Written by Princess00 on 31 Aug, 2010
Over the years, the authenticity of Cancun has been replaced with a very Americanized city which caters to their northern border neighbors. If you are seeking a more authentic Mexican experience, it is better found in the downtown Cancun area or farther south or…Read More
Over the years, the authenticity of Cancun has been replaced with a very Americanized city which caters to their northern border neighbors. If you are seeking a more authentic Mexican experience, it is better found in the downtown Cancun area or farther south or inland. But, if you, like many other visitors to Cancun, are looking for a fun beach vacation in a foreign country but don’t want to feel like a foreigner, Cancun is the place to visit. It is very friendly to American tourists as most locals speak English and take the American dollar in addition to the Mexican Peso. The geography of Cancun is essentially described as a "Seven". Looking at the city of Cancun on a map, the coastline stretches north and south with the Gulf of Mexico on its eastward coastline and a freshwater lagoon on its westward coastline. Then, the land curves westward for a shorter distance, forming a ‘seven’. The seven shaped area is casually known as the "Cancun Hotel Zone" as most of the resort hotels in Cancun are located along this stretch of land. If you travel westward past the top of the ‘seven’, you will eventually end up in the downtown Cancun area. The beaches in the Cancun Hotel Zone vary depending on your hotel location. Along the long end of the seven, you will find the whitest and prettiest stretch of sand and water; however, you will also find stronger surf which will take the strongest hit during a heavy storm. During a prior trip, I stayed at the Royal Sands Hotel along this long stretch and enjoyed wide shores of beautiful sandy white beach (pre-Wilma). During my seven day stay, there was only one day with a green flag which indicated safe swimming conditions. Further, shoreline along the longer stretch is very transient – one day it could be a wide stretch of white powder and the next – it could be almost missing with only the hotel’s bulkhead and a few resort chairs perched precariously on a toothpick sized plot of sand. The local tourist agencies in Cancun are committed to ensuring that these beaches remain protected and are quickly rebuilt after a strong storm washes them away. Along the top end of the beach, the sand and water is not as "pretty" as the further east towards downtown, the salt ocean water begins to mix with the freshwater of the lagoon. However, La Mujeres island is located just offshore of the point of the seven (where our hotel FAGCB was located) and buffers the stronger surf which dominates the long end of the seven. Therefore, surf on the short end of the seven is typically calmer and the sandy shoreline is generally more predictable as it is less likely to wash away from a hurricane.Transportation in Cancun is efficient, easy, and cheap. The local bus service runs regularly at all hours along the Cancun Hotel Zone and certain routes will also take a tourist to the downtown Cancun area. One way service cost approximately $0.40 during our visit (June 2008), making it a very reasonable mode of transportation. The buses are not air conditioned; however, you typically do not ride on them for very long before finding your destination. Cab service is also available and recommended if traveling downtown. It is a little bit more costly than the bus, but for safety purposes, recommended IMO. Other modes of transportation include booking a private car tour which is helpful if one is interested in visiting areas south of Cancun. A tour operator we used to visit Tulum which we recommend is Entertainment Plus (http://www.entertainment-plus.net/index.cfm). They offer a variety of different tour options for visiting areas outside of Cancun. Cancun is located within close proximity to a number of different tourist attractions, allowing a traveler to escape the area for a day trip and explore some of the great historical sites that Mexico has to offer. Most notably – Tulum, Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and Coba. Within a day trip, travelers can also visit one of two ecological water parks Xel-ha and Xcaret. The city of Cancun also contains options for golf, shopping, dining, and entertainment. Most of the shopping malls contain the standard retail fare that you would see in an American shopping mall. Located in the corner of the seven is a local flea market where one can pick up Mexican pottery, blankets, or vanilla. Hair braiding and henna tattoos are readily available within most of the local shopping areas. A particular favorite shopping mall of ours was La Isla Shopping Village which was located on the lagoon side and artfully designed with water from the lagoon flowing from canals and lined by retail stores. Close
Written by BlueJay21 on 13 Dec, 2009
XcaretI had high expectations when booking this all day excursion, especially with price of admission being equal or close to Disney land, all and all at the end of the day it was completely worth it. My first time at an eco-park it was probably…Read More
XcaretI had high expectations when booking this all day excursion, especially with price of admission being equal or close to Disney land, all and all at the end of the day it was completely worth it. My first time at an eco-park it was probably the coolest expericnce I’ve had, how many times can you say you’ve snorkeled through an underground river for more than 45 mins straight, if that wasn’t enough I also found 10 pesos while diving through the river. The park had it all exotic animals like jaguar, tapirs etc. There’s no way to completely enjoy the park in one day without feeling rush rush and who wants that on their vacation, we started with a off shore private snorkeling trip. During the snorkeling trip, we were treated with seeing a starfish and a few turturles, the waves were a bit rougher, yet the visibility was good. We took a tour bus out to the park it was about an hour or so away, the Rain was pouring the entire time and got us worry but the tour guide prompted us with it just "liquid sunshine". The bus stop a few times to pick up people which I found strange considering we already paid a good sum for the tour. If you forget eco friendly sunscreen or water proof camera don't fret, they usually have some on the bus and although it cost more you're paying for the convience. Upon arrival the guide gave us a good rundown of the place and even provided us with top 10 list of things to do at the park. We wasted no time and book the snorkeling trip, it was around $45 per son but worth it, you get a private boat ride out to a secluded location and a diver escorted us to the wildlife under the sea including a very fast turtle, that swam vigorously. I try chasing it for 5 mins but look around and decided to rejoin my group. If you have a waterproof camera this is the perfect time to snap under water shots.Our Tickets came with meals so we made over way back to the center of the park for a nice festive mexican buffet, with live music! The mariachi even took request from the audience, best of all we had front row seats, literally. The food was only okay, wasn't expecting much but it was hearty meal with a lot protein to choose from.The dinner show was spectacular, and it displayed the origins of Mexican people and celebrated with wonder songs, a true musical, the dinner was good also. It's amazing to see so much action without all the hollywood stunts or special effects, I enjoyed the mayan ball court match, both side score once, and even included a flaming ball at one point. Close
After recovering from our plane rides we decided to take a day trip to the majestic island Isla Meurejes, we flirted with the idea of getting a professional tour but decided against it and just ventured out to the ports. The departure times were not…Read More
After recovering from our plane rides we decided to take a day trip to the majestic island Isla Meurejes, we flirted with the idea of getting a professional tour but decided against it and just ventured out to the ports. The departure times were not accurate from the website and we missed the ferry by a mere 20 mins. The driver was kind enough to take us to Port Juarez, and we got to see a part of old down town. The ferry was colored in brigt neon color blue & yellow, and even provided us with free wifi access (if only I had an iphone).After arriving at the the island we were greeted with more than 12 tour guides offering snorkeling lessons, numerous water activities and golf cart and moped rental. We ducked away quickly into a clothing store with a Frogger theme. We explored the island in style with mope, that I proudly haggled downed to about $20 for the entire day, plus we got extra 1.5 hrs past their normal closing time. It took a few minutes getting use to the controls and balancing act but after successfully making a few turns and getting pass speed bumps I felt natural on the bike. Note: Helmets are required, there’s a lockable trunk under the seats for storage. A driver license was held as deposit.I’ve have to admit it was pure exhilarating fun when cruising around in a 2 wheeler, my close friend suggested we take the safe route and rent a golf cart but I knew from the get go the bike was the clear alternatives. Coming from the west coast this mope will not work, and would be banned on the freeway, but on this small island of less than 5 miles stretch it was the perfect vehicle. Our first destination was close due to construction so we rerouted ourselves to a turtle shelter. For a mere 30 pesos you could leisurely stroll through giants tanks containing babies turtles, giants albino turtle and observe the turtle egg grounds. It was worth every pesos. Don’t forget to check out the tiny gift shop on the way out. We started getting hungier after crusing up and down the coast, ironically it had the same resemblance of the highway 1 in the west coast of California, of course, the water was never this clear or rich turquoise color.We stop by randomly at one of the beaches and bought some freshly handmade coconut ice cream from a wandering vendor, he was also kind enough to snap of photo of us with his ice cream cart. There was a dirt path and we followed it down to the beach, after admiring the rock formation and listening to waves we hopped back onto the moped and continued with our journey south.When it was time for dinner, we had recalled the taxi driver (from cancun) recommending anything seafood and going with the flow we chose to dine at a bed and breakfast joint. With all honestly, we were the only couple in the restaurant and had the perfect ocean view, and the lobster was the best I had in a long time. My friend had the coconut shrimp to go with our margarita, served chilled, as the sun was setting a took a few snap shots (see my money shot).After dinner, we made our way to only ruins only the island. We were surprised to find out it had an admission fee of 30 pesos, after using all our cash on dinner, we only had a handful left. Fortunately the officer at the gate let us through with only paying a small portion, it was extremely windy when we toured the area the ruins to worship the goddess of moon & fertility Ixchel was in bad shape and only a few slab of the ruins remained. There we were less than a few pennies in our wallets yet we were as happy and carefree as we could be, after touring the site we made our way back into the city and return the bike, a vehicle that satisfied my adventuring spirit. Close
Written by MilwVon on 29 Dec, 2006
Some would say that if you see one Mayan ruins area you don't need to see others, but we would disagree with that. We chose to do both Chichen Itza AND Tulum during our 11 day vacation to Cancun. We used Brandt’s 2x1 Entertainment Card…Read More
Some would say that if you see one Mayan ruins area you don't need to see others, but we would disagree with that. We chose to do both Chichen Itza AND Tulum during our 11 day vacation to Cancun. We used Brandt’s 2x1 Entertainment Card via www.cancunmex.com but just about every resort has some "deal" through a local tour operator. We Chichen did Itza with Brandt and were very happy with his service and the prices (approximately $60). If you do a timeshare presentation (which are available throughout Cancun) you may even be able to score free tickets for one or the other! That is how we did Tulum through Palace Resorts. The list price for the tour of Tulum was approximately $35 or $75 with the "add-on" of Xel-ha.Chichen ItzaOur guided tour was provided by a very knowledgeable local gentleman, who was able to make the tour and information very interesting. I really enjoyed learning about the Mayan people and how intelligent they were so long ago. Their astronomical knowledge and predictions through the temples they built and the stories they told through the designs are incredible!There is a lot to see here at the most well known of the Mayan ruins in Mexico. When we first arrived, we had to hike about 15 minutes to the entrance of the park like area. The first part of our tour included a walking tour of several areas of ruins. We learned how the Mayan people lived and how their community was structured to assure everyone in the village were provided for.As you come through a small wooded area, you then see the wide open field like area where "the" attraction sits. Pyramid that everyone knows as Chichen Itza stands on a open grassy field. From a distance, it actually looks small. As you get closer and right up to the steps, looking up, the size is intimidating. You can climb the 91 steps to the top of the temple and look out over the area. It is a steep and exhausting climb but well worth it. David did it in two parts, with just a single rest break. I didn’t feel quite that adventurous, so I stayed on terra firma and took photos!Coming down from the top, David said that it was a bit scary just because of how steep each step is. Many people (especially the women) could be seen scooting down on their fannies to avoid falling. By the way, they told us that in 2005, tourists will no longer be permitted to climb the temple due to the continued damage occurring. To our knowledge, they are still allowing folks to climb. Someone recently told me that was just an old wives’ tale that has been told for years, so who really knows. You will also want to see the observatory and ball stadium. There is much to see around the area at Chichen Itza so go out and explore! While you are here, there are plenty of facilities for food, beverages and rest rooms. So make a day of it and enjoy!TulumTulum is known as "the other" Mayan ruins that visitors to Cancun often visit. It is in an area south of Cancun (about 90 minutes or so) and faces the ocean. While the ruins there have taken a beating over the years, they are wonderful examples of the times and worth the time and effort to see them. There is not quite as much to see or do here as at Chichen Itza, so you really can on planning just a couple of hours here.When you arrive, there is a small tram like vehicle that will take you to the area where the ruins are. They are on a high cliff, above the ocean. It’s an easy walk among the various buildings and structures. All ruins are roped off, prohibiting climbing on them. Many are also restricted as to how close you can get to them, but there are a lot of ruins that you can get right up to.There is a small beach here too, if you want to bring a bathing suit and layout or play in the water. There is a steep incline to walk down to the beach area but it looked like it could be easily navigated in decent shoes.Many tour companies package this half-day tour with Xel-Ha (a great snorkel location), but unfortunately, ours was packaged with Xpu-Ha (the Palace Resort in a native jungle setting). It was a good day and we enjoyed our time at Xpu-Ha as well. With that being said, I would suggest that if you take this as a package, you do it with the Xel-Ha option. Close
Written by britgirl7 on 25 Apr, 2005
The Isla Mujeres translates to the Island of Women, and not surprisingly, it is just across the Bahai de Mujeres (Bay of Women) from Cancun.
Some people arrive on a day trip from Cancun, like a booze-cruise party boat, but it’s very easy to take…Read More
The Isla Mujeres translates to the Island of Women, and not surprisingly, it is just across the Bahai de Mujeres (Bay of Women) from Cancun.
Some people arrive on a day trip from Cancun, like a booze-cruise party boat, but it’s very easy to take the ferry across. Firstly, take a taxi or bus toward the downtown area of Cancun, El Centro, but get off at the end of the line. The buses will be clearly labeled with the port name, Puerto Juarez.
From here, the ferry will take you across the bay to the island. It can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the boat you choose. Obviously, the faster boats are more expensive than the slow ones. We took the slow boat for just $3 (I think the fast one was about $5).
The boat docks in the main small town on La Isla de Mujeres, and you can walk around town, sip coffee in the small cafés, hang out on the stunning beaches, or rent the little golf carts you see all over and zip around a little. It's not a big island and is becoming more popular every year.
Most people arrive just for a day, as we did, but next time, I am going to plan on staying overnight so I can get a better experience of the island once the hoards leave at the end of each day.
To be honest, it didn’t ever feel too crowded, and though it’s fallen victim already to commercialism, it's still a totally different feel than Cancun. It's a place where the pace slows down and the shady streets can have more stray dogs than tourists, depending on the time of day. The beaches here are beautiful, and being a bit of a sun trap, the temperatures feel much hotter, and the ocean looks much flatter.
Unlike Cancun, the town beach here is flanked with palm trees and fishing boats pulled up onto the sand, and the hotels and restaurants are further back across the street, giving the place a feel more like a fishing village than a tourist trap. The local children run loose on this beach and love to dive for coins as you are leaving from the ferries. All along the beach wall are vendors selling locally made pastries and sweets, which we loved. They are not priced, and when asked, they will expect you to bargain.
Written by Suzanne715 on 10 Apr, 2005
Thorpe, my husband, and I sip coffee on an open-air deck of the Norwegian Dream, admiring the glorious, clouded sunrise. The ship anchors outside of the port of Cancun, where an enormous Mexican flag waves over the skyline of resorts, casinos, and shops. In…Read More
Thorpe, my husband, and I sip coffee on an open-air deck of the Norwegian Dream, admiring the glorious, clouded sunrise. The ship anchors outside of the port of Cancun, where an enormous Mexican flag waves over the skyline of resorts, casinos, and shops. In the last 20 years, what once was a small fishing village has become a favorite destination for tourists on the Yucatan Peninsula.
After a quick, tender ride to the pier, we catch a taxi to Marina Blue Ray, where we have reservations for the speedboat and snorkeling jungle tour. Each boat holds two passengers. There are 10 boats in a group. We follow Marco, our guide, across the Nichupte Lagoon, along the shoreline of the Moon Palace Resort, then through mangroves in El Garrafon National Park in Isla Mujeres. Stopping in this ocean-reef park, Marco ties our group of boats together in a semicircle. We put on our fins, life jackets, and snorkel masks, then plunge into the cool water to explore a living reef with 15 kinds of coral and 100 species of fish. I take Marco’s hint and keep my arms wrapped around my waist for warmth as I swim behind him along the 1,050-foot reef.
Marco sprinkles bread crumbs on the ocean floor to tease the exotic fish. Some fish camouflage well with the green and brown aquatic plants; white sand; and tall, spindly coral, while others, like the angelfish, stand out with bold colors of purple, dark yellow, and orange. Clam and conch shells lie among the plants, and on the seabed 10 feet below, a stingray glides in front of me, but just my luck, I already had used the last picture in my underwater camera. After snorkeling for 45 minutes, we climb back into our boats and chug some fresh water before playing follow-the-leader as we weave our way back to the marina in our speedboats.
I arranged our reservations for the 2.5-hour tour though Viator Vacations (below) for $55 per person. The taxi ride from the cruise to Marina Blue Ray costs $14 one-way for two people. To get a little cheaper taxi rate, take the complimentary bus from the cruise pier to Flamingo Plaza, about halfway to the marina, and then catch a taxi from there.
Admission to El Garrafon National Park for the entire day is a bargain. The rates range from $13.64 to $53.64, depending upon which package you choose. Internet bookings are cheaper. The $53.64 package includes transportation to the park from your hotel, transportation to the reef, snorkeling equipment, a guided cruise-boat tour, swimming pool use, towels, inner tubes, kayaks, hammocks, a buffet at Tamarindo Restaurant, a snack bar, and more. You must use biodegradable sunscreen at the reef, available for purchase at the marina or park for about $5.
If you are on a cruise ship, keep in mind that the last tender back to your ship usually leaves 1 hour before the actual stated departure time. It takes approximately 8 to 10 minutes from the marina to the pier.
Speedboat and Snorkeling Jungle Tour
El Garrafon National Park, Isla Mujeres
Written by txredhead on 13 Sep, 2002
Tulum, "the City of Dawn", built in honor of the Sun. The Mayas believed the heat of the sun gave them strength. Tulum is considered the most beautiful of the Mayan sites. It is small but exquisitely poised on 50 foot high…Read More
Tulum, "the City of Dawn", built in honor of the Sun. The Mayas believed the heat of the sun gave them strength. Tulum is considered the most beautiful of the Mayan sites. It is small but exquisitely poised on 50 foot high cliffs above the Caribbean. The city, a ceremonial and religious center, housed only important people like priests, noblemen and government officials.
The old city was built high above huge cliffs that face the sea. The other three sides of the city are walled by sixteen ft high walls with only three narrow entrances.
There are less than sixty partial buildings remaining. This is about one tenth of its size as when a thriving city. The ruins are not as well preserved as other archaeological sites, but none the less they are very impressive.
The most dominant structure, the Castle rising on its rocky prominence, just 50 ft above the foamy waters of the Caribbean.
Written by funandsun on 15 Jul, 2003
Discovery Cove is the name of the dolphin swim company, and they have programs in Cozumel, Cancun and Puerto Aventuras. We partook in the dolphin swim on Isla Mujeres.
For US$110 for each person, we were able to swim with the dolphins in a confined area…Read More
Discovery Cove is the name of the dolphin swim company, and they have programs in Cozumel, Cancun and Puerto Aventuras. We partook in the dolphin swim on Isla Mujeres.
For US$110 for each person, we were able to swim with the dolphins in a confined area of the ocean. Upon arrival, you are taken indoors to watch a short video about dolphins, their training, what you’ll experience with the dolphins, and how to correctly interact with them. You will then sign your name on a grouping list which places 7-8 people in a group, and you stay together for the duration. As your group is called, you walk outside to get fitted for a life jacket. In this area, there are also lockable lockers where you can store your valuables and clothes.
It’s now time to make your way over to what you’ve been waiting for, the beautiful creatures of the sea. As you step off the dock and proceed down the stairs, you cringe a bit entering the cold water, but you can’t help but smile at the prospect of what’s to come. At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll step onto a grid under the water. There’s a fence behind you under the dock that you will hold onto at times as the currents in the water push you around a bit. Make sure to smile and show your excitement because your every move is being videotaped (which we’ll get to later).
You’ll get to work with two dolphins and a trainer giving commands and rewards to the dolphins and instructions to you and a trainer out in the water in a wet suit, mask and snorkel that will get each person lined up and placed for the dolphins. Our trainer, Teri, was very good at remembering all of our names and instructed each of us what to do. We started with having the dolphins (Olimpia and Regina) give each of us a kiss on the cheek and we had to return the favor by kissing the dolphin on the nose. If you don’t give them a good enough kiss, they will make you keep trying until you do it well enough! After that, they vary the order that each person does their tricks, but everyone gets to perform each event. One trick is the dorsal pull-you swim out to the trainer, float straight up and down with your arms out to your side and the dolphins swim up to your hands, placing their top dorsal fin at your hand and you simply grab and off you go! Each time you get back to the grid, the trainer has both dolphins swim in front of everyone so you can pet them. Next, two people are given a silver pole and each person holds an end up in the air and the dolphins jump over the bar and do tricks for you. When everyone has completed this trick, the last person leaves the bar in the water and one of the dolphins brings it back to the trainer. The next trick was everyone’s favorite –- the foot push. You’ll once again swim out to the trainer, float on your stomach with your arms out in front of you. As the dolphins approach and place their nose on the bottom of your feet, you’re told to keep your legs straight and bring your arms straight up above your head. What a rush! The dolphins lifted me so high while they were pushing me across the water, you could see my feet at the top of the water. After the tricks are performed, the group floats in a circle and both dolphins swim around you and you get to pet them.
After a few minutes of this, everyone heads up the stairs and onto the dock for a final video shot of everyone waving goodbye. You’re then taken back to the building you started in, sit in front of a TV screen, and begin to watch the video of your encounter. As the music begins, the credits begin to roll with the trainers name, the dolphins names, then starring . . . and all of our names were listed. They got close ups of everyone and each person performing their tricks with the dolphins. They do an excellent job getting smiling close ups and running them in slow motion. You know they’re showing you this in preparation for telling you that you have an opportunity to purchase the video.
After watching it, you’ll almost pay any price to capture those moments. Of course, we wanted the video so they immediately hand you one and to pay for it ($50 US), you go downstairs to their gift store where they interest you in purchasing more. While kissing the dolphins, they also took still shot individual photos. In the store, they approach you with these pictures which are $14/each. They have "I swam with the dolphins" T-shirts for a good price of only US$15 and other trinkets.
After browsing through their store, we went back outside where our tour guide was waiting to give us taxi fare for the short trip back to the party boat dock for lunch.
This was a wonderful excursion. The dolphins were amazing and seemed to enjoy the interactions with us. They appeared in good shape and to be treated well by the staff. While we were able to perform tricks with them, we weren’t touching them or requiring a lot of contact for very long. It was enough that it was fun, but not too much to worry the dolphins.
What amazing and wonderful creatures. I recommend this excursion to everyone!
Written by El Gallo on 30 Aug, 2001
There are several possible itineraries for the Cancun Havana cruise. At present the three day itinerary leaves Friday morning, allows passengers ashore in Havana from around 11:00 to 19:00 on Saturday, and returns Sunday evening. The four day trip leaves at midday…Read More
There are several possible itineraries for the Cancun Havana cruise. At present the three day itinerary leaves Friday morning, allows passengers ashore in Havana from around 11:00 to 19:00 on Saturday, and returns Sunday evening. The four day trip leaves at midday Monday, allowing passengers a night and day in Havana, then returns by Thursday.
It is also possible to remain in Havana for a period of a week or more, returning on a later boat. This, of course, has to be scheduled with the company when buying tickets.
Current prices can be seen and reservations made at the company's website, but they start at around $189 dollars for the 3 day trip in the cheapest cabin. At this writing, they are offering a two-for-one deal, which is not unusual in the slow summer months. There are additional costs involved. Passengers pay port fees, $40-45 US dollars depending on exchange rates. There is also a "drinks bracelet" to buy if you want to drink anything. This ranges from around $30 to $60 USD due to a complicated tier of national or imported drinks allowed (or for bar service, but not including alcoholic drinks). Bracelets allow unlimited drinking at meals of any of the four bars. Gratuities are not included in the fare (and richly deserved).
For comparison, a Cubana flight from Cancun to Havana runs around $200 USD, but arrives at (duh) the airport, which is way the hell out of even Havana's sprawl and involves exorbitant and time-consuming transportation into the city--possibly costing as much as $80 USD. The Boat, on the other hand, arrives at the Malecon--you just step ashore and are deep in Old Havana, facing old stone buildings, horse-drawn carriages, and streets leading directly into the heart of things.
Transportation from the dock is widely varied. There are state cabs, safe and expensive, to take you anywhere in town. Little "coco" cabs are at least worth a photo: they are orange fiberglass globes seating three people, looking like oranges or football helmets rolling around. Gypsy cabs are cheap, offer no guarantees from anybody, but can be super cool--what price cruising in a 1950 Chevy or 1562 Studebaker? There are also antique horse carriages for stately clip-clopping through the old stone streets, and even human-powered pedicabs.
Foreigners need to carry a valid passport (you will have one by that point--the ship requires them for boarding and hangs on to them during passage). You fill out a tourist card but the system, from ship to Cuban immigration is careful to segregate and tag American passports to avoid saddling US passengers with a Cuban visa stamp. In view of the recent Bush "crackdown" on Cuba visits, this is a wise precaution, and paranoia about proofs of visiting Cuba runs high--possibly because of the rattling of $55,000 fines. Don't worry about it, but make sure you are complying at all steps.
And DON'T traipse into US customs with Cuban cigars. They used to just destroy them, these days you could actually get into trouble--at the very least a delay and major hassling. Cigars without labels, by the way, are ASSUMED to be Cuban and destroyed. Illegal and unconstitutional, of course, but what are you going to do?
Although I have a long-standing and deep-seated aversion to those exotic and obnoxious pets people call "kids", I have noticed that many people seem to enjoy them and haul them around wherever they go and allowing them to invest public venues. If I felt…Read More
Although I have a long-standing and deep-seated aversion to those exotic and obnoxious pets people call "kids", I have noticed that many people seem to enjoy them and haul them around wherever they go and allowing them to invest public venues. If I felt that way, I would definitely bring my "kids" on this trip. They might not remember Havana (or distinguish it from Knott's Berry Farm) but they will definitely remember The Boat.
Probably the biggest memory will be of the first half hour, that being the period during which everybody is shuttled out to the waiting ship (Cancun waters are too shallow for big ships to put in) which is done in a pirate ship. And I don't mean some design knock-off, I mean a full-sized, fully functional, real-life pirate ship made of forbidding black iron plates, bristling with gun ports, hung with ratlines and Jolly Rogers, and with a figurehead of Captain Hook his own self. Kids love it, and express that love by swarming around like vermin, trampling decent folk and generally running amok from sheer novelty and untapped gene malfunctions.
Then, once aboard, every guest gets a picture taken standing behind a life ring between two beautiful chorus girls. Well, actually, I liked that part better than the kids did. When they arrive in their cabins they find that the TV gets only two channels, but both show nothing but movies with no commercials, and half of those movies are about dinosaurs, animated villains, Japanese mind rot and the sort of things kids love to stunt their minds with.
Then they surge out onto deck like a modern pestilence and find a whole new world to explore...a world largely composed of places to swim, free sodas, friendly people in white uniforms, and places where adults don't show up. Even the swimming pool has a surf. It's just too much, apparently. Or they pillage around below decks, where there are gambling devices disguised as video games, stores full of candy and games, a ping-pong table where the ball (and players) lurch at odd angles, huge spiral stairways, bingo games and crafts in the salons, and even--on the last day of the cruise--a chance to visit the navigation bridge. Actually it's amazing the little buggers behave themselves at all.
Then there are meals, with unlimited seconds, including DESSERTS, which can be snagged and bolted without Mom knowing about it, and more bottomless soda pops. After dinner there's a big show with dancers and noise. Which can be fun in itself, but also tends to anchor the adults, allowing kids the run amok. If I was a kid I'd stow away on this sucker and never go ashore, like Tim Roth in the that weird "1900" movie.