Western Caribbean Cruise
It's been a dream of mine to visit more Central America countries. After having been to Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, next on my list are Honduras, Belize and Guatemala.
I've always eyed the "Exotic" Western Caribbean cruises that would knock off two of my remaining countries on my "must see" list: Honduras and Belize. This past July, 2019, I was able to fulfill that dream on the Caribbean Princess.
I talked the hubby and teen (it wasn't hard to do so!) into coming along with me and we began planning our 7 night cruise from Ft Lauderdale FL with 4 stops: Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, Belize and Cozumel. We spent months going over excursions and nailing down what we wanted to do so that we can have fun and experience the destinations with the short amount of time we had in each place. It was harder than I thought! So many options!!
Princess cruises now has what is called Medallion Class on select ships. We downloaded the app onto my phone and followed the directions. About 2 weeks before sailing, they sent us our Medallions in the mail. They assured us this was going to help speed up the check in process at the pier (I had my doubts), and make life on the ship a bit easier too (again, I had my doubts!) It made us excited for the cruise: the countdown was really on now!
We flew to Ft Lauderdale a day prior to the cruise. We got a hotel near the airport, but also offered a shuttle to the pier. I realized my first "mistake" booking the cruise out of FL in July: HUMIDITY! OY! What was I thinking?? I felt like I was melting and we'd just walked out the door of the airport!
We made it to our hotel in no time and cranked up the A/C and began to relax. We sat at the pool and chilled for a few hours and then ordered dinner from a local place that would deliver. We got a kick out of the fact the gal who worked at the restaurant was from CO, so we talked a bit giving her a piece of "home". The next morning, we had a breakfast and began our short trip to the pier.
We had our Medallions at the ready. Again, in my mind I just 'knew' this was going to be a hassle. I was WRONG! Holy cow....the Medallions were SO EASY and SLICK! No waiting, no nothing. Just GO! We had to show the Medallions a few times prior to boarding to make sure it was all OK, and it was! From the time we got off the shuttle to the time we were in our cabin: 30 mins max. They unlocked our cabin door, and made life on the ship, truly, easier. My doubts quickly vanished!
We had booked a balcony cabin, primarily because that was all that was left that would accommodate 3 of us. We are normally the "how much time do you spend in your cabin?" people, but I have to say: I would NOT cruise w/out one again. Our entire time on the ship was spent out there! It was so relaxing, and refreshing. We thoroughly enjoyed it!
Our first day at sea, we slept in, ate a late breakfast and walked around the ship. Our daughter decided to check out the Teen Beach Club, knowing it was going to be "lame", but wanted to take her chances. We didn't see her again until Dinner that night. As the cruise progressed, we saw her less and less. After our excursions, she was off to see her new friends. She had a blast, and her "lame" expectations were quickly forgotten.
Our 1st port of call was Grand Cayman. We did an excursion that took us to Starfish Beach (to see giant starfish), then on to swim with Stingrays and then a snorkel adventure. We had a great time, even though we had our 1st ever jellyfish stings!
Our 2nd port of call was Roatan. I was most excited about this port because we did the Daniel Johnson Sloth & Monkey hangout. You can hold a sloth!! I was thrilled, and so the family! It was a unique experience that we won't soon forget...esp. the little monkey that bite our daughter's ear! (She's OK-not even craving bananas afterwards!) We also paid a bit extra to go snorkel there as well, and it was really beautiful.
Our 3rd port of call was Belize. We let our daughter pick this excursion and she choose CaveTubing. It was actually quite a fun day, walking in the jungle and having a long relaxing ride down the river. We even got to see a two-facing butterfly--so unique!
The 4th port was Cozumel. We decided to take this day and just chill out. We'd been to Mexico a ton of times, and thought we'd get off to shop and then hang out at the pool. Best part of port days: everyone is off the ship! No one was at the pool, no lines for lunch: it was great!
As I reflect back on the cruise, I was truly amazed by how much we enjoyed it. Even the hubby who has a hard time kicking back to do "nothing" enjoyed it. Our teen made friends that she still talks to, and we made life long memories as a family. Our doubts about cruising vanished and we had a wonderful time letting go, seeing new sights, & experiencing new things. We still talk about this cruise months later.
We are currently planning our next cruise: the big debate is: where??