The beginning of the trip was a little rocky but worked out overall. I booked tour for Tulum Express through Viator. They were a third party. The tour company booked was actually by Cancun Bay Tours. I received an email receipt from Viator indicating tour pickup times, details, number of people in my party etc. It was a good rate. Overall for 3 adults and 1 child I paid 180. It confirmed pickup at 8:40am at my hotel for all 4 of us. The company tried calling me on my cell phone the day after I booked the tour. I booked on a Tuesday for a Thursday tour. They called me on Wednesday but since I did not recognize the number I did not answer. Instead of leaving me a voicemail or email they sent me a text through WhatsApp. I did not get that message because I hardly ever use WhatsApp except to talk to my mother from out of town. So on Thursday, the day of the tour, we were walking to our hotel lobby at 8:18 for a 8:40am pickup when my cell phone starts ringing. Since no one was calling me on vacation in Mexico, I thought it might be local so I answered and it was Raul the manager from Cancun Bay Tours. He asked me if I had received his WhatsApp message for pickup time at 8:20a at the security entrance of our hotel out by the main road. I was confused because our pickup was supposed to be 8:40am per my Viator receipt and it didn't say anything about having to walk out to the road. Our hotel has a good 10 minute walk or more to the road so I told the manager that we would not make it on time for the 8:20am pickup. He told us to start walking and he would send another pickup. When we got tot he road and security entrance we waited about 10 minutes and then a van picked us up. The van operator was very nice. He was very apologetic for the mix up. He was not our originally scheduled driver but had gone out of his schedule to pick us up since we had been left behind by the previous driver who waited for us at 8:20 and left because we were late. So our new driver was very nice and the van was super comfortable. There were two other families in the car. The next stop was not Tulum. We were taken to a central hub where several different tours depart from. So it seems that Cancun Bay tours arranges for several hotel pickups regardless of the tour you choose Chichen, Tulum, Xel Ha, Cenote etc.. They bring you to a small meeting area which is very makeshift and has some handcrafts for sale. You go to a cashier that confirms your tour choice and gives you a bracelet. You have to walk through the shopping area both times. I get it, I think almost everything in Mexico works this way so I was not put off. Others might be put off by the seemingly forceful buy from us atmosphere. But I get it and was expecting it and not phased. They also weren't pushy. It was just all there for you to walk past on the way both in and out. Then after the cashier confirms your tour and gives you your bracelet, you go back outside and join other members that are doing the same tour with you. The driver for your particular tour calls your name. We had tour guide Alejandro and driver Jorge. We enjoyed our tour very much. The driver provided a smooth and comfortable ride. Alejandro the tour guide translated very well four the 4 families on board. He gave the tour in both Spanish and English. He was informative, friendly and funny. There were 5-6 kids ages 2-12 on the tour and he interacted well with all of them. He allowed us to use an air conditioned and clean bathroom before heading into Tulum ruins. At the ruins he found shady spots to talk to us at. He told us about Maya number systems, architecture, and other history. I wished the tour was longer but we knew it would be short since we chose the Tulum EXPRESS tour. But after hearing what Alejandro had to say we wanted to hear more! The plaza before entering Tulum had a lot of stuff. They had many souvenirs, drinks, American candy, Hagen Daaz ice cream stand and even a STARBUCKS. We had one hour to walk around the ruins and visit in the plaza on our own. An hour would have been plenty for ruins but would have liked another 30 minutes in the plaza and market. I would recommend Cancun Bay Tours.
The big comfortable bus picked us up promptly at 7:15, a change from our 8.45 original time. We drove approximately 2 blocks bus turned around and we were told to get off as we have to wait another half hour for our bus which was a van. Once we get to Tulum we find we are only ones on express and are asked if we want to stay for full experience till 8 at night well NO. Four hours just went to 12. So we were basically left on our own and listening to other tour guides for information. So after the two hours, we meet our guide take us to another location where we wait again for a van. Although I loved seeing the ruins the trip itself seemed very disorganized and we really weren't well informed as to what was going on. I feel I would rather have cancelled that day and gone with another group than to be an extra which seemed like a big inconvenience for everyone.
After a short walk with the guide you are free to roam around on your own for about 2 hours. It’s a breathtaking site so be sure to snap a lot of pics and visit the beach. Lino was our guide and he was great. We were back at the hotel zone around 2:30 pm and transport to and from was easy.