Trying to decide on the East or West Car. as our first ever cruise experience...especially interested in Belize. Would love to hear your impressions of the best cruise to take, and particularly your impressions of Belize, beaches, tours etc.
We did Belize last Sept. on Paradise's western Caribbean. Like you, I was really keen on seeing Belize. Truthfully, I was a little disappointed. I was expecting this lush, rainforesty type of place, but the tour we took was a tour of Belize City and the Altun Ha ruins. It was interesting and a fun day, but there was no evidence of the lush tropical paradise I'd heard about. I've heard that to see that side of Belize, you have to get out of the city and do farther inland, or go to one of the many islands just off the coast. If I ever get back there (and I would go back), I'd book a different type of excursion. Not that there was anyhting wrong with what we did see, I was just expecting something far different than the poor little city we saw. The other ports on the western itinerary were Roatan (Honduras), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Grand Cayman was the best (swimming with stingrays was an all time high!). Cozumel was good for a bit of snorkelling and shopping and Roatan was very nice, but again, we didn't choose the best tour,so we didn't get the full Roatan experience. I loved the western ports and would go back in a heartbeat,b ut would choose different tour ideas next time. Hope this helps.
We also were on the Paradise in December. We took the Belize City , Altun Ha, River Wallace tour. This was the hilight of the entire cruise. The city is in a third world country . These people are struggling to make improvements all the time. There are no "lush jungles" because all of the timber has been removed, as income for the country. As you drive noth out of the city, you will see many partially constructed buildings. The people have a saying, that they buy the land, start to build a home and hope to leave it to their grandchildren. The do just that, buy the land, save enough money to start a home and go as far as they can. They when there is enough money saved, more construction is done. They only do a section at a time.
The boat ride on the river will have a lot of tropical plants and animals along the way. It was a delightful tour. I think if you want to really see the typical jungle you envision. A drive to the xununtanich ruins, which is about two miles from Guatamala , would be the thing. I am going on the Miracle in December, and plan to take this tour. Good luck on your choice of tours. Have a great cruise.
I agree with Jim and his recommendation. Since this is a first time experience, you don't have any expectations. Belize is a 3rd. world country trying to add tourism to its economic base. The Cayes are the only place for a beach break but when on a cruise ship, you would not have the opportunity to explore both a Caye and inner port experience. Our drive to the Jaguar Paw National Wildlife preserve was interesting. You do go home and appreciate what you have. St. Thomas it is not. Cozumel is a favortiy cruise port destination, you can take a taxi to a beach club and just hang out with a margarhita in hand. Water is crystal clear as long as there are no storms at sea. Vendors often have stalls set up so you can souvenir shop right next to the beach. Of course the number one tour at Grand Cayman is a Swim with the Sting Rays. This is definetly a one in a lifetime experience. Plus if you go to a sandbar, you don't really need to be a strong swimmer.
We went to Belize and did cave tubing with Reggie. It was really great. There were 10 of us in our tour and because of my height it was difficult to get to the water so my dh or Jamal hooked onto my tube and helped me along. It was a great day.
Well the lush forest IS IN BELIZE! Just take the cave tubing tour. Honestly it was just like jurassic park in the forest. We had an awsome tour guide. Never left anyone behind. I'm just keeping it simple. To see the best of belize take the cave tubing tour. Some people say they have seen tucans and monkeys. I asked the tour guide about it. The animals are usually scared away by the people. But sometimes they are around. This excursion is nothing short of amazing! If you would like details email me.
I did Belize Honduras Caymans last april on the Paradise.........well.let me tell you I would not return to Belize OR Honduras. It was me(mom) and my 3 teen girls...well...the guys saw we were travelling with out a male.and they swarmed us....it was not a good experience..........and Honduras was worse. Caymans...excellent.