On our Disney Cruise through the Western Caribbean, one of our ports of call was Cozumel. Our family chose to do the Cozumel Highlights, Ruins, and Discover Mexico Cultural Park excursion. Every member of our family enjoyed this educational experience!
Mexico had never been on my bucket list. I’m not sure why, but it just wasn’t a place I had ever put priority on visiting. Probably because I’m not a beach person, and I always thought of the beach resorts my friend’s had visited. And, let’s be honest, I spend all my vacation time in Disney World so going somewhere else was never really an option. That all changed when we stopped in Cozumel on our Western Caribbean Disney Cruise last year! We got to experience the history, culture and FOOD and now I can’t wait to go back! Our day in Cozumel on the Cozumel Highlights, Ruins, and Discover Mexico Cultural Park excursion was a highlight of our entire cruise.
When choosing our excursions, there were two things that were important to me. The first, of course, was that they’d allow 4 year olds, and the second was that I wanted to LEARN something. I wanted to learn and experience more than just the beach.
The Cozumel Highlights, Ruins, and Discover Mexico Cultural Park had everything we wanted! So I booked it for our whole family and I am so glad I did!
The morning of our excursion, we met in the Walt Disney Theater. From there we went as a group, off the ship, and over to the port where we met our guide, David and boarded our motorcoach.
David gave us some very interesting information about the Island of Cozumel and the city of San Miguel. We learned about the history and culture of the city! Learning about their government and social services was really interesting. David made sure to remind us not to drink the water from the tap. While we knew to only drink bottled beverages, I was surprised to learn that it is because the water pipes are old and actually lined with asbestos!
Our first stop was the San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Site. San Gervasio is not home to any massive temples or monuments like Chichen Itza, but what it lacks in monument size, it more than makes up for in lush beauty and interesting history!
Our guide took us into the site and gave us the fascinating history of the area and the people who called it home. We learned that San Gervasio is sanctuary to the Goddess of fertility and love, Ixchel. Maya women would make a pilgrimage, at least once in their life, to San Gervasio to worship Ixchel. (You can see a depiction of Ixchel in the photo of Avery above. )
David took us around to a few of the ruins and explained what they were and why they were important. One such building was Las Manitas (Little Hands) which was the home of the Mayan Ruler. It is named Las Manitas because of the small, red hand prints you can see on the walls.
We were then free to explore a bit on our own. We saw a few of the other building-ruins, and ventured into the jungle a bit (in search of Iguanas – we saw 1- and Coatis – we saw 0) Unfortunately we didn’t have much time, and had to head back to the bus. We would have liked a bit more time to explore, as it was such a beautiful and interesting spot!
This excursion was great for our whole family, from age 4 to 67. However it is a lot of walking on some uneven terrain so make sure to wear sneakers or other sturdy walking shoes. We were there in January but the sun was pretty intense, so sunscreen is a must, as is bug repellent!
After browsing the shops outside the site, and a few photo opps, we got back on the bus to head to our next stop.
The Discover Mexico Cultural Park.
When we arrived at the Discover Mexico Cultural Park we had a few minutes to walk through the museum/gallery where we saw beautiful works or art. Paintings, tapestries, masks, and Alebrijes; brightly colored wooden or paper mache animals. Then it was time for a delicious lunch. We were served traditional pork and beef tacos, with different styles of mole and pico de gallo, as well as cheese quesadillas. These tacos were the most amazing tacos I have ever tasted. My entire family was shocked since I’ve never really liked Mexican food. Apparently, I like Mexican food, just not American Mexican food! I would go back to Cozumel just for thee tacos!! To drink, we had horchata, aguas frescas, and hibiscus tea. All were delicious!
We finished out lunch, then walked around the grounds where we saw the miniature replicas of many important buildings and locations in Mexico. Then it was pinata time! Avery and the other kids in our group took turns hitting the pinata and collecting the glorious candy!! (I think filling a bag with candy was the highlight of the entire cruise for Avery!)
We were disappointed that we did not get to see the Papantla Flyers, as mentioned in the excursion description. I don’t know if they were not performing that day, or it was a timing issue or something else, but we were sad as we’d been looking forward to that performance, but we didn’t let it ruin our great day.
We got back on the bus to head to our final stop, The Mayan Cacao Company!
This was the part of our excursion than many in our group were looking forward to the most. If you know my family, you know they LOVE chocolate. We arrived, and David told us about the origins of cacao and it’s cultural importance, as well as stories about Ixcacao, the Mayan Goddess of Chocolate.
We were then treated to freshly made tortillas topped with mole cacao. It was so different, and so delicious!
Next we headed into the theater, where we were treated to a fun “cooking” show. We learned how the Mayans made chocolate using traditional tools. On the way out we were each handed a small cup of the cacoa beverage, and were told to experiment by adding additional ingredients like honey. It was not the chocolate that we’re used to. It was much more bitter, but we still enjoyed it.
We had a few minutes to check out the store before boarding the bus back to the ship. We were able to sample all the different flavors of chocolate bar they sell, and we enjoyed a delicious frozen cacoa drink!
When we arrived back at the port, we said out goodbyes to David and our driver, and headed back to the ship. We all agreed that this excursion was worth every penny as we learned so much and had such a great time! Avery was a bit young to really understand the history, and at times she was bored while standing and listening to our guides, but she still enjoyed each of the attractions we visited. It was the best excursion of our cruise!
Please enjoy this video for a view of our day in Cozumel on the Cozumel Highlights, Ruins & Discover Mexico Cultural Park excursion!
The Cozumel Highlights, Ruins, and Discover Mexico Cultural Park excursion is a 4.5 to 5 hour excursion. It is open to all ages. Participants must be able to walk unassisted, as it is not wheelchair accessible. Locations and activities are subject to change. Please refer to Disney Cruise Lines for full and current excursion information.