True story: my nine-year old has been teaching himself about the Mayan ruins since he was three-years-old. It’s an odd thing for a three-year-old to be interested, that I can tell you. And now, at nine. he’s officially surpassed my knowledge of the ruins and the Maya people.
When he was three, we visited some ruins in Cozumel – but his memory of that trip mostly revolves around how it was, like, ten millions degrees out that day (it was SO hot). We knew that on our latest Carnival cruise, visiting the ruins would be our number one priority when it came to picking an excursion.
I’m excited to partner with Carnival Cruiselines. All opinions and experience are my own.
Picking an excursion is a lot of work, though. They are expensive, and you want to make sure you pick the exact right one for your family and budget. I’ve included a printable excursion planner in this post to help you track all your favorite picks (so many choices, y’all) and then plan out the ones you choose (packing lists, details, etc.). You can grab that cruise planning page at the bottom of this post.
But now I want to tell you guys about our excursion to Tulum, Mexico. The excursion, called The Ancient City of Tulum, was a full day event that took us to some beautiful ruins that you’ve probably seen before.
The port was Cozumel, which is a Mexican island. We never actually set foot on Cozumel, though. We boarded a ferry directly from the ship and took a forty-five minute boat ride to the town of Playa del Carmen on the mainland. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again – the Carnival Breeze was a well-oiled machine, and the crew have the processes down pat. There was almost no waiting and definitely not any time to mess around as we went from ship to ferry to mainland to bus.
The weather was “cold” (80 degrees) and rainy. I remember well how hot it was the last time we visited Cozumel, and I was 100% okay with this wet, moody weather. It made for some stunning photos, anyway!
Once you board the bus (operated by a local tour company affiliated with Carnival), it was off to the ruins. The drive is about an hour long, and our tour guide, who as funny and passionate about the ruins, kept us entertained and also gave us a quick education about the ruins we were about to explore.
And explore, we did! Once we got off the bus in Tulum, our guide took on a short walk through the ruins, telling us about what the different buildings were used for (my guide said there is absolutely no indication that sacrifices took place in Tulum, although when my dad took the same tour ten years ago his guide took him to a place where supposedly people were beheaded on the reg, so…I’m gonna need to do some research).
Once the tour was complete, we had about an hour and a half to explore the city. Unfortunately, you can’t climb around on the actual ruins (I so wanted to climb up those steps!). But there was plenty to see and touch and learn.
And iguanas. There are iguanas.
We came prepared to play on the beach (there’s a beautiful beach below the ruins), but because of the rain we ended up exploring more. A lot of people did go swimming, though – I would definitely recommend coming prepared to swim!
Once we finished waslking around, we walked back to the bus, which was parked in a lot next to shopping and a couple of restaurants.
We had time to buy a couple of things and grab a quick lunch before heading back to Carmen del Playa. Where I got this bag of pumpkin churros WHAT WHAT HOLLA PUMPKIN CHURRO OMG.
Here are a few things to know if you go on this excursion:
- There’s a lot of travel involved. It took over two hours to get to the ruins, with the ferry ride (45 minutes) and the bus ride (1+ hour). Keep that in mind if you have little kids and are not sure if this would be right for them. Because don’t forget, you’ve also got to travel back to the ship. My kids slept on the bus ride home. They are good travelers, but this would have been tough just a few years ago!
- Wear walking shoes. Once you get to Tulum, you’ll have to walk quite a bit to the ruins (I can’t remember how far exactly, but I want to say close to a mile). It’s all on a flat surface, but you’ll be grateful for walking shoes.
- If you want to swim, come prepared for the beach (with a towel).
- Bring water, a hat, and sunscreen.
- Most of the time, it is very, very hot. Just an FYI! That was one of the number one cmplaints I saw when reading reviews for this tour (which is silly, because I don’t think it’s fair to review a tour based on the weather, especially when it’s basically in a rain forest).
- Bring cash to tip your tour guide and the bus driver.
You can download your printable excursion planner below.