Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cozumel! Manatees! Day 6 2/13/15

Cozumel....I love this port, and I love Mexico in general. We were docked for a nice long day - 8am - 7pm, with an all aboard of 6:30, so plenty of options! Actually too many to choose from! On a past cruise we did The Amazing Race, which was so much fun! But today, what would we do? I went back and forth among so many options....Keith and I had done the dune buggy tour of the island many years ago and we really enjoyed that. I considered something along those lines. Jeep tour? Combo jeep/snorkeling? Head over to Passion Island? Initially I was thinking maybe Mr Sanchos, but after Labadee, I didn't know if we'd want another full beach, what did we decide?

Chankanaab! Chankanaab and the Manatee encounter! Well, we also threw in the Sea Lion Encounter as well! How often can you interact with a manatee? We've done the dolphin experiences before, but never a manatee and that sort of just sealed the deal. We didn't do a tour, or a ship excursion. Having so long in port, we booked the encounters through Dolphin Discovery before we left so we would have a guaranteed time slot and then we took a taxi over to Chankanaab so we could arrive and depart when it was convenient for us.

The Cozumel port is very easy to navigate. You just follow the signs out to where the taxis are and everything is pre-priced for where you want to go. I believe it was $12 USD to go to Chankanaab. I didn't take a picture of the sign, but that is what is sticking out in my memory. It may have been $10 though....It's a short ride, maybe 10 minutes tops and we were there! We arrived, checked in and got our wristbands and waited for our encounters. We had it scheduled to do the manatees I believe around 10:00 and the sea lions at 11:30.

It was actually pretty chilly that morning! We were hoping it would warm up!

This is the area where they do the encounters

We were given keys to two lockers to put our belongings in and we went to wait. We did have a pretty long wait, and during that time the tours started to arrive. Tons and tons and tons of people started coming in. I would say mainly cruise ship passengers. There were some people from hotels as well. And the majority of them were for the dolphin encounters. Chankanaab seemed to be pretty organized as to getting them through the check in, life jackets and into the encounters, and there aren't a whole lot of people in each group it's limited. 

Our group for the manatees only had the 4 of us and one other woman.

There is a photographer taking pictures, and no, they do not let you or anyone else take pictures at all. I do believe they say that people have dropped their cameras into the water, and I am sure that has happened, but also, they do want to sell you their photos as well. 

During the interaction you have a "guide" and we were told ours was a marine biologist, and maybe she was - she did seem to know a lot about the manatees and she was really great with our group. It was not just about touching or seeing the manatee, but also about learning about them as well. But there was definitely a lot of making sure to get in position to take the proper pictures!

So, first we had a little introduction about manatees before we got into the water. And our guide asked if we had any questions

We all stood on the platform and got to pet the manatee as we learned more about their behaviors and things like skin, faces, mouth, eating etc...

He was the sweetest thing ever!

And just like when you do a dolphin encounter, there's the "kiss"

And then a kiss on the cheek too

More posing with him

Holding him like a baby

And then we all got to feed him some lettuce

And if all of that so far wasn't one of the coolest experiences, we got to get into the water with the manatees, and feed them, and swim around with them! We put on face masks, so we could look into the water and see them swimming down below us too! 

Alex with three manatees all hanging out with him! He really could not have been happier!

All of us loved this experience....absolutely loved it!

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