Also, Chanakaab is a beautiful nature park, with great snorkeling right off the beach, soft white sand, a botanical garden, free sea lion show, pool and multiple restaurants. It is a great place to spend the day even if you opt not to pay for the dolphin experience. We did not purchase the pictures of the dolphin interaction, which were ridiculously high priced. We took an underwater camera and got some great shots!
Cozumel also is a great shopping port and we enjoyed bartering and getting gifts for loved ones. Of course, there is also a lot of junk peddled but I guess you take the good with the bad. The port area is great and there is literally clear, blue, beautiful water right off the side of the boat, all the way to shore. We have been to Cozumel in the past and this is always one of our favorite ports of call.
The Moby Dick crew was knowledgeable, fun and really tried hard to make sure everyone had a great time. The tour was very reasonably priced and, actually, was the best value of our vacation. We snorkeled next to the barrier reef, where the waters were calm and crystal clear. Then we traveled to the sand bar and fed and interacted with the stingrays, which were both gentle and majestic. It was even better than the dolphin experience and a can't miss activity.
Grand Cayman also has some great restaurants and bars even close to the cruise port and we also found that the tendering experience to shore was well organized and easy.
As the port exists today, there are outdoor vendors in the port area and a free shuttle to the Rose Hall shopping area. Avoid taking the shuttle as they merely take you to an outdoor mall that you could almost find anywhere in the United States -- plus, there are no deals to be had.
We opted to book a private beach getaway tour with My Time 'N Place, a local beach/restaurant/bar area about 5-10 minutes away from the port. If you are looking for something simple, non-touristy and relaxing, this is the perfect tour. For $15/pp, they offer transportation and a full day pass to the beach area. The restaurant serves jerk chicken and other Jamaican food and the atmosphere is most definately relaxed, inviting and something of a local flavor. The owner Tony will come out and chat with you, telling of his crazy experiences and personal life stories. The beach water is shallow and clear and the sand white and perfect. Paradise.....we enjoyed our day.
Jamaica is getting a bad wrap from cruise passengers and we encountered several who noted that they were not even going to get off the boat. I think they are missing out. Sure, you need to use common sense and not wander off alone. You can certainly see that the country is poor right outside the gated port area. But we found that the Jamaican people appeared to be genuinely happy that we were there and they were friendly and humble. We did take some time to walk amongst the various craft and food vendors in the historic sections of the city outside the gated port area and did not experience drug peddlers, crime or negativity. We enjoyed the slice of Jamaica we experienced that day.