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NCL Sun Guatemala


MichaelW1

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Guatemala Questions for recent cruisers?

 

Does the NCL Sun Tender in or does it dock?

 

Were there any good beaches close by?

 

Was the are safe? I will have my wife and 4 year old son.

Are the car rentals close by?

 

Is there tourist attractions close by?

 

We just did not see any tour information from NCL that looks appealing to a 4 year old and us. Any information on the port would be appreciated.

 

Mike:confused:

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Here is a small excerpt from the US consular sheet, don't think I would rent a car...

 

The number of violent crimes reported by U.S. citizens and other foreigners has remained high in recent years. Incidents include, but are not limited to, assault, theft, armed robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping, and murder. Criminals often operate in groups of four or more and are confrontational and violent. Gangs are a growing concern in Guatemala City and rural Guatemala. Gang members are often well armed with sophisticated weaponry and they sometimes use massive amounts of force. Emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main roads in broad daylight. Travel on rural roads always increases the risk of a criminal roadblock or ambush. Widespread narcotics and alien smuggling activities can make remote areas especially dangerous. Though there is no evidence that Americans are particularly targeted, criminals look for every opportunity to attack, so all travelers should remain constantly vigilant.

 

Most tourists and visitors travel throughout Guatemala without mishap. However, violent criminal activity on the highways continues, and tourists, among others, have been targeted. Carjackings and highway robberies are often violent. Four Americans were killed in highway robbery attempts in 2002 and three killed and one wounded in 2003. Many of the robbery attempts have occurred in daylight hours on main highways. In 2004 one American tourist was murdered, and women and children were raped in highway assaults. Several highway assaults of American citizens also took place in 2005, but without serious injury to the victims. In some cases, assailants have been wearing full or partial police uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles, indicating that some elements of the police might be involved. Armed robberies have occurred within minutes of the tourist’s vehicle being stopped by the police. U.S. Embassy personnel continue to observe heightened security precautions in Guatemala City and on the roads outside the capital city. U.S. tourists are urged to be especially aware of safety and security concerns when traveling on the roads in Guatemala. Rather than traveling alone, use a reputable tour organization. Stay in groups; travel in a caravan consisting of two or more vehicles; and, stay on the main roads. Ensure that someone not traveling with you is aware of your itinerary. Resist the temptation to stay in hotels that do not have adequate security. Travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is extremely dangerous. It is preferable to stay in the main tourist destinations. Do not explore back roads or isolated paths near tourist sites. Pay close attention to your surroundings, especially when walking or when driving in Guatemala City. Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Finally, if confronted by criminals, be aware that resistance may provoke a more violent response.

 

 

Additional information:

 

Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are active in all major cities and tourist sites, especially the central market and other parts of Zone 1 in Guatemala City and the city of Antigua. In a common scenario, an accomplice distracts the victim, while an assailant slashes or simply steals a bag or backpack while the victim’s attention is diverted.

 

As in other countries, criminals also use a number of scams to steal money and possessions from tourists in Guatemala. In one popular scam, robbers place a nail in a parked vehicle’s tire. The vehicle is then followed by the robbers who pose as “good Samaritans” when the tire becomes flat and the victims pull to the side of the road. While “help” is being rendered, the contents of the car are stolen, often without the knowledge of the victims. However, in some cases, the robbers have threatened the tourists with weapons. Parking areas in and around the Guatemala City International Airport are particularly prone to this crime. In another scam, victims are approached in a hotel, restaurant or other public place by an individual claiming there is some sort of problem with his or the would-be victim’s automobile in the parking lot. On the way to investigate the “problem,” usually in a remote or concealed area near the parking lot, the robber pulls a gun on the victim demanding cash, credit cards and other valuables. A third popular scam involves various attempts to acquire a victim’s ATM card and PIN number. Some sophisticated criminals have even placed boxes outside ATM kiosks that record PIN numbers when unsuspecting victims believe they must enter their PIN number to gain entry to the ATM foyer. After recording PIN numbers, robbers then steal the owner’s ATM card to complete their crime. There are dozens of techniques scammers can use to rob victims of money and possessions. While most people mean no harm, always be cautious when strangers approach you for any reason or make unusual requests.

 

--- (driving)

Driving in Guatemala requires one's full attention, and safe drivers must take extraordinary efforts to drive defensively to avoid dangerous situations.

Traffic rules are only casually observed. Many drivers do not use their turn signals to alert other drivers. Instead, a common custom is for a driver or passenger to stick a hand out the window and wave it to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Speed limits, lane markings and stop signs are frequently ignored. Passing blindly on winding and/or steep mountain roads, poorly designed surfaces, and unmarked hazards present additional risks to motorists.

 

Common public transportation is by local recycled school busses, which serve every town in the country. Criminal activity and frequent fatal accidents, however, make the low-priced inter-city buses particularly dangerous. Modern inter-city buses offer some security from highway violence, but armed attacks are increasing, showing that all buses are vulnerable. (See additional information in the CRIME section.)

 

Although city streets are lit, secondary and rural roads have little to no illumination. The Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and the road from Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast (CA-9) are especially dangerous due to heavy traffic, including large trucks and trailers. There are no roadside assistance clubs, however a roadside assistance force (PROVIAL) patrols most of the major highways in the country.

 

Valid U.S. driver's licenses are accepted for the first 30 days of a visit, and international driving permits are accepted in Guatemala for extended stays. Guatemala's road safety authorities are the Department of Transit and the Joint Operations Center of the National Police. Drivers use the right-hand side of the road in Guatemala, and speed limits are posted (in kilometers) depending on the condition of the road. Speed limits are different in rural and urban areas, but are rarely enforced. Drivers often drive at the absolute maximum speed possible for the particular vehicle at the time. These drivers share the road with slow vehicles, some barely able to manage 20 miles per hour, creating a hazardous mix of velocities.

 

In an accident resulting in injury or death, every driver involved is taken into custody and the vehicle(s) impounded until a judge determines responsibility in a re-enactment of the accident.

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Guatemala Questions for recent cruisers?

 

Does the NCL Sun Tender in or does it dock?

 

Were there any good beaches close by?

 

Was the are safe? I will have my wife and 4 year old son.

Are the car rentals close by?

 

Is there tourist attractions close by?

 

We just did not see any tour information from NCL that looks appealing to a 4 year old and us. Any information on the port would be appreciated.

 

Mike:confused:

1. It docks

2. No

3. The port area and any touristy areas near the port are safe BUT this is not a country that I would not wander around in on my own or rent a car unless I spoke FLUENT Spanish and was very aware of local customs. For example - NEVER touch a child in Guatemala (even a little pat on the head).

4. Not really close by but within driving distance.

Personally I would recommend NCL's Amatique Bay Resort excursion. To me it is the perfect excursion here for anyone with small children. The resort has a nice pool and (I think) decent facilities for kids (a kid's pool and pirate ship (really neat), water slides, some playground type equipment, turtles and iguanas to see). The actual beach is not great (murky water) but everything else is fine and the resort grounds are attractive. There are other excursion possiblities but none that I can think of that would be suitable for a small child.

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Not to say that something would never happen to a tourist anywhere in the world, please note that warning concerned Guatemala City and Antigua, the two main tourist areas. Santo Tomas is in nowheresville, not on a main road where the crimes are apt to happen, and is still full of nice people who hopefully have not been corrupted by crime.

 

You will find more information on Santo Tomas/Livingston activities on Ports of Call board, Caribbean/Other with some reviews from people who booked excursions right there at the dock in Santo Tomas. The people selling tours, or driving boats there are licensed and will stay with you the entire time. In other words, you will not have an unlicensed person coming into the dock to try to foist their boat ride on you.

 

I would say that speaking Spanish would be helpful. But some people booked with Gus from Parador (Hotel) El Delfin in Livingston who had spent 20 years in New York, so was fluent in English.

 

Before you get in a cab to see the local sights, however, make sure that you can communicate with the driver, either he in English or you in Spanish, or a combination thereof. There have been some humorous mistranslations! And having a cute child show you the sights when you can't understand a word, is not really a tour, is it?

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We just returned from the Sun Yesterday, and I would HIGHLY recommend the tour with "Gus". It was a wonderful experience and Gus takes fantasic care of everybody on the tour. You will see things not offered by any other tour. Just my $.02

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