March 02, 2017

Roatan, Belize and Costa Maya

We arrive right on time at 10 AM in Roatan. During the night we set our clocks back an hour to match the local time. The weather remains near perfect. Mostly sunny skies, about a 20 mph breeze out of the East and temperatures expected in the upper 70's and lower 80's by mid afternoon.

For the most part I am staying on the ship today. I will get off for a little while just for the walk.

The best entertainment of the morning is off the side of the ship, away from the dock. One lifeboat has been lowered and they are teaching new crew members how to drive them. There are about 15 or 20 crew members involved and they take turns at the helm. The first twenty minutes or so, it is obvious this is their first time at a helm. They practice and get better and better. Essentially they are practicing bringing the lifeboat back to the ship so the hoisting cables can be connected. Not exactly an easy task with the wind, waves, and a vessel that is designed more for stability than agility.

I also stop at the front desk to verify the proper on board credits have been applied to my account. Again being an older ship I am not able to review my account on the room TV as can be done on most newer ships. The Customer Relations manager told me last night that within a few months Royal is rolling out a new system to make the front office operation entirely paperless. It sounds good, has been embraced by many others in the hospitality business, but I wonder how some of the older passengers will accept it. I think I heard it is going to be smart phone app based but I'm not sure my memory is correct.

I get off the ship and take a walk on the pier. There is a small shop on the pier selling locally produced chocolate. I like dark chocolate, sample some, but find it way too bitter for my palate. I return to ship without making a contribution to the local economy.

The metal detector does it's usual thing and targets me as a possible undesirable trying to smuggle something on the ship. Not only does my belt buckle and both hip replacements trigger the walk thru metal detector but also his hand wand, so do both of my shoes. Seldom do my shoes trigger the alarms, but there are a couple of nails holding the heels on each one. I'm eventually allowed to board. With spring break approaching in a few weeks, security is being ramped up to deal with the more challenging travelers.

The headliner show tonight is a juggler and there are only about 200 guests in the theater, there should have been 199. Obviously other passengers got the message and I didn't. Overall the entertainment has been good, but not tonight. Being my first cruise on the Rhapsody I had never seen these specific production shows, and they have several headliner shows during the week which are on the ship for only one day.

Overnight we head to Belize. The water off the port of Belize City is very shallow, and the channel to the anchorage wanders back and forth like a snake. The weather is still the same, mostly clear skies, a brisk wind of about 20 mph and temperatures in the mid 80's. This week the tender ride is almost 30 minutes, I think we are anchored further from shore and the tender boat is slower. Holland America's Osterdam is anchored about a mile or two behind us, and therefore closer to the dock.

Tonight is the top tier event for recognition of Royal's best customers. There are 999 Crown and Anchor members on board. 40 diamond, and 14 Pinnacle. Diane didn't mention how many Diamond Plus, but there are several including yours truly. A number of acrylic blocks are being awarded on this cruise, an award given to those that reach 140 points and any multiple of 70 points above that. It really is a nice gift. A solid block of clear acrylic about 4 x 5 x 2 inches with the outline and name of the ship engraved in the center of the block. During the event I was presented with my fourth block. Barbara, the top cruiser on this voyage, probably has 35 or more in her collection. I know I will never collect that many.

I attend the production show, a country and western music theme. I missed this one last week, it was good. Our clocks move ahead to Eastern time as we head to Costa Maya tonight.

We arrive about an hour late, not because of the long distance to get here, but because the winds are just strong enough to make docking difficult and we are the third ship in line.

The skies are mostly cloudy, and there is a slight chance of a shower in the afternoon. Since I stayed on the ship last week in this port, I go ashore for about an hour and a half. Once out of the breeze it is quite hot with the humidity probably over 80%, and temperatures in the upper 80's. In addition to many local shops and restaurants there is also a swimming pool and a dolphin encounter. The entire port area is quite clean. The projected showers never materialize.

Our next, and last port before returning home is Cozumel.