Well....Costa Maya is a bit primative but the port area is fantastic. The cruise lines have built a marvelous area of contained pleasure and beauty. As far as Belize goes, we were very uncomfortable there and I would recommend that you take a ship sponsored shore tour. Better safe than sorry...IMO. The snorkeling there is the best! Have fun.
We went to Belize in April 06 and the snorkeling was GREAT! Costa Maya on the other hand was a dissapointment!! I hated the people there@ They were pushy and rude. The beaches are great but I didn't always feel 100% at ease there!
We have a special needs son and can't go "ship excursions" for the most part, so we did both ports on our own.
When we go back to Belize, we will be taking a tour with Gilbert Young (everyone calls him Gilley). He is one of the tour operators that is allowed :inside the fence:. He is a very nice gentleman that I had the pleasure of talking to for about 30 minutes. I did not meet him until it was almost time to get back on the ship, so we did not have time to do a tour with him at that time...but he is perfect for folks like us that can't do that cave tubing or zip lining. He can take you on a tour of the city and to the zoo etc.
He and several other tour operators are working really hard to build a good reputation for Belize. I told him the two main things cruisers want on a tour is to know they are safe and will be back to the ship on time.
Sadly, due to the poverty, the general population there can get really aggressive. I don't think they mean to be as abusive as they are. It is just a sad situation where they know that if they don't make the money while those ships are in port...they won't make any money. I told Gilley that the general population is going to have to get a handle on this, if they want to be like Cozumel.
I agree with the earlier poster. I would not go beyond the fence without a ship tour or an independent tour. There are a couple of tour operators like Gilley that are inside the fence. Gilley can be found at this kiosk (Belize for folding table) at a restaurant called the Wet Lizard. It is to the right as you get off the tender.
Costa Maya is a quiet little town. The port has some shops and a free pool with some neat bars around it. The main street of town is sand.
It is a great place to just relax!!
Have a wonderful cruise.
COMPLETES THE FLEET
If it is Carnival and it floats....we have sailed it!
Hubby ... DIAMOND (every ship except the Carnivale)
Me ... DIAMOND (every ship starting with the Tropicale)
20 year old son ... DIAMOND (every ship starting with the Tropicale...he is the only DOUBLE Milestone under the age of 21)
24 year old son ... DIAMOND
We loved Costa Maya and had a great day there. We took a taxi into the fishing village of Majahaul (its about a 5 minute taxi ride) for $3 pp there and $2 to get back. We would just tell the vendors "no thank you" and they would leave us alone. You want pushy...try Jamaica...OMG...they are almost abusive!
What we did was buy a $25 (per person) pass for Tequila Beach Club. They were selling these at the port area in a little "hut" type booth. This gave us an all day pass for beach loungers, all you can eat food and open bar. It was an awesome day!! We ate nachos, quesadillas, fajitas, cheeseburgers, and fries, had diet cokes, and about 6 drinks each.
Costa Maya is beautiful...not overdeveloped at all. You can also hook up at any restaurant at Majahaul and buy a few drinks and snacks and they will give you free use of their beach chairs for the day and wait on you hand and foot. You can get a 40 minute massage for $20. It's great!!
If you want to take a tour of the Mayan ruins, do a google for David and Ivan's. They are natives and take very good care of you, making sure you get back to the ship on time and are very informative. Several on our cruise took this tour and thought it was wonderful.