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Old 10-21-2013, 10:14 PM   #31
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Do: Chankanaab park. At least two visits, lots to see, part marine (sea lion shows, dolphin and manatee swims), part amazing beach (super friendly reef fish to snorkel with) part time resort (hundreds of tikis and incredible fresh mexican food like ceviche and fish tacos and of course guac). We love it. Do: Playa Del Carmen adventure zip line, fresh water cave snorkel and dirt bike with lunch. Did this in 2007. It was a great day. Don't: Weren't thrilled with our cave tubing in Belize. (But I doubt you are going there). It sounds more thrilling but the water moves really slow and was very shallow (butts up! you know what I mean if you have done it!) and was exhausting to walk carrying a big tube all the way up the jungle. Don't: If you are going to do a day resort (we did an all inclusive at Sunset in Montego Bay), don't book it through Jamaicaforaday.com . It took over 1.5 hrs of our day to wait in line and finish processing the payments. We should have just gone through the resort. And the bus picked us up earlier than we expected. Resort was fine! Lazy river and water park was good and food and pools were good. Snorkeling was ok. Resort was secure. Do: Grand Cayman: Absolutely book something with Sting Ray City sandbar if you are adventurous! Strong swimming is not a necessity as the water is waist deep. Wow! they are gorgeous and huge floating shadows and you can pet them. They are wild, no tanks, no nets, nothing. They come because they are used to people: and food! Our excursion allowed us to stay the rest of the day at Royal Palm on 7 mile beach. Great food, some nice snorkeling and a nice pool tool. DOs on both accounts for us. Hope that helps! (We have only done Bahamian through Disney so these might not be the same as the ones you are looking at.)
Thanks for the awesome information!!
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:16 PM   #32
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Grand Cayman: Stingray City is a must-do! We have used Native Way and Captain Marvins. Both were great. You can always just take a cab to 7 mile beach too. Cozumel: Another vote for Chankanaab. Plenty to do including a pool and snorkeling from shore. If you really enjoy snorkeling, take a boat to the reefs! The snorkeling in Cozumel is wonderful. Another good option is Paradise Beach. Nice, clean place with a huge pool, beach with water toys, and good food. I've also tried Nachi Cocum, Playa Uvas and a private island tour. Costa Maya: Stay on the ship.
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:18 PM   #33
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In Costa Maya we took a short taxi ride to Tropicante and loved it! It's a small restaurant on the beach. I emailed him to reserve chairs and he emailed me step by step directions. Food, drinks and massages are cheap! I couldn't see paying a flat rate for Maya Chan as I couldn't eat and drink that much. For 4 adults, we spent $65 for an afternoon of food and drinks (including tip). We would go back tomorrow for sure!!
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:18 PM   #34
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In Costa Maya we took a short taxi ride to Tropicante and loved it! It's a small restaurant on the beach. I emailed him to reserve chairs and he emailed me step by step directions. Food, drinks and massages are cheap! I couldn't see paying a flat rate for Maya Chan as I couldn't eat and drink that much. For 4 adults, we spent $65 for an afternoon of food and drinks (including tip). We would go back tomorrow for sure!!
We also went to Tropicante in Costa Maya. The weather was nasty but we spent a little time on the beach and had some food before we gave in and went back to the ship. Our son got stung by a tiny jellyfish and the owner of Tropicante was so kind getting him vinegar for the sting and the real cure- free ice cream for both of our kids. We will go back next time we go to Costa Maya.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:39 AM   #35
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Only one real "don't" I'd say--the Dolphin Encounter at Costa Maya.

Poorly organized, rathher dirty environment, too many people on the excursion (our meet time was 1;10--we didn't even begin changing to bathing suits until almost 2:30).

If you must do Dolphins, perhaps Cozumel is a better spot---
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:50 AM   #36
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So, we are back from our 3rd Western. This was our first time in Costa Maya. We went to the Chaccobean Ruins. It was HOT (end of Sept.) and BUGGY. The bus ride was about an hour to the site. Our tour guide seemed knowledgeable, but the speaker was malfunctioning, so we referred to him as "Charlie Brown's Spanish Teacher", as that is what it sounded like.
The actual ruins were neat to see, there was a LOT of walking (my mother in law was kind of miserable after about halfway), but we did get a lot of info and were able to climb up to see some pretty neat stuff.
I wouldn't do the tour again, but for one time to see some Mayan Ruins, it was ok.
Also, as a side note....we went to Stingray Sandbar AGAIN. Loved it AGAIN...can't get enough of being out there!
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:34 PM   #37
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So, we are back from our 3rd Western. This was our first time in Costa Maya. We went to the Chaccobean Ruins. It was HOT (end of Sept.) and BUGGY. The bus ride was about an hour to the site. Our tour guide seemed knowledgeable, but the speaker was malfunctioning, so we referred to him as "Charlie Brown's Spanish Teacher", as that is what it sounded like.
The actual ruins were neat to see, there was a LOT of walking (my mother in law was kind of miserable after about halfway), but we did get a lot of info and were able to climb up to see some pretty neat stuff.
I wouldn't do the tour again, but for one time to see some Mayan Ruins, it was ok.
Also, as a side note....we went to Stingray Sandbar AGAIN. Loved it AGAIN...can't get enough of being out there!
We are doing the Western Caribbean for the first time next year and were planning on doing the Chacchoben ruins. I hesitate doing this if it wouldn't be a pleasurable experience... I know you wouldn't do it again, but pretending as if it's your first time again, would you choose to do something else? Thanks!!!
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Old 12-22-2013, 08:56 AM   #38
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Old 12-22-2013, 09:29 AM   #39
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We were in Costa Maya on our Carnival cruise in 2010, and did Maya Chan. I'll second what has been said, it was a great place with a lot of activities, great food and drink, and reliable transportation included in the bill. They even had slushies for the kids, my kid's favorite was the Oreo slushie!

costamayabeachresort.com is the web site. The owner is from California and was very responsive to emails.
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Old 12-22-2013, 09:37 AM   #40
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We are doing the Western Caribbean for the first time next year and were planning on doing the Chacchoben ruins. I hesitate doing this if it wouldn't be a pleasurable experience... I know you wouldn't do it again, but pretending as if it's your first time again, would you choose to do something else? Thanks!!!
The key to doing the Chacchoben ruins is a private tour! We used Native Choice. Only 7 of us in a AC passenger van. Guide grew up near the site. 45 minute ride flew by as he told stories of the area and it's history.
We were at the site before the 400+ cruisers from our ship. Leaving as they came in.
I would think your kids would have to be somewhat interested in history. We did beach type things in GC, Coz, and CC so this was a nice balance.
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Old 12-22-2013, 10:22 AM   #41
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Love Costa Maya!!

We were in Costa Maya in May. It was our favorite day! My girls are 6& 10. We too googled TROICANTE and contacted Steve the owner. It was a short taxi ride from the port.

It was an amazing day! There were maybe 10 families from our cruise that went also. The beach was not crowded and the food and umbrellas were plentiful. I would say with taxi,tip, lunch and, drinks we spent $50. It is a hidden gem. Check out other reviews online and email Steve!
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:20 PM   #42
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Another vote for Maya Chan! It was by far the BEST day of our cruise. So relaxing, and awesome food. We wish we would have had more time there.
Grand Cayman, we did the Turtle Farm and were completely underwhelmed. It might have been our tour guide, other groups seemed to be getting a lot more information and interaction from their guides than we did. I don't know if we'd even get off the ship again if we go back.
In Cozumel, we did "Discover Mexico" with the jungle/ruins and Cultural Center. They also provided lunch and a piñata for the kids. We enjoyed it, although it was very hot and buggy and LOTS of selling! (like, they stand next to your table with a board of bracelets and watch you eat!)

Of course, the whole point of any Caribbean cruise is Castaway Cay! haha
Beth (my kids were 17, 14 and 3 at the time)
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:03 PM   #43
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We have done Tropicamte and the Ruins. Tropicante was great. You can't beat the prices. If you're not a drinker this is a better choice over the all inclusive. We had nachos, chips and salsa, 2 alcoholic drinks , 2 waters and a 1/2 hr massage and we spent $50 which included a 20%+ tip. We also loved the Ruins. We just went in Oct. with our 9 and 7 year old. We also used Native Choice. We usually don't do ship excursions but I was hesitant to do private because of the short time frame. I am so glad I didn't use Disney. Native Choice was great. It was our party of 6 and one other couple. My kids had no problem with the ride because the guide was so informative and entertaining. We got there before the 10 huge Disney buses and stayed ahead of those tours the whole time. We have pictures of the ruins with not another soul in them besides us. That will be hard to get with Disney. It really is an incredible experience to see the history and climb the ruins. It started pouring during our tour and the driver came running up to our group with golf umbrellas. That was personal service you won't get on the big tour. It is a lot of walking but you don't have to climb if you don't want to. If you can, though, it really is an amazing experience. You can do the beach so many other places. If you have any interest in the Ruins, go for it!
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:54 AM   #44
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We did an awesome catamaran snorkel tour at Costa Maya. Bus ride took about 15-20 mins and then we went out on the water! They provided drinks and all the gear. One of the best ones we have ever done!
We also did the Catamaran Sail & Snorkel tour through Disney in Costa Maya. I wanted to do a Disney tour there because of the short time frame, and we were glad we did. They made sure to give us a great tour and still got us back on time. While we used our own gear, I did check out the gear they provided and for rental gear it really was pretty good. We did consider Maya Chan on our own, but even with their reduced rate for Disney cruisers I didn't think it was worth it. For me, just not enough time to spend there.

In Cozumel, with our longer time in port, we booked on our own. We booked a zipline tour with Fly High Zipline Adventures. It was awesome! Our tour included our taxi to the zipline course, the zipline tour (12 zips if I remember correctly), our taxi to the El Cid La Cieba resort with a day pass to use there facilities and lots of cree or very reduced price coupons, and our taxi back to the ship! The zipline park was developed by the El Cid. All of their equipment and ziplines were very well maintained, and they had excellent safety proceedures in place. Snorkeling at the El Cid was way better than I expected! The water was crystal clear and the artificial reefs provided by a sunken plane and a concrete pier had so many beautiful fish! The beach at El Cid is man made with nice clean sand. They have stairs to access the water. They also have a pool, restaurant, and spa. We spent all of our time on the beach and just had their waiter bring us some drinks. The best part was that the zipline park was only about a 15 min taxi ride from the pier. We had no worries about getting back to the ship on time and no ferry ride to the mainland!

In Grand Cayman, since I am a certified diver, I went scuba diving. The dives were beautiful, and since it was a Disney excursion, they made sure we got back in time for the last tender! It was another day with a short time in port!
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Old 12-23-2013, 03:01 PM   #45
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We are doing the Western Caribbean for the first time next year and were planning on doing the Chacchoben ruins. I hesitate doing this if it wouldn't be a pleasurable experience... I know you wouldn't do it again, but pretending as if it's your first time again, would you choose to do something else? Thanks!!!
We were there in MAY and I would do it again. It was very interesting. Our guide was very good too.



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