Snorkeling The Barrier Reef In Belize Review

I’m sorry for not posting my final two excursion reviews sooner but I had a root canal on Wednesday and then the pain med my dentist prescribed made me itch like a hooker after a busy weekend so there’s that.  My poor tooth still isn’t speaking to me and is considering taking legal action to remove itself from my mouth completely.  I don’t blame it.  And no, I’m no longer taking the pain meds so don’t even blame this rambling on those itchy little bastards.

If you’re still here, I will be reviewing our snorkeling excursion in Belize.  Belize is a tender port where you disembark from the cruise ship directly onto a smaller boat and they take you to the mainland or, in our case, directly to your excursion.  On past cruises, my experience with tender ports has been that I can see land from the cruise ship even if we can’t just pull right up to it.  I saw no land whatsoever, my husband insists he saw land.  The Captain of our snorkel excursion boat later said the cruise ship was actually 10 miles away from Belize which leads me to conclude that my husband was wrong or has the eye sight of Krypto the Superdog.  You will be expected to take sides on this later.

We had scheduled an excursion to snorkel the Barrier Reef through Carnival.  We would tender off the cruise ship directly onto the boat that would take us to the private island.  Our excursion wasn’t scheduled to start until around 10:30 a.m., I believe, so we got to sleep in.  As we were getting ready, my husband went to the dining room designated as our rendezvous point and was informed that the earlier excursion had been cancelled due to rough seas and that ours would probably also be cancelled.  At the very last minute, we were told our excursion was still on.

Some of you know me well enough by now that you know I was already thinking “It must be really bad out there if the first tour was cancelled!”, “Why did this tour company agree to take us out when the seas are this unsafe?”, “What kind of ragtag group of pirates is this?”, and finally, “Fuck, I’m going to end up on a real life Gilligan’s Island!”  The Gilligan’s Island scenario was actually the most positive one in my head at that time.

We were in the dining room waiting for the ragtag bunch of pirates to show up and the ship was rockin’.  I popped two of my “nerve pills” and thought about ordering a drink but before I could solidify my husband’s case for an alcohol intervention, the crew announced our boat was there and it was time to board.

As soon as I was on the boat, I knew I was in trouble.  I’m used to the rocking and swaying of a cruise ship and I’ve actually convinced myself that it’s soothing.  This was not soothing.  We sat on the lower level of the boat, right behind the helm.  I estimate around 100 people were on board.  The Skipper,  umm, I mean Captain looked confused and slightly alarmed and did absolutely nothing to build my confidence in him or his vessel when he picked up his “Captain’s Log” which was a regular old composition notebook that looked about a decade old.  I don’t know what the hell I thought a “Captain’s Log” would look like but that was not it and it did not boost my confidence that this was an upstanding band of pirates.

We got going and were told it would take 45 minutes to arrive at the island.  The seas were the rockiest I’ve ever been on in a smaller craft.  Water was splashing in through the sides like some wild Universal Orlando ride until they let the plastic protective sides down.  By that time, I was making note of where the life jackets were and which of the other Moms (and some Dads) I could easily take out if circumstances called for it.

My brain started repeating its new mantra of “I quit this bitch”.  It was either freak the fuck out in front of a whole lot of kids, including my own, or start gnawing on my nerve pills like I was a squirrel down to my last winter nut.  I chose the squirrel/last nut option and some deep breathing.  Luckily, I settled down before the Captain had to tranq my ass, or worse – write me up in his very official and fancy “Captain’s Log”.

About 20 minutes in, a kid facing us apparently did not have the “squirrel/nut” option available to him as I had and he almost puked on my entire family.  His Dad got him calmed down but for extra insurance, I had my husband tote them over a gallon sized Ziploc bag to contain his shit if the need arose.  There were a lot of people on the boat who I suspected needed a Ziploc baggie.  I had several baggies but felt I needed to hoard them in anticipation of being on Gilligan’s Island with a bunch of ragtag pirates for the next 20 years.

I did not have high hopes for this “private island”.  I’ve been on enough beach vacations by now to know that it doesn’t matter how good the brochure looks.  It doesn’t matter what the brochure says.  There will always be a crowd.  You will always scramble for a beach chair or a beach mat or just a tiny space in the sand to place your beach towel.  There will always be beach peddlers with their various wares roaming the beach, interrupting the Jimmy Buffet song you were listening to with your headphones on.  And the final, cardinal rule of beach getaways:  There will always, ALWAYS be an overweight European wearing a fluorescent Speedo repeatedly and inexplicably interrupting your line of sight to the beautiful, impossibly blue water.  It’s like death and taxes.  Only worse.

An island was coming into view and I thought surely this wasn’t “our” island.  Our island was probably back behind this island.  I saw no Europeans or Speedos.  The only thing missing was that little bastard Tattoo from Fantasy Island yelling “Da plane, da plane!”  I saw absolutely nothing but sand, palm trees, straw huts, sky, impossibly blue sea.  I saw THIS:

The Captain announced that we had arrived and informed us there was a cantina with snacks and drinks for sale.  After he amended the menu to include beer, I’m pretty sure I yelled “Thank God”.

We disembarked and the crew waiting on the dock immediately started getting everyone snorkel gear and started dividing into snorkel groups of Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  I do not snorkel because I don’t swim well and also don’t think my sole method of breathing should be through a large straw, even temporarily, but my husband and two kids love it.  They were in the Intermediate group.

After fulfilling my “You’re a pussy so you get to take pictures of us bad asses snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef” duty, I planted my ass on a lounge chair and enjoyed the view completely alone for about 45 minutes.  No one interrupted my Jimmy Buffet song.  Okay, actually, I listened to Incubus but no one interrupted.  Not one person spoke to me.  Not one person walked in front of my line of view or even my peripheral view the entire time, which was exactly this:

It was like my own private Corona commercial.  I was giddy.  I went to the cantina and perused the beer menu which didn’t take long since they only sold one kind.  I gladly paid for my Belikin, the Beer of Belize, and returned to my lounge chair.  After the family finished snorkeling, we had about another 45 minutes to sit and relax before the boat left for the return trip back to the cruise ship.

As far as the snorkeling went, my family was very disappointed.  The crew was very cautious due to the water conditions.  The snorkeling groups were hemmed in by the crew, some in canoes, to assist the snorkelers if needed. I felt much better about this although the hubs and kids did not get to snorkel in the way they are accustomed to and love from our Grand Cayman excursions. This was part of the Great Barrier Reef but with the number of people snorkeling and the intense supervision and direction, they didn’t get to see a lot.

From my point of view, the island was entirely worth the cost and the hair raising boat ride I endured to get to it.  It was my “zen” moment of the cruise and I would do it all over again.  With plenty of nerve pills and Belikin, the beer of Belize.

I hope you enjoyed my second review of our cruise excursions.  I have one more which I’ll post in the next couple days on Cozumel, so stay tuned.  Y’all have a great week wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.