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Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Updated: Apr 21

Day 5: Virgin Voyages | Scarlet Lady with Playa del Carmen

Since I went to bed so early, I was early to rise. I am not a morning person, but it was 6am and I was up. I take a look at “The Lineup” which is what Virgin Voyages calls their schedule of activities. To my surprise, there was an opening for “Sun Worshippers” which is a chakra-balancing yoga class located on The Perch. The Perch is an area at the back of the ship that offers about a 265 degree view of the sea. It’s where you can catch amazing views and the class was timed perfectly with the sunrise. The class started while it was still dark and Majik, our instructor, verbally guided us through gentle movements. The sun rose as we practiced sun salutations. It was an incredible start to the day and had me feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on today’s adventure.

Amaris on Scarlet Lady
Yoga on Scarlet Lady

After yoga, I popped into the Galley to grab some overnight oats for breakfast and also stopped at Coffee Grounds for a croissant. Our meeting time was 9am for our clear bottom kayaking excursion. We headed off the ship around 8:35am to find our way to pier side 6 which was the meetup for our excursion. To disembark the ship, we simply scanned our SeaBand and walked off. There was a Norwegian ship at the same dock as well as a smaller Nicko ship. We found clearly marked flags that were for Virgin Voyages and found flags 1-5. We asked the person at flag 5 where 6 was and he responded that the vendor wasn’t here yet. I thought that was strange, but we waited around. As the time neared 9am there was still no sign of our kayak rep and also no number 6 flag. I head off to find someone to ask. There was a man that was the Shore Things manager at the dock, but he was pretty busy. There was a second man next to him that wasn’t part of Virgin Voyages, but looked like he knew some things. I asked him about flag 6 and he said it was setup near the ship, but that the strong winds had taken into in the sea. He told us where to meet and I made my way to tell the others. During this time, we were also noticing the whitewater-like conditions and thinking I have no idea how we’re going to kayak here. When I met-up with the others, they notified me that the app had just cancelled our Shore Thing. We all headed back to the Virgin Voyages manager for options. All of the water activities had been cancelled so our options were a ferry over to Playa Del Carmen, A Crystal Museum and Cenotes Tour, or a Mayan Ruins tour. Both of the tours required a 45 minute ferry ride and at least a 45 minute drive each way. We opted for the ferry ride. By the time we decided, the ferry had already begun boarding so we were whisked away in our kayak gear to the ferry. A man was handing out motion-sickness medicine like candy and he recommended we take it. I had just taken some before leaving the ship, but everyone else took theirs. We found seats at the back of the ferry and we were off! The ferry-ride was very rough, but not as bad as the ship the night before. I definitely was glad I had medicine in me.

We arrived at Playa del Carmen and disembarked the ferry and headed towards the mainland. We had no plans and no idea what we were going to do as this was very last-minute. We decided to walk around and eventually decided on lunch. We found a Mexican restaurant down the road from the ferry and had some authentic Mexican food. It was very good. Next, we decided some beach time was in order. We walked to the beach and then walked along the shore looking for a spot to relax. There were several vendors approaching us about paying for chairs and an umbrella, but we decided to place our towels straight onto the sand. In Mexico, all beaches are considered public property so you can enjoy it without having to pay for a spot. The sun was bright and the beach was perfect; hardly any seaweed and beautiful blue water. My brother has my dad’s English skin so he can only take a small dose of the Mexican sun at midday. My brother, his wife, and I left Brian at the beach in search of hammocks and a snack. As we left the beach, we found an area with local food vendors. The first cart was a fruit cart filled with freshly cut tropical fruit. I immediately spotted the yellow mangoes. I found my snack! My mom is from Mexico and we made frequent trips to visit my family when I was a kid. My grandmother always stocked up on mangoes for me. Mexican mangoes are very different than the ones typically sold in Ohio. They are yellow with a bright orange-juicy interior. They are the best. My brother wanted coffee so we ate our mangoes as we looked for coffee. Down the road, was a gelato and coffee cafe called Aldo’s. My brother ordered the banana split flavored gelato and a mocaccino. We sat at a table and waited. Soon enough, a three-scoop banana split arrived. It wasn’t what my brother had meant, but it worked too. We ended up all sharing it and it was AMAZING! Banana splits are not something I typically enjoy because I don’t like Hershey Syrup and most banana splits back home are topped with it. This had a true chocolate syrup that was more like melted chocolate versus syrup. The bananas were fresh and there was a scoop each of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate gelato and two of those long cylindrical stick cookie things. I’m also not typically a gelato fan because it’s usually icier than the thick creamy ice cream I prefer. This gelato was perfection. I’m so glad my brother ordered this and a miscommunication allowed us all to enjoy it. This was by far the best ice cream I’ve ever had in Mexico and I’ve been here a lot!

After our snacks, we went shopping for hammocks. I generally don’t like shopping and shopping in this market-like atmosphere is not a pleasurable activity for me. It’s the type of place where vendors stand outside calling to you to come inside to take a look. It’s also the type of place where the prices are negotiable. We bought the hammocks and high-tailed it out of the area and back to the beach.

We spent a little more time at the beach before deciding to make our way back. When we boarded the ferry, the tour operator told us that we could return on one of three ferries. My memory is crap these days so I snapped a picture of the times. The first ferry back was at 2:45pm. We had some time to kill so we made our way to Señor Frogs located next to the dock for some cocktails and fun. As we were talking to the hostess, two American women approached us. They recognized our sea bands and showed us theirs. They proceeded to tell us, “did you know you have to buy a return ferry ticket?” I told them I didn’t think that was correct and pulled out my picture and said we were told we could take any of these ferries back. They apparently didn’t hear this message and the people at the ticket counters didn’t know about our pre-booked excursion. My first instinct was that these two were tricked into paying double, but upon closer look at the situation I think it was a miscommunication. Here’s why I think this. The ticket counter is owned and operated by the ferry company called WinJet. Our ferry over was on a WinJet boat, but the tour operator through Virgin Voyage’s Shore Things was something along the lines of “Aventuras.” Aventura gave us a wristband for the ferry and they had three chartered ferries for our group. Only sailors from Virgin Voyages were on our boat. The ticket counter sells tickets to the public ferries that normally operate there. The ticket agents would not have a reason to know about our chartered boat. Long story short, pay attention to what the guides are telling you.

We claimed our same spots for the ride over and closed our eyes in silence as we each prepared for the rough journey back to our ship. We were docked at Cozumel which is an island in itself to explore. If I had more time to think about the canceled kayak trip, I would have elected to rent a car to explore Cozumel. This wasn’t an option through ShoreThings but is something that can be arranged on the island. One thing that surprised me about arriving at Cozumel was that it looked very different from my last time here in September. It turns out there are two different docks and the last time I was at a different one. I preferred this dock because it was closer to town and there was more to see within walking distance of the pier. Brian and I explored the area. Brian seemed eager to walk around and about halfway through our walk he mentioned these delicious rum cakes he remembered from his last time here nearly 20 years ago. I said rum cakes doesn’t sound very Mexican and we thought maybe he had confused which port he had had them. Shortly after this conversation we found rum cakes! Cozumel makes these cakes on the island and they have a storefront on the main street. We walked in and were offered samples after we sanitized our hands. They were delicious! We bought some for later and some for gifts.

Dinner tonight was at Pink Agave. It seemed fitting to eat at the Mexican restaurant the day we were in Mexico. This restaurant is tapa-style for the first and second courses. We ordered an assortment of options that were all delivered at the same time. With a pepper allergy, this was the restaurant I was most concerned about finding something to eat. All dishes had peppers, but they modified my meals without them. I had the Esquites which is grilled corn with lime, enchilada de pollo, and bistec marinero en escabeche which is a ribeye with cheese. Looking at the menu, I did think I’d like this restaurant, but I loved it. Everything was delicious. Oh I had dessert too, Milhojas which was tamarind, passion fruit, pineapple, canela, and dulce de leche. The pastries onboard have all been exception and this puff pastry dessert was no exception.

Pink Agave Food on Scarlet Lady
Pink Agave Food on Scarlet Lady

We haven’t experienced much nightlife because we were tired by the evening. Tonight we got ourselves to the show called Duel Reality. It’s described as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t really know what to expect. Mask are required for the shows. We arrived at The Red Room, the venue for the show. Our bands were scanned in and, by the way, we had to reserve our spots ahead of time. We were then given a a red wristband and told that we were team red and to sit on the left. Others were given blue bands and told to sit in the right. It was stadium seating similar to a high school gymnasium, but much smaller. Right before the show was to begin, the announcer told everyone the show was about 55 minutes and access to the doors to leave would not be accessible. I thought, what a poor decision not to use the restroom ahead of time. Immediately after the announcement, the show began. The performers were dressed in street clothes and were divided between red and blue. We were encouraged to cheer on our team. What followed was a variety of acts displaying the athletic ability and talents of the performers. They were remarkable. I don’t want to spoil the show for you with too many details, but it’s worth seeing.

We headed back to the room with the intention of going back out. I slipped off my shoes and decided watching a movie sounded better. The technology in the room is incredible. There is a Samsung tablet in the room that controls the lights, blinds, and TV. It also has a list of movies on the tablet. I found one that sounded interesting and after hitting play I was prompted if I wanted to engage cinema mode. I thought it was going to change the tv and audio for a more cinematic experience. It was so much more! The lights dimmed, the blinds closed, and the movie began. It was cool.

It’s another Sea Day tomorrow. I hoping for a much smoother day at sea.

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