Our next stop on the Norwegian Star was Belize City, Belize. I think this was the one I was most excited about. My husband and I have a castle/ruins obsession so Belize was right up our alley. I’ve wanted to go for awhile. Belize is English and Spanish speaking country so we felt very comfortable there. I speak some Spanish but not enough to claim anything close to fluency (sorry Mr. Drake-HS Spanish teacher). It is a beautiful country with plenty of jungle and marine life.
So as I said we are a ruins junkie and we love the water so a river tour ending at some ruins was the perfect shore excursion. Now Belize City was at the time a tender port. If you’ve never cruised you probably have zero idea of what that is exactly. Well they take you off the ship into the port on little ferries about 150-200 people at a time. A tender port will be the one time a ship purchased shore excursion will work to your advantage. You will likely leave the ship as a group together. You will also likely be one of the first ones off depending on how the cruise line handles shore excursions. The downside is that you will be with quite a few people. We did this excursion.
That’s actually a screen shot from Norwegian’s website so you can’t watch the video here. The ruins are the Lamanai Ruins and at the time we went you could actually climb on them. The river safari was just as good as the ruins. Here’s the description of what we did.
“An approximate 45 minute drive up the Northern Highway brings you to Tower Hill, where you’ll board a riverboat and head up the New River. While navigating the many little creeks and lagoons, you may encounter hawks, kites and falcons. Dainty jacanas lightly walk on the lily pads while crocodiles bask in the sunlight. At the entrance to the New River Lagoon, the ruins of Lamanai, Mayan for “submerged crocodile” rise into view.
As you tour the site, huge masks depicting dead rulers and gods seem to materialize out of the rainforest, amid the chatter of birds and the haunting call of the howler monkeys. After your tour of Lamanai it is time to head downriver to Tower Hill for a lunch buffet of Belizean and Mayan favorites. Following lunch, you’ll board a coach bound for the Belize City docks, where you’ll board your tender to go back to the ship.”
So the riverboat is a open jet boat which is really fun and our guides were great. They would stop and point out wildlife and things along the bank we would find interesting. Here’s a picture of us getting ready to head out.
For me the riverboat could have been an excursion by itself. Here’s just some of the wildlife we saw along the way to the ruins.
I’ve included a picture of a recovery center because it was literally next door to a rum distillery. Both the them were right down the river from a convent.
At first you dock and it’s a bit nondescript but once you look at the site map you realize there is more than you could see in several days much less an afternoon. At the time we could actually climb the ruins. We did even though the steps are very narrow. Once we got to the top we could see miles of jungle and just how expansive that site is. The ruins are very well preserved and worth the trip because they also explain what each of them was likely used for. Remember to bring cash because they have a small market with local goods for sale. You really won’t have time to shop at the port so this is really your only time.
Climbing some of the ruins were a challenge but worth it.
And finally back to the ship. I wasn’t anywhere close to being ready to go but we had to so off we went. I almost forgot to mention they fed us when we got back to the landing. It was good local food and another highlight of the day.