Port and Shore Excursions
I booked the parasailing excursion in Cabo. This was a lot of fun - you are clipped into a parachute on a platform at the rear of a boat, and then the boat starts moving and you gently rise up up up, about 400-500'. Our boat driver circled the ship, which was great fun, looking down on Celebrity! You're up there about 10 minutes or so. Parasailing can be arranged a lot more cheaply on the pier, but I went with the shore excursion in order to have a pre-vetted company.
Cabo otherwise is pretty much a tourist line of shops, beaches, and bars. If I went there again, I'd book a full-day excursion to get away from it.
I wrote a long review of this on TripAdvisor, where this company has more than 90 ratings, all 5-star as of right now! Short version: owned by a young man, Cesar, fluent in English and with a great sense of humor. Segways are very easy to ride, and in the HOT Cartagena climate, it was great not to work up a sweat, and to create our own cool Segway breezes! Cesar hit all the high points of the old town, with interesting commentary, and plenty of picture stops. (I booked the longer (90-minute) tour.) He also picked me up right at the port, very convenient. I can't recommend this tour and company highly enough!
This was arranged by a roll call member, and she did a great job in finding this company and arranging the itinerary of the tour. Unfortunately, we ran into a road accident ahead of us that delayed us considerably, so some of the sightseeing had to be cut short. In addition, we spent TWO HOURS in a restaurant for lunch - while it was a lovely waterside place, I'd rather have spent the time sightseeing. (In the tour operator's defense, he would have skipped the lunch for the sightseeing, but other people wanted to eat.) What we did, I liked - just wished there had been more of it.
Amazing! A bit of everything. We were picked up by a speedboat at the pier and went south about half an hour to a small village, where we piled onto open-air 4WD trucks, which after about 20 minutes deposited us at "base camp". There we changed into company-provided shirts and left everything else behind. You get soaking wet, so don't take passport, wallets, etc. unless they're well-protected from water. You cannot take a camera past base camp. We got on mules and rode them uphill for about 20-30 minutes. We then had a safety/how-to demonstration regarding ziplining, and then hiked uphill about 10 minutes or so to the first platform.
It's basically an Outward-Bound-type course that's been laid out, which includes several ziplines (one directly into a pool of water - splash!), rope bridges, rope ladders, rappelling (down a waterfall, and also free rappelling off a platform), hiking, and water slides. It must have been a blast to lay this course out, and it was a blast to traverse it. (Let me repeat - you get soaking wet, and there's no way to avoid it - bring a change of underwear, pants, and shoes.)
The course ends with a very long, steep water slide (you can hike down if it looks too scary, and some people did). There are then snacks/drinks at no charge, and quesadillas at $2 each. You don't need a towel - those are provided, along with plastic bags for your wet clothes and a changing room to put on dry clothes. A photographer accompanies you, and there are terminals set up to review the photos, which you can buy (at a pretty steep price) if you want. (There was no hard sell about this.) There's also a tiny gift shop with T-shirts etc. I would recommend wearing closed-toe sports sandals, like Keens, if you have them - better than getting a pair of running shoes totally soaked, and Keens are rugged enough.
There was great attention to safety - any time you were doing anything even slightly risky, you were clipped into one, and often two, safety lines. You wear a helmet and a well-maintained safety harness. The staff were great - very encouraging, and very safety-conscious.
Loved it - if you're the adventurous outdoorsy type, don't pass it up!
I'm a geologist so I wasn't going to pass up the chance to see the recently active Poas Volcano! I loved the drive there, about an hour and a half through the lovely Costa Rican countryside, with a great guide who pointed out features of interest and clearly loved her country and job. Poas is that rare active volcano you can drive to the top of, and it was beautifully cool up there, about 60-65F. It tends to sock in at about 10 AM, and we got there at 9.45, but there wasn't a cloud to be seen, and we had GORGEOUS views. (Our guide later told us that in her 100s of trips there, she had rarely seen it so clear and beautiful.) It's an uphill hike of about 15 minutes or so on a wide paved road. Our guide gave us lots of free time here to move at our pace, and several of us made the hike to an older caldera, now filled with water and set in the cloud forest - gorgeous, but a more difficult uphill hike that took about 20-30 minutes for most people. There's a pricy gift shop with some nice items, and a tiny museum with limited info on the geology. The restrooms tend to get crowded; I'd stop when you first get there.
We had a great included lunch at a local restaurant (i.e., locals were eating there) - my vegetarian self was happy with the plantains, rice and beans, and delicious strawberry smoothie! The lunch was handled very efficiently and we got out of there reasonably quickly.
Then we drove via the metal church at Grecia (no stops, just viewed it out the moving bus windows) to Sarchi, for a stop at an ox-cart painting workshop. This was really a shopping stop, but I didn't mind, because the workshops were open, and one painter was at work. If you're looking for hand-painted Costa Rican souvenirs, it would be a good place to pick some up. We drove by the "world's largest ox-cart" but didn't stop. We made one last stop, at the group's request, for some candy/coffee shopping, at a very reasonably priced place with a good selection.
I would have preferred a few more actual photo stops (instead of just driving by things) - hence 4 stars rather than 5 - but overall I enjoyed this well-organized excursion tremendously, especially since we were VERY lucky with the weather at Poas Volcano - many people who go there don't get to see into the crater at all.
The tour started late because the guide couldn't find a Celebrity staff member to give the tour tickets to, but once it did, it was a lot of fun. We did drivethroughs of the Gaslamp District and Balboa Park, then headed to Coronado Island for a restroom break and some beach scenery. Then it was off to La Jolla for a little cliff hiking and sea lion-watching. We ended up with about an hour of free time in San Diego's Old Town, where many people chose to have lunch, and where there is also a lot of shopping and some historic buildings for sightseeing. The airport dropoff was smooth and right on schedule. I took off a star as I'd have also liked to walk around the Gaslamp District, but we just drove through that. Overall, a lovely way to spend the free morning in San Diego!