In June my husband and I took a quick 5 day trip to Cancun while the kids were at church camp. I surprised him with a limo pickup which helped ease the joys of sitting in the plane for almost an hour after landing due to a tropical storm. Gotta love this time of year...lol Thankfully that was the final push of the storm and it was off to Texas while we were not in Texas. :)
The Sun Palace did not disappoint from the moment we arrived. We were taken upstairs for a private check in and then we went back downstairs where they explained the $1500 resort credit and how we had access to the other Palace resorts in the area.
We had an ocean front concierge suite with amazing views of the pool and the ocean. Our suite also had an extra large balcony with a couple of chairs and a table plus two lounging chairs.
The food was amazing at every place we ate within the resort. The breakfast crew at El Alamo was outstanding. They referred to me as "Yoga Girl" because of a t-shirt I wore my first morning there. When I asked a chef if they had arroz con leche, he said no but took down my room number and said he would the next morning. Sure enough, he came out the next morning with my very own bowl of arroz con leche and even brought me sugar and cinnamon to top it off with. AMAZING attention to details and customer service!!!
The spa services were great as well. We had our 25 min back massages that came with our concierge package and then also added the fish spa to this. Every one of the spa professionals were great at their job and very friendly. We also took advantage of the romantic dinner on the beach and it was fantastic. Our waiter was amazing and very attentive. (The massage and dinner was included in our concierge pack)
The wait staff during the day on the beach was also great. We never ran out of anything to drink as they were always right there asking if you'd like another. We hung out at the beach most of the time while at the resort since both pool areas are a little of the small side and can get cramped.
The only part that I felt the resort may be lacking on just a little is at night. The beach and pool areas clear out quickly towards evening. There is really only one main nighttime area which is at the Lobby Bar. They have a dance floor and there are also different events scheduled during the week. They also use the ballroom for some of these nightly events.
You just have to remember that this resort is more for the traveler that isn't looking for a constant party scene or late nights at the club. If you want that kind of experience with the quiet atmosphere, you can take advantage of the resort sharing program and visit the nightclub at the Moon Palace which open way later.
My husband made friends with all of the bell boys and valets. They all had a great time learning from each other and laughing at some of the differences in our cultures. Every one of these men greeted us as Mr & Mrs Osborn no matter where we were within the resort during our entire stay.
We took an tour to Cozumel that we booked using some of our $1500 resort credit. Our tour guide was Pablo and he was excellent. He was very informative about the island and it's history. The first stop was snorkeling. Pablo showed everyone how the equipment worked and how to properly put it on. He gave hand signals to the participants to show if they were in danger or doing OK. The group was in the water about 30 minutes. My husband said there were some cool fish, but no colorful reefs, just sand. When we asked Pablo about this, he admitted that the best area for this was on the other side of the island and it was best viewed while scuba diving since it was a little further down under water. We appreciated his honesty.
Next we got on the open-air bus towards the beach. It was very windy on the bus, but yet a cultural experience as well. Pablo pointed out it was the start of turtle season and had the driver stop to show us some new turtle nests which was an unexpected treat. We stopped on the bridge and saw two crocodiles for a few minutes. When we arrived at the beach, I thought it was a great location and good facilities. There were restrooms, showers, vendors, massage table, and of course the buffet and bar. The buffet consisted of fruit, salad fixings, chicken or beef for fajitas, and some great fish which we made fish tacos from. Soft drinks or beer were included in the excursion, but they offered mixed drinks for an additional cost. May I suggest the Coco Loco......excellent and served in a coconut they cut open right in front of you.
After about 1 1/2 hrs at the beach off we went to the lighthouse. This was OK and had some great views. Not too much time to tour the museum on site, but I did take tons of pictures in it to go through. Had a couple of good vendors on site as well, one of which had some really cool black coral items. On the way out of the park we stopped at a small Mayan ruin on the side of the road. He explained this was the top of a ruin that actually had 2 additional levels under the ground. It was some type of lighthouse for the Mayans during their time.
Our last stop was a tequila shop near the ferry pier in town. I was under the impression, it was at a larger place outside of town, but I think it was closed. The guys at the shop had several varieties of tequila set up for tastings and explaining the difference in quality and taste. Overall, they did a good job explaining. My husband was able to negotiate a lower price on the best tequila at a substantial savings. (Remember, always bargain with the vendors and store owners. Very few of them will stick to the listed price) About 30 minutes for shopping near the ferry and then back to Playa del Carmen and the ride back to Cancun.
Overall, I was impressed with the knowledge of our guide and thought this was a great excursion for someone like myself that has never been to Cozumel. This is also good for those with limited time but that want to experience what Cozumel has to offer. I think there are definite areas that could be improved upon. Maybe cutting out the tequila tasting to give more time snorkeling or the beach would be great. You can basically go to tequila tastings all over Mexico, so this is nothing that is really special to just Cozumel. For the money paid, I felt we did get a good value. You get the most out of this tour by interacting with the guide though. Pablo sat down by our little group and we asked him tons of questions and he answered every one of them. Just go in knowing it's going to be fast and furious and you need to take advantage of any down time if you have questions to ask.
We booked an EARLY morning tour of Chichen Itza on our own instead of the resort. I am aware of the heat and the "cattle drives" of the afternoon tours and boy I am soooo glad we booked this tour instead of the ones that are in the afternoon when Chichen Itza is so crowded and hot.
Frank was our tour guide and he was awesome and made the 5:20am pickup time much more agreeable. We were provided with a small box lunch which consisted of a sandwich, banana, cookies and apple juice. Not the greatest, but decent for the money paid.
During our 2 1/2 drive there and back, they did stop each way for a bathroom break. After the bathroom break there, Frank begins to explain the Mayan culture, both the history and the myths. He explains the meaning of Chichen Itza and some of the other ruins.
While on site, you have 1 1/2 hrs with the guide and then the same amount of time on your own. We spent an additional 30 minutes with Frank as he explained a few others parts of the site. Then we explored for about an hour. We didn't see near what we wanted to, but we were very glad to have beaten the crowds and the heat. We will go back again one day and explore some more on our own.
Be sure to call the number listed on your reservation to confirm your pickup time for that morning. There were a few in our pickup van that missed the pickup either because they overslept or they didn't call to see what time the pickup is. It clearly states on the receipt to call to confirm your pickup time from your resort. I think this is the best way to view Chichen Itza before it gets so crowded. We had some awesome pictures with nobody in the background. It was great!
We tried to balance fun, relaxing and touring in 5 days. Didn't do too badly, but we sure didn't see near enough of the area on this trip. We are planning on taking all the kids to the Riviera Maya next summer for a week in a villa. Hopefully, we'll get to experience more of this area during that trip. And who knows about us.......there may be another quick trip before then if my husband and I can sneak away. ;)
Talk about an elegant ship....WOW!!! From the moment you step foot on this ship, you know you will be pampered!
There is marble and mirrors everywhere , but tastefully done. The décor, including Swarovski crystal-covered glass staircases, glass elevators and dramatic lighting, is simply amazing. Highlights include the breathtaking atrium, glitzy Pantheon Theatre and sophisticated Black & White Lounge.
Another big hit is the Yacht Club. Once travel in this category, you won't be able to imagine traveling anyway else! It includes larger cabins, butler & concierge services, a private restaurant, lounge & pool area. Spaces within the yacht club are both elegant and relaxed. Butler service there is excellent; somehow, butlers seem to anticipate your every need without being overbearing. Perks include complimentary beverages and access to an ultra-private pool area.
The gym and spa are very big for a ship, with first-rate equipment and services. There is also a well-stocked sporting goods store in case you forgot something vital for your trip. With five pools, the ship has more than enough space for taking a dip and plenty of loungers for sunning. Divina also has the closest thing to a true infinity pool that I've seen at sea. In my opinion, it's one of the best spots on the ship.
In November 2013, Divina began sailing full-time Caribbean itineraries from its new Miami homeport. To get the ship and its crew ready for the change, MSC made some modifications to appeal more to the tastes of its North American market: enhanced entertainment, a movie screen poolside, a sports bar, a more restrictive smoking policy. The crew also went through some massive training as well. There are major differences in the way North Americans and Europeans view vacation and what is expected of the staff and facilities. While the ship and crew maintain a Mediterranean feel, the new touches are certainly noticeable.
Passengers onboard MSC Divina are generally North American. All announcements are made in English, which is the primary language spoken onboard. (This differs from MSC's other ships, which usually offer all announcements in five languages to cater to a variety of European passengers.)
Our travel adventures and missteps. Sometimes on our own, sometimes with our kids, but always having fun!