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Western caribbean cruise ports
Old 01-02-2013, 02:54 PM   #1
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Western caribbean cruise ports

DH and I are going on a western Caribbean cruise. This is a first cruise for us. The ports we will be stopping at are Cozumel, Belize, Gran Cayman, and Roatan. Any recommendations for excursions at these ports? We do not scuba dive or snorkel.

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Old 01-02-2013, 03:33 PM   #2
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Too bad on the snorkel. DW and I DID snorkle for the first time, and it was GREAT. That said, there was one that you might be interested in - on Grand Cayman we took the Sting Ray City tour. It was interesting. Out in the the MIDDLE of the bay, about 4 miles off shore, there is a shallow. The depth decreases to 4-5 1/2 feet, for an area about the size of a football field. You STAND that, on the sand, FOUR MILES offshore... and these HUGE sting rays "fly" around you. It is completely safe and SO COOL.

What cruise line?? We just got back 12/20 from 10 days on Oceania's Riveria. FUN TIME.

Oh!!! Go to Shore Excursioneers and BOOK YOUR OWN. Google Shore Excursions or Shore Excursions Belize or so on... They are about 1/2 of cruise ship prices. Zip lines, Mayan ruins... We did the Cave Tubing in Belize (I think) and it was a HOOT.

ALSO, dunno which port you are going from, but if you have to fly into (say) Miami - the cruise lines want something like $70 PER PERSON to transfer from the airport to the cruise port. Taxi cab is a flat $25 for EVERYONE. So we spent $50 instead of $280 in transfers. Sheesh.

MOST OF ALL, HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 01-02-2013, 06:02 PM   #3
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Cruise critics have a lot of recommendations for different tours . Last time we were in Cozumel we did the bar hop tour. It is a fun tour and it is more about visiting the non populated side of Cozumel than drinking .
The Cozumel Bar Hop welcomes you to beautiful Cozumel, Mexico
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:53 PM   #4
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+1 on AWeinal. Stingray City is good. If you are feeding the sting rays, make sure you don't touch other parts of your body after handling the feeds (squid). Otherwise, the sting rays will try to feed on that part. I did that and got a big bruise on my upper arm after a ray suck on it.

Cozumel, bar hopping if you are into that. We went to the beach - Playa Azul.

Don't worry, if you can not go to excursions, just stay on the ship and enjoy the activities and food. It is just as fun.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:55 PM   #5
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Agrees with Moemg on the Cozumel bar hop tour. That was quite interesting/fun. That was our second time in Cozumel and so better than just walking around the tourist landing area.

Our bus included only 8 people. One of them was a part-time pharmacist in DH's hometown (Topsfield, MA). They had fun catching up on different families.

Beautiful on that side. If you go, take your camera.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:48 AM   #6
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I have been to Cozumel a few times. Some of the things I have enjoyed doing there which do not involve snorkeling/diving:
  • Just walking around San Miguel: The town is small and somewhat interesting if you have not been to Mexico before.
  • Traveled to far (windward) side of the island.
    • I have never taken the bar hop tour mentioned above (or, any organized tour on Cozumel); but, it does sound like fun.
    • I have rented both scooters and Jeeps; but, please do not do this if you plan to drink. Honestly, considering how much this island grew (more traffic/congestion/etc.) between each of my visits, I am not sure I would want to do this again.
    • On my next trip down, later this month, I plan to just hire a car/driver/taxi for 2-3 hours since there will be four of us and revisit a couple of my favorite spots: Coconuts and Mezcalito's
  • Just hang out on the beaches for the day.
    • Punta Sur (now renamed Faro Celerain Eco Park) is probably the largest/nicest but also the priciest. Not likely to be an issue for a one day excursion. This is at the south end of the island.
    • There are several other public beach areas between the pier and Punta Sur where you can relax, have a drink, rent a chair/umbrella, etc. But, I do not remember specifics.
    • You can likely find a deserted beach on the windward side of the island if that is your thing; but, swimming is likely not safe from any of them.

The last time I was in Belize was several years ago; and, it was also via another family cruise. We hired a driver outside the cruise port and spent the day at The Belize Zoo along with a brief tour of the city.
  • This is a local animal rescue as much as it is a zoo. Honestly, it was much better than I was expecting for a 3rd world zoo; everyone in my group really enjoyed it.
  • We hired the driver for four of us all day long for the price of one of us doing just the Zoo trip through the cruise line.
  • He took us not only to the zoo but also on a tour of the city to show us where he lived, his church, and we made a shopping and a WiFi cafe stop before heading back to our ship.
Stingray City has been on my bucket list for many years; but, I still have not made it down there.

Kids did the dolphin encounter in Roatan a few many (maybe 10) years ago and did not recommend it at all. They said the dolphins were awesome; but, most time was spent waiting around doing nothing with very little time actually spent with the animals. I have heard much better reviews for the Disney version of this in Florida. Everything I have done in Roatan involved being underwater.

Enjoy both the cruise and the ports.

Originally Posted by AWeinel View Post
...if you have to fly into ... Miami - the cruise lines want something like $70 PER PERSON to transfer from the airport to the cruise port. Taxi cab is a flat $25 for EVERYONE. So we spent $50 instead of $280 in transfers...
Any idea if this $25 flat rate is just from the MIA airport; or, does this flat rate also apply from airport area hotels? I am flying into MIA the evening before my next cruise and staying the night by MIA. There will be four of us; and, I am not sure what our best option is for getting to the ship the next morning.
If there's one thing in my life that's missing; It's the time I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters; There's lots of those friendly people
Showin me ways to go; And I never want to lose your inspiration
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:53 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
Cruise critics have a lot of recommendations for different tours ....[/url]
+1 cruise critic

they have threads for each port. Will give you a lot of ideas and great advice
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:00 AM   #8
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Thanks...these are great tips.

We have snowbird friends who will meet us at the airport and travel with us. I am thinking that since there will be four of us, the ideas of hiring taxi is a good one. It does seem that the cruise sponsored excursions are expensive.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:05 AM   #9
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We did the zip line in Roatan. We were nervous at first, but it turned out to be very safe and fun; a cheap thrill?

We have also been to Sting Ray City and highly recommend it. Somewhere in this house is a photo of DW and me kissing a sting ray. So we agree with AWeinal about this tour.

In Belize, we went up the Old Belize River, had lunch (ugh) and then went by bus to the zoo. This zoo was started by some woman who went to film a documentary in the 80s and when it was over several animals were left who had become tame.

Belize Zoo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One word of caution. Apparently there is a lot of crime in Belize City. We saw none, but we did stay long in the city. Google it before you go.

In Cozumel, Senor Frogs is good for one visit. The girl with the whistle is a nuisance. If you don't know, ask someone who's been there.

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Old 01-26-2013, 04:21 AM   #10
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Roatan, west end beach. Caymans, stingray city, Belize cave tubing/zip line (they are in the same place), Cozumel paradise beach. Those are my recommendations

Go to trip advisor and look for tours and check their ratings. The ships are much more expensive than booking directly online with the excursion group. You could spend years searching cruisecritic for info. Its by far the best place to get ship and port info!

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