Jamaica/Grand cayman or Costa maya/Belize

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71 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Can skip to second paragraph for gist of what im asking
Hi all, me and my girlfriend are trying to plan a cruise for april of next year on the vista. We are doing an aft havana balcony but we are having a tough time deciding on which itinerary to choose.(skip this part if you dont care >) We did the Jamaica/GC cruise in october on the breeze and did not have a great time. We stayed on the boat in Jamaica (because we've heard a lot of terrible things regards Jamaica regarding the locals, which was solidified when the throngs of people came back to the ship within a couple of hours complaining about the locals), it was really fun, had almost the whole ship to ourselves but we would probably do a carnival sponsored excursion if we were to go back. Grand cayman was shut down due to bad weather and we had an excursion to the sting ray island booked (was also my gf's birthday) and the only day we got off the boat was cozumel, which we both love.

Basically, we are having a tough time choosing the itinerary. We want a do-over of J/GC but we have heard great things about Belize/Costa maya. I have a couple of questions, what are the ports like in belize/costa maya, are they big and built up like cozumel or barren like jamaica? What are some fun things to do in belize and costa maya? Second question is, what is a recommended carnival sponsored excursion in jamaica? Really any input would be great, if you have done both itinerary's, i'd love to hear some pros and cons of each

Thanks in advance!
1,309 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
I have been to Costa Maya and it was a beautiful and laid back place...I can't wait to go back! I have never been to Belize, but will be there soon and I am really looking forward to it. My vote is for Costa Maya and Belize.
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1,398 Posts
Joined Feb 2014
I would choose Jamaica and Grand Cayman any day over Belize and Costa Maya. Montego Bay, Jamaica is one of our top 3 favorite ports. We go to the Hilton Rose Hall through Resort for a Day and it is AH-MAZING. A little pricey, but transportation is provided through RFAD, and the resort is all inclusive (food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.) Gorgeous beach, large pool, lazy river, water-slides, excellent service, etc. In Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach is beautiful. You can get a cheap taxi to Royal Palms, pay the $2 entrance fee, use the pool and beach as long as you want. There's not much to do in Belize unless you want to cave tube. There is a good chocolate shop at the port area called MoHo that sells the best chocolate we've ever had. We were re-routed to Costa Maya due to a hurricane, and didn't book an excursion since we had no time to research. The water was gorgeous, but it was HOT HOT HOT and we got back on the ship quickly. I did a review on the MB/GC/Coz itinerary via the Dream in November, and have lots of pics if you search my posts. (If you're interested.) But proceed with caution if you're easily offended. Lol
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Charlotte, NC
10,528 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
We though there was more of the "real Mexico" in Costa Maya... compared to Cozumel... If you look for it, research, and don't do the ship sponsored excursions. You can get a lot of value for a little money there.

If you do not want to do the research and just want someone else to plan your day, and you do not care about getting the best value for your money, do ship excursions.

I really love Costa Maya. Ditto for Belize.

Get a good (not ship sponsored) cave tubing tour. You will have lots of great memories.
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Stone Mountain GA
9,797 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
We have been to Belize twice-once with money, and once without-these are my experiences

with money, we did a snorkeling trip to Goff's Caye-if you have read the Wizard of Earthsea, when Ged gets to the end of all the islands,-that's what we felt like-it is on the reef, but the snorkeling was terrible (Cozumel is much better) but the island itself, makes you realize how huge the ocean is, and how fragile humans are. Paradise.

without money-we walked a couple of blocks to the Museum of Belize. This is where the treasures of Altun Ha are kept. There were two air conditioned rooms, one with bugs and butterflies, the other for the stamp collection. We walked back to the port (it is a tender port) and passed a beautiful convent-it was such a hot day! My DH called the convent "Our Lady of Perpetual Sweat". What evolved from this adventure was that I asked the girl at the counter at the museum, if they ever showed their exhibits out of the country-she said they wanted to. I got back to Atlanta and contacted the Carlos Museum at Emory, they contacted Belize, and got the exhibit to come to Atlanta. How wonderful some humans can be. I don't work for Emory, but they did give us two free tickets to an exhibit of our choice.

Which trip did I enjoy the most, the one that made the most humans happy, when we traveled broke, and found friends.

I have a friend that did the cave tubing, they were young and had a blast. I'm old and try not to tire myself too much.
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26 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
My first trip to Jamaica was in 2013 and I agree, it was terrible. My husband and I hadn't done a lot of research for that port and we could not wait to get back on the ship after being harassed for a couple hours. We swore we would never return there but as they say, time heals all wounds, so when we were searching for a cruise to take this past December we decided we'd brave Jamaica again and go with a Carnival sponsored excursion this time. We docked in Montego Bay and went to Dunns River Falls and Bamboo Beach Club. It was a fantastic day and it actually made us love Jamaica. I wouldn't hesitate to go back as long as we stayed with Carnival excursions. As for Grand Cayman, I love it. Some times we do a snorkeling excursion and some times we just go to Royal Palms on Seven Mile Beach. I can't comment on Belize or Costa Maya, we were supposed to go there this past September but Hurricane Irma had other plans for that cruise. I'm sure whatever you decided will be great, good luck!
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61 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I can't recommend the tour that we did in Belize enough! https://www.facebook.com/aleahdaw72/

Allen took us and another couple to the Altun Ha ruins and it was great. He also showed us some things in the city. Just an awesome guy with a ton of knowledge. He got us back to the dock in enough time for us to enjoy a couple local brews and do some shopping.
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179 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
Costa Maya is really nice. I strongly suggest Maya Chan. You have to book early as they limit visitors. Was there last Friday and I'd be happy to answer any questions. It was an amazing day!

Have been to Montego Bay. Never again.
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Earl North Carolina
1,052 Posts
Joined May 2008
Jamaica. So very beautiful but so much hassle from the Jamaicans trying to make a dollar. I've been twice and I'll return as long as I can use ResortForADay and spend a nice day sunning at the pool and eating well! Highly recommended, just add a .com at the end and you'll find them! And they offer resorts on a lot of the Caribbean Islands. In some of these ports (like Jamaica) it is just the relaxing day I need!

Grand Cayman - oh my, one of my favorite ports. The Stingrays aren't really an island but it is a sandbar where you can stand in waist deep water on a really calm day and not really stand at all on a very windy day! So very worth it at least once (I've been twice) and you might want to try for a repeat there!

Costa Maya - I avoided it like the plague until I discovered Maya Chan! One of the best port days I've ever experienced! Book early, they book up and only allow a certain number of people and it is rare that they don't sell out. Transportation included. Best service around! I WILL book another cruise to Costa Maya based solely upon Maya Chan! It is private and if you Google it, you will find their website. Best money you can spend.

Belize. Ehhh. Are you a snorkeler? Scuba Diver? If so, then by all means book a cruise to Belize. There is essentially not much of a port, nothing like Cozumel or Costa Maya or even Grand Turk. There are some shops and there are a few bars. Beyond that, it isn't a port where you will find much to occupy your time if you want to get out beyond the bar. You must pre-book something but I am not so sure that your best value will be a Carnival excursion. We've snorkeled there and gone to what is now called Starfish Island (was Bannister Island when we were there). Nice island but I'm not so sure I want to share it with a full ship of people. Was a fine day we had there but all the cruise ships canceled their excursions (tropical storm the night before - water murky and a still a bit rough) and there were a total of 35 people (tourists and employees) on the island! I looked around and thought to myself that I would have hated to share that island with 1000 people. Belize is beautiful, but you must prepare and pre-book something before you get there. I would rate it very similar to Jamaica as far as the scary machine gun toting military style people that you will see. And I've been there twice too!

Do your research. Here and on Trip Advisor. Read everything and make informed decisions. (Shame you stayed on the ship in Jamaica because if you research and plan, you can enjoy Jamaica and have a good day - trust me, it is simply beautiful and well worth a visit ashore one day!)
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