Cancun Tours: How Good Is the Gray Line?

Three times on my recent trip to Cancun I wound up on a Gray Line tour, and my experiences ranged from “highly recommend—would sign up again” to a less-than-entirely-enthusiastic “you get what you pay for.”

Our Gray Line tour to Chichen Itza is one we recommend taking. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Our Gray Line tour to Chichen Itza is one we recommend taking. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Working in 700 locations around the planet, this is an outfit with some depth and experience. Professionalism and quality were certainly hallmarks of my Gray Line tour to Chichen Itza. The Brawny Sherpa and I were ferried from Cancun to the Mayan city via a small passenger van and guided, with ease, over the ancient grounds. There was just the right mix of freedom to wander and educational lecturing. Skipping a buffet lunch with other touirsts, we sprang for the upgrade and enjoyed ourselves in the relative calm at the restaurant at the Mayaland hotel before jumping in its pool to cool off. Sure, taking a tour to Cancun didn’t provide quite the adventure I’d had when some girlfriends and I rented a Jeep and took our own little road trip to various Mexican destinations a couple of decades ago, but, this time, our journey spared us  any worries about finding our way there and back. We didn’t have to think; our biggest task was to relax. Our conclusion? This Gray Line trip we would take again.

The Gray Line 'sunset' cruise in Cancun took place in the dark and was a bit hokey. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The Gray Line ‘sunset’ cruise in Cancun took place in the dark and was a bit hokey. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Our second experience with the Gray Line was a sunset cruise around Cancun. We’d earned the free trip after booking our Mexican vacation on Orbitz. The pickup at our hotel was half an hour late and necessitated a call, the sky was dark by the time we boarded the boat, and we ended up drinking rum punch and beer and watching young newlyweds suck alcohol out of baby bottles in drinking contests.  I was surprised the Gray Line was using a free cruise as a marketing tool because if this event had been my only exposure to the company, I wouldn’t have booked again. The most amusing part of the evening came when the Brawny Sherpa asked a bartender about the ‘sunset’ aspect of our journey. The response? “The sun set; now we cruise.” The boat ride was free, and I was glad we hadn’t paid for it.

The Gray Line cruise via catamaran to Isla Mujeres was crowded but fun. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The Gray Line cruise via catamaran to Isla Mujeres was crowded but fun. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Our last adventure with the good folks from the Gray Line came via a catamaran ride to nearby Isla Mujeres. By this point in our journey, the Brawny Sherpa and I saw no difficulty in consuming tequila sunrises before noon, and on this adventure, we weren’t alone. Our day trip included drinks, a buffet lunch, plenty of good music on the boat, and time to explore the island. Snorkeling had also been on the agenda, but the water was too rough for anyone to go be paddling around at that particular time. For 30 bucks, we rented a golf cart and raced around the island, visiting the ruins on its tip, checking out the local graveyard, and dashing into a few tee-shirt stores before it was time for us to depart. This adventure was fine, but we would have been willing to pay more for a less-crowded, more sedate sail to the island.

© Lori Tripoli

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