Subject: Re: Caribbean cruise ports of call suggestions

> We will be honeymooning on a Princess caribbean cruise in 2 weeks
>with ports of call at Princess Cays, Grand Cayman, Majahual-Mexico,
>& Cozumel.

Congrats and best wishes! We have cruised with Princess twice. I think you'll be delighted with your honeymoon cruise experience--and it will be a treat to escape to the Carib at this time of year.

The two stops I've never visited are Princess Cays and Majahual, but Princess Cays is a no brainer because it's Princess' own private island, so no advance research is required. There will be all sorts of water toys to rent, an opportunity for sailing lessons, sea kayaking, etc. Everyone says it's a perfect beach day. Majahual (also referred to as Costa Maya) is a new cruise port south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Because it is relatively undeveloped, there's not much going on there yet--beach fun and jet ski rentals are what I hear most about. Others have had fun on the Unimog excursion through Princess--4x4 off-road trek. I have heard mixed reviews on the ruins excursions.

In Grand Cayman, I highly recommend an independent tour with to see (and touch) the famed stingrays. If your time in port permits and you like to snorkel, take the trip that offers two snorkeling stops before you reach Stingray City#you will see some incredible fishes, coral, sharks and eels! Grand Cayman is one of the most beloved port stops in the Carib because it's beautiful and offers good shopping if you like that sort of thing. However, be aware it is also one of the most frequently missed stops because ships have to anchor and tender passengers to shore, and sometimes, the captain will deem the ocean swells too high to safely transit pax to/from shore. If you book any excursion with an independent operator, secure their advance assurance that if the ship does not make the stop, your deposit will be refunded. Capt. Marvin's does this#and you can handle everything with them by e-mail. I'm guessing Ruth is still running the show.

In Cozumel, the park Lucy was talking about is Chankanaab. It's a great place, easy to get to/from by cab, major attraction is the snorkeling along the second largest living barrier reef in the world (the first being the Great one in the Pacific). They also offer a swim with the dolphins opportunity that is popular.

Cozumel is a small island#roughly 30 miles tip to tip#if you are road trip people (it's a personality thing, you know?!) it's fun to rent a vehicle (pre-reserve with your preferred rental company or just get off the ship and rent at the pier) and get out and explore. Here's a link to a great map of Cozumel island; a link to the city street map appears on this page, also. I'd get going early in the day, head to town (San Miguel), get a quick shopping fix at the old mercado (go back off the main tourist drag--it's all still touristy, but less so away from the seafront strip), and then cross the island on Avenida Benito Juarez (see the street map and then compare to the island map, Juarez is the West-East cross-island road). For a quick historical/cultural fix, take the cut-off road to San Gervasio to see some ruins, then continue on the cross-island road to the east side and drive that beachfront road down around the southern tip, ultimate destination: Chankanaab. But beware, you could get permanently side-tracked on the way! And that's not a bad thing...there are some gorgeous, picture-perfect, fairly secluded, wild beach vistas on this side of the island. You will see several cantina-type beachside restaurants along the way--a good place to stop and have lunch. Lots of people like Coconuts, which I think would be just before you get to Playa Bonita--we hung out at Playa Bonita last time we were there and thought it was was a great place for beach fun, restaurant was AOK. Water is rough here--fun for surf play, but dangerous swimming, not good for snorkeling. Keep going to Chank if you want to snorkel--you can rent your snorkeling gear there or bring it with you. At the end of the day, it should be easy to return your car at the pier. The only catch is that the few gas stations on the island (Pemex) are not on the path to the car return, but are back in town. Check that out when you rent--it might be one of those rare occasions when you just pay for the fuel. You won't use too much....

A word about booking excursions through Princess: When you embark, there will be a Princess Patter daily newsletter in your cabin. Look at it to find out when the excursions desk opens that day. This is the most miserable thing, but if you plan to book any excursions through Princess, you need to go that day and stand in line to reserve your fun--if you wait 'til the next day, activities/preferred time spots will sell out. If only one of you does this duty (because the other might want to go stand in line to sign up for salon/spa services!), make sure that person is authorized to select a Plan B &even Plan C in case your preferred excursion is already sold out. Note, you do have some flexibility-- if you change your mind, you can cancel your excursion booking, without penalty, up to the closing deadline, which is usually noon before the port day. Pay attention to that deadline, and you'll be fine. If you cruise again, you'll know how to avoid this mess of dealing with excursions on board: you will pre-book online at the Princess website (or do like we do, and book independently).

Diana Ball near Houston, TX