It's about the destination

The coast of Costa Maya, Mexico. Photo provided.

by Hayden Smith
Staff Writer

There's a lot to love about cruises. From the ocean air to the pools to the live entertainment, boarding a ship and going out at sea can give you and your family a wonderful experience. But above all else, the memories you will hold with you will be made when you're off the boat at port.

This especially held true for me, as I discovered I had mild vertigo on ships. I managed to hold my own - with the help of ginger candies, pressure point wristbands and Dramamine - just well enough to enjoy myself on the ship. Our time in ports was the only time I felt completely steady enough to enjoy myself. Even without that issue, however, I think the portside excursions would have still been my favorite.

I went on the cruise with my family, which for me made it more fun and memorable. We stopped in Roatan, Honduras, Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. Each stop we managed to break away from the main port and tourist attractions and really see and learn more about those areas.

The coast of Costa Maya, Mexico. Photo provided.

In Roatan, we were shown the back side of the island, where there were fewer retirees and more locals living their day-to-day lives. We saw where most people worked, shopped and ate and got the chance to participate without feeling as though we were invading their space.

In Costa Maya, we broke away to find a smaller, more secluded beach and got the chance to unwind in the calm and the shade. There were local artists nearby and we got the chance to enjoy their work.

In Cozumel, we visited historical Aztec ruins and we were educated on the history of previous natives as well as the modern daily life of current citizens. We stopped in a couple of museums and learned more about culture and trade.

Aztec ruins historical site in Cozumel, Mexico. Photo provided.

On each excursion, we not only had a great time but we learned something. While the port entry and tourist-catered shops and events felt like attractions at an amusement park, we got to feel that we were visiting a new place and educated on how life was there. While it was educational, it didn't necessarily feel like a museum exhibit. The land and the people still felt very much alive.

Being immersed in foreign flora, fauna, history and culture heightened the experience far beyond my expectations. While the rest of the cruise was great fun with theatre, music and food, none of it could compare to the experiences we had while we were off the boat.

If you're going to travel all that way to visit a different country, you might as well learn a thing or two about it and have fun while you're at it!

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – August 25, 2017 @ 11 a.m. CDT.