HARVEST CAYE: NCL
Our time at Harvest Caye would be from 8-5pm. I know there are a lot of mixed reviews and thoughts on this place. I believe most of the negativity stem from not being able to use your beverage package here, no free food or lunch provided and not being able to use your key card for purchases. Otherwise, the reviews seem to be positive (at least what I had read prior to coming here).
I treat this place as if it is any other port. You'd pay for any activities you do using cash or credit card, you buy your own food and drinks, and you use your own money for "extras" you'd do as well, such as excursions. But, the other thing about this is you have the option to just head back to the ship to get your grub and drink on if you don't want to pay extra for this while in port.
So many people get upset that Harvest Caye does not include the food or beverages when it's a "private island". Well, although it's their island, it's not their actual "private" island like Great Stirrup Cay is. Member LeesaB here on Cruise Critic explains this situation best for those that don't understand it. She explains it like this (and I want to give her all the credit for this explanation):
Harvest Caye can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you're used to a traditional private island from a cruise ship.
As you learned, Harvest Caye is not a traditional private island.
What it IS, is an island that (my understanding is) NCL owns, but they struck an agreement with the government of Belize in the running of this island. NCL bought the island and paid for (most, if not all) of the construction of the island features, but it is actually run by the government of Belize, or more likely some sort of contractor company.
Instead of like those private islands in the Bahamas where all the employees are cruise ship employees, all the employees on Harvest Caye are actually from Belize. It helps their economy and NCL gets a nice docking port in Belize.
Yes, the island is essentially a giant touristy port, but without all the weirdness of "how do I get out from this maze of shops?" If you buy something on the island, you're paying someone who lives in Belize for that product.
This certainly isn't explained well by NCL, which I think would help a lot of people enjoy their day at Harvest Caye better. If a calm, touristy port experience doesn't sound like a fun day, then guests can make sure to schedule an excursion, take the ferry to Placencia, or simply stay on the ship.
So hopefully that wonderful explanation helps others out.
This place is just beautiful. Whether it's man made, natural or whatever, a lot of thought and planning to make this a breathing taking place to visit has taken place here. The pool is absolutely gorgeous and HUGE...think bigger than the one at Grand Turk. So even on a crowded day, there's plenty of room to swim.
There is so much seating, either by the pool, away from the pool and at the beach....like A LOT. I can't imagine not having a place to sit.
We were just here 4 months ago on the Breakaway and enjoyed our day there and I had hoped that we would do the same again today.
Now I knew, from being here a few months ago, that they offered a tram to take people down the long pier. I was definitely going to take advantage of this...well honestly, I had no choice but use that service since I had a broken leg this time.
The pier is pretty long and I found myself wishing that I had the ability to walk it again like we did a few months ago. I'm almost scared those days are over with for me.
Just like before, the misting stations were in full force for those that just had to walk the long pier and couldn't make it the rest of the way to the water without needing cooled off first.
Sakari shouts "There's that beautiful palm tree again" ...like if it was going to disappear since the last cruise...as she ran over to get her picture taken by it.
We made it to the pool area. The hubby was pointing and saying "That's where we sat last time". I kept telling him I wanted a "different" view this time and we were sitting on the opposite side.
The chairs and umbrella's are free to use and there's plenty of natural shade from the palms strategically placed around the area as well. We found our spot and marked our territory.
There was a nice view in front of us and also above us.
I do want to mention before I forget, that last time there were iguana's walking around all over the place. This time I did not see one iguana, other than in an exhibit they had there. I wonder why?
Sakari immediately headed for the pool. I went to zoom in and take a picture of her and what do you see her doing??? The very same thing that she was reprimanded for doing last time we were here (which is ridiculous)..."diving" while standing in the water. Last time the lifeguards wanted to yell at everyone for every little thing they did. They told her not to "dive" from the steps. They told her not to "dive" from standing in the water and going forward. Like it was seriously the pettiest thing. She was told she had to ease down into the water with her body and her head and then swim. Are you for real?
So I instantly caught her "diving" right from the start. Only this time, nothing was said...at all that day about anything that she did. Either she was being sneaky and not caught or they've eased up a little. I did see things that I would have THOUGHT that the lifeguards would have said something about such as a parent tossing their kid up pretty darn high in the water with others around them.
There wasn't much time before it was time for us to head out to the pool. It was a hot day.
I remembered a photo that I had taken back at Grand Turk when we were at the beach. I remember seeing a reflection in our sunglasses and it became a game to try to get a good shot of the beach while aiming the camera at the sunglasses. I don't feel that it was working out as well this time around but it was fun wasting about 50 pictures on my disc space trying to do so.
It's hard to tell but this reflection (which isn't really a clear one to begin with) is that of the waterfall area in the pool.
Here's my previous reflection shot I did in Grand Turk.
Just hanging out by the pool and under the waterfall for awhile because it's the one thing that I can do successfully.
I did decide that I wanted to "walk" the entire pool to get some exercise and loosen up my leg/ankle. If I don't move for too long, I get really stiff. What better way to get my PT on than in a pool with very little weight bearing right?
When I woke up this morning I was SORE!!! Like REALLY REALLY sore from the day before and diving. I felt like I had run a marathon. I had no idea that I would feel that way the following day and it wasn't just my leg/ankle that hurt...it was my entire body. Who would have thought that just gently gliding along in the water would have such an effect on my body?
After getting out of the pool, I told the hubs that I wanted to go "walking" and by walking I meant shopping. Off we went while he gave me a look of "you really think you should be doing all this walking???" I mean I was on vacation and I wasn't about to let anything hold me down...well almost anything.
I wanted to bring your attention to this area of chairs...they came with fans in different locations here.
We made it to the shopping area and they had some of the cutest little souvenirs along here. I REALLY wanted one of these giraffes. They were carved out of wood and had the cutest little mane made of a broom type of material. I really really wanted one! But they were super expensive of course (over $100 for the smallest). I also knew that I had no real use for it or a place that it would "fit in" anywhere in my house. I mean I do have a room where the decor is cruise/boat related and another that is beach/fish related. Just nothing that a giraffe would work in darn it.
Then there were the cats and the first thing I thought of was my youngest son's girlfriend...we call her the crazy cat lady (even though she only has 2 cats) but everything she gets has to do with a cat. Maybe if I like her enough by next Christmas...
I love the wood carved animals in the area.
Now I know Del Sol has been around for many many years. I was first introduced to this place back in the 90's on a CRUISE! Imagine that. They had a shop in Key West and I purchased my youngest son a shirt from there. I just thought it was so neat how you go out in the sun and everything changes to pretty colors.
Well, I have always avoided going in here in the past up until today. There was an awesome salesman in there and he was really working it. Since we cruised the week before Christmas, I really hadn't got all of my Christmas shopping done and I still needed items for our games we play on Christmas (saran ball and funky gift exchange that you roll a dice and steal other peoples gifts according to the number you rolled).
I ended up going crazy in this store...like I don't even know why. I bought Sakari a pair of sunglasses, a bracelet, a ring (which was free), and my son Kolin a tee-shirt (one of the gifts for watching my animals while I'm away) and some other things I don't even remember at this time.
Then I already knew that for the older kids presents from us were going to involve something to get them all on vacation with us again! Last time was our Bermuda trip and that had been in 2015. I had bought airline gift cards for their flight and also gift cards for their stay at an Airbnb location. (Then I threw in a lottery ticket as well). I made scrapbook pages, all about vacation and the ocean, and this would be their Christmas present. However, one of them would have a cruise in it as well and I would also do up a scrapbook page with cruise related items. I wrapped the papers in 3 different sized boxes with the same wrapping paper and it was up to them to decide which box they wanted. None of them knew I was doing this. I had each roll a dice and the highest roll got the first choice of which box they wanted. Kolin had the highest, then Kendra, then Kenny. Kolin won the cruise (I guess he liked the shape of that box) and Kendra was livid of course. Kenny was shocked that I had done any that.
Anyhow...I needed items to put in the crazy gift exchange where you steal a present. Each adult had to bring a gift. I decided I wanted to do gifts that had to do with the vacation theme I was going with because none of them knew what was to come at the end of the night. I bought a few beach bags and then bought some beach-related items and bought the girls some Del Sol nail polish. I knew they were going to be confused about why I would be buying "beach" items for the gift exchange. Once they did My gift game, they then learned why.
I think I walked out of there spending almost $200. Yikes! They suckered me in.
I seriously spent so much time in there the hubby said he was going to get ice cream. lol I would later meet him there.
They had so many choices and I went with the sea salt caramel in a sugar cone and I have to say that it was the absolute BEST I have ever had. Oh my gosh it hit the spot!
We circled around and I took some pictures.
I tried using the macro function on the camera. I really didn't know just how well it worked at this point. But I figured I would try it here and there to get used to it.
We sat down to rest for a minute. My foot/leg was hurting and what I used to walk around in was to put on my water socks I use for snorkeling and then put on my ankle brace for support. It was wearing me out despite us walking really slow.
As we sat, I continued to try to use the macro function...getting REALLY REALLY CLOSE!! Like my lens is basically almost sitting right on the items.
I really couldn't believe that it was working so well. My TG 4 has a macro function and I absolutely hate that function. It's not a macro at all. It's more like a zoom. If you hit the button when you are close up, it won't focus. If you are far away and hit the button, it zooms in and gives you a crappy picture IMO.
Now this new TG6....I can be right up on it and it would focus and focus WITH detail.
After resting, we started to head back. At the children's waterpark, I thought it was funny that the life guard stood up at the top in a bright red raincoat.
Then we circled around toward the beach.
Prior to us going for a shopping walk, Sakari had met another mermaid at the pool. They were hanging out most of the day. They had asked if Sakari could go with them (a family) to the beach to play and the mother was going with them. I agreed and told her what we were doing.
We decided to head over to the beach to see what she was up to and this is where we found her.... (check out Mr Studly posing in for the swimsuit edition in the background).
She was sitting in a hole they had dug and 2 very young kids were playing around her and in the hole. I'm looking around and didn't see her mermaid friends or their family. She didn't seem too happy being there and she actually appeared sad. When I asked what happened to her friends, she said that the mom said they were going to the animal exhibit and had asked Sakari to stay there and "watch their sand toys". Say what?!? Why would you do that? Why wouldn't you gather your own toys and take them back to the pool chairs and bring my child along with you back to the pool? I was a little ticked at this point.
I told her to grab up all of the sand toys and we were going to bring them back to our pool chairs and when she seen them again, she could return them. I was being nice. I don't know why. In reality, I should have told her to come on and left the toys there just because they left my child there alone. But...my niceness came over me I guess.