I have been hearing some not so great things about the Belize Port. We are going in Feb and are looking for somethings to do. I have read and heard to just stay on the boat as it is not worth getting off. This stop was a reason we booked this cruise as this Carnival cruise offered different ports. Any info would be great.
All I can say is we had a horrific experience in Belize last year using a private vendor for the cave tubing tour. It was all made right in the end, however, it was a waste of a day and totally turned me off of Belize. If you decide to go onshore, this is one of those ports where it pays to use a ship tour.
There are some other threads which discuss trips to the zoo & the ruins--we are opting for the latter when we go there-- via the cruise ship excursons. We also picked this trip(5 day W Carin on Enchantment) due to the diff port fromwhere we have already been---hope it is not so bad!
Peter, I have been to Belize twice in the past 16 months. Get off the ship! This country has a great deal to offer if you are realistic in your expectations and you are careful not to explore too far on your own. I have done a ships excursion and have booked with a private provider. The private tour was by far the best for me. If you want to go to a beach, I would strongly suggest using the ships excursion desk. If you want Mayan ruins, cave-tubing, zoo tours or other sight-seeing tours, I would be happy to suggest a guide if you e-mail me.
For the record, I have no connections with any provider. I am an Okie who likes to cruise and I have tried to spend my money with local guides as much as possible.
We've also been to Belize twice during the last year and love it so much we're planning a land based vacation there. This is definitely a port to plan a tour in. Belize City (which is what most people complain about) is not representative of Belize. It would be like going to a major downtown city in a poor area and saying the entire US was like that. We did the cave tubing with a private company on the first trip and had a great time. We booked a snorkel trip through the ship the second trip and I can truly say it was some of the best snorkeling I've ever done. Belize is full of great people with a lot of pride in the country and they would love to show it to you.
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We stopped in Belize in May on our cruise on the Valor,,,we booked a snorkel excursion to Rendezvous Cay and were picked up at the ship by a catamaran....it took 1/2 hour to arrive at the island (as large as a football field), the snorkeling wasn't the best but the water was beautiful and the rum punch plentiful.
If you just tender into Belize City to walk around the port, you will be there for about 30 minutes and then head back to the ship. (this is what my parent did, after I encouraged them to book a tour!). Like some of the others have said, be sure to book a tour. We booked the Goff's Caye excursion through Carnival. We were picked up and dropped off right at the ship; very convenient, no need to tender in/back. Like rosetatto stated, the snorkeling wasn't the best (Chankanaab was our favorite, followed by Grand Cayman), but the total experience was worth it. The boat ride was about 40-45 minutes each way, very interesting; you are really in the middle of no where! Goffs Caye itself is about the size of a football field. Really pretty, great pics.
We were in Belize last October. As everyone on the ship tells you, you should book a tour. It is not a port to go off on your own. We did a riverboat tour and the zoo tour and it was well worth the money. On the river we saw Manatees, Monkeys, Alligators, Dolphins and many birds. Of course at the Zoo we saw other animals. We heard the beaches on nearby islands were absolutely beautiful but we did not see them.
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I would never not get off at a port just because of what some people say. What they may hate, you may love. We went and yes, the city itself was yucky. But take a tour and get out of that area. You really don't have a choice about going on your own and walking around. It's not a place you want to walk around. You either take a tour or stay on the ship.
We did the Altun Ha/River Wallace excursion. It was extremely hot and humid though. I would have enjoyed myself more if the weather was better. But I don't regret going at all. I love to explore different ports. That's why people cruise.
Another excursion that people on our ship raved about was the cave tubing. I would watch when u go though....I hear there's times that are dangerous. If I went back to that port, that's what I'd do. We saw video of their excursion that day and looked like a blast!
I say, book something that sounds fun to you and do it!
I am sorry you had such a bad cave tubing experience. I did it and loved it, I booked through the cruise due to the length of time. Keep one thing in mind, Belize is very much a third world country, if you have a good tourguide it will make the experience much better.
I highly recommend Coral Breeze tours. They made our trip to Belize fantastic!!! Their guides are reliable, safe, and lots of fun. It makes it a much more personal trip!! You can check out their website by just typing in Coral Breeze Limited.
My husband and I were on the SEA in Feb 2005 that stopped in Belize. We went river tubing and it was great. We drove into the countryside for about an hour and into the rainforest. It was beautiful. Loved it. We booked it thru NCL. They tendered us to port. Got on an air-conditioned bus and went. Our guide was hilarious. He pointed out everything and we learned all about the culture and people of belize. There were only about 12 or 15 on our tour. I would recommend it. It only rained for about 5 minutes. Which I am told is normal and happens almost daily there. Hope this helps.
You should try it. The boat ride to our snorkeling tour was great. Not smooth, by any means, but we're weekend boaters in TX, so we're not treated to smooth water all the time anyway. We loved seeing the many islands that were covered with small houses and some had "boat up" bars. The water was beautiful and we were treated to a pod of dolphins shadowing us on the trip. We snorkeled with sharks and rays and were excited to see the size of them when we stopped. Over 6 feet long, some of the sharks were. The reefs were very colorful.
We didn't spend much time in town, but I'm still annoyed that I didn't buy a wooden salad bowl. They were beautiful! We're heading there in October and I plan to buy one then.
We had a great day in Belize last year...you should definately get off the ship!!!
We booked a snorkel trip to Caye Caulker (one of the many islands off the coast of Belize City) with Coral Breeze...they're an American owned company who employ local guides. When rough seas prevented us from going, they quickly got us hooked up with cave tubing instead...a memorable, fun experience....a 20 min hike thru the rainforest, tubing thru the cave systems, a great lunch before we headed back etc. I personally like using private vendors...it supports the local economy more directly, the size of your group is always smaller and more personable etc.
As for Belize City itself and the Tourism Village where you tender in...vendors have to pay to rent space, hence the intimidating fence to keep non-paying vendors out. We ventured out of the fenced area, had absolutely NO problems and bought some beautiful textile work done by a local Mayan woman...it's 3rd world but so what?! That's what makes it a new and authentic experience outside the comforts of the US...in my opinion at least!
we just got back from Belize this past few weeks. We also had a bad cave tubing experience, but we book our trip with the ship! waters were rough, people cut up and almost drowned. I could have lost my 13 yr son! Clearly he was in great danger. The guides never stated the TRUE dangers! We are pissed, carnival is suppose to give whole ship a refund, yeah.......we are still waiting for it!
As far as the city went, our friends husband was offered a 13 yr old girl, this happened a few times while him and his wife toured the city! Sorry it not his thing, or ours, we will not be heading back there at all. will avoid this place at all cost!
My wife and I have been there twice. When you get off the tender there is great
shopping there. And then you step out and walk 100 yards and they have an area
to buy the normal mugs,figurines,lighters,glasses, ect..
But we rented a cab a sight seed the island. Very pretty but desolate.
It is not safe to walk in the town which is walkable easily. We drove through there
and it's garbage. Just don't believe all the crap tou will here about Belize.
We may be different than you but we had a great time there.
I have been on 15 cruises and never did an independent tour till this past ccruise 7-24-05 Carnival Valor. I searched the net and decided to book the cave tubing tour with Coral Breeze Ltd. I was a little apprehensive but boy oh boy I sure made the right decision. There was a total of 14 of us in our group with a guide "Speedy". He made sure we were all safe and together at all times. He told us all about Belize and its people. We went through 2 caves (after the 2 mile hike) then a a deciouse Belizian luch. All for $59. The only upset to the tour was when the 468 people who booked the Carnival tour for $93 showed up in the river and all heck broke loose. I have no clue where there guides were.and they only did 1 cave I believe.
Lesson learned...independent tours can be done with kind caring guides.....and at a much reduced rate.
I just got back from Belize on the Elation. I have mixed reviews. I chose to take a trip to the Baboon Sanctuary and city tour. The city tour and the drive to the sanctuary was great. I really loved seeing the country, the way they live. I was amazed at the poverty and the way they live. I will try to appreciate what I have more.
The problem comes when we got to the Baboon sanctuary. It was NOT what was described in the carnival excursion description for $51. We went to a small group of primative buildings housing a museum of sorts, screened porch for a talk, and a small nasty resturant. There were outhouses to use if you need. The walk through the Rainforest was no more that a 5 minute walk through woods filled with mesquitos. We had bug spray but still had to purchase a $5 horse tail to beat off the bugs. We did see a group of howler monkeys in the backyard tree of a local man. He and his family sat in the yard and hammock and stared at us while we looked at the monkeys. I would not recommend this tour to anyone.
Others in the group did the cave tubing and loved it, including the lunch. Also had some that went to the ruin and were pleased with that. The shops were nice and the port area was very interesting. The only problem then was the extreme heat. It is well worth getting off the boat for. Just stay away from the Baboon Sanctuary.
I too did Coral Breeze tour. Shark Ray Alley snorkling. Don't worry it's safe just don't kick the rays and the nurse sharks don't have teeth and stay far away. Great private company american run out of Maryland but local tour guides. We spent the day at Caye Cauker Islands I saw many fish and sting rays were everywhere. Great tour guides very professional and informative. Don't waste your money on the Belize city tour heard lots or poor reviews. Do Altun Ha ruins, snorkle one of the cays, or the Baboon sanctuary to feed monkeys. Do get off the ship don't stay near the port though do an excursion! Oh my friends did Cave tubing and loved it!!!!
85% of arriiving cruise guests book tours in Belize and come ashore. Get off your ship. Enjoy "mother nature's best kept secret" as the official tourism board likes to put it. Go to their site at www.travelbelize.org and see for yourself. Any particular questions you may need after that, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be only too glad to help. Here's a description of one very popular tour :
Depart your arrival location by tour vehicle and drive up the paved Western Highway for about an hour, then down a jungle road for about 20 minutes, and we arrive at the Sibun Caves Branch Archaeological Park for your cave tubing experience. After a short presentation, grab your floatation tube, caving light, and life vest and follow your guides on a primary rainforest trail for a fairly easy 25 minute hike. At the cave’s entrance, guides will ensure you are all geared up, and off you go on a spectacular Maya Cosmological journey through their famed “underworld”, called XIBALBA (“shi-bal-bah”). Your guide will point out the various stalactite and stalagmite formations, which depicted some of the underworld gods of the Maya, among other fascinating formations. This cave system dates back to the early cretaceous period of the earth, tens of millions of years ago. Upon exiting the caves, enjoy a great downriver float in the open, among the pristine flora of a unique jungle riverine system. The tour is actually a circuit, taking you back to your start point in style! Floating! After drying off and a change of clothes, move over to our jungle Belizean restaurant right there at the site, where you can enjoy a great barbeque Belizean lunch with juice and muffin, before starting off on your road trip back to your embarkation point in Belize City.
If you have a bad tourism experience in Belize, please tell all to the fine government of Belize tourism agency the BelizeTourism Board at www.travelbelize.org address on that web. I am sure they will both respond and do something about the compaint.