There’s so much to love about this fall’s Wine, Dine & Music Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. The week-long cruise features seven award-winning wineries, two renowned California chefs, and platinum-selling recording artists such as Kenny Loggins and Three Dog Night. In addition, each stateroom receives one free bottle of wine per night from each of the seven wineries. The cruise offers an incredible value, with oceanview staterooms starting at $699 per person plus taxes and fees.
Guests aboard this cruise will enjoy much more than delicious multi-course dining, great music and fine wines, however. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas is packed with attractions of its own. The ship’s Vitality Spa offers an extensive menu of massages, facials and other therapies as well as a relaxing thermal suite. The ship also features a Vegas-style Casino Royal with 195 slots and 12 gaming tables, 16 bars and lounges, duty-free shopping, a large fitness center, and three pools including the Solarium – a soothing enclosed retreat for adults only.
The November Wine, Dine & Music Cruise departs from Tampa on a Western Caribbean itinerary visiting three action-packed ports of call: Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Costa Maya. Each of these destinations offers a wide array of activities for guests. The island of Cozumel is one of my favorites. Located just off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Cozumel offers cruise passengers an incredible array of options for spending their day in port. This Caribbean island is loaded with duty-free shopping, world-class snorkeling and diving opportunities, memorable wildlife encounters, exciting adventure tours, cultural experiences, and much more. Like the swallows for which Cozumel is named, it’s no surprise that cruise passengers return here repeatedly. In fact, Cozumel receives more cruise ships than many other ports in the Western Caribbean.
Here are some of the most popular activities and adventures while visiting Cozumel:
- Snorkeling and Diving: With its crystal clear turquoise waters and the second longest reef system in the world, Cozumel offers some of the best snorkeling and diving sites in the Caribbean. Arrecifes de Cozumel National Marine Park is a favorite spot for viewing the area’s beautiful coral and underwater marine life. Two-tank dives, power snorkeling, Sea Trek helmet diving, and snorkeling tours are available. A number of the shore excursions available aboard the Wine, Dine & Music Cruise give watersports lovers the opportunity to spend time at Chankanaab National Park. In addition to enjoying excellent snorkeling, guests can relax under palapas on a beautiful sandy beach, have lunch, view replicas of ancient ruins, and hunt for iguanas sunning on the rocks.
- Dolphin Encounters and Swims: Cruisers can get up close and personal with dolphins, manatees and stingrays while visiting Cozumel. A variety of programs and options are available on the Wine, Dine & Music Cruise, but make sure to reserve these as early as possible. Dolphin programs tend to be very popular with cruise guests and usually sell out quickly.
- Sailing Trips and Boat Tours: Many companies offer these tours for cruise ship passengers. Catamaran cruises usually combine sailing, snorkeling and drinks/snacks. Guides lead guests on snorkeling excursions while those who prefer not to get wet can simply enjoy the ride. The area’s beautiful coral formations and colorful fish can also be viewed from a glass-bottom boat. Another exciting option for cruise guests is taking part in a 12 Metre America’s Cup Regatta aboard racing yachts.
- Beach Escapes: Many cruise passengers seek out one of Cozumel’s beach destinations for some fun in the sun while in port. A number of beach clubs and other tour destinations are available. One of the most popular beach excursions while visiting Cozumel is a trip to Passion Island. Passion Island excursions feature a beautiful catamaran sail or exciting power boat ride, a buffet lunch and the opportunity to spend hours on a lovely island with a palm-fringed white sand beach. Other popular places for beach break shore excursions include Chankanaab National Park, Playa Mia and Paradise Beach. Some of these spots, such as Playa Mia, include waterparks with pools and waterslides.
- Adventure Excursions: ATV and adventure excursions abound in Cozumel. For example, cruise guests can go parasailing, ziplining, kayaking, tour the mainland’s underground Rio Secreto caverns, try out paddle boarding, or visit XPLOR All-Inclusive Adventure Park for the day. Shore excursions to Playa del Carmen’s Xcaret Natural Adventure Park are another popular choice with Cozumel cruise guests. Wine, Dine & Music Cruise passengers can even participate in an Amazing Race adventure excursion while they’re in Cozumel. Adrenaline-charged dune buggy and ATV tours are available here as well.
- History & Cultural Tours: The port of Cozumel is a popular destination for those who wish to view Mayan ruins. There is a small archeological site called El Cedral near the center of the island. Wine, Dine & Music Cruise guests who want to view larger sites such as the world-famous Tulum Mayan ruins head to Playa del Carmen via ferry on their shore excursions and depart to the mainland site from there. On other tours, guests can also learn about Mayan traditions and Mexican cuisine.
Cozumel is known as a shopper’s paradise with a wide array of stores from which to choose. Most cruise passengers head to the city of San Miguel to browse its many jewelry, handicraft and souvenir stores. There are also a wide variety of bars and excellent Mexican restaurants here as well.
The Wine, Dine & Music cruise departs Tampa on November 9, 2013. Oceanview cabins start at $699 per person and balcony staterooms start at $1099 per person, plus taxes and fees. All of the cruise’s interior cabins are sold out at this time. Oceanview and balcony staterooms are booking quickly as well, so make your reservations soon. For more information, visit the cruise’s website at www.winedineandmusiccruise.com
Nancy Schretter is the Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.
Photo Credit: Nancy Schretter
Photo caption: Cozumel’s Passion Island.