One of the best places for information on what to do in various ports is
Cruise Critic. The Cruise Critic Belize forum board was very useful in planning shore excursions, whether the ones offered by the ship or independent, and there is also Belize port information with hints on where to go, what to do, where the ships dock, where to eat and how to get around.
To find out how many other cruise ships will be in town along with you, check
Cruisett.com. The more ships in town, the more competition for independent guides and tours and the more crowded the main attractions will be.
All cruise ships are currently required to anchor and tender passengers to Tourism Village in Belize City, the ferry ride takes about 20 minutes.
Just got back from Belize, lousy experience.
1) Cops at customs treat you like you are a drug dealer entering the country, not like someone who's bringing good money ...
2) ... money the belizean people are never ashamed to beg whenever the occasion (tips, hotel tax 9%, ...)
3) ... ending up with the exit tax! Can you imagine? The even ask for money when you leave their country and they don't even want their own valuless currency. Only US $!!
4) Beaches are covered with garbage and other
5) Planes and ferries are never on time
There is plenty of places in central aerica and around the world much much better then Belize.
This map gives an overview of the territory we covered during our 3-weeks of backpacking around Belize, with accommodations stops indicated by 'red' dots. Considering that the country is not all that big, we really did not cover a lot of ground!
After landing at the International Airport in Ladyville, northwest of Belize City, we had to catch a small internal flight (dashed line) out to Caye Caulker island on the reefs. After a few days there we continued north by water taxi to San Pedro on Ambergris Cay, before taking another water taxi back to Belize City. Not wasting any time there, we immediately headed back to the airport to pick up a rental vehicle for 3 days of exploration. This enabled us to take a short side-trip to the Howler Monkey reserve at Bermudian Landing before spending a night in the tropical savannah at the Belize Zoo (about half-way inland toward the Capitol of Belmopan). From there, we continued inland a bit further before diverting south for another two nights on the coast at Hopkins.
Our rental time was up, so we backtracked to the airport, where we were picked up by a shuttle van which took us further north and inland to the birdwatching sanctuary at Crooked Tree for a couple of days relaxation. Next, we hitched a ride with other travellers and headed inland again, all the way to the San Ignacio area on the border with Guatemala. During our week in that part of Belize, we headed off to the Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park in Guatemala for two days, just 'winging it' with share cabs and a mini-bus drive. Our final night was spent back on the coast in Belize City before we flew out for home.
Favorite thing: I entered and leaved Belize by the Mexican border, and i did not save enough money because i never expected a tax for leaving Belize in the border. The tax is 37 Belizean dollars per person ( 18.5 USD) which I consider it is too much, consider this in order to avoid problems...
Belize is a very informal country, with a casual lifestyle. Unless you are invited to a Government function, you won't need formal attire. You can leave your jewelry and expensive watches at home and just bring an inexpensive watch that is suitable for diving and hiking.
If you're visiting the Cayes or the Barrier Reef, bring your shorts, T-shirts and bathing suit, as well as comfortable flip-flops. As the sun probably is more intense than what you are used to at home, bring a cap to protect your head from the tropical sun whe you are boating. In addition to protecting your eyes from both the sun and the reflective glare off the water, a pair of "polarized" sunglasses will enhance the variable colors of the coastal waters of Belize.
Fondest memory: Loose fitting, light colored cotton pants and shirts, along with a comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots are appropiate for exploring the mainland or trekking through the rainforest. When visiting the Maya sites or walking through the jungle, a hat with a wide brim will provide shade from the tropical sun, as well as protection from a tropical shower.
Be aware that water, beverages, and snacks are not always readily available while sightseeing so a day pack to carry a water bottle, energy bars, camera, binoculars, poncho, hand towel, etc. is a welcome accessory.
Favorite thing: Visas are NOT required for citizens of the USA, European Union, British Commonwealth (except India), Mexico, Costa Rica or Austria, who have a valid passport and an onward airplane ticket. These visitors will be issued a 30-day visitor's permit upon entry.
Hotel Room Tax: 7%
Sales Tax (tours and services): 8%
Service Charge: 8-10%
Airport Departure Tax & Security Fee: US$32
Departure Tax when crossing the border into Guatemala or Mexico:
Border Management Fee: US$15
Protected Area Conservation Trust Fee: US$3.75
I suppose the Airport Departure Tax is included in the tickets. I didn't have to pay that!
Favorite thing: The Belize dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. All hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept US paper currency, traveller's checks, or most credit cards. When using your credit cards in Belize, most establishments will add a 5% service charge to your bill. Always make sure that you understand if the rate being quotes is in Belize or US dollars, otherwise ... well well ... !
Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
All banks on Friday: 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Individual bank hours vary and some also open Saturday morning.
Commerce & Industry:
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Some businesses are also open on Saturdays and most weeknights.
Take care: Belize city is DEAD on Sundays!!!
Favorite thing: The population of approximately 273,800 people consists of a mixture of Creole, Garífuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and Eastern Indian. Due to racial harmony and religious tolerance, all of these different cultures have blended successfully, and Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
The climate is subtropical, with annual mean temperature of 26° c and average humidity of 85%.
Rainy season is usually between June and August and the dry season is between February and May, although global weather changes are causing some variation. Hurrican season in the region oficially begins June 1st and ends November 30th. Saltwater temperatures vary between 23 and 29° C.
Favorite thing: Belize's 450 cayes, three atolls and barrier reef attract many visitors. Some of the larger cayes support fishing, and tourism while others are tiny mangrove cayes that provide a superior habitat for birds and marine life. The northern half of mainland Belize is a plain which supports sugar cane farming along with the native scrub vegetation, dense hardwood tropical forests and coastal mangrove swamps. Central Belize consists of large svannas that rise dramatically to the Mountain Pine Ridge and Maya Mountains. The abundant rainfall there forms rivers that flow through karst landscape to the sea. Southern Belize, from the Maya Mountains to the limestone plains of Toledo District, supports citrus and banana agriculture as well as true tropical rainforests with ferns, palms, lianas, and tropical hardwoods.
Favorite thing: Belize, previously known as British Honduras, lies on the east coast of Central America in the heart of the Caribbean Basin, bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Favorite thing: Just like in neighbooring countries, it depends much where you leave or enter the country how much you have to pay. At he main bordercross with Guatemala in benque de la Viejo, you'll have to pay almost $15 leaving the country, while you don't pay anything at other places.
Favorite thing: Drink bottled water. The local stuff needs to purified so us tourists don't get sick. Most restaurants offer this. When ordering bar drinks with ice or crushed ice, always ask the ice cubes are made from purified water. It shouldn't be an issue, but never hurts to check.