December 2019
  • Day14

    Cayman Islands

    December 30, 2019 in Cayman Islands ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    So, not a real stop in that we didn't disembark, but one we are going to claim! The journey from Costa Maya to Jamaica was supposed to be made at a fairly leisurely speed, around 500 nautical miles in 36 hours. However we found ourselves instead travelling at full speed towards the Cayman Islands as there was a medical emergency on board who needed to be evacuated from the ship. So we stopped just short of the island and a tender collected the medical team whilst we loitered off the coast of Grand Cayman for an hour.

    The extra speed meant a little way back into our journey, the captain announced we were just going to drift for a while as we were somewhat ahead of where we needed to be. This turned the already baking heat outside to an unbearable temperature with no sea breeze. However we were indoors, and whilst we were drifting we were graced with the sight of dolphins, lots of them leaping in the waters around the ship.

    As we headed onwards to Jamaica for one final time, we packed up our cabin and enjoyed some final drinks.
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  • Day13

    Costa Maya, Mexico

    December 29, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Last stop today - Costa Maya. Arriving early in the morning, the rough and windy seas, despite 30° sunshine, put pay to any ideas of snorkelling or kayaking. So instead, we took the 40 minute walk to Mahahual down the road from our port. A fishing village of apparently 200 people, it was stuffed with tat stalls, beach bars and women offering massages to the numerous passing tourists...more Byron Bay than sleepy Mexican Village. In the humid heat, we walked back to the port village for a bit of souvenir shopping before heading to the ship in hope of a nearly empty pool in the Glass House so we can cool off!Read more

  • Day12


    December 28, 2019 in Belize ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Back in Belize, we left the port terminal and walked to the Museum of Belize for the afternoon. It is housed in the former Her Majesty's Prison, and next to the Central Bank of Belize, itself housed in a horrific looking building designed to look like the temple at Altun Ha that we had just visited. The exhibits included the slave trade, the prison itself, piracy in the Caribbean, insects of Belize and the Mayans in Belize. It made for a genuinely interesting stop with some fascinating pieces housed here.

    From here, we walked over the famed swing bridge; famed for being one of the last remaining manually-operated bridges of it's kind, but in all honesty it looks fairly unremarkable. So we wandered on past murals and the Supreme Court before returning to the port terminal for a bit of shopping and a tender back to the ship. The sunset from the ship was especially impressive this evening.
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  • Day12

    Altun Ha Mayan City, Belize

    December 28, 2019 in Belize ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Belize was our only tendered port of the cruise. Due to the reef surrounding the country, we actually anchored five miles out to sea and got a large speedboat to the city. However, none of that happened quickly as the immigration officials were apparently rather late arriving at the ship to clear we sat and waited in the ship's theatre, tour tickets in hand, to be cleared to go ashore.

    On land, we battled the queues of cruise ship passengers for our own tour - a trip to the Mayan City of Altun Ha. We went back and forth on what to do in Belize, especially with it being famed for snorkelling. Having snorkelled in Roatan however, we took the decision to take the shortest of the tours to a Mayan ruin (the other tours were 7 hours). The coach took us on a guided tour of modern Belize City from our seats, before the hour journey to Altun Ha with an excellent and very knowledgable guide. The whole tour was a little more than four hours meaning we could also have the afternoon to ourselves in the city.

    At the Mayan site, the sun came out from behind the clouds and the temperature soared - great for photos, not so good for climbing up Mayan temples! Our guide was excellent, explaining the discovery and recovery of the site. In the millennia since the temples were built, nature reclaimed the buildings meaning some sites really can't be recovered as the roots are the only thing holding the temples together. We were able to climb the Temple of the Green Tomb and Temple of the Sun God to get amazing views over the site and the surrounding rainforest. The Tenple of the Sun God is nearly 60ft high and is the site where the jade head was found; this Belizean national treasure is a solid sphere of jade about 6" tall carved into a head, valued between $5-10 million and kept in the vaults of the Belize Central Bank. The guide also demonstrated how the temples were built to amplify sound in the plazas below the temples to allow rulers to speak to the assembled masses.
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  • Day11

    Livingston, Guatemala

    December 27, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Where the Rio Dulce meets the sea lies the town of Livingston - only accessible by boat, a 45 minute ride from where we ported. We hopped off here to take a walk through the town and see how the locals lived - with all credit to Tui, the whole day felt more G Adventures than cruise ship excursion which was a pleasant change.

    The town, filled with tuk-tuks and colourfully decorated walls, retained much local authenticity rather than a tourist trap. Women washed their clothes at a communal stone wash-house, chickens roamed the gardens and local whizzed by in all manner of wheeled transport. The side streets weren't especially clean but the route through the main street and over to the bay was an interesting walk, ending at beach which used to be the main port for the region - ships would anchor off shore and supplies from neighbouring countries would be brought in by small craft.

    At the harbour, we jumped back in our boat and sped along the coastline back to the ship, passing again the flocks of pelicans that hovered around the little fishing boats.
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  • Day11

    Swimming the Rio Dulce, Guatemala

    December 27, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    What hadn't been advertised in the trip, was the fun to be head at Teramit Maya, our lunch spot. The eco-lodge is a hostel accessible only by water and that blends in well with its surroundings. It also had a waterfront bar and diving bridge, giving us the opportunity to jump in the bay of the river and swim. The diving platform was about 5 metres high; enough to make you think twice before jumping. The water however was a lovely temperature to bob around in, especially on a hot day. Lunch was also provided by the lodge - fish or chicken with rice and vegetables. To be honest, we'd forgotten the trip came with lunch so it was a pleasant surprise!

    We headed out the way we came - back through the canyon of the Rio Dulce, albeit on a faster boat (apparently the one this morning had been too slow...!). We learnt a little about the area from our guide and stopped in a bay of water lilies where small children in canoes came alongside to sell trinkets.
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  • Day11

    Kayaking the Rio Dulce, Guatemala

    December 27, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    The port in Guatemala made for a fantastic sail in; in a u-shaped bay, Santo Tomas de Castilla is entirely surrounded by mountainous rainforests. The port itself was an industrial one again, meaning we were also greeted by a sea of shipping containers, although watching how these are moved around the port by huge cranes on rails is endlessly fascinating.

    From the port side, we picked up a little speedboat and headed out of the bay and west along the coastline. The lush rainforest was evident wherever we were today and the height and density of it was striking. It also meant the entire day was spent in the company of swathes of birds - hundreds of pelicans, cormorants, herons and many more in all shapes and sizes. The number and size of the pelicans was especially notable as the flew low over the water.

    Heading inland, we sailed down the Rio (river) Dulce between its impressive 300ft canyon walls and alongside numerous houses and shops accessible only by boats such as ours. At a small island, we disembarked one boat for another, and kayaked across a lagoon of the Rio Dulce. Only a short journey in itself - about 30 minutes - it was good fun as we went in amongst water lilies and mangroves on our way to the lunch spot.
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  • Day10

    Snorkelling in Roatan, Honduras

    December 26, 2019 in Honduras ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We got a snorkelling excursion from the ship for the afternoon. After a short walk back through Mahogany Bay, we picked up a catamaran on a local pier and headed out east. The hour's journey along the beautiful coast was pleasant in the afternoon sunshine, and we were kitted out with snorkelling gear as we went.

    In the water, our guide took us around the protected marine park coral reef. The fish seemed little bothered by our presence and in a myriad of colours and sizes they swam around the reef. We were even treated to the sight of a puffer fish - although sadly he did not inflate! Our guide was an amazing free diver (less good of an actual 'guide') both in the depth he could swim to and the amount of time he stayed down.

    On the sail back, we were fed jerk chicken and rice/pasta and given copious amounts of rum punch to round off the trip! On both directions, we did had some fairly questionable (and dour) company, including a chap who simply wanted to talk about how it wasn't hot enough (at 30°) and how it wasn't like it was 40 years ago amongst other attention-seeking chat...we sat back and enjoyed the sunshine and a little bit of dancing!
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  • Day10

    Mahogany Bay Beach, Roatan

    December 26, 2019 in Honduras ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After Christmas Day relaxing at sea, and a lovely christmas lunch, we ported in Roatan, Honduras. Sun blazing, we headed off the ship into the duty free village that really could have been anywhere in the world (and wasn't that cheap). We walked down to the local beach for a happy morning bobbing around in the sea with our new dry bag and fabulous views (although in truth the shoreline looked rather like Newquay - full of bright red Brits and Americans, drinking, shouting and getting redder). We returned to the ship after an hour, not wanting to burn, and took advantage of the nearly empty indoor pool for lunch.Read more

  • Day8

    Rose Hall, Montego Bay

    December 24, 2019 in Jamaica ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    After a lazy day at sea, we were all geared up - literally - to go snorkelling in Montego Bay. The weather, however, had other ideas. The heavy rain as we came into port did subside, but apparently the seas were too rough for snorkelling. So instead we hopped on a tour to Rose Hall.

    The great house is famed for being owned by Annie Palmer, the 'white witch', who killed her three husbands. The furnishings are all period but the house itself is restored, being extensively renovated in the 1960s. An interesting stop which we had planned to do next week, but we did lower the average age on the tour considerably!
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