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Thorough Rio Secreto Excursion review from being on a Carnival ship incl. pics

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Hi everyone! I am going to try and post a full review here on the Rio Secreto excursion we took on Carnival from Cozumel. ( I know this board is for Playa Del carmen- this is actually where the cave system is located-but on the Carnival cruise, we docked in Cozumel and took the ferry that was included in our tour price )


I will list the good, the bad and the ugly-lol.





I do have to forewarn, this excursion was quite a bit of money , but imo so well worth it as I do not believe we will ever do anything like this again and you know, you only live once... I will post a few pictures here for everyone to see:




This excursion is a bit strenuous, but you do not need to know how to swim.Our tour group consisted of and 11 year old all the way up to n elderly grandma in her late 60's.


So let me back up to the beginning... We met in the dining room on the Breeze to take this tour at 7:45 am. It is actually on the mainland in Playa del carmen, so we had to take a ferry from Cozumel there.The nickname for the ferry is called the "vomit comet". Yes, gross, I know... but it deserved it's name as the water was a bit rough and had quite a few people succomb to its' evil I would recommend if you get a bit nauseous, wear a seasickness patch, take a motion sickness pill and sit on the bottom deck of the boat in the middle. This ferry takes approximately 35-45 minutes to get to the mainland. We booked the full Rio Secreto ( Amazing Secret River) tour with NO SHOPPING, but I will get to that part at the end of this review... ( One tour is just Amazing Secret River and the other is Amazing Secret River and 5th Ave shopping)


Okay. So next we board a bus to take us to the underground cavern. I say it took maybe 20-25 minutes. the van was like an American style van that seats about 10 with nice air conditioning.Now the really bumpy part is when they turn off of the main roads into the property. There you will have a bumpy ride. When we got there, we were shown where to change ( ideally you should wear your swimsuit there under your clothing and bring undergarments with you to change into AFTER the tour). They issue you swim shoes if you did not bring any,a wetsuit, a helmet, a lifevest, and walking stick if you would like one. I HIGHLY recommend taking one. It was great at keeping one's balance while walking and swimming through the cavern.




And yes, the water in places looks as blue as the pictures and so clear you can see individual grains of sand at the bottom of the cave.It was just breathtaking!!!


You are not allowed to bring in a gopro or any cameras, do not wear any jewelry, you must wash off your deodorant, sunscreen and makeup if you are wearing any. They try to preserve the cave as much as possible. If you wear glasses to see ( not sunglasses) you can wear them through the tour.


So after getting ready and meeting your guide, off you go to get a blessing from a Mayan Priest. Then down some rickety stairs into the cave. You stay dry for a little whole and then off you go through the water.It is very cold at first, but with the wetsuit, your body adjusts quickly. This excursion you might get a little bit scraped and bruised, but expected with this type of activity. If you have any mobility issues, this is not for you. We went in July, not the rainy season, so we did not have any issues with high water levels. If you do go during rainy season, in some spots, you will only have a small area to keep your head afloat to get through to the next "room". There are areas where you have to crouch and crawl or/and float on your back to get through if you are very tall. Some spots you could not touch bottom, but remember you are wearing a lifevest and other friendly people and your guide will help you out if you can't swim or need help.




There is a photographer who goes around the cave with you on tour and takes pictures of you, your group/family. The pictures came out really good. They cost $89.00 USD no matter how many were in your party/group. We were a family of 5 and received 100 pictures on disk. About 50 were generic pictures of the caves as you see on here, the other 50 were of our family members, as a group, and individuals.




After the tour which took about 1 1/2 hours, we changed, saw where to order our photos, and went to eat. It was buffet style. It was more of a full lunch for those who would eat everything on the buffet. there was beans, rice,veggies, salad makings...But still keep in mind, you are in the middle of the "jungle" and bugs everywhere. ( to each his own). If you really enjoyed your tour, you tipped your guide. Most tipped between $10-$20 . Then we were off to get back in the van and go back to the ferry...or so we thought...


As we got off the van a new guide told us we had to stay there to shop for about 2 hours. It was HOT and NO SHADE anywhere. We asked to take the ferry we saw at the dock to go back to Cozumel. She told everyone no and noone would get a ticket back to the mainland until after they shopped for 2 hours. I was very upset because we did not buy the tour with the 5th avenue shopping , but it did not matter. the shopping area was a few blocks away and it consisted of many high priced shops down a very long avenue. There was a mall that consisted of high end shops that you would find in the states, but if you were looking for souvenir tees, you were looking at starting prices of $20/$25 USD for the cheap ones. To get out of the full sun, you have to go in the shops. They do hassle you in these. There are not any benches you can sit in to get out of the sun either. We found a Haagen Daas ice cream shop that we stopped in. It had air We 5 all ordered ice cream and a coffee. The cost? 631.00 pesos. yep, that's right, they will take US dollars, charge you pesos, give you back pesos and will not tell you the monetary conversion.We were told that it was $39.00 USD. Got home and saw it was really $33.32 USD. I do not blame them for this really. I really am more upset at the ferry people as it was they who made us stay and we were not prepared at all for this 2 hours shopping excursion.


So we were also told to be back at 4:30 pm sharp as the ferry would not wait. We get back, and yep, you guessed it, one of the other tours was 45 minutes late. So we waited on the ferry for them to show up. They fill the ferry with every tour to the mainland and will not go anywhere without it being full. So, needles to say, we got back to Cozumel with no shopping time there and we were the "pier runners". lol. An experience to say the least.


BUT even with the end, I would so HIGHLY recommend this excursion if you are fit to do this. The cave itself was so enjoyable and we even got to see a clear/blind catfish in the water inside the cave and baby bats on the ceiling.


I would also recommend wear your swimsuit there, buy/bring your own swimshoes and bring socks/walking shoes to change into after the excursion because the sand will make your feet raw when shopping if you wear your swimshoes afterwards,they provide towels for you so leave them on the boat, and bring clothes to change into after you are done with the caves.


Hope this can help anyone thinking about this excursion as when tried to do research on it, I could not find much information out there for it.


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Thanks for your report - very nice!

We visit the Riviera Maya and specifically the Playa area often and are avtually building a home just to the north of town. There are many beautiful cenotes and natural wonders along the Yuctan as well as interesting Mayan ruins. So you may want to return for a land vacation one day and there are numerous accommodation options from the super-sized all-inclusive resorts to smaller, more intimate AI properties to condos and boutique hotels in town and in quieter areas.


I will say you can buy cheap T-shirts on 5th Ave for much mess than $20, but some stores are more expensive of course. The question on the peso vs US$ is simply the current exchange rate. You can pay in US$, but you will get a terrible exchange rate, and you will also receive pesos in return. YOu probably got a 16:1 exchange rate ($39 US) and the current rate is closer to 18:1 ($35 US). So no trickery there, just different exchange rates based on where you get your info. But that can be very confusing for someone visiting for one day and not exchanging money.


But thatns for your report again, nice pictures and I'm sure helpful to folks looking at this excursion! :)

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