In part 1 of the article about our Carnival Cruise from Galveston to Mexico review, I went over the onboarding process and how we had to leave a valuable crew member behind after being misinformed by Carnival on the accepted valid forms for boarding. That’s still a tough pill to swallow. Leaving behind the one hiccup on our trip, I went over first impressions, accommodations, and most importantly, our first cruise destination which was Costa Maya, Mexico.
(If you haven’t read part one of our Carnival cruise story, this is where you catch up: Carnival Cruise from Galveston)
Day 4 waking up in Belize and first impressions.
After a beautiful day and relaxing day at Costa Maya, I woke up eager to make it up to the Lido deck as soon as possible for breakfast and to get glimpse of the view. And let me tell you, the water was breathtaking. It wasn’t the rich deep blue we experienced docking in Mexico, but rather it was a softer and lighter – a blue that your eyes want to swim in forever.
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What was the process to get to the port in Belize?
In Belize, cruise ships anchor in the ocean. They don’t make it all the way down to the port, so the process to disembark is completely different. After breakfast, we hurried down to one of the lower decks, where we waited in line. There, we were told we would be taking a smaller boat with limited capacity that would take us to the port in roughly 15 – 20 minutes. They scanned our cruise ship card – so make sure you have it with you. And then we were instructed that we would need both our cruise ship card and a valid form of ID to get back on the boat from the port.
When it was our turn to board the smaller boat, we were greeted by Belizeans who happily showed us the way to empty seats where we had a pleasant conversation with the fellow cruisers around us. Because why not? We were packed in so closely that I thought, “This would never have flown in 2020.”
What can you do in Belize?
This is where it turns into a bit of a cautionary tale, i.e. what not to do. We didn’t have a solid plan. We hadn’t booked a tour and figured we would just make it to the port, look around, and take it from there. Our first impression was colorful. We took a few videos then decided to look for a cab outside of the strict confines of the port. The cab would take us to the beach five miles away. They quoted us $60 for 5 miles. That would have been $120 to get to the beach that was five miles away with nothing included. It was hard not to feel like we were being tourist trapped. We passed on the offer.
An American couple let us know there was a Belize sign and a lighthouse not even a mile away where you could take photos. So we made our way there and one of us thought it was a great idea to walk to a bike rental shop so we could see more of Belize city. The blazing sun was in its full Caribbean majesty and the rest of us obliged. I cannot say this enough: Don’t do this.
Faced with the kind of heat that’s only acceptable at the beach in a bathing suit and a nice cool piña colada, we kept walking through Belize City, which in all honesty started to feel unsafe. In fact, as we neared the bike rental place, we heard a man from a building say, “Do not cross over the bridge.” That was enough for us to scurry back to the cruise ship. We felt very happy to be back onboard and safe.
New ideas for Belize
I have no doubt people can have a great time in Belize. Cruise ships carefully select their destination and put their reputation on the line with every stop. I fully recommend that if you take a tour rather than winging it like we did. Your safety will be taken into account. Food and refreshments are included. We saw a variety of options from a day at the beach to a tour through Mayan ruins. There’s a crystal clear ocean all around this city. I recommend that you look at reviews, consult with your travel agent, and look at the options your cruise already pre-packages. They have been carefully vetted. We don’t recommend that you wander around, and above everything else: “Do not cross over the bridge,” in Belize City.
It’s Day 5 of your cruise from Galveston. Tell us about your arrival to Cozumel.
After a rocky night, our Carnival Cruise from Galveston arrived to Cozumel. I decided to shake any thought of being because this was the one destination where we had booked a tour and we were on a tight schedule. We had breakfast up on the Lido deck and made our way down to the delightful port. Again, we were greeted by a musician. We had to walk through a duty free store and, alas, we were back on the ground in Mexico. Tour guides were aligned with signs so that you could easily find where you had to be. We located the one that was going to take us to our “experience with dolphins” tour and wandered nearby for photos and videos until it was time to follow our leader.
We were lead through colorful shops until we got to taxi vans that would take us safely to our destination. I took the front seat with the permission of our friendly driver and chatted about the area, housing costs and the almost 35 cruise ships they get to see weekly. At the same time I took in what felt like my “natural habitat.” A few minutes in, we made it to Cozumel’s Dolphinaris.
Dolphinaris – Cozumel’s Dolphin Experience Tour
I felt Dolphinaris needed its own description. I don’t want to overuse this word, but the location was breathtaking. As in movie location breathtaking. As you walk in you immediately see the pools with the dolphins followed by the ravishing blue of the ocean. You get a view of other cruise ships docked around the area. And you get hit by the feeling that you’ve made it to paradise.
We were briefed on how we would gather ingroups, where to place our belongings – with free and paid options – and where to get our life vests, and where we would be waiting with unlimited refreshments in our hands while we waited to be called. As our group made its way to the pool for our very own dolphin interaction, we were instructed to stay near the wall, where to keep our hands, and how to behave properly so that we wouldn’t startle our new friend, a 45-year old female dolphin named Aphrodite. Our guide Hector gave us facts about Aphordite, interacted with her to warm her up, and gave her fresh fish as she demanded. Much like a puppy, she showed us her playfulness and quickly let us know she had a personality of her own. She welcomed us with a splash, we got to pet her rubbery skin, she gave us a kiss, and gently placed her fins out so we could “dance” with her. This was an experience childhood me only dreamed of, as I once wanted to be a “marine mammal trainer.” (Although, anyone who has ever had a pet, knows they very much train us).
Once we were done with our dolphin experience we were guided to the food area. As we sat strategically to take in as much as the magical view as we possibly could, we were handed menus where everything was included in our package except for the guac. (Go figure!) And of course, we had the guacamole anyway. The food was fresh, the service was great even while it was packed. We lounged happily until it was time to make it back to the lobby for a taxi.
Is it worth going to Cozumel for the day? What else can you tell us about Cozumel?
It’s worth going to Cozumel for a day or more! Once we made it back to the port area we still had time to make our way through the shops. I was impressed by how well kept everything was, and how attentive people were. If there is one impression I got from this island in Mexico it is that they truly care about their tourism and making you feel welcome. The prices at the shop were moderate in comparison to other places we’d been, although I am sure they are much higher than they would have been in a non-touristy location. We still got to enjoy the difference in currency so that it felt like we got a deal. And I am sure they made a good profit. There are two major things I can tell you about our experience in Cozumel: We loved it and we want to go back!
Day 6 onboard the Carnival Dream.
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Day 6 was bittersweet. It was our last day at sea with the Carnival Dream until we made it back to reality. By then, we were accustomed to the ship, and the map of the ship was ingrained in our hearts. We had our favorite restaurants and meals and enjoyed the extra time in bed with our fresh sheets. And above all, we relished in the disconnection to everyday life. At this point, we couldn’t help but daydream of a life where you get to bask by the pool, read books, watch live music, travel, and experience new cuisine daily. As a millennial, outside of the fact that I had my phone documenting the experience, it felt very much like pre-internet days. Where we got to just be in the present. Wherever and with whomever was around you.
Any final thoughts about your cruise from Galveston?
Don’t think about it. Try it. Simply contact a travel agent that can help you not make any of the mistakes we did. This was the vacation I never knew I needed. Going on a cruise can be a grand experience for families, couples, friends, and – I can’t help but think – even solo. Before we even left the cruise, we were planning for our next one. This experience took away any slight judgement I might have had in my heart towards cruise junkies because even after our sad beginning, and Carnival Cruiseline’s customer service not addressing their mess up that left one of our crew members behind, we still recommend it. We can’t wait to take this trip all over again.
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