Approximately two million travelers cruise to the Caribbean each year to enjoy the beautiful beaches and warm weather. Caribbean cruises are popular because of the activities and amenities on board the ship and because many ships make stops at various islands along the way. People cruise to Belize to see its many oceanic wonders, such as the barrier reef.
If you're planning to cruise, plan ahead: Depending on the season, cabins may be completely booked months before the cruise is scheduled to set sail. You can book the cruise yourself by calling the cruise line or making an online reservation. You can also book your excursion through an online or in-person travel agent.
If you choose to work out the details of your cruise on your own, you can call the cruise line, utilize the cruise line's website, or book your cruise through a general travel website. When planning, keep in mind the type of trip you ultimately want. For instance, if this is a family vacation, consider sticking to a family-oriented cruise since these ships design activities specifically for children. If you're traveling as a couple, look for a quiet ship with a romance theme, such as a Princess Cruise - the cruise line used by the "Love Boat" TV show. If you'd like to sail aboard one of the most luxurious ships available, look to liners known for their top-notch services such as Crystal and Silversea.
Of the many ocean liners servicing Belize, each offers a variety of price, schedule, and island stop options. Whether you seek an extravagant vacation aboard a floating luxury hotel, a romantic getaway with your loved one, or an activity-filled family voyage, your dream ship awaits.
Choose from the following:
|Cruise Line||Telephone Number|
|American Canadian Caribbean||800-556-7450|
|Yachts of Seabourn||800-929-9595|
There are currently four classes of cruises: contemporary/value, premium, luxury, and specialty. Understanding each class can help you choose your cruise based on the type of cruise you seek and how much money you wish to spend.
Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the powerhouses of cruising, are two of the most popular contemporary/value cruise lines and together make up almost 90 percent of the entire cruise industry. This largest class of cruising is characterized by reasonable prices and package deals.
Premium cruises are generally more expensive than contemporary/value cruises. They offer superior service and smaller ships. Premium ocean liners like Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America boast larger wait staffs for fewer passengers.
Luxury class ships such as Seabourn, Windstar, and Cunard reputedly offer top-notch service and amenities. While luxury cruises naturally come with a higher price tag, many consider the experience to be worth the expense.
Ships in the specialty class, like regional cruises, typically sail to a unique, secluded destination, not the usual major Caribbean ports of The Bahamas or Jamaica. These ships may also offer specialized cruises for exclusive passenger groups such as gays and lesbians, senior citizens, or singles.
Ships vary not only in theme, décor, and luxury level, but also in size. The size of a ship is a critical factor when booking a trip because some are too large to visit particular islands. For example, a Panama-class ship is the largest available. The ship derives its name from the Panama Canal because it is so large it can barely squeeze through the canal's borders. These enormous ocean liners, holding a maximum of 3,000 passengers, visit the major ports.
If visiting a secluded island sounds appealing, try a smaller ship carrying no more than 300 passengers. These smaller ships, such as the Windstar Cruise Ships, generally avoid the larger ports that the megaships visit and stick to the small harbors.
Obviously, the larger the ship, the more stable it is on the ocean during periods of turbulent weather. A medium-sized ship may feel a shudder from a swell, but one of the megaships should be totally resistant.
Ships are classified based on the following criteria:
|Gross registered tonnage||measurement of the ship's volume/vessel's size||1 gross registered ton = 100 cubic feet|
|Passenger-to-crew ratio||number of passengers served by each crew member||Smaller ratio = better service|
|Passenger capacity||based on double occupancy (two passengers in each cabin)||More rooms = more passengers|
|Space ratio||comparison of ship space/tonnage to passenger capacity||Higher ratio = extra spacious|
The initial step when selecting a cabin is deciding on a "run of the ship" cabin or a "perfect" cabin. Run of the ship cabins are less expensive because they are not assigned until the week of departure. With the run of the ship option, you'll have the choice between an inside and an outside cabin. Selecting a perfect cabin means that you are guaranteed to get exactly what you pay for and request.
Some additional guidelines for selecting a room:
Avoid booking cabins in close proximity to anchors, bars, casinos, elevators, engine rooms, gyms, nightclubs, public rooms, stairways, pools and hot tubs, theaters, or thrusters. These areas can be particularly noisy.
If you are traveling with young children, do not select an outside cabin, especially one with balcony access.
If you are subject to motion sickness, consider a cabin on the lower decks. The further into the middle of the ship you are, the fewer ship movements you'll feel.
Keep money and valuables safely hidden in your room, and always lock your cabin door. Avoid carrying unnecessary cash around the ship.
Confirm the view you'll have in an outside cabin - make sure you're getting what you expect. You may want to request a view of the ocean.
Cruise prices for the Caribbean region tend to be significantly higher between late December and early April as people flee to the tropical islands to escape the cold, snowy north. Cruises during the spring and fall tend to be less expensive than those during the Caribbean high season. Hurricane season should not be ruled out. Although the ride may be slightly bumpy from the tossing of the seas, great deals abound during this season. The most popular, and therefore most expensive, times to cruise are major holidays: New Year's Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.
Cruises can last from two days to two weeks. As a first-time cruiser, you may want to start out with a shorter trip. During a two-day cruise, the ship may dock at one, two, or no ports. Nearby Cozumel is a popular stop for short cruises. If you're a seasoned cruiser, you may advance to a seven-to-ten-day cruise, which offers the opportunity for twice as many island stops. Two-week cruises can be booked as either two seven-day, simultaneous trips or one 14-day voyage.
Typical on-shore and ocean excursions arranged by the cruise lines include snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, golfing, and scenic tours, although aquatic tours are the most popular in Belize. Each excursion is arranged by the cruise director and will likely cost an additional $25(USD) to $100(USD). You can either reserve an excursion when booking the cruise or wait until you board, but remember that spots for these activities are limited. Be sure to consult the cruise director about the expected docking time for each port stop to plan ample time for sightseeing.
The cost of your cruise will be based on luxury level, length of cruise, and number of persons traveling (single occupancy rates are higher than double occupancy rates). Nearly everything, from room and board to onboard activities/entertainment, is included in the cruise ticket fare. What may not be included are beverages, shore excursions and activities, final tip, and airfare, if it's not part of an air-cruise package. Depending on the cruise line, the tip may be automatically included in the bill. Inquire about the amenities in your personal cabin when booking the cruise. Things like bathtubs and televisions are not common in most cabins; let the cruise line know ahead of time if you require these items and ask about extra fees for them.
When cruising to Belize, there may be a nominal departure fee of $3.75(USD) or BZ$7.50, but this is generally covered in the cost of the cruise.
Pack your suitcase for a normal, sun-filled vacation, but avoid bringing extraneous items you may not have room to store in a small space. Recommended daywear includes a few bathing suits, breathable shirts, shorts or other cover-up items, flip-flops, sunglasses, and a hat for added sun protection.
For the evenings, wear clothing appropriate for the scheduled dinner class. Evening meals are classified as evening casual, informal, or formal. Appropriate evening casual attire consists of nice slacks and a collared shirt for men and a sundress or nice pants with a blouse for women. Denim is usually not permitted in the dining room.
On a cruise, a suit and tie or cocktail dress qualify as informal. For formal dinners, male passengers are required to dress in "black tie." If you have questions about what to wear, do not hesitate to consult the cruise director.
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