HARVEST CAYE | BELIZE CITY
In the final week of our 110-day voyage with Oceania Cruises, one of our last destinations was Belize. Only six months ago, we first visited Belize on our North to South Pole cruise; we were happy we opted for Altun Ha, the Mayan Ruins on the visit.
HARVEST CAYE, BELIZE
A man-made paradise island positioned just off the mainland coast of Belize owned by NCL, a cruise company for those unfamiliar.
Everyone was raving about the beautiful beach, little restaurants for lunch, a pool with a swim-up bar, and ample sun beds for all to use while soaking up the sun and sipping cocktails. If you fancy splurging, you can rent an air-conditioned resort-style room with access to its own private beach away from the crowds.
So we prepared ourselves for a day by the beach or pool and scampered off the ship with bikinis and beach towels packed.
Unfortunately, the winds were about 25 knots, so we could not be alongside, but the shoreside tenders were large and efficient. Upon arriving from the tender, the infrastructure was impressive: a well-designed walkway with a cart lane for those less mobile.
You enter the bespoke island surrounded by mangroves designed to showcase all Belize is known for, from native plants and trees. The seven-acre pristine beach did indeed have stunning white powder sand and crystal clear waters. A collection of small shops guide you to the beach, where you can settle in for the day. You can even zip line on the island, paddleboard or kayak in the lagoon.
We walked the beach and spotted a bar, so we went for the obligatory cocktail to start the day. However, assessing the drinks served on neighbouring tables, we quickly confirmed the mojitos would be served in non-sustainable plastic cups with plastic straws for a special price of $10 +32% for tax and gratuities! We politely declined and decided this island wasn’t for us, as it felt like all the gloating about protecting the environment was all for show. As we walked past more restaurants, they even served drinks in identical plastic branded NCL cups inside for meals. This island accommodates up to 10,000 guests a day from visiting ships, so the volume of plastic waste daily where they are only too happy to remind you a plastic cup takes 450 years to decompose.
We also noticed plastic waste around, which they proudly promote at the entrance that the Harvest Caye team is dedicated to protecting the environment, local wildlife and the delicate marine ecosystems.
Feeling disappointed, we returned to the ship with a bottle of champagne, again politely declining the plastic bag from the duty-free shop in hand to cheer us up.
NCL, you can do better; let’s lead from the front and by example.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE
Following Harvest Caye, the next day, we arrived in Belize City, a destination we visited in October 2022. We were going to remain on the ship as we recalled the port didn't leave much to be desired, and the city was not very inviting based on travelling through last year.
We decided to jump off the ship for the short tender as we needed connectivity, so we hoped a local bar in port would provide this.
Unfortunately, the bar D' Bourbon Barrel we opted for was quite the letdown and an expensive choice for free wifi; we were very disappointed and headed back to the ship.
If you enjoy overlooking murky grey waters and way below average cocktails (Moscow Mule below), which have a whisper of alcohol at USD 17, then this is the place for you. These are the worst overpriced cocktails we have ever experienced in our six years of travel. Staff are lazy and lacking warmth and a basic level of customer service. Please do yourself a favour and save your dollars; daylight robbery is a tourist trap at its very best.
Belize was quite the disappointment this time; next time, we must find the pristine parts and destinations everyone raves about.
Next is our first visit to Mexico, our final adventure before arriving in Miami to complete our 110-day journey with Oceania Cruises.