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chopsinblack

First Family Cruise in March - Independence of the Seas

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Hello shipmates, I've been lurking around and i cant seem to get all the answers I need. Hope members can guide me on my decision on our first cruise.
We will be sailing on Independence of the Sea (4 night) in March to Cozumel with Myself, Wife, 5 and 3 year old.
Booked a Grand Suite for the family with balcony.

Arrive Day Before: What's best transportation with young kids from airport to hotel? Hotel I am booking doesn't have transportation

Day 1:  Arrive at dock to board by 12pm  -- Same issue with transportation?

Day 2:  On the water

Day 3: Cozumel
             -- Shore excursion with 5 and 3 year old?  Wife really wants to see the big Mayan ruins... is this safe and doable with the kids?
                 Which Mayan ruin do you recommend?
                 Even a half day and getting back to the ship earlier is a good idea from what I read, just need some activity with the kids at port.

Day 4: On the water

Day 5: back in FLL, we will stay one night or fly out in the afternoon. Transportation from port is issue again.

 

I will most likely do regular dinning most of the trip with one night with My Time Dining and one night at the Hibachi for the Kids.
We probably wont drink too much with the kids, so will pass on the drink package.
I will probably purchase one device internet option for the cruise, its 30% off right now.
Very interested in using the Kids Aquanauts Daycare Program so we can get some free time.
We want to see the shows too!

Please let me know of any recommendations on the ship or excursion with family.

Appreciate everyone in advance!

 

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Transport. Florida laws require a full car seat for your 3yo, booster for your 5yo. When my kids were of that age I'd just bring the car seat and/or booster with me, since I could check the seat for free and the booster fit in the overhead with no problems. Latch system made it easy to put the seat in a cab or Uber. If you don't trust that, you can hire a private car or rent one for the day. Peace of mind trumps cost when it comes to the kids. 

Where are you staying if you don't mind my asking?

Cozumel. There are some ruins on the island. I've not been, so don't know if it's worth seeing.

You have to take a ferry to Playa del Carmen to get to Tulum or Chichen Itza. The latter is about 6 hours round for 30-45 minutes at the site. Tulum is about half that travel time. And there's still the ferry to deal with. Because of the ferry factor, these are about the only two excursions I'd ever book through the cruise line, and even then I'd just do Tulum. If you ever vacation in Cancun, that is probably the time to go to Chichen Itza. 

Definitely book the internet package, but keep checking to see if the prices change. 

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thanks KWong!  Prefer not to bring the car seats due to large size and more luggage with travel from Seattle.

I may switch to from the Renaissance to Springhill Suites which offers shuttle service from airport to hotel and port.

The ferry is a concern between travel time and safety, I'll research the Tulum ruins since you mention its less travel time.

 

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My inlaws did the Choccoben Mayan ruins excursion thru RCCL that's on Cozumel island.  Not as cool as the mainland, but way less time and hassle involved.  No ferry to the mainland.  They liked it, and the pictures I saw were nice.  Your little ones will probably handle this trip better before getting bored and antsy.

EDIT - Choccoben IS on the mainland in Costa Maya, not on Cozumel.  Sorry for the confusion.  We went to both places on our cruise and I got them mixed up.  If you're in Costa Maya, you won't need a ferry because you're already on the mainland.  This one is much closer than Chichen Itza, which is why it's easier to get to, but not as impressive. 

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1 hour ago, chopsinblack said:

I will most likely do regular dinning most of the trip with one night with My Time Dining and one night at the Hibachi for the Kids.

Just to clarify, if by "regular dining" you mean having a sit down meal in the main dining room, then that would be the same as My Time Dining.  My Time Dining just means you pick your time to eat each night and it can vary (as opposed to traditional dining where you have a set time every night).  Separately, there is My Family Time Dining, which allows you to speed up the courses for the kids and have them picked up by the kids club staff so you can enjoy the rest of your dinner more leisurely.  I think that would be in conjunction with the first seating of the traditional dining. 

1 hour ago, chopsinblack said:

I will probably purchase one device internet option for the cruise, its 30% off right now.

Note that percentages off don't necessarily mean anything as Royal uses fuzzy math.  Just pay attention to the bottom line price.  You can cancel and rebook down the road if the price drops.

1 hour ago, chopsinblack said:

Very interested in using the Kids Aquanauts Daycare Program so we can get some free time.
We want to see the shows too!

I haven't sailed on Independence but I think the kids clubs are run similarly across the fleet and I took my 3 year old on a cruise about 6 months ago.  Note that they are strict on potty training.  Kids can't go in pull ups and need to be able to use the bathroom unassisted.  Also, in my son's case he developed a cold during the trip and was kicked out of kids club for a day due to having a cough (which went away by the next day).  I was annoyed by that because like he's 3, what 3 year olds can go more than 2 weeks without a cold?  But other than that, it was a great program and he loved going.  We took him every night after dinner except the fcough night and he stayed for several hours while we went to the shows and casino.  They can stay pretty late; I think there is a small hourly charge after around 10:30/11 pm.  They will call you to pick them up if they fall asleep (they gave us a pager for this purpose; I think they usually give pagers out to people with kids on the younger end of the spectrum).

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2 hours ago, chopsinblack said:

I will most likely do regular dinning most of the trip with one night with My Time Dining and one night at the Hibachi for the Kids.

I don't think you can switch between traditional dining times (early / late seating) and My Time Dining. You get assigned a particular dining room, so you need to choose between traditional dining times (early or late), or My Time (at your convenience). And/or the My Family Time Dining as @berkeleykel mentioned.

 

2 hours ago, chopsinblack said:

The ferry is a concern between travel time and safety, I'll research the Tulum ruins since you mention its less travel time.

If traveling with young children, I would opt for whatever ruins are on Cozumel itself rather than those on the mainland. The ones on the mainland are more impressive but a large portion of the cruisers on our ferry became seasick (or got ill from being near others who were seasick) and it is a long day on the bus, even for adults.

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Sorry, explained the dinning incorrectly.

We will only do My Time Dinning in the main dinning room. I meant traditional as in the dinning room option.  One night I plan on a nice restaurant with the kids.

I’ll have to tell the wife about Mayan ruins and long travel, with kids it’s probably not the best option.

Appreciate all the feedback!!

 

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In the interest of relaxation, the best use of your time as well as the stated comfort and safety reasons I would echo those saying stay on cozumel.  Especially with a 3 and 5 year old, way too much time in cramped quarters on the ferry and bus when you could be free to roam cozumel and head back to the ship at your convenience (not to mention that many here would tell you a half full ship while in port is much easier to get around and do all the things you want to do).  

I would save tulum or any other longer bus ride day trip for a different vacation when you have a week long stay in Cancun or elsewhere along the coast.

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thanks for the replies!! We will most likely just explore the port town in Cozumel and eat/shop around. Then head back to to the ship early afternoon and enjoy a quiet ship.

if you have any other recommendations, let me know.

thank you again!

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On 1/20/2020 at 3:44 PM, chopsinblack said:

Arrive Day Before: What's best transportation with young kids from airport to hotel? Hotel I am booking doesn't have transportation  When our daughter was little we took a car seat or booster seat with us.  Not sure how you feel about that with 2 kids. 

Day 3: Cozumel
             -- Shore excursion with 5 and 3 year old?  Wife really wants to see the big Mayan ruins... is this safe and doable with the kids? Yes, if you do the small one on the island.  Do not try to go to the big ones because you will have to ferry to the mainland and then it is a long drive and it will be crazy hot and miserable for the kids.  Trust me, been there and done that.  The little ones on the island are just right for an introduction for the kids.  If your wife really wants to do the big ruins, which there a few, on the mainland then I suggest you split up and you stay on Cozumel with the kids.                

I will most likely do regular dinning most of the trip with one night with My Time Dining and one night at the Hibachi for the Kids. Main dining room is either a fixed time or My Time.  You pick that when you book.  You can make reservations for My Time ahead of the cruise or on board. They also offer dinner for the kids at Adventure Ocean on some days on some cruises. 

We probably wont drink too much with the kids, so will pass on the drink package.
I will probably purchase one device internet option for the cruise, its 30% off right now.
Very interested in using the Kids Aquanauts Daycare Program so we can get some free time. We love their kids program.  Go to the registration the day you board that is usually about 1:30 and they will explain it.

 

I do suggest you get to port earlier than noon.  Try to be their between 10:30 and 11. 

 

On 1/20/2020 at 3:44 PM, chopsinblack said:

 

 

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On 1/20/2020 at 5:13 PM, Brobbins246 said:

My inlaws did the Choccoben Mayan ruins excursion thru RCCL that's on Cozumel island.  Not as cool as the mainland, but way less time and hassle involved.  No ferry to the mainland.  They liked it, and the pictures I saw were nice.  Your little ones will probably handle this trip better before getting bored and antsy.

Hey! Chacchoben are in Costa Maya, the small ones in Cozumel are San Gervasio Ruins.

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If you're doing Mayan Ruins with kids, I recommend doing any of the following:

1. Chacchoben Mayan Ruins

Pretty easy, you meet your guide at the end of the pier, 1hour bus ride each way, the ruins are pretty safe (you still need to watch for bugs of fire ants for the kids) souvenir and snack shops at the ruins. When you go back to port, still got plenty of time before you go back to the ship. You may even get to see monkeys at the ruins.

2. Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Exclusive Drive

Meet your guide at the end of pier, this tour is in a smaller group so you get a more personalized experience with your guide, includes refreshments. Shorter tour (3.5 hours) so the kids don't get too bored.

3. Chacchoben Mayan Ruins and the Blue Lagoon

Pretty much the same as the first tour, but this one includes a stop at a lagoon where buffet is included, wonderful place to swim or do some kayak, perfect for kids to have fun and avoid the hassle of going somewhere else to swim when your tour is over. This tour takes 6.5 hours and when you go back to port the kids may be tired to keep wondering around the shops, but you may still get enough time to leisurely walk back to the ship.

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3 hours ago, Josh Mk said:

Hey! Chacchoben are in Costa Maya, the small ones in Cozumel are San Gervasio Ruins.

Oops, you're right!!  We were in both places on our cruise and got them mixed up.  I remember now, they went to Chaccoben from Costa Maya instead of the further away ruins like Chichen Itza.  Thanks for catching that!

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