Posted September 4th, 2011, 08:13 AM
Last edited by mikeerdas; September 4th, 2011 at 08:33 AM
Thanks cruisetn! From what else I've read, I completely agree with your island recommendations (cozumel and roatan for snorkeling; belize and costa maya for ruins).
We have been to all of these ports many times. My suggestion for snorkeling is anywhere near Tabyana Beach (Infinity, Bananarama, etc.) in Roatan for the BEST shorkeling right from the beach....you will LOVE it.
How safe does it feel? Had a lousy on-my-own experience once snorkeling at a place called Coki beach on St. Thomas. Vendors quarreling with each other and felt like a den of thieves. Should have paid for a private beach excursion with a locker area for my stuff. If I go back to St Thomas I'd pay for a snorkeling excursion to St John's or DIY there. Would likely have been More My Style. I know some people love and swear by Coki. Great snorkeling but I never relaxed. My favorite snorkeling experience so far was on a beach not too far from port in Kona on the Big Island (took a bus to it as a DIY trip). Lots of sea turtles. No lockers. But felt very safe. Of course it's the US. So being a US citizen I naturally felt safer. Haven't seen anything yet as visually stunning in the Caribbean as what I saw in Kona.
Do any of the places on Tabyana Beach have lockers? Are roving vendors kept at a distance? It's not at all relaxing to me if I'm constantly pestered by vendors or if I have to think about my stuff being stolen. What I don't like is paying a Cruise line big bucks for something I could easily organize on my own, e.g. a short taxi ride or shared road transport to a beach or private resort (and paying the day pass fee myself). Different story if it involves ferries or private boats. Then I'd rather pay for an excursion.
I see at least two private island snorkeling excursions in Roatan offered by Carnival. Anyone been on these / to these places? Is it worth the extra $ vs. going to a public beach (like I'm assuming the ones at Tabyana are).
1) "Shipwreck Snorkel and Beach" - USD $66 pp (the shipwreck is 40 ft down and so impractical for snorkeling?)
2) "Maya Key Private Island Retreat" - USD $68 pp.
Although I'm very much a DIY / price-conscious kind of guy, I'm glad to overspend for tranquility and a more relaxed experience. At least based on the reviews I've read over at Carnival.com, people really seem to love Maya Key. That it's safe, interesting, etc. Again, Coki Beach was a low point in my cruising experience so far. And I've vowed to never again repeat that type of experience. That was a wasted day in port for me.
Cozumel - We always get a taxi to Money Bar (also known as Dzul-ha) and the entry there will remind you of Eden Rock in Grand Cayman if you have been there....just walk down a few steps and the snorkeling is right there, but there is not a beach.
Sounds interesting. I love the fact that there's no beach, actually. Hopefully that keeps vendors to a minimum--or possibly non-existent? Can others who've been to Money Bar comment on it as a snorkeling location?
One other option for snorkeling in Cozumel seems to be Chankanaab. What's it like compared to Money Bar on Cozumel and Tabyana on Roatan? Does it have lockers? Are roving vendors an issue? e.g. to the point of being pesky.
I see only one excursion offered by Carnival called "Chankanaab Day Pass and Discover Mexico" for USD $60 pp. The Discover Mexico portion would be a waste. Only want to snorkel. And isn't Chankanaab a national park? How much would it cost me to take a taxi or reliable shared transport to/from Kanaab from wherever the Carnival Dream docks? I think she docks about 2 miles away from the town of San Miguel. I imagine the admission fee to the park is a lot less than USD $60 pp.
I prefer shared transport generally because I hate bargaining with taxi drivers I don't know--and so don't really trust.
Some day my wife and I will get Scuba certified. No time for that this trip. I know some people fly directly to Cozumel and spend a week doing nothing but dives.
if you want to see great ruins, would recommend seeing them in Belize....would highly recommend Lamanai, Xuantunich or Altun-ha....Lamanai was our favorite because part of the fun was getting there....traveling by bus and then speed boat....Altun-ha involves a shorter boat ride and Xuantunich is mostly a bus ride along a major highway where you go more into the jungle on the other two....
Don't think I saw Lamanai listed on any Carnival-offered excursions. Will have to take a look. Most people seem to recommend Xunantunich as the most impressive ruins in and of themselves. But I totally understand that the journey can be almost as important as the destination. Xunantunich is a 7 hour excursion. I'd been hoping a good portion of the road portion would go through interesting places, so I could get a better sense of the landscape in Belize.
For anyone who's been to any of following ruins sites, could you recommend any specific site / picture books (title and author) for:
I always try to grab site books off eBay / Amazon before I embark on the ship. Like to know as much as I can in advance. Enriches the experience and I can ask more specific questions of a great tour guide.
Finally, if anyone has comments on which ruins site I should see in Costa Maya and why: either Chaccoben or Kohunlich, I'd appreciate it. What's more atmospheric / interesting / better eye candy for photos / etc? Would love especially to hear from anyone whose been to both sites. Or better still, both the Costa Maya sites + Xunantunich in Belize.
Guessing I'm going to love whatever I see. And will probably have to book a land/air tour in the future devoted to Mayan ruins to see Coban, Chichen Itza, and others.
Thanks again for the great info and recommendations!