Port and Shore Excursions
My rating here is entirely dependent on what you choose to do. If you hang around the shops at the tender drop area, I would rate this port a "1". But we signed up for the ship's excursion to Lamanai Mayan Ruins, and the day was fabulous. A one hour long bus ride is made tolerable by the fantastic narration of the history of the country. You will learn so much. Then, you arrive at a boat landing for a snack and bathroom break, and then it is off for a 45 minute boat ride to the ruins. The boat speeds along the New River where you can see beautiful scenery, birds and wildlife. Once at the site, we had about an hour and fifteen minutes of a guided tour of the site complete with history and culture lessons. We even had the opportunity to climb to the top of the highest temple. It is steep, but so worth it. Afterwards, the tour retraces its steps, first with the boat and then back to the bus. After the boat ride back to the landing, we stayed at that location for about an hour to enjoy a buffet lunch. The cuisine was probably not authentic Belizian fare, but it was fine. The bus ride back did not include narration, so folks could nap if they wanted to.
If you leave the port area to explore Belize, you will not be disappointed. But if you stay at the port area just to shop, you will probably wonder why the cruise ship stops at Belize at all.
We booked a "Two Reef Snorkeling Tour" with Cozumel Water Sports. It was mpstly positive, with one big negative that we were able to overcome and overlook. We had a pre-paid reservation for a 10:30 departure. We took a taxi from the ship to the appointed meeting place, and found the 10:30 boat. But when we arrived, it was already filled with people who did not have reservations, and who were headed out on a one our tour. So instead of getting us another boat, we were forced to hang out at a very dumpy beach club for over an hour for the boat to return for us. Our 10:30 tour did not start until 11:50.
But once underway, everything was fine. We were taken out to Palancar reef and led around by a guide. We didn't really need a guide, but he was there for safety and to make sure that we stayed with the current which was very strong. In fact, the current was so strong that they did not allow us to go to the second reef, (Columbia). Instead, we got extra time at Palancar, which was fine. The guide, boat driver and reef were excellent. Our only issue was with the messed up reservation time, but it all worked out in the end.
Our intention here was to snorkel, and based on the "Ports of Call" chat board here at CC, we took the advice of others and simply walked half a mile down South Church Street to Eden Rock Dive Center. The folks there were helpful, and we rented a large locker to hold our personal items as we headed into the water. Entry is by stairs and from there it is a short swim out to Eden Rock and Devil's Grotto. And close by you can fine a very nice coffee shop and some decent shopping all out of the way of the very touristy landing area where the tenders drop you off.
Here, we took a non-cruise ship excursion through Island Marketing for zip lining and a beach break. We were given a narrated tour of much of the island as we made our way from the port to South Shore Zip Lining. the bus was air conditioned and clean, and our guide was very nice and knowledgeable. He remained with us (or the bus) at all times. The zip lining was great. Really fun, safe and courteous guides at South Shore. Afterwards, the bus took us to Foster's on the Beach where we had lunch. We had about 2 hours of free time, so after lunch, we walked along the beach to Infinity Bay resort where there is an access point to snorkel out to the fantastic reef. We brought our own gear, but if you don't have any, rentals are readily available on the beach. After our time was up, we boarded the bus again for another narrated tour of more of the island. The guide had us back at the ship in plenty of time. This was a great day.