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A day in Cozumel, Mexico

I mentioned in yesterday’s post, that we just got back from a family cruise to the Caribbean. We had so much fun, it felt like a dream! For those unfamiliar with how a cruise works (I was), besides being out at sea, you stop in varying ports to experience the local scene. I specifically booked our cruise to include the 3 ports that we went to: Cozumel, Roatan, & Belize. Today I’ll share what we did in Cozumel.

what to do in cozumel mexico

I’d heard of Cozumel many times before, I knew it claimed beautiful beaches, I also heard if felt a lot like the US with a Wal Mart and Sams Club not too far away. Because of the activity that we booked, we didn’t get to experience a whole lot of the local scene, but we got a little glimpse. I like to surprise my family, so I hadn’t told my kids what we were doing at each stop. I was also worried that weather would cancel the excursion, and if that happened, they wouldn’t be as disappointed, not knowing what we were doing.

Exiting the boat was an adventure in and of itself. When we got on the boat, we went through an above ground glass tunnel. This day, we got off on the bottom of the boat and walked along side it’s enormity. We just couldn’t get past how HUGE the ship was. Walking next to it, put it into perspective.

cruise ship excursion to cozumel mexico

My kids kept asking as we hopped in the taxi what we were going to do, but I kept mum. We asked our driver to take us to the Chankanaab National park. I booked this excursion through Shore Trips, partly because some sites said the child had to be 8 to participate, this one said age 6. Though my daughter is NEARING age 5, I figured it’d all be ok. It seemed more about height and ability to swim, and both are on her side. When we were checking into the park the kids pointed and said, “Look, dolphins!” That’s when I said, “What do you think about swimming with them?” To that I got cheers!

We had about 2 hours to play in the water before our scheduled outing. We rented some snorkel gear, and played in the water. Our youngest didn’t love it as much, and I got my fill as well, so we hung out on the beach and took pictures.

snorkeling in cozumel mexico

{you can see our ship parked with another in the background}

We saw colorful schools of fish, coral, all sorts of fun. The three big kids had never snorkeled before, so that was pretty fun in and of itself as well.

snorkeling in the caribbean

Cozumel Mexico Beach

swimming in caribbean ocean

We headed back to the Dolphin Discovery area for our turn with the dolphins. My youngest wasn’t so sure about the whole idea, but I kept talking up how awesome it would be. When I still saw hesitation, I went against everything I believed in, and I bribed her. I told her she could have an ice cream cone when we got back on the ship (never mind that she would be fine to have one anyway) if she were brave and just got in the water with us. She had a life jacket on, and was in mine or my husbands arms the whole time, and once close to the dolphins, she really warmed to the idea. She thought it was so fun to pet them, get a kiss from them, and even give a kiss (which I didn’t necessarily enjoy doing). She laughed and smiled, and I felt happy that it all worked out. If not, one of us would have to get out of the water with her.

Once in the water, we had so much fun and spent nearly an hour interacting with two dolphins: Frida and Arimus. One of the highlights (and I spent more $$ for this, I figured I might as well go for the gold) was to have a “foot push” from the two dolphins. Each of us took our turns, swam out about 40 feet, and floating on our stomachs with head up, in superman position–arms extended. The dolphins then swam behind me, put their noses to the arch in my foot and PUSHED at the same time, which pushed me out of the water! It was such a crazy fun feeling! I was shocked they were strong enough to do that for each of us, we just had to keep our knees locked.

swimming with dolphins in cozumel

It was such a fun day! Tomorrow I’ll share about our day in Roatan, Honduras (prob. my favorite spot).  To see pictures of our time on the cruise with tips and a printable checklist, check out How to Plan for a Cruise.

Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. I was super excited to see your cruise posts! Our family (with 3 kiddos) just got back last week from a 7 day cruise to the same ports you were at, although we left out of New Orleans. It’s so fun to read about your planning process. It was our first cruise, too, so I could relate to just about everything you said! And we did Chankanaab National Park at Cozumel. We didn’t swim with the dolphins, but we snorkeled. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip. My littlest (8 years old) didn’t care for the snorkeling either. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip:)
    Julie recently posted..Paleo Dinner RollsMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Oh how fun! We might have brushed shoulders!! What days were you in each city? What did you do in the other two cities?

      • We were in Roatan January 15th, Belize on the 16th and Cozumel on the 17th. In Belize, we were hoping to do cave tubing, but the caves were flooded, so we just walked around at the port. In Roatan, we hung out at the beach and snorkeled. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip!
        Julie recently posted..Paleo Dinner RollsMy Profile

  2. How fun! I can’t wait to hear what you think of Roatan. That is actually where my sister and law and her husband when on their honeymoon!

  3. Looks like you all loved it! I really want to swim with dolphins one day! You and your cute family totally deserved this. :) Can’t wait to see the rest of your posts!

  4. Kristen! My family and I are doing a similar cruise in February and the hubs is trying to discourage me from taking my “good” camera. I’d love to hear how you traveled with a camera (flying? ship? at the ports?) so I can convince him that I NEED it in such beautiful places, and it won’t be as problematic as he seems to think.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Kayla, I talked about this in detail on yesterday’s post (http://www.kristendukephotography.com/plan-family-cruise/) towards the bottom. It’s a tough decision for sure. I had to carry the burden of always keeping it near me, it’s heavy, etc. But I wanted good picture bad enough that I was willing to sacrifice all of that. When I fly, I always keep my camera with me as a carry on. Getting on the ship was no biggie, when we got off the ship at ports, I wrapped my zoom lens in a jacket, and if I wasn’t swimming, kept my camera across my neck/body to remind me to take lots of pictures. Just don’t complain about it so he can’t say “told ya so!”

      • Thanks Kristen! Good to know! I definitely won’t be complaining if I get some great pix, that’s for sure. Maybe I’ll visit you on Facebook and share a few so we can drool together talking about the next time we go!

        • Kristen Duke says:

          Yes, please do share them with me!!! I should have said above that I wrap my zoom in a jacket an keep it in my backpack til needed. It was used on the pier shots her and a lot of the water shots. I also decided to bring different memory cards to take out at each port–just in case something happened to my camera, I wouldn’t lose the memories captured from the previous days. They stayed on the ship.

  5. I just found your blog and I love your pictures and that you guys got to go on a cruise. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE your swimsuit! Thanks for sharing all of this as we hope to go on a cruise sometime!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Welcome, Amy! Happy that you found my little spot;) Glad you like the suit, it’s served me well for nearly 3 years! I got it at Lime Ricki, love the skirt option;) The cruise was a great blessing as a gift inheritance from my grandma, it was truly a great experience. Much cheaper for two than 6!

  6. This looks like an amazing time! It is one of the excursions I am considering for our cruise as well. Did you have a good experience with shoretrips? I know that I have heard both good and bad things about using a separate excursion site. Glad you had suck a good time!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      The dolphins was really really fun! I liked shore trips, I never met a rep from them, as they basically are the middle man that hooked us up with local companies/tours. Pretty much anywhere you go, they are highly aware of what time you are supposed to be back, and make sure you get there on time. In the post that I’ll share in two days, we went out 2 hours from the ship,k and that worried me, and the guy on the shore trips phone service said that in 12 years, they’ve never had someone miss their boat from an excursion. I think they drill into the locals how important it is to get us back on time! I almost went on my own to book something, but the credibility of shore trips from my travel agent, I went the safe route.

      • Oh im glad! I will be trying them for the dolphins then bc that is exactly what my kids want to do too! Or possibly the stingrays in the caymans..but maybe we can do both!! Thank you for the info!

  7. Wow, what an awesome experience for your kids! So I have to ask- who did you get to take all your pictures? Usually when I hand my camera over I get a blurry out of center, tilted, feet or heads-cut-off family picture!~
    Cari recently posted..2014 Homeschool CurriculumMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      If it’s our whole family, a stranger. I have my camera set to back button focus, so I give specific instructions to not move, once i set my focus. Sometimes they will ignore that and I’ll get blurry. I’ll also often ask if they can see our feet and whatever else…it’s hit and miss for sure! Otherwise, I’ve trained my husband and kids pretty well.

  8. This sounds so fun! It seems like you found the perfect excursion for your family that day. My husband and I went snorkeling for the first time on our cruise and loved it. That surprised me because in general I don’t like fish (don’t like to eat them or touch them) but when snorkeling I never felt them even though we were so close to them. I also think you ended up with fabulous pictures. What a great picture of your whole family with a dolphin. So all the pictures of your kids with the dolphins, you got out of the water to take them? Was it somewhat shallow in the area where you played – it seems like you all can stand up? And was it only your family with the dolphins? Great job booking such a successful excursion, I know it can be stressful to pick the right thing.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hey Jenny! With the dolphins, they actually said no cameras, they only have their staff with a camera, b/c they want us to buy the pictures. I knew that going into it, and I planned on buying them going into it! I figured it’d be around $100 but for 6 of us (and over 200 pictures) they charged me $200. Slightly painful, but pictures are my souvenirs! There was a platform in the water that we stood on for most of it, but swam out a little distance for the foot push. On the platform with us was also 2 other ladies, so a pretty small group which was nice.

  9. That looks like an amazing day! What fantastic memories you’ve made as a family!
    Tonia recently posted..Banana Oat Muffins RecipeMy Profile

  10. Oh how I wish I was there right now, instead of freezing my buns off here! ;) You all look so beautiful and happy!! Love hearing about your trip!

  11. tricia dunlap says:

    the photos with the dolphins are AMAZING!!! what a memory you will never forget!!! i’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins!

  12. Raelene Hill says:

    I love that you swam with the dolphins, been on my to do list for years. Loved the pictures! LOVED IT!

  13. Looks like an absolute blast, Kristen!! We’ve never been on a cruise either and I’ve always been curious. Thanks for all the insight.

  14. Oh Kristen! It looks like you guys had the most magical time! We’ve done a couple Disney cruises with the boys and seriously, there is just not a better vacation! You are forced to UNPLUG and ENJOY. Love it!
    Trish – Mom On Timeout recently posted..Share the Love $600 VISA Gift Card Giveaway!My Profile

  15. We are thinking about going through ShoreTrips to book this excursion as well for our 1st cruise this December. When you did the excursion did you have someplace to keep your good camera and belongings or did you have to take them back to the cruise ship before??