The port of call for this cruise brings us to Costa Maya, Mexico.
Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to dock right around 8am, and all aboard wasn't until 4:30, giving us a full day of fun on shore.
We docked on schedule and the gangway opened up shortly thereafter.
Coming into this cruise, I had no plans for what to do in Costa Maya. I usually visit Maya Chan beach resort, but I'll be going there next month when we visit on Wonder of the Seas.
RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Steve Wilson stopped at Costa Maya the day before us while sailing on Adventure of the Seas and was going to try an all inclusive beach resort in downtown Mahahual (that's the name of the village Costa Maya is near) that advertised itself as limiting the amount of guests.
Along with my friends onboard Brilliance, I decided to give this place a try.
To book a spot, you have to email Jamie via his website. A few emails and a PayPal deposit, and we were all set.
Jamie's at The Blue Reef Hotel is a short 8 minute or so taxi ride from the port area.
The Blue Reef is a hotel situated on the beach, and Jamie's is essentially the restaurant's operation that extends onto the beach. Judging by the neighbors, a lot of other hotels seem to be doing the same thing.
We got to the beach a little after 9am, and were greeted by Martín, who took us to our beach chairs situated under a large tent/palapa.
Much like every other all inclusive I've been to, there is a primary waiter you deal with that takes your drink and food orders.
Your admission gets you access to the beach, as well as everything on the drink and food menu.
The hotel has a rooftop pool that Martín told me was also open for our use.
The ocean is quite shallow near the beach, which makes it ideal for wading. There are nets set up around the beach to limit the amount of sea grass that comes ashore, which has been a real problem over the years for Costa Maya and Cozumel.
Luckily, the sea grass was not bad today with very little washing ashore.
The service was great, although it did not hurt that there was just one cruise ship in port. We rarely had to wait to get an order.
The food had your typical Mexican fare of quesadillas, fajitas, tacos and more.
There was also plenty of Mexican beers, margaritas, and beach-approved drinks.
Overall, I really liked the service and the food was great. It was the sort of relaxing beach day I think most people could hope for in a shore excursion visit.
In the afternoon, we struck up a conversation with Karla, one of the restaurant's partners, who also operated another bar and hotel closer to the cruise port.
Karla invited us to come check out her bar before we went back to the ship and even arranged for taxis to bring us over.
Her bar is a very short walk from the cruise terminal, located just down the main street near the fake Mayan ruins you see as you exit the port area, and then a left turn.
We walked into Catrina and found a very large pool with lounge chairs, next to the bar and restaurant.
We topped off our afternoon with drinks and laughs before we had to head back to the ship.
In all, it was a very satisfying day in Costa Maya and I think a good time was had by all.
Back onboard the ship, all the fun in the sun required a shower and nap. There are few gratifying feelings as a post-shore excursion nap on a cruise ship.
We departed Costa Maya, although I can't tell you when or how it was since I was asleep.
After I woke up, I decided to go to the Windjammer for dinner.
After dinner, I spent a little time in the casino. I would have spent more time, but we must have left lady luck back in Costa Maya.
I rounded out the evening in the pub, listening to Jimmy play songs for a few hours. He's not only very talented, but goes hours without a break.
Tomorrow is our last day onboard and it's also Super Bowl Sunday!
The casino is offering squares to bet on for the Super Bowl.