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Home > Member Reviews > cyclenut's Port Reviews of Labadee, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel

cyclenut's Port Reviews of Labadee, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Freedom of the Seas cruise in June 2012
Member Name: cyclenut
Cruise Date: June 2012
Embarkation: Port Canaveral
Destination: Western Caribbean
Member Review: cyclenut's Freedom of the Seas Review
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We booked an over-the-water cabana on Nellie's beach. What an amazing experience. It was perfect. After disembarking the ship and walking to the main area we found it somewhat difficult to find the proper place to present out ticket showing our cabana reservation. After asking three different people who were all very friendly, but who all gave different answers, we finally found someone who pointed us in the right direction and we were shuttled over to the cabanas. We were greeted by our host who gave us information we needed to enjoy our stay. The Cabana's were well equipped and included a cooler with bottled water, plenty of towels and floating mats for our use.

An upgraded lunch is included with the cabana rental and we took advantage of it. I was a little disappointed though that the gate was closed and left unattended. The lunch is not served at Nellie's beach. You must leave that area and walk to the other beach (not sure the name) where concierge and suite guests are at. It is a short walk, but you must enter through a gate that has a chain around it. Someone should be standing there to check wrist bands and open/close the gate. We spent the entire day basking in the sun, alternating between the water and the cabana. We could feel the stress exiting our bodies as we enjoyed our first port. There was so much else going on but we didn't even look that direction. We were quite happy to relax and unwind.

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Port Rating: 2.0 out of 5+
We chose the Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls experience. The caves were not what we expected but they were interesting. They were close to the ground with several places where sunlight broke through the ceiling. Being that close to the surface, the caves were hot. There was one areas where we descended into the grotto (lake) area that was really spectacular. It was nice experience but it just wasn't that compelling.

The second half of our excursion was Dunn's River Falls, where you start at a beach and climb up the falls as water rushes down around you. While these falls were at one time very natural, much of what is now there has been manipulated and constructed by man to make climbing the falls safer and easier. After the hot caves it was very nice to experience this climbing of the falls. Unfortunately, leaving the area subjects you to a number of very unfriendly vendors trying to push you to purchase from them. It reminded me a bit like a gauntlet. Unpleasant.

Worse than that is that RCCL chooses to dock in Falmoth, which is an hour away from any of the real attractions of Jamaica. This makes for a very long bus ride. This ride is a bit unsettling as well as the drivers are very aggressive in Jamaica, frequently tailgating and sometimes forcing each other to the shoulder of the road to avoid a head-on collision (I saw this no less than six times). Fortunately our bus driver was not one of the offenders there, but tailgating is apparently an accepted if not expected practice.

If you want to experience Jamaica, find another way to do it. I don't recommend getting off the ship here.

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Grand Cayman
Stingray Swim Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Stingray city was simply amazing. It is hard to describe. Even after reading the description you can't imagine it until you experience it. We took a short bus ride to the docks and then boarded a dive boat for the sandbar. It was about a 30 minute boat ride. Our captain and guide brought us close and we all entered the water to swarms of stingrays. These creaturs know when a boat is approaching they are going to get food and they swarm the arriving boats. You can feed and pet the stingrays and get your picture taken with them as well. Unfortunately it is also very crowded. As new boats arrive, the stingrays scatter to the new boats in hopes of more squid. The tour guide keeps a singray close so you are never without one nearby, but the swarms leave as soon as you run out of food, which is in about 10 minutes.

We then boarded the boat again and went to the barrier reef for some snorkeling. Unfortunately our boat had picked up extra passengers from a vessle that had broken down nearby. We did not recieve proper instructions and since this was our first time, we ended up in the water completley unprepared and without a snorkel vest. After about 10 minutes of figuring out how everything was supposed to work and getting a properly fitted snorkel vest we enjoyed viewing the barrier reef and all the life around it. I was able to take numerous pictures and even a one-minute video of this reef, but the time allowed was too short. We were there for about 30 minutes and really needed about an hour at the reef.

After the reef we headed back to the dock and onto a bus, but not before we were "encouraged" to look at the pictures taken of us with the stingrays. The cost was $40 for a CD with what amounted to three pictures. That was the only option and we didn't take it, which seemed to upset the guide. After we arrived at the dock we boarded a bus and headed to the beach. We were given tickets for a lunch, a rum punch and a lounge chair. Lunch was excellent. You were given a choice of hamberger or hot dog and you could add grilled chicken with jerk spices. Nicely done. Some of the most excellent chicken I have eaten, but a little spicy for some folks. There was salad as well as water and sweet tea. Even though the bus driver had said we could use the ticket for a local beer, the bartender would only offer the rum punch or regular punch. We discovered that the same buffet lunch and drink was offered as an "all inclusive" to Carnival passengers (also docked there). They had more options than we did. This seemed a bit odd to me.

My wife and I found the beach to be a bit unimpressive. We were on a section of what is called 7-mile beach (not sure it was called rum point). The sand turned sharp with shells near the water and you really couldn't go swimming as there was a reef just a few feet away. This was ideal for snorkeling it seemed, but those that did said they were disappointed as there wasn't much color to the reef and no many fish either.

We ended up leaving the beach and hour early to get some port shopping in. We really enjoyed the cleanliness and efficiency of the Grand Cayman trip, even though the ride back to the port was met with a lot of traffic. Note too that this is a tender port. Avoid the long lines by getting back to the ship early or stay in the nearby shops until the line gets shorter.

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Jeep Tour Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
The Jeep tour was both very cool and disappointing at the same time. We booked this as a single Jeep and Snorkel tour. When we arrived at the port meeting area it was a hot concrete area with little shade. It was still morning but it was already hot. We filled out waivers and driving forms and then walked for about 10 minutes to the area where we would snorkel. After that was over we headed across the street to the Jeeps. We organized into groups of four and then headed out for what would be several hours. At no time did we do any off-roading. Which was part of what was disappointing. Note also that the jeeps were all manual transmission. Not a problem for me, but a couple of the younger adults were excluded from driving due to this.

Our fist stop was what was billed as Mayan ruins. It was ruined alright and it looked old, but it was a single building that was a Mayan house of worship at one time. You could look at it but not much else. We were given a brief lecture and then turned loose. There were people everywhere asking if you wanted a picture with an Iguana or a donkey or someone made up to look like a Mayan. All working for and asking for tips. Vendors were selling things in small shops as well. This stop was a waste of time.

Our second stop came after about 20 minutes or so of driving. This was a very nice beach area that included a restaurant and bar just across the road with a great view of the beach. It was already well after 1:00 and people were starting to ask when we were stopping to eat the lunch that was included with the tour. My wife and I went down to the beach and found it to be just spectacular. Warm and clear water, beautiful sand and a very gradual slope. Very nice, but it was a short visit. Time to round up the jeeps and head out again. This is when we noticed the very large mosquitoes.

Our next stop was a Tequila factory tour. Apparently mosquitoes like Tequila too because they were here in droves. The guide provided by the factory rushed through the description of how Tequila is made and the group was too large for everyone to hear. It should have been two groups. People were all too anxious to get to the Tequila tasting. I tried three types and was not very impressed, but I don't drink much and had never had Tequila straight up. It was now pushing 4:00 pm and not only were people asking about lunch but were starting to wonder if we would get back to the ship on time. All aboard was at 6:30. We had one more stop to go and that was lunch.

Drivers were advised we would be leaving the country roads and heading into the city. We needed to stay close to the car in front to avoid Taxi's and other drivers from breaking up our caravan. We went through some residential areas of Cozumel that did not put the place in the best light. We then drove past an airport and finally stopped for lunch. Apparently the mosquitoes were interested in lunch as well, because they were here too. It was bad enough that when the guide wrapped up our tour he specially asked that we not hold him responsible for the mosquitoes.

Lunch was very good with authentic tacos, quesadillas and the like. It was good eating. They also showed up pictures that they took during snorkeling and driving the jeep. They were pretty good and reasonably priced. Two for $20 or one for $15. We bought both.

Snorkeling Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
This was part one of a two part excursion. We walked about 10 minutes from the pier to the place where we were to snorkel. It was land based and after some good instructions and an opportunity to try out the gear a little, we headed in the water to begin our guided snorkel adventure. We spent more than 30 minutes in the water viewing underwater artifacts and a whole lot of very colorful fish. They guide would take us to a location to show us something of interest under the water. Then we could all swim down for an up close look or watch from above. There was plenty to look at and we appreciated the extra information on what we were looking at and what was interesting about it. There was a photographer nearby that took several pictures. He had bait with him so the fish swarmed around him. I had my own waterproof camera and took some great pictures here. Nice stop.

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