Our first excursion stop from our 7-Day Royal Caribbean cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. Our day started early and it was our longest excursion day overall. Our ship docked in Cozumel, but we took a ferry boat to Playa Del Carmen where we met our tour guide, Manuel.
We took an hour and a half long bus ride through the Yucatan Peninsula to The Coba Archaeological Site. Manuel lead us through the ruins that had already been excavated. We walked across ball parks, where we saw engravings and the hoops used for scoring, ancient roads used for trade, and walked up the stairs of a pyramid.
The main highlight of the tour was climbing the Nohoch Mul pyramid. We climbed 120 steps to get to the top of the pyramid, the steep climb in the dense humidity was well worth every bead of sweat. When you arrive at the top you get an almost eerie feeling of what this temple was used for thousands of years ago.
When we were finally brave enough to climb back down, we hopped back on the bus and drove about 10 minutes to a local cenote, or underground swimming hole. We arrived at Multum-Ha, we showered off and headed down their stairs underground to the water.
The water was crystal clear yet a bright turquoise color. We could tell the water would be cold, so Kendall and I jumped right in off the pier and swam around the hole to keep warm. We could really only stay in the water for about 15 minutes mainly because our tour was almost over and secondly because it was getting cold.
We dried off and started on the two hour trek back to the boat. This was the only port and excursion we weren't able to have a shopping break, which was disappointing because they seemed to have the most interesting hand made items for sale. After making the ferry boat wait for us, we made it on and found our seats and made it back to the ship in plenty of time.
Our day in the Grand Cayman, was my dad's favorite part of the trip. This was my parent's 25th wedding anniversary so I don't think anything could have dampened their moods. We had a much more relaxed day. We got up in time for breakfast from the buffet and made it on the first ferry boat to the port.
We had a little over an hour to kill, so we wandered in and out of the shops looking at things to come back and buy. We then decided to grab a couple of local cocktails right by the dock. We each tried different drinks and took them with us when we heard our tour guide calling our excursion.
We took a couple minute bus ride along the coat line to The Governor's Palace, where our catamaran was waiting on us. We were able to snag a spot on the netting that covered an open space right above the water. We relaxed and sun bathed on the open water until we were told to grab our snorkeling gear and have a quick lesson.
The first place we were to snorkel was the USS Kittiwake. This boat was purposefully sunk in January 2011, after an almost 50 year life span in the military, to create an artificial reef. Its most famous mission was recovering the Blackbox from the Challenger space shuttle explosion. Interestingly enough, the ship actually had just moved almost 20 feet deeper just a few days before from Tropical Storm Nate.
We swam the length of the boat a dozen times over, watching the fish and scuba divers down below swim in and around the shipwreck. Our next stop was just a few miles away so we took off our gear and got comfy on the ropes.
We stopped next at a very fragile shallow reef. We were given special instructions on how to stay above the coral and, of course, were told not to touch anything. Once we were prepped, we hopped in to the water. I immediately broke away from the crowd and went to see as much as I could. I swam over brain coral, rainbow fish, sea urchins, and lots and lots of finger coral. It was my very own "Planet Earth" moment, and I loved every moment of it.
When we heard the three air horns signaling us back, we hoped on board and sailed back to the port. Here, we were able to shop a little bit more than the other ports before having to head back to the boat, so I grabbed John a gift and we grabbed a ferry boat back to the ship.
Our day in Jamaica was my dad's birthday and our last day of excursions on our 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise. Early that morning we docked at Falmouth, Jamaica, before our 8 a.m. tour we had a quick breakfast and hopped right off the boat to find our tour guide under a gazebo on the dock.
We followed her to a bus where we took an hour long ride to Dunn's River Falls. On the way, our tour guide gave us a history of the land, pointed out where Bob Marley and Usain Bolt were from, and told us a lot about the local culture.
One big part of the culture is music, and the famous song "Day-O" featured in Beetlejuice has a rich Jamaican history, talking about the banana man coming to count their bunches so they could hit their quota for the day and go home. We sang this on the bus and at both of our excursions. Also be prepared to say, "yah mon" a whole lot, because that was almost always the answer to every question they asked us.
We arrived at Dunn's River Falls and it was a bit different than we expected, its way more commercialized than we imagined. You arrive at gates where you get wristbands or buy tickets, and it makes you feel like you are at Disney World. Until you actually get to the water and meet your tour guide, the entire walk down their is different commercial stops with vendors and shops.
Our guide's nickname was "Big Foot' because he walked everywhere barefoot and his feet were huge. He was super energetic and gave us great instructions and did different silly things each time we stopped. (For example: since it was my dad's birthday, at one stop we circled around him and sang him Happy Birthday and splashed him with water). He also guided us under the water falls and down natural slides and let us swim through the water.
You start at the bottom of the river and climb your way to the top, some of the rocks were really slick or had big drop offs, so it was really important we pay attention to Big Foot and yet we each managed to slip a couple of times, but nothing was major.
The falls are an incredible display of natural beauty. The rocks break the water in to the most picturesque shapes, yet they flow so smoothly over the jutting stones. The water was surrounded by incredible tropical trees with ginormous leaves, letting in just the right amount of sunlight. It was the most tropical hike I have been on thus far.
Once we made it to the top we exited the park, trying not to shop at the stands so that we would be on time for our tubing tour of the White River. We arrived at the little shack check in spot, grabbed our inner tubes, and waited at the end of the pier for our guide to help us get in to the water.
We continued as a group down the river, through rapids and whirlpools, using the tour guides to save our butts when we got stuck. It was so much fun letting the water take hold of you and just seeing where you would go. The scenery was incredible all around, it felt like a tropical paradise. But what looked more like a paradise was the bamboo float tours we passed, they looked so romantic and luxurious we were all a little jealous.
But after our tubing adventure concluded and we arrived at our bus, we were off to a true Jamaican lunch at the Shaw Park Beach Hotel and Spa. We arrived to complimentary Rum Punches and were lead down to the patio where the buffet was laid out.
We requested a table by the water, in the sunshine, and ordered a round of Red Stripes before we got food of the buffett. Each of us tried everything they had to offer; curried jerk chicken, Jamaican jerk pork, steamed rice, and traditional beef patties filled our plates. Our plates didn't stay full for long, we each wiped them clean and thought about getting seconds.
Instead, Kendall and I decided to go swim in the ocean and wait to be called back to the bus. We waded in the bath warm water for a few minutes until we decided to dry off. We still had an hour bus ride back to the port, so everyone slept on the bus while it started to rain.
October is always a special month for my family, but October 2017 was extra special. We chose to celebrate both of my parents' 50th birthdays, their 25th wedding anniversary, and my sister's 18th birthday on a 7 day Royal Caribbean cruise. Our port stops included Cozumel, Mexico; George Town; Grand Cayman; and Falmouth, Jamaica.
Our time on the boat between port stops was delightful. We enjoyed delicious meals in the dining hall, warm rays at the pool, and games of chance in the casino. We made sure to explore as much of the boat as we could during our six nights there. Here are all of the things we managed to squeeze in:
Sunday and Monday - Galveston and sea:
Upon our arrival to the Liberty of the Seas we checked in, went through customs, got our room assignments and keys, then got settled in. Our first two days were very casual. We started each day by claiming a pool spot and having daiquiris. We spent both days sunning by the pool, racing each other down the speed slides, and surfing in the Flowrider. We had an assigned 5:30 pm dinner time at Botticelli's, so we headed to our rooms to get ready for a delicious meal.
After our meals, we went to music themed trivia at The Schooner Bar and then went to karaoke at the sports bar. After a few painful acts, my dad and I ventured to the casino to play a little roulette.
Tuesday - Cozumel:
We had a very early wake up call that morning for our Climb the Coba Pyramid and Cenote Swim excursion in Cozumel, Mexico. After our thrilling and busy day of ancient Mexican history, we got back on ship and got ready for our 5:30 dinner time.
We stayed out late in the casino after a game of 80's music trivia. We didn't get off the boat until noon the next day, so we were able to sleep in.
Wednesday - The Grand Cayman:
My dad's favorite tour was the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel tour in The Grand Cayman. We swam over a shipwreck and a shallow coral reef while basking in the Caribbean sunshine. After our tour and a little bit of shopping at the port, we got bak on board to get ready for another dinner at Botticelli's.
This night we decided to switch things up, so my dad and I went to the ship's pub to grab some beer cocktails before checking out The Love and Marriage Game Show. After getting some pretty solid laughs, we played a little bit of roulette and called it a night.
Thursday - Jamaica:
This day was our most casual excursion, yet we did a lot on our Inner Tubing and Dunn's River Falls Tour. After our adventures through the country's incredible natural wonders, we grabbed a local lunch and did a bit of shopping before getting back on the boat.
My dad's birthday celebration was at Botticelli's with the ice show Encore! after dessert. We enjoyed the show and boogied our way to a 70's disco party afterwards. When that ended, we went to the casino and had a particularly long but successful night.
Friday - at sea:
Since it was a sea day, we were able to sleep late before taking in hours of sun rays and each others' company at the pool. We relaxed until it was time to get ready for lobster night. That’s right, the main dining hall had a lobster night, and we got our money's worth. The feast included an appetizer, salad, two lobster entrees, and dessert. This was the perfect way to celebrate my little sister's birthday.
After the meal, we went to see El Gaucho, a comedian; musician; and impressive ball-swinger. After his terrifying acts of discipline, I drug Kendall down to another stage to play The Quest Adult Game Show.
I ended up being our team's spokesperson and had to do some really weird challenges while searching for ridiculous items. In the end, we lost, and my face was covered in another woman's lipstick.
Saturday - at sea:
Our last day at sea was very relaxing. We took our time getting up before starting to pack our things and return to the pool. That night, we decided to splurge and go to dinner at Sabor.
This Mexican restaurant was not included in our meal package, but we filled up on fresh guacamole and chips, tacos, calamari, and a variety of desserts like churros and flan before watching the cast production of Saturday Night Fever! After the final number, we headed back upstairs to get a good night's sleep before disembarking.
Sunday - Galveston:
We got up early that morning to grab one last breakfast from the Windjammer dinning hall. Even though we had a 10:30 a.m. depart time, we found out we were able to grab our suitcases and go around 9:00 am.
As we waved goodbye to our week long home at sea, I couldn't help but become emotional. The week with my family had flown by so quickly, but our trip was full of great memories that fill me with happiness.
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.