Belize City Lamanai Mayan Ruins Excursion Reviews
King David of AlTournative tours was amazing. Enjoyed the hour long ride in a new a/c 6 passenger van, then hour long boat ride, the Lamanai ruins are in a gorgeous jungle park like setting (see my review on Trip Advisor). (take a poncho for you and bag for camera...it is the rain forest and if it rains you will get wet). After the boat ride back, we had a wonderful home cooked Belizean lunch of rice, chicken, platains, soda and beer. Long walk from ship to shore, but tip-only transport available.
Our tour of the Lamanai Ruins was very good, but the other aspects of this tour cause me to give the excursion an average rating. I would not have chosen to do this tour as a ship's excursion but for the fact that Belize is a tender port and we were only in port until 4:30 pm. With so little time on shore, we would have risked missing the boat had we done this tour with a private company. The tour included 1 hour on a bus to the boat which would take us to Lamanai. Then there was a 45-minute ride on the boat. The tour of Lamanai lasted about 90 minutes and we visited the 3 main temples and were able to climb the High Temple. After our tour of the ruins, we again did the 45-minute boat ride and the 1 hour bus ride. Added to this time were several overly long stops for bathroom breaks and just waiting around for the guides. The lunch that was served was small in size and not good. The meal consisted of two small pieces of chicken (you were explicitly told not to take more than 2 pieces), rice and coleslaw. Dessert, if you wanted it, was a couple small pieces of cooked plantains. This is probably the worst meal I've ever had on an excursion.
We were lucky to have the fabulous Lion (Leon?) brothers as our tour guides, among the best we've ever had (& we travel extensively). Their knowledge about and enthusiastic love of their country was infectious & made us want to return again to get to know the country better. Amazing ruins, but that's only part of the excursion. Other reviewers have complained about the long bus ride & long boat ride, but the Lions kept us entertained with information about what we we'd see - including amazing wildlife that they were on the lookout for (crocodiles, howler monkeys, amazing birds, etc.). A terrific tour, well worth it!
Do not buy they shore excursions from the cruise line. They charged about $130 and we only payed $40 once we were at port. We learned alot about the city and culture and even got to climb to the top of a Mayan Ruin. Not sure of the operating company but the tour guide, Jungle Joe, was fantastic!
We were late getting going because it was stormy and the seas were rough. It took about 2 hours to get the ship situated to get the tenders out. After a rough ride in the tender we got to shore and got on our busses. After an hour drive, we got on speed boats to take us up the New River to Lamanai. It was a wonderful place and I'd like to go back. Because we were so late starting, we didn't have time to see much and walked quickly thru everything. I wish there were guides there to tell us what we were seeing and time to explore more. Because of the time problems, we were really rushed - no one's fault - just the situation of the day.
As the Belize port is tendered, I’m very happy I had purchased Faster To The Fun. I reserved with outside of Carnival with 20% down through Belize Cruise Excursions through X-Stream Tours/Island Marketing to visit the Lamanai Ruins in the jungles of Belize. The Belize City port is run down and filled with lots of touristy shops. The tour operator had emailed me specific instructions on how to walk through the port to find them. We did quite effortlessly, paid the remaining 80% cash at $60 per person for the tour and waited about 30 minutes for the tour to start. This excursion began with a 1 hour van ride through Belize outside of the city to a location on the inner Belize river. Lead by Wintworth, we were in good hands. He talked a lot about the city and the country and was a fantastic guide. The van ride got a bit boring, but we finally made it to the landing where there were bathrooms and a light lunch of Belizean cuisine: a spicy chicken dish with rice beans, plantains salad and fruit. Refreshment consisted of sodas sweetened with the cane sugar native to Belize.
Then the 8 of us plus the Wintworth and the boat captain took the speedboat up the river. This part of the tour was completely out of Heart of Darkness or the Mosquito Coast. We zipped by mile after mile of indistinguishable jungle up paths I wondered how the captain knew so well. Unfortunately, we saw no fauna along the route. Eventually the river opened up into a very wide area where we saw other boats coming from other ships to dock.
The Lamanai Mayan ruins were spectacular. Wintworth guided us through three pyramids, including the tallest at 110 feet which we got to scale ourselves for an incredible view of the land. The other two, a Jaguar temple and a Mask Temple were also very cool! Just past the tall pyramid I saw a ball court which I wanted to visit. Trekking over there I stepped into a patch of quicksand where my feet disappeared really fast. I pulled out quick and had legs of mud for the rest of the journey. Our timing in Belize had to have us back to the lines for the boat by 3:15. With the boat ride back and the necessary van ride, we were going to be cutting it close.
Wintworth was a star and cut through the slow, dense traffic of Belize City like a champ. He even made sure to drop us off at Terminal 1, where he said security was very lax. We made it in time to get in a long queue back to the tenders. Time enough for a Belikin. At $1 a piece on the pier, they were a steal!
In Belize we did the Lamanai Mayan Ruins/River Cruise and LOVED IT! We booked through the cruise ship after we read reviews about it being an all day tour and we received confirmation the cruise ship will wait for tours booked through them if they are late. Sure enough, our excursion arrived after the last tender time, but yes, there was a tender waiting for us, so no problems! This excursion felt like we had 3 excursions in one. An exceptional excursion done by Ken U Belize It Guide Services. After the 20 min tender from the cruise ship, which was a boat ride with a local water taxi with seating on top (sun) and below (shade) we got onto a bus for an hour long ride. We enjoyed seeing the city, then countryside and hearing our guide (E Ken) educate us about Belize during the ride. The hour went by fast. After the bus ride, we received bottled waters and a bathroom break then boarded our jet boats. This was so much fun! The boats would stop at different locations and the guide would point out termite nests, different colorful birds, water lilly's, bats . . . and we saw 3 crocodiles! He told us the week before they saw a jaguar drinking water on the river's edge. At the Lamanai ruins, our guide took us to three different ruin areas, where you could take pictures, climb the ruins, walk around, etc. He offered good information about the history of the Mayan's, the site, etc. Since there was a lot of walking, the guide offered to those that didn't want to continue the opportunity to return to the open-air shopping area where you could browse a museum, buy a coke, shop for some local products, etc. While we were at the ruins we enjoyed the howler monkey's playing above us, jumping from tree to tree, and making their loud monkey noises! The return river trip was wonderful again. Then, lunch of Stewed Chicken, Rice/Beans, Cole Slaw and bottled fruit drinks was provided. Local beer was for sale $3. Although everyone knew we might be running late, the excursion never felt rushed and the guide assured us they kept in touch with the cruise ship to assure we would have the last tender waiting for us. Note: Although some of the buses did have facilities, ours did not. You may want to use restrooms on the ship before getting on the tender. When we arrived in port we went straight to the bus.
I liked this. My only complaint was that the bus was very hot on the way back to the port.
The ruins were fantastic and something to see. However, our guide left a lot to be desired. He was so locked into minutia and repeating everything over and over that he lost the interest of the entire group with a couple of minutes at every stop.
The bus ride was long, but that could not be avoided. The boat ride in to the ruins was an hour and 20 minutes. That was excessive, especially as there was no animal, plant, or anything else or interest seen during the trip. The trip out was only 40 minutes and we saw many different interesting critters. The additional 40 minutes we could have had at the ruins if we had taken the shorter route in would have been very welcome.
The food we were served for lunch was acceptable for the most part. I say for the most part because I cannot eat curry and the chicken was curried. the rest of the meal was palatable but nothing to write home about.
Enjoyable tour. The hour long boat ride to the ruins is it's own adventure. The Lamanai Mayan ruins were interesting and probably the best ruins to see on the ports of call. The walk to the ruins is rocky (tree roots & large rocks) but safe as long as your watch where you're going. Lunch was very good a local meal of stewed chicken, rice with beans, coleslaw and choice of beverages. Our guide was very knowledgeable and shared inforamtion about the local area and culture.
This was our favorite tour and if you're interested in seeing the ruins this may be the best offering.
Getting There Is Half the Fun!
I found this company online after searching for excursions. It would seem they handle excursions in several different ports of call and handle huge variety of excursions as well. They seem to operate as a fairly well oiled machine with a few minor hiccups here and there.
We chose Lamanai for a couple of reasons. First, as far as Mayan sites go, this is a rather large one. On the website they list that there are 800 structures at this location. I will tell you that only 10% of the entire site has been excavated so really it's more like a half a dozen that you can see but it's still incredibly cool.
Since Belize is a tendered city the port is pretty well secured with buildings surrounding a "mall" of sorts on the waterside. You must get through this area and exit in order to find your tour guide. People are generally friendly and we were able to ask for directions along the way. When we met up with our guide (Wentworth), he took us in a small van along a road for about fifteen minutes where we stopped along the side of the road to board a large school bus type vehicle and begin our actual tour. Our guide was a local born and raised in Belize and was able to field a wide variety of questions after giving his initial speech regarding the tour. He seemed very versed and gave clear and concise answers. He also provided us with information on the local language and some of the customs. The bus itself isn't too bad. The air conditioning worked okay not great but it seemed fine for this adventure. The roads in Belize are not nearly the quality of the roads in Mexico. So be prepared for a rather bumpy ride.
We traveled for about an hour and arrived at a very large complex situated on the river. Once there we were provided with an authentic Belizean lunch which consisted of "mystery meat" (chicken) that was fall off the bone good! We were also given traditional beans and rice which are made with coconut milk and a slice of plantain. To wash it all down you had your choice of bottled water or Real Coke made with local sugarcane. It was incredible! The chicken was so good that we ended up getting the recipe and buying the spice to make it at home. After lunch you can use the restroom/facilities and then we boarded the boat. There is a tourist police officer that accompanies you. The boats that this location uses are far superior to other tours we saw along the river. Our boat was a fiberglass construction with a canopy that covered the entire length of the boat. It also had much more powerful engines and we were able to actually pass other tours along the way. The boat ride itself besides the speed is also informative. We learned about locals living along the river and we were even able to stop and see some insect bats or Hermosa bats. Pulling up alongside of the tree that they were on by the bank our guide splashed water on them and they scattered like a Scooby Doo adventure! The boat ride is actually quite pleasant because of the speeds involved providing you with an ample breeze to keep cool. When we arrived at the site there were several other boats there as well. Taking a survey ours was definitely the best boat.
Although the facilities are scarce at this archaeological site, there is a restroom and three "huts" that have souvenirs for sale. There is also a small museum that you will definitely want to check out as it contains the "city stone". This stone not only contains the King that was ruling when the site was created but it also contains the name of the site. This is one of the very few Mayan sites in the world is actually named from the Mayans themselves as most of the sites had been robbed and record of the name of the site destroyed or removed. The stone is quite large and you should take note of the picture of the King. Judge for yourself whether or not he may be wearing some sort of breathing apparatus or jewelry as some of the nonbelievers state.
If you listen carefully you can hear howler monkeys and toucans in the trees. The jungle provides a good amount of shade for most of this adventure however you will still need sunscreen around the temples. The tallest temple is called the "Lag Temple" is about 125 feet to the top and it is incredibly steep. I do not recommend it for people who are "balance challenged" or frightened of heights. There is a rope to aid you with going up or down but you can manage to do without it as I did as long as your surefooted. I was able to take some pretty spectacular panoramas from the top of this Temple it's truly a breathtaking and amazing view.
After the ruins tour, you basically do the whole thing in reverse boat to the boat ramp and then hop back on the bus for a trip straight to the cruise port this time. Along the way our guide gave more information on the historical aspects of the ruins and told some funny antidotes as well. Remember to bring cash to tip with as there really isn't anywhere for you to get some along the way. Overall this is quite a nice day's adventure and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical and cultural informational tour's.
We originally booked the Xunantunich, but it was cancelled due to flooding. We booked Lamanai in lieu of, and it was wonderful! Bus ride from the pier to Orange Walk, BZ followed by what's described as a "scenic river cruise". It's more of a speed boat ride, which I loved. And it is scenic. We saw some birds along the way. It's 25 miles down the river to the ruins. The ruins were amazing. Huge structures… And it's in the middle of the Belizian rain forests so it's gorgeous otherwise. And we saw Howler Monkeys. Too cool….
Belize City was our next stop, again not great weather but better than the previous day. This was the only excursion we booked through NCL, we booked it 2 months ahead of time as we had a party of 20 and wanted to make sure everyone could get on it together. When we got on board all the other staterooms in our party had their excursion tickets delivered. When ours did not arrive I inquired with the butler who said he would look into it. The night before he let us know that the shore excursion people told him we were never booked on the tour and that it was now full. My husband pulled up our email confirmation of booking it (and paying for it) he took it down to the shore excursion desk where they then told him they had to remove some people from the tour as there were less spots available than they originally planned and refused to help him although I am sure other people had booked after us. We were upset since the other 15 people in our group were still booked on it so we then contacted the concierge Roel who said he would get it taken care of. Within about an hour he brought us our tickets and apologized for the shore excursion desk, also offering us a dinner at one of the paid restaurants for the several hours of trouble this issue had caused. When we got to the tour it was nice, about an hour bus ride and then an hour boat ride up the river to get to the ruins. The tour guide was nice but a little boring and hard to understand but overall we enjoyed the tour.
While tendering to a port isn't exactly a fun time, especially as far out as the ships have to anchor in Belize, it wasn't a bad tender ride other than length of time.
Our favorite excursion of the cruise was the Lamanai Mayan ruins via a boat (I think they called it mayan ruins and river safari). Basically after a long bus ride, they drop you on some boats. The boats held quit a few people, but had twin 200hp outboards on back, and once you got out of the no wake zone those boats were flying down the river, it was sort of an adventure in itself. The ruins were fun, and we must have hit the timing right, as many times, we would walk up to a set of ruins and there were no people around, and you could quickly capture some photos before there were tons of other tourists in them. We were also allowed to scale the high temple, which was a lot of fun and felt like a major accomplishment, although we had a couple of sore muscles the next day from it.
Not a huge amount of time once we got back from our excursion but we did walk around some in the mean time.
We booked a tour of the Lamanai ruins through NCL. We typically prefer to book our tours independently but were aware that we would be travelling a long distance and wanted to make sure we got back to the ship on time. We travelled by bus for about an hour and then by boat for about 45 minutes before arriving at the Lamanai site. The tour was well done with guides knowledgeable and informative. Highly recommend. This tour was one of the reasons we booked this cruise.
I took the RC Lamanai tour, and it was essentially a disaster. We spent three hours getting to the ruins, then they rushed us through the ruins in less than an hour. We didn't eat lunch until 2:30, and we had no snacks. It started pouring rain on the speed-boat ride back to the bus, and we were soaked to the bone and freezing for four hours. The boat should have provided us with real ponchos, or they should have canceled the trip because they are not set up for rain. Truly a miserable day, which is too bad, because the ruins are amazing.
Today’s excursion went as planed. The weather held out, although it was overcast, it did not actually rain. Because we had a tour booked through the cruise line, we had a priority tender (smaller boat that takes you to the pier, as the large ships are not allowed that close in due to the reefs).
Once there we were ushered to a large bus (there were around 30 of us). During the first part of our tour (really just the 45 minute drive to where the real things tarted) once of the guides kept up an interesting narrative describing life in Belize. After a short bathroom break, we boarded another small boat for a scenic river trip up to the Lamanai ruins. A different guide made sure we saw some wild spider monkeys and described other wildlife and scenery on the way. The driver of the boat took his job seriously, and we whipped around some corners in a way which might be frightening to some, but which my husband and I (and apparently most of the passengers) loved! I love a boat ride of any sort, and this was definitely high energy and fun.
We got to the ruins and yet a third guide took over to describe what we saw. I won’t go into all of it, because the info is readily available online, but my impression was very positive. although the tour group we were with was quite large, and there were other large groups there, we were still able to have relatively personalized descriptions and time to just look around at each stop. We were allowed to climb one of the pyramids. I was hesitant, and started taking photos instead. I looked around for my husband to ask him something, and he was nowhere to be seen.. until I glanced up at the top of the pyramid, where he was waving down to me! That settled it, now I HAD to go up. it was hard, but not as hard as I feared. A large roap was available to help you pull yourself up the steepest part. The view from the top was definitely worth the climb. but apparently we (the entire tour group) took so long there that we ended up rushing past the last stops on the tour. no great loss, I imagine, at any rate I didn’t feel cheated of any experience, and would rather have the time on the things we did see to experience them thoroughly than whizzing though more sights. We didn’t have time to spend at the souvenir area, and were rushed back to our boat for a speed ride back to the starting point, where we had a simple but tasty lunch. There was an artisan there selling hand carved wooden bowls, and I ended up spending far too much to buy a couple of these. a quiet bus ride back to the pier just in time to catch the last tender back to the ship.
We booked the Lamanai Mayan ruins tour with Island Marketing. We booked it on the Belize Shore Excursions website. At first I was a little worried about booking this tour, but when I found out other people from our Cruise Critic group were doing the same tour, I decided to go for it. It is a looooong tour, at least 6 hours. It takes 2 hours to get to the ruins and 2 hours to get back, plus you have to factor in the tender process! It was somewhat risky to book a tour like this outside the cruise line, but these companies make a living off getting you back to your ship on time and guarantee it. We had a lengthy stay in port, so I felt we would make it back with a little time to spare.
After everyone checked in, we loaded into a bus and took an hour long ride to a boat dock on the river. It then started raining! It was cold hard rain, too. We piled into 2 speed boats and started our hour long ride down the river. Thankfully, we sped out of the rain within 5 minutes and it stayed clear the rest of the day. This was the only 'bad' weather we had all week! Pretty good for the tropics in hurricane season!! Along the way they slowed down and pointed some things out.
After the boat ride we had a DELICIOUS meal with a bottle of sugar cane sweetened Fanta. I got pineapple flavor. It was a little too sweet for me, but tasted good! It was like drinking a Popsicle. The lunch was a well seasoned and slow cooked chicken, beans and rice, sweet plantains, a potato salad type dish, and a spicy salsa. After lunch we started the tour of the ruins. The bugs are crazy bad here. The ruins site isn't fully excavated, so it is surrounded by jungle. We sprayed ourselves up and down with OFF Deep Woods (25% deet) before we started the tour and it worked well. I got a few bites, but they did not itch at all. The tour was good but it was a little rushed. Due to our time limits, it was understandable. We did get to climb one ruin, the tallest temple on the grounds. Our guide, Eeeze, was great and told us all about the Mayan culture in this area and the plants in the area that they used for various things.
The ruins themselves were really cool! Most of the jungle is still intact and that adds an Indiana Jones kind of feel to the experience. I highly recommend this tour, but the 4 hours of transportation time is a PAIN!!! At least this tour breaks it up by doing half bus, half boat. As stated, they got us back to the pier in time, and I mean IN TIME. We ended up being on the second to the last tender boat and we stepped back on our ship a little after our 'sail away' time of 6PM. But, we made it back, that's what counts the most!