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Cozumel,Costa Rica & Panama CanalAuthor: Lori Walters
Date of Trip: April 2011
This was our third time in Cozumel,so we booked this excursion on our own,through cruise411.com and received 10% off. We booked through AllPro/Sunshine Tours. We took the jeep/snorkel tour and it was PERFECT!!! This is NOT the one you book through Carnival! Go out the dock to the main street,turn right,white building across the street,couldn't be easier. Ask for Javier( Hav-vee-air)as your guide. He runs the trip as someone who loves his country and wants to share it with you.NOT someone just going through the motions. He takes the front jeep and you follow as he shows you around the Island,stopping every so often to explain where you're going and why. We learned ALOT. Take a walk to the top of the lighthouse-the view is amazing.Then onto the snorkeling. Javier used to run a scuba school,so you can feel VERY safe with him(he gets in the water with you). We had one adult snorkel newbie who he was soooo patient with. There was a 7 year old girl who was a tad unsure and he never let go of her & made sure she always was holding onto his floating buoy.He saw we were having so much fun,he let us stay in the water longer. He also checked the current and brought us to a different spot so we could float with the current & get a better experience. Then he brought us to the El Cid Hotel for lunch. What a beautiful resort! We could have used the facilities there if we wanted,but we were pretty tired,so we got back in the jeeps and went right to the dock. It was terrific. Here's a hint- if you take similar excursions that have dune buggies, or open, low vehicles of any kind,you will be eating alot of dust,sand & gravel!!The roads along the coast aren't blacktopped.We were SO GLAD we were higher,in a jeep. We still had to clean our glasses,but you could see others,on other excursions, COVERED with gravel dust! Our third time in Cozumel was wonderful and we thank Javier and Sunshine Tours. He & they are the best!!!!!!!
Costa Rica- We booked this excursion through Carnival. It was the Adventure Canal,Banana Plantation Tour. It was VERY low key,no frenzy, relaxing. You do this if you want to see animals on the edge of a jungle environment. Our guide was so wonderful! You take a bus to the loading area,where they serve you pineapple and melons and drinks.Then you board a long, narrow,quiet canal boat. We saw sloths,a monkey,heard howler monkeys in the distance,huge iguanas, tons of beautiful birds,and a crocodile.It was just enough to get an idea of what's out there,for our next visit(which will be on the prettier Pacific side). Once again,our guide,whose name I forgot,but he has a moustache and carries an identification book for animals to check his accuracy, was phenomenal!!!! He wants to share his country, not just get through a cruise excursion. His personal approach,love of his country(& honesty) was a BIG part of making this excursion great. The banana plantation was a quick side trip, but interesting. Got back in time to walk through the tourist/souvenier area set up for the cruise people. Felt like it was probably run by the same person who the people at each stall worked for,as bargaining wasn't too successful & everything was the same price no matter what stall you stopped at. But we bought a polo for hubby($10),Tee for me($7),hats for grandkids($6), a little hand painted picture to frame($10) &" rocket fuel" coffee beans($8).It was a good day!!!!
Panama-Took the Panama Canal Excursion,booked through Carnival. You take a bus,at least an hour,to the dock, then more waiting to board. But while waiting,I was able to get pictures of the little boat,the Islamorada. Used to be Al Capones boat,then Steve Mcqueen bought it & now it runs excursions. It's still the fastest boat on the canal(Capone didn't take chances!)& a beautiful old wood boat. Anyway, ask for Robert as your guide before you board the bus at the dock,just after you get off the Freedom. He is informative and very entertaining,making the trip even better! In fact,it took so long to disembark at the end,that Robert started a Karaoke session on board and had people singing all sorts of songs-very fun! We were about an hour late getting back & half the ship was clapping when we got off the bus(very funny!!), but we found out later that happens alot due to canal traffic. It was amazing to go through the locks. You rise so high, but never feel it. Everyone gets pictures of themselves touching the canal walls. It's just incredibly interesting,the whole history of it, and to going from one ocean to another,just fascinating!!! Great excursion!! Just remember to ask which bus is Roberts before you board the buses at the dock.He helped make the trip memorable.
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