Our first stop on the Carnival Conquest cruise was Montego Bay, Jamaica. Before the cruise, I did not find any excursions that we wanted to try. I would have loved to see the falls but that would mean 1 ½ hours on a bus each way – not how I want to spend a vacation. We took a cab, more like a bus, to Doctor’s Cave Beach. On the way, they tried to sell us into an island tour but in the end most of the people just wanted a ride to the beach.
It was $6 per person and $3 per child to enter the beach, plus fees for an umbrella and chairs. It was well worth it. The beach was clean, beautiful and had two water trampolines that kept my kids entertained all day. There were a few vendors there but mostly under control. What surprised me the most was that they were wading in shallow water, so when you went out, they stopped to ask if you wanted your hair braided or a conch shell to buy.
Overall, it was a perfect lazy day at a sunny beach, even if I did end up with too much sun.
This was the stop we loved the most. The day was hot without a cloud in the sky. We got off the boat and met our tour guide (we had booked the cruise through Travelocity and had a discount voucher for this tour). We were taken by bus to the other side of the island (a short drive) to a boat where we were off on our stingray and snorkeling adventure.
The first time the kids felt the stingray glide across their legs, they were both back up on the boat pretty quick. Although that’s what I wanted to do, too, I stuck it out and am so glad I did. The stingrays just swam around and we held on to pieces of squid that they sucked out of our hands like a vacuum cleaner. We saw some other fish swimming nearby, too. Our guide also pointed out the point where the water changed, which is where the Cayman Ridge is.
After the stingrays, the boat took us to another location to snorkel. My son jumped in and got some water in his snorkel tube and started to sputter. He got back on the boat, adjusted it and came back in and took off exploring. I was so proud of him! He gave it another try and realized that he loved it!
Now I know that there are groups who are against any interaction with dolphins but I did do some research on this company and felt that they had the best combination of dolphin care and provided an educational experience. We went to Chankanaab Park for our Cozumel excursion and swam with the dolphins.
If you’re not on an excursion, I still recommend this park. Although there’s an entrance fee, the beach is clean, there are restaurants and food service to your beach chair, and it has everything to keep everyone happy. You can even walk around a shaded path to see some stone monuments.
We decided to snorkel here, and I stayed with our gear on the beach. My husband said he pointed out a small octopus to my daughter, who then proceeded to climb up on his back, get out of the water and never went back in! And I thought she was the brave one. My husband and son ended up swimming and snorkeling while my daughter played in the sand and I read a book.
Finally, it was our turn to swim with the dolphins. We were with one other family, who was from Canada. The mother did not know how to swim and even she was able to do everything we did. The kids love kissing and talking to the dolphins, and we learned a lot about their habitats and how they rehabilitate them at the park.
The ports of call were all great experiences on this trip and our family learned a lot about different cultures and climates. We’d definitely go on a cruise again!
If you’re looking for recommendations on ports, cruises and excursions, I found the Cruise Critic forums to be extremely helpful.