My Cruise Experience

John Park, Managing Editor of News and Feature

     Over the 2019 school year, I went on a 7-night round trip cruise that left from Galveston over all of spring break. It docked in Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica and was fully at sea the rest of the days. Each day was filled with something completely different from the last, from secret underwater cave tours in Mexico, snorkeling along the reefs in Grand Cayman, or going to a private beach in Jamaica–we did it all. To say that it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. Speaking as someone who has been on quite a limited number of “vacations,” cruising was like something from a different world. The only way I can describe it is like your going through an amusement park, and each dock is a different ride.

     The ship docked for the first time in Cozumel, Mexico. As soon as we arrived we hopped on a ferry to be taken to the island, where we were met with our tour guides who would be staying with us for the rest of the day. Our tour guide was a man named Mitch, and I could tell right away that the excursion through the caves was gonna be a blast. He guided us through the entire process; providing us with wetsuits, life jackets, and optional walking sticks for help with the unsteady nature of the terrain in the cave. Once all of the safety precautions were out of the way, it was time to get into the cave. To say that it was an awesome experience would be an understatement. I was completely bewildered by the pure magnificence and magnitude surrounding me in the cave. Along each step of the way the tour guide would stop at different locations and give us some of the history of the caves and the history of Mexico. The company, Rio Secreto, keeps the caves as natural as they possibly can, even forcing everyone to shower before they enter to get rid of any products or lotions that could disrupt the ecosystem or the environment of the caves. After we had been completely through the tour of the caves, we were taken to have an authentic Mexican dish with things that I had never seen before such as cactus and a sweet milk made from rice and nuts. We were then taken back on the same ferry as before back to where the ship was docked and stayed to walk through the streets of Mexico and try to get a glimpse of the authentic and rich culture of Mexico.

     After the long day of exploring and discovering in Mexico we decided to do something a little less demanding while we were docked in Grand Cayman so we decided on a snorkeling trip around the reefs of George Town. We met up on a small fishing boat with a tour guide that took us out about a mile away from the coast and provided us with the equipment and gave us some heads up on how to get the most out of our trip and how to stay safe in the busy waters. We spent a total of about six hours snorkeling, changing locations to different reefs every two hours or so. It was difficult for me at first, since it was the first time I had snorkeled before, but once I got the hang of using the mask and diving deeper into the water to get closer to the wildlife, it was so much fun being able to see just the pure amount of life that engulfed the reefs.

     Finally after all of the crazy things that we had done, most of us were tired and worn out, so we decided for the last dock in Jamaica we would spend the day at an exclusive beach. As soon as we docked in Jamaica we met up with one of the beach guides who took us to the bus and then to the beach. Once we were at the beach, and throughout the rest of the day, we were recurrently brought different Jamaicans dishes and drinks to try while we relaxed and swam. We were brought Goat Curry, Ackee and saltfish, Callaloo, jerk-style chicken, and many more. We also brought some of our own snorkeling gear and me and a few others from the group swam out to a nearby reef right off the coast and snorkelled again. This time snorkeling though was different, the reef was much closer to the point where I could be floating on top of the water and reach down and touch the ground below me. I saw so many interesting things that I never thought I would get to see in person; from watching a pufferfish expand, to seeing an octopus sneak out of its den on the seafloor, to watching clownfish swimming through their sea anemone homes, it was such an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.