Gah, 3 months to finish a travelog is a little long...
Anyway our last port of call was Cozumel, thats an island off the coast of Mexico, pretty much opposite Playa Del Carmen. This was another docked port of call and there were MANY other cruise ships. I think I counted 7 total. We were docked directly next to the Norwegian Spirit which is pretty much the same as our ship although a little smaller.
We'd decided to "swim with the dolphins" on the premium dolphin experience. This took us to Dolphinaris which was really great, unfortunately "swim with the dolphins" it is not. Its really, "stand near the dolphins" although you do interact with them. The facility is fantastic although recent rains meant that the water was a little cloudy. The pools have ledges where you stand to interact with the dolphins. We got to have a dolphin "hug" which involves putting your hands out and touching the dolphin's fins, kiss the dolphin's nose and feed the dolphin a fish. Actually I got to feed him 2 fish. All the time you mug for the cameras which are all around. The trainers give a really nice dolphin talk and show some anatomy and explain some dolphin on dolphin
The exit is of course through the gift shop where they try to get you to buy your pictures. DO NOT take the first offer. The big package first offer was like $1500, we'd decided to buy one or two prints maybe but played it cool when the salesman came by. He quickly sold us the same big package for ~$300. I tried to get a better price but he wasn't moving, he'd given us his best price take it or no. This package got us all our pictures on CD, a DVD with video of our interaction and a couple prints. Unfortunately we didn't look close enough and in one of mine my eyes are closed... Oh well.
It takes some time to get the prints so we ate in the attached restaurant which wa
s much better than we expected. Then back to the ship to drop off the pictures and time for shopping.
Cozumel is clearly built for tourist trade, theres a big shopping plaza with shops leading off on the streets as far as the eye can see. The locals see you and expect all Americans to have money hanging out of their pockets. We were pretty well tapped at this point (day 6 of 7 after all) but my wife is an excellent target. I had wanted to go to a grocery store I'd spotted earlier in the day and at one point had to literally drag her away from the sellers even though we had basically no money left.
I love going to grocery stores when I travel, you learn a lot about people by what their grocery stores are like. I also like to buy snacks like chocolate bars, that we don't have at home. On our return there was a kid selling roses so I bought one for Angie. Of course you aren't allowed to bring anything alive back on the ship so we had fun, Angie would rip the petals off and since it was windy they'd blow away, I got a bunch of interesting pictures of the petals flying.
We saw later some young couples where the guys were being bigshots and had bought their women a couple dozen flowers, when we got back on board the ship had big trash cans full of them.
I'd like to have more time in Cozumel, perhaps with a scooter or small car. This is the Yucatan peninsula so its actually a fairly safe place to be compared to northern Mexico as you get near the US.