This is the best shore excursion that I have ever been on. The guides were excellent. Prior to the excursion, communications via E-mail with the company were extensive and clear. We were picked up at the cruise terminal. It turns out that at least 40 other people from the ship also selected the same independent tour company. The guides were very knowledgeable and articulate. On the ride to the park with the caves they gave us a good overview of Belize and the surrounding countries. At the park, we walked for a half hour through the jungle to get to the caves. In a surprise, the company had already hauled the inner tubes to the cave so that we did not have to carry them. The guides pointed out the local flora and fauna, and even offered everyone a chance to eat termites, which surprisingly have a minty flavor. Drifting on inner tubes through the caves was a unique scenic experience. Afterwards we were served a lunch of chicken, rice and beans, and either rum punch or local sodas made with cane sugar. I was happy for the local meal.
Overall this was an outstanding activity. It was a unique thing to do and it was educational and physical (but not overly strenuous).
It needs to be noted that this is one excursion that you have to read up on before you go, since you need bug spray, bathing suits, and old shoes.
We were really happy to get to go to Tulum. It is an interesting place to visit and loved learning about the Mayans. The guide was passionate and knowledgeable. The downside is that Tulum is an awkward excursion from Cozumel, being about 90 minutes away. This leaves only about two hours to tour the ruins. Part of the commute was on a ferry boat that has to cross a channel that is not smooth sailing. Luckily no one on the ferry seemed to be prone to sea sickness.
The guide was very up front about the fact that he was steering us to eat and buy souvenirs at places that he trusted and did business with. Our meal at the place that he recommended in Tulum was good.
My kids said that they liked the beach day. But I think that the park was the better choice since it was a rainy day. They paid extra to rent paddle boards. A good thing is that the beach is very close to the ship. A downside is that the beach was overcrowded.
We went to Gumbalimba Park while my daughters had the beach day. The park was good. The birds were beautiful and a monkey stole my glasses. The guide had to offer the monkey an orange to get him to give them back. The guide was local and could knowledgeably talk about the island. It is about a 20 minute ride to the park from the ship, but I enjoyed getting to see and hear about the island. The food service at the park was slow and was hamburgers and hot dogs. We were happy when the manager apologized for the slow service and gave us a free employee lunch of spare ribs, rice and beans, and breadfruit. I wish that was on the menu.