This was our families first cruise. I travelled with my husband Cam and our two children - our 16 year old daughter and our 13 year old son. There is so much to tell, but it was just the best vacation, both kids have said it was "their best vacation ever" and we plan on cruising again.
I had read the cruise reviews prior to sailing and really picked up alot of helpful tips and information which we used for our cruise. We flew out of Toronto in a snow/ice storm and were lucky the plane was not cancelled. Luckily we had flown down the day before just in case, so we would not miss our ship.
We arrived at the pier around noon and everything went smoothly. I had heard horror stories about the long line ups and we were prepared for them. But we just walked along pretty quickly and were processed and onto the ship. We were all so excited! We got our room cards/keys and were up in our room right away. Our luggage started to arrive outside our door during the next hour or two. We explored the ship, had lunch and just watched what was happening from the upper decks.
We enjoyed each and every day. We had 3 days at sea and we took advantage of the sunshine and were in lounge chairs reading and just people watching. The kids had hooked up with many other kids their own age and they were content. We used the hot tub and even the water slide which was alot of fun and very refreshing. It was very hot on our cruise!!!
Our 3 ports were absolutely the best. I loved each one of them. In Cozumel we went to town for the morning and did some shopping and then went by cab to Chankanaab National Park and did lots of snorkeling from shore. Loads of fish and nice that you did not have to take a boat to a reef. After being on the ship I did not want another boat ride. We had lunch there and you could explore the grounds - very pretty and great beach too. Then my daughter and I had a SWIM ADVENTURE at the Dolphin Discovery which was located in this park. We had prebooked from home prior to our cruise and saved alot of money, also this guaranteed our spots - this sells out quickly. We paid $99 u.s. for this and others in our group (who were from the same ship) paid $154. We got to kiss the dolphin, hug it, shake its fins, get kissed by the dolphin, get pulled through the water for a fun ride and then snorkel and swim with the dolphin for about a half an hour. Totally a once in a life time experience.
Next port was Grand Cayman Island. Very beautiful and flat just like Cozumel. I had prebooked a tour for $30 each u.s. They were waiting for us at the pier. There were 27 of us in total who had this booked and the company we used was NATIVEWAY TOURS. We went to the Stingray Sandbar and swam with the stingrays which was absolutely amazing. We were a little nervous at first, but after about a minute you see these huge beautiful wild creatures and realize that this is just the best! We spent bout 35-40 minutes with them on this sand bar way out in the ocean. It was about 3-4 feet deep and you had snorkel and masks on if you wanted to snorkel. We did both. We held the stingrays, took lots of pictures so take a WATERPROOF CAMERA (they even sell them on the ship), we also fed the stingrays - our tour guides had fish for them. They also are in the water the whole time with us.
The nice thing about booking this type of tour is that you are on a smaller boat compared to some of the other tours to this sandbar with 50-100 or even 150 people on huge tour boats. 27 people is alot easier to handle and get masks and snorkels to and then having everyone get off the boat and then back on. After the stingrays - which I hated to leave, we went snorkeling for about the same time and saw tons of beautiful fish again. Then a nice ride back to the island. The guides were great. NATIVEWAYS CAN BE REACHED AT THIS EMAIL ADDRESS firstname.lastname@example.org
Then our last day at a port was Ocho Rios Jamaica. I had also booked this prior to my trip (from cruise reviews). We booked with IONIE McBEAM. She was amazing and she gave us everything she said she would provide. She also has an email address which is email@example.com
She met us at the pier as promised and took us in an air conditioned bus to the Dunns River falls first thing. We were dropped there and she said she would pick us up in 1 1/2 or 2 hours (I forget how long) and we climbed the whole 900 feet of falls in a group with a guide. It was alot of fun. Make sure you have a water proof camera for this. Our guide was great. Then Ionie was there to meet us again. My daughter got her hair braided there as well after we climbed the falls. Then we left there and drove through Fern Gully which is really amazing to see. Many different kinds of ferns and just high walls of natural rock and trees and very narrow roads. We then drove up the hills to see the homes of the wealthy and then around here and there and saw schools, and homes of the real Jamaica people which was really nice to see. We then got to the place I also had booked with her - Water Tubing.
She dropped us off and we tubed down the river for about an hour. This was a little colder than the Dunns River Falls, but alot of fun. If you don't like roughing it a little you may not like this. You have to push yourself off the banks sometimes and your guide also kept everyone together. Alot of fun. Again Ionie our guide met us at the end of this ride. We then went to a restaurant called Bibibips Bar and Grill right on the shoreline and had a great lunch. Then off to shopping. We had planned to go snorkeling again, but sort of ran out of time. Ionie took us to the pier. This cost us $30 each ($10.00 of this was for Dunns River Falls) I also gave her a good tip. She told us so much as we were driving around, it was very nice. I think Jamaica is the most beautiful of the islands we saw. There are mountains and it is very lush looking - the other 2 islands are flat as pancakes, but very beautiful just the same.
I could go on and on. If anyone has any questions about the cruise, I have so many things I could tell you about. Here are a couple of things. Take a bungee cord to keep your door open on the balcony - if you haved a balcony that is. Also be sure to purchase the soda card - if you like to drink lots of pop. It is $20 for the kids and $30 for adults. Really worth it. That is it. Take care and enjoy your cruise. Karen