Mitsugirly had a JOYful cruise
Day 5 April 11, Tuesday: Harvest Caye, Belize
Today would be our day at Harvest Caye in Belize. For those that don't know what this is, it's a private area that was purchased and developed for NCL. We've been here several times and have always used it as a "free" day, although that term can be used lightly since it's not like NCL's private island Great Strirrup Cay where the food and drink are free. Here you must pay for all of that. However, there's a very large beach, plenty of chairs, and a humongous pool to use. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and they have shopping and an animal area. There are also excursions you can take from there as well (including ziplining). Usually we just hang out at the pool or the beach. We have always used it as a free "down" day and come on, who doesn't enjoy free right?
With a busy teenager now, free was not in our cards today. Expense would be in my cards...or should I say wallet. Well actually, I booked with NCL, so it would go on my account with them and the less I seen, the better I was. Sight unseen keeps your heart beating in a regular rhythm....at least for a little bit.
So it was 6:30am and for me, that's sleeping in. I woke the family up and the ship was docking about this time because it started rumbling and shaking. The hubby rolled over and looked at me with his bewildered stink eye this time and ask why I was shaking him like that. "It wasn't me! I promise" although the thought had crossed my mind a few times.
We got dressed and heard the announcements to get off the ship. Oh, I see, on the day we are not ready they make the announcement. We grabbed our bag I had packed the night before and headed up to breakfast. It's not like me to be late getting off the ship...even though our tour meeting wasn't until 12:15pm, I like to make the most out of every minute in port. Let's go!
We ate so fast that I didn't even stop to take a picture before I was done but I can guarantee is was protein packed for the day with boiled eggs, bacon and sausage.
Since I (the ship) abruptly woke the hubby up, he managed to get 3 cups of coffee in before we were allowed to exit the ship. Yes, he was carrying a cup with him when we got down to "ding" out.
We stopped on the dock and I seen the trolley cars running and we decided I would save my foot as much as possible today. About that time, I thought "You know what? People are always asking about things like this on the boards, so I should probably get a picture of it so they know what it looks like!" You know me, I'm a picture person and like to describe things with pictures. I mean why else do I do these reviews so picture extensive right?
About that time, I pulled out my camera from the outside pocket the hubby was holding on his shoulder. Our beach bag will have everything we need for that day inside and there's two things I always put on the outside pocket so it's easily accessible: 1) our ship cards and 2) one of my camera's so it's easy to grab.
YANK went the camera AND SO DID MY SHIP CARD! So what happens? My ship card came out with the camera and fell...not ONTO the deck, but straight down through the cracks of the deck and into the ocean underneath! Are you serious? What are the chances of this happening? Only to me I tell ya! If you remember the same thing happened to me in Roatan at the dive shop a few years ago when I pulled out Sakari's PADI card to show them...straight down through the slats of their platform deck of no return.
Now what am I supposed to do? Stay on the island forever? Will I ever see my family again? Will they come visit me? UGH! We headed back up to security that just dinged us out and ask what to do. He replied, "No worries, when you come back you can just go to customer service and get another". Ok, whew!
I consulted with the family and they said "Let's just go have a fun day and we will deal with it when we get back".
So as promised...here's the picture of the trolley I was taking the picture of for everyone that caused my accident (which really isn't a trolley, but an over sized golf cart, but we are going to call it a trolley anyhow).
And you know me...so here's a picture of the deck that I just dropped my card through as we stood there looking dumbfounded.
I guess the only thing left to do was to get on the trolley and go have some fun. Off we went.
I kept snapping pictures along the way, trying to show just how long this dock is. It's a pretty far walk.
Welcome to Harvest Caye!
I do like that they have the spray misters when you are walking in...although I didn't break much of a sweat riding the trolley, it still felt nice and refreshing.
We have only been out to the beach, I think, once before. We usually just go to the pool. However, this time we decided we would put a little more effort into being at the beach this time around. I mean we skipped the beach in Roatan so I needed to make up for that. I was missing it.
There was plenty of seating, although we never sat once. We headed straight for the water to cool off in.
I found the cutest little baby conch. I've never seen one so small before.
We noticed they had these floating rafts out in the water. I don't remember seeing them last time we were here. Might as well check them out. Oh Em Gee! The water was COLD! The hubby had second thoughts about this idea, but we convinced him "It's warm the further you get out. I promise" wink wink.
We made it out to the floaty raft thing-a-ma-bob and Sakari and I climbed up on it.
Daddy finally made it! Complaints and all.
We hung out for awhile and Sakari decided she needed to be on the move again and started flipping out into the water while daddy had found his resting spot.
Meanwhile, I just took pictures of the area and watched the zipliners zoom by.
Sakari decided she was going to practice her bubble rings. She did some really good ones and she hasn't lost her touch however, I've lost my touch at capturing them and missed every one of them I took a picture of. You see? I need more beach time and missing that December vacation has really thrown me off!
After awhile, we decided to head back and over toward the beach where we could stand better. Then it was game on for throwing the water ball. I think we are pretty rusty on that too and couldn't keep it in the air longer than any other time we've played. So, we started making up other games. Each time you throw the ball and catch it, you have to take one step back. We got pretty far, to the point my arm was getting sore trying to throw it that far. lol
Then we decided to head over to some rocks along the shore. I have never seen any place around here to snorkel and figured maybe there was something over there.
Well, I was wrong. Not much to see there other than a few fish hiding out.
These would be the rocks in the area I was talking about
So since Sakari had been wanting me to take pictures of her on the ship the other day, I told her if she wanted some here, it would be the perfect place.
Man she is growing up fast! So grown up compared to the last cruise we were on.
We walked back to the chairs and picked up our things and decided to go over to the pool for a little fun before our excursion.
By the time we made it to the pool we were hot and thirsty. Then I all of a sudden remembered I forgot to bring money to shore! Geesh! How were we going to get anything to drink or eat? Then something snapped in my head and I yelled "OMG!" The hubby thought I had hurt myself walking of course but noooooooo.......I FORGOT THE EXCURSION TICKETS!!! Geesh. What else could go wrong today??? Lost card, no money, no tickets.
We had no choice other than to go back to the ship.
Back on the trolley we went and then up to security. I explained to them what had happened to my card and that I was told to go to customer service to get another. They ask me what my cabin number was and name, scanned in the families cards, looked at my picture and dinged us in.
We headed straight up to customer service and thank goodness there wasn't a line. It took them a couple times to print off my new card because they were having issues with the printer of course. Meanwhile, the hubby was grabbing us some pop at the bar. Then off to the room to grab our excursion tickets and some money. I still can't believe I forgot all of this! It's so not like me. The hubby said "Well, you're rusty now and relearning how to cruise again. You'll get it babe." I seen my red camera laying on the bed and grabbed it as we went out the door.
Back down to "ding" out and onto the trolley to start over again. The hubby said "Hand it to me! You are not holding onto the cards anymore." I was officially on punishment for the rest of the cruise now.
So we had a little time before our excursion was to start and at this point, I really didn't want to get in the pool and get wet again. So, we decided to sit down in the grass and I pulled out my equipment to get it ready.
There were some really pretty flowers near by and I wanted to take a macro picture of it. I'm looking in my bag and WHERE IS MY NEW CAMERA??? It wasn't there at all. I only have the red camera that I grabbed off the bed (which is the camera I wasn't planning on taking with me and had originally left it in the room when we first came over). I open up the red camera and IT HAS NO MEMORY CARD!! Oh Em Gee! I had put the memory card into the new camera so that I could keep things in order. It must have been sitting back in the room still. I'm on complete failure mode!
But wait, that's not all trust me. If I'm going to fail, I might as well fail big.
I take out my Gopro and I'm ready to put it all together to take my videos...out comes the Gopro, out comes the Gopro stick...um, where is the screw that holds it on the stick? It's not in the case???? Oh no! I'm seriously ready to cry at this point. No seriously!
As we sat there, I'm trying to figure out any solution I can to make this work. Sakari went over to a bush and grabbed me a stick that looked like it would fit in the holes. It did. Ok, we're making progress. However, without being able to tighten the screw that normally goes there, the camera just flopped back and forth. Now what? I took the wrist strap off my camera and tried to tighten it around that area. FAIL. It just wasn't going to work. I had no camera and a Gopro with no stick. Seriously ready to cry!
The hubby is so reassuring and loving and just kept telling me it would be ok. We would use our phones for the pictures and just have to hang on dearly to the itty bitty Gopro to take videos. We were going to be ok. With the day I was having, I'd probably accidentally drop the Gopro into the water with my luck.
We headed over to the Marina, which is where our tour was going out of. I just wanted to sit and sulk at this point. The hubby ran off to find a restroom and also get us drinks to take on the tour with us. We weren't about to go on another tour without something to drink.
So what did we decide to do today you might ask? Well this is another tour that Sakari decided she wanted to do.
We are going on the Monkey River Eco Tour!
Here is the description from NCL about the tour:
31/2 hrs Estimate Duration
Cruise the winding Monkey River, looking for wildlife in the surrounding rainforest, and then enjoy a hike with a naturalist that will explain the plants' medicinal uses.
After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive at a small village near the mouth of the Monkey River, where you will begin a leisurely cruise upstream. Along the way, the guide will provide enlightening commentary about the region's history, including how the economy boomed in the late 19th century when large volumes of bananas were exported.
Little evidence of that thriving time period remains, as the meandering Monkey River is bordered by undeveloped rainforest. Natural beauty and remarkably diverse flora and fauna are now the main attractions.
You can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including crocodiles sunning on the riverbanks, turtles popping their heads above the water's surface, and iguanas perched in the tree limbs. You might even spot a troop of black howler monkeys screeching in the forest.
Tropical birds are just as abundant along the river, especially wading birds such as herons, brightly colored tanagers and keel-billed toucans, the national bird of Belize. Toucans are easy to spot because of their large, colorful bills and how they croak like frogs.
Once you disembark, you will hike through the surrounding forest while the naturalist guide points out plants with medicinal qualities. For instance, leaves of the soursop are often brewed into a tea that reduces fever, and the wild yam has anti-inflammatory properties.
Being able to see the howler monkeys in their natural habitat sounded amazing to us! The only time we have ever seen a howler monkey is in Aruba at Philips Animal Garden. There's only one of them and every time we go, we can't wait to see him and hear him howling. It's the highlight of our trip to the animal farm each time! So we were going on this trip mainly in hopes to see and hear the howler monkeys. Anything else would just be an added bonus.
Our tour started at 12:30pm and meeting was at 12:15pm at the marina. It started getting crowded and they started naming off tours and also the ferry over to the mainland was there as well.
When it came time to get on the boat, of course everyone wanted to be first to get a seat. When it came time for us to get on the boat, all the seats were taken that had a cover over it to stay out of the sun. We were going to have to sit in the blazing sun on the tour. Oh goodness! Now there were several families with small children. But those children were taking up a lot of space. If they would have just moved down some or put them on their lap, we could have had some shade. But, we were going to make the most of it.
Then we seen that they were loading a second boat. Oh why didn't I just wait? Ugh
Then off we went. At least I had a good view without someone sitting in front of me.
As we started the tour guide was telling us about the tour and what we might see and where we are going. These waters would have fresh and salt water mixed.
We were winding in and out of the mangroves and I was snapping pictures along the way.
Then the boat stopped. The tour guide was pointing up in the trees. What was it? I kept asking what it was. Everyone was looking. I didn't see anything. The guide took out his light pointer (green dot) and was pointing it up in the trees. It was very hard to see but it ended up being an iguana.
I snapped a picture, but this is zoomed in and cropped. You can see his green pointer on the iguana's back.
We moved on.
I seen something up i the trees that was big and I believe he kept saying they were "Armidillo" nest. At least that's what it sounded like every time he said it. They were like big pods up there.
There were white birds up in the tree. I believe they were great egrets.
There was neat foliage around the water with these puffy sprouts coming out of them. They were everywhere.
We cruised on and managed to see a more noticeable iguana in the tree this time.
We had been on the water and in the sun for, I guessing, 30-40 minutes, and I wasn't feeling too well. I was feeling overheated and a little dizzy and sick. I'm assuming it was because of the sun because I don't get sea sick on boats.
About this time, the tour guide pulled the boat up to an area by a tree. They ask Sakari to come up to the front part of the boat and sit and ask her "Do you see anything?" She's looking around and nothing...
He pointed at the tree and said "What is that?" Again...nothing. I gasp and said "Oh, oh, oh, I know, I know!"
They were bats lined up on the tree! These are called proboscis bats or long-nosed bats or sharp-nosed bats. They have short pointed tails and markings on their forearms. They always perch together in a line over the water along the river. They hunt for bugs flying over the water. They weigh less than an ounce. Unlike other bats, light does not disturb them and they roost in well-lit areas.
As we sat there, I was taking a video of them with the Gopro. I thought I had the camera turned on and they all flew away in a line. It was so cool. Only I would discover later that I had missed it all and had the Gopro turned off. Ugh!
At this point I was really feeling terrible. I got up and went toward the back of the boat in the shade. I couldn't take it anymore. There was a lady and her daughter that had been sitting on a box in front of where the captain of the boat drove. I sat there because they had went up front. I didn't care if I had to sit in the middle of the floor to be in the shade. The hubby was worried and brought over some water. I actually poured it on my face, hair, neck and arms. I needed to cool down. The lady and her daughter decided to stay up on the front.
We continued on in the river.
Then we spotted a howler monkey! I heard the howl and I knew immediately! OMG! So neat!
We pulled up to to where we were going to get off the boat and do our land tour. The other group made it there before us.
We docked and all piled off the boat. It was time for our walking tour and we all gathered together to listen to the tour guide explain what we were going to do along the tour. I had read many reviews prior to this tour and knew that all the complaints involved being ate alive by mosquitos. I was prepared. I brought my bug spray and we immediately applied all over. No one else brought any humph. Well, they would be sorry.
He started telling us about these trees. This was called a trumpet tree. It is a fast growing evergreen tree and reaches up to 65 feet tall. It has fruit that can be eaten raw and it also has a medicinal use for numerous ailments for the liver, kidney, heart and hypertension. The branches are hollow and can be used as blow tubes or trumpets. The inner branches is used as a tough fiber used for socks, ropes and so on. The leaves can be used as sandpaper to build houses because of its rough texture and the trunk has latex used in rubber. Of course all the kids wanted to do was hang on them and shake them.
As we walked on down, we immediately spotted a snake in the tree and not just any snake, A BOAT CONSTRICTOR!! Just hanging out above our heads. I couldn't believe it. Sakari managed to get some good pictures.
We continued along the path wondering what we would see next.
We came across a small bush/tree on the ground and he said "Oh, here's a baby tarantula."
Oh em gee! It was hiding in a leaf and we would have never seen anything like this on our own.
It was so pretty there with the extra large palms and greenery.
Hubby was taking pictures for me as well...just in case I had some kind of blooper along the way...because you know me at this point. Of course no pictures are complete without his finger in them (and trust me, there were a lot, including videos).
Hey, look a termite mound in the tree like we seen on our cave tubing excursion several times and actually ate the termites. We did not get to eat any of these but let the guide know we had tried them before and he couldn't believe it and acted like he had never tried them. We told him they tasted like mints.
We started to hear some guys (the group ahead of us) hitting a tree and making a whoop whoop sound and then all of a sudden we heard the howler monkeys. Oh my gosh...they were here! We were actually going to get to see them!
We looked up in the trees and seen two large howler monkeys. This guy was peaking down on us.
This one was taking a nap and laying sideways.
Now I didn't manage to see it and neither did the tour guide, but Sakari was taking a video of them up there and at the corner of the video, she caught a baby one walking on the branches. So cute!
Another picture of the monkey, but not a very good one.
The guys kept hitting the tree and making them howl. It was so fascinating but they were really far up there and really hard to see. I guess I had pictured something different. But at least we get to see them.
Our guide told us to head back and along the way I took more pictures of course.
I don't know what this blob was but it had some mushrooms growing on it.
We stopped along the way at another tree. I can't remember what he called it or what it actually did but it had some type of purpose of healing your ailments.
Sakari was snapping pictures along the way with her new phone.
We came across a flower and the guide told us that it was used for eye ailments, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) and you squeeze the juice from it in your eyes and it would heal it. The hubby said he sure could use some of that now.
It was time to head back to the boat. We honestly were not there very long. I expected to be on the "hike" much longer and take more time watching or listening to the howler monkeys. But he said it was time to go. The weird thing was, we didn't see any mosquito's at all nor did anyone get ate up. So I was surprised.
Notice I got back in the boat and headed for the shade. I was not about to sit back out in the sun the boat ride back. We played musical chairs and the kids sat up on the front most of the way back. They had all became friends during this trip and was making plans to meet at the kids club that night. I remember when Sakari used to do that.
As we made our way along the water we spotted a bird called a Anhinga. This was a female. She was sitting on a branch with her wings spread out to dry them. These birds swim with their bodies partly (or mostly) submerged and their long, snakelike neck held out of the water. After swimming, they sit on branches or logs to dry out while holding their wings out and spreading their tails. He told us they cannot take flight again until their wings are dry.
I spotted a white bird along the side. maybe a herron or something. He missed a lot of these birds so was unable to tell us the names.
We didn't see any crocodiles, like others have said, but we did see a turtle. He ducked under water quickly as we went by so I was unable to get a picture of it.
We arrived at a little stop and were told that we could get something to drink or buy souvenirs there. They also had a bathroom. The hubby headed over to buy some pop and Sakari and I went to the bathroom. You have to pay $1 to use the bathroom there. Now I didn't go into the "store" but have seen people say that it looked like someone's house they were selling stuff out of. I don't know why I didn't think to take any pictures of the place. The hubby walked out with a prized possession in his hand and handed me something. It was a Belize coin.
We only stayed for about 15 minutes and I started hearing howler monkeys again. They were across the water from where we were docked. I kept trying to get a video of them but the kids and the tour guide were talking the entire time and it was hard to hear anything. At one point I told the kids "Shhh, listen. You hear that? It's howler monkeys" I said with excitement hoping they would stop talking just long enough for me to get a video. But nope! Not today.
The fishies swimming beside us:
We gathered back in the boat and this time, I decided to play musical chairs again and switch seats...just to keep everyone on their toes. I mean there's not assigned seats and I liked to throw some fun into things every once in awhile.
On the way back, there were a bunch of the white birds in the trees. Again, no one pointed them out. No love for the white birds today.
Coming up and around the ship they gave us the opportunity to take pictures of the beautiful Joy docked in port.
The tour was over and I don't think it lasted quite 3 1/2 hours like it said. I'm just going to be honest, I don't think this tour is worth the price of $139/pp. The tour is the "monkey" eco river tour and I expected since it's named that, that would be the highlight of the tour and you would get to spend more time at the monkey island area. It was just so quick and you spend most of the time on the boat getting there and back. It's just not worth the money IMO. I had wanted to do the manatee excursion they had and had thought about adding that onto our list because I've always wanted to see them too but didn't want to chance not being able to make it back in time to catch this tour. I was now wishing I would have added that tour as well. But, there's a lot of people that really enjoy the monkey tour, so don't take my word for it. Maybe it's because we've seen all these animals before and heard all the stories of the trees and bushes and what purpose they have for medical use and so on. Sometimes it's just repetitive for us. As a new person that has never done it before, it probably is a little more exciting.
Here is a video of our day.
We got back to the port and decided to look around the shops. We couldn't find anything that was sugar free and decided we would just head back to the ship to eat lunch. I remember last time I was here I bought all kinds of souvenirs and spent quite a bit of money in the Del Sol Color changing store for Sakari. Yea, she's grown out of that stage. I'll save my money.
On the way back, I had to take a picture of Sakari in the red phone booth. These things seem to be very popular in different places.
We caught the trolley back to the ship (only this time there was a line). I guess everyone had a fun-filled day and was too tired to walk. But they were running one after another and it wasn't a long wait at all. The cool thing about this is that it's 2 people to a seat. Well, now that the hubby and I have lost so much weight, we actually all 3 sat in the seat together, which provided room for an extra person on the trolley rides each time. See how helpful we are now?
We made it back to the ship and followed the fishies to our room for showers.
Since NCL likes to shut down the food at 3pm, we had to wait until 5pm for it to open back up and officially have "dinner" instead.
I was excited to see meatballs, however they weren't cooked all the way inside and I eventually just ended up with a salad.
I really wasn't satisfied tonight so decided to go check out the sugar free desert and they had some type of banana cream cake with lip smacking yellow goo on it. It was so good that I had 3 of them! Why did I have 3? Because once again they didn't have any vanilla sugar free ice cream. Who can I complain to about this? That's several nights in a row now. I'm half tempted to just go get some soft serve...husband gives off stink eye. Ok, I'll just have 3 cakes instead to make up for it.
As we sailing away, I spotted another pirate ship out in the water. There seems to be a lot this cruise.
The sun was setting and it was a spectacular show for everyone watching.
Tonight was our scheduled comedy club night and we were going to see Tony Daro. It was the "family" edition so Sakari was coming with us.
We had a good time, although I do admit, some of these "family" jokes...if you can read between the lines, which most teens can, you will get the dirtiness of what he's saying. ;)
After the show, we headed back to the room and the hubby and I decided to go to the casino for about an hour while Sakari stayed in the room to text her "potential". I'm so glad she's not completely upset and bummed this entire cruise over what happened days before.
Out of all the slots they had at the casino, I think the hubby and I most enjoyed the Plinko type games. They would at least keep us playing and we were still playing on that same $100 each we started out with.
When we got back to the room, we were served our papers...it was time for another time change and this time we were losing an hour. UGH!
We headed to bed "early" and would hear the swooshing of water half the night that sounded like someone was cleaning, dunking a mop in a bucket, cleaning some more and then pouring the bucket out all over the place. I really need to know what is behind our room. There has to be a supply room on something. The hubby would say "It's probably people flushing toilets" but there's no way. It wouldn't sound like this. I went to go explore because it was driving me insane and found this sign down the hall.
So it definitely had something to do with the crew and not just people flushing their toilets. THIS is why you don't let the cruise lines pick your room. We would hear this every night...all night. Like what are they cleaning in the middle of the night? The cabins would all be clean by now. Like I would hear it sometimes until 2am in the morning and drift off back to sleep again.
Up next: Costa Maya, Mexico