Cruise Line: Premier Cruise Line
Ship: Big Red Boat III
Cruise Destination: Western Caribbean from Houston
Date of Cruise: July 15, 2000
Guest Contributor: tcluv26
The itinerary was a short stop in Veracruz, an afternoon in Playa del Carmen and a longer overnight stop at Cozumel Island. The process of embarkation was smooth, we were taken to our cabin and we were settled in by our room steward. We had two rooms, one on the Verandah deck with a balcony and another on the Empress deck for a single person.
The balcony room was quite nice, two lower beds with good mattresses and pillows, which were changed daily and turned down, with a chocolate, or two, and towels folded in the shapes of an animal, every evening. In some cases, our room steward even changed the bedding twice, without our asking, because we took afternoon siestas. The room also had a shower and bath, refrigerator, closet, sitting area which could also become a double bed. No television though. We were only two people in this room and I think three could work nicely. However, with four people it would probably be cramped and you would be in the way of one another. The balcony was very nice to have, we saw the full moon as we cruised down to Mexico, and when we docked in Cozumel we were on the pier side. Lots to enjoy about reserving a balcony and in my opinion well worth the extra money. The single room was small, clean and well air-conditioned. I had heard others complain about the air conditioning in their cabin but ours worked great. The first night out we had water on the floor but plumbing personnel fixed it right away. The room steward kept on top the situation for three days, constantly changing the towels over the wet area.
We had problems with our lock as well, but someone was sent right away to fix it. The dining experience was nice, excellent cuisine and good service. We were fortunate to have wonderful companions at our table who were seasoned cruisers, whereas, this was my first trip. We could have formal dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner or their was the option of a lunch buffet and snacks on the Lido deck at various times during the day. The lunch buffet and afternoon tea snacks were quite good, but because the area is connected to the pool there were young children and lots of wet people lingering around. Generally, it was noisy and hot. You can order room service which was pretty sparse, just little sandwiches and chips, but quick to the room.
I ordered coffee every morning and it was always prompt and hot. The entertainment was pretty good, the singing and dancing groups were young and talented, the ship's orchestra was also very good. The cruise director, Bernie, was pleasant and he had a terrific British accent. It was always fun to hear Bernie read the ship messages over the loud speakers. They had entertainment in several of the lounges. I caught the main shows every night. Just the right length of time, but the music was usually too loud and hard on the ears. There is an evening buffet every night, if you are awake from twelve to one in the morning. I went to the midnight buffet almost every night. Dancing in another lounge for the 60's and up age group. It appears that the cruise caters to families with children of all ages and we were glad to see that the ship kept them occupied in areas other than where we were. Due to the fact that our cabin was away from the main action we did not experience too much noise, but our dining mates said the noise of fellow travelers running up and down the hallways, especially children, was awful.
There were teenagers walking around the vessel at one o'clock at night when I returned from the buffet but they were few and quiet. My favorite port stop was Cozumel because I took my first turn at snorkeling in the beautiful blue waters. We rented a Volkswagen off of the pier for $30.00 for the entire day. It was not air-conditioned and was a standard. The police are visible in cars and on foot. I felt safe driving the streets of San Miguel which is the only town on the island. Traffic was calm and not too fast. Lots of pedestrians (shoppers), so you have to drive carefully. We drove to Chaakanab, only about five miles, to snorkel. You can park just about anyplace, get out and rent snorkeling or diving gear. So peaceful, relaxing that I hated to leave but the ship was scheduled to leave port at 2:30 p.m.
If you took the tender in to the town of Playa del Carmen you could catch a ferry to Cozumel to start your trip in Cozumel early. We did take the tender in to Playa del Carmen, but we only walked around, shopped a bit, had a refreshment or two and ate some nachos at one of the restaurants. People were extremely friendly in both Play del Carmen and on the island of Cozumel.
The people of Veracruz did not know what to make of two Anglos walking around their city asking for directions to a barber shop. I speak some Spanish and that is a must if you should chose to venture out on your own in Veracruz. However, at the other two ports many of the shop keepers spoke English and were generally more than happy to help out with any directions.
We got stuck at a timeshare property in Playa del Carmen but came out of it with two free bottles of Kahlua for our time. We also took a horse and buggy ride for $20.00 around ten o'clock in Cozumel. Nice experience that lasted about a half hour. The boy on the buggy tried to tell a bit about his city as we rode around and the locals waved as we went by. I hope that this review helps others make a decision to cruise with this company. I had read that the ship was so old, and loaded with kids, but I thought it had character, lots of pretty graphics, wood railings, and the ocean ride was smooth. Definitely there was not all the shiny brass and glass like the newer, big ships. A person could cruise when the kids are back in school to avoid that problem. I would love to go again! My only regret is that I did not take the river rafting excursion, I heard it was an experience for all ages. If anyone has specific questions about the cruise, or ships ports, I would be happy to answer them.