After docking in port, we took a short 5 minute taxi ride to Playa Uvas, a private beach. It was a great little place, complete with sandy beach, crystal clear water, a bar and restaurant (serving a huge plate of fresh guacamole and delicious fish tacos), and snorkel gear.
Mom, Dad, Royce and Erin made their way into the water and enjoyed snorkeling and checking out the undersea life. There were lots of small fish and a few areas of coral. I overheard some of the other people on the beach calling it an "incredible reef". Funny how my definition of a true reef is shaped by our annual trips to the Florida Keys and snorkeling at Looe Key. I chose to pass on the community snorkels, and chose to enjoy a good book on the beach (finally finished the 3rd Hunger Games book - not nearly as good as the first!). Later, I headed into the ocean and enjoyed an open water swim. Too bad all of the Georgia lakes we swim in for triathlons aren't a little less murky and a little more beautiful.
Quite an impressive view of the Carnival Dream as we make our way back to the boat.
Belize City and Lamanai Ruins
Unlike the other ports, in Belize we anchored 5 miles offshore and had to take a tender to land. We were up bright and early to be the first on the 7am boat.
Leaving a big boat for a ride in a little boat.
Mom did tons of research as she planned each and every aspect of the cruise, from selecting the ship to finding the most enjoyed excursions. Again and again, she read great reviews of Lamanai Ruins in Belize. The only concern was that it wasn't a Carnival excursion and it was an all-day events. Hence, if we were running late, the ship wasn't waiting for us. After some debate, we decided the excursion was not to be missed, and took our chances.
The day started with a 70 minute bus ride from Belize City into the back-country of Belize. We then boarded a boat and took a winding and scenic 35 minute boat ride to the ruins site. Once we arrived we feasted on a homemade lunch that had been prepared for us. With full bellies, it was time to take a hike.
The Mayan ruins were impressive, especially considering that they lacked the modern machinery that we think is essential in today's construction.
The jungle was filled with towering trees. It's hard to see them here, but there were howler monkeys climbing the very tops of several trees. Did you know that they used howler monkeys to make the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic Park?
Our challenge for the day was to scale the tallest of the Lamanai Ruins. As you can tell, it was a very steep staircase. Without much thought, we all powered up, tempted by the promise of amazing views at the top.
Check out the panoramic views. It was breathtaking!
Mom has a huge fear of heights, but she made it! She doesn't remember the view from the top, however, since she says she couldn't stop shaking and focusing on getting down. The climb down proved challenging, but she made it. Way to conquer a fear!
Many of the ruins had marble sculptures. Based on historical record, the carvings were changed with each successive ruler, and multiple different images are hidden behind the currently excavated structure.
Isla Roatan, Honduras
Mahogany Bay is a privately established area owned by Carnival that features shops, a chair lift, kayaking, beach lounging, and restaurants. We arrived in port to cloudy skies and rain, so that limited our activity. Dad, Mom, Royce, and Erin took a driving tour of the island and enjoyed seeing the truly impoverished nation which lays outside the confines of the tourist area.
Our last stop was Costa Maya, Mexico, and I failed to take any pictures.. We were only in port from 7am - 2pm and it was a cloudy day. We walked from the ship into port to check out some of the shops, but quickly discovered there wasn't much to offer. Instead, we enjoyed a lazy day on the ship.
Well, it appears that brings me to the end of the cruise. The week was filled with lazy days at sea, exciting excursions, fun entertainment and comedy shows on the ship, and an abundance of food. Minus the cloudy/rainy weather the last few days, it was a perfect vacation. We all returned home rested, re-energized, and filled with great memories!