We are going to Belize in August and want to go cave tubing. My only concern is that my 15 year old son got scared when he went to the Lost Sea Cave in Tennessee - he was so scared that he couldn't go into the cave - something about the dark enclosure really bothered him. He usually isn't scared at all of things, but this cave did scare him and now he doesn't want to go cave tubing becuase he thinks it will be scary. I haven't been able to tell from pictures what it looks like in the caves in Belize - can you give me any advice? I want our family to do this because it sounds like so much fun, but I don't want my son to be scared and not willing to go in with us. Thanks for any advice you can give.
How long ago did he get scared? We went cavetubing in Belize in February and my 7 year old son cried almost the whole trip down the river. I was so surprised that he was scared. It does get very dark in there even with the head lamps that you wear. On the other hand, my 5 year old loved it!
We have been twice on cave tubing (second time added zipline) and the caves are huge, cavernous. Lots of kids of all ages go along, some floating by themselves under close supervision by guides. Or some hooked up with parents and also under close supervision. These caves are the most beautiful, airy systems I have ever enjoyed, and especially because we are floating on inner tubes and with lots of lights all around - everyone is given a caving light which fits on your forehead - this adds to the beauty of the tour. There are voices all around as guides speak to their guests, pointing out this, that and the other, and lots of vocal reaction from guests themselves, asking questions or simply expressing awe and admiration. And the water - it is cool, flowing gently, and ever so green and clean!! And although there are two spots that are dark, one can always see light behind or in front; the middle cave actually has like a huge skylight, from an area that fell in millions of years ago, and lets in the sunlight - it is absolutely gorgeous. And then, once we exited, the float downriver in the open is another awesome experience - all below the great green canopy of the rainforest. Lots of birdlife here and there. I believe that you son will love it. We used Major Tom - Check out his wibsite at www.cave-tubing.net for photos and details of the cave system. Tell your son this is something he will totally enjoy - and that's a message from our kids, ages 4 to 11 years!!!
I loved the cave tubing and I was a little hesitant. It was an informative walk through the jungle which came out in a pirates of the caribbean style pool outside the first cavern. The first was the largest and it does get dark. I was more afraid of what I couldn't see in the water and it's a little chilly but it is a really neat experience. If you stay in a group it's fine. It's kind of similar to the big cavern on the pirates ride at disney believe it or not. but from what I can remember you could always see the opening and end. There was really only that first dark cave and then it was much more open and lit. Very pretty. I am sooooo glad we did it. My father and I still talk about how we jumped off the rocks in to the water in the first pool...it was just breathtaking...Hope that helps!
we went with a company called cave-tubing.com, they aren't advertised thru the ship HOWEVER they were cheaper and treated us great. One of the things I liked about them is they hooked us together in groups (so your son probably wouldnt be scared I'm assuming) and each group was "pulled" by a guide so we did NO paddling ourselves - they did all the work and made sure we were kept safe together as a group. I highly recommend them!
October 1997 Princess (Bahamas)
October 2000 Carnival Tropicale
October 2006 Carnival Miracle
October 2009 Carnival Legend
The previous posts all commented on the actual cave tubing experience (which is wonderful), however, my understanding is your main concern is your fear that the experience will cause your son to have a repeat panic attack.
I am extremly claustaphobic and I've visited the Lost Caves in TN and experienced cave tubing. With that being stated...It took every ounce of courage I could muster and a lot of determination to enjoy these two adventures. I will say TN does not include the added danger of deep water and has a reasonably easy way out should you find its not for you. In Belize your smack in the middle of jungle! Not as easy to say "i'm not going any further"
It took many years for me to face my fear and I'm still not always in control. I literally syked myself up for months prior to the cave tubing experience and I trusted my husband to keep me safe. The individual MUST have the desire to face his fears and the tools to do so. When I feel the phobia taking over I've learned to breath through and control my fear.
The adventure is completly safe and takes very little energy - you can link up which may offer a comfort measure for those apprehensive - and there is really nothing to be afraid of. BUT, and its a big BUT...phobias are not logical and safety is not your main concern. Many items must be considered before booking this excursion for your son. he is definitely old enough to face his fear and enjoy this experience.
Facts: you're in a inner tube in cold water with a light on your forehead, the water is extremly deep in parts of the river, once you enter the caves you're in extreme dark for 3-10minute stretches, there are echos (ie strange noises), bats may make an appearance and you feel drips of water on your head, at times the cave is narrow and the ceiling is low, ONCE YOU ENTER A CAVE YOU MUST CONTINUE THROUGH TO THE END!!!
I recommend cave tubing to everyone visiting Belize. My husband and I have even considered visiting Belize for a 3 day excursion through some of the larger caves. I would not recommend booking this excursion though if the individual has any fears of making it through the cave. Especially if that indiv is a teenager who might freak out and become uncontrollable in 20ft deep water.
Please...only book this excursion for your son if he feels confident he will enjoy the dark closed in areas OR if you feel you can control his panic attack if/when it appears.
I love cave tubing, hope everyone can experience it atleast once, but would hate for the entire family to lose valuable money, time, or enjoyment because you weren't aware of the possibilities. Panic attacks are scary things, and can be dangerous. Its best if you have all the facts prior to the experience.
Hope this helps (I really didn't want to scare you)
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RCI Legend of the Seas 11/2006
CCL Miracle 12/2007
I'm now planning our 2009 cruise with a return planned to Belize and I just came across my post from last year! I thought it might be helpful to others to know that we did go cave tubing in Belize last year and my son did great. We went with Major Tom's group and communicated with him in advance about my son's fear. Tom was understanding and talked to him about the cave before we even left the dock. We were the only ones on our ship who went both zip lining and cave tubing, so we were fortunate enough to have Minor Tom and his brother Julian to ourselves for the day. It was an amazing day - so much fun. Minor Tom was talking to us all throughout the time we were in the cave so I think that helped keep my son busy and not thinking about his fear. He put my son in the middle of the seven of us as we linked together on our tubes and that helped too. It was certainly one of the highlights of our cruise and we are looking forward to spending another day with Major Tom's group again next month!