Norwegian Cruise Lines Buys Harvest Caye in Belize: Is it the End of Placencia As We Know It?

First time visitors to any place in Belize often hear the phrase “oh…you should have seen (insert:  Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye or Placencia) 5 years ago or 10 years ago…”  before San Pedro got rid of the hand ferry and built the Barry Bowen Bridge to access the north end of the island (2006) or before Placencia paved the one long road that runs down the narrow peninsula (2010).  These days are known to one and all as “the good old days” or let’s get local…”bak eena di day”.

Everyone remembers a simpler, more charming, just plain better time.  For some reason, the first time you visited Belize (or for locals, the Belize of your childhood) always seems the best.   That’s just the way life work.  Time sweetens all memories.

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The projects above led to gradual change, to progress, many would argue.

But what would happen if a multi-billion dollar cruise ship company bought an island less than 3 miles off the shores of your small town…and with only the most vague plans in place (big payoffs, few details), took advantage of the slow season, sluggish worldwide economy and divided local factions and made an agreement with your small government to bring in tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of tourists with promises that seem to change by the day?

Well…the tiny beach village of Placencia, Belize (population of roughly 800 to 1000) is about to find out.

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Just recently, Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased 75 acre Harvest Caye from the Government of Belize for undisclosed amount (I’ve heard $3 to 10mm USD) with the intent to raze it and make it the main port in Belize for…well…general cruise ship fun.

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That’s a cruise ship, right?  Not a MacDonald’s Play World?

To put things in perspective, the annual GDP of Belize is about equal to the cost of ONE GIANT NCL CRUISE SHIP (reference).  That is how small our country is relatively.  And in a world where money talks, that is how easily we can be railroaded by a huge profit driven corporation like Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Okay…this topic is already getting me fired up!  Let me back up and tell you where I went yesterday.  Harvest Caye.  Just about 3 miles off shore from Placencia Village and about a 20 minute boat ride through the GORGEOUS Placencia Lagoon which is packed with wildlife.  Coral heads…manatees…dolphins…

LOOK AT WHAT APPEARED AT THE BOW OF THE BOAT AS WE WERE MAKING OUR WAY OUT TO HARVEST CAYE.  Just 5 minutes from Placencia.  My heart was in my throat.  AMAZING.

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A few feet below me.  And then we saw a manatee only a few minutes later.

This image not mine.   Oh how I wish it was.   But there is nothing like a good pic of a manatee to tug at your heart strings.  I’m sure these guys will just find some other place else to graze and raise their babies.  Sniff…

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Nicole Gomez, the Executive Director of the Southern Environmental Agency of Belize (SEA), let us know that this lagoon is one of the three most important habitats for manatees in Belize.

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The other two are Belize City (already pretty much ruined by the cruise ship industry) and the Southern Lagoon off of Punta Gorda.

But I’m getting ahead of myself again…let me back up.    Everyone who was headed out to the Caye met at the MnM dock in Placencia AT 9am.  A $10bzd donation was requested for the use of these big dive boats.   There was a good crowd but not as many people as I expected.

A representative associated with NCL was there in a small boat.  He was handing out slick flyers about the project with dubious facts like 80% of cruisers are scoping out a spot to spend more long-term vacations.

Hotel owners in other parts of Belize…I’d be curious.  Can you ask your guests if they found Belize on a previous cruise ship journey?  Is the number 80%?  Let me know!

Many of the locals and tour guides were not present since they have seen the caye many, MANY times.  It’s a popular area for fly fishing and well known to those who have grown up in the area.  But a little more support/solidarity might have been nice?

The first boat headed out.

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Stewart Krohn, the BTIA Chairman of Placencia and someone who has been very vocal against NCL purchase, gave us a briefing.

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It had rained heavily the night before but the dark clouds stayed over the mountains as we pulled up to the caye.

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And we loaded onto smaller boats to see the island briefly and to take a picture.  The caye is densely packed with mangroves and fruit trees.

We headed to the small beach area…I was pleasantly surprised to find it pretty bug free.

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Just about 25 feet in from this small beach is an area where the previous owners (a resort with an air strip was to be built) had started some construction.  Really it was just burned vegetation and what seemed like a giant ugly hole.

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We posed for a picture…

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And a few people spoke about the NCL plan and how it can effect the environment and mostly the lagoon.  As we pulled up to the island, the water was spotted with boulder coral (easily a few hundred years of growth) and the depth was as shallow as 9 to 10 feet.

The dredging alone to bring in the construction work and the actual cruise ships (probably needs to be 35-40 feet) will wreak havoc on the sea bottom.  The silt can smother the sea grass…the food for the estimated 300- 400 manatees that live in this area.  (Out of the estimated 1000 to 1500 that live in all of Belize.)

We pulled back off shore and went snorkelling.  I met people from all over…visitors, people who live in Belmopan and Punta Gorda.

I had so many questions:   Where are the cruisers going to go to catch buses to their mainland trips?  We don’t know yet.   Are they going to be using Belizean guides and companies?  We hope so.  Will there be a cruise ship tour called “Cute Town of Placencia Day Trip”?  We hope not since the cruise ships won’t make too much money from that trip.

But how is the village going to keep that from happening?

We hope not?!?!  Even just 500 cruisers unloading off a boat at the dock at Placencia to walk through the town for a few hours…it’s unimaginable.  Simple stuff like where are they going to use the restroom or where is their trash going to go has no answer.   Is Placencia going to turn into a giant ugly flea market surrounded by barbed wire like many cruise ship ports across the Caribbean replete with “take your picture holding a baby parrot” hustlers to pharmacies selling cheap diet drugs and Viagra?

NCL says this project will be “different”…ummm…different HOW?

GOB how dare you sign an agreement without all of this written in stone.  Like the exact number of ships you will allow or who EXACTLY can be employed?  And if Belizeans are employed, how are they going to buy the buses, the boats, the insurance?  Who is to say that 2 cruise ships doesn’t become 10 ships?  And maybe NCL will allow other companies to use this new island.

It’s almost unthinkable what can happen in a town that is so quaint and small.

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And what about our national tourism plan?  Belize put together a serious nationwide plan only a few years ago to increase the now 35,000 annual nationwide overnight visitors. (Overnight visitors are THE WAY that money actually gets to Belizeans.)

The goal was eco-tourism…sustainable growth.  HOW DOES THIS PROJECT MATCH UP IN ANY WAY WITH THAT?

So…I have a feeling that once this gets rolling (project proposed opening is the cruise ship season of 2015/2016) and the area is possibly flooded with day visitors who are here to “experience Belize” in a few hours…back eena di day is going to be something that Southern Belize and possibly the whole country talks about quite a bit.  And not in the distant future.  I don’t think it will take long to see BIG changes.

All that being said:  I am no scientist.  I’m not an expert in the cruise ship industry (I’ve never even been on a cruise) and I am not a resident of Southern Belize.  But I have lived in Belize for 7 years now.  And I can see how the decisions made here will effect the entire country…will basically set another precedent of the government doing whatever it wants, wherever it wants, with minimal (to no) consultations with the local citizens.

What’s next?  Northern Ambergris Caye?  Probably.  It IS in our backyard.

This entire article is MY OPINION as it is…MY BLOG.  If there are any factual errors here, please let me know.

And for a VERY compelling testimony about what cruise ship tourism did to Roatan, Honduras, an island VERY similar to Belize in many ways, watch this Story of A Cruise Ship Refugee.

It’s 7 minutes well worth your time.

For more information, I suggest you contact the lovely people at the Placencia BTIA.  They can certainly point you in the right direction.

And please COMMENT from Belize or abroad.  I’d love to know what everyone thinks!

 

 




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  • rarnyr

    Really well described and needs to be heard, and listened to. Let us see if gob can do the RIGHT thing.

    • Belize Blog

      I’m not counting on the GOB and the right thing…at all.

  • Lynne Stevens

    As someone who taught diving at San Pedro for many years, “back in the day”, I am so sorry to hear about this. I don’t know what can be done, but I wish you all luck in minimizing the damage.

    • Belize Blog

      I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst…

  • Jesse

    Good job writing this up!
    It is an extremely important issue for the future of all Belize. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jesse

    • Belize Blog

      ALL OF BELIZE is correct. Thanks Jesse.

  • Steve Parks

    Is this a forgone project or can it still be halted?? It sounds as if the gov’t just saw dollar signs and nothing else. I also someone looking to move there would say Sure go for it and buy up land in the area bring in buses and turn it into what it shouldnt be I hope for the area and the Manatees something gets done.

    • Belize Blog

      Govt has some term for it…Memo of Agreement or something. But it sounds like a done deal. ICK.

      • Rob Franz

        Since it is a non-binding MOU..either party can back out of the agreement, without any monetary loss, There is STILL time! Put pressure on any and all government officials.!

        • Belize Blog

          Agreed. It is time to stand up for what we actually want. The defeatist “well…the government is going to do what it always does” insures that it always does!

      • IF enough people are willing to voice their objection, legally there is still time to force a change

        “A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between two or more parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement. It is a more formal alternative to a gentlemen’s agreement.”

    • The GOB signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NCL. Did it behind closed doors with no chance for public to speak, with no environmental study for this particular location, and it went against their own Master Tourism Plan, which called for only pocket cruises (under 300 passengers). All in the name of the almighty dollar.

  • I sit here typing this with tears streaming down my face. I literally had to get up in the middle of reading this to regroup. Thank you, Rebecca, for writing this poignant piece. Placencia was the first place in Belize I ever visited when I came here on my initial research trip. Now, three years later, I have been fortunate enough to live there, after being in San Ignacio & San Pedro, Belize prior.

    I really cannot wrap my head around how the government can do this to this incredibly beautiful, but really, really small, area. Your description of the caye and the amount of work it will take to transform this pristine area into the Disneyworld project they are proposing is mind-boggling.

    The GOB has sold out big time, and this is one instance where they are creating irreversible damage that they won’t be able to talk their way out of when (you notice I didn’t say if) it backfires. Sad, sad day for all of us who live here.

    • Belize Blog

      I was crying when I saw those dolphins. It all makes me…sick.

  • Marty

    awesome post….

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks Marty.

  • Robynne

    Why oh why do people sell their souls to the “devil” ???? The quote “promised income” will never come to fruition, only for NCL but not one person in Belize. The long term ramifications of this project will forever “ruin” the Placencia Community as we know it. My husband and I and our families and friends have been coming to Placencia for over 7 years. The tranquil beauty and kind people is something that we have found nowhere else in the world. We have been blessed to travel all over the world and Placencia is one in a million. It’s a travesty that the government of Belize “sold out”. Just take a look at Cozumel, Belize City, etc. you can see what large ship tourism has done. And once those large ships dock, the landscape of Placencia will never be the same. Truly heartbreaking !!!!!!

    • Belize Blog

      Heartbreaking is right…a shame.

  • Prodoxx Thedarklord

    Nice Blog! I saw the video. I don’t think the GOB suppose to have sold the caye without any consulting with it’s citizens .

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks. Consultation was the LEAST they could do.

    • Mel

      Was it government owed?

      • From what I can tell, it was some semi-shady deal…purchased from a govt official. SO NOT EVEN GOVT OWNED!

  • Richard

    Who is handling the legal side ?? barrow n williams i suppose, no doubt vaga transport will be used to build.

    • Belize Blog

      I’m guessing that your guess is a good one…

  • Barbara Bartel

    Influx of cruise ship passengers will put an end to overnight tourism in southern Belize. I hope that this project does not reach completion.

  • moeljo

    Great read…thanks! My husband and I were on the same tour yesterday. I can’t help but feel a little haunted…like we’ve seen something that will soon be gone forever. The next generation may not get the same chance.

  • Duarte

    As an Ecotourism student I did my internship in Belize and visited the small town of Placencia. The laid-back life-style is what make’s it special.

    Belize made a good start by embracing Ecotourism as one of it’s main tourism goals and it has the opportunity to learn with the mistakes made from the surrounding countries. It’s the country in Central America with more percentage of virgin forest and one of the countries with more percentage of protected areas. Clearly it made right decisions in the past and I just wish it didn’t change…

    I think Belize can make more money and give better quality of life to it’s people with Ecotourism which respects locals and the environment. But it has to be genuine, not the “green wash ecotourism”

    This article is very enlightening and so is the video about Roatan (Honduras)

    I wish there was a way to stop this from happening…

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks Duarte for your view point. Maybe you can come back and help!

  • TarheelBornGal

    Awesome blog, Rebecca. As a two-time visitor to Placencia and former resident of Ambergris Caye, my heart aches about this newest development. I hope that many Belizean residents, expats and locals, will come out against this. I don’t know all the details but I know that bringing cruise ships to Placencia was defeated once before. Perhaps it is not too late for something to be done. This is a real shame and will completely change the character of this beautiful, quiet, and relatively unspoiled part of Belize.

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks Emily. The other caye…Crawl Caye…was defeated because it was actually in a World Heritage site. And that wasn’t even BEFORE the beginning stages of planning. Ugh. Double ugh.

      • TarheelBornGal

        Damn! I hope it is not too late. I just hate this. Placencia WAS probably my very favorite part of beautiful Belize. No more if this happens — I wouldn’t go back if I knew it would be invaded with cruise ships.

  • Bill Harter

    Best part about a Carnival cruise I took in December??? The on-my-own day trip to Ambergris with no one else from the ship. Worst part??? The stop in Roatan.

    • Bill Harter

      I did pick that cruise so I’d have a chance to see if I liked AC, though. Mission accomplished. See you for a week or so next year!

      • Belize Blog

        Oh good…so it actually does “work”. Do they offer a trip to AC on the cruise ship menu? I don’t think so…but not sure. Too bad about Roatan…it’s actually a pretty nice place.

        • Bill Harter

          Carnival didn’t offer any trips to AC. In fact, it was pretty close (timing wise) to make it over and back via water taxi. I was only in AC about 3 hours, and the return trip cut it was cutting it close enough that I took my passport in case I had to go on my own to the next stop (Roatan) because I had missed the boat. But what was nice about the day trip was that it was very “real.” The exact opposite of the Carnival-owned fortress of duty-free strip mall, chain restaurants, and picked over beach in Roatan — which is all obviously artificial in pretty much every respect.

  • Distantdoc

    Great post Rebecca. Very unsettleing. Who is the GOB? Some amorphous blob? Any names so we can watch their bank account suddenly increase or build expensive homes? Does the Tourism Bureau have any power or are they just another useless department on the taxpayer dollar? Damn!

  • JKCM

    Check out Cancun-in 1983 it was delightful as was Isla Mujares-now look at it! Do not want all that on any of our Cayes or Islands.

    • Belize Blog

      Hmmm…but Cancun is a HUGE money generator for Mexico. And provided SO MANY JOBS. That’s a tough one.

    • Howie

      Cruise ships don’t go to Cancun..

  • Melanie

    I think cruise ships in Southern Belize is horrible!!!! It will completely ruin the area! I hope there is a way to stop it!!!!

    • Toast Points

      Dream on, Melanie. Belize tourism promoters want the ships, and the cruise lines want Belize.

  • Stewart Krohn

    Thanks for getting the message out there Rebecca. Note that NCL did not pay US$50 million for the caye; that is what the MOU says they are obligated to spend on the entire project. We are not sure what the caye cost but they did not buy it from Government. Harvest Caye was privately owned by British folks. What it appears NCL did was arrange to purchase not the caye but the offshore company that owned the caye, thereby avoiding the payment of the 5% transfer tax that the rest of us pay when we buy land. So if NCL paid US$10 million for the island it means that our dear government just lost a cool BZ$1 million right out of the starting gate.

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks Stewart. Great meeting you and some of your team. The environmental…the monetary…every part of this deal sucks.

  • Lyndap

    Great blog, thanks so much for being so informative. The pictures of the dolphin and manatee are a reminder of how they will be the ones forced to move without any warning to their homes being ruined by the cruise industry. I can personally say I dont agree with anything NCL Has planned and whatever promises they fed the gov of Belize are non the less greed based. My move to Belize is coming up fast and I will make sure we visit Placencia quickly since NCL will no doubt turn it into a rubbish bearing after thought once their ships leave their new stop. I HAVE been on cruises ( i now pretty much boycott them all due to ocean damage) and ive seen first hand how lazy cruisers leave a place once they visit. there seems to be NO care whatsoever to their surroundings. How sad. One thing people could do is to start an online very viral and very noticable petition gaining the attention of marine biologists from all over to gain attention into what will happen once these ships start to come into the peaceful waters of Belize. Maybe that would wake up enough people and if those folks even thought they were booking a cruise to where it was killing off sea life and disrupting underwater families they may think twice before booking the cruise. Let NCL lose money with bad press.

  • Dennis C

    Very well written article/blog.

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks so much. Blog…post…article…I never know what to call it either.

  • Jennifer Wood

    It’s a travesty. I have visited Belize twice now, once to Coco Plum Caye, off the coast of Dangriga, and once to San Pedro. I loved both very different visits equally and am looking forward to coming back soon to check out Placencia and some other areas. We are hoping to retire there in 10 – 15 years. I would hate to see this cruise project go through and ruin such a beautiful place.

    This is why I don’t think I would like a cruise. I have never taken one and probably never will. I prefer to interact with and support the local communities when I travel – it’s the only way to really learn and grow. The only way to satisfy my wanderlust. A few hours in a place may peak my interest to come back at some point for a longer stay, but I’d rather spend my time really getting to know one place.

    I’m sure my voice won’t carry very far as an occasional tourist to Belize, but I hope that someone starts a letter writing campaign, petitions, and/or peaceful protests to your local government representatives. Make your voices be heard, and stop this thing in its tracks. At least insist that all of the details are outlined and written into a binding agreement that will ensure that this project is, indeed, “different”.

  • Thanks for offering such a good summary of what is happening. I’ve only been to Belize once (San Pedro), but I fell in love with the island and hope to get back sometime soon. If you didn’t have so many itchy bugs, I could live there.

    My brother works at a small resort a few kilometers from Mahahual, Mexico (not too far from you by boat). It is a tiny town of a few square blocks, formerly a fishing village. A cruise port was built on the other side of town and named Costa Maya. The days when the are ships in town, all of these businesses are open to sell their wares. As soon as the ships, leave, everything closes down except for the restaurants that cater to the locals and the small overnight tourist industry. In the last year, the cruise ships stopped coming as often and it dramatically reduced the income for those people who had come to depend on it. So, if the cruise industry does transform the island, like it or not, and a lot of businesses are created to benefit from the day visitors, what happens if the ship traffic is suddenly curtailed. Lots of people will be hurting.

  • Pingback: Past Presidents of the Belize Tourism Industry Association oppose Cruise Tourism in Southern Belize - Belize Adventure()

  • DirtyLulu

    I’ve been to Belize via cruise ship and booked a 10 day trip shortly after my return home. The worst thing about the people on a cruise ship, they have no sense of adventure. Sheep. The majority book excursions via the cruise ship. Not to mention the people that actually take the trip and then are too afraid to even get off the ship to explore someplace new. If they do get off, they stay in the fenced in tourist shopping corral.
    A cruise typically is not the way I like to travel and I’ve never booked a cruise ship excursion. But for those of us who aren’t afraid of a new adventure, it’s an ideal way to scope out a destination. Sadly I think I’m in the minority of that demographic.

  • Jessicah

    This breaks my heart!!! This was my favorite spot in the Caribbean. It is going to ruin their village. I wish we could stop this!!! Many of the local people I have spoke with have said that they are moving. =(

    • Belize Blog

      Really? Moving? Local locals or the expat crew? So far, I’ve seen construction begin on the Independence side…but not much. We will see… and yes…sad face is right!

  • Cathy

    I’ve not been to that part of Belize but have seen pictures. The quaintness and bak in di day atmosphere is what makes it so appealing. I hate touristy places (except Disney World, but that does’t count). This is why we love Belize. We thought we found something that few had heard of; in fact, many people in the States don’t know where Belize is. I liked it that way.

    • Belize Blog

      I do understand that we need change…and need more money to help everyone. But this is SO WRONG…and, to me, will benefit few Belizeans. Yuck.

  • That video is ominous.

  • Michael Johnston

    I have been to this area. This is not a good thing. Water and reef are being dregged right now and the destruction of the 2nd largest reef in the world is at risk as well at the lives of the residents of Placencia. Disappointed in Government and businessmen helping to destroy the reef and lifestyle. Should boycott NCL f

    • Belize Blog

      Agreed.

  • StoneAge

    Seems as if this is going ahead no matter what. Sucks. Maybe we will see more manatees in the lagoon behind Placencia now. One thing they COULD do – IF there is the chance of the “flea market with a chain link fence around it.” They could set up that “chain link” in Big Creek. Would be easier to to the bus tours inland as there would be no up and down the Peninsula.

    Might be a way to go – Bring some of the cash to the Independence/Big Creek Area.

    Placencia in no way shape or form is capable of handling this large an influx nor is it doing anything to make itself capable. What could they do.. Where would the money come from to build any kind of infrastructure to handle this? It has to happen now so it’s ready for any influx. Or do the Big Creek thing.

    Money talks and good sense walks. It’s unfortunate that the GOB has caved to the almighty buck. And I had heard $75,000,000 had traded hands. So the number could be anywhere.

  • Kim and dave

    My husband and I first visited belize city, off an NCL in March 2014, and based on our experience, we decided to return for a weeks vacation in Placencia in November of 2014. There are many good and bad things going on in that country right now. What we really were concerned with firstly was all the plastic washing up on shore in placencia and on the caye we visited for snorkeling off shore. We witnessed at least 2 boats bringing people to the caye for snorkeling and lunch. Both local boats prepared a bar b que lunch and left at least 4 plastic bottles of lighter fluid right there on the sand, where those 4 joined the already 3 bottles left from another visit. Our second concern is the poverty in Stan creek. I suppose some will think the influx of more tourists will help these people, but we think not. Uneducated, no plumbing or running water in their homes, these generally are the people meant to reap the benefits, but sadly, this doesn’t seem to ever happen.

  • lilasaid

    I will be going to Belize for my first time this summer. I have gone back-and-forth about heading down to Placencia just because logistically, I don’t want to jam too much into my trip and race around. Placencia looks beautiful, though, and it sounds like I better see it now before it changes drastically.

  • Mark Smidt

    We just learned of the port to be built off Placencia Village, and our hearts are breaking. The laid-back attitude that made Placencia what it is will not be the same. This will certainly bring some new money to the area, but I wonder what the long-term payoff and consequences will be. I will say that the trip we were planning to Placencia later this year has now been called off.

    • Belize Blog

      That might be too soon! Placencia isn’t really going to see the cruise ship passengers…they will stay on the island or be shipped to the mainland. That’s the current plan anyway…

      • StoneAge

        There will be an influx of some people – A couple hundred per ship, I am sure. But I agree that the mainland is a much better place to head to for land based tours.

  • StoneAge

    Harvest Cay is in full bore construction mode now. Yet we don’t see much over here in Placencia. The first cruise ship to come in will be in October.
    Placencia is seeing Copious quantities of building going on right now – So much so that the peninsula actually RAN OUT of concrete a couple weeks ago.

    I’ve been out to Harvest Cay and had a quick look around. Things are moving fast. I question how many Belizeans are actutally employed in the building of the place. Placencia itself has no where to put these folks – except maybe 100 at a time – maybe 200. But prices will go up and force the locals out of their homes by the sea. Prices are already getting very high for this country. We are now seeing postage stamp lots like at Sanctuary Belize (just north of the peninsula) going for 4 and 500,000. First house there is for sale as well. it’s 7,500 square feet and they are asking 2.5 million. They have 20 FEET of a canal for waterfront.

    Belize is changing. She’s not the same country we flew down to check out 5 years ago and MOST of the changes have happened since we sailed down here 3 years ago.

    Is it money that the problem is based around? Well, to an extent yes. I have never been on a cruise ship, nor will I ever BE on a cruise ship, except to check it out if she’s in port. Maybe. But I do see several cruise ship lines offering very good values for many vacationing crowds. A cruise Ship is like sanctuary Belize – There are a bunch of people coming that want to BE in the tropics,, but DO NOT want to be in Belize. If they did want to be in Belize – then there wouldn’t be a gated and fenced section where 90% of the guests will never leave. except for a tour of sorts.

    This Cruise ships will cause havoc in a place that thinks they can play with the big boys, but does not have the infrastructure to deal with the influx. NOT 1 public restroom here. Every single building is on a septic system that is too small and the sand doesn’t percolate – NOTHING percolates at sea level. It has to be absorbed over time. The building that is going on right now is NOT support infrastructure, but a mall with a movie theater and other stores. They might have a public restroom, and we will wait to see if they even THOUGHT of it in the design.. They didn’t when they built the town pier to COLLECT these cruise ship patrons. The town pier is a very busy place without the cruise patrons. It NEEDS a public restroom.

    Not in the plans as yet…

    Shaking My Head…

    Hmmm…..

  • J

    I just booked a cruise on NCL this December that visits Harvest Caye. Prior to today, I was unaware of the circumstances of this new port, and now am wishing I hadn’t booked. What can I do to help? Cancel my trip? The last thing I want to do is participate in any way in the destruction of the environment and way of life of the wildlife and people this beautiful area.

    • Carla Juan

      Plan your visit to Belize – regular overnight stay, fly in to the Phillip Goldson International Airport, rent a car, book a qualified knowledgeable guide to show you the country ‘like a local’ experience’. That’s a more relaxed and great way to visit our country.

  • Matthew Mark

    I found this article researching our stops for our cruise. I have to be honest here. Yes, I’m a cruiser. Yes, I do use them to scout out vacation spots. I do take cruise line shore excursions, and I do freestyle as well. I’m not one of the “lazy” cruisers mentioned, nor is every cruiser. I leave my environment as clean and as untouched as I can. Yes, there are bad ones. Now, cruise lines offer a wide variety of options. In some of these ports people wouldn’t even venture off the ship unless they had the cruise line options. Some people do not feel safe in “virgin” areas, and you can’t blame them in this day and age. Growth anywhere brings a gluttony of issues. People do get jobs, do make money, but yes, at a cost. Which brings me up to my next point. What do ex-pats do to these types of areas? Isn’t it very similar? Move in, create sub-communities, create specific shopping/restaurant locations they frequent? Even if its done by just tending to gather naturally with other ex=pats at certain places. Burden smaller communities with their presence? And, what makes ex-pats any better in any case? People who move into these areas to take advantage of lower economics for their own benefits. And please don’t try to say its escaping the hustle and bustle of the U.S., because there exist plenty of places in the U.S. to settle down in retirement and enjoy the climate you want, the isolation you want, the slower pace you want, or whatever. You are doing it for economics. Just like these cruise lines. Economics. Now, I do agree, that considerations should be made for issues at hand. Employment, infrastructure, protection of marine and land environments, etc., but all I hear here, is complaining. I surely hope people are taking action to help with those concerns. I still plan my cruise, which includes a stop at Harvest Caye, I’ll have to judge for myself. See if you let big business decide, or took action to help the real locals improve the situation.

    • Bruce P

      I generally don’t respond to people’s remarks but you’ve made a few that are just not true. My wife and l have been to Belize twice now and have totally fallen in love with the country and especially the people, I’m already looking forward to this winter’s trip there. We have never been on a cruise and have no interest in it for many reasons. You made some generalizations about expats which l don’t think are very accurate. For us, it is not about economics at all, we could choose many other destinations, but we choose Belize. We’re looking forward to becoming expats there soon. Again, for us, it IS about the laid back lifestyle, not about money at all. You are totally wrong ! We joke that we spread the love around, we shop and eat everywhere, from an expensive meal out to Yolanda’s lunch counter to the person that sells tomales on the street. I found out l didn’t care for tomales, lol. We prefer to stay and eat where the locals do. We buy our groceries everywhere, the many grocery stores, to the fruit vendors, to the local baker. I also think that you’re wrong about expats burdening the local community. I think you’d find that many are active volunteers in whatever cause that excites them.

  • Staysean KraasImages Daley

    I booked a cruise and will be coming in December and just decided to check out where i’ll be. As a person from a small island I feel bad I am going in this cruise now. Never thought this would be happening. My heart is breaking.

  • Susannah

    Funny how you seem to care so much about the welfare of the dolphins and manatees, but you don’t fool me. I’ve been to Belize, and I’ve seen just how detestable the dogs are treated by your countrymen. It made me sick! Almost every dog that I saw was either chained up in deplorable conditions or severely starving! So, nice job being a hypocrite by worrying about how the foreigners will treat the marine animals.

    • You can read a bunch of my other blogs…we (and the humane societies around Belize) are working hard on that. Education and animal welfare, spaying and neutering…the Hopkins Humane Society and that in Placencia, Belmopan, San Pedro and more are doing amazing work. It takes time FOR SURE but we are working on it.

  • JudyFux

    We have recently spent 3 weeks touring around Belize (manly diving and bird watching). Such a wonderful country. In Placencia beach we saw some manatees and dolphins it was incredible. One of us, who had been there the year before, however, said that there were a lot less than last year. Anecdotal, but with all the noise and disturbance coming from the cruise ship harbour construction site, it is well possible that the population has declined already. Belize is responsible for this endangered species. That’s one of the last remaining large populations. What can be done?