Written by El Gallo on 30 Aug, 2001
A special bonus of taking The Boat is the after-dinner show. There are shows in the main salon every night after dinner. Two shows a night, in fact, since there are two sittings of dinner. This is the "cruisiest" event on the…Read More
A special bonus of taking The Boat is the after-dinner show. There are shows in the main salon every night after dinner. Two shows a night, in fact, since there are two sittings of dinner. This is the "cruisiest" event on the cruise a special treat for passengers who do the one-day itinerary and don't get to sample Havana night life. And they are really nice shows. Nobody would mistake the salon for a night club. Waitresses bring drinks, but there are no tables. The rows of chairs, low ceiling, and lack of scenario might remind you more of a recital or high school talent show. There's nothing Las Vegas or Copacabana about it, either. It's all done right in your lap and you can see people sweat. There's a conviviality and intimacy about the performance....BUT, it's totally professional. There are no flies on the talent of this troupe, singers or dancers.
The first night's show was a Cuban Rumba review: mambo, meringue, salsa, and a soupcon of caramba samba bamba. Don't get me started on the dancers. Again..."Cubana" says it all. Tall slim and just plain gorgeous, with wide-open smiles and latte complexions, these girls are all about movement and burlesque sex appeal. Tricked out in minuscule tops, electrifying bottoms, and towering headdresses that would give Chiquita Banana pause, the four girls created a standing wave of flurryblur, girlyswirl, and shimmysimmer. The troupe is led by "Angel", a short, muscular bundle of fluid kinetics wearing mostly big puffy mambo sleeves and a sheen of sweat on the chiseled anthracite of his chest. His fevered energy and smooth control keeps him from being upstaged by the girls, and it's his choreographic talent that optimizes the impact of the small troupe in the tight time and space constraints. It might seem surprising that The Boat can front such talent, but Cuban economics make the stable ship gig a plum job and the dancers are pure cream--years of formal dance study and heavy journeyman experience in the glitzy clubs at Varadero beach.
And behind them a band of stone cold pros coming on with the licks they grew up with. This is one red hot house band...they're Cubans. They can play anything, but really mob up on mambo and other "Cuban jazz". One interesting innovation came from the brass guy. Everybody talks about the drums and percussion and strange guitars and such, but the best part of this kind of music is the trumpet, which takes it all out of the class of "afro-latino percussion" and gives it that wild, jazzy, international, premeditated, ART sound. In the ship's band, the horn man replaced it with a trombone. So he had a whole different range of portmanteau and slur available, along with bigger blast and general muzzle velocity...but could still get intricate due to sheer chops. There are two keyboard players, one playing "piano" the way you're used to thinking of it, and the other doing the Latino thing, where a row of keys is a percussion instrument.
Four different singers are featured, slipping in and out and combining under cover of the dancers. A tall, black-haired alto likes to go all fey and flamencoesque, dripping black lace and sequins. It you needed somebody to sing your elegy after you were killed in a bullfight, this would be your girl. The contrasting contralto, even taller and wreathed in blond frizzies, goes with blazing colors, a winning smile, and green eyes that look backlit, somehow making even a sad love song seem sunny and fuzzy. Their male counterparts are also a mixed pair, the darkly Latin macho doing Banderas in tux delux relieved by a short, slick tenor in suit and tie, all sophistication and humor.
The second night was a mixture of Mexican, from old-timey rancheros to current pop, and American standards--"My Way" and "New York, New York" with accented vocals, but pure Broadway Boogiewoogie from the boys in the back. The singers shifted effortlessly from Cuban hotties to serape-draped chinaca or Liza Minelli. The many Mexican travelers liked it, and lots of foreigners seemed to enjoy hearing English lyrics for a change. Both shows included a magic act and ended with audience participation numbers; hand-picked suckers acting out scenarios the first night, and a general passenger dance-fest the next. There are two shows each night, following each sitting of the evening meal, but even after two shows, the dancers always looked ready to keep it up all night. Photography, even flash permitted and encouraged.
Not all of the cruiseship accouterments work out as well as the floor shows. The disco goes virtually unvisited, possibly because it looks like a prom set designed by Wayne's World. Most people take one look at the black walls with dayglow planets and start giggling. It's hard to say if the disco is not popular because it's tacky, or if they just let it get tacky because nobody goes there. Same way with the tiny gym. There are a few broken rowing machines, but the only way to work out would be free weights and (maybe) a treadmill. But again, it's unlikely that the paucity of the facility keeps people away: it's more likely that it's been neglected because not even the looniest gym rats feel it necessary to go for a rip on an overnight tropical ocean cruise. But if you really feel your biceps atrophying away, you can duck in and pump up.
There is also a small, but efficient casino, with tables for roulette, poker, and blackjack. Since gambling is illegal in both Mexico and Cuba, the casino only opens in international waters, but didn't seem to make a big hit, at least on my voyage. There was more action on the dozens of slots and video poker machines--a lot of it by children who probably thought they were playing weird, expensive forms of Mario Brothers. Nobody was troubled by these aspects of cruising writ small...in fact most seemed to like being able to ditch the kids at the slots for an hour or so.
Ultimately, a cruise has to be viewed from the perspective of being on a boat in the water: otherwise you could do it all in Vegas. Whatever diversions might offer themselves below, you aren't really there until you walk out on deck. That's…Read More
Ultimately, a cruise has to be viewed from the perspective of being on a boat in the water: otherwise you could do it all in Vegas. Whatever diversions might offer themselves below, you aren't really there until you walk out on deck. That's where you see the deep range of stars in the far black dish undimmed by ambient light, where your very passage strews white streaks into the night, peeling slices off the dark fruit of the sea under a cartoon Caribbean moon. Go ahead, do your King of the World thing, nobody out there's watching: you're just a ship in the night.
It's also where you can lounge there slathered and steam-pressed by the too-high tropic sun, in the exact center of a perfect circle of that deep indigo you only see here in the Caribe. Why sweat "King" when you're the Center of the Universe? And now that wake is not just thumbing through dark pages, it's constantly weaving a long train of lace and trailing it in hypnotic patterns. You feel you could stare into it all day. Which you do, for fifteen minutes. Then you start looking around the topsides...
Which is pretty much one long strip of mindless pleasures. There are several levels of decks with lounges and plexiglass windshields, and two areas of shaded deck for those peoples of the world who regard sun-baking as nuts. One of the sheltered decks offers further nurture in the form of an open bar and occasional snack buffets. Food and shelter, clothing not a big issue. It's also down by the bar on the pool apron that the activities director stalks. Personally I find trivia contests through bullhorns, aerobics episodes, and salsa lessons right up there lifeboat drills under live ammunition, but a lot of passengers not only refrained from keelhauling, but seamed to enjoy it all. Those who don't can escape the whole vibe (and pretty much the known universe) above and forward in the deck chair zone. Here behind the plexi shields, but with just enough slipstream to avoid being auto-sauteed, is the Void. The biggest excitement here is watching books and walkmans falling from numbed hands. It is a sort of adult area by default (and a few surreptitious defenestrations, I suspect) and from lounge to lounge the ambiance ranges from singles bar to nature worship to non-stick physical shells of zombies plugged into the mini-CD matrix.
The pool itself turns out to have hidden aptitude. At first glance, it seems like a relic brought up from the Lusitania--a small cistern of riveted boilerplate smaller than a backyard dip and surrounded by rims and troughs resembling girders around a pit designed to hold dangerous animals. Good for little more than sluicing off sweat, which could be done just as easily with the two showers on deck. And filled with salt water. Once underway, this weird little void reveals a few tricks. The ship's motion surges pool contents back and forth in unpredictable patterns. The troughs keep it from sloshing out on deck, while bathers bob, sway and generally waft around like olives in a drunk's martini. Of course it's a major hit with kids, but lots of adults find that lying on little foam floats and being safely wave-tossed up the walls of the pool is relaxing as well as enjoyable.
If it's not relaxing enough, there are always the three jacuzzis with view at the aft end of the sun deck. They are shallow and square and the water is never extremely hot (you want hot, just tread your tootsies on the steel deck or stand in the sun for a hot minute) but are very congenial for logging around like captive crocs and chatting up other bubble-bathers. If straight-up sunlush and hot tubs don't get you hot and sweaty enough, there are also twin saunas and a shower located just steps from the jacuzzis.
Written by Ride2Live on 14 Dec, 2007
We enjoyed both but I would recommend splitting them up into different trips.Xelha is a protected reserve offering snorkling, tubing and a dolphin experience. It is an All-Inclusive park that includes your snorkling gear ($20 deposit) and several restaurants where you can just sit,…Read More
We enjoyed both but I would recommend splitting them up into different trips.Xelha is a protected reserve offering snorkling, tubing and a dolphin experience. It is an All-Inclusive park that includes your snorkling gear ($20 deposit) and several restaurants where you can just sit, eat and drink if you prefer. The dolphin experience does have a charge but since we didn't have the time to do it I can't remember the cost.We had a good time however since it was a combined tour we didn't get to spend enough time at Xelha. If we had the chance to do it again we would have spent the entire day their.I'm a history buff, especially the anicient tribes of the america's. Walking through Tulum has great, especially with the excellent guide we had. I got to spend some time discussing the ruins with him after he release our group to roam around and was throughly impressed with his knowledge. Though not nearly as majestic as Chitzen Itza, Tulum is special for it's location and importance in the trade rutes of the Mayans.If you want to do this tour I would suggest combining the day with a trip to Coba. Especially after I heard that you can still climb the pyramid there. Close
Written by MilwVon on 29 Dec, 2006
Since we did the timeshare presentation with Palace Resorts, we received a complimentary day trip to Isla Mujeres. We met dockside to take their charter boat to their private beach and dock. The day was pleasant, but I do not know that I would pay…Read More
Since we did the timeshare presentation with Palace Resorts, we received a complimentary day trip to Isla Mujeres. We met dockside to take their charter boat to their private beach and dock. The day was pleasant, but I do not know that I would pay the $65 that they listed the “value” as for this experience.First we enjoyed a couple lazy hours at the Palace Resorts' private beach club. The water is much calmer here than at the resorts in Cancun in the tourist zone. You can snorkel right off the shore of the beaches, although you will not see reefs. I didn’t snorkel but David did. He said that it wasn’t that great, only seeing a handful of fish in the area that they would allow you to swim. Here they did provide a lunch which was somewhat cook to order, but not really. Many of the food items were served buffet style, with burgers and sandwiches made as folks asked for them. Soft drinks were free. They did charge for beer and wine, which we passed on.After lunch we spent the afternoon shopping in the downtown area where you can find great deals on jewelry, pottery, T-shirts/souvenirs, etc. WARNING TO AMERICANS: Do not buy Cuban cigars anywhere in Mexico if you are planning to bring them back to the USA. Due to the embargo against Cuba, they will be taken from you at US Customs if you declare them. If you don't declare them and they find them, you will be subject to some pretty stiff fines. My opinion: it's just not worth it! My husband lost his $30 worth of cigars and was very disappointed when he learned that he couldn't bring them in to the US.There are a lot of restaurants and bars throughout the area if you want to skip the free lunch at the Palace Beach Club and dine among locals and other tourists who want a more authentic Mexican experience.While on Isla Mujeres, you can rent a motor scooter or golf cart to tool around the island. We didn't have enough time to make it worth our effort so we passed, but many folks did seem to be enjoying themselves getting around the island this way. The tour operators will probably warn you against this activity, as the vehicles may not be up to the safety codes we have here in the states. Also, there were reports of damaged or stolen scooters that tourists were held accountable for. Just beware if you choose to rent one.If you want a nice place to lay out in the sun, this is OK but there is probably no reason to leave your oceanfront resort unless you are seeking a new view of the ocean. For us, it seemed a bit too touristy and the lunch that was included with the trip was not very good. Close
As part of the all-inclusive package at the Caribbean Village resort, guests have access to three exquisite dining options in addition to the expansive buffet. During our 11-day stay, we tried each of the three.Firenze Italian Restaurant: We were greeted with a white wine cherry…Read More
As part of the all-inclusive package at the Caribbean Village resort, guests have access to three exquisite dining options in addition to the expansive buffet. During our 11-day stay, we tried each of the three.Firenze Italian Restaurant: We were greeted with a white wine cherry cocktail and the staff worked diligently to assure our every need was met. While this is a full service Italian restaurant, we choose the beef fillet in a red white with shallots and mushrooms dish, served with garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes or a twice baked with cheese. OH MY GOD... the meat melted in your mouth. Each bite was to savor. My husband was surprised with a special birthday cake as we were celebrating his 43rd! The whole place sang to him, topping off a wonderful evening.La Troje Mexican Restaurant: Dinner was authentic Mexican cuisine and was exceptionally good! The staff works hard to assure your comfort and enjoyment while dining with them. Sombreros add to the festive atmosphere and provide for a great photo op. (Unfortunately we didn't know that and missed it!) The quality and quantity of the meal was outstanding, although the menu was a bit limited in terms of choice. Tacos and burritos are Mexican mainstays, and did not disappoint. I found the rice to be especially good and flavor able, not like some of the cardboard stuff I’ve had stateside. Careful with the margaritas here... they will kick your butt! Mirandas Brazilian Restaurant: This night was a very interesting experience as there was no ordering from a menu. The meal began with a special lime fruit juice cocktail and seafood soup. A self-serve salad bar was also available, but we passed. Dinner included a plate of steamed vegetables and tableside carved meats... six of them. The server came out after each prior meat entrée had been eaten. The meats were: prime rib, chicken, pork loin, veal, lamb, and ribs. A variety of sauces were provided as choices to enhance the flavor, although we loved them so much there was no reason to "need" to mess with the taste. Dinner was capped off with your choice of homemade desserts and coffee, cappuccino, or espresso.Given that we only paid $110 per night for our entire all-inclusive vacation, we felt that these three restaurants added great value to our experience. Close
Written by willowdell on 27 Dec, 2006
We decided to use the bus instead of taxis while in Cancun. The bus stop was a block and a half away from the Vacation Club. Go out the main entrance. Turn right, walk straight, and it's right there! You'll need pesos to pay for…Read More
We decided to use the bus instead of taxis while in Cancun. The bus stop was a block and a half away from the Vacation Club. Go out the main entrance. Turn right, walk straight, and it's right there! You'll need pesos to pay for your fare. It was 13 pesos per person—what a deal. We just couldn't justify taking a taxi when it was so convenient to take the bus. Plus, we got a flavor of the local culture at the same time. We mainly took the bus down to the market area or to downtown Cancun. Just make sure you make a note of the bus line number that you get on and where it drops you off so that you can get back on it.
One day, a man with an accordion hopped on and entertained us with authentic Mexican song during our ride. Of course he wanted tips, but it was quite enjoyable. Another time, there was a promotional give-away set up alongside the street at one of the traffic lights. As cars would stop at the light, guys would run out to them and give them sodas for free. We were trying to figure out what was going on at first, and thought that they had to pay for them, but when the bus pulled up they gave everyone on the bus a free soda! It was very interesting. The buses were clean and the ride was nice.
Written by kona on 04 Aug, 2006
My husband and I, along with 50 family members, came to Cancun to be a part of my cousin's wedding. We stayed at the Riu Cancun, an all-inclusive resort, which is where all the guests stayed.
Her wedding was to be on the beach oh a…Read More
My husband and I, along with 50 family members, came to Cancun to be a part of my cousin's wedding. We stayed at the Riu Cancun, an all-inclusive resort, which is where all the guests stayed.
Her wedding was to be on the beach oh a Friday afternoon, but an hour before the wedding, a storm rolled in and the ceremony had to take place in the resort's outdoor covered patio. The ceremony was nice, but the resort didn't seem at all prepared for the scenario of rain and was a bit unorganized trying to set up on the patio.
After the ceremony, pictures were taken on the grounds, and eventually everyone ended up in the swim-up bar in their wedding attire... and it made for a great pic to end the afternoon before dinner.
The resort itself is okay, but my husband and I did venture out and do other things, and there are plenty of things to do if you want more than hanging around the pool.
Do plan on reserving room on a tour when you first get to Cancun, because a lot of the tours fill up and certain days of the week they don't do tours.
Written by misskris on 31 Aug, 2005
The ancient Mayan palace and compound of Chichen-Itza dates back to the year 800 AD. The palace is remarkably intact, and an entire day can be spent wandering the grounds. When we were there, they still allowed climbing the pyramid, which was the…Read More
The ancient Mayan palace and compound of Chichen-Itza dates back to the year 800 AD. The palace is remarkably intact, and an entire day can be spent wandering the grounds. When we were there, they still allowed climbing the pyramid, which was the single most terrifying event of my life. After the hands-and-knees crawl to the top, the only way down (other than falling off the cliff-like side) was to bump down the steps on your butt, feeling with your feet for the next narrow (I'm talking like 6 inches deep) step and hoping you wouldn't slip on the lichen growing on them or put your hand right onto a tarantula. We both made it, but what a RUSH! We had great views of the Mexican jungle.
Other than that, it was fun to explore the old ruins, mostly covered by jungle and not yet renovated. Be careful: there are quite a few deadly snakes around, so watch where you step. After your hard day, have a Corona and pizza at the National Park nearby—lunch with two beers each for two people was less than $4. Skip the pricier souvenirs there and drive 10 minutes to Piste, where street vendors will chase you down with handmade treasures. We bought a really cool carved jaguar head, a wall mask, and some other assorted novelties for about $20. Driving in Mexico felt easy and safe, and everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful.
Written by Clubmedawful on 05 Jul, 2005
This February (2005), my husband and I wasted our hard-earned money to vacation at Club Med Cancun! I am an avid traveler, having traveled around the world, and I have never encountered such a dumpy place as I did at Club Med Cancun!…Read More
This February (2005), my husband and I wasted our hard-earned money to vacation at Club Med Cancun! I am an avid traveler, having traveled around the world, and I have never encountered such a dumpy place as I did at Club Med Cancun! The hostels and campgrounds I have stayed in have been better than Club Med Cancun!
Atmosphere: During our stay at Club Med Cancun, I felt like I was staying in France, not Mexico. There was nothing there, except the bad burrito meals, to support the Mexican culture! Everyone working at Club Med spoke French, played French music, and addressed people in French. When I travel to a country, I want to experience the culture of that country!
Rooms: They were awful. First of all, this was our honeymoon, and we specifically booked a room with a queen- or king-sized bed. When we arrived, our host that brought us to our room said, "Don’t be mad about the beds." Beds? Yes, there were two twin beds! He told us to push them together to make one bed. Of course, there was a 3-inch crack between them! The smell of the room was hideous! It was moldy, musty, and damp. I felt as if I was sleeping in the old basement! There was mold growing on the walls, the ceilings, and the bathroom! There was also exposed wire hanging from the ceiling, with a light dangling from them.
The Staff: They were unfriendly and snobby, and did not try to go out of their way to help us with our room situation. All the staff cared about was their next drink and party. The mentality was one of, "If you’re not happy with your stay, just have another drink". We never ended up moving out of the disgusting room and had to stay for our entire honeymoon in that dump!
The Food: AWFUL! They had only one restaurant, and then the main dining hall. I have had better food at the dining hall in college, and that is not saying much! The restaurant (La Palapa) was basically a place where they took the leftovers from the disgusting dining hall buffet, reheated it, and actually served it to you. The only difference in the restaurant and the buffet was the fact that you are served at La Palapa.
DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY! This place is a dump! We have since contacted Club Med about our problems, and they have tried to buy us off by sending us a $480 credit for our next visit to Club Med. This is ridiculous! We do not want to go to Club Med again!
Written by mmia2 on 02 Mar, 2005
This was our first trip to Cancun. The Sun Palace has probably the best beach being on the southern end and less crowded than the big resorts towards the north end. The main pool is very small compared to other resorts we stayed at like…Read More
This was our first trip to Cancun. The Sun Palace has probably the best beach being on the southern end and less crowded than the big resorts towards the north end. The main pool is very small compared to other resorts we stayed at like the Mayan Palaces. The 2nd pool is not much larger than a bath tub and is more for decoration.
That was our first all-inclusive trip and definitely our last. It is a shame to be stuck eating at the same place when Cancun has so much to offer in restaurants and fun places to dine at. The breakfast and lunch buffets were adequate and very accessible. We only had a la carte dinners at their three restaurants that offer it. The food ranged from good to very good but the service was slow. However, we never had to wait more than few minutes to be seated. (We tried that at a sister resort, Cancun Palace, and the wait was 1 1/2 hours!)
If your all-inclusive package has a trip to Isla Mujeres, we do not recommend it. The private beach they take you to is a joke, and all the best activities (swim with the dolphins), you have to pay for. Might as well book it somewhere else more pleasant.
We spend one day at another sister resort, the Moon Palace. They have a huge, interconnected pool, but the beach is terrible. Overall, the Sun Palace has the best beach and is the least crowded of all the other Palace resorts.