My husband and I took our 3 kids (22, 18 and 14) and 2 of their girl/boy friends (22 and 20) on their first cruise January 2-6 on the Carnival Dream; just a 4 nighter to Cozumel and back for a quick getaway and to celebrate having a Senior in College and a Senior in High School. We had connecting balcony rooms with a guys room and a girls room. Our cruise was very memorable because our son proposed to his long time girlfriend and we just had an overall great time.
I wanted to share our Excursion story because I know everyone likes to debate pay more to book through Carnival or save money and book on your own. :)
First it was hard finding something that would fit all 7 of us interest and budget wise. I finally decided on the Powered Catarmaran to Passion Island and purchased through Carnival when they had the 10% discount for Tax Day. I considered going to Mr Sanchos or something similar on our own but wasn't comfortable trying to navigate all of this on my own with 6 other people in tow......the youngest 2 being moody teenage girls! haha With the sale it wasn't much more than Mr Sanchos and I was able to get the convenience and promise from Carnival to take care of us. Boy did we wind up needing it!!!!
First of all, the advertised 45 minute ride seemed longer than that! It seemed to take forever to get to the island and since it rained hard part of the way out the people on the top deck (4 in our group) got soaked and had to come stand on the lower section. I will say our time at the island was WONDERFUL and we wished we could have stayed longer! It was beautiful and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Here comes the truly unforgettable part........ as we were loading the boat it was obvious we were headed into a storm. We immediately hit ROUGH waves and heavy rain, which continued for the next HOUR!!!! Multiple people, from young kids to older folks, got sick and were having to vomit in black plastic bags. People were screaming each time we hit a huge wave and water came INTO the front of our boat! Our tour guide actually asked 2 of our girls to not scream as they were "scaring others" (we were on the front row nearest the driver). Ummm, hello, half the boat of 100+ people were screaming!!! Our guides told us as soon as we rounded the tip of the coastal area it would calm down. It didn't! People were getting life vests on and our guide actually announced don't worry, those aren't necessary. I grew up on lakes and know water. I got mine out!! My husband told me I don't mean to sound morbid but if we go down save the children and don't worry about me. He was half joking........ They finally determined we weren't going to be able to safely make it back to the ship so we had to pull into a tiny harbor and wait in the rain for several large buses to come get us. They allowed families with small children and the elderly to load first while we waited in the rain for what seemed like forever. My kids commented this is like the Titanic.....women and children first. ha We had to climb a steep flight of stone stairs and an elderly man with a cane had to be carried up by passengers and the guides.
We were 30-45 minutes LATE to the ship. I don't mean the latest boarding time, I mean after the ship was supposed to leave. When they dropped us off at the Cozumel port all the shops were closed and workers were telling us don't stop, get on the ship as soon as you can. We didn't go through any security and they had to send carts to help those that couldn't walk quickly that far. I was so worried we would be booed on the "walk of shame" for those late but they must have been announcing the hold up because no one heckled us from the ship.
We were so glad to finally make it back to the ship! So glad to be on steady ground and that the ship didn't leave us! Now, I know this wouldn't have happened had it not been for the horrible boat ride but I can't tell you how comforting it was to know that the ship was waiting for us. My husband says no more boat rides for excursions and for now I'm with him. We will stay on land and drive to the beach next time and I will search for a good deal through Carnival because my peace of mind is worth it. hahaha I know LOTS and LOTS of people have done just fine with taking care of their own excursions and I say more power to you! Just wanted to share the excursion we will NEVER forget!