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Tender at Belize City

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This is my first cruise and we just booked a excursion at Belize city not through the cruise line. I noticed that this is a tender port. I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips to make this the least stressful.

1). How does tendering work and how do we ensure that we are one of the first off the ship?

2) I am very concerned about making it back to the ship on time. We are going to be on Caye Caulker and have to take a water taxi back to the port and then grab a tender to the ship. What time do we need to be back to the port to get on the last tender? If you are in line to tender will you be ensure to get back on the ship? It says we will be at Belize City from 8am-5pm.

3) I am also concerned about ship time vs port time? Can anyone give me insight to this and how you deal with when in port? 


Again, this is our first cruise so we have never dealt with these issues and I just want to be informed as possible before we go. Thank you!

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In Belize City cruise ships anchor about five miles out in the bay. The tender boats used are high speed but it still takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the tender pier. You will need to leave the tender pier secure area to meet up with your private excursion vendor but he should provide you with specific details.


You will need a tender number to board a tender. The ship will give instructions on how/where to obtain numbers. Last month on the Breakaway this could be done through the NCL app or the in-cabin interactive tv. Guests with excursions booked through NCL and guests in suites or with Latitudes status gold or above have priority boarding tenders before those with independently booked excursions so it is best to pay attention to announcements and get as low a number as possible.


Chances are your ship will be on eastern time and Belize will be one hour behind on central time. You do not need to concern yourself with local time. You need to be critically aware of ship time so you return on time. Private excursion vendors are aware of the time differences. You do not need to concern yourself with this, just follow there instructions and stay on ship time.


The Freestyle Dailies will tell you what time the last tender will leave the tender pier for the ship. If you are in line you will not be left behind. If you are late you very likely will be left behind. The only thing that will save you is if a ship sponsored tour is running late. The ship will wait for guests on ship tours but not guest on their own. Do not be late.


Bring the Freestyle Dailies with you. It has the port agent's phone number on it as well as the time to be back at the tender pier. Bring a watch or a travel alarm to keep ship time. Do not rely on your phone as it might change to local time if it isn't in airplane mode or gets switched out of airplane mode accidentally.

Edited by Paul Bogle

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Just be careful to return in time.  Our cousins almost missed the boat in Belize City a few years ago because they did a non-cruise excursion to Caye Caulker.  They missed their water taxi back to the port.  They had to hire a private boat to drive them up to the ship,Carnival Breeze- for $400 cash.  The cruise ship had guns out and pointed at their boat as it approached the ship.   Very scary experience.  They think they might have been purposely delayed in Caye Caulker to put them in that position to have to hire the boat.

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If we want to take an excursion on a Belize port stop, we book it with the ship.  :classic_wink:

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We spent a week on Caye Caulker and would return in a heartbeat, however trying to spend 2 hours +/- each way plus tendering, makes for a long and possible stressful day!

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Having done this, be cautious of the return ferry schedules. If the ferry  is at maximum capacity, they will either not show up or nor pick up anyone. We were planning to take the ferry and purchased return tickets on Caye Caulker as we did not like the tour agent we booked. Their boat was a floating mess of USCG regulation violations. So, we had tickets in hand on the dock and here comes the return ferry. It let some pax off and left. The captain said too many onboard.

Luckily we had the tour boat. It was a mess, but better than missing the ship.

Never saw another ferry on that long ride back to the pier in Belize.

I would book even a non ship tour over going it alone but that is my opinion and others have had better experiences!

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