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Old 01-14-2013, 11:00 AM   #1
Candy Apple
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Review of Secret River & Playa Del Carmen--Cozumel

This was fantastic! We were on the Magic last week. We met in Buena Vista Theatre at 7:15. They checked that everyone had their release forms (basically saying you can't sue the tour company for anything) and KTTW cards and ID's. They had towels for us, but we didn't really need them as there are towels provided there. Got off the ship at 7:45 and met the tour guides who asked if everyone could swim and do deep knee bends. They gave everyone one last chance to change their minds if they decided they weren't physically fit enough to do the excursion. Then we took a ferry to the mainland of Mexico. Cozumel is an island. They had offered Sea Calm to everyone before we left, with the caveat that it is only appproved for those over age 12. Many kids were crying and getting sick on the ferry. The ferry operators actually passed out plastic bags before we left. The ferry ride was choppy. DH took Meclizine and was fine. Other adults took meds and were fine, too. I never take anything and I used the free wifi to check emails on my phone on the way over.

Once we got to the mainland, we had a short walk uphill to our taxis. They had already split us up into three groups of ten. The drive to the Secret River took about half an hour, the last half of which was over dirt roads--bumpy. Then, we were given keys to a locker as well as water shoes. If you had your own, you could use them. Then, we had to shower. You are only allowed to take in your bathing suit and prescription glasses. Leave any jewelry in the locker or on the ship in your safe. The port adventures desk said one reason for this is to prevent loss. The water is cold and it is easy for a ring to slip off your finger. Then, we were given helmets, life jackets, and wet suits. The wet suits are optional. The water is cold, but you are not in the water all the time and can get hot. You are given the option of a walking stick but no one in our group opted for one.

We took a short walk downhill to the entrance of the river. After some instructions on do's and don'ts, we proceeded. The experience was great! We saw some amazing formations. To get a preview, go to their website: http://www.riosecreto.com/. You do need to be careful about where you walk but the guide shows the first person what to do and each person passes the info to the person behind them. There are some steep areas and each person lends a helping hand or shoulder to the person behind them.

When we were done we returned our helmets, life jackets, and wet suits, and we were treated to a shot of tequila or iced tea. Iced tea for me. Then, they showed us the pictures the photographer had taken of us. You could get all the pictures on one CD for US$69, one picture for US$25, the CD plus two shirts and a bottle of tequila for US$99, or the CD plus two shirts and a ball cap for US$99. Credit cards accepted.

Then, we changed into dry clothes and had a very nice lunch. The Disney website says "Afterwards enjoy a snack and beverage." Well, it was more than a snack, but you had to pay for soft drinks. Water and iced tea were free. There was watermelon, soup, salad, taquitos, empanadas, rice, beans, mashed potatoes, salsa, sour cream, and more. Plenty to keep us until we returned to the ship. It was a nice picnic.

Then, we payed for our pictures and took the taxis back to Playa Del Carmen. We had about 30-40 minutes there. You could shop or go to the beach. I recommend going to see the new sculpture on the beach. It was just dedicated on Dec 21, 2012 as a part of the celebration for the end of the Mayan calendar.

We took the 3 PM ferry back to the island. I was hoping to use the wifi again but I couldn't connect. Others were able to connect but some were not, so don't count on it. We had to wait in a long line to get back on the Magic. I think a lot of people waited until the last minute to reboard. We were back on the ship a few minutes after 4.

Hopefully, this helps you decide if this is the right port adventure for you. It definitely was for us!
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:31 AM   #2
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We also did this tour and I agree it was fantastic!! I would add the caves are completely dark with no inside lighting. The guide carrys a flashlight and everyone wears a helmet with a flashlight. It was very pristine, clear water and the formations were incredible. We saw a bat, albino fish and several large spiders. A professional photographer follows you to take the pictures. In case you are wondering, you can't sneak your own pictures because it is too dark and the flash would be very obvious. It was nice to enjoy the beauty without trying to take pictures.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:01 PM   #3
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Thank you!

Thank you so much for your response to this excursion! We are booked for this for our spring break cruise. I was hesitant at first because I wasn't sure it would be that great for the cost. I did a bunch of research online and read that it is truly a great, once in a lifetime type of excursion, so we booked it!

Your review on it just solidifies my decision to go ahead with it. Looking forward to it, but not looking forward to the ferry ride over. I'm positive if anyone in my family gets sick, it will be me.

Susan
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:18 PM   #4
CleoGoldfish
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Thank you for this review!! This really helps!

One follow-up question regarding the wetsuits: are larger (i.e., plus): sizes available?

Thanks!!!
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:39 PM   #5
eisena
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Would this be a good trip for children 9 and 11?
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:42 PM   #6
Candy Apple
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CleoGoldfish View Post
Thank you for this review!! This really helps!

One follow-up question regarding the wetsuits: are larger (i.e., plus): sizes available?

Thanks!!!
I don't know. The Disney website says maximum weight limit of 250 pounds. There are a few tight spots where you have to turn sideways to pass through without touching the walls, so being Pooh-sized could be an issue. They don't want you to touch the walls except in a few spots where the guide specifically told us to touch to balance while we were negotiating the route. There is a live chat button that you could try on their website.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eisena View Post
Would this be a good trip for children 9 and 11?
As long as they are not claustrophobic and can tolerate the ferry ride (you can buy seasickness meds for those <12 y.o. at a pharmacy before you leave), I would say yes. Of course, each child is different so take their temperament into consideration before booking. It is a very long day and who wants to hear "You should have just left me in the kids club on the ship" all day long!
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:54 PM   #8
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Thank you for your review!
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:18 PM   #9
Noelle
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We did this over Xmas and LOVED it!

My two daughters (age 12 & 20) and I did this excursion over the Christmas week and both loved it. I have to say it's now our favorite excursion we've done so far.

I did see several 'larger sized' people in some of the groups ahead of ours and they seemed to have wetsuits available for everyone.

We had a younger kids around 8 & 10 with us and they seemed to love it as well.

Another thing I wanted to mention in case anyone is a klutz like me (I can trip on air - not kidding...), they offer walking sticks which was very helpful because it gave me a little extra help in balancing over the rocky areas and in the wading pools.

For the ferry to Playa del Carmen - my suggestion is to go straight to the top 'open air deck' and try to get a seat a little further back so you can see the horizon. Most people wanted the air-conditioned sealed lower deck (which did not offer windows). When the sea got a little rough, it left quite a few people 'sick'. The upper deck at least gave you fresh air (no gross smells from other passengers like down below) and if you can see the horizon it seemed to ease the motion sickness a bit. I was so happy that we had the upper deck both times, because walking through the lower deck upon disembarking was not pleasant.
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:43 PM   #10
MD Dad55
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Additional caves opening soon also.

We just took this tour also on the Jan 5 Wonder cruise. We loved it. I completely agree with the other reviews. Our guide was very informative and explained to us that the caves only recently opened (2006). They were discovered by a man trying to catch an iguana. It slipped under some rocks and when he moved some rocks, he saw the large open caves. There are several more caves that are being checked by spelunkers for safety concerns. Hopefully they will open them in the next several months. Enjoy.
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:11 PM   #11
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This is a great review. Thank you!! Definitely something that DD and I may check out but will leave DH back in Cozumel shopping. He's claustraphobic and has mobility issues so this is definitely out. Reviews like this really help with making decisions to make our trip easier for all involved.

Glad you had a great time!
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candy Apple
This was fantastic! We were on the Magic last week. We met in Buena Vista Theatre at 7:15. They checked that everyone had their release forms (basically saying you can't sue the tour company for anything) and KTTW cards and ID's. They had towels for us, but we didn't really need them as there are towels provided there. Got off the ship at 7:45 and met the tour guides who asked if everyone could swim and do deep knee bends. They gave everyone one last chance to change their minds if they decided they weren't physically fit enough to do the excursion. Then we took a ferry to the mainland of Mexico. Cozumel is an island. They had offered Sea Calm to everyone before we left, with the caveat that it is only appproved for those over age 12. Many kids were crying and getting sick on the ferry. The ferry operators actually passed out plastic bags before we left. The ferry ride was choppy. DH took Meclizine and was fine. Other adults took meds and were fine, too. I never take anything and I used the free wifi to check emails on my phone on the way over.

Once we got to the mainland, we had a short walk uphill to our taxis. They had already split us up into three groups of ten. The drive to the Secret River took about half an hour, the last half of which was over dirt roads--bumpy. Then, we were given keys to a locker as well as water shoes. If you had your own, you could use them. Then, we had to shower. You are only allowed to take in your bathing suit and prescription glasses. Leave any jewelry in the locker or on the ship in your safe. The port adventures desk said one reason for this is to prevent loss. The water is cold and it is easy for a ring to slip off your finger. Then, we were given helmets, life jackets, and wet suits. The wet suits are optional. The water is cold, but you are not in the water all the time and can get hot. You are given the option of a walking stick but no one in our group opted for one.

We took a short walk downhill to the entrance of the river. After some instructions on do's and don'ts, we proceeded. The experience was great! We saw some amazing formations. To get a preview, go to their website: http://www.riosecreto.com/. You do need to be careful about where you walk but the guide shows the first person what to do and each person passes the info to the person behind them. There are some steep areas and each person lends a helping hand or shoulder to the person behind them.

When we were done we returned our helmets, life jackets, and wet suits, and we were treated to a shot of tequila or iced tea. Iced tea for me. Then, they showed us the pictures the photographer had taken of us. You could get all the pictures on one CD for US$69, one picture for US$25, the CD plus two shirts and a bottle of tequila for US$99, or the CD plus two shirts and a ball cap for US$99. Credit cards accepted.

Then, we changed into dry clothes and had a very nice lunch. The Disney website says "Afterwards enjoy a snack and beverage." Well, it was more than a snack, but you had to pay for soft drinks. Water and iced tea were free. There was watermelon, soup, salad, taquitos, empanadas, rice, beans, mashed potatoes, salsa, sour cream, and more. Plenty to keep us until we returned to the ship. It was a nice picnic.

Then, we payed for our pictures and took the taxis back to Playa Del Carmen. We had about 30-40 minutes there. You could shop or go to the beach. I recommend going to see the new sculpture on the beach. It was just dedicated on Dec 21, 2012 as a part of the celebration for the end of the Mayan calendar.

We took the 3 PM ferry back to the island. I was hoping to use the wifi again but I couldn't connect. Others were able to connect but some were not, so don't count on it. We had to wait in a long line to get back on the Magic. I think a lot of people waited until the last minute to reboard. We were back on the ship a few minutes after 4.

Hopefully, this helps you decide if this is the right port adventure for you. It definitely was for us!
Do you know how many pictures where on the cd they offered?
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:13 PM   #13
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candy apple, iím sure we were on this same excursion with you and yours, if not in the same grouping once we got to the caves! i agree about everything you said, thanks for writing it up so nicely and saving me the effort!

just to add - our guide said the wet suits were optional. iím glad i didnít wear one (although they might have made me slightly more photogenic in our pictures!) - with a one pice and the wet suit, i was very comfortable. i weigh about 200# right now and started fretting that i would be to ginormous for parts of this but i had no problems. DH is over the 250#, he wore a rash guard and was fine. there was at least one woman in the group close to my size who wore a wetsuit and i didnít notice anyone struggling to get them on/off, they seemed to have lots of options.

about the CD - we bought the whole shebang. they took ~32 pics of the group and us, so the 99$ package came with all those plus about 50 stock photos, about half of which are animals which we will never do anything with really, but there are some nice closeups of the rocks and all that. we were very very happy with this excursion.

and lunch was great!!
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:17 PM   #14
MD Dad55
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About 40 photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgc1107 View Post
Do you know how many pictures where on the cd they offered?
All of the individual pictures of your party and then they added the stock photos of the "creatures" that live in the caves also. For my family, it was roughly 40 pictures. High quality resolution and beautiful. I passed on the t-shirts and tequila.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:17 PM   #15
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here we are in all our magnificent glory! in retrospect, those wetsuits would have made a more slimming silhouette!

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