My wife and I made our first trip together here in 1993. We have returned over the years and have gotten progressively depressed by what's happened there. I no longer dive, so I doubt I'll ever go back. Cozumel has lost everything that was charming about it. Because we know the island and because we wanted to finally use the snorkel gear we lugged from Colorado, we took an $8 cab ride a couple of miles north of the International pier and did some shore snorkeling as we walked back toward the ship. We started early to beat the heat, and soon realized that ship's time was an hour ahead of local time. So we were using bar beaches at bars that were nowhere near ready to open. That turned out OK. We were able to stash our stuff at the ship and head back out for lunch in El Centro. We ate at a restaurant that has meaning for my wife and I, then waded through the street hawkers before giving up and catching a cab back to the ship. I'm afraid to say that I may not leave the ship should I ever find Cozumel on a future cruise itinerary. Sad.
I did not research the Dunn's River Falls climb in advance, and was surprised by now difficult it was. I was glad to have the traction of my water shoes and the hands of my compatriots as our guide Archer took us through the wildest parts. Other guides took a more cautious route up the side, but Archer, sporting the No. 1 on his guide shirt, snaked us up from the beach 940 feet to the top of the falls. On Archer's route, we saw foot holds worn into the limestone rock. I gladly gave him a $20 for our family of three. The way out of the park takes you through a seemingly endless alley of hawkers. It cost me $30 to get outta there, much to the dismay of my wife and the delight of my newly rasta 13-year-old.
Jamaica always has been on my bucket list. It's higher on the list after this brief taste.
My wife likes to be the family cruise director and days like this make me totally good with her in that role. She booked us on an excursion that took us to the "bobsled" ride on Mystic Mountain and a climb up nearby Dunn's River Falls. The bobsled ride satisfied the 13-year-old's fascination with the Jamaican bobsled team. Fact is, she had ridden a nearly identical coaster the day before at Labadee. These cars just had cowlings that evoked a bobsled. The starter and I agreed on an extra special push to give me a shot at catching up with my wife. Since I would owe him a Red Stripe, I decided to go full throttle, no braking through the hairpin curves. After careening through the lush jungle, I earned a warning from the track marshal just as I caught up to my sweetie. That starter has a good thing gong there. I highly recommend the jerk chicken and fiesta fritters at the restaurant at the top of Mystic Mountain.
This was our first corporate port, and it was as I feared. If I ever do this again, I will stay on the boat. You are in the worst of all worlds: in a country, but not really in it, not supporting their economy, not seeing even a glimpse of their culture. You eat food that is carted off the ship. You rent stuff from the same company you're already paying. The fun just feels manufactured. The one "excursion" I recommend: the zip line. One-half mile long and a 500 foot drop that zips over the bay at 40 mph. The harness they use is like a hanging lounger. I felt more secure on this than any other zip line I've enjoyed. Hop off the ship first thing in the morning and you probably can get on right away. Then get back on the boat for manufactured fun that you've already paid for. The water park is fun for youngsters, and the water slide is a good deal if your kids like to ride it over and over. Skip the coaster ride and do the exact same ride on Mystic Mountain in Jamaica.