In ten days, we’ll be on the eve of our trip to New Orleans and three countries in the Western Caribbean! Following a very distressing length of time in which I went into melodramatics over the health of my little kitty, I’m feeling much better and less stressed and I’m ready to get on out of here. Oh, we still have to shop for a few necessities, but I think we have most of what we need in the house already. The main things we’ll need are biodegradable sunscreen (as required by Mexican law), a waterproof passport/document wallet, several disposable waterproof cameras, and some collared shirts for Eric to wear at the nicer dining rooms on board the ship. He doesn’t like collared shirts, but I think he’s too excited about the cruise to care. I’m going to start packing soon and printing out our cruise and excursions documents. And I have called Sumo’s cat clinic and grilled them about his accommodations and entertainment options and I’m convinced he’ll be just fine, especially since we plan to bring some things that smell like us (since cats associate by smell) to keep him happy. I have also asked to conduct a walk-through of the facilities to ensure they meet with his personal expectations and they’ve agreed that I can do that.
I’ve also been emailing back and forth with some of our excursion guides and operators, confirming and double-checking details. They are all very friendly and helpful so far. Here’s a rundown of our itinerary as it currently stands:
Pre-Cruise: One full day, two half-days in New Orleans! We will be staying right on the French Quarter. I’m pretty familiar with how to get around the area on foot having spent over a week there previously. It’s definitely nice and walkable.
Cruise Day 1: We plan to get in line to board as early as allowed (noon). I’m going to pack a separate “on-board” bag for us so that we can relax, swim, hang out on deck, and enjoy the welcome buffet before our rooms are ready and we set sail.
Day 2: At sea!
Day 3: We’ll dock at Costa Maya, Mexico, which I gather is a small port. We will leave the port for Chacchoben, where we’ll take a guided hike through the forest to Mayan Ruins. Our guides will also take our group to Laguna Azul resort for lunch and a swim in the “Seven Color Lagoon”. We can also kayak if we feel like it.
Day 4: Our port for the day is Belize City, Belize. We won’t be hanging around port much; instead we’ll be riding out about an hour to hike through the Belize rainforest, tube through some cave systems with headlamp helmets on, and splash around in Sibun River. Here we must be tendered (ride to port on boats rather than walk in), so I’m trying to get my early tender strategy together as we chose to book with a local tour company rather than the overpriced ship excursion. (The reason we must tender is because the Belize Barrier Reef is here!)
Day 5: We’ll be on the Honduran island of Roatan, part of the Bay Islands. No group tour today – I’ve hired our own private guide to show us what he loves best about the place he calls home. Some of the places we will see are Half Moon Bay for snorkeling (and Roatan is said to have the best!), some of the many shipwrecks in the area, and the iguana conservation farm. The rest is whatever he feels is essential for visitors to see “off the beaten path”.
Day 6: Our last port is the Mexican island of Cozumel. We have booked a cooking lesson with a local lady named Josephina. We’ll be visiting the local market and making multiple Yucatecan dishes back at Josephina’s house, including margaritas and an entree we pre-selected. We’ll have some time to kill afterwards. It depends on what kind of mood we’re in, but we’re thinking we’ll take a taxi over to Money Bar beach club and laze around in the water and on the sand.
Day 7: Our second full day at sea.
Day 8: Dock at New Orleans and go home. We’ll get back pretty late but in time to get some rest. We get back too late to pick up my darling angel, so we’ll get him as soon as they open the next morning!
One thing I’m still undecided on is how much, if any, of the local currency I should bother getting. All of my research indicates that most of the local vendors and cab drivers prefer United States cash. But I am still considering getting a few pesos, Belize dollars, and lempiras along with plenty of USD.
I think we put together a nice mix of local culture, historical sites, and adventure. We’re looking forward to getting to know the three countries as much as we can during our limited time with each one, and rest assured I’ll post all about it when we return!