It’s a beautiful At Sea day – clear and sunny, close to 80 degrees, and the sea is very calm. I don’t know how it could get any better
than this! Right now I can see the coast off Cuba off in the
So, as promised, I will give a more detailed report on yesterday’s
activities in Cozumel.
We enjoyed our extra hour of sleep, especially since we were due to
meet in the Buena Vista Theater at 9:15 to prepare for our excursion.
But since 8:30 was the new 7:30, we got up then and had plenty of
time for breakfast at Parrot Cay.
It was a pretty nice breakfast buffet – among other things I had one of
the cooked-to-order omelets. I was a little disappointed at the filling
selections – no spinach or basil, and only one kind of cheese
(cheddar) – I love feta and/or goat cheese in omelets. My tomato
and cheese omelet was very tasty, though. Since we knew we wouldn’t
be getting much for lunch on our tour we tried to fill up on
They were staging the three largest (and longest) tours in the Buena
Vista Theater – they got us all ready to go, and as soon as they
received clearance that we could go ashore, they took us off in our
groups. Two of the tours – the Tulum Ruins tour that we were on, and
the Xcaret Eco Archological Park – were actually over on the
mainland, so we had to take a ferry over to Playa del Carmen, and
then buses from there. We had our own private ferry, and they got us
loaded and we pulled away from the dock by about 10:00. It was a
high-speed ferry, and the trip was pretty smooth (seas were fairly
calm). But it tended to wallow a bit from side-to-side, and the
Disney crew members who were with us offered “Sea Calm” to anyone who
might want it. We still heard some people complaining about how
rough it was, and one woman said she wasn’t going to get back on it!
So I’m not sure how she got back to the ship. 🙂
They separated us into two groups after we got off the ferry, and led
us to our respective buses. That was kind of an adventure – we went
off through side streets and past shops, and through parking lots and
after about 5 minutes were in a dirt lot with several buses. The
buses were nice and air-conditioned, though!
They got us loaded and underway as efficiently as they could. There
were two buses going to Tulum – we had the faster-walking group on
ours, since we arrived back at the bus lot first. Our driver
was Jorge, and our guides were Enrique and Diego. Enrique did all of
the talking on the way to/from the ruins, and Diego conducted the
tour of the ruins themselves.
The bus ride was about an hour. Enrique talked to us a bit about the
history of the area and the Mayans. There are a lot of natural
wells, or cenotes, in the peninsula – the Mayans called them “chen”,
which is where the name Chichen Itza comes from. Tulum means
“fortress” – it was a walled city with walls on three sides, and
the ocean on the 4th. It was actually built relatively recently –
around 900 A.D. But it was abandoned in the late 1500s, and then
rediscovered in 1842.
The coral reef along the coast is the second largest in the world,
after the Great Barrier Reef. The Mayans somehow cut a channel through
the reef, and the two tallest towers of Tulum marked either side of the
channel. The Mayans apparently did a lot of trading – honey, furs,
and tobacco, etc. for silver, turquoise and so on.
Before we arrived at Tulum we had a 25-minute stop at a “Mayan
Trading Post” store – that’s apparently where all the tour buses
stop. BIG tourist trap. A lot of the goods (obsidian and wood
carvings, Mayan calendars) are made locally, but it was nothing we
were interested in, and we were back on the bus about 10 minutes
early. As we got back on the bus we all were given a plastic bag
containing a Subway turkey sandwich, some fluorescent orange cheese
puffs, and a fruit and bran bar. There was a little plastic
superhero guy in the bag of cheese puffs. It was all safe to
eat, but the sandwich was pretty tasteless.
When we arrived at Tulum itself, Enrique pointed out where we would
be meeting the bus when we came back from the tour of the ruins. We
were supposed to take a tram from the parking area to the ruins (it’s
about a 1/2 mile walk), but one of the trams was broken down and there
was a long line so we opted to walk. And we got there before any of
the trams did! It was a warm day, but not too bad.
Diego took over at that point, and led us into the ruins themselves.
We went through a Mayan arch along the northern wall. The city was
far larger than I had been expecting, and there were a lot more
buildings than I had expected to see.
There was a very nice breeze, but it was hot if you were standing in
he sun, so Diego attempted to find us some shady spots as he took us
to various places to point things out and tell us about the city.
Unfortunately he didn’t give us a lot of detail on what most of the
buildings actually were – I had to get that information out of a
booklet I bought at the entrance after we came out. It would have
been much more useful to have that book with me as we were wandering
around the ruins – there were things I didn’t see because I didn’t
know to look for them. Handing out a map of the ruins to everyone
would have been very helpful.
Things that he DID tell us that were not in the book…they have
found traces of paint on the stones, and think that the city was
painted blue and red. They do not know any of the names of the
buildings, so the names they have were given to them based on
appearance, location, or things they found inside. None of the
buildings were residences (at least not of the common people), but
there are a lot of stone foundations where the houses would have
been. Mayan houses were built of wood with thatched roofs that
would not have survived very long after the city was abandoned.
One of the “towers” on the left part of the main building was part
of their calendar system – when the sun rises on the mornings of
the vernal and autumnal equinox, it is perfectly framed in the
window of the tower.
He spoke to us for about 50 minutes, and then we had an hour and 30
minutes to wander around on our own. From what Enrique told us
earlier, Disney is a lot more generous with time than some of the
other cruise lines – they allow for 2.5 hours at the ruins, and a lot
of the others only allow only one hour, which is just enough time for
the guided tour.
We certainly had plenty of time to cover the entire site, but as I
said before, it would have been helpful to have a map. There were
signs at most of the buildings, but they didn’t give the same kind of
detail. Some of the buildings were in good shape and still had a lot
of carvings – this is a close-up of some on the building called
Temple of the Frescoes.
Oh, before I forget, there were iguanas all over the place – many
of them sunning themselves on the ruins. I called one of the
buildings the “Temple of the Iguanas” because there were so many
of them. 🙂
There is a staircase at the back that goes down to a very nice beach –
going to the beach had been listed as one of the things to do on
the tour. We spent enough time wandering around that we didn’t get
down to the beach in time to make it worth getting our shoes and socks
off and then having to put them back on, but there were quite a few
people there – locals as well as tourists.
After we came back out of the walled city we went to the gift shop
where I found the booklet on Tulum…and there we saw the vicious
jagulars coming out of the jungle.
We saw several different ones – they didn’t want to get too close to
The bus ride back to Playa del Carmen took about an hour – I think
ours was the last of the Disney excursions to arrive because the boat
left not long after we boarded. Again, the trip over was pretty
smooth – and seemed a little faster! We docked the same place we had
boarded in the morning, which was just down the pier from the Magic.
And we went straight back to the ship, so we never really stepped
foot on Cozumel at all!
We had a great view of the bow of the ship, which we hadn’t seen up
close before. I hadn’t noticed the other Disney characters in the
scrollwork. A bit subtle, but very nice.
It was about 4:45 by then. As you might imagine, we were quite
hungry, so after a quick stop in our room to drop things off we went
up to Goofy’s Galley. Some salad and wraps hit the spot, and would
tide us over until dinner.
But we didn’t have too much time to relax – it was Pirate night! We
actually had pirate costumes to put on.
Dinner was at Animator’s Palate again, but this time it was the
pirate-themed dinner. We all received a rolled up “treasure map”
menu at our place setting, along with a “Pirates in the Caribbean”
head scarf. Fun. 🙂
All the servers were dressed up in pirate costumes, too, and they
looked great. Dinner was rather rushed, though – part of that was
because I asked to receive dessert in time to make the pirate deck
party at 9:45, and the servers themselves were rushing, too. At 9:45
they had a procession with all the servers, and were getting the
guest to do the limbo and a conga line or something like that. Meg
was very disappointed that none of us participated.
I have to give TJ credit – he got my dessert, the “Walk the Triple
Chocolate Gangplank Cake” out to me as soon as the procession ended,
and Lee and I were able to make it up on deck in plenty of time for
the party. It turned out the “real” show didn’t start until about
10:15. We went up to deck 10 where we could watch Captain Mickey
preparing to save the day when the pirates took over the stage.
Sorry, this isn’t a great picture, but you get the idea.
And after that it was time for fireworks in the Caribbean!
Apparently Disney is the only cruise line that does a fireworks show.
They weren’t as impressive as Illuminations, but it was still pretty
cool to see them in the middle of the ocean! We learned later that
the wind changed direction just before the show started, and the
Captain had to change course so that the fireworks could go on as
There was a dessert buffet set up on Deck 9 so we partook of that.
LOTS of different cakes, and even baked Alaska (though the inside was
really whipped cream and not ice cream). Some really good chocolate
chip cookies, too.
It was a great day, but quite long and full of activities. We were
definitely ready for a more relaxing day at sea today.
So I caught up on yesterday…but haven’t had time to write about
today at all. Maybe tomorrow after our day on Castaway Cay…