Thursday, September 4, 2008

5 day Cruise Part II Hidden Worlds Adventure

Thursday August 28th--another gorgeous morning. We arrived at the port of Cozumel around 10:30am and were off the ship at around 11am (ship time-which is an hour ahead of Cozumel) We made our mad dash to get off the ship. We needed to catch the ferry or "Ultramar" that takes you to the Playa del Carmen mainland. The ferries leave once an hour.

The yellow "Ultramar" in the background was specifically for tours to the mainland booked directly thru the cruiseline--so we had to walk 1/4 mile to the next pier and buy our tickets for the ferry leaving at 11am Cozumel time.

The ferry was large. The bottom was indoors and air conditioned--but we preferred the upper open air deck which still was covered but at least you had a great view. On our deck for the duration of the ride, was a local Mexican band which made the ride to the mainland more lively

Along the Mexican coastline was filled with Beach Resorts in all directions. Cancun was a mere 30 minute ride to the north.

We hurried off the pier and went straight to the ticket office and purchased tickets back to Cozumel in advance in the event we were short on time. We then walked to the car rental place around the corner. For $14.95 you get a VERY compact stick shift. Turned out we only had a 1/8 of a tank of gas and were to later find out that the gear for REVERSE doesnt work! Driving thru downtown Playa was scary. Busy road, lots of scooters darting everywhere and pedistrians who walk out in the middle of the road without warning. At least Mexico drives on the right side of the road. Hwy 307 was easier to drive. Average speed was 80-110 km ph. It was about 34 kms to Hidden Worlds which I found on a website. I was able to buy all inclusive tickets for $59.95 pp online. Their normal price is $89.95 pp at the park.

When we first got there--they gave us each our own snorkel (which we got to keep) and got to ride on what they refer as their "Limo" which basically a open air 4 x 4 with bench seating for 8. It was about a 20 minute jungle ride to the first station--the Jungle skycycles

After getting fitted with harnesses and a quick orientation we were off. The skycycles were suspended on a cable and we got a birds eye view of the jungle canopy.

After about 15-20 minutes in the canopy--the skycycles descended down into the first of the CENOTES--pronounced "See-No-Tays" We got out and were given lifejackets and masked and a guide led us on our first cave snorkeling adventure. The caves are very beautiful and are all fresh water. There are miles and miles of interconnected caves in this system. It was here at Hidden Worlds where they filmed part of the IMAX film Amazing Caves.

The formations were beautiful, there were some bats flying around (after all it IS a cave!) There were some fish swimming around too. Sometimes the bottom drops out and gets extremely deep. If you ever been to a huge cavern back in the states, and wondered what they must of looked like when they were filled with water--this is the place to check it out--it was very cool! Even got the teenage boy seal of approval. Hidden Worlds also has scuba diving in the cenotes for those who are qualified.

After snorkeling we hopped back on the skybikes and got to ride thru a series of cenote tunnels before ending one journey and beginning quite another

We were next briefed on the safety of ziplining. These pix were taken atthe bottom of the zipline. Being slightly afraid of heights myself, stepping off the platform in while in the treetops is a bit intimidating, but turned out to be alot of fun. Turns out my being out of shape only increased my speed of descent. But landed without crashing thankfully

Just when you think things couldn't get any more interesting--you find yourself standing above a giant hole--staring down into the bottom of a cave. Cave rappelling is not something you do everyday-- but for us--today is as good as any day I can think of. We made Tyler go first.

Tyler touched down with no problems

Jayson was next and our descent was controlled by how tightly or loosley we held the brake-line.

Two thumbs way up from Jayson

Being out of shape--I wasnt sure how I was to fare. I kept envisioning that scene out of Jurassic Park II the Lost World--where after Vince Vaughns character rappeled out of the "High Hide' and all you hear is branches snapping and what sounded like a crash landing--Dr Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) blurts out--"Personally, I would of squeezed a little tighter!"

This was another beautiful cave!

After a 3 for 3 sucessful landing, we got todo another 25 snorkel in this cenote.

No Jungle/Cenote adventure would be complete with out a zipline splashdown. This turned out to be my favorite!! As we did this one MANY MANY TIMES!!

A very WET landing!

What I really liked about this place was you get your own professional photographer who takes photos of your group thruought your adventure. They put the pix all on one disk and only costs about $25 for the entire disk I posted alot more of these pix on my facebook page. Also, unlike many of the cruise excursions, this place was totally uncroweded and felt like we had the place to ourselfves.

We decided we had better head back to make sure we got back on our ship before it leaft Cozumel without us. This is where I found out that there is no reverse on the car. I put it in nuetral and had Jayson push the car out of the parking spot. We hurried back to Playa, returned the car, we got on the very last ferry possible to get back to the boat (barely!) We got the 6pm ferry--which is 7pm ship time--and our cruise departs at 8pm!! Turns out final boarding was at 7:30pm. We gott off the ferry at 7:35 ship time and had 1/4 mile separating us from the ship. I decided that it was worth paying $4 for a taxi for that short distance--just in case. . . Thank god I did. Our Taxi driver litterally drove 75mph the 5 blocks, We had to litterally run thru the maze of the shopping center they stratigically placed in order to get back to the dock. The pier was long. And there were lots of people on the bow shouting things like "RUN FOREST RUN!!" at us as we scurried to get on board. They literally closed the door behind us.!! Out of over 2050 passengers on the ship--we were the last 3 back on!


Our last full day at sea was mostly sunny, it rained for about 20 minutes. Kids took advantage of the waterslides

. . . . .and more ping pong. This ship also had a video arcade--the boys only dropped about $15 the whole trip. There was a teen club called Club O2. The boys said the man running the club, Trevor, was really lame and mostly avoided hanging out there. Although Tyler did disappear a few hours to play Guitar Hero .

Our last official meal was the buffet breakfast in Brassiere Grill. I must say the decor was a bit outlandish

We also got the VIP service for disembarkation. We chose not to do self disembarkation, but instead waited in the Shakespere Library for the VIP groups personal escort off the ship. Big deal. Still took awhile to get clearance, Hurry up and wait got us sitting outside for 1/2 hour waiting for the Dollar rent a car shuttle to pick us up.

I had booked a room at the Days Inn in Clearwater, with intention of spending our last day at the beach but the long arm of Gustav was to catch up with us today and a long band of heavy thunderstorms was the order of the day. So we went to the movies, took a long nap in the hotel then went to dinner at Senor Locos.

We caught our Airtran flight back to Philly the next morning and that was that!
Now I just have to be patient --for my long awaited and beloved Gauley Season is a mere 3 weeks away.

West by God Virginia---here I come!

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