Thursday, May 24, 2012

Carnival Caribbean Cruise: Day 6 – Belize

This morning we stopped near Belize. I say ‘near’ because we anchored about 5 miles out from the port.
Belize Map
This meant that we had to Tender into the port. Thomas and I had signed up for a shore excursion with Brent, Heather, Donna and Mark. We were going zip lining and cave tubing. Our tour wasn’t until 9:00am and we ended up being ready by 7:00am. So we headed to the Southern Lights Restaurant for some breakfast. After eating we headed to the Showtime Theater (which was the meeting point for our excursion). It was about 8:15am when we descended the stairs and we encountered some staff members that directed us to join a line. This line went around a corner, through the lobby, into the Northern Lights Restaurant and around the entire perimeter, out the restaurant back into the lobby and then down the hall to some tables at the entrance to the theater. Here we showed our excursion tickets and then we were given small, round tags that were colored and had a number on them. We were then directed into the theater (which was packed with people) where we found seats. After we sat Thomas noticed Brent, Heather, Donna and Mark. We met with them and went to sit upstairs in the theater where there were more seats. Then it was a waiting game. You had to wait until your color tag and number were called and then you could make your way to the Tender. It was around 11:00am before we were called. Talk about a huge waste of time – just sitting in the theater waiting – my idea of a great vacation.Finally we were on the tender and we took the 15 minute boat ride from the ship to the dock. Then we were directed into a building into another line and then onto a bus for our excursion. We were told when we left the ship that the last Tender back to the ship was at 4:15pm and our excursion was suppose to last 6 hours. Luckily we booked the excursion through Carnival because the ship would have to wait for us to return.

Crystal Cave
Now for the excursion. We were on a bus that was supposed to be air conditioned but was pretty warm and it had a rough ride. We drove for an hour and a half on the Western Highway and reached our destination. We arrived at the Nohoch Cheen Entrance for the park. The bus parked and then we got off that bus and took another bus over a hill and then stopped again. Here we got a key for a locker to store our things during the excursions. First we did the cave tubing. We met our guide and he gave us life vests and hard hats with lights. Then we grabbed our tubes and our guide helped us get settled in the tubes in the water. We were hooked together two people side by side in a line of four. Our guide pulled us through the water around the caves. Here and there we had some sunlight poking in but mostly we used our head lamps. We also got out at one point and walked around the caves and saw some pottery shards from the Mayas. We also had a chance to swim in a part of the river before getting out of the water and turning in our tubes, life vests and head lamps.

Zip Lining
Next we went to get set up for the zip lining. We got our harnesses put on then got a hard hat and gloves. Next we walked up some steps to a demonstration area and got some instructions and safety warnings. Then we climbed more stairs to get to the first zip line. We went in this order Brent, Heather, Donna, Mark, Me and then Thomas. Donna and Heather seemed to be a pretty nervous. And I know Thomas and I were a little nervous but I was ready to give this a try. I couldn’t really see anyone else except for Mark in front of me and Thomas behind me. The first two lines we just sat back and held on to our strap as we traversed the line – we did not brake on the first two lines. I did pretty good on both of these except on the second one I started turning but ended up landing just fine. Well, landing isn’t really the right word. I was going pretty fast and they told us not to brake so I ended up hitting the guy on the platform that was catching us. I felt bad because with my weight and speed I hit him and we rammed into the pole that was in the center of the platform. I felt bad about that but then learned that everyone was doing that to him. I bet he is really sore after a day of this. After the second one I was feeling really good and was really enjoying myself. We had three more lines to go and on these we had to brake at the end. I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to brake too soon and end up not making it to the platform. But I worried for nothing I ended up doing just fine and was really wanting to do more. I loved the feeling of flying through the air. This was really one of my favorite things I have ever done and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Now that we were done with the zip line we returned our harnesses, hats and gloves and then picked up our things out of the lockers. We then went to an area where you could buy some food. They had rice and beans with chicken cooked in coconut milk at one station and they also had nachos at another station. It seemed the nachos were more popular than the rice and beans. They also had some wine you could taste. I think there was pineapple and cashew wine and I was told that they tasted horrible – I didn’t try any – I took a break from any alcohol today. There was also Belikan beer that some people were drinking and there were mixed reviews about it. We had about an hour to kill while we waited for some of the other people on our bus to finish their zip lining. There really wasn’t much to do so we sat and ate while waiting. We then loaded the bus and went back over the hill and then got on the bus that would take us back to the dock. It was another hour and a half ride to the dock and then it was straight on to the Tender and back to the ship. We were back on the ship at about 5:30pm. I had a terrific time with the cave tubing and zip lining but was really aggravated with Carnival for the way they handle the debarkation. I would have loved to have that two hours we sat in the theater to explore Belize City a little.

This had been a long day and Thomas and I were really tired. We returned to our cabin and put our things down then decided to go to the buffet for dinner instead of waiting for dinner in the restaurant at 8:15pm. So as we ate and relaxed we realized we were more tired that we thought. So we finished our meal and returned to the cabin and take showers. We watched the movie Hop on tv and then read a little before calling it a night at around 9:00pm. Tomorrow we are in Cozumel and after the fiasco of debarkation today Thomas and I decided to just do our own thing. We don’t dock until 8:00am and we have until 3:30pm to explore Cozumel.

Towel Stingray

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