If anyone had told me before my cruise that I would be more enamored of Cozumel’s port than Grand Cayman’s, I likely would have laughed at them. I can’t even say why I loved it so much – perhaps the piña colada had something to do with it – especially considering it was the most tourist-driven, inauthentic port we stopped at. For some reason, this port stole the spotlight for me.
Unlike the port in Grand Cayman, Cozumel’s port boasts a long cement walkway from the main land out to where the cruise ships dock. Though part of it passes through a cooled, indoor passageway of shops, most of it is outside. At dinner the night before, my dad had likened walking along it to feeling as though you were on the sun, and he wasn’t far off; that stretch was easily the hottest area of our entire trip.
One major difference for us in Cozumel is that we arranged the excursion on our own, instead of through our cruise ship. The main reason being that our excursion had only recently opened up at Cozumel’s port, and likely had not made arrangements via the cruise ships. Another reason is that it was located smack dab in the middle of Carnival’s Cozumel port, so we had no need for any form of transportation there other than our two feet.
So what was our excursion? An underwater oxygen bar.
On our 2010 trip to Las Vegas, Brit and I had both been interested in trying out an oxygen bar, where you pay to inhale pure, fresh oxygen. Although locations were scattered around Vegas, we never got the chance to try it – either the place was closed when we attempted to go, or we saw one while on our way to do something else. With that in mind, while researching excursions for our cruise, I came across a company called Clear Lounge who had just opened up one of their underwater oxygen bars at the Cozumel port.
Luckily, Brit was every bit as excited for the chance to finally experience what we had missed out on in Vegas. At the time of our booking, I had to directly email the location to arrange it.
At the time, I had asked if – in addition to purchasing the company’s Go Pro pictures – I could bring an underwater camera in with me. They informed me that as long as I purchased the professional pictures also, I could. After the incident with my camera in Grand Cayman, though, I opted for only the professional photos.
After you leave all your valuables and any extra clothing in a locker – the key goes in with you – you have to watch a safety demonstration and fill out paperwork. The safety demonstration teaches you the proper hand signals so that you can communicate easily underwater with the guys you submerge with.
And just like that, we were descending the ladder.
Quick note: all the following pictures of us underwater are courtesy of the professional photos taken by Clear Lounge Cozumel.
The mask, while heavy, rests on your shoulders and weighs far less once you are in the water. As long as you stay vertical, the mask will not fill with water. If you lean forward or back, it will, but as soon as you straighten up again, the water will balance out.
And just like that, we entered the photo shoot portion of the experience. Although these photos are staged – we chose what to do with the props, they chose the props – they were actually a lot of fun.
Next, we got to try our hand at underwater Jenga. Brit and I played two games with Joe, our guide while under the water. I lost the first game, and Joe lost the second. As difficult as on the land Jenga is, it has nothing on underwater Jenga!
By this time a crowd had gathered to check out what we were up to, almost to the point where I felt like a celebrity as I waved back – joking.
The final section of the underwater oxygen bar was throwing a submarine toy back and forth, and oh boy, were we bad at it. We dropped it frequently, laughing hysterically as we passed it back and forth.
I cannot recommend this excursion highly enough. Brit and I had an absolute blast during it, and the staff was professional, friendly, and highly helpful. This is clearly the way to do an oxygen bar!
After our time in the tank, we hopped back on the ship quickly to change, then headed back out for a bit of sightseeing and shopping around the port. We had booked our oxygen bar excursion for late morning, so unfortunately we missed all other excursion departure times, a slight we were a bit regretful of. Still, we had an amazing and unique experience, and wouldn’t have changed it!
One of my favorite aspects of the Cozumel port was the tree (below and right). The tree was damaged in a vicious hurricane, and from that point on, water naturally escaped from the tree. I took this story with a grain of salt, but the area surrounding the tree and the tree itself were both fascinating displays of nature.
By this point, we were very warm and desired cool beverages. Brit wanted a Corona to fit the theme of Mexico, and I wanted my favorite – a piña colada. I was shocked when I ordered a medium and was gifted this massive tube of a beverage. Needless to say that between the long hours spent in the heat and the lack of a decent lunch at that point – we were waiting until we were back on the ship – I could feel this drink.
We sat by the water for awhile, slowly sipping our refreshing drinks and watching the fish in the water. Eventually, a chef came out and offered us some tortillas to throw to the fish.
It was hard to get a decent picture, but take my word for it that they went nuts over them.
At this point, heavy clouds were moving in and it was starting to drizzle. Brit nabbed some delicious rumcakes and we booted it back to the ship, once again getting caught in a downpour. Almost as soon as we got back on the ship, the sky cleared up and the rain stopped. By this time, though, we had had enough of port.
Our last full day at sea was a quiet one. We attended tea time on the ship, which involved tea and a selection of desserts. It was quite tasty and a very interesting experience, but it didn’t quite live up to what we were hoping for.
Following tea time, we went immediately to Disney trivia, before packing and watching one last sunset from the ship.
Right after dinner, we nabbed seats to enjoy another movie….
It was a perfect way to conclude my first-ever real cruise, and summed up our adventure perfectly; happy to have experienced it, and sad to leave it behind.