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  #1  
Old January 11th, 2007, 01:36 AM
Lard Greystoke Lard Greystoke is offline
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Default Lamanai Excursion Questions

Will be in Belize on Carnival Glory on 2/27/07. Couple of questions about the Lamanai/river cruise option:

1) it is not being offered through the cruiseline, so one concern is getting back to the ship on time. Any experience positive/negative on private operators and the turnaround time?

2) Any other general opinions on private operators for this excursion?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old January 12th, 2007, 01:47 PM
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chamima chamima is offline
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None of the tour operators people advised on this thread seem to offer tours there. Taking a boat to the ruins sounds so much nicer than a bus or car ride.
What private operator did you find that offers this?
Thanks
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  #3  
Old January 12th, 2007, 04:18 PM
mylove mylove is offline
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Default lamanai

we did this tour this past nov,with the cruise co.,ncl,i must say it was awesome long drive though but worth it,italso included your lunch. when we got back to the pier we only had 30 minutes to look around we were the last tender. i would be very hesitant to do this tour privately considering our time frame we didn't laly gag anywhere and it was cutting it real close,but of course the ship would have waited for ,it being there excursion,good luck i do hope you get to see lamanai.
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  #4  
Old January 14th, 2007, 02:45 AM
Lard Greystoke Lard Greystoke is offline
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Mylove: Thanks for the info. It sounds like a tough call.

Chamima: I found the trip offered at www.belizecruiseexcursions.com and www.ecotoursbelize.com. Haven't contacted either one for their input as yet.
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  #5  
Old January 14th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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Lard Greystoke
Thanks for the info. Keep in mind that if you do a ship's tour you include time for "meeting in the lounge" then "meeting at the bus" then waiting to all walk together, etc.
Both of these companies look very professional. If you look at your watch (ALWAYS keep your watch on ship's time not island time) and time how long it takes to get to the site, then you'll know when you have to leave to return.
I may yet regret these words, but we've never even been close to missing the ship.
I find all of the hurry-up-and-wait of ship excursions to be really frustrating.
We are also going in Feb. (7th) so I'll let you know what we decided to do.
Anyways thanks again for the info !
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Last edited by chamima; January 14th, 2007 at 05:51 PM. Reason: misspelling
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  #6  
Old January 14th, 2007, 07:22 PM
mylove mylove is offline
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Default just a thought

You must remember Belize is a tendering port those that book the ships tours are the first to be tendered those that book privately have to wait and get a tendering ticket first come first served, sometimes it can be quite a wait depending on how many the ships tours are sold.I'm sure the tour companies will be just fine heck they know what time the ship leaves they know they have to get you back,i'm just saying we took the ships tour and believe me there was no waiting any where,our tour was the longest so we were first off the ship first on the buses and on our way.On the tour the river part of the tour is probably 1 and a half hours just beautiful and so much to see,we saw a baby croc, monkeys, bats it was really great and then the ruins are just marvelous they are actually ruins not just pieces of falling rock if you know what i mean.We'll be back in Belize this march this country is so beautiful.
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  #7  
Old January 15th, 2007, 12:44 AM
JoeTx JoeTx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lard Greystoke
Mylove: Thanks for the info. It sounds like a tough call.

Chamima: I found the trip offered at www.belizecruiseexcursions.com and www.ecotoursbelize.com. Haven't contacted either one for their input as yet.
I've had good success in the past with Island Marketing, which is the company behind belizecruiseexcursions.com. I'll be there early March on the Grand and because we tender and its such a long excursion, I've booked through Princess. Its $30 more per person through Princess compared to Island Marketing, but I should be assured of getting off the ship first and guaranteed of making it back in time.... I normal book through independants, but with these factors, thought better to take it safe....
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  #8  
Old January 17th, 2007, 01:21 PM
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Hello,

I booked a Lamani trip through Philip at **************. They seem friendly and had a good price.

However, as time gets closer to my cruise (March/Carnival Valor), I am getting super nervous about missing the boat. Carnival didn't offer Lamani as a exursion, or I would have booked through them just for the "relief feeling" of knowing the boat won't leave.

Be sure and let the board know how the timing went; I know I will definatly want to know!!!
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  #9  
Old January 17th, 2007, 01:27 PM
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Why did it cut mine out and noth the websites you posted??? Oh well, here it is again. SeaBelize dot com.
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  #10  
Old January 18th, 2007, 12:16 AM
Lard Greystoke Lard Greystoke is offline
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Another site which offers this trip is www.thompsontours.bz.

It sounds as if the major difficulties are 1) getting off the ship on time, and 2) imponderables such as vehicle breakdowns etc. Barring such problems the time-frame looks tight but doable.
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  #11  
Old January 18th, 2007, 12:31 PM
JoeTx JoeTx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lard Greystoke
Another site which offers this trip is www.thompsontours.bz.

It sounds as if the major difficulties are 1) getting off the ship on time, and 2) imponderables such as vehicle breakdowns etc. Barring such problems the time-frame looks tight but doable.
The last thing I want on a VACATION is a tight timeframe. Last year I had one and spent most of the private tour worrying about getting back to the boat on time. Turns out worry was justified and we almost missed it. This year, NOT going to do that to myself and booked the one long shore tour we are taking through the cruiseline, the other shorter ones I am booking through independants....

If you are booking a long tour through an independent, you better bring your drivers license, several credit cards, plenty of money and your passports. Without your passports you won't be able to fly back into the US with the new rules in place.
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  #12  
Old January 18th, 2007, 08:09 PM
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We almost never book through the cruiseline. One exception was Lamanai and we were glad we did because we were late returning to the ship.

Here is the full review...

Belize City, Belize
This will be one of your favorite ports IF you book an excursion. You'll hate the place if you do not. This fact has been chronicled time and again. Do yourself a favor and book an excursion! The two most popular excursions are the Cave Tubing and the Lamanai Ruins / Jungle River Cruise. Both get rave reviews. Our selection of the Lamanai tour was no exception.

Once at the Belize pier we were greeted with a nice Welcome sign. There are only a handful of shops at the pier. I am guessing there were about 90 folks on this tour. We were herded onto 1 of 3 air conditioned buses. Whatever bus you get becomes your tour group, and included a guide that not only narrated the bus tour and answered our questions but also drove our boat on the jungle cruise and lead our excursion of the ruins. Our experienced guide was Vel, and he was breaking in a very pretty young guide-in-training that joined us for the duration of the tour. Our guides were very friendly, knowledgeable, and proud of their country.

Belize is a poor country with great natural and historical assets. One idiot on the bus asked "Why are there bars on the windows of houses?" during an otherwise interesting Q&A about the country. (Answer: they have a crime problem related to a "crack" problem). The housing and habitat reminded us a lot of Waimanalo on Oahu (sans the bars). We learned a lot about the city and country on our 1.25 hour bus tour over a paved 2-lane road to the boat dock. [Side note: from visible signage along the road it appears Pepsi "controls" the less populated part of the country while Coca-Cola "owns" Belize City itself]. Each bus unloaded their groups into a large thatched roof building sporting restrooms and a couple of artisans. Within a few minutes we were loaded onto covered boats with comfortable seats and two powerful outboard motors.

We snaked South down the river to the Lamanai Ruin site. Our guide plying us with information and pointing out numerous birds (including King Fisher, Blue Herrin, Vultures, and Snow Egrets), baby crocodiles, and a huge green iguana, as well as various flora and fauna. We also found the huge termite nests in the trees to be of interest to all. One of the 3 boats experienced engine trouble which slowed us down a bit, but that boat was never abandoned. Our boat held back each time to make sure they were not stranded.

Once we arrived at Lamanai, we ate a hearty lunch of Mayan chicken, rice, coleslaw, coconut tarts, and bottled Pepsi and water. We started our tour in a small museum with interesting Mayan artifacts and continued on by foot through an impressive jungle featuring vines, "Jurassic Park"-sized palm fronds, medicinal trees, and Howler Monkeys. We spent about 1.5 hours exploring 3 large Mayan temples and the remains of a small Mayan town. Our guides provided an enormous amount of insight and kept us moving at a reasonable clip.

We returned to the boats, sped back up the river, and returned to the buses just before nightfall. We arrived back at the docks about an hour after the final tender was suppose to leave for the ship. Our guides, to their credit, had made the decision to give us the full tour --- not an abridged tour --- even though we had arrived late. After all, we were paying the full price of the tour and they weren't going to let us get anything less. It was clear, back in Lamanai, that we were not going to make the tender cutoff time. This began to cause great distress among some tour passengers. Just remember, that if you are on a cruise-sponsored tour, there are "no worries!" They were not going to strand any of their passengers in Belize if they are on a cruise-sponsored excursion. Sure enough, we were met at the pier with a nice large boat that easily and comfortably sped all of us back to the ship, which was beautifully illuminated out on the sea. Bottom line: take this tour.

More: http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/caribbean-secrets.html
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  #13  
Old January 20th, 2007, 12:57 AM
RC_BC RC_BC is offline
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Another tip: if there is rain in the forecast, wear a rain coat. We did this tour last week on the NCL Dawn. We got soaked 3 times on this tour - once on the boat ride to the ruins, once at the ruins, and again on the boat ride back. We did get some sun in between showers (more like downpours), but we never could get completely dried off between them. You are not protected from the rain on the boat trip to and from the ruins.
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  #14  
Old January 21st, 2007, 09:23 PM
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Default Something else to take...

We did this tour last week off the Pearl (ship excursion) and loved it. It had rained heavily prior to our arrival in Lamanai, and the paths, though wide enough for easy passage, were quite muddy and therefore somewhat slippery in places. One woman needed a walking stick for stability, and those in flip flops were challenged as the mud kept threatening to suck them off their feet. I would recommend a pair of very sturdy hiking sandals as opposed to flip flops, as they are dunkable in the water to get mud off. Our sneakers were caked with it, and our room steward was very sweet in getting them cleaned for us. But had I known, I would've worn Tevas or the like.

One thing I was surprised at was that a vast majority of the boat ride was high speed. I was hoping for much more of a nature tour, but I understand that since they need to travel 24 miles in about an hour, they can't dawdle much. I don't know that initially.
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  #15  
Old January 21st, 2007, 09:24 PM
Lorabelle Lorabelle is offline
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We did this tour privately last week through Belizecruiseexcursions.com. We were very satisfied with the tour. There were 6 of us in our group, so we saved over $150 by booking it independently. Another plus was that there were only 8 people total on our tour which was much nicer than the larger ship's groups we saw walking into the jungle as we were walking out.

We were on the Grand Princess. They began giving out tender tickets at 7:00 AM. We had heard that tendering can be a bear in Belize, so we were up and waiting at the tender ticket distribution area by 6:45 AM. We were given our numbers and around 7:30, we were on the first tender to Belize City. The tenders are very large. Most of the tender was filled with passengers on ship sponsored tours, but there were about 30 of us who were the early birds at the ticket station.

It's about an hour drive to the New Belize River. We had JR who was a wonderful tour leader. He pointed out things along the way. He shared a lot of information about his country, it's customs, and daily living. He invited us to ask him any questions we wanted.

Once we arrived at the river, we boarded a boat. The only disappointment was the speed at which we traveled the river. I knew it was going to take an hour to get there. However, I assumed that it took that long because it was a leisurely ride looking for wildlife. The ride is not leisurely. It's quite fast. Javier joined our group as the boat driver and he would also be our tour guide through the ruins. He was very good at pointing out wildlife and would slow or stop the boat when necessary so that we could see it. But, overall, the boat ride was a fast paced ride. We saw crocodiles, bats, termite nests, and many different types of birds on the river.

Javier was very knowledgable about the ruins as he led us through. He gave us plenty of time to look around, take pictures etc.

Our lunch consisted of rice and beans, chicken, cole slaw, potato salad and fried plantain. Sodas and bottled water to drink.

We had a little time to look in the gift shops at Lamanai, then it was time to board the boat for the ride back. Our trip back was even faster than the one getting there, but we did stop to observe a decent sized crocodile sunning on a tree overhanging the river.

We were returned to the ship at about 3:30. The last tender was 4:30. They are aware of the times that you need to be back and make sure to keep you on pace to do that with time to spare.

Their business relies on word of mouth and happy customers. The last thing they would want to do would be to have people miss their ship.

And the advice about bringing your passport, credit cards, cash etc is good advice. I always have that with me. One never knows what can happen, even on a ship's tour. You may get separated. I wouldn't go into a foreign country without the resources to get myself home if necessary.

Anyway, if someone is thinking of trying to book this on their own, I just wanted to share my experience. Not once was I ever concerned that we wouldn't make the ship on time. I felt like we were in good hands for the day.

Lori
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Old January 21st, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Default Something else to take...

We did this tour last week off the Pearl (ship excursion) and loved it. It had rained heavily prior to our arrival in Lamanai, and the paths, though wide enough for easy passage, were quite muddy and therefore somewhat slippery in places. One woman needed a walking stick for stability, and those in flip flops were challenged as the mud kept threatening to suck them off their feet. I would recommend a pair of very sturdy hiking sandals as opposed to flip flops, as they are dunkable in the water to get mud off. Our sneakers were caked with it, and our room steward was very sweet in getting them cleaned for us. But had I known, I would've worn Tevas or the like.

One thing I was surprised at was that a vast majority of the boat ride was high speed. I was hoping for much more of a nature tour, but I understand that since they need to travel 24 miles in about an hour, they can't dawdle much. I don't know that initially.
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  #17  
Old January 22nd, 2007, 01:55 PM
Alwaysonvacation Alwaysonvacation is offline
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We are considering this tour for March also. The timing looks to be tight so it was nice to hear that you had a good experience. You said that there were 8 in your group, did you all fit in one boat? How long were you actually at the ruins? Adding up the time it looks like it is two hours to get to the ruins and two hours to get back. I contacted Royal Caribbean as to why they don't offer this excursion anymore. They stated that it was because of lack of interest. It seems like one of the best ways to see some very remote ruins. Would love to hear of others who have taken this excursion.

Alwaysonvacation
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Sadly, Carnival is not offering Lamanai, or ANY Mayan Ruins excursions while we are in Belize (March). Boo to them. Like I said before I did book a Lamani tour through a local company, but I just can't get over my "missing the boat" feelings. Sigh.
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwaysonvacation
We are considering this tour for March also. The timing looks to be tight so it was nice to hear that you had a good experience. You said that there were 8 in your group, did you all fit in one boat? How long were you actually at the ruins? Adding up the time it looks like it is two hours to get to the ruins and two hours to get back. I contacted Royal Caribbean as to why they don't offer this excursion anymore. They stated that it was because of lack of interest. It seems like one of the best ways to see some very remote ruins. Would love to hear of others who have taken this excursion.

Alwaysonvacation
Yes, we easily fit in one boat. There are 4 benches in the boat. Each bench could comfortably fit 3 people, 4 snugly. Plenty of room.

I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to time because the guides were doing that for us, but I would say that we were at the ruins about 2 1/2 hours, including the time we ate lunch etc. There are only a few structures there, and only one to climb, so it doesn't really take long to see it all. But, again, we didn't feel rushed and the people who climbed to the top of the one temple had plenty of time to do that and spend a little time at the top. We even stopped in one section of the jungle for about 5 minutes to watch the howler monkeys in the treetops.

I can't remember the distance of the loop we walked, but it was a mile or less.

It was a great experience and I'm glad we did the tour. I do agree with the other poster who said to wear good shoes. It had rained earlier in the day when we were there and the path was extremely muddy and slippery in places. Wear something with a good tread.

Lori
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 08:22 PM
Lorabelle Lorabelle is offline
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Sorry, duplicate post...

Last edited by Lorabelle; January 22nd, 2007 at 08:28 PM.
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