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bigwally

"Land cruise" in Playa del Carmen.

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Was looking to book a cruise to the southern Caribbean this fall that would let my wife see some of the Mayan sites. We had originally zeroed in on a Holland America seven nighter on the Veendam from Tampa that takes in Belize City, Costa Maya, Santo Tomas de Castilla, and Key West (not in that order), plus a couple of sea days.

 

Well the travel agent suggested an AI resort instead and hooked my wife with the phrase "land cruise". So we've booked 9 nights at the Royal at Playa del Carmen, which will give us a good jumping off point for Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Coba and Tulum. And we've taken a Royal Jnr. OV suite, which will give us the ability to select and check into our room 48 hours prior to arrival.

 

Anyone have any really good tips for this AI in particular and PdC in general?

 

FYI, I'm already hanging out at playa.info, which seems to be a great place for information and tips from locals and returning travellers.

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Congratulations. You're going to love this trip. We did an independent travel vacation in the Yucatan and Riviera Maya a few years ago and still think it was the best vacation we've ever done. We did not do an AI (except a one night stay at the Riu Palace in Cancun the day we arrived), so our experience will be a little different than yours. We wanted to do more travelling around, and stayed in Cancun, Chichen Itza, and downtown PDC during the week with lots of touring around.

 

Many people in an AI just stay there, but if you're going to go to Chichen Itza, Tulum, etc you're probably going to rent a car. Good plan - the driving is not difficult, just get the full coverage insurance (it will probably cost as much as the car rental, but you'll want it anyway.)

 

Go to www.mapchick.com and order her PDC map and Riviera Maya map. Her maps are amazingly detailed, even down to restaurants (with reviews) and roadside taco stands! They are an invaluable resource. I just checked her site and it says her Chichen Itza map is back-ordered. That would be a good one to have too if you have time to wait for it before you leave. Her website is also a good resource for PDC info.

 

PDC is a terrific little town for walking/shopping, and eating if you don't mind having a meal away from your AI once in awhile. Also lots of fun bars/clubs. Mapchick's PDC map will have all of those too. I can highly recommend a restaurant called Yaxche, on Calle 12 between 5th and 10th Avenues (5th is the main shopping drag - it's an all-pedestrian street). Yaxche has won all kinds of awards for native (Mayan) cuisine and it really is a good place.

 

There is a passenger ferry that runs between PDC and Cozumel (45 minute ride each way). Since you're going to be there 9 days, I'd take at least one day and go over to Cozumel. The ferry terminal in Coz is right next to the downtown cruise ship terminal and all the shopping/bars in downtown Coz.

 

We also really enjoyed the eco-park called Xcaret, www.xcaret.com about a 10 minute ride south of PDC. You could spend an entire day there. Everything from an underground river where you can float about a half mile, ruins, beach, activities/shows.

 

I'm envious. We've got three cruises booked now, but just thinking about this I've just about talked myself into another land vacation down there!

 

Have fun. I hope this helps a little.

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Thanks for the response.

 

Car - yes we are going to take a car for at least a day and possibly a couple of the days. For visiting Tulum and Coba specifically, since they are fairly close to PdC. Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, because of the distances involved and my perhaps not wanting to drive quite that much, I was thinking of booking mini-van type tours.

 

We are going to get out into PdC some, even though we are at an AI.

 

My wife wants to do a couple of massages and I don't want to pay the resort's high prices, so I've told her about Veronica's, where she can get a one hour massage for $33. I've told her than I'd rather she have three at $33 than just the one for $80. I don't care for massages, so I've told her that, should she want me to accompany her, I would just as soon find a nearby bar where I can consume many frosty beverages ($33 worth even!). :)

 

Part of the reason for booking an AI, which is actually one of the reasons we like to cruise as well, is that my wife and I both tend to suffer from "should we?" syndrome when it comes to restaurants. We've been known to wander a town for hours, checking posted menus trying to find something we fancy. Sometimes not even finding anything we both agree on. So we kinda like having our dining choices somewhat limited. However, if we were to find something outside the AI that we just had to try, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't.

 

Cozumel I'm not sure about yet. I'd like to, but I'm not sure about forking out $40 for the ferry unless I feel we'll find something really special to see or do there. Gosh, kinda starting to sound like I'm cheap, isn't it? :o

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Ditto the mapchick map suggestion. Get both Playa and Rivera Maya maps. They come quick and are priceless for planning your "land cruise". If you want to do Chichen Itza right, do an overnight near the site. We stayed at Mayaland, Hotel Chichen is also nice. You can go to the night show they have at the ruins, then be on the grounds first thing the next morning. You get amazing pictures with no people in them. Get a guide for Chichen Itza. Ask for Javier at the front desk of Mayaland, they know how to get in touch with him. He is fantastic! Grew up playing on the ruins as a child. You get Mayan perspective of history. Stop at the town of Valloloid on the way back to Playa. Have lunch at Hotel de Mason. Great food, great courtyard to eat in. The Royal is great. If you can't tell, we love the area. Make sure and eat out a couple of times in Playa, Yaxhe is fantastic.

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Was looking to book a cruise to the southern Caribbean this fall that would let my wife see some of the Mayan sites. We had originally zeroed in on a Holland America seven nighter on the Veendam from Tampa that takes in Belize City, Costa Maya, Santo Tomas de Castilla, and Key West (not in that order), plus a couple of sea days.

 

Well the travel agent suggested an AI resort instead and hooked my wife with the phrase "land cruise". So we've booked 9 nights at the Royal at Playa del Carmen, which will give us a good jumping off point for Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Coba and Tulum. And we've taken a Royal Jnr. OV suite, which will give us the ability to select and check into our room 48 hours prior to arrival.

 

Anyone have any really good tips for this AI in particular and PdC in general?

 

FYI, I'm already hanging out at playa.info, which seems to be a great place for information and tips from locals and returning travellers.

 

 

You're going to LOVE Playa del Carmen . . . and the Royal is beautiful!! You can't beat the location of the Royal - it's right in town, on the beach and right at 5th Avenue. We've been staying at the Grand Porto Real, which is a sister property to the Royal and is located directly across the street, for years and LOVE it! The last time we did a land vacation to Playa del Carmen, we toured the Royal and had breakfast at PELICANOS, which was very good! You will have privileges at all the Real resorts. If the service is anything like at the Gran, your stay at the Royal will be awesome . . . Playa del Carmen is a wonderful place to visit and gives you easy access to many things. Definitely don't miss Tulum . . . :) Easy to walk to the ferry to go over to Cozumel as well! Playa.info is a wonderful site - I'm sure you'll find all the info you need! :D

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where is veronicas? I would like to look into the massages?

 

THANKS

 

Just north of Constituentes on 5th.

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will add to take a look over at the Playa del Carmen forum on Trip Advisor. It's fairly active that can probably give you info on The Royal.

 

I agree with the others, MapChick's map is a treasure trove of information. We visited Ek Balam this past October... we loved it because it's not as crowded as all the other tourist sites.

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