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LeeW

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  1. Ferries to the mainland leave from the pier if on a cruise excursion, from downtown pier if you are not. Takes 45 minutes each way and people do get sick before it even sails. Plus long bus ride to Xplor and back to ferry. Plus taxi from pier to downtown if not on cruise excursion. Minimum 4 hours travel if timing works out but more likely 5-6 hours doing this on your own. You are in port for 9 hours at best. Cruise ships often end up waiting for excursions to the mainland (we have seen several delays of an hour) but won't wait if you do this on your own.
  2. Mexico has some weird tax rules on foreign currencies for their resorts, so they really prefer you paying the balance with a credit card. Tips in cash when we left. Taxis are waiting for customers, so easy getting back to port. The time our ship was diverted, Mr Sanchos did a refund of the deposit automatically.
  3. Excursions are different since ship includes transportation and Dolphin Discovery does not. Very easy to book through Dolphin Discovery at 30% off on web site. VIP trips include food and beverages. All trips include full use of the park (bring snorkel gear if you want, or rent). It is also possible to book with the photo packages (around $100 for two, we just paid separately for the photo package). When you check in they will give you add-on options (manatee swim, various picture packages). Highly recommend swim with two dolphins. Amazing how easy it is to stand on the pair. We had close to an hour in the water with our group. Taxis from pier are easy and return is just as easy. Generally you get dropped off across from the port so the drivers don't have to pay their port entry fee.
  4. Agree with previous poster. We have snorkeled at Chankanaab (rocky step entry) but it is mostly dead coral. Some fish and a statue in 15' of water. Mr Sanchos and Playa Mia have good beaches, latter has water slide and pool, and cloudy snorkeling (although we have seen rays and small fish near the fake structures). Both of these have good snorkeling 1/4 mile off beach but there is so much boat traffic between shore and reef you would not want to swim out there. Both do offer snorkel boats for around $30 on top of the All Inclusive packages. Or you can just do a snorkel trip from the pier. We do take our equipment with us to all three, but do not expect anything great. And with five or six snorkel boat trips we really haven't been impressed with those, either. Palancar Reef is ok, but 20' deep water means you are not close to the fish and the spot you get depends on which other boats get there first. The best trip we had included the Starfish Sanctuary, which had hundreds of starfish and some rays in about 8' of water (and only a few fish).
  5. Originally we were going to Blue Lagoon just for beach for around $45 each but switched to VIP cabana at Balmoral shortly before we went two weeks ago. Price was $208 for 2 and $335 for 4 through Royal Caribbean. Cabana could have easily handled 6, but not sure they could be booked that way. They have around 18 cabanas and on our day only two were booked. Ride over was from just outside pier on a large catamaran ferry and a bit slow. Rides back were on whatever ferry happened to be there (ours was faster boat) on the half hour and dropped just outside the secure area across from the straw market. We got our bands when we checked in on the pier. You did NOT have to go back on a specific ferry. Cabana attendant met us at the end of the pier and walked us 100' to our cabana. She came back a bit later to tell us what was available on the property. Cabanas are adjacent to the two pools, but anyone can use the pools. Bathrooms ok, a bit junky. If you were buying food, be prepared for a $22 burger or similar. Swimming area is nice sand facing the resorts on the main island, lots of loungers, some shade. Snorkeling poor since all sand - some fish around the rocks that create the little bays. Didn't do any of the dolphin or ray encounters. Some beach activities like volleyball, but not as much as at some other resorts. Teens might get bored there. Cabanas have two couches and a large table in the shade, and four loungers out in the sun. Steps down to the beach and water. The REAL advantage of the cabana is the extras - bottle of champagne, two bottles of water, two drinks from bar, couple bags of chips, and any item on the food menu. DW wanted just fries but can't order that way. So she got a 1/2 pound burger and huge order of fries. I had huge pulled pork sandwich and huge order of fries. Could have easily shared either meal. If you drink a lot, Balmoral might not be a good choice but if half a bottle of champagne and a single drink are enough, go for the cabana.
  6. Cameras were not allowed in the water on dolphin encounters when we were there. Not a problem in the water park, although they might have more restrictions on some slides. Unlike other dolphin activities, this one uses wet suits for the guests instead of vests. Works better but takes a few minutes more to get ready. Lockers for your stuff inside the dolphin area. Photos are available after your visit on their website. Good operation, just expensive. Just remember to take a photo ID and credit card if you want to eat in the water park - no cash and no credit cards without photo ID. Towels are in racks throughout the resort.
  7. We got one delivered on Navigator. $100 discount.
  8. App is very unreliable before you get on the ship. Worked fairly well onboard a few weeks ago on Navigator, especially the "Hungry Now" tab that told which venues were open right now.
  9. Credit you buy is always refundable, but in this case it would come back to your credit card, not the person you gifted it to. Generally they would get a card in their room on the first day but you might want to tell them they have a credit.
  10. Yup. When I bought a single day package the signup defaults to the Stream option and coupon automatically was applied. Noticed this before buying, and changed to Surf generating a zero cost when I did the purchase. Irritating that to get the other person's Diamond benefit had to create a new login for the other person and remember a different account name and password. And couldn't use the same names on second half of B2B because network still knew the names from the first cruise. Also noticed that the package from the first cruise continued to work until nearly 10 PM after sailing.
  11. While Loco Fresh doesn't have pizza, it does have a great quesadilla with either just cheese or cheese and chicken. Spicing level varied over last two weeks, mostly very mild. If you don't put any toppings on it then it tastes like a thin crust pizza. Hit the buffet at lunch (huge cake at the entrance) and picked up a few of these pizza-like objects on the way back to pool seating.
  12. Went on both 9 night ABC and 5 night Nassau. First was the most formal we have seen in 15 years - lots of tuxes formal night and all men wearing at least collared shirts every night. The 5 night was the opposite - three or four tuxes and 20% coats. Mostly collared shirts on all night, though. The short cruise had a lot of people with just carry-on luggage and they didn't dress up much. And they also didn't show up on deck until nearly 10 AM (far less chair hogs). Large group from Brazil plus a Rally's Restaurant Top 10 award group. Crew is NOT looking forward to the 3/4 day rotations. Too many turnaround days.
  13. Of course after all your work they will reschedule the shows onboard. The Monopoly show was an ice show but had no real theme. Just a few acts with unrelated "dice rolls" between them. Plus some set pieces get in the way of watching the skaters. Best show so far for us is the new iSkate on Navigator. Lots of acts, including one with 48 drones flying in formation and one with a dancer skating with a drone. Several skaters also do flips. Amazing in the tiny rink.
  14. We would recommend Tucan Tours, bought through Shore Excursioneer. Small van with driver and guide. Chacchoban tour was great and we only had 6 people on the tour. Arrived before the tour buses and had very few people there. Meeting place is at the pyramid about 100 yards from the port security entrance. `
  15. Not sure why the checkin agents at the pier would be interested in seeing proof of military service. Cruise is paid for long before that. With other lines you have to provide DD214 sometime during booking (Princess you fax it once for OBC and good forever).
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