Friday, May 23, 2014

Cozumel Jeep Tour

Our cruise in February took me to Cozumel for the first time.

My wife and I started looking for a shore excursion that would help us have the most fun possible during our stay on the island. I was really interested in snorkeling. My wife wanted to see as much of the island as possible and not just sit at a beach all day.

We found a Jeep Tour that was the perfect fit for us.

Keep your travel agent in mind as you plan your shore excursions. While the cruise lines have a number of offerings, they can often be more expensive than venturing out on your own or using a private operator. Of course, you also want a reliable company, and one that will get you back to the ship on time.

We found our Jeep Tour through a private shore excursion company.

As we exited the the ship and the duty-free shopping area in Cozumel, all we had to do was walk 100-200 yards to a nearby hotel. There we met our guide for the day. As luck would have it, we were the only people booked on this particular tour for the day, so our guide jumped in the back of our Jeep, and off we went.

We cruised out of the city and along the coast, admiring the beautiful blue water along the way.

We drove about 20 minutes to Punta Sur Eco Park where we spent several hours. There's a brackish lagoon that is home to saltwater crocodiles and many species of birds. There are also a couple of small Mayan ruins.

We stopped at the lighthouse and climbed the 133 steps to the top then we drove further down the beach to a calm area for snorkeling.

If you're going to Cozumel primarily for snorkeling, there are other excursions that will take you to the reef offshore, but there are many other places on the island that offer great snorkeling, too.

We were in the water for 30-45 minutes and loved it. We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle as well as barracuda, a sting ray, lobster and hundreds of colorful fish.

After our time in the park, we drove to a small tequila restaurant and tasted several kinds of tequila.

Our afternoon ended at a restaurant across the street from the beach where we dined on fajitas.

Carnival Paradise

My wife and I had the opportunity to get away without the kids on a 4-day cruise on the Carnival Paradise in late February.

I had not sailed Carnival before, and wasn't sure what to expect. Carnival is home of the "fun ships," but it's very budget friendly. I wasn't sure what the quality would be like.

My wife and I were both pleasantly surprised.

The Paradise is one of Carnival's older ships, so some of the decor, especially in the staterooms looks dated, but other than that, there's a lot of fun to be had.

(Kids would have a lot of fun on the ship with the kids club activities, but we were fortunate to go while most kids were in school and there were mostly adults on board).

We were most pleased by the quality of the food. The evening dining options were excellent every night, and the lunch grill and Lido restaurant were very good.

Check out this video for more about the Carnival Paradise.