Arriving by Cruise Ship? What to Expect From A Day In Belize

Morning from Rhode Island, Only two more full days here and I’m travelling EARLY back to Cancun and then Belize.  Here is an excellent guest post from Meg.  She’s done quite a few guest posts for me…sometimes going where I have been a bit too wimpy to go.  Like to the ATM caves (almost everyone agrees it is life changing and I still postpone), she took a honeymoon and Belize Independence day trip flying over the Blue Hole and YES, she honeymooned in Belize in September and had a great great time…

So here she is…pictures and words.   On a topic that I am SO interested in.   Thanks Meg.  I’ll meet you one day!

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While my previous Guest Scoops featured our honeymoon trip- 10 nights split between the Mountain Pine Ridge and San Pedro- I got my first glimpses of Belize from a cruise ship.

Somehow, despite being not much of a “cruise person,” I’ve taken 3 cruises- and all of these featured stops in Belize City. I blame the fact that Western Caribbean routes are often the cheapest from Florida ports, but I also find these ports to offer a large variety of things to do, unlike some more beach and shopping-centric options in places like Naussau, Bahamas and St. Thomas.

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Belize City is a controversial cruise port- both from the Belizeans’ perspective (many in the industry would prefer to attract overnight guests), and from that of travelers themselves. Anyone who frequents cruise planning sites can see examples of the second point- those people wondering if it is even “worth getting off the ship” in Belize City.

***From SanPedroScoop –> Here is my look inside the Cruise Ship Village of Belize City:  What to Expect When You Take a Cruise to Belize:  The Cruise Ship Village.

Obviously I wouldn’t come here to tell you that Belize is a terrible cruise stop; I would never have come back if that was the case! What I will say is that I absolutely understand how someone could come away with the impression that Belize City isn’t a port worth visiting.  In order to make the most of this stop, cruisers need to make sure to see Belize for what it is- and not try to make it into something its not.

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When people picture cruising, some imagine hopping off the ship right in the middle of endless white-sand beaches, broken up by fabulous duty-free shopping and bars. They may choose a cruise because they don’t want to spend time thinking about how to spend their days- and in many ports, it’s easy to disembark and improvise. This is a perfectly viable strategy in Cozumel, Key West and Grand Cayman. It really isn’t a good idea in Belize.

Rather than docking right in the middle of things, the reef that makes the Cayes of Belize so special requires cruise guests ride to shore on small boats called tenders.

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Even when they make it to land, the fun things to do and see are a good bit away from the port. In order to see them, visitors have to put forth more effort than in other stops.

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I recommend that cruisers get their beach and shopping fix at their other stops, since this isn’t what Belize (at least the parts that are easily reached during a short port stop) does best. Instead, take a look at Belize’s more unique offerings- Mayan ruins, adventure tours, and wildlife. Pick what sounds most appealing, and book it ahead of time. I promise- it will be worth it!

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In my follow-up post, I’ll go into some detail about the things I did on each trip. Every visit was very different- and each time I researched options, I realized that there was more I wanted to do than would fit even in a week-long vacation in Belize.  Ultimately, that’s why we decided to come back for our honeymoon- and even now we have a list going for our next trip. Belize has a ton to offer, and a person can’t expect to fully experience it in an 8 hour day- but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an unBelizeable (groan) time!

A note about excursions: there’s always a lot of debate about whether shore activities should be booked through the cruiseline, or on one’s own. I’ve done both, and for me it comes down to what the day entails. If I’ve got buffer time and the trip is fairly straight-forward, I’m fine saving the money and crowds by booking independently. f the tripI is more complicated, goes further and will be tight on time, booking through the cruiseline was definitely worth it. I’ll go into more detail in my next post.

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Coming up – I’ll wear a boa constrictor across my shoulders and pet a baby jaguar, fly through the trees with toucans before taking a lazy river float into the Mayan underworld, and cruise across a lagoon toward the longest-occupied Mayan city in Belize. Oh, and I’ll almost miss the ship!  All great stories, and great memories.





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  • Dale

    I visited the museum in the old jail last week. I spent 90 minutes and really loved it. Throw in lunch at Chon Saan ( I think) and it was a great half day. Belize City is an interesting place if you take the time to do a little research.

    • Belize Blog

      True. There are plenty of really tasty comfortable restaurants – Chon Saan is one of them – and I love that museum too. The part that is still a jail? Or that shows a cell? FRIGHTENING.