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About StCroixCruiser

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Vancouver, WA
  • Interests
    scuba, sailing, traveling
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess & Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Caribbean or Greek Islands

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  1. Yes, I do it all the time. I rent a chair from them and sometimes an umbrella. If I want more drinks or snacks, I buy them at Calico Jacks. Then I feel good about using their restroom if I need to. I'll be there twice in January on back to back cruises. Usually there are far more chairs available at Calico Jack's (and another hustling vendor on the adjacent beach area) than there are people looking to hang out there. Some snorkel boats drop off people for 30 minutes to an hour as part of their excursion, but they leave quickly.
  2. I did a different excursion with Native Choice. They had half a dozen tours leaving about the same time doing different combinations of their offerings, including Chochoben Ruins, Mayan Family experience, 7 Colors Lagoon, Beach Break, etc. I think they may have had a zip line option, too. Due to my mother being part of our group and having mobility issues, we chose the Mayan Family (local home with native lunch included) and 7 Colors Lagoon excursion (with open bar) and it was great. We also stopped at a roadside fruit stand for honey pineapple and dragon fruit. The tour guide was extremely impressive for a young 22 year old who looked 15. We all learned Mayan math during the longer portions of our drive and lots of local Mayan history. The vans were newer and the A/C worked well. Cold water was provided several times, as well as bug repellant. So, while I haven't been to the Chachoben ruins yet, I give thumbs up to Native Choice as an excursion company at this port. And their prices included more than the cruise ship's similar offerings. The only difference being you have to walk about a mile to their shop location versus taking a bus out of the cruise port. On your return, their vans drop you right at the cruise port entrance by the taxi stand.
  3. I buy beer at the port's duty free liquor store when I get off the ship. Simple and reasonable at $13 for a 6-pack of icy cold white tip lager.
  4. I was at Calico Jacks in October 2019. Same place as always on 7 mile beach. The government is putting in a huge parking lot between the road and the beach at the Calico Jacks drop off point. Our taxi driver tried talking us into the Royal Palms (I think he gets a kick back from what he was saying) and bad mouthing the parking lot, but honestly the fresh pavement was easier to walk across for 100 yards to get to Calico Jacks than when we had to walk across a deserted lot/field in years past. chairs at Calico Jacks were $5 and an umbrella was $10. Taxi for 2 each way was $8 or about $3pp each way if you wait for the bus. So $16 for a taxi round trip or $12 for the bus round trip. So we took the taxi and didn't wait. The beach bar has taxis waiting in the small parking access immediately behind it for your return trip without having to trek out and find a bus. If you want to start the party even before you get to the beach, pick up a 6-pack of white tip lager in cans at the duty free liquor shop at the port. $13. What a steal after shipboard pricing for drinks.
  5. Ocho Rios has a beach right at the port. For an inexpensive DIY day... When you exit the ship and go through the port area, stay to the left. There will be a path that leads towards the water along the bay. A gate through the fence has a guard who lets you through onto the beach for a few dollars a person. Walk a couple hundred yards along the beach to a thatched open air beach bar hut and they can set you up with beach chairs (and umbrella if you want it) for a small fee. There are palm trees you can set up near if you don't want an umbrella all day. Get drinks from the bar or they bring them to you if it's a slow day on the beach. The last time I was there two years ago, I paid $3 to get onto the beach, $5 for a padded beach chair, and $3 each for Red Stripe beers and $2 for Ting.
  6. They would have had to cruise shortly before dry dock and then right after to know what was different...
  7. I sail in a week and hadn't heard back about status match submitted a month ago. After requesting a call back 3 times without getting a response, I managed to speak with an MSC agent today. She looked in the system and said I'd been matched to Gold level from my Princess Platinum. I never received an email from MSC. She seemed rather irritated that I had called. But I also needed help with web check-in, as the MSC website wouldn't allow me to access my back to back reservations. The agent tweaked something in the system that had me locked out... and still seemed irritated that I had called. They had already messed up my booking by not applying the government employee discount or booking the All In rate that was available and I requested. Oh, they also didn't book my transfers and now it's too late. Which is another pain in the backside. The agent said they must not have understood that I wanted transfers when I provided my airfare information for that specific purpose. It's been one long string of ***** trying to book with this cruise line. But I'll have 2 weeks of floating in the sun to get over it. I don't know if I'll sail with MSC again, though.
  8. also, how does one go about booking airport to ship and back transfers from MSC? Do I have to call direct to do that? I should have stuck with Princess or Royal Caribbean.
  9. I recently booked back to back MSC cruises for January and cannot get the website to allow me into Web Check-in. No matter how many times I click the various web check-in links, the circle icon spins for 4-5 seconds and then stops and nothing happens, or sometimes it goes to an error screen saying the website redirected me too many times. Is there a special trick to get into this function? I have a cruise departing on January 6th and am getting quite irritated that the website doesn't work. I requested calls from MSC without hearing from them. Please help!
  10. I enjoyed my Native Choice excursion with my mother (who still raves about it) in October 2019. We went to a small village where we were guests in a local home (Mayan people) for a tour of the gardens, made tortillas, and then a delicious lunch. I'd go back just for the lunch! We stopped at a roadside stand to buy local sugar pineapple and dragonfruit and then had a couple hours at the 7 color lagoon at an eco resort with an open bar (local beer and basic mixed drinks/wine) with kayaking available and beach chairs. The place was deserted other than our group and one other tour that left soon after we arrived. The tour guide was a young kid (said he was 22 but looked maybe 15, lol) who was incredibly knowledgeable and interesting. We all learned Mayan math during the drive. My mother travels with a collapsible mobility scooter and this wasn't a problem. The guys helped push it through some gravel pathway at the 7 color lagoon. The A/C in the vans worked great. Bottled water and insect repellent was provided. I usually choose more active excursions when I travel on my own or with friends my own age, but this was a cultural experience as well as a beach/open bar/meal excursion. Native Choice had 3-4 other excursions leave shortly before ours, so there are multiple excursion options to suit your group's preferences. They were a positive experience for a tour provider.
  11. ok, it didn't want me to post the name of the cruise booking site I had used that provided the excursion info where I found this dive operation, which is odd since it's related to cruise critic. It starts with Vacations and then ToGo.
  12. I dove with Mar Adentro in October. It was an awesome day of diving. I arrived for my lion fish hunt 2 tank dive only to be asked if I wanted to cancel due to high seas. I said I was game if they were. A small open dive boat was quickly exchanged for a 45' cabin cruiser Searay. It was me, the captain, his deck hand, the dive shop owner, and a divemaster (retired American military). No extra divers... so an amazing private excursion. First dive was quite a ways north from the cruise port on some pristine reef much further than the shops take normal 2 tank dives. There was a little chop bouncing the boat at anchor, but reboarding after the dive was just a matter of timing the swells. The 2nd dive was even further north. They said they'd never done that area of reef before and we were going to explore. The ocean completely laid down flat at that site. We had a longer kick to where the reef began with a little current to fight, but again arrived at a beautifully pristine reef full of life. The reef at both sites was a maze of coral head fingers, each running about 100-150 yards in length parallel with many others before a short break and another cluster of finger reefs beginning. The runnels between coral fingers were filled with sand. The fingers were close together, which had you swimming in coral lined alleys with no surge. The coral fingers ranged from 10-25 or so feet high from the sandy bottom. The cruise out from the port was full of waves. They kept watching me to see if I was ok or about to panic... but I'm a licensed captain with years of open ocean sailing experience and I was having a blast. It had been about 8 years since I had last gone spear fishing (used to live on St Croix), so killed fewer lionfish than I was used to but still put about 16 in the catch tube over 2 dives. Two of the littlest ones escaped. They offered fresh fruit between dives, bottled water, as well as beer after dives were done. I used their gear as I was visiting off a cruise ship and not diving in any other ports. The only drawback was the reg didn't have a computer and the air gauge was rudimentary. I trusted them to watch their computers and we had long dives and weren't cut short by an arbitrary dive time as happens on many excursion dives. The dive shop also does regular 2 tank dives on the reef just off the Majahual seawall and the divemaster said the sites are in good shape and full of fish. I hope it stays that way. The dive was booked through the ***** excursions email I received for my back to back cruises. They offered a 2 tank dive with equipment for $99 or a 2 tank lion fish hunt safari with equipment for $199. I opted for the latter knowing it was less likely to be a "cattle boat" experience (while wondering if it would really be worth the extra $$) and wasn't even vaguely disappointed. If we had taken the smaller open dive boat 20 miles up the coast in high seas, it wouldn't have been as pleasant. It was an excellent dive excursion and I wouldn't hesitate to dive with Mar Adentro again. I am a PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer (instructor) as well as a boat captain. This outing on a day when the ocean was topped with heavy surf wouldn't have been for everyone. The staff was attentive and professional and it looked like they were really enjoying getting to explore new reef areas, too. If you are a less experienced diver, their dive offerings along the malecon are likely better than many other Caribbean locations since Majahual hasn't been inundated with tourists for decades like other popular dive locations.
  13. The Costa Maya port is different than most, as the receiving center at the end of the pier is built specifically for the cruise lines, it's not part of the town a few miles away. The port "village" has shops and bars and a swimming pool with a sand "beach" and lounge chairs. You can watch the dolphin show for free. I was there twice in October and went on excursions both times that were amazing, but if I hadn't booked something and spent the day at the port village, it wouldn't have been so bad and better than some ports I've visited through the years.
  14. It's $79 on the two Empress sailings I'm on in October... but the price says for the next two hours only.
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