Friday, February 20, 2009

Passion Island - Cozumel, Mexico

If you are looking for your own little piece of paradise that also has great amenities for the kids, then book the cruise excursion called "Passion Island".

This private beach adventure is for cruise ship passengers only. I was told that the island holds 600 people but there were less than 150 on the day we were there.

Check with your cruise line for details. Through Royal Caribbean, the guests take a catamaran from the port (if weather allows it). So there is no age minimum for this excursion. However, Carnival guests are taken to the island on the thrilling Twister power boat. The Twister does have an age minimum. So check your cruise line for possible restrictions.

At the Cozumel port, we met up with our guide "Mr. Leo" who informs us that the seas are too choppy to take the Catamaran to Passion Island (as originally planned) - we would take a bus, then a short boat ride over to the island.

Passion Island is PURE paradise. It is deserted. It is for cruise ship guests only. It is OPEN DOMESTIC BAR and buffet included. The buffet has BBQ chicken, blackened mahi mahi, the best guacamole ever, tortilla chips, salad, rolls, fresh fruit and rice. For the kids, I couldn't have picked a better place. They had a water trampoline, but since the water was too rough, they brought out a couple of men to install a regular trampoline on the sand (no charge).

They have mini ATVs for the kids - FREE. The operator just "works for tips". They also have a playground and mini maze for the kids.

For the adults - they have some shopping there. Domestic bar. Covered restaurant. Hammocks everywhere. They had tables under the palm trees so you can eat on the beach. They have chairs in full sun. Chairs in shade. The merchants stayed in the shopping area so no one was walking around selling anything (except one guy with a box of Cuban cigars). We also saw some sea kayaks on the beach.

Restrooms and changing facilities are available. They were very clean (always important when you bring the kids)

So if you want to see what paradise truly feels like, book an excursion to Passion Island.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Belize - ATV Jungle Adventure - Adults and Kids (ages 12 and up)


Reserved online through

Length of tour - One hour bus ride each way. One hour on the ATV's. Plan to be gone from the port for approx 4-5 hours.

For $55 per person, (cash/tip extra), we rode in an air conditioned bus from the port at Belize City to the jungle trails.

We arrived at their "hut". We were advised to wear old clothes because we WOULD get muddy. They sold t-shirts for $10 each if anyone wanted to cover up their clothes. They also gave us plastic bags to tie over our shoes.

The guides took our cameras and went ahead on each trail to video and to take still pictures of every leg of the trail. NO EXTRA CHARGE. By the time I left, I had a video of our experience on my own camera. And I had pictures, including Before/After mud shots.

This was the MOST fun we had ever had on an excusion. They also run Cave Tubing trips. But recently started to do the ATV jungle tours. The age minimum is 12 to drive your own ATV. If you don't know how to drive one or you are unsure about your own skills, the guides will drive for you. One person in our group elected to do that.

The ride was 5 miles through the Belize rain forest and it lasted one hour on the ATVs.

They sold soda for $1/bottle and Belize Beer for $3. They also had Tamales for $2, ice cream, doritos and cheetos.

There was SOOOO MUCH MUD! We started off clean and ended up VERY MUDDY - but smiling from ear to ear. I would do this tour again in a heartbeat. If I go back when it's warmer, I want to try the cave tubing excursion that they have. The minimum age for their cave tubing is 5 years old.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Pre Cruise

Just back from a 6 day cruise onboard Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas. We flew into FLL airport. Took a shuttle from the airport (there is a rental car center on site) to Enterprise. Got a Jeep Compass ($62.50 total). And drove to our hotel which was 15 minutes away...

Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, Hollywood Florida

We arrive at 10:30am. The hotel is gorgeous. I was using Starwood points so I figured the room would be small....facing the parking balcony. I get to the desk and the clerk says "How many beds do you need? We are going to upgrade you to a Oceanfront CORNER WRAP AROUND BALCONY SUITE" {I think my heart stopped for a second}

She hands me the keys to our 28th floor suite which was HUGE. The glass walls slid open onto the balcony. The room was immaculate. The property was kid paradise with pools everywhere, an ice cream social at 2pm and a wonderful gentleman by the name of Santiago in the lobby that handed the kids hershey kisses everytime they walked past him. He also told the kids to wait while he went and grabbed them "a surprise". He came back with Westin Kid backpacks with a Westin hat, stickers and map.

The hotel does have $17 parking (and valet parking). So the parking is not free. It does not have a shuttle to the port...which was the reason we rented the car. No free breakfast in the morning. There is a trolly out front and for $1 per person you can tour Fort Lauderdale with hop on/hop off options all over the city. It leaves every 30 minutes. We took the trolly to the boardwalk and ate there.

If you want a cheap hotel with a free shuttle and breakfast, do not stay here. If you want a high end experience, superior service and a true luxury resort...then start your cruise off at the Westin Diplomat.

The pictures from the Westin Diplomat, Hollywood Florida....

If you have any specific questions....feel free to ask.