I went on the off road tour in Costa Maya (see my post) and the dune buggy tour was run by basically the same company and kind of followed us around. It looked kind of cool. They get everyone into dune buggies (VW bugs with plastic bodies) and then a guide rides in front of you and you go through the fishing villages on your way to a private beach that the offroad adventure tour also goes to. You spend about an hour at the beach then ride back to the port. They have nachos with cold cheese 8^( to munch on and sodas that I think are included in the tour. There were a couple buggies that konked out and needed some help from the guide to get going again. You werent on your own so to speak and you all drove around in a column.
All in all I was unimpressed with Costa Maya. The same company that developed Cancun is doing Costa Maya and it seems to be on the fast track to being a Cruise ship tourest trap ie built exlusively for cruiseship tourist and selling of cheap trinkets just off the dock. The local vendors were also very pushy. It seams that the mexican vendors have gone to the same "pushy bartering" school as Jamaicans. Way worse then my last trip to the western. There is a lot of trash along the beaches. The beaches where they funnel cruise ship passengers are kept clean but trash is only a stones throw away. It seams that the locals look at the ocean as their personal liquid landfill. Eveything from wooden pallets and tires to plastic bottles.
If I had it to do again Id probably do one of the Mayan ruin tours.
We cruised to Cozumel in May of 2003 on the Carnival Conquest. They offered a dune buggy tour around the island. 5 1/2 hours of fun in the sun. We snorkeled 1st at Chakkanaub Park and then around to a lookout point on the other side of the island. Further on down we stopped an had an authentic Mex. meal on a secluded beach. Towards the end our leader took us on a tour of the city, and ended up at a little outdoor mall. We had a blast, but again, an excursion from the ship was very expensive and we felt a little rushed. For the rest of the aft. we had a taxi drop us by Mr. Sancho's (beach) and relaxed for the rest of the day.
We did the dune buggy "tour" in Costa Maya in March '03. If I remember right, it was about $60.00/pp (booked through Royal Caribbean.) As a family of four, I think we could have made better use of $240.00. Every dune buggy drives caravan-style on mostly dirt roads. At one point, the "caravan" was stopped so that locals could run up to us to sell us drinks. I have to agree with the previous poster that the vehicles were not in a good state of repair and several others in our group broke down during the ride. The trip to the private beach is scenic. I dont recall seeing any trash on the beaches. The beach we went to had food, hammocks, bathrooms, and TWO (2) boogie boards for everyone to share. When you return at the end of the ride, the guides give this big speech about how hard they worked to make your trip enjoyable and practically beg for tips. Would I recommend this excursion?? NO.
If you go to the Carnival website and look at shore excursions for Cozumel they have the dune buggy tour. Click on it and you will also see that they have a brief video clip that you can view. So far, I have not found any other video clips on their website. I hope they do this with them all!
I've heard the same thing regarding the Dune Buggy excursion from my sister. She was in Cozumel about 7-9 months ago on RCCL. Her & her girl friend signed up and rode with another couple. The vehicles weren't in super condition and it rained the entire time they rode around. Evidentally, you go thru some pretty rural areas and were in some pretty bad areas of town (poverty). She said their cars stopped several times and she felt very vulnerable to the people around her. Then they drove (in the rain) to their stop-a small place to eat (with bars on the windows and filth everywhere) and then stayed at the beach for a while (you could also snorkel). She said it was the dirtiest beach she's ever seen-dead fish and a toilet sitting out in the middle of the sand.
My husband & I are going on RCCL/Navigator on 9/17/05. I bought the guide book from Frommer's 'Carribean Ports of Call'. It's got some good ideas for excursions- I paid $16 for the book at Borders. For Cozumel, it suggests Chankanaab Park. Nice beach and a off-shore reef for snorkeling. I believe this is where we'll plan on sunning/snorkeling when we go. Hope this helps!