Port stop, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

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San Francisco Bay Area
277 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
We're sailing on the Regal Princess in November. Would appreciate ideas for this port of call. We would love to go to Tikal, but it is on the other side of the country and our time in port is not long enough even to fly there, assuming that is possible.

Will taxis be waiting at the pier and how trustworthy might they be? Any thoughts and suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

22 Posts
Joined Oct 2005

We were on the Regal last November and stopped in Puerto Quetzal as well. There are some private cars for hire when you get off the ship right there at their new terminal and the prices are attractive, however I would recommend doing a tour through the ship at this port. The people are very nice and eager for tourist business, but the governement is still working to overcome some security issues. Princess seems to hire local security to escort the tour buses...at least that is what I observed last year. Enjoy your vacation...we loved our Panama cruise!
San Francisco Bay Area
277 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Thanks for your response Ellie. We've been away and I'm just getting back to check the boards again. I'm interested in your comments about "security" and would appreciate your elaborating further. If it's a matter of petty thieves, pickpockets, etc. I think we can manage, but if we are in danger of being kidnapped or some other bizarre sort of thing would like a heads up. Look forward to hearing again, or from anyone else who has a handle on the situation in this port.

23,077 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
the security issues seem to be pretty severe it does not sound like the kind of place to go off on your own, this is from a travel website I found when I googled Guatamela

Safety Issues for Foreigners
Travel in Guatemala is generally safe, but a relatively high level of violent crime is committed against foreigners. Vehicle-jackings are almost an everyday occurrence, especially in Guatemala City. Intercity travel after sunset should be avoided.

Exercise caution when taking photographs in rural areas. Some locals believe foreigners come to kidnap children, and this has led to attacks on tourists and the murder of an American couple this year in Sumpango. Another couple was even attacked for taking photographs of a church, so always ask. The US Embassy has warned travellers to be cautious or avoid altogether the area near Santo Domingo Xenacog area and Sacatepequez Department.
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Liberty Travel-Flight Centre USA
22 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Hi, Giovanina...

I researched the various ports we were going to be visiting prior to our cruise and was alarmed by what I read about Guatemala, from US Embassy reports, news articles and people's personal experiences. Most crimes do involve robbery, but some have also been rather violent...most seem to be committed by groups of armed men targeting vehicles and small buses. In talking to some of the locals merchants in Puerto Quetzal, they acknowledged a problem with "banditos" and expressed their frustrations. From what I have read and been told, there is a lot of corruption in the government, so the criminals are never prosecuted. http://guatemala.usembassy.gov/recent_incidents.html

That said, I have not read ANYTHING about crime against cruise tours and personally observed the abundant, armed security that escorted Princess tour buses from the port in November 2005. Puerto Quetzal has a new cruise teminal where the ship docks and the Guatemala department of tourism really rolled out the red carpet when the Regal pulled in. There is a jade museum/store, local vendor stalls and live music. We enjoyed just wandering around the terminal area, but had I known in advance of the extra security Princess employs for their tours, I would have felt comfortable taking a ship tour and making sure I stayed with my tour group.

It is all really just a matter of what you personally are comfortable with.

Hope this helps...
San Francisco Bay Area
277 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Thanks for the security info. We're currently on a waiting list for Antigua on your own--apparently bus transport to and from Antigua and the day is yours. Hope we make it. Otherwise guess we'll try and book one of the more expensive tours. We've never been to Guatemala and would like to see what we can.
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Hi - We just completed our trip on the Regal Princess. At this port we just went ashore and they had a nice little shopping area set up. The people were very aggressive wanting you to buy their wares. We spoke to people who just took cabs from the area - there is a tourist information booth when you get off the ship. They said they felt a bit uncomfortable because everyone they saw carried guns. Even a guy just washing his car had a gun on his belt. No incidents but definitely a little scary.
St. Louis MO
900 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Will be on the Regal Princess in Feb 2007 and am looking for feedback on either of these two excursions:
Lake Atitlan & the Mayan Highlands with Lunch
The Best of Colonial Antigua with Lunch
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SW Ontario, Canada
8,650 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
We just got back yesterday from Regal Princess full transit of the Panama Canal and wanted to post our experience at Peurto Quetzal, Guatemala.
With three other couples we had met on the ship, we took a private taxi van tour to Antigua that was arranged on site at the large information and shopping tent just before the parking lot. The whole port area is secured and only registered taxis and buses are allowed into the area. The price for all tours were posted on a banner and I believe all were $20US per person. This is what we paid. You could go to Gautemala City, Antigua, etc. The price was so low we didn't even negotiate for a lower one.
For this charge we got a driver who owned the taxi van and an english speaking guide that he employed. We started out at 9:15AM, got to Antigua at about 10.45AM after stoping at a Esso/Exxon service center just outside Antigua for a banos/water buying break. The guide stayed with us the whole day showing us the colonial town sites while the driver would drop us off and pick us up as parking for his van was limited. They kept in contact with each other by cell phone. We treated them to lunch at a local restaurant they recommended which was across the street from the local market that offered great and varied products. They even took us up to a viewing site overlooking the city center and the Vera Cruz (Sp?) cross where the larger buses couldn't go. On the way back to the ship they took us to a modern supermarket to buy coffee since one couple decided that they hadn't bought enought of this brew in Costa Rica. We returned to ship just before 5PM but were not rushed anytime.
Re security, we felt safe all the way. Our excellent speaking guide told us that each taxi was given a # ( we were 24 and had stickers with this # on us) and that every 10 miles or so there were police along the route monitoring the buses and taxis with ship passengers. This is exactly what happened. There was a police presence throughout Antigua and even on the Vera Cruz viewing site overlooking the town.
If you do decide to do your independent tour look for Manuel's white taxi Mitsuibishi (Sp?) van with BMW as part of the licence plate and say hi to Jeremy his guide from Bob and Cheryl in Canada.
By the way the fully guide ship's tours were $139 and $ 119 per person each and offered less. The ON Your Own bus tranfers were $49 per person.
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SW Ontario, Canada
8,650 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
For some reason the above post didn't update time and date wise.
We actually left the port at 8:45 so we were on tour for over 8 hours.
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191 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Bob, thanks for the great report on your trip to Antigua. A few questions if you don't mind:

It sounds like you had 8 passengers altogether--would Manuel's van fit 9 reasonably comfortably?

Do you have any info with a phone or email for Manuel?

Did you ever speak to others who had done Antigua in the same way with a different guide and who felt they had a good, safe day? We like to do things independently, but previous posters seemed to recommend taking the ship tour (at least the "on your own" ship tour) in Guatemala for safety reasons.

What did you do in Huatulco?

And, finally, everything still great with the Regal?


GTA, Ontario, Canada
32,743 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by robtulipe
The price for all tours were posted on a banner and I believe all were $20US per person. This is what we paid. .
Thanks for the great report.
Did you pay in USD or did you need to use Quetzal's ?
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SW Ontario, Canada
8,650 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Yes, his van seats 9 passengers ( 3 rows of 3 ) using fold up jump seats with the driver and guide up front.
Manuel's english is very limited but Jeremy's speaks english very well and is employed by Manuel so you may be able to arrange something through him. His # is 53711079 ( why 8 digits I don't know ) and 502 is country code for Guatemala. If you can't, there were plenty of large taxi vans offering tours at the port.
All we spoke to felt safe whether on a ship's or independent tour. Other doing their own independent taxi tours were also satisfied. Like I said the police were present in Antigua and keeping track of all ship tour buses and independent taxis along the route to and back from there. I believe Princess's ( Carnival ) takes advantage of the security concerns here since this port had the highest priced ship's tours and the lowest priced independent ( Taxi van ) tours. Go figure!
We paid for our tour in $US and even used them in the local supermarket, restaurant and with venders. In stores they convert to local currency and give change in that currency. I couldn't tell you what that currency was since I didn't handle any.
In Huatulco we were going to do a independent cruise of some of the nine bays there since the marina is right beside where the cruise ships docks. There are large commercial local cruise operators with very nice boats, probably the same ones the ship's tours are offered on.
When we saw the beautful beach at Santa Cruz ( where we docked ) we decided on a beach day and went snorkeling and swam to the small wreck in the shallow water on the east side of the next beach north of the one the Regal was docked at.
The Regal is still a great and beautiful ship. Too bad she is going to P&O Austrailia next year.
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Temecula, CA
3,389 Posts
Joined May 2003
Would you feel safe taking kids on the tours there? We have been to Mexico several times and are used to the guys walking around with the guns, but this sounds a little more threatening. We will be taking our 11 and 13 year olds in April 2008.

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Life's a trip, where to next ?
8 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Hi, just got back from Guatamala and used Jeremy and manuel. I wanted to let you all know that we had a great time there using them. Jeremy did a great job showing us around and taking us where we wanted to go. I felt very safe with them and I would recommend anyone to take a taxi instead of the ship bus to and from antigua. I wouldn't call him it cost us 45.00 to make that call. When you get to the port you can just walk up to the building where it says taxi service. ask at the desk there for manuel and jeremy they should be able to help you. We talked to others that also used this service and were very happy. Hope you have a great time. BC
SW Ontario, Canada
8,650 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by natesfirewife
Would you feel safe taking kids on the tours there? We have been to Mexico several times and are used to the guys walking around with the guns, but this sounds a little more threatening. We will be taking our 11 and 13 year olds in April 2008.

I felt safe at all times but the security guards at the different major stores did carry guns. Maybe that is why I felt secure since I tought it would be crazy to try to rob a tourist there or in the town. The port area was very secure and there was very visable police presence along the way and in Antiqua at all times. I would although stick to the main tourist areas with your kids and not wander off by yourselves.
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191 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
We were just in Antigua last week and never felt unsafe at all. We were on the lookout for police escorts and guards with machine guns as previously reported, but hardly saw anything like that--but also saw no apparent need for them either. Perhaps we were foolhardy, but we walked all over Antigua by ourselves, including down some lonely streets and deep into the local marketplace and never felt anything the slightest bit threatening. The only downside at all is the persistent salespeople, especially the Mayan women who follow you around for some time hawking beads even after you try to say no. Nevertheless, this was just a hassle rather than a danger and there were usually "tourist police" in white shirts to shoo them away eventually.
Santa Barbara, California, USA
7,231 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Does anyone get or have a email address for Manuel or Jeremy for the =915am to =5pm tour out of Peurto Quetzal, Guatemala?
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San Anselmo, CA
56 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
We are also on Island Princess 10/9 and would love more info on Manuel and Jeremy or any other guides. Any ideas on Puerto Corinto? Can we cab it to Leon? This is our first trip through the canal so are really clueless on what to do!!! Not a lot of info out there.