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Most informative Mediterranea review PART 2--Ports 'O Call

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This is my follow-up review from our most recent Mediterranea cruise last week (3/19-3/26), and will cover the ports of call. As a reminder, we are as follows:


The PLAYERS: Myself (30ish), DH (30ish), DS (5), DD (3), mother (60ish) father (60ish). We have all been on many cruises, on many different cruise lines. We last cruised Costa (sans DH and children) in the early 90’s.


OVERALL—We LOVED it! And, are looking forward to going back again and/or booking the Magica.

Ports of call and our activities were as follows:

KEY WEST—We do not really care for this port because we are from Florida and hate that we haven’t even left the state when we visit here on a cruise. Plus, on this specific cruise, we were only in port for a few short hours. We docked at the Naval Base, which required us to take a shuttle into town. The shuttle is free, and will either be a trolley or a multi-car train-type vehicle. Both of these vehicles are used for formal tours in town, so it was nice to be able to ride in a decent vehicle. And, on the way into town, the driver will point out a few places of interest. Once in town, we hit the Christmas shop (looking for ornaments) and the cute clothing boutiques. Spent about and hour shopping. Then we found a bar with patio seating where we could all have a cool drink. Nothing like having a Margarita at 10:30am! On our way back to the shuttle stop, we stopped in a local drugstore and picked up a 12 pack of Diet Coke. We had no problems carrying this back onboard.

Cozumel—We were last in Cozumel in October of last year (2005) BEFORE the hurricane hit. We were shocked at the damage! For those that may not be aware, all of Cozumel’s 3 cruise docks are severely damaged and cannot be safely used to dock ships. So, you must tender in. We were in port at Cozumel all day, so my mother and I opted to take a quick trip onshore to do some power shopping (I was looking for pearls). We left the kids in the Squok Club, DH and father sat reading by the pool, and off we went. It took us about an hour to actually get onto the tender because of the large number of tours that were still be shuttled off of the ship. In order to take a tender, you must report to the theater and be issued a #. Then, you must sit and wait until that group of numbers is called. It takes awhile. Also, for those of you who have never been to Cozumel, be aware that there are vendors on the tender who will try to sell you jewelry, trinket and/or t-shirts. They are very persistent, but just say NO if you not interested. We actually ended up buying t-shirts from them because they were only $5, and are actually good quality. (Honest—I’ve already washed them once and they still look new!) After power shopping, we returned to the ship, ate lunch, then DH, kids and I went back on-shore and hit the beach. NOTE—since the tender rush was over, we were able to walk-on to the next available tender. The rush is only in the morning. Once on-shore, we hailed a cab and were driven to Paradise Beach. ($20 total for all of us). Paradise Beach is free! They offer beach chairs (also free) and have food/drink available ala carte. They ask that you spend a little $ with them (order a drink or two, which we did). Beach toys (rafts, water trampoline and floating climbing iceberg) are available for an $8 fee per person. We purchased beach toy wristband for our son. Although the water is not crystal clear on the beach, there are tons of little shells. The kids had a great time digging in the sand. A Mexican lifeguard is also on stand-by. I believe you can also arrange for a banana boat ride or snorkeling for an additional fee. Changing facilities are available. After several hours at the beach, we took another $20 cab to the port (cabs readily available) and tendered back to the ship. It was a great inexpensive day!

Ocho Rios—We had arranged for a private tour via A-Z Planners while in Ocho Rios. It worked out fabulously. (Visit the Jamaica board here on this site for more info on them).They met us at the port with no problems at all. It was a busy day, with three ships total in port, so there was a lot of cabs and buses at the port. While waiting for our van to arrive, the tour operator casually mentioned that they were expecting another ship, but had just heard on the radio that it was on fire just off the coast. I said, “Fire—fire…like BAD fire?!?!” IT was the Star Princess, and I’m sure by now you are all aware of what happened to it. WOW!

Our tour guide was Ian, and we had an entire van to ourselves. He took us to Dunn’s River Falls, where we opted not to climb (due to our kids being too young/small). At Dunn’s we walked the entire length of the falls, spent 30 minutes on the beach, and briefly visited their shopping area. Next stop on the tour—Shaw Park Gardens, where Ian introduced us to Chris, who privately toured us around the gardens. We enjoyed out private tour, and passed several large groups who were having a hard time hearing what their tour guide was saying because there were 30 people in their group. The gardens are spectacular. After the gardens, Ian drove us through Fern Gully, which sis the local rainforest. Total cost of tour $226 for all 6 of us. Good deal. At the conclusion of the tour, we requested that Ian drop us at Island Village, which is adjacent to the port, so that we could go to Margaritaville. We enjoyed a “Cheeseburger in Paradise” at Margaritaville at a poolside table, while my son swam and slid down the water slide 600 times. Looking over your shoulder at Maragritaville, you can see the Mediterranea parked in the distance. Nice! Following lunch, we visited the Margaritaville beach where the kids again dug in the sand and found shells. A leisurely stroll through Island Village on the way out allowed us to purchase some great t-shirts. You can walk back to the ship from Island Village, but a cab driver offered to take us all for $6, so we gladly agreed. All-in-all, a great day.

NOTE—Many people are afraid in Jamaica and hear about rampant crime, purse snatching, offers of drugs. We never encountered that and felt safe the whole time we were there.

Grand Cayman—We arranged for a private tour with Nativeway for this location. (See Cayman boards here on this site for more info). Grand Cayman is also a tender port, and we were concerned about needing to get up at the crack of dawn to acquire a “precious” tender #, however, for whatever the reason, tendering is much more efficient here, and we were able to leisurely eat breakfast and walk onto a tender with no problem. Nativeway met us at the port and once again we had a private van. Our tour guise was Creston. First stop, a drive through town and a quick stop at HELL. We were surprised by how small HELL was. It’s really only 4 buildings and an interesting hell-like rock formation. Not at all what we thought. Next stop, the Tortuga Rum Factory. No cakes were being made while we were there, but we tasted some great samples. Following that, we visited the Turtle Farm, where we were able to view and TOUCH many turtles. Yes, some of these turtles are harvested for the island as meat—but it’s a small percentage. The Turtle Farm is in the midst of an expansion, and is adding facilities that will allow you to spend an entire day and do things like swim with the fish (dolphins), eat at a 5-star restaurant, shop, etc. Their goal is to make it a day-long destination. We only spent about an hour at the Farm. A quick lunch at the sandwich shop, and then our driver Creston took a small detour and showed us his house (from afar). I know that sounds odd, but he lives next door to his mother, who is next-door to his aunt, who is next-door to his sister, etc. All told, they have quite a bit of land on the coast and even raise cows. Lastly, Creston drove us to a local harbor where we boarded a boat and jetted off to Stingray Sandbar. We were really lucky and had the WHOLE BOAT TO OURSELVES!!!! How cool! The captain, Chris, offered us punch and water, and even allowed us to sit up top near the captain’s seat if we wanted. Once at the sandbar, he quickly jumped into the water a scooped up a stingray so we could all touch it. After our initial fears were dispelled, we all got in the water and stood among the many stingrays that were silently swimming around. It was definitely one of the neatest things I have ever done! It was paradise. There we wee in crystal clear water in the middle of the ocean (about1.5 miles off shore) with these beautiful creatures all around us. Really, really neat. After spending about an hour with the rays, we then reboarded the boat and jetted back to shore. Total cost of tour--$45 p/p, with the kids costing slightly less. WELL WORTH IT!!!!

So—there you go. Hopefully this review of the ports of call is helpful to you. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.


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that is a very nice, helpful review.

it has most of things people would ask about.



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Thanks so much! Glad you found it helpful. I have used this board so often in the past and found some really neat tips/tricks, so I thought it was only fair that I "pay it forward" and add my own tips/tricks.



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