Our first stop was Roatan – the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands. This island was beautiful and very laid back. I could see myself spending a week here and never wanting to come home. This island is not as commercial as the other ports that we stopped at.
Roatan island is 37 miles long and less than 5 miles across at its widest point. Lush tropical vegetation surrounded us as we took a 30 minute bus ride over to the bay where we started our kayaking adventure. I didn’t get a lot of pictures of our excursion because we spent the day sea kayaking and snorkeling so the camera equipment wasn’t conducive to our adventure.
The young men who were our guides were great with us tourists. You can tell they have spent their lives swimming in the ocean. We had an hour or so break on the kayaking portion of the day and one of the guides walked us through the vegetation and explained how they use many of the indigenous plants as medicine and poultices. Lunch was fresh fruit from the area, quesadillas, and chips and salsa.
Our next stop was Belize. We went on the Lamanai Ruins and River Safarai. It took an hour by bus (and boy are there crazy drivers there) to get to our starting destination. The guides did a great job of educating everyone about the area and its history, and there was a lot to see during the ride. Once we got on the boat the view changed to lots of birds and foliage. I was fascinated by all the lilies floating in the river. They were quite beautiful. After an hour by boat, and we arrived at the Lamanai Ruins.
The Mayans were said to have inhabited Lamanai from 16th century BC through the the 17th century AD. The ruins were largely unexcavated until the mid 1970′s. There are hillocks all over the ruins which are said to contain more buildings. One of the highlights was seeing some wild monkeys chattering and limbing through the trees. The hike to the top of the high temple (108 feet) wasn’t so bad until you turned around and looked down (and realized that you had to get back down). A little scary, but the view from the top was magnificent. We only got to stay at the ruins for about an hour and a half. It would have been nice to stay here longer, but this is one of the longer excursions and they make sure to keep you on time so you don’t miss the ship leaving port.
Belize wasn’t as primitive as Roatan and not as commercial as Cozumel – it landed somewhere in the middle. The port of Belize has a host of shops to purchase anything from diamonds to hand made crafts. Norwegian Cruise lines tends to give you much more time at the ports than some of the other cruises we looked at. My recommendation is to do an excursion or rent a car and go see some of the sights on your own. Staying at port would have you miss out on the beauty and culture of the area and definitely wouldn’t give you a feel for what Belize is really like.