). Thus, it's much more prudent to enjoy your Cuban cigars aboard the ship and to bring a non-Cuban variety ashore to smoke in Key West.
There is one other BTW. The duty exemption only applies if you have not claimed another exemption within thirty days. If you bring anything ashore in Key West, that could constitute claiming an exemption -- which, at least theoretically, would mean that you could not claim it again at the end of the cruise.
We stopped at Key West on the last day of the Ryndam cruise ending 11/11/00. Customs was just a formality, there was someone standing around when we disembarked and I hear she occasionally looked in packages that people may have had. Other than that, no problems.
1. for snorkeling, just grab a cab south to Chanakaab or beyond. Chanakaab was $10/person (thru the cab driver - he may have overcharged us...).
2. Didn't see any horse & carriage in Key West - just the Conch Train.
3. In Key West, you dock right in town. In Cozumel, you either dock at the new town pier (right in town) if your ship arrives early, or if it arrives later you're about 3 miles down the beach. Plenty of cabs, and only 5 bucks for a cab's worth of us to reach town.
4. Must sees: In Cozumel, the realtime artists in the square hidden behind Hard Rock Cafe. Carlos & Charlies (see the drunk gringos <g>). Los Cinco Soles, best shopping in Cozumel. In Key West, the Mel Fisher museum, holding many artifacts from the Atocha and other shipwrecks.
Motley, Bob, Norm:
Just got back!!!! weather wasnt what I would have hoped for but...had a great time anyway. Motley...went to chananaab Park...$8. cab ride..$10 to get in park. $5 for complete snorkle set! Still very nice and clean..(except water wasnt working in the showers the day we were there). Went back to Town early becuase of windy weather. The town is growing leaps and bounds since I was last there. Plenty of shops and bars and resturants (why would you eat in town when boat is right there?) I suggest going a block or two off the main street to get better buys. A six pack of beer was $9:00 on the main strret and $4.50 a block off. Key West ...for what I saw is nothing but a tourist trap....bars and shops! We did enjoy the sunset party at Mallory Sq. The street entertainers were funny as hell!
PS: If you are into cigars...I only saw one person coming off the boat in Key West being asked to take a look in her bag. No dogs sniffing! Put one in your back pocket and enjoy! I only wish I wasnt so paranoid...I enjoyed my Cohiba on the boat!
Forgot everything you've read so far....freestlye is great! I dont know why they didnt think of this before. Eating!!! I was so much easier knowing that at anytime you could go to dinner. The two main dining halls had the identical menus. No reservations needed, unless you had a big party then they took reservations to set up the area. The other resturants Royal observatory had a Italian menus which changed each night. The Bistro menu was posted and did not change all week. We thought the food was great so we didnt bother going to the Bistro which was very intimate and had food cooked to order. The other option, which is where freestlye really came into play was the buffet area up on the pool deck. The theme buffet changed each night. People who didnt want to dress for dinner just ate up on the deck in there shorts. Actually what we did was eat appetizers off this buffet after sunning and swimming then go back to room and change for dinner and eat a late dinner in the dining room. One night we actually went to the royal observatory for dessert because they were serving something we really had to have! And this was perfectly acceptable!
Dress code; Formal night had options that were for those who dressed up. PS Most people did dress this night. I wore my tux and so did many others. Dining halls and cocktails were formal only. Again some choose to eat the buffet that night and did not dress up at all. The rest of the week I wore dockers long pants and golf shirts. The only night they let the no shorts rule slide was the first night because some people, including me, didnt get there luggage until 730pm.
Tipping...no problem...it was $40 dollars a person added to our account. Didnt have to put up with the waiters bugging for there tips like on other cruises on the last night of cruise. I even tipped the porter girl extra (in cash) becuase she kept my trash can full on ice for me (I brought beer on and some at each port!)
Disembarkment: Very good...didnt have to go sit up on deck waiting to leave the boat, although many people did????force of habit??? Sleep in, grab breakfast, take a jog or walk, get a shower....GET OFF BOAT! Everyone is started off boat by 830
Very relaxed way to crusing because nothing was planned or structured unless you wanted to structure yourself...for example..if you wanna see the jimmy buffet sing along with Derrick Lewis at 8pm...better eat alittle early (or later).
Bob, feel free to ask any other questions...I brought home the menus and daily schedules in case you have questions!