First....take a deep breath and repeat after me...." I am going on a cruise!! " LOL
You will be fine.
Each port seems to have their "signature excursion" that they are known for.
As posted earlier....Jamaica is Dunn's River Falls. This is a great excursion to do through the ship. (Jamaica is the one port I recommend ONLY a ship tour for newbies). However, to be aware that there are a lot of vendors at the end of the climb. Just walk through and say "no thank you". They are irritating but harmless.
Grand Cayman and Cozumel can be done independently.
Grand Cayman .... definately swim with the sting rays.
Cozumel.... everything is good EXCEPT the zipline. I would not recommend that. Ziplining was designed for ports with mountains and tropical forests...Cozumel has neither.
If by the time you get to Cozumel...you just want a fun day on the beach....I have two suggestions:
Hire Gerry for the day ($195 for 3 hours $25 an hour afterward for a van your size...it is $95 for 3 hours for a station wagon for 4) and plan your own tour over to the East side. Very primitive...no electricity...no swimming because of the rip tides but some interesting bars if you are into that kinda thing. He speaks perfect English. His written English is a little rough, so Mike Thompson handles his reservations. You simply pay him at the end of the tour in cash.
is his email address.
My second recommendation....if you just want a fun but relaxing day on the beach....
Paradise Beach. It is a FREE beach resort which means they do not charge an entrance fee. They also do NOT charge for their lounge chairs, tables, umbrellas, CLEAN restrooms and changing rooms. They have a nice outdoor shower for after a day in the sand and FREE internet at the bar.
All they ask is that you eat/drink $10 per person while you are there. It is handled on the honor system.
I would suggest water shoes as all the beach resorts on the West side have an issue with coral and rocks. Although if you enter on the North part of Paradise Beach, it is fine.
Paradise Beach also has a $10 wristband that is OPTIONAL. (our 2 boys always get it...hubby and I usually do not) This covers all the non-motorized water toys....LOTS of jumpy and climby things, snorkeling and kayaking, land bunge trampoline AND you can even climb a coconut tree. (Yes I have done it)
They have the most water toys of all the beach resorts and they have the comfortable beach chairs...not the hard plastic kind.
If you want to snorkel or kayak...there is a deposit for the equipment but it is FULLY refunded when you return the equipment.
There are also vendors available (but they do not bug you) if you want to jet ski ($55 1/2 hour), parasail ($55 per person), or banana boat ride. Also they offer massages right on the beach for $1 a minute with a 20 minute minimum. These are in tents with a fan and they use CLEAN towels...and do a wonderful job.
A taxi to any of the beach resorts can be up to $15 one way for up to 4 people. There are vans available. Just ask one of the taxi supervisors. You walk through the Puerta Maya shops to the taxi area. And there will be supervisor there to help you with your taxi needs.
Do not worry about getting a taxi back. There are more taxis in Cozumel than sand. Paradise Beach always has a ton waiting to take you back to the ship.
We have never been ripped off...but do verify the amount of the trip before you get in.
If you go to Paradise Beach, just walk in and select where you want to sit. You do not have to purchase the wristbands immediately. Just look over what they offer and decide who wants one ....again they are NOT required.
Since the waiters offer then when you first walk up...some folks think they are required. They are not.
The main thing is to make yourself at home. Paradise Beach wants you to feel relaxed and welcomed.
What we usually do is go straight there from the ship (after eating a big breakfast)....9AM....stay until about 2pm and then go back to the ship ...change clothes ...grab some lunch and shop around the port for awhile.
You can get on and off the ship at ports as many times as you want to.
Jamaica is the only port you are going to that I would NOT recommend doing anything on your own or even with an indepedent operator...since you are new to this.
Grand Cayman and Cozumel are fine!!!
Hope this helps and that you have a WONDERFUL cruise.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any questions.