Mitsugirly BREAKAWAYs for a summer cruise: Review/Pictorial
Day 5: Belize: Harvest Caye
WEDNESDAY DAY 4 on the ship: BELIZE: HARVEST CAYE
One of the main reasons decided to go ahead and book this cruise was that it was going to a new place for us and I always like to experience new places.
Here is a little about Harvest Caye (pronounced Key) that I took off the internet and says it better than I ever could remember.
Harvest Caye sits at the southern end of Belize, about 50 miles north of the border between Guatemala and Honduras. And while it is an island, it sits only about a mile from the mainland and roughly five miles from the town of Placencia.
The island itself measures just about a mile long and only about 400 feet wide at most points. In other words, it’s easy for most people to walk anywhere on the island in just a few minutes.
The most distinguishable landmark on the island is the lighthouse, which towers over the landscape. The lighthouse is actually the signature of the zipline course that runs across the island. If you decide to do this adventure, you’ll get to ride from the lighthouse across the beach. Other points of interest include the city/shopping area, the wildlife reserve, and the marina.
Swimming Pool (Free)
Located just as you walk off the ship’s pier and in the heart of the island, there is the swimming pool. It’s a large resort-style pool with lots of bends and turns, a bridge with waterfall, swim-up bar, a gently-sloping shallow kids area, and hundreds of chairs/umbrellas for you to lounge. The pool is the heartbeat of Harvest Caye and you’ll find the most cruise passengers spending their time here. Private pool cabanas are are available for rent for $249, but other than that, it’s free to use. **I want to say the pool is saltwater**
Across from the pool is a scalloped cove of the beach that runs for hundreds of feet. There are ample lounges and umbrellas, as well as shaded “clamshell” covers that you can rent for $39 for the day. Along the beach there are lifeguards posted, and there are a number of beach games like volleyball and soccer. One more thing, the water isn’t the best. Visibility can be iffy, and don’t expect the electric blue color you might find elsewhere in the Caribbean.
If there’s a signature of Harvest Caye, it has to be the zipline. The most exciting run goes from the lighthouse, over the beach, and across the water. The zipline costs between $29 to $89, depending on the route you want to take and adult versus child pricing.
Paddle boarding/Kayaking (Paid)
On the backside of the island is a calm area of water that features a number of bends and turns for guests to use stand-up paddleboard or kayaks. The area is roped off from the surrounding water (so you don’t have to worry about taking a wrong turn into the open water). It’s also a bit out of the way so you can feel like you’re out on your own without going far. The cost for renting a kayak or paddleboard is $29.
Ropes Course (Paid)
If you have an older kid or teen, they might be interested in the ropes course. It’s basically a multi-story jungle gym. You strap in and climb around different obstacles that are dangling up to 20 feet above the ground. It’s also affordable at only $19 per person.
Beach Villa (Paid)
Sometimes you just want to relax… in style. There is a section of Harvest Caye’s beach that is roped off and available only to guests staying in the handful of private beach villas. Here you have everything you could want, including your own cabana with air conditioning, loungers, daybeds, facilities, and more. The cost is steep — $599 for up to six people. Extra persons are $49 each. Still, if you want to ensure you have your own comfortable spot away from all the other cruise passengers, this is your ticket.
If you’ve never been on a cruise, then you might be surprised at how much shopping is promoted and encouraged on the ship and on shore. Harvest Caye is no different. In the “town” section of the island there are a number of souvenir stands and shops selling everything from small trinkets to bamboo bed sheets. There is even a Harley-Davidson-branded store.
Wildlife Experience (Free)
On Harvest Caye is a small “Wildlife Experience” for guests. Inside there is a butterfly exhibit, a boa constrictor, and two aviaries with a toucan and scarlet macaw. The entire area is free but only takes about five minutes to walk through. If you’re looking for a calm shady spot to sit down, it’s a great idea to get away from the buzz of the rest of the island.
Kids Splash Area (Free)
If you have smaller kids, check out the splash area. With tons of contraptions spraying water in every direction, it is one of the most impressive splash pads we’ve seen. Kids are sure to get wet and have a blast without having to worry about the depth of the pool or the ocean’s waves at the beach. Best of all, it’s free to play.
Places to Eat & Drink in Harvest Caye (Paid)
Of course, a big part of cruise life is the food. Unlike other private islands run by cruise lines, Norwegian doesn’t supply food on Harvest Caye. You’ll need to bring money and purchase anything you want to eat. You can also head back to the ship for lunch if you don’t want to pay.
*LandShark Bar & Grill
If you eat on the island, it’s a good chance it will be at LandShark. Sitting poolside (there is even a bar that serves you in the pool), the multi-story restaurant is right in the heart of everything. It offers all your favorite drinks, and the food is traditional American fare. There are burgers and baskets, sandwiches, salads, wings, and more. As with all food on the island, the prices are a little high (about $12-18 for an entree), and made higher by a 12.5% tax and a 15% service charge that’s tacked onto your bill.
*Laughing Bird Bar & Grill
Down the beach from LandShark, the Laughing Bird was another popular spot to sit and have a drink and a bite to eat. It features all your favorite beach drinks (pina coladas, margaritas, etc.) As for food, it’s tropical bar eats with some BBQ options, ceviche, burgers, nachos, and chicken baskets.
*Horse Eye Jack’s
The smallest bar and restaurant on the island, Horse Eye Jack’s is also the least busy in our experience. It sits near the end of the island by the private villas. Here you can sit at the bar looking out over the water or even dine with your feet in the sand. The drink menu is as you would expect with everything from soda to beer (including local brews) to rum drinks and more. The food is a mix of burgers and salads, with local snacks like plantains and ceviche.
Away from most of the buzz of the pool and beach, the Manatee Bar is a large complex sitting near the marina on the other side of the island. You can find your favorites here, including Belize’s own Lighthouse Lager if you want to sample the local brew.
Lockers Are For Rent
Around the island you’ll see several locker stands that have a couple of dozen spots for people to rent. The cost is $5 and you can actually put it on your ship’s card (no cash is accepted). For the price you get the use of the locker all day and are given a key to let you access it when you need to do so.
Rides Are Available Up and Down the Pier
To get to Harvest Caye, there’s a lengthy walk from the ship down a long pier. If you have mobility issues, don’t fret. There are carts that run the length of the pier, picking up and dropping off passengers between the ship and the shore. If you walk the pier, just be sure you stay on your side of the walkway to let the carts pass.
There’s No Wi-Fi
Coke is Served on Harvest Caye
It may sound silly, but loyal Coca-Cola drinkers don’t want Pepsi and vice versa. Pepsi products are served on Norwegian, and if you’re a Coke drinker you are out of luck. But on Harvest Caye, Coca-Cola is served in the restaurants. If you’re a Coke lover, it’s an oasis in a desert of Pepsi.
So that gives a run down of the place itself. You also can't use your ship card for any purchases. You must bring cash or credit card to use there.
Our time at Harvest Caye would be from 8-5pm. Since this was a "free" port day with no excursions planned, I decided to get up when I got up. It was still early, but I didn't set an alarm or anything.
We headed for breakfast and once again I wasn't very hungry. But, I know in the past everyone has complained about the biscuits on NCL. They have always been as hard as hockey pucks and inedible. I knew I wanted to give it another shot and see if this was still the case. They were finally not hard anymore and edible, but very dry. Why can't NCL get this right? I love biscuits and they just ruin it for me.
Once we were done eating, we were free to walk off the ship. We stopped for pictures.
Most of the photographers were located after you walked down the long pier and coming onto the island.
This pier was long and it was hot out. You could catch a ride on one of the many golf carts they had going by. Thank goodness they decided to do up this pier right and they have the entire walkway covered to protect you from the sun. Now if they'd just install some fans or a/c....:D
Man groves lined the walkway
Finally arriving at the island
They had some misting stations and boy did it feel good on this hot and humid day!
There's plenty of shopping in this area.
Of course the center of attraction is the ginormous pool!
This thing goes off in various areas and twist and turns and has little islands with palm trees on them.
Over by the restaurant, there are some pool chairs in the water
There's a walk way across the water with a waterfall under it.
We picked our spot along side the pool in the front row.
I actually made it in the water before Sakari this time around. It was so hot.
A mermaid was entering the water
There was hardly anyone there at that point and we pretty much had the pool to ourselves. Sakari and I were standing in the water in the middle of the pool and she went in and got the whistle blown at her and was told "no diving". Um say what? We were standing in the middle of the pool...how was she diving???? He said you can't go in head first like that. Are you serious? Head first? You want us to just ease our way down into the water and go under is that what you are saying? Yes, no diving in or going in the water head first while standing in the water. YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! This pattern would continue the rest of the day of the lifeguards blowing their whistles non-stop....for every little thing. But yet, there's signs all over the place that say "no life guard on duty". Every time I seen a kid go in the water head first "hey lifeguard, was that diving? I didn't hear you blow your whistle" It was irritating. They wanted you to get in and just stand there. These are kids...they don't want to get into a pool and just stand there. They want to swim. I was shocked they even let her swim with her mermaid tail on. I was just waiting for that whistle to come.
So let's take a look around...
The shower station coming from the beach to the pool area
There were plenty of seats everywhere...plenty...even if the entire ship got off there would be plenty of seats.
Zip lining across the water...
You'd never know if there were any jelly fish or stingrays in the water until it was too late. The water is murky and not the crystal clear water you usually find in ports. I'm not sure if this is because it's a new port and things haven't settled or what or if it's just the area.
They did have beach volleyball but I can't imagine playing it on a hot day like the day we were there.
You could tell that they take good care of this island/port. The sand was all smoothed down and scraped perfect in areas that people had not walked on yet.
Going up away from the beach...
The Landshark restaurant:
Mobility problems? Not an issue. They have beach wheelchairs.
Lockers for rent for the entire day. You use your ship card and receive a coin to use in the machine.
They have a kids water park with the bucket of dumping water, water spraying out everywhere and I believe ones that you can control as well. (Sakari didn't want to go there after seeing it and thought she was "too old" for it). LOL
You will also find a shower in this area as well.
Moving along toward the lagoon area.
At least you could use your ship card for these events.
The lighthouse. This is where you go to zip line (and maybe the ropes course?)
Walking back down by the beach and toward the pool
Plenty of chairs from one end of the beach to the other
Private cabana area:
I headed back to the pool area and the hubby went and got drinks (soda/pop). They charge you taxes AND the 15% service charge.
My little mermaid was sunbathing on the steps.
Next up was the "Wildlife Experience". I don't know about "wild" life...but they had some birds, a snake and some butterflies.
A scarlet Macaw was in the pen and a person that stands there all day feeding another one seeds.
Toucan Sam x2
Very pretty butterflies...when their wings are open or in flight. The outside is brown and the inside is a pretty blue.
Then they had a wild forest of animals at the entrance making all kinds of noises...only it was a speaker.
Around the area was various animals carved from wood.
There's one thing that you can say about Harvest Caye and that is that it's beautifully decorated. A lot of thought went into the layout and landscaping of this place and it was just gorgeous!!! Everywhere you look there were flowers and greenery, bushes and palms and umbrella and everything that could be thought up. It was just so nice there.
Back at the chairs, we decided we would order some lunch. It was really hard to get service from the people walking by and after asking for a menu, the hubby decided to just walk over to the restaurant and get one.
I ordered the fish tacos. They were "ok" but I've had a lot better!!! The chips and salsa were decent but the salsa merely tasted like tomato sauce and I'm not sure if it was their attempt at making pico de gallo but pico de gallo it was not!
The mini human ordered her usual....chicken tenders and fries and the hubby ordered the pulled pork tacos. I didn't hear any complaints from either of them, so it must have been good or at least filling.
By this time, everyone was off the ship and here and it was getting crowded in the pool area. There were plenty of seating available at the beach though.
We decided to take a dip in the ocean. I basically had to talk Sakari into it. She didn't want to come out of the pool.
She immediately noticed the zip lining. She shouted "I wanna do that!" and I told her the cost and told her that if I paid for it, she better not get up there and back out! Then she seen the other little zip line (not over the water) and said she'd rather do that because it looked like it wasn't as high. I told her that it came out of the same lighthouse building and the same height so....in the end, she said she would do it, but I wasn't convinced and ended up saying no. I knew we had a day at another port that would test her and see if she'd do the zip lining and if she did it there, I'd know for future reference.
I spent so much in pop that day I swear. It was just so hot out and I needed to quench my thirst. We did end up asking for a cup with ice after awhile because getting a bottle (although it was ice cold when it was delivered) it would get hot really fast and be wasted. After asking the first time, they'd always bring the cup with ice.
We had several visitors around us.
He was making a run for it. They are so funny looking when they run.
We were getting ready to pack up and leave when it was discovered that some time during the day a rather large iguana had swam across the water and went to the little island in the middle of the pool. He was now the main attraction to those still left swimming in the pool. Sakari swam over to get pictures.
We packed up our things and started to head out...over the bridge and through the wilderness we go.
The shallow area with some fountains and zero entry
We started our long journey down the pier to the ship.
Sakari took off running all of a sudden. I thought she was in a hurry to get back to the ship and into the pool. Instead she spotted one of her friends from the ship. This would be Hector's (the kid that looks like Brayden) younger sister. Amazing they were at the same place today and never ran across each other to hang out.
The carts they give you rides in
And back on the ship we go...
Harvest Caye was super nice! We really enjoyed ourselves there that day. I personally would highly recommend visiting it. I know it's a commercialized man made place designed to sucker cruisers into donating more money to the cruise lines, but I personally don't mind spending a day here and there on a cruise in a beautiful place like this. Just like I enjoy going to the cruise lines private islands like Great Stirrup Cay or Half Moon Cay. It's a nice change to go somewhere really nice and enjoy everything and not be hassled by the vendors or paying to get to a nice beach or resort. We really enjoyed this. Is it for everyone? Of course not and those that don't enjoy a break from visiting other countries that might be poverty stricken or begging for money can always book an excursion away from the island. But that's just my opinion of the island...it's gorgeous!
After we returned to the ship, we were all a little hungry. Even though we had ate at Harvest Caye, we had ate early that day and it was now almost 5pm.
We headed to the buffet and I found some egg salad and grabbed a roll and decided to make a sandwich. It was a nice change in offerings. We didn't want to get too full because that morning, prior to getting off the ship, a spot become available to book one of our specialty dinings and we would be eating again later that evening.
Of course Sakari never gets enough water time so after eating, we headed to the kid pool and she hung out with her friends while we sat around and.......
Now I have been talking about the lack of service on the ship this time around. However, there was a lady server that covered the pool and bar area and she was always checking on us and she was very friendly. We always spoke and she always joked around with us and everyone else in the area. While we were on the island, she was there with her husband and was walking by and said hello to us and then pulled down her sunglasses and said "you didn't recognize me when I'm not in my uniform huh" (she had her bikini on). She introduced us to her husband...which the conversation carried over onto the ship later that day. She told us about her hours, her contract, her husband working with her and so on. She's in a 7 month contract and this would be her second contract. Her first was on the Pearl to Alaska and she enjoyed it very much. Her hours are from 7am-11am and then they get 4 hours off and have to be back at 3pm to work. Most of the workers spend that 4 hours sleeping because they don't get to do a lot of that she says. Then they work 3-11pm. So, a total of 12 hour days each day. She's been working on the pool deck for a few months and she said they switch her location every so many months. She lucked out when she got to work with her husband, who is the bar tender at the adult pool area. For the most part, she said she loves her job and seems to make decent money. She did say there are some cruises that she runs across the obnoxious and mean cruiser that ruins her day but other cruisers make up for it and are nice. I can't imagine anyone being mean to her...she just had that very outgoing personality and so friendly. She did mention how crowded this ship was compared to the Pearl and it was a possibility that she would seek to work for another cruise line after this contract. She made me the above drink and put a heart in it. So sweet.
Sakari was in the pool playing with Brayden...I mean Hector and a few of the other "normal" kids and dad she was hanging out with this cruise.
We let her play for several hours and then it was time to drag her out of the pool to go get showers and get ready for dinner that night. We had given her the option to go with us (and get food from the kids meal) or go to the buffet or O'Sheehans before or after our dinner. She opted to go with us. She likes to dress up and go places.
She brought her graduation dress and heals with her and strutted her stuff like she was an adult that night. LOL
We had a little bit of time to kill before our reservation time and decided to check out the buffet to see the decorations for the night.
It must have been fruit and vegetable night....
Just kidding...it was Caribbean night.
And this is how I knew it was Caribbean night....
We headed off to dinner at Moderno. I'm not a meat person, but read they had meats other than red meat and figured I'd do the chicken and still have a great time. Hubby likes red meat sometimes and Sakari loves it. So, I figured why not try it out for the experience.
We were instantly seated and Sakari was handed the kids meal and a crayon. She looked at me like "I'm not a child". LOL
The waitress photo bombed our picture and I just laughed because the hubby had no idea.
So Moderno is a Brazilian steakhouse. It comes with quite the salad bar and I could (and basically did) fill up on just that alone. There's a wide selection of freshly prepared salads, tuna, French beans, potato, shrimp and roasted garlic, hearts of palm, ceviche, European cured meats and artisan cheeses. Meat comes to the table on skewers and is sliced off and you put it on your plate. It is one price and as much as you can eat. They give you little cards: one side is green that means bring more meat and the other side is red which means hold all meat for the moment.
Everything comes around, so you don't order anything off the menu, but they give you one anyhow.
We started off with the salad bar
Everything was excellent.
They brought out side dishes to go with the meats.
Sakari is a big soup lover. So, she went with the soup.
Now remember....this place was booked to capacity and we hadn't been able to get in all week until now. I had checked several times a day and an opening popped up for this day and I booked. After booking, there were no more available seats. But here's what it looked like in the restaurant.
Then the meats started to come out. I was happy to see they had sausages.
I also tried the bacon covered chicken. I have to say I didn't really like it too much. The consistency of the chicken was weird.
Then they brought out some red meat. I said I'd try it, but all I could see was the red uncooked portion and I thought I would vomit at that point. I know a lot of people eat their meat this way but I just can't stomach it. Knowing it's not cooked...yak
However, I ended up giving mine to Sakari and she loved it.
They then brought out this pineapple OH EM GEE! It was heaven! Roasted in cinnamon and brown sugar. I absolutely loved it! I let Sakari try a bite and she fell in love and said it was the best thing she had ever tasted. LOL
I loved it so much I had them bring out more because that would be my dinner. LOL
I had tried lamb before and I don't like the taste at all. The hubby had tried it as well (back on Epic in 2010) and didn't care for it either. But, it's been years and he thought he'd try it. Nope, he immediately spit it out. He let Sakari try it....
She had a weird look on her face and said she really didn't care for it but it was "ok". She said she'd much rather have the pineapple. LOL
After dinner we headed back to the room for the night.