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stacybabb March 14th, 2009 09:09 AM

Mayan Ruins
Hello! I am going on a Carnival cruise to Belize and Cozumel (as well as the isla roatan and grand cayman). I am really interested in going to the Mayan Ruins, but I would rather not go on a tour or excursion. So... I am looking to plan in advance! Does any one know...
~ Where cruises dock in belize and cozumel
~how far away the ruins are from the docking sites
~what is our best way to get around?

Any help would be great! Thanks, Stacy

misguidedangel March 14th, 2009 02:52 PM

The ship is the best way to go for a excursion to the mayan ruins in Belize because everyone on your ship will be there and the tour guide will be in touch with the ship if something happens. The ship anchors a fair distance out and you go on a speedboat tender to the cruise center where the shops and tour buses meet.

Altun Ha is a smaller site than Xunantunich. I do believe both sites allow you to climb the temples/pyramids. The problem with going on your own is you have to watch the time as you only have some much port time. Xunantunich is a LONG drive and it takes over 2 hours to get to the site. The tour is 7 hours and you get back in time to jump back on the tender back to the ship. Altun Ha tours are around 4-6 hours and you get a thorough guided tour through the site.

I did the tour through the ship and it was perfect. I do suggest bringing at least 1L of water if you are going. Belize is HOT!!!!

One other note is the roads in Belize are OK, but when you turn off the "North highway" to the old highway the road is rough, very rough and if you breakdown you might be there a while.....I can tell you the old highway is nothing more than a 1.5 lane rough gravel road, with barely any gravel left, no shoulder, and the forest very close to the edge of the road.....

stacybabb March 15th, 2009 07:56 AM

Thank you for the information! It seems like the cruise people I have spoken to on the phone don't really know much about the destinations! In your opinion, how risky would it be to do the excursion ourselves? I have a fascination with The mayan ruins, and I would prefer to explore them with out a group if it's possible. Can you get your own boat and then a taxi to the site or would this be really pricey? We are most interested in going to the ruins that are closer so that we wont be out so far! Btw, we are going on the Valour ship and I saw that you have been on that one. Did you have a good experience? We're pretty new to all of this!

Donna March 15th, 2009 08:49 AM

I agree with the previous poster, book with the cruiseline for those kind of excursions. I believe the ruins are not very close to the pier, anything can happen and cause a delay, why chance that??

Ron March 15th, 2009 11:35 PM

Cozumel itself has a very small Mayan site, very likely not what you are interested in. To reach the ruins at Tulum, you would have to catch a ferry over to the mainland, approx. 14 miles away, then get a cab to Tulum which would involve over an hours drive, then return via the same way and hope nothing happened to prevent you from getting back to the ship before it sailed. Personally I would not risk it but that's up to you. Another thing regarding the ferry between Cozumel and the mainland, it can be very rough so be prepared.
In Belize, you have to tender approx. 5 miles or so (about 12-15 minute ) from the ship to the port area. You can find cabs at the port area that will take you wherever you tell them to. The closest Mayan site of any real size is Altun Ha. I've been there a couple of times and the best I remember it's an hour / hour and half away.

if you decide to go it on your own, you must remember that a lot of these cabs aren't exactly what you see around your home town, regarding dependability, etc.
If your set on going on your own, I would do the Belize trip to Altun Ha.
But remember, -- once you get off the ship and take off on your own, the ship has no way of knowing where you may be or what may have happened if you're late. They won't sit and drum their fingers waiting--they will weigh anchor and head to the next port. I would do a ships tour but again, that's up to you.

stacybabb March 16th, 2009 09:27 AM

thanks! i'm still not sure what we're going to do. . . i am just not a big fan of large tours and tour guides and tour buses. it's just not my thing! we're also on a budget. so if it's cheaper to take a mayan ruins book out of the library and take a cab...well, that just sounds so much more peaceful! and i'd probably be paranoid about not getting back to the ship on time, and so would be an hour or so early any way!

misguidedangel March 16th, 2009 08:21 PM

As a poster has reported, Altun Ha is close to 90 minutes away from the cruise terminal and the so called highways are not quite so good. Especially the "old" North Highway. A 4x4 truck would make it, but most cars wound have to have damn good shock absorbers to make it, either that or drive really slow!!!

A personal guided tour is great, but the group tours are good and the guides do give you a lot of info AND will answer your questions. You are not rushed from one site to another, unless it is like 45C in the sun with 85% plus humidity they may find a nice piece of shade to hide under and do some more explaining.....

You can make your trip all about the ruins--Tulum in Cozumel and Altun Ha/Xunantunich in Belize.

The Valor was good. I hated the decor, I am Canadian so I don't like everything american from the floor tiles to the liberty bells on the walls...The cruise was fun, the food was good, the sun was out, and a good time was had....

LisaK March 17th, 2009 02:22 PM

i agree with the majority on this one, book a tour to the ruins, for all the reasons stated.

brad813 March 17th, 2009 02:33 PM

As a tourist, never go to the ruins without a tour guide as some of them do require you to go through rain forest, which can be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with it. By far the best option is a ship excursion or a reputable tour company. Do not, under any circumstances, go it alone unless you are a Mesoamerican archaeologist or very familiar with the area some other way.

punk May 11th, 2009 03:07 PM

I agree with booking a tour, however on our trip to costa maya we booked a personal tour (not thru the cruiseline). It was much cheaper and our guide was actually born and raised in a house in the midst of the ruins (the ruins were undiscovered at the time and later discovered by his father) so he had some great first hand knowledge of them.

dlm2005 May 12th, 2009 10:14 AM

One more thing to consider. Even if you do go on your own, once you get there the other group tours will be there as well, so not quite sure of the benefit of going on your own. Generally, I like booking my own excursions, but in this case I agree with the majority here. Too much of a chance of being left at the dock if something goes wrong.

brad813 May 12th, 2009 03:36 PM

There is a risk of getting lost in dangerous locations with some of the more out of the way sites. This has to be your number one concern.

karen2cruise May 16th, 2009 11:57 PM

Costa Maya tour guide highly recommend- David and Ivan's The Native Choice -

Belize ruins are far away and dangerous, would not do on my own. Cruise ships anchor far out- 20 minute tender into the city. Amazing ruins there and cant wait to go back.

Cozumel take the ferry over to Playa del Carmen and hire someone to take you to Tulum.

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