Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This isn't your Grandaddy's Cruise... Oh Wait, It Is- Belize

Anniversary Cruise 2016- Caribbean Princess

You Betta Belize It
Belize City, Belize
Thursday, March 17, 2016
This would be our 2nd trip to Belize and we have fallen in love BOTH times. The waters are crystal clear off the shore, despite the Latin meaning of Belize being “Muddy Waters”. The waters near shore are in fact muddy but off shore they are absolutely stunning. Belize is an actual country just southeast of Mexico but has hundreds of islands surrounding it making it an amazing vacation destination. You Betta Belize It… and we do!

We woke up to an announcement being made by the Captain. My first instinct was to sit up quickly and make sure everything was OK. We were in an inside cabin and it was pitch black so I had no idea what time it was after all. “Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and Welcome to Belize. We have released our anchor and will begin the tender process shortly”. That was a wonderful announcement to hear and it meant that it was after 7AM ship time.

Yeah... my face is still BRIGHT RED and hurts! 

Chris got up and went to the promenade deck to do his usual 3 miles of jogging while I got ready and went to take pictures of the other ships dropping anchor outside of Belize City. Belize is port that has very shallow waters surrounding it so ALL ships are required to travel a certain route into its channel and then “Drop Anchor” about 5 miles offshore. This means that a tender process will take passengers to and from shore. These tenders are local boats that carry anything form 50-350 passengers from each boat. This process can be a hassle and even a nightmare but I thoroughly enjoy riding in a small boat and catching the waves to the shore. Plus it makes for outstanding pictures of the island/ port visiting as well as the ship itself. Do be advised that most cruise lines have a "tender ticket" process which means you have to get a tender ticket to get on the tender. Most shore excursions will have automatic tender tickets but if you are just exploring on your own you will have to go and get a ticket. 

As I walked around the promenade I saw Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas already anchored just west of us and I saw 3 other ships in the far distance approaching. After nearly an hour we saw the Oceana Riviera and AIDAluna anchored as well. This meant that over 10,000 passengers would soon be on land at Belize City and it was going to be a mad house.

Some of the outer islands in Belize... Absolutely Gorgeous!

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas- Will she be our next ship (Spring Break 2017)?
Is it our Destiny?

Liberty of the Seas (A Freedom class ship) is the largest ship to ever sail out of Galveston and the 7th largest in the world. 

During its Winter 2015-2016 dry-dock the Liberty OS got 3 new water slides and is currently the only Royal Caribbean ship to have slides. 

The Oceana Riviera, sailing from Miami, FL, making her approach from the "one man channel" to enter Belize.

The AIDAluna ship in port this day.

The Swan Hellenic My Minerva... We are not sure where she came from!
This is the smallest, carrying only 450 passengers, and most international ship we have seen in a port. 

We went to breakfast to let the majority of the passengers get to the tenders so there would not be a large crowd. We opted for the breakfast buffet again today since it was so good yesterday. It turns out that you can have a specialty omelet made at the buffet line and then have it delivered to your table by a waiter. This was a HUGE plus for us because on Carnival and Royal Caribbean you must continue to wait in line for your omelet to be made at the buffet. This was a perfect way to get a made-to-order omelet and have it delivered. Once again, we were HIGHLY impressed with the Princess buffet lines.

We decided to head to the Island Dining Room to get our tender tickets around 9AM thinking that since 2 hours had passed since the 1st tender there would be a lighter crowd. It was still crowded but we were able to get on the next tender which held nearly 100 people. I got on and planned to take pictures of the ship thinking I was sitting at the back and it turned out I was sitting at the front. I was not able to get the best pictures but I would try again on the return trip.

The Captain of our Tender Boat.

The "Cruise Terminal" area of downtown Belize City!
Notice the change in the color of the water as you approach shore. 

We got off in Belize City and put on sunscreen (my face was still really hot and red) and found a restroom before starting to explore the city. We are taking our kids on a cruise this Christmas on the Carnival Liberty that comes to Belize so we wanted to scout out the city and see what all they had to offer and possible shore excursion options for our kids. We decided to take a “City Tour” with a local who drove us around the city. This was very interesting as Belize is a Third World Country and it was obvious during this trip. He took us to the richer parts of the city and showed us $500,000 homes as well as his actual house which was worth %.01 of that I’m sure. After taking this tour I now know that this is not a location (the city that is) I would take my kids to and do an actual tour of the city, as they would be bored. But this is also not a city I want to bring my kids to in general. Belize City gets a label of “unsafe”, which I would agree with, but at the same time the passengers from the 5 ships in port could walk around safely without any issues. Belize City was not near as bad as Jamaica but it was still a Third World Country. I sat in the car thinking “Thank You Jesus for my house and my home.” And this is bad but I was also thinking “Thank You Lord for not calling me into missions”, as this is something I do not think I could actually do!The tour lasted about 1.5 hours and was only $20 so it is a great deal if you want to see the actual city and its inner parts away from the tourist area.

Welcome to Belize City

Just like the other Caribbean Islands, the locals are "CRAY CRAY"! 

I am so thankful we were able to see the REAL BELIZE sign.
This is 4-5 miles from the terminal and only reachable by car, but well worth the trip! 

The much smaller sign at the cruise terminal area. 

The Maurion Jones (Olympic Track Star) Sports Complex.
This is really fancy for a Third World Country like Belize. 

One of the $500,000 homes in Belize. 

Another very nice home. 

Prime Minister's house. 

I find it interesting that there is a Ballet studio in downtown Belize. 

We learned that locals can sell food from stands and not have to pay any taxes on the food. There were lots of food stands in the city. 

After our tour we walked around the shops near the tender terminal and got some great souvenirs for us and our kids. We then tried to do FaceTime with our kids via Wi-Fi but were not able to get a hold of them. We messed around with this for a while but eventually got in line as we wanted to beat the rush to get on a tender back to the boat. However, there was already a long line forming to wait for the 12:30PM tender. Unfortunately this line was in the sun so I found a large folded map of Belize and used it (along with my hat) as a shade to help protect me face, neck and arms from yet another sunburn. While we were in line I just gave in and called my kids for 2:58 to be sure they were OK. I do not know why I did this as usually we go a whole 7 days without talking to them but when we left Natalie was sick and then my mom who was taking care of them sprain her ankle the day before we left so I was a little worried. We talked to them and within the 3 minutes they talked on the phone more than they ever have so it was a success.

We got on the next tender and got an upper deck seat so I could take the pictures of the ship. This was an incredible 20 minute/ 5 mile ride back to our home away from home. I just love this ride… Not the tender process but the ride itself is AWESOME.

A must do Tender Selfie!

All 4 major ships anchored in Belize- Caribbean Princess, Liberty of the Seas, Riviera and AIDAluna (In order left to right) 

The Caribbean Princess anchored in Belize. 

At first I was not a fan of how the back of the ship looks... but it is growing on me!

I DO like the SkyWalkers NightClub providing so much shade over the aft area. 

Let's be honest... Any ship is a beauty! 

The Caribbean Princess. 

We're home... for 3 more days! 

We got back on board shortly after 1PM and immediately went to the International Café to see what lunch options they had. We opted to eat a lighter lunch since the dinner MDR menu was superb AND there was a German Theme in the buffet. We showered and tried to take naps but were not able to go to sleep so we headed towards the upper decks to look for places to lay out in the shade.

A vegetable quiche and tiramisu were my lunch it they were tasty!

We missed Tea Time today because we lost track of time but we were able to make the afternoon “General Knowledge” trivia. This was hard as it was totally random. We enjoyed the afternoon Buy One Get One $1 Happy Hour and then got ready for dinner. Once again, Princess really hit a homeroom with this daily Happy Hour offering. It is in Club Fusion and well worth your time and money as it was the best deal on drinks on the ship and easily the best deal on drinks we have ever had on any cruise line. Be sure to look for the times offered in your Princess Patters.

$11.44 grand total... Princess doesn't play around! 

We went to dinner in the Island Dining Room and we were able to get the same waiter as the previous 2 nights, Cecilio from the Philippines. He was a remarkable waiter who was funny and personable all while having fantastic service. Dinner was very impressive with some of the best seafood I have ever had. After dinner we walked around the Promenade deck and ran into a family friend of mine (and my dad’s secretary), Mrs. Ruth and her husband from Arp. They are an older couple about the age of our parents (late 50s/ early 60s) and they told us about their trip. Mrs. Ruth went on 2 zip-lining excursions and cave tubing as well. Us… yeah, we took the CITY TOUR. I think we felt like the old people in this conversation. Chris jokingly said “I am 37 and had a hard time getting out of bed this morning”. I think we definitely had the right mind set for this cruise!

The Dining Rooms, as well as many bars and other locations throughout the ship, were decorated for St. Patrick's Day! 

The Orange Roughy my dad talked so much about delivered. Easily the best seafood dish I have EVER had! Yummy!

My sunburn was getting better but was still as bright as my shirt!

We went and listened to the Princess Orchestra play Big Band music for nearly an hour before going to the nightly show. This live orchestra was very good and impressive but once again was showing their age too. I do appreciate a live band on cruise ships and this ensemble did not disappoint. The nightly entertainment showcased Steve Moris from the Beach Boys. He was funny in a “dry humor” kind of way and not really my style of comedy but once again, Chris loved him. After the show we went to the German Buffet and Chris really enjoyed all the various types of “bratwursts” while I opted for another nightly fix of pizza. We laid out for a little while gazing at the stars before retiring for the evening around 11:30PM.

The German selection was pretty slim... all sausages (8 different kinds) but that is just not for me!
Chris thought it was AWESOME! 

It was a great day of exploring a new city and enjoying each other’s company. We love Belize and are excited to bring our kids in December. We will more than likely check out the Belize City Zoo or Monkey Sanctuary just outside the city. We think our kids will love it! We Betta Belize it!

Tomorrow is another RELAXING day at Sea!
Stay Tuned!

God is good… all the time!

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