Originally posted by JMP:
Hi, I am finding out that if you want to get off @ Playa Del Carmen you must book a NCL excursion. I am trying to find out if anyone did take one with NCL--specifically Xcaret, Xel-Ha, or the Catamaran Snorkeling trip? I'm assumming all the excursions listed on the website are available? I'm just surprised they don't tell you specifics such as ONLY booking their excursions. Thanks!
Is that an NCL rule, or a Mexican government rule? Having a quick stop in Playa will not work if everyone is capable of getting off, and taking the regularly scheduled ferries to Cosumel later that afternoon. There's only so much room for passengers in the regularly scheduled ferries.
The rule sort of makes sense if you consider that scenario. If everyone got off, there just isn't enough ferries reserved to ferry everyone to Cosumel to catch the ship that afternoon. With only NCL sold excursions getting off, NCL and the ferry companies know how many passengers will try to return to Cosumel that afternoon in advance, and can reserve to have enough private ferries waiting to do so besides the regularly scheduled ferries.
Now you will probably reply there's plenty of ferries available. But that's not my point. NCL knows how many passengers have bought excursions, and therefore knows how many passengers are returning when kept in house, and can therefore reserve enough ferries to bring them back to the ship in Cosumel. If everyone could get off, how many ferries should NCL reserve? It's a catch 22 scenario with logistics.
If you want to go to the mainland booking privately, take the regularly scheduled ferries both ways. But make sure to get back early, because you might not get on that last scheduled ferry required to get back to the ship on time.
With this split port day, I highly recommend booking your excursions on the Mexician mainland through NCL for this very reason. Don't forget, there usually three to four large cruise ships in Cosumel that day, and there are many-many passengers attempting to return to Cosumel in the afternoon to return to their ships.