Passion Island Beach, Shot with DXO ONE Camera from the boat as we approached the shore.
I am definitely a person who takes ship excursions whenever possible. I am well aware that you can often find cheaper, similar activities on your own, but just once in my life when off on my own activities at port I had to run to catch a cruise ship. This was in Turkey, and I decided right then and there that it was worth any extra money for the security that taking a ship excursion gives you (if your excursion gets back late, the ship will wait). Yes, watching runners trying to catch a ship can be entertaining for everyone on board the ship, but trust me, it’s not very entertaining if you are the person doing the running. So, I took three excursions on the Carnival Breeze on my recent Western Caribbean cruise (September 25 to October 2) Here are my reviews of those excursions, plus some thoughts on excursions that other people in my party took.
PASSION ISLAND: In Cozumel, Mr. Travelholic and I decided to have a romantic day alone on Passion Island, which is really just a far peninsula of Cozumel. We took a 40-minute smaller boat to our location, and then had an idyllic all-inclusive day on a perfect Caribbean beach. Turquoise water, soft sand, and all drinks and food included. And hammocks; right in the gentle warm water. We spent a good part of the day in those hammocks and it was wonderful. There were water activities and dancing activities for those who wanted to do more than we did. The food was typical and tasty Mexican fare, and the drinks were tasty (don’t ask me about quality of alcohol because I can’t tell you…I’m not a big drinker and my husband doesn’t drink at all, but I had a couple of the margaritas and enjoyed them). My only criticism of the excursion is that it wasn’t long enough; we certainly had enough time to stay for another hour and I wish we had. This was a particularly uncrowded excursion when we were there, but we were the only cruise ship in the port, and I’ve been to Cozumel when there were seven, and I asked one of the operators and they said on a particularly busy day there could be as many as 1,000 people so your results may vary. One reminder: my husband and I knew all was included for the excursion fee ($69.99 each) and we are not big shoppers, so we didn’t bring any cash or credit cards with us, just our ship cards. This turned out to be a mistake, because the absolutely best picture of us on the cruise was taken there and we didn’t have $12 to buy it. We took some money with us on the next two excursions. Finally, typical cruise music was played on the boat ride back (Wobble, Macarena, etc) and crew and cruisers who were so moved danced.
LAMANI RUINS: In Belize, we had our longest excursion, a 7-hour jaunt to the lovely and remote Lamani Mayan ruins. The ship tendered us in at Belize City, and to get to the ruins took a lengthy bus ride and a 35-minute boat ride up a jungle river. Just a note that the river is wide, so if you are imagining wildlife over your head in trees along the river, you will be disappointed. The ruins themselves, however, are surrounded by jungle and we saw very interesting flora and fauna while we were there including howler monkeys and leaf cutting ants. The ruins themselves were outstanding; very scenic due to the jungle all around them, not crowded the day we were there, knowledgeable guides (our guide had actually worked on excavation at the site) and you get to climb the High Temple for a fantastic view (most Mayan ruins I have been to do not allow you to climb them). On the way back you get a classic Belizean lunch and the opportunity to purchase beverages (I did one of those rum drinks in a coconut, because it is a law that if you come to the Caribbean you must drink rum at least once and have a drink in a coconut at least once as well). The lunch was at a relatively new tourist facility on the river that was very nice. The bus ride was interesting; you could see this area of Belize was poor, and you could also see the damage that a recent hurricane had caused to trees and some buildings.