Thanksgiving Cruise in Central America
We took a seven-day cruise out of Tampa on the Holland America Rotterdam to celebrate Thanksgiving.
We sailed from Tampa on Sunday at 4:00PM. It took us no time to check-in at the port. We got a bite to eat at the buffet and our balcony cabin was ready by 2:00PM. We even got our luggage before the drill. It was our second cruise with Holland America. It’s an older crowd, but we enjoy the food, the America Test Kitchen demos and the music quartet (they call it Lincoln Center Stage on most ships).
On Monday we arrived in Key West at 11:00am. We had been there many times, so we just wandered the streets and did some shopping on Duval street. We also stopped at Sloppy Joe's Bar to listen to the music…and have a drink!
Tuesday was a day at sea, so we discovered the ship, attended the American Test Kitchen show and had dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, where the food is inspired from the Pacific Northwest. They charge extra for this venue, but it’s worth it.
On Wednesday we arrived in Mahogany Bay (Roatan). It’s a small island off the coast of Honduras. We had a driver/guide for the day that we booked through Viator. We started by visiting the Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout. That was a blast. You can hold monkeys, sloths and parrots. We were in a small group and we had plenty of time to tour the venue. Afterwards, we drove through the picturesque town of West End, a beach village with dozens of restaurants, bars and dive shops. Unfortunately, we did not have time to stop for a long time, but we really want to go back. We stopped for lunch at the Grand Roatan Resort, a beautiful property with a sandy beach and turquoise water. We had the opportunity to meet the owners of the property. They are from Texas and are doing everything to make the resort eco-friendly. We had a fantastic day and decided that we had to come back to this island for a few days.
Thanksgiving Day in Guatemala. We booked a shore excursion though Viator named “Rio Dulce and Hot Springs Tour with Visit to the Children's School”. You can only access the school by boat and they love to receive extra school supplies from visitors. They pick you up in a small boat at the port (Santo Tomás de Castilla). The ride lasts almost an hour and it can be very choppy. Then you arrive in Livingston, where you switch boat for a small type of pirogue. We went up the river where you can see a couple of monkeys and iguanas. We finally arrived at the school to learn that the kids were on vacation…Everybody was very disappointed, but a few kids were in the village and they rushed to us in canoes to greet us. We give them the school supplies we brought. Back down the river to Livingston where we had a buffet lunch organized by the tour. Afterwards we spent an hour visiting Livingston before going back to port in choppy waters.
We spent Friday in Costa Maya, Mexico. It was our first time there, so we decided to take a small tour and visit the ruins. The port is very modern and they have pools, shops bar and restaurants. It took an hour from the port to the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben. Our guide was of Mayan heritage and he gave us detailed information about their history. We visited the three excavated and restored pyramids. Our guide told us that the excavation is continuing on several mounds which are supposed to contain further buildings. It’s a lot of walking around the site, so you need to be in good physical shape. You should definitely wear tennis shoes for this visit. On our way back to the ship we stopped at the port and spend some time in the shops.
Saturday was a day at sea before our return to Tampa. We went to the American Test Kitchen demo and spent some time by the pool. We really enjoyed this cruise. It had a lot of new destinations for us. It was very convenient for us as the port of Tampa is only thirty minutes from our home.