Post # 1
My Fiance and I are taking a short (5-day) cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We’d love to have had a more elaborate honeymoon, but we have a limited budget and he can’t take much time off work. We already have the cruise booked and (almost) paid for. We haven’t booked any excursions yet, but might consider it if y’all think it’s a must. I kinda like the idea of just being on our own to do our own thing.
Neither of us has ever cruised before, or even been anywhere besides Florida, so this is going to be a totally new experience for us. Advice??
I’m extremely excited and have done lots of research, but it’s nice to get advice from people who’ve actually been there or cruise often!
Post # 2
- Wedding: March 2017 - The Tall Ship Elissa, Galveston, TX
First off, welcome to your new addiction. 😉 You’ll see!!
Second, in those two ports there is plenty to do if you just want to wander off the ship, and plenty of fun excursions to do. Are you beach people? Or looking for adventure? Maybe a cultural experience? That will help us recommend things better.
Post # 3
Don’t forget to tip. Cruises have odd business practices, often the ships are registered in other countries where if there is a minimum wage it is very low. Crew members rely on tips to support themselves, not their paycheck. Please tip your housekeeper, bartender and waiters.
Cruiseship companies have a higher markup on excursions, you would probably receive a better deal if you book yourself and not through the company.
Post # 4
We are going through Carnival, on Carnival Paradise. I love the beach, but we definitely don’t want to spend all our time there as my Fiance doesn’t care much for it. He’s a very adventurous person. I have always wanted to swim with dolphins, but don’t know if it’s worth the extra $400 it’s going to cost when there’s plenty of other things to do. I can always swim with dolphins later on a regular vacation. My only concern of not booking an excursion through Carnival is that I may not make it back to the ship (does that ever really happen??(
And do I *need* traveler’s insurance? From what I’ve researched few people ever even use it. I know it’s not super expensive, but it’s another $200 that could be put to use elsewhere.
Post # 5
- Wedding: March 2017 - The Tall Ship Elissa, Galveston, TX
I’m not familiar with the Paradise, but Carnival is so fun!
If you book outside of Carnival for excursions, just make sure you research who you’re booking with and read lots of reviews. Stuff does happen — shuttle buses break down, car accidents close roads, etc., but it is pretty rare that people don’t make it back to the ship. Just choose earlier excursions where you have a nice big time cushion for getting back onboard.
I can highly recomment Captain Marvin’s in Grand Cayman if you decide to do Stingray City (which is AWESOME and easily of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had). Cozumel, we usually just hang out at Paradise Beach for the day — and adore it! — but this next time is our honeymoon cruise and we’re doing a VIP all-inclusive day at Mr. Sancho’s instead. 🙂
Last, I would absolutely NEVER cruise without travel insurance. You spend so much time and money on your vacation — why would anyone cheap out at the last hundred bucks? I have personally witnessed people slip and fall on deck and injure themselves — they got to make an expensive trip to the ship’s medical center. And even something as generally routine as appendicitis would require you to be airlifted off the ship. And most people don’t realize that their health insurance usually doesn’t cover them outside of the continental U.S. An expensive lesson to learn for some! Not to mention needing to cancel your cruise because of a death in the family or something.
It shouldn’t cost you $200, especially for a 5 day cruise. And don’t ever buy it from the cruiseline. Go to http://www.insuremytrip.com to compare different policies and find one that perfectly meets your needs. Our plan we usually choose is a really good one, and is less than $100 for a week cruise. 🙂
Post # 6
Thanks! I thought you had to get insurance with the cruise line! Also, thanks for the excursion advice. I’ll definitely look into those!!
Are there any specific insurance plans you’ve used before or that you reccommend?
Post # 7
- Wedding: The Retreat at Bradley\'s Pond
Ohhh when are you going??
We did the Royal Caribbean cruise out of Tampa this past April to Cozumel and Grand Cayman and LOVED it- had a blast. So much in fact that we’re doing the same trip on our first anniversary in March.
At this point I don’t remember if we did insurance and what not so I can’t comment on that.
Darling Husband forced me to do the excursions through the cruise line for reasons like you mentioned (they will not leave if you’re not back yet). After seeing how much wasted time there is waiting for your tour bus he was pretty bummed and we have decided that this future trip we’re going to do more stuff on our own. I think we’ll take taxis to local beach clubs and relax, get REAL tacos and do some shopping.
I wouldn’t spend the money for the dolphins – it’s something that everyone does and a lot of the reviews say that they push you through and force you to purchase THEIR photos from the swim. I feel the same about Stringray City. It’s cool for 15 minutes and then it’s the same thing over again.
We wanted island experiences on our trip- not time in a shuttle. So in Cozumel we did the ATV ride through the countryside area and through a forest where they dropped you off at a cenote when you could dive in- SOOO COOL! We had a blast getting dirty and driving around. Didn’t leave us much time for anything else so we grabbed a drink at Senor Frogs before getting back on board.
In GC we had a terrible tour before being dropped off at the turtle place next to the dolphin place. We got off the tour and took our own cab to Royal Palms I believe it’s called – basically a beach club ON Seven Mile Beach which is amazing!!!! Spent a ton of money on local beers, fried seafood every which way! Had a blast! (because we booked through RC they gave us a % back on being dissatified for the trip..wasn’t a lot but we got over it).
Seven Mile Beach in GC
Cliff jumping in Cozumel
Ready for our rough and rowdy 4 wheeling excusion…If you’re experience with this (like we were) they let you run in the front of the pack and really kinda gun it!
Have an awesome time and get excited!!!! Cruising is a blast when you know how to plan for it.
Post # 8
I’ve been to both. The US Kittiwake is awesome for scuba/snorkel and our of the many ruins I’ve been to in Mexico and Belize (I work with historic architecture), Coba was the best overall (rent a bike) and most Indiana Jones, Tulum is on the coast and very scenic with swimming (bring a dry bag).
Make sure you bring passports even if the ship doesn’t require it so that if you get separated or need to return via air to the US because of emergency you can.
Post # 9
This is stingray city in grand cayman. I took this (as you see it, no editing) while I was waiting for other people to rejoin the boat. I would urge ANYONE to go swim with these rays. Truly a once in a lifetime kind of thing.
Post # 10
Get insurance. We go to an area close to coszumel annually. Every one of us got sick at least once despite being careful about the food and water. My bill from the Doctor out there was $1500 US. Get the vaccines before you go too and bring pepto.
Post # 11
Second the advice for Stingray City! I was there in July and it was so cool. I was a frequent visitor on the Cruise Critic boards as well- although I booked through the cruise line, I read that most of the well-known excursion companies (such as Captain Marvin’s mentioned above) do an excellent job at making sure you’re back to the ship on time because they know their business would be tanked by poor reviews if that happened.
Post # 12
Another vote for Stingray City. It was a really fun experience. Also, do you SCUBA dive? Diving in both Cozumen and the Caymans is pretty great.
Post # 13
So fun!! We did a cruise to Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya almost two years ago and have been wanting to go on another cruise really badly ever since! We are going on an Alaska cruise next summer and are totally started to get addicted to cruising! You’re going to have a blast.
I have only one bit of advice- do not rent mopeds from just anybody you meet offering you a deal. We did that in Cozumel and it turned out really poorly for us. We had a blast riding around the island, but unfortunately for us, our moped broke down about the furthest point it could have from our ship with only about an hour and a half from departure time. The man/company we rented from gave us a paper with his name and number but when we called (like a dozen times), nobody answered. I spoke a little bit of Spanish but nobody really seemed to want to help us. Fortunately, and after a lot of freaking out, we were able to hitchhike a ride to our ship from a nice couple from Canada, but it could have ended really poorly for us! In fact, we were about 15 minutes late to our ship and the ONLY reason it hadn’t departed was because DH’s mom (who was also on the cruise with us) literally stood on the ramp begging them not to depart until we arrived and it worked since she wouldn’t get off the ramp.
Silver lining- our moped broke down in a really pretty location!
Post # 14
I have been to both places, Cozumel for two weeks and Grand Cayman for a week. There’s tons to do! Both are known for scuba diving and snorkeling if you like that kind of stuff! In Grand Cayman, I definitely recommend Stingray City, “Hell” was pretty cool, and the turtle farm was fun, too (at least my 9-year-old self thought so). I remember having the BEST mahi mahi there. Cozumel is a fun place to rent a car and just drive around. It has some Mayan ruins but not nearly as much as the mainland. Be sure to get some authentic Mexican food!
As far as the cruise itself, bring some motion-sickness meds just in case. Eat all that you possibly can, drink lots of pina coladas, and have fun! 🙂
Post # 15
I have done the exact cruise you are going on, and loved it! The excursions we did were the sting ray and snorkeling in Cayman Island and it was the most amazing experience! You take a speed boat into a sand bar in the middle of the ocean and wild stingrays come and you feed them squid and take pictures with them. Then you go to a reef for snorkeling and feeding the fishes.
Cozumel we did a combo ATV through a jungle and speed boating. Also super fun.
Defiantly get insurance too! I got shigella from the food in Cozumel on the last day. Worst plane ride home ever.