February 24, 2017

Roatan, Belize City and Costa Maya

We arrive in Roatan, Honduras precisely on time at 10 AM. The ship is cleared in about 10 minutes and passengers begin disembarking even before all the lines are secured.

Roatan is one of the smaller ports that cruise ships visit. There are just a handful of shops on the pier, including of course the ever present Diamonds International. Most passengers are off on tours, probably 700 stay on board. I get off and walk around for an hour or so. I have little interest in beaches, zip lines, or shopping.

There is another ship docked about 5 or 7 miles away at another port. Too far away to make out the cruise line.

Again the weather is ideal, but maybe a little deceiving for some guests. The temperatures are in the low 80's but there is a 25 mph wind making it feel much cooler. A perfect recipe for some good sunburns. The water is crystal clear, even right at the pier. Many small fish can be seen swimming in the water.

Tonight's show is a comedian and juggler that uses several members from the audience to help him. As often is the case, the audience participants steal the show.

It is a short overnight cruise to to Belize City. The seas are slight and the motion of the ship is minimal.

Belize is a tender port, and we anchor about 5 miles off shore. The Carnival Freedom is about a mile in front of us, and a small German ship, "Hamburg", is about 5 miles to our stern. I go ashore several hours before my tour. All the usual shops and a few local ones. "The Wet Lizard" grabs my attention so I enjoy a beer with some other passengers before getting on our "air conditioned" tour bus. Nearly all vehicles in Belize are old vehicles imported from the US. The poorer the condition, the less tax they have to pay when importing them. Looking at most vehicles on the roads, they avoid a lot of import tax.

Our guide shares a number of things that I hadn't remembered about Belize City. First of all, the city is actually two feet below sea level. New development is almost non existent, and most growth is in the interior of the country. Very few private residences have AC, only the homes of the very rich. Schools, stores, and medical facilities are not air conditioned. Today the temperature is mild, in the low 90's. During the summer the highs often reach 115, and the humidity is very high. Agriculture, primarily citrus crops, and tourism are the major contributors to the economy. The first cruise ship visited the country about 20 years ago. Today there are three here and tomorrow there will be four.

I return to the ship and change for cocktail hour. Right on schedule at 5:00 the captain applies power to the thrusters to turn the ship around. The vibration is a little more severe than usual in the Diamond Lounge, and after about 5 minutes a stack of about 25 plates vibrates to the floor in a thunderous crash. Without a doubt it is very clear, the Captain did it.

Sometimes I think there is payback, but I wouldn't wish this payback on anyone. One of the passengers that is amongst the most poorly dressed each night didn't have the sense to stay out of the sun or use sunscreen. Much of his face is badly blistered from sun burn. Probably the worst sunburn I have seen in years. He looks like he should be getting medical treatment he looks so bad, but I will guess that he does not have enough sense to do that either.

The next morning we arrive in Costa Maya. The weather is about the same with temperatures in the upper 80's on the ship with a nice breeze coming off the ocean. I decide to stay on the ship today and take care of some logistics. I gather my laundry. They say it will be back the next day, but I often find it takes 2 or 3 days. I connect to the internet and skim over my 123 new emails. There are only a few of any importance. I respond to those that are most important, some can wait until I am home, and many just get deleted.

I had a new experience the other day. Often there are various "gifts" in my cabin. Sometimes plates of cookies, bottles of wine, fruit and cheese plates etc. There was not one, but 2 plates. The first the usual chocolate covered strawberries and other desert items. I was a little perplexed that they would send two such plates to my cabin. I looked at the second. It contained shrimp, scallops and other deadly food! This is something the cruise lines are very careful about. They know of my allergies, but someone just made a mistake, or maybe it wasn't a mistake, maybe they are trying to tell me something. 

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