Sure enough, when we got to Belize the guys from cavetubing . bz were there in their yellow t-shirts to greet us. We had Manuel and Harrison as our guides and they gave us a great tour of their country. They answered all our questions and showed us a small part of their country. This is a very poor country but the people we met were welcoming and friendly.
7 of us from our group went cave tubing and it was a lot of fun. The walk through the jungle took about 30 minutes with Manuel stopping along the way to point out different trees, plants, caves, etc. It was very interesting. We got in the river and floated through a very large, long cave. When we came out the other end, we were at the point in the river where the cruise ship excursion started - they missed the biggest cave! We went on to go through 2 more caves with our guides (we were all hooked together with a guide at each end to steer. Once we were through the next two caves, we saw the cruise ship excursion people getting out of the river but we floated for at least another 15 or 20 minutes. Once we were out of the caves, we were able to free float without being hooked together.
This is a physically strenuous excursion but well worth it.
After we were done on the river, we were taken to Vitaliano's house (the owner) and served the most delicious authentic meal I've had on a cruise. It was rice & beans, coleslaw and chicken cooked in an amazing sauce. Everyone loved it. We were also given unlimited soda or rum punch. Yum.
Harrison got us back to the port in plenty of time (I think we had 2 hours to spare) and was very accommodating when we had to make a washroom stop after all the rum punch. We never felt unsafe. I hope the cruise ships figure out this issue because the people can use the boost to their economy and we really enjoyed ourselves in Belize.
We took the bus from the port and were dropped off at Tapas Bar. We were taken to a table and they immediately set us up with more tables and umbrellas. We asked the price of beer and had to do some talking to get the brand we wanted at the price they quoted. The food wasn't very good and it certainly wasn't cheap ($9 for nachos or a quesadilla). We walked up the beach further and saw some of the places mentioned on here but the swimming in front of those bars was no good. I don't know if the food and drinks would have been better or cheaper there but those bars are in a poor location so either way we couldn't win at Mahajual.
2 people did the massage and loved it. Some of us snorkelled but there wasn't anything to see - a few white fish but that's it.
There are lots of shops with all the same stuff. The prices were high but you could haggle but I don't like that because I never know if I'm getting a good deal or not. Turns out, I got one good deal and one bad one. I bought a ceramic bowl that she said was $30 for just $12. But I paid $8 for a blanket that they were selling at the port for just $5.
We met some others on board who did a jungle beach break through the cruise ship and they said it was some of the best snorkelling they had done. Mahajual may have been a wonderfully authentic place to see a few years ago but now it is a tourist trap. We were charged a "tax" on our food and beer bill at the end of the day that seemed to be completely arbitrary.
I'm sure Costa Maya has lots to offer but we chose the wrong experience for that port.
One comment about the cruise ship pier - it is the most crowded and confusing port area to get out of. And there is no duty free liquor there either so I ended up buying it on the ship. I'd like to give Costa Maya a second chance.
They had one computer at the bar with free internet access so we were able to check emails. The drinks were not a bad price - a bucket of beer was $15.
Funny thing happened just after we arrived - we noticed most of the staff disappeared and then we found out the kitchen staff had decided not to work that day (a strike) so all we could get to eat was nachos with guacamole or salsa. The guac was really really good and the waiters who were working worked double hard to serve us.
I would go back here for sure and my sisters are making plans to make this a stop on the cruise they are doing with their children next year.
We had planned to buy duty free liquor in Cozumel to take back home but the duty free shop at the port was closed. DH and I decided to walk up to the RCL port but we weren't allowed to buy duty free there. Nobody could explain why it was closed.
4 of our group went to Tulum (we did that last year) and they really enjoyed that excursion.
I have been to Cozumel a few times and we always find something interesting and fun to do.
We did the Barefoot Catamaran and it was awesome. We were met when we go off the ship and followed our guide on very short walk to the catamaran. They gave a brief safety talk and then started serving water and drinks. Rum and beer were $2 each. They were very attentive and made sure we had everything we needed.
We snorkelled for about an hour in fairly deep water. We saw a drop off that was pretty amazing and would be an amazing dive site. There weren't a lot of fish and the colors were a bit drab because it was so deep but I love snorkeing no matter what. The sail on the catamaran was a lot of fun too. I wish they had put up the sails more but I'm not a sailor so I don't know why they didn't. It was a very windy day and the waves were quite high.
When we returned to the port, some of the group went to Mahogany Bay and had a blast on the beach there. We will return to Roatan some day to see more of it.