Central America from a Cruise ship
Had a great time on this HAL cruise. One of the best dining experiences ever -as far as the food. One of the worst dining experiences ever - as far as mass confusion on the seating. But the food is the important thing, right? Our dinner seating didn't get corrected until the 3rd evening - mix-ups with assignments. But the quality of the food was more important, and that was great. The staff on HAL was, as usual, extremely accommodating, friendly, and helpful.
Only one negative on our cabin on this cruise, and it sounds so
picky.... There was no medicine cabinet or even shelves in the
bathroom. So, we kept our dop kits on the floor out of the way.
Otherwise our cabin was comfortable and had plenty of storage. We
especially liked it because it was on the deck with the walk-around and
just a few steps from the outside door. We could be outside on a deck
chair in a moment!
The ports were especially interesting, being 2 ports in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. More
We were originally scheduled to stop in Key West but were diverted from there to Cozumel because of heavy traffic in the port. We enjoyed all 4 stops. We got to snorkel the crystal clear water of Belize and thoroughly loved that. Unfortunately, the water was too rough for snorkeling/diving in the 2 Mexican stops, but we enjoyed the shopping and getting the feel of their culture. We did not take any shore excursion through the ship but found our own onshore. The trip on Guatemala was through the river gorge, and we really felt that we were back in time, observing the native people fishing from handmade bark canoes. Their arts and crafts were available at a very reasonable price, making this a very fun stop and one I'd like to visit again Less
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Cabin review: Out
Only one negative on our cabin on this cruise, and it sounds so picky....
There was no medicine cabinet or even shelves in the bathroom.
So, we kept our dop kits on the floor out of the way.
Otherwise our cabin was comfortable and had plenty of storage. We especially liked it because it was on the deck with the walk-around and just a few steps from the outside door. We could be outside on a deck chair in a moment!
Port and Shore Excursions
We had a wonderful experience in Belize. We left the tender and walked a few feet to find snorkeling/beach opportunities being offered by entrepreneurs aplenty right on the gangway. Since this is what we wanted, we hastily bargained our best deal and got on a speedboat for a wonderful experience. The crew was helpful and accomplished. One of the crew even paddled around pulling a couple of older women who had hesitated to get into the water alone. Another crew member lead the group to point out the beauty of the reef and the variety of the fish easily spotted with or without her help. We got a good amount of time snorkeling and then were whisked over to a cay for a bit of beach time. Afterwards, we shopped a bit at some relatively nice stores along the pier.
If you've been to Costa Maya, you know it a port built to accommodate cruise ships and cruisers looking to buy souvenirs. Since we have done the Mayan ruins and didn't want to repeat, and since the water was too rough to snorkel, we moseyed along the shops, not really wanting to buy anything. We got tired of doing that, returned to the ship, planned to go back out and taxi to the little town nearby. But malaise set it and we took a nap instead!
We didn't get to snorkel as planned due to rough water but found the port full of fun things to do and observe. The only negative is the persistence of vendors to attempt to get you into their shops. This includes the high-priced jewelry stores and souvenir shops as well. I loved walking along the shore in town and watching the Mexicans driving up to buy fish freshly caught by the fishermen - while being closely observed by the nearby pelicans and other diving birds.
Our ship next stopped in Santo Thomas, Guatemala, not St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. This port is quite industrial, being used mostly to ship bananas. The arts and crafts offered by Guatemalans, however, were outstanding, well-done, and very reasonably priced. Look especially for the jade earrings, necklaces. Wood carving was also very professional. We took a river gorge trip, which took us back centuries, it seemed. We also were in the river forest - or jungle to me. Then stopped in Livingston, a town accessible only by boat or plane because it's in the middle of the forest. No roads penetrate that part of the world! They do have some cars, brought in by boat, not doubt. Everyone was friendly and helpful, and we had a terrific guide, very knowledgeable of his country.