Cruising the Western Caribbean

Ahoy guys and welcome to the third and last post about our cruise through the Caribbean on board the beautiful Carnival Splendor (If you haven’t already, check out my first two articles

Life on board the beautiful Carnival Splendor and Cruising the Eastern Caribbean).

In our second and last week we visited parts of the Western Caribbean, namely Cozumel (Mexico), Costa Maya (Mexico), Roatan (Honduras) and Grand Cayman.

In Cozumel we wanted to go snorkeling. As all the shore excursions offered by Carnival were either to expensive or didn’t entail what we were looking for, we decided to look for a nice snorkeling spot on our own. We hopped into a taxi and asked the driver if he knows a good place and he brought us to a privately owned beach club. We paid 12 Dollars entrance fee in which the snorkeling gear and one cocktail were included. Plus, we felt very safe there and didn’t mind leaving our stuff on the sun chairs while we were in the water.

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The beach was very rocky but that’s because of the reef right in front of you – which makes the island a great destination for snorkelers and divers.

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Well did I promise too much? Smiley Nice snorkeling! Blubb! Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Cheers to a very nice day in Cozumel:

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When we were done with snorkeling (and relaxing and enjoying our cocktails… Smiley) we hopped into another taxi which brought us downtown.

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Well, downtown Cozumel is a huge tourist destination and all you find there are souvenir, jewelry and duty free shops. Not really worth visiting.

The next stop of our cruise was the Mexican mainland: Costa Maya. We were looking forward to this destination because we had booked a tour that would bring us to Maya ruins!

Of course, when you’re on a tour that is organized by a cruise ship, everything will be crowded and rushed. However, we still enjoyed this one which brought us to the ruins of Chaccoben. We had never seen Maya temples and ruins before so the sight of them was stunning.

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For all those of you who wonder if you can get some pictures of the ruins without hundreds of people in them when you do an organized tour: Yes, you can! You simply have to be a bit patient and wait for the crowds to pass or find spots behind the ruins where no other tourists are. Otherwise, all your pictures will look like that:

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We left Mexico and drove, or better: cruised Smiley towards Honduras.  To be more precise, towards the island of Roatan in front of the mainland. Carnival cruise lines has it’s own beach there, Mahagony Bay.

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Pretty pretty, hum? Smiley That’s what it looked like in the morning, without thousands of tourists…

We left the boat as one of the first because we wanted to enjoy the beach in the morning, before all the other passengers have arrived.

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Good decision! We had the beach nearly to ourselves for a while. But it started to fill up quickly:

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We had planned to rent snorkeling gear right at the beach. However, they held back the gear for those who have booked a beach package (beach shell, floats etc.…) and we were told we should come back later three times. After a while we gave up. Bummer! Trauriges Smiley

The final port of call was Grand Cayman. Here, we went on another tour –  in order to meet some stingrays!! Smiley

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A boat brought us to a place called Stingray Sandbar.

As soon as the stingrays hear the first boats, the come “flying” in from all directions. The sandbar was used by fisherman in earlier days to clean their stuff. Since then the rays know that they can find nice food here… One thing came to another and today it’s not fisherman but tourists and tour guides with fresh squid who visit the sandbar regularly.

When we arrived , it was already crowded – above the water…

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… and underneath Smiley :

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But we had an awesome time! Sting rays are wonderful creatures. Very peaceful and harmless as long as you don’t step on them and they are forced to use their sting. When you pet them under the wings, you feel how soft they are. Actually they feel like wet mushroom – strange comparison but it’s true! Smiley mit geöffnetem Mund

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Such a wonderful experience! The good thing about Stingray Sandbar: The rays come here on free will. Nobody forces them and they are free to leave whenever they want.

When we were done with observing and petting the rays, the boat brought us to a riff just two minutes away from the sandbar.

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Now it was time for some more snorkeling.

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This tour was truly epic! After 3.5 hours we were back at the port and had some time left to look around.

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Again, we found mainly shops but also some nice old houses.

We didn’t want to leave Grand Cayman at all. We had such a wonderful time here, we’ll definitely take home lot’s of good memories.

But the cutest part of the day was yet to come. When we came back to the boat we met our lovely room steward Arsa and told him about our wonderful encounter with the sting rays. And guess what towel creating awaited us this night, when we came back from dinner?!

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Too cute. Smiley

Well, and that was it, our last port of call. We are now back in Miami were we will spend the last two nights of our five week journey.

PS: After two weeks on board a cruise ship I have to admit, it is a nice way of travelling. Very relaxed as you are forced to hang around on board between the different port of calls. However, cruising will not become our favorite style of traveling. We love to explore places on our own and to spend some days at certain spots. We’ve been to many great places in the Caribbean thanks to the cruise. Places we would have probably never visited otherwise. However, more than once we had the feeling that we left a place without having truly seen and understood it. So our next journeys will be road trips again, that’s for sure! Smiley

More information about:

Cozumel

Costa Maya

Chaccoben Maya ruins

Mahagony Bay Roatan

Grand Cayman

Carnival cruise lines

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