Sailing on Celebrity Apex in the Caribbean (Day 4): Belize

We have arrived at Belize, and it’s the first visit here for both us and Celebrity Apex.

This Central America country, population just under 500,000, is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. There’s no dock here, so Apex is anchored some five miles offshore due to the reef and shallow waters. Belize provides its own tenders to ferry passengers from the ship, and the trip takes about 20 minutes. A stiff wind makes the seas choppy, but the double-decker tenders handle it well.

Pam and I are signed up for the Lamanai Mayan Ruins and Riverboat Safari. The Mayan culture is of particular interest to Pam, who has studied Pre-Columbian art. Unlike Bimini, we have to mask-up for the bus, something you would think we’re all used to by now — annoying but necessary.

Our tour guides are Nuri, Tina and Doris, and they provide a wealth of information about the diverse cultures, people, plants and animals that call Belize home during the one-hour ride from Belize City to the marina, the embarkation point to the ruins and also where we’ll have lunch on our return.

From the bus we board a motor launch that will take up the Belize River for the 25-minute ride to the ruins. In this case, take us almost means “fly us.” Four outboard motors rated at almost 1,000-horsepower zip us along the water at 45 MPH. Hold onto your hats, and everything else.

Ironically, Pam’s wide-brim hat makes it just fine, until she crosses the bridge after leaving the boat, where a gust of wind blows it into the river. Later, tour guide Nuri shows up with her hat — he took off his shirt and dove into the water to retrieve it. Talk about above and beyond. And yes, he got a big tip.

Now we’re into the jungle, and with the cries of howler monkeys filling the air, begin exploring the amazing structures the Mayans built by hand centuries ago. Our first stop is the Jaguar Temple, followed by a Ball Court where they played their games and finally, the High Temple, where visitors can make the climb to the top, which I did. As we walked, spider monkeys swing in the treetops above us.

By the time we take the fast-moving boat ride back to the marina, we are all more than ready for food and drink (and be advised, if you visit here, bring plenty of water. You’ll need it). They served us a buffet lunch of chicken, rice and beans, plantains and potato salad, all quite delicious.

It was a full day of travel, but Belize proved to be a charming country of friendly people, and as a country once ruled by Britain, English-speaking as well. It’s one place that’s now on our “return” list.

Back on Apex, the first order of business is a shower, followed by a relaxing cocktail in Eden, which is our “go-to” place on the ship when we want to exhale and chill. There, we had a primo view of a spectacular Caribbean sunset.

For dinner, we want to try another of the main dining rooms — Cyprus Restaurant. As the name implies, it specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. Like the other main dining rooms, it features anytime dining, which is a real plus when you don’t want to be tied down to a specific time.

The service was topnotch, and so was the food. Pam ordered a Caprese salad to start, while I had the Taverna salad. For our entrees, Pam had Turkey Parmigiana while I went with the Greek Souvlaki chicken skewers. Outstanding.

We also got the opportunity to speak with Marjan Aleksov, the ship’s restaurant operations manager who’s been with Celebrity for 23 years. He talked about how the concept of having four main dining rooms and anytime dining has become more and more popular with guests, and could become the standard throughout the fleet at some point.

It’s been another full day, and we have an early wake-up call tomorrow when Apex visits Cozumel. Our tour is set to meet at 7:30 am. That oversize, ultra-comfy bed in our Aqua stateroom is definitely calling our names.

PHOTOS courtesy Gerry & Pam Barker

The Belize marina where we catch the boat to the Mayan ruins (cover photo)

Pam thanks Nuri for getting her hat out of the river

That’s me — in blue –at the top of the High Temple

Having a cocktail in Eden at sunset

The Greek Souvlaki in the Cyprus Restaurant

 


Ed. Note:

Celebrity Cruises | Celebrity Cruise Lines (cruisecompete.com)

Celebrity Apex Cruises (cruisecompete.com)

Celebrity Cruise Tours (Expedition)

 

 

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