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

Artemis's Port Reviews of Labadee, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Freedom of the Seas cruise in June 2012
Member Name: Artemis
Cruise Date: June 2012
Embarkation: Port Canaveral
Destination: Western Caribbean
Member Review: Artemis's Freedom of the Seas Review
Labadee
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We admire what Royal Caribbean's down with Labadee--it just gets better and better! This visit, we hung out at Columbus Cove, which is our favorite area, probably because when we started going to Labadee, our kids were with us and wanted to play on the water toys. But we like the sandy beach and the fact you can wade in and swim, which you can't do as easily on the other side (it's rocky and the surf is rough). We never manage to get there early enough for front row loungers. (Tip: Bring cash in case you want to tip the beach chair crew, buy local handicrafts, etc.) But if you stay long enough, you'll make it to the front row! The crowd always clears out shortly after the lunch buffet closes at 1:30p. We practically had the place to ourselves the last hour--it was idyllic. For those in search of an adrenalin rush, I can highly recommend the zip line, and because you get to ride "the world's longest zip line over water"--it's nearly a half mile--plus a shorter training ride, our family "tightwad" has proclaimed it worth every penny!

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Falmouth
Port Rating: 2.0 out of 5+
Falmouth's brand new cruise terminal is a pleasant place with plenty of shops, food and beverage. Currently, there is little in the way of local excursions and independent activities--I was wishing for even a simple motor boat tour of the lovely coastline--so you have to take a 30 minute-plus ride to Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, etc. to access the usual fun stuff. I'm sure Falmouth-based activities will develop over time. A "Margaritaville" beach club is slated to begin construction soon. Because we've previously done Dunn's River Falls (fabulous!) and all the other Jamaican highlights, we decided to try a first for us and stay on board. It was relaxing, but a little weird to me (I'm more of an explorer type). My husband went out to the terminal and bought a $10 "all day" Internet access card at a convenience store--the connection was robust enough to access from that side of the ship.
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Grand Cayman
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
In keeping with our R 'n R goal for the week, we exited the tender, threaded our way through the crowded cruise terminal to the street, said "yes" to a fellow hawking $4 pp shared van rides to Royal Palms beach club and, 10 minutes later, settled in for another perfect day on a gorgeous beach. Chairs are $10 each, an umbrella is another $10, cabanas are $50, food and drink prices are reasonable, there's parasailing, jet skiing and water toys galore and the wifi's free, but the signal's weak. If you're on a budget, you can lay a towel out on the sand for free--all Cayman beaches are "public" up to the high water line. If it's your first visit to the island, don't do what we did--you've gotta see the stingrays! And if it's your second and you have a longer day in port (Freedom's stop is a brief 8a-3:15p, which is shortened still by the time required to tender), rent a car and go out to Rum Point, making sure to stop at the starfish cove on the way. Speaking of tendering, when we returned to the cruise terminal a little before 3p so as not to miss the last tender, the line to board the tender was hundreds of people long. Just as I was beginning to wilt from standing on concrete in the hot sun, the Diamond Lounge concierge appeared and told us we had front of the line privilege. Nice.

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Cozumel
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Paradise Beach never disappoints - We didn't dive, do the dolphins or a cooking class or go to Nachi Cocom or another an all-inclusive. (The Cozumel forum is a great resource when you need help in deciding what to do. Cozumel has it all!) We just did Paradise...again! It's clean, reasonably priced and perfect for another day of vegging at yet another gorgeous beach (plus their "new" pool is awfully nice). The taxi fare from the pier was $13 per vehicle. And to be accurate, we went there after lunch on the ship following an early morning of snorkeling with Dive with Martin, the outfit located on your left just as you walk off the pier. (There are multiple cruise piers in Cozumel--downtown, Punta Langosta, International = the one Royal Caribbean ships usually use, and Puerta Maya, which is right next to the International terminal and is a Carnival operation.) For $30-50pp, depending on your needs and bargaining skills, Dive with Martin will take about a dozen people out for a two- or three-stop snorkeling trip in the waters nearby. The pros are price, convenience (no pre-booking, just walk off and join a trip) and small group. I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of their equipment (we always travel with our own) and their willingness to help newbies. The only con is, the snorkeling at this location at is just so-so! The coral has been hard hit by humans and storms, so is in regrowth mode; we saw some pretty fishes, an eel and a few odds and ends, but all in all, it wasn't a remarkable snorkeling outing. If you're studying Royal Caribbean's excursions, be advised that this is where the Fury cat goes (for a much higher price). The best snorkeling off Cozumel island is at Palancar and Columbia reefs, and trips that hit those two stops are common, but better done with a bit of pre-planning independently or via the Royal Caribbean excursion that goes to both before ending at Playa Mia, which is a beach club that gets rave reviews.

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