My husband and I enjoy cruising - the best way to travel since his spinal cord injury left him with mobility challenges. Besides the excellent
Accessible Balcony Cabin, the excellent room stewards, tasty meals and special dining during "An Evening at Le Cirque" in the Pinnacle Grill, we received excellent support from Zuiderdam's Shore Excursion Team. Prior to ports of call I would go down and discuss with them the appropriateness of the shore excursions which we had pre-booked from home. Their suggestions were wonderful. Some ports in Central America are not very handicap-friendly. The Shore Excursion Staff even introduced me to Rafael Esparza, Operations Mgr. for Explora Caribe. Explora Caribe provided some of the ship's shore excursions and there was nothing suitable in the ship's offering so Sr. Esparza provided us with a private car and driver to take us to places which we could access, and at the rate which we would have paid for one of their bus tours. What wonderful service!!!
Not only were we pleased with the ship and service, we are grateful to Cruise Critic for the opportunities to share information with and glean information from other travelers. We especially appreciated the information regarding touring in Corinto, Nicaragua, which will be discussed in more detail later.
We visited quite a few ports which are not listed on CC's drop-down box. During our partial transit of the Panama Canal we took an excursion called The Shaping of Panama. It traveled to Panama City by highway with a nice luncheon there, then back to Colon. It was good to be able to see the countryside.
At Vera Cruz, Mexico, we visited the World Heritage Site of Tlacotalpan and the town of Alvarado. Tlacotalpan was wonderfully presented and a great opportunity to hike around and see prehistoric indigenous structures. At Alvarado we enjoyed a presentation of music and dance by students who are part of a group trying to preserve the local heritage.
Dos Bocas, Mexico, offered the Comalcalco Ruins featuring Maya constructions using bricks with unique designs and then Paraiso Town.
At Progreso, Mexico, we were provided a car by Explora Caribe (mentioned above) and went to Merida. The bus tours discouraged passengers with mobility issues but the driver of the car and the guide took us to see some small ruins plus Progreso's Zocalo, the Governor's Palace (take time to enjoy the art museum inside), The Cathedral. We had a wonderful lunch of locally-favorite foods at Los Almendros Restaurant and the driver and guide even took me to a bookstore in Merida where I could purchase some special volumes about the area.
In Corinto, Nicaragua, we used the services of John "Max" O'Connor for a private tour. We had found Max through Cruise Critic Reviews/Blogs and enjoyed our day. We shared his services with another couple whom we had met on board. The gentleman was in a wheelchair, complementary to my husband's use of an electric scooter (needs a wheelchair if the scooter couldn't be used.) We went to see the items which specifically interested us. Surprisingly, Max had to do some research for our tour because I had researched Corinto online and had come up with some places which were not on the usual tourist path.
At Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, we were not feeling well so cancelled the planned shore excursion to Antigua but did go ashore to do a bit of shopping and see a bit of local color. They have a very nice development there at the port with musicians and vendors selling their wares.