Port and Shore Excursions
We booked the Mexican Cooking Experience at Playa Mia. The Pier was well organized and we took a 10 min bus ride to the Play Mia beach club. The cooking class was supposed to take 2 hours, followed by lunch and a few hours to enjoy the beach. When we arrived the previous class was running late, so we started late. Then the class took 3 hours and we had no beach time. If we return to Cozumel we would book a beach break here but skip the cooking class. The food we prepared was not very interesting, and the dessert was inedible. I expected something a bit more traditional then grilled fish with pre made tamarind sauce, and shrimp in a Tortia. I would not do this excursion again.
Grand Cayman was our favorite report; we had booked a beginners Scuba
Grand Cayman was our favorite Port; we booked an excursion to try Scuba Diving which didn't really work out; however that didn't detract from a good experience in Grand Cayman.
The tender from the ship to the Island went fast and we did not have to wait in line at all!
Once ashore we easily located the shore excursion desk for the third party agency we had booked with. They gave us a map and sent us off on a 5 min walk along the water front to the Dive site. Once there we were checked in, and started the safety briefing and were told all about the scuba equipment etc.
From there things went down hill, the guide only had the 2 of us but didn't seem to be prepared for complete beginners even though the excursion was billed as for beginners. I had done a lot of research, and called the excursion company to confirm that the Beginners Dive offered was a shore dive, and suitable for someone who had never dived before. Instead of the shallow water I was expecting that we would walk/swim out to deeper water, we were close to the Pier and pretty much jumped off a ladder in to 30ft of open water. Not ideal for 2 beginners who have never been in a scenario like this.
Once in the water we found the current to be really strong, with big waves crashing against the rocks, my husband was given to many weights, and pretty much sank as soon as he was in the water...this caused some panic and resulted in us not finishing the dive. I think we will try diving again but in calmer waters!
Even though this was not the best experience, we still had a great time. After recovering a little we walked around George Town, did some shopping, and visited their national museum. Which was really interesting. We asked a local for a lunch recommendation, and they recommended Coritas Copper Kettle. Coritas is a tiny little cafe slightly off the main shopping streets and serves cheap authentic Cayman food. It was full of locals and we loved it. Coritta recommended that we take a bus around the ISland, and pointed us in the direction of the bus stop. After going around the ISland we headed back to the ship.
2nd Visit to GSC, we were really excited to hear about all the enhancements to the Island, and had originally booked a Cabana. However due to Hurricane Sandy we had to push our trip back a week, and there were no Cabanas available on the new sailing. We ended up getting Clam Shells instead, and were glad we did. They were right by the water, near a bar and the snorkeling hut, and provided the perfect amount of shade. When we saw the location of the Cabana's we were not at all disappointed, and would opt for Clam Shells over Cabanas again. The Cabana's are really out of the way, we could not even see them from the beach. Clam Shells were defiantly a better value at $29 vs $300.
Due to Sandy passing through 2 weeks before the beach was badly eroded, and the visibility for Snorkeling was really bad. Last time we were here we had fantastic snorkeling and saw all kinds of fish and sting rays. This time the water was cold, and cloudy and we could not see anything. We gave up and spent the day on the beach. We were a little disappointed, but NCL can't control the weather.
The lunch buffet on the Island was really good, with lots of choices.
We were a little concerned about Jamaica, as we had read a lot of worrying reviews about Ocho Rios. We booked a day at the Jewell Dunns River Resort. For $65 we got access to the entire resort facilities, including food and beverages all day. We booked through an online agency that specializes in these types of trips.
One mistake we made was to not book the optional roundtrip bus transfer from the pier to to the resort; this turned out to be a mistake. The pier in Ocho Rios is very chaotic, and the staff there make it really difficult to get a taxi or arrange your own transportation. They seemed really concerned when they found out we had a resort booking but had not booked the transfer. We could not get a taxi to take us, and the Pier staff ended up radioing the excursion driver to come pick us up, and we were able to pay him cash for the transfer. They really didn't seem to want you wondering around, or negotiating cab fare on your own.
The Jewell Dunns River was fantastic, the beach is small but the Sand is lovely and the water warm. We had no trouble finding a shady spot on the beach. The staff were great coming around to offer drinks, and Spa treatments, towels were provided and the food at both the Buffet, and beach grill was really good. The Pools were really nice, and seemed to have a lot of fun activities. We liked it so much we did not want to leave, and are thinking about booking a stay here in the future.