Hello, There will be 6 of us cruising Carnival Legend in November (I know, it's very early to be planning, but our group consists of first or second time cruisers and we are excited!) We are stopping at Belize, Colon and Limon. All of us agree that we are mainly interested in going to a beach and possibly snorkeling. Is it a good idea to plan on using the independent tour guides at these ports - after we get off the ship? It appears that the ship's excursions are often overpriced and usually overcrowded. I hesitate to book online because of varying weather, schedule changes and the like. If the weather wasn't ideal for a trip to the beach, we could change our plans accordingly.. Has anyone done this? Are these tour guides usually reliable? Thanks,
Liz, the first thing I must tell you regarding your itinerary and you need to realize, these are not Beach nor shopping Ports. Many people fail to explore these new ports to get the full enjoyment out of the diverse cultures and terrain. It will help you enjoy your vacation if you plan ahead.
Belize is the 2nd. best diving area - snorkeling & scuba. As this is a tender port, you will either want to book a ship's tour or a private tour on-line before you sail. There are several recommended private tour operators at Belize, just check out the reviews carefully. Also go to other cruise forums and check on Carnival's forums as well as the port forums. I know that Ambergis Caye and Caye Caulker do have sandy beach area but you should book a "tour" to get there. We did cave Tubing with Reggie Trapp at Belize.
Limon: there is a private tour operator at the end of the pier with a Tent like canopy. They have private tours listed and the prices thus no haggling. Playa Bonita is the only beach within driving distance of the port, however, it may not be the best place for tourists. I don't wish to scare you but to make you are aware, that crime against a tourist can and does happen in these 3rd. world countries. We did the Tortugera Canal and Banana Plantation tour for $45per couple. It was great and included a stop at Playa Bonita, the canal boat tour with a guide, a tour of the Dole Banana Plantation and many stops to see the local flora and fauna plus animals especially the 3 toed sloths. Our guide even took us to a local supermarket at my request and stayed with us to help with currency conversion.
Colon; this is where you may wish to spend the extra money and book a ship's tour. again, there are no beaches. We took the Ocean to Ocean Train tour to Panama City $135pp. It included an English speaking guide on each bus and railroad car, the train stops at Miraflores Locks and you get a complete interpretive guided tour of the Lock's operations, then it's onto the Panama City Bay area with guided explanation along the way with many stops for photo opportunities.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.