Disclosure: This Cruising the Western Caribbean post was sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you have been following our blog for very long, you know we are avid cruisers. Within the last couple of years our household has changed a little. Our daughter moved out with our God-daughter and now it's just our son home with us. We decided to take a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruise Line. This trip would be centered around spending some one on one time with our son now that he is the only one home as well and bringing along my mother – in – law Patsy.
You see Patsy has never been on a cruise before, in fact she has never been on any kind of ship. Patsy was born with Klippel-Fiel Syndrome, she also only has 30% lung capacity. Mom had mixed emotions about going on the cruise. It looked so amazing but she was so afraid of swimming and other activities due to her condition. After talking it over she agreed to go. So we chose the Western Caribbean as our destination.
The Carnival Conquest:
We have been on a Carnival cruise twice before but this was our first time on the Carnival Conquest. If you are wondering how four people were going to fit in one room, it wasn't that difficult at all. As you can see from the photo above there was plenty of space. The one thing I wish they would have had in our room was a privacy curtain that would separate the main bed from the other two.
The Conquest has lots of things to keep a person entertained. The Lido deck is a happening place! There is a pool, a couple of hot tubs, a DJ to entertain you, plenty of lounge chairs to lounge in and 2 bars to keep you hydrated. Plus if you head up a couple of decks you can play volleyball, basketball or mini-golf! If you want a little “adult” time you can head to the over 18 pool area where they have a pool and 2 hot tubs.
If you are wanting to get out of the sun for awhile you can head inside to the casino or they also have a daily BINGO game you can join. They also have daily classes on everything from shopping (how to get the most out of shopping at the port of call), tips on how to disembark seamlessly, trivia contests and more. At night they have VEGAS like shows and a comedy club with a PG rated show and a R rated version for adults. So you never have to worry about getting bored on the Carnival Conquest.
If you cruise on the Conquest and ever go hungry it's your own fault! You have the buffet, Guys Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Grill, The Carnival Deli, Pirate Pizza and that's just on the Lido deck! I haven't even mentioned the main dining room, room service and several other places to grab a bite! My son and I ate the Pirate Pizza (which is open 24 hours BTW) quite a bit on this cruise. We would go out for our excursions and when we would get on the ship my son and I would go grab a slice of hot, made to order pizza and then go play a round of mini-golf. One night, after a particularly busy day of exploring Cozumel, Patsy decided to just order room service and read a book and relax. The Conquest also has a Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham breakfast that the kids (and adults) will surely love! There is really something for everyone on the Carnival Conquest.
The Western Caribbean:
Of all the places Melissa and I have been, we have never been to most of the Ports of call on Carnival Conquest's Western Caribbean sailings. We were not disappointed in any of the stops. They each provided a unique experience that none of us will ever forget. As a matter of fact we are already talking about heading back to several of them as we didn't want to leave when the ship was leaving port! The Western Caribbean sure has a lot to offer.
The morning we arrived in Cozumel we had an issue with our excursion. Apparently my phone, which I had set to airplane mode, had changed time when we crossed over to another time zone. We have been on many cruises as well as out of the country trips and this has never happened before. I even checked my phone to make sure I had it on the right settings. So when we went down to meet everyone that was in our excursion, there wasn't anyone there! We went to the customer service window on the Conquest and explained our situation to the wonderful woman that was working there. She explained to us that they had waited for us for 45 minutes but had to leave because they had to catch a ferry over to the private island. To say we were devastated is an understatement. We had no idea what we were going to do. Luckily for us the woman at customer service refunded our money and found us another excursion!
Everybody Loves Rays –
This was the excursion that replaced our original one. Everyone in our family is an animal lover so this seemed like a natural fit. We were not disappointed!
It was only about a 10 minute ride to Everyone Loves Rays. When you get there they spend about 15 minutes going over safety information and explaining how to safely interact with the stingrays. Then they set you up with snorkel equipment and a PFD (personal floatation device) for the 2nd part of the excursion.
The 1st part of the excursion you wade into the ocean and you get to feed the stingrays! It is a weird feeling having the rays eat from your hand. They basically suck the food from your hand. They said it wasn't uncommon for them to come home with hickey's. Not sure if he was joking with us or not but after feeding the rays I could definitely see how that would be possible!
The 2nd part of the excursion you get to snorkel in the bay with the sting rays. The water is so amazingly clear! We didn't have any problems being able to see the rays. We were even able to see some baby rays while we were snorkeling! And to think we wouldn't have experienced this if it wouldn't have been for the awesome customer service employee! THANK YOU CARNIVAL!
San Gervasio Mayan Ruins-
So after our Everybody Loves Rays excursion we had about 4 hours until we had to be back on the ship. We asked around and they recommended we get a cab for the day and drive to the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins. We negotiated with the cabbie for $60 for 3 hours. He took to us to an amazing local restaurant for lunch, then it was off to the ruins.
The Mayan Ruins at San Gervasio were AMAZING! There is so much history there and to be able to walk around the ruins you could almost imagine what it looked like before it was abandoned in the 1500's. According to Wikipedia, San Gervasio is an archaeological site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. The ruins were once a hub of worship of the goddess Ix Chel, deity of the moon, childbirth, fertility, medicine, and weaving. Pre-Columbian Maya women would try to travel to San Gervasio and make offerings at least once in their lives. So this place was a very special place for the Mayans.
While walking around the ruins we found several of these iguanas hanging out. It was like they were guarding the ruins and waiting the Mayans to get back.
On our stop in Belize we decided to go snorkeling on the barrier reef. The barrier reef in Belize is the biggest barrier reef in the Northern and Western Hemisphere, spanning 185 miles of Belize's beautiful blue waters. We have been snorkeling before but never on a natural reef. I couldn't wait to get started!
Our excursion started off with a 45 minute ride on a tender from the Conquest to a private island that is near the reef. When we arrived on the island they passed out our snorkel gear and divided us by experience level. This was a great way to ensure that you get the most out of your time in the water. No one has to worry about holding the group up because they may not be a great swimmer. The guides were extremely knowledgable and were quick to point out different varieties of coral and sea life.
After our snorkeling tour we had lunch and were able to explore the island at our own pace. You could go swimming, go snorkeling some more on your own or just lounge around in the sun. We actually decided to do a little bit of everything. My son and Patsy decided to lounge around while Melissa and I explored the island. After all , we were in the beautiful Western Caribbean and there was lots to see.
My wife is a nature girl at heart. She loves being in the outdoors. We saw so much marine life while on the island. It is important to know when visiting Belize that you understand that they are very protective of their environment. While you are allowed to look and touch, please don't remove any shells. We found this beautiful little guy and just had to take a photo to share with you before we put him back in the water.
Roatan Island –
On Roatan Island in Honduras our excursion was to the Mayan Princess Resort. This was our day to just relax. We really had no plans to do much of anything. We brought our own snorkeling gear incase we wanted go snorkeling but other than that we had no plans.
When you get the Mayan Princess Resort they let you know when and where lunch will be and where to get your free drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. After that you are on your own. There are locals all up and down the beach that offer all kinds of things to do, from snorkeling, scuba, jet ski rental and much more.
I had decided to walk up the beach and just take pictures while the family was relaxing. At the very end of the beach I saw some kids feeding the fish about 10 feet off off shore. I thought the family would enjoy this so I went back and got them. We thought it would be cool to bring snorkeling stuff and I'm glad we did.
I waded out about 15-20 feet and was following the fish and stumbled upon a a big red arrow painted on a rock on the ocean floor. Curious I followed that arrow to another rock that said snorkel tour starts here! Now mind you that there are no signs on the beach that tell about this. I had found a “secret” snorkeling spot! They were all kinds of fish swimming around through the coral and grass. This “secret” snorkeling spot was the highlight of our time on Roatan Island in the Western Caribbean.
Cayman Turtle Farm-
In the Grand Caymans which is located in the Western Caribbean, we decide to try the Cayman Turtle Farm. The Cayman Turtle Farm is a huge place where you can see these beautiful sea turtles up close. Not only that, but you interact with them as well! There are plenty of opportunities to take pictures or they even have a lagoon where you can snorkel with the turtles and other kinds of sea creatures!
The Queen's Notes: I love capturing my family having fun in action. These are my most treasured photos. I love the two photos below of my husband and my son laughing as they held the photos. The told us to take a silly pic, we throughly enjoyed our stay here.
Not only do they have sea turtles, but they have an aviary that has local and exotic Caribbean birds. You can purchase different kinds of bird feed for $2 and the birds will fly up and eat out of your hand!
As you can see from the pictures we had a great time playing with the birds! They are so colorful, they almost don't even look real! We actually wish we would have had more time at the Cayman Turtle Farm because we didn't get to see everything! We missed the turtle hatchery and Breakers Lagoon which is the largest swimming pool on the island!
After we left the turtle farm we walked around by the port and did a little shopping. Actually my son went back to the Conquest and the adults went shopping. There is a wide variety of shops, so you should be able to find something for everyone.
I can't thank Carnival enough for allowing us the opportunity to take Patsy and my son on this cruise. I'm pretty sure they created memories that will last forever. Carnival's awesome employees made this cruise a success. From the hilariously funny Cruise Director Josh, to the awesome customer service woman that helped us and the hundreds of employees behind the scenes, they made our cruise what it was… A total success! You should also check out traveling to Grand Turk.