Carnival Cruise

Go Jeep! Beach And Tequila Traditions Tour In Cozumel Review

Our last excursion was on the sixth day of our cruise and found us in Cozumel, Mexico.  This marked our fourth time in Cozumel.  The first time we went, we were with our travel agent friends who book our cruises for us.  They know the island like it’s their own neighborhood.  We rented vehicles and toured the Mayan ruins and then went to the Eastern shore to Coconuts for lunch.  Twice after that, we have been to Chankanaab but my husband found something a bit different for this trip.

We decided to book the Go Jeep! Beach and Tequila Traditions Tour.  We love the Jeep Wranglers and have been debating for years over whether to just purchase one as our other family vehicle or just get an old beater to tool around in on the weekends.  This excursion sealed the deal and I’m pretty sure we’ll be on the hunt for our very own Jeep Wrangler soon.

This excursion was through Carnival so we were met right away by Jorge, holding his “Go Jeep!” sign.  He was adorable and just the perfect host for this tour.  He knew all our names and never had to be reminded, something I envy because I suck at remembering people’s names.

We were immediately briefed on the safety rules, what the tour would include and approximate time frames for each stop and then we got to go to our Jeeps.  Since this is a tequila tour with tasting, you’re supposed to have a designated driver so E did not sample the tequila but to be honest, even if he had, it was not enough to do any damage or impair your driving abilities.  Either that or my body has built up an insane tolerance for hard liquor.  You decide.

My family of four was, of course, in a Jeep all our own but if you only had two in your party, you would ride with another couple.  Getting in and out was tight for the kids from the back but that’s to be expected.  We kept getting a random intermittent seat belt warning signal the whole day, even when we were buckled but nothing that couldn’t be ignored.  I had read reviews from earlier outings which stated the Jeeps had every single warning light on the console lit up for the entire tour.  These Jeeps have definitely been driven and are stripped bare inside. No stereo, no A/C, no carpeting. Our Jeep drove very well and all the Jeeps in the caravan did just fine, not one breaking down on the side of the road.

Our Jeep for the day.

Our Jeep for the day.

My husband had the brilliant idea to bring along our little Bluetooth speaker so even without a stereo, we got to listen to music the entire day from my phone, which was really nice.  The speaker battery died with only about 20 more minutes left in the whole trip, so not bad.  I’m not sure if it started out completely charged so it could’ve lasted with a full battery.  If you love music, I would highly suggest taking one of these little speakers with you.  I bought it for E as a Christmas gift, they’re very affordable and surprisingly had plenty of volume even for our open air Jeep.

I estimate we had about five Jeeps in our caravan and I believe every Jeep had four people riding so that would amount to 20 people on the tour.   The group was mostly around our age, a few with kids our age and up.  This wasn’t a hardcore tequila tasting so the kids were totally okay and didn’t hinder anyone.  The youngest was 11 years old, I think, the oldest being our son, who is 16.  So don’t think just because it says “Tequila” in the excursion title that it’s not family friendly.  As you’ll see in the pictures, there were plenty of things to do that did not include tequila.

We took a route through Cozumel that took about 30 minutes and really gave us a great feel of the island.  Road improvement is amazing, some roads better than ours in Alabama.  It seems maybe Cozumel is reaping some of the benefits of all us tourists.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the scenery and just real Cozumel life.  It’s amazing the things we take for granted.

The first stop was a recreation of a Mayan village.  There were different huts set up and you could watch as traditional Mayan food and drink was prepared right in front of you.  You could also sample the food and drink.  I didn’t see a Health Department rating on the wall at any of these Mayan huts so I passed.  My son wanted nothing to do with the Mayan food shenanigans either.  However, my husband and daughter, the daredevil risk takers they are, apparently thought the odds were in their favor that they wouldn’t end up in a Mexican hospital with flaming diarrhea because they taste tested everything.  I think their bravery to recklessly try any questionably prepared third world country food that was thrown at them was rooted in their assumption that I wouldn’t leave their leaky asses in a Mexican hospital.  They were and are very wrong.

The tequila tasting was at the end of the Mayan Village tour but lo and behold, we have absolutely no pictures of me trying very expensive and very good tequila.  I guess my husband and daughter were in the bathroom with their sudden cases of severe and debilitating gastrointestinal distress.

I tried several different tequilas of varying qualities and some flavored tequilas.  The tequilas were all made from 100% agava and were very smooth but they weren’t smooth enough for me to shell out just shy of $100 bucks for a bottle.  I did come away with tequila knowledge I did not have before the tour and feel much better equipped to choose a good tequila from now on.

The Mayan Village took about an hour and a half, which included the traditional Mayan food taste testing, some Mayan history, the history of Mexican tequila and then finished up with some tequila buying tips and the tasting.

The next stop was to Punta Morena Beach on the undeveloped Eastern shore of Cozumel.  We have been to this side of the island before.  The beach was mostly very rocky and the water very rough and was no different on this day.  There were a few people braving the waves with boards but this was toward the end our cruise, we were all sunburned and tired, so we just sat in the shady cantina, ate chips and salsa and I drank Coronas.  We were completely happy doing that for about and hour and a half.

While I was drinking a Corona, my husband and daughter wandered off and came back with the pictures below.  I have to conclude that they’re just fucking with me now. Either that or I’ll find them in the woods next weekend, trying to wrangle rabid squirrels and coyotes to take pictures with.

Jorge rounded us up and told us the route back to the ship would be at a slow pace so we could really see the coastline.  It took about 45 minutes to get back to the port.  By that time, we were done with the sun and wiped out.

We enjoyed this excursion but only for the scenery and the time in the Jeep.  We will never go back to the Mayan Village/Tequila Hacienda.  Once was enough.  Jorge was a wonderful guide, very friendly, concerned about our needs, checking on us to make sure everything was fine at every stop.  The tour was well organized and we felt safe at all times.  I just think it wasn’t really the thing for our family.  It’s very easy to get around the island and after being there four times, we feel comfortable branching out on our own.  We have pretty much decided that the next time we’re in Cozumel, we’ll just rent our own Jeep and do our own thing.

That’s it!  Excursion reviews complete.  I hope you learned a few things and that I possibly inspired your next cruise excursion.  I may do one last review on the actual ship and that whole experience so stay tuned.

I have recently had readers from Indonesia and Brazil pop in regularly!  I am always happy to welcome a new country to stephontherocks!  Thanks for reading my blog.  I appreciate each and every one of you!

Snorkeling The Barrier Reef In Belize Review

I’m sorry for not posting my final two excursion reviews sooner but I had a root canal on Wednesday and then the pain med my dentist prescribed made me itch like a hooker after a busy weekend so there’s that.  My poor tooth still isn’t speaking to me and is considering taking legal action to remove itself from my mouth completely.  I don’t blame it.  And no, I’m no longer taking the pain meds so don’t even blame this rambling on those itchy little bastards.

If you’re still here, I will be reviewing our snorkeling excursion in Belize.  Belize is a tender port where you disembark from the cruise ship directly onto a smaller boat and they take you to the mainland or, in our case, directly to your excursion.  On past cruises, my experience with tender ports has been that I can see land from the cruise ship even if we can’t just pull right up to it.  I saw no land whatsoever, my husband insists he saw land.  The Captain of our snorkel excursion boat later said the cruise ship was actually 10 miles away from Belize which leads me to conclude that my husband was wrong or has the eye sight of Krypto the Superdog.  You will be expected to take sides on this later.

We had scheduled an excursion to snorkel the Barrier Reef through Carnival.  We would tender off the cruise ship directly onto the boat that would take us to the private island.  Our excursion wasn’t scheduled to start until around 10:30 a.m., I believe, so we got to sleep in.  As we were getting ready, my husband went to the dining room designated as our rendezvous point and was informed that the earlier excursion had been cancelled due to rough seas and that ours would probably also be cancelled.  At the very last minute, we were told our excursion was still on.

Some of you know me well enough by now that you know I was already thinking “It must be really bad out there if the first tour was cancelled!”, “Why did this tour company agree to take us out when the seas are this unsafe?”, “What kind of ragtag group of pirates is this?”, and finally, “Fuck, I’m going to end up on a real life Gilligan’s Island!”  The Gilligan’s Island scenario was actually the most positive one in my head at that time.

We were in the dining room waiting for the ragtag bunch of pirates to show up and the ship was rockin’.  I popped two of my “nerve pills” and thought about ordering a drink but before I could solidify my husband’s case for an alcohol intervention, the crew announced our boat was there and it was time to board.

As soon as I was on the boat, I knew I was in trouble.  I’m used to the rocking and swaying of a cruise ship and I’ve actually convinced myself that it’s soothing.  This was not soothing.  We sat on the lower level of the boat, right behind the helm.  I estimate around 100 people were on board.  The Skipper,  umm, I mean Captain looked confused and slightly alarmed and did absolutely nothing to build my confidence in him or his vessel when he picked up his “Captain’s Log” which was a regular old composition notebook that looked about a decade old.  I don’t know what the hell I thought a “Captain’s Log” would look like but that was not it and it did not boost my confidence that this was an upstanding band of pirates.

We got going and were told it would take 45 minutes to arrive at the island.  The seas were the rockiest I’ve ever been on in a smaller craft.  Water was splashing in through the sides like some wild Universal Orlando ride until they let the plastic protective sides down.  By that time, I was making note of where the life jackets were and which of the other Moms (and some Dads) I could easily take out if circumstances called for it.

My brain started repeating its new mantra of “I quit this bitch”.  It was either freak the fuck out in front of a whole lot of kids, including my own, or start gnawing on my nerve pills like I was a squirrel down to my last winter nut.  I chose the squirrel/last nut option and some deep breathing.  Luckily, I settled down before the Captain had to tranq my ass, or worse – write me up in his very official and fancy “Captain’s Log”.

About 20 minutes in, a kid facing us apparently did not have the “squirrel/nut” option available to him as I had and he almost puked on my entire family.  His Dad got him calmed down but for extra insurance, I had my husband tote them over a gallon sized Ziploc bag to contain his shit if the need arose.  There were a lot of people on the boat who I suspected needed a Ziploc baggie.  I had several baggies but felt I needed to hoard them in anticipation of being on Gilligan’s Island with a bunch of ragtag pirates for the next 20 years.

I did not have high hopes for this “private island”.  I’ve been on enough beach vacations by now to know that it doesn’t matter how good the brochure looks.  It doesn’t matter what the brochure says.  There will always be a crowd.  You will always scramble for a beach chair or a beach mat or just a tiny space in the sand to place your beach towel.  There will always be beach peddlers with their various wares roaming the beach, interrupting the Jimmy Buffet song you were listening to with your headphones on.  And the final, cardinal rule of beach getaways:  There will always, ALWAYS be an overweight European wearing a fluorescent Speedo repeatedly and inexplicably interrupting your line of sight to the beautiful, impossibly blue water.  It’s like death and taxes.  Only worse.

An island was coming into view and I thought surely this wasn’t “our” island.  Our island was probably back behind this island.  I saw no Europeans or Speedos.  The only thing missing was that little bastard Tattoo from Fantasy Island yelling “Da plane, da plane!”  I saw absolutely nothing but sand, palm trees, straw huts, sky, impossibly blue sea.  I saw THIS:

The Captain announced that we had arrived and informed us there was a cantina with snacks and drinks for sale.  After he amended the menu to include beer, I’m pretty sure I yelled “Thank God”.

We disembarked and the crew waiting on the dock immediately started getting everyone snorkel gear and started dividing into snorkel groups of Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  I do not snorkel because I don’t swim well and also don’t think my sole method of breathing should be through a large straw, even temporarily, but my husband and two kids love it.  They were in the Intermediate group.

After fulfilling my “You’re a pussy so you get to take pictures of us bad asses snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef” duty, I planted my ass on a lounge chair and enjoyed the view completely alone for about 45 minutes.  No one interrupted my Jimmy Buffet song.  Okay, actually, I listened to Incubus but no one interrupted.  Not one person spoke to me.  Not one person walked in front of my line of view or even my peripheral view the entire time, which was exactly this:

It was like my own private Corona commercial.  I was giddy.  I went to the cantina and perused the beer menu which didn’t take long since they only sold one kind.  I gladly paid for my Belikin, the Beer of Belize, and returned to my lounge chair.  After the family finished snorkeling, we had about another 45 minutes to sit and relax before the boat left for the return trip back to the cruise ship.

As far as the snorkeling went, my family was very disappointed.  The crew was very cautious due to the water conditions.  The snorkeling groups were hemmed in by the crew, some in canoes, to assist the snorkelers if needed. I felt much better about this although the hubs and kids did not get to snorkel in the way they are accustomed to and love from our Grand Cayman excursions. This was part of the Great Barrier Reef but with the number of people snorkeling and the intense supervision and direction, they didn’t get to see a lot.

From my point of view, the island was entirely worth the cost and the hair raising boat ride I endured to get to it.  It was my “zen” moment of the cruise and I would do it all over again.  With plenty of nerve pills and Belikin, the beer of Belize.

I hope you enjoyed my second review of our cruise excursions.  I have one more which I’ll post in the next couple days on Cozumel, so stay tuned.  Y’all have a great week wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

International Bad Ass

Warning:  The word “ass” and a couple of its variations is used in this blog post a lot.  Like a metric ass ton.  It’s just called for.  Roll with it this one time.  Okay, we all know there will be lots of other times but just roll with it, damn it.

Remember that little fear of heights thing I blogged about here and the accompanying proposed zip line excursion?  Well, I won’t say that I conquered that fear completely in Roatan, Honduras but it failed in making me its bitch and I gave it a kick in the ass and balls it won’t forget for a long, long time.

I did it.  I know it’s not a big thing to some of you.  Maybe you’ve scaled Mount Everest or jumped out of an airplane when you didn’t even have to.  This blog post isn’t meant to impress you although I think you’re bad ass and I can only aspire to live as fearlessly as you do.

This blog post is meant for the weak kneed people who stay in the shadows, watching the excitement take place around you and without you.  This post is for the people who are automatically handed the camera to take pictures of others doing exciting things because…  well, you’re a pussy and everyone knows it so you may as well document THEIR bad assery for their next Facebook profile picture.  This post is meant for people like me, like I still am in many ways.

This adventure has given me hope that I can do other things I never imagined I would do.  I have gained 40 pounds over the past eight months and have been feeling a bit mousy.  I didn’t feel mousy after this was over.  I felt exhilarated and that zip line gave me the kick my ample ass so desperately needed.  I’m excited to think of all the other phobias I can conquer in all different cities now and that just inspires me to lose the weight, even though that obviously didn’t stop this adventure.  The fact that I did this while feeling incredibly low and mousy just means that I can accomplish bigger, better things when I’m feeling my best again.

My son and I were only maybe two of three people (if I recall correctly) who zip lined upside down, with assistance, of course.  I am giddy that I did this and I hope it inspires the piss out of you.

I will do full reviews of each excursion in the coming week, including a more in-depth review of this zip lining  trip.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on Steph:  International Bad Ass.  There’s talk of a possible movie and it’s surprisingly not even a porn.  I’d like Kate Beckinsale to play me because she’s hot and and a total bad ass.  We’ll see how it goes.   Also, I have to apologize to my husband because I think the zip line dude and I made it to at least 3rd base, based on the photographic evidence.




I think I should have a Caption This contest for the look on zip line dude’s face.  And check out my cool Def Leppard tank.  Bad assery exemplified.  I also must point out that I kept my sunglasses on, albeit askew, even upside down!  There is nothing I can’t do now!

Now y’all go out and do something bad ass this week.