My family and I decided to take a cruise together. I've gone in the past with my husband and once with my nephew but this time would be different. . . different ports and with two additional family members; my over the top brother and nervous wreck sister!
My sister left her yorkie at Bone Voyage - a pet resort that took VERY good quality care of her dog that is located along the way to the terminal on Harborside. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND using them if you are in need of a pet sitter. My sister is typically a nervous wreck and doesn't like anyone to watch her dog unless it's family. She took a chance and LOVED LOVED LOVED every bit of the experience. She got pics of her dog and constant updates on demand. It was awesome.
We went aboard the Carnival Magic for 7 nights of wonder. We stopped at Roatan, Belize and Cozumel. We live fairly close to Galveston so the ride and park was an option we chose to go with. We used the Discount Cruise Parking located on about 80th and Harborside Drive where the shuttles packed our luggage on board and away we went to the terminal. We had used this lot before so we were able to book online ahead of time and use the discount code to save an additional $5~! Since we lived so close to Galveston, my husband (who is always so laid back that he is LATE to every event - even our wedding but we won't go there...) decided that since there was a delay on the ship due to fog that we would leave a little later than usual. Well the departing time was set for 5pm and we arrived at the parking lot at 4:45pm!! Yep, the last ones on the lot and it felt as if we were the last ones to board the ship but there were a few others behind us. I must say, it was easy boarding and going through security~! no wait AT ALL!!! But the adrenaline rush of being late kept us going. Of course, it kept me a little frustrated but ah well we made it!
The parking crew was very nice, the porters came right up to us at the terminal and had our luggage gone before we even got out the van. We were running so late that the porter didn't even stop to wait for a tip...away he went with our luggage in tow...
We booked an ocean view room for 3 of us and an interior room for the other two. Typical rooms, nothing special but spacious enough for all of us. We dined mostly at the buffets not once did we do the dining, partly because the days we thought about it the dress code was not anything we brought with us.
My 17 y/o nephew enjoyed taking part of all the Club O2 activities for the teens - we barely saw him! Other onboard activities were the usual for us but for my sister and brother were wonders of their world! All the "at sea" specials ran at the fun shops, art auctions, shows at the theater, comedy, club nights, casino and everything else their hearts could desire were aboard this ship!
We decided to stay at the terminal in Roatan because the weather was rainy and overcast. Just so you know...it's not a good idea to be out in the rain, drinking a fat tuesday daiquiri while "just sticking your feet in the beach water." At least for me it wasn't. I picked up congestion almost overnight! But I didn't let this stop me...on to Belize we sailed....
While in Belize, again remember my husband likes to be late..., we decided to eat breakfast on the ship then head to the terminal. Well we had to take a tender to the port which took about 20 mins but the wait to get on the tender by 10am was about 20 mins. Mind you, we were ready at 9am...my husband....another story! We arrived at the terminal at about 10:45ish and my sister decided she wanted a pair of cheap sunglasses since the sun was starting to peak out. On our next venture we went....wheeling and dealing with the shops to try to get what looked like a $5 pair of glasses for at least $10; then we later learned that the locals pay two for $5!!! They said you just have to go in town and away from the terminal!
We got the sunglasses and off to find terminal one where the infamous Vitalino would be waiting for us to arrive for our zip line and cave tubing adventure. This company is by far AAAA+++ service! Book ahead of time and if he isn't too busy he will cut you a deal on the prices. We ended up paying $65 per person. He was very responsive by email and attentive to our requests. His website is www.cavetubing.bz and we highly recommend using his company for quality service and articulate history of the city.
Well by the time we found the terminal, we were told to look for the guys in the yellow shirts that say cavetubing.bz ...there were a ton of yellow shirts but none of them had this logo. As soon as you got out of the terminal you had people come up to you left and right offering cavetubing adventures and other excursions. I was on a mission to find Vitalino so away I pushed through the crowd and onto the street. I finally saw a couple of people that had polo shirts on that appeared to work for the terminal and not screaming at you to join their excursion so I asked if they could help me find Vitalino. One young man immediately called him on his cell and found out that he was no longer in the city but would arrange for us to be picked up. He had one of his trustworthy pals find us transportation and off we went. The van ride was about 15 minutes where we stopped at what appeared to be a local store and picked up Vitalino who greeted us all with bottled water. Aboard he came along with another guy "Byron the Water Bender". Vitalino gave us complete instructions as to what we were to expect and how the day would go.
We were a little late in starting but he assured us we would get a full day of activity and be back to the ship by the 4:15 departure time. Another 30-35 minutes on the van with Vitalino giving us info on the things we saw on our drive and we arrived at his family place where people were having lunch (chicken, rice and beans and rum punch) and we were asked if we needed to use the restroom or wanted more drinks and if we wanted to eat or wait until after the excursion. Of course, we had just eaten a huge breakfast so we opted for after. My nephew rented his water shoes for $3 and typically they have you pay then but we weren't sure who was going to do the zip lining (my nephew was nervous and "afraid of heights") and time was a ticking! So Vitalino approved us to just pay after.
About 5-10 mins later we arrived at the zip line site. I believe it was 7 different heights/lines that we went across with the first one being short and low called the "chicken run". My nephew tried it and was hooked...he wanted more, more more and even the guys there offered him to just try it since he voiced his fear. They later laughed at him because he was at the front of the line ready to go on the next line! Be ready to hike up steep stairs - aerobic stamina is helpful but not necessary.
Off to cave tubing we went after our adrenaline rush and fun at the zip lines. It was the first time for all 5 of us and we enjoyed it greatly! We hiked about 15-20 mins through jungle and a few stream crossings so make sure you wear good comfortable shoes that you can walk in and cross water in. My water shoes left a slight discomfort in my feet but overall ok. We arrived at the cave opening where our tubes awaited us - the tubes are custom made with the seat and cup holder and we did not have to hike them up the trail with us as we saw others doing. We were shy a tube so our tour guide Byron ran all the way back to get the additional one and away we tubed... He didn't use a tube and was proud to call himself the "water bender". He was very knowledgeable and interesting. By us being so late....we were able to have a personal tour without others tubing next to us which was pretty cool. The water was cold but felt good and was beautiful! You could look down and see the minnows and my husband even got his fingers nibbled on by them. The cave was amazing to see and hear the history about.
After our adventure we hiked back taking our tubes but Byron was a gentleman and took mine and my sisters for us. We got dressed and away we went to meet up with Vitalino. He called Byron and asked if we were done and on our way back. We got to his family's place of business where he waited for us on the side of the road with his daughter holding bags of boxed lunches and sippy cups of rum punch and a bottle for refills as well as sodas and waters in glass bottles. He politely jumped in the drivers seat and our driver sat in the back with us and we all enjoyed our lunch in the van on our way back to the terminal.
He got us there just in the nick of time. He passed up a van with a load of carnival cruisers heading to the terminal as well so we weren't the only late ones. In fact, as we arrived at the terminal we paid him and entered where we were constantly being told by those manning the security area "you are late guys, get in there quick." We got to the line only to find that there were LOTS of people lining up late to catch the tender back to the ship! Ah well, away we went. We didn't get to shop at the terminal or in the city but we had the BEST time on the excursion! WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND VITALINO'S CAVETUBING.BZ!!!
Disembarking was not bad at all either. We were able to get off the ship without waiting in ANY lines. We weren't even late to get in line, I couldn't believe it! Perhaps most people were doing self-assist because we didn't go immediately when our zone was called in an effort to "let the crowd" go first but as soon as the next zone was called we were down there and were still able to get off without a problem. Now finding a porter once in the terminal was another thing. It took about 20 mins for my husband to go hunt one down for us. We waited about 15 mins in the line before we were out and on our way to the van to head to our parking lot. We waited about less than 5 mins when the van pulled up and away we went. Our vehicle was secure and we didn't have a problem with the parking lot at all WE ALSO RECOMMEND DISCOUNT CRUISE PARKING if you don't mind taking a van/shuttle to the terminal.
I will leave you with one warning: if you are looking to exercise and see a sign up sheet for Pilates. . . unless you are looking for just an exercise class with no classic pilates moves this class is for you. Also be aware that they charge tax or gratuity for the course as well. It said $12 but we were charged $13.80 for a class that I did NOT enjoy at all. We reported it to guest services but no action was taken.
Other than the overcast and rain at each port, our cruise was awesome and a lot of memories were made. WE enjoyed every bit of it and look forward to our next one :) Cheers!