Travel Journalist and co-creator of CruiseReport.com Chris Dikman recently sailed on Nieuw Amsterdam and sent us several cruise diaries from his voyage.
Costa Maya is the first “new” Caribbean port that we have visited in years. I thought we had been to all of them. You know what this means? Nieuw Amsterdam begins it’s docking maneuvers around 9:45 a.m. and by 10:30 people are disembarking the ship. A long “L”-shaped pier connects our ship to land. At the end of the pier is a modern cruise terminal, easily visible from the ship with building painted in bright pastel pink and blue. This is, after all, Mexico.
We decide to have lunch on board and give everyone else time to get off the ship. We do not have a shore excursion booked for Costa Maya, so we are in no big hurry. An “empty” ship means no lines in the Lido buffet! Rickee hits the Mexican food station in the Lido to get in the spirit of the destination while I return to my favorite, the Asian section. Today’s specialty is Korean cuisine, one of my favorites.
After lunch, we head to Deck A where we have our room keys (which also double as boarding cards) scanned and we are off the ship in no time. After a quick stop behind the ship to take a few photos, we walk down the long pier into the cruise terminal/shopping area. There is a train/tram to take guests from the back of the ship to the terminal, but we prefer to walk whenever possible.
Costa Maya must have a Chamber of Commerce that is “on the ball”. The cruise terminal/shopping area is a collection of buildings created to do one thing and one thing only: separate cruise guests from some of their money. This is a very easy port call to get off the ship, walk around, do some souvenir shopping, have lunch ashore if you wish, and just enjoy a short taste of Mexican culture.
The large Mayan shaped entrance to the shopping area opens up to dozens of shops, a large outdoor bar and restaurant, a swimming pool, and a small sandy beach area. There are literally dozens of souvenir shops selling mostly the same items. Rickee and I had no problem locating a refrigerator magnet and Christmas ornament to add to our collection. The prices are reasonable and every shop accepts US Dollars and gives change in US Dollars as well. Every shop owner we encountered spoke better English than many of the Mexicans we communicate with in Texas. Why is that?
In addition to souvenir shops, there are the ubiquitous Diamond’s International, Diamond’s International Watch and Design, and Tanzanite International stores here. The Havana Club is a huge cigar shop where you can savor premium Cuban cigars (they are legal here). One of the most interesting shops is the Tequileria International where they boast of having over 200 types of tequila. We tried a few samples, just for research purposes you understand.
After spending about an hour or so walking around, shopping and enjoying the warm weather. We walk back to Nieuw Amsterdam. We are looking forward to our next visit to Costa Maya.