MITSUGIRLYS BACK TO BELLY SUN CRUISE review and pictorial
Day 4: Roatan Honduras
Day 3 on the ship: Roatan, one of my favorite ports. I know there is a lot of talk about the violence here, but it is one of the most beautiful places and I have never been unsatisfied with any place I have been to here. It's just so beautiful with excellent snorkeling.
Tuesday...What a great night. We get an extra hour of sleep and we don't get to port until 10am. Woo Hoo. This doesn't happen a lot when we cruise, so time to take advantage of it....then again, maybe not. I just couldn't sleep. Sigh* Maybe it was the excitement of coming back to Little French Key. I'm just not sure.
I was up at 3:30am, then again at 6:30am and decided I might as well just stay up.
NCL offers several options for excursions, but this is one port that is just too easy to do on your own (unless you want to go to Maya Key, which HAS to be booked with the cruise line...and it well worth it).
I went upstairs and ate breakfast by myself because I knew just because I couldn't sleep, it was best to let the family sleep in. I had breakfast in Cagneys again and since this was a "late" day, of course there wasn't anyone in there eating. What a joy. This gave me an opportunity to take some pictures (yes, I never leave the room without my camera...even for breakfast). See, I knew I had pictures of this place somewhere.
I headed back to the room and after awhile, the family was up and ready for their breakfast. They went to Cagneys as well.
Sorry, for some reason I really didn't take pictures of the place itself. It wasn't anything spectacular I guess...or I just completely forgot.
We were going really slow into port and made it there by 9:30am.
All of the taxi's were already lined up and ready for us.
It was such a beautiful day.
They made the announcement that we had been cleared by customs and could leave the ship at 9:40. We headed down to the gangway and there were no lines.
We were the second people off the ship. Oh my. That was weird.
I snapped a few pictures of the beautiful Sun as we got off.
It looked like people were getting on the Sun in this port. They were loading their luggage onto the ship.
We made our way out to the long strip mall to the exit.
Then out the exit and you have to turn left to get all of the way out of the compound. (If you turn right, you are going toward the taxi vendors.)
Once you are out of the compound, you are at this main road with a lot of traffic coming and going picking up passengers without the tours and going it on their own.
A representative was waiting for us immediately outside the gate and was easy to spot with the Little French Key shirt on and a sign in his hand. He walked us over to another employee and had us wait there for the rest of the people coming to LFK.
You could tell it was going to be a gorgeous day and it was already getting hot. Thank goodness there is some shade there to sit in under the tree.
We gathered enough people to fill 2 vans and we left the port at 10:10am. I have to say that it was a much different experience than the last time we did this. The last time, we came in by Carnival and was at Mahogany Bay (which is much closer to LFK than Coxenhole). We had the LONG walk out of the compound and up and over the hill to get to the taxi vendors. This was much simpler to do and a lot less walking. Also, last time we arrived and was immediately put into a private vehicle and taken over. There was no waiting and no filling vans before going. So, an entirely different experience. I guess you trade off one good thing for another. But no complaints here.
Then off we went. Our driver was very slow. I was not use to this. It seems like no matter what or where we have been, they are pushing it to the limit. This driver was not even going the speed limit. I'm very grateful for the safety...but I want to get to LFK as soon as possible and enjoy my time there.
There are 2 little towns that you will pass through while en-route to Frenchys 44. The second one you come to is called "Spanish Town". Everyone there speaks Spanish. It looked like a poor town and had a lot of little side road vendors set up in shacks.
I can tell you that we dropped off a few employees that came from LFK on our way back to the ship that must live here and help out on the island.
Then you will find your expensive mansions along the way as well. (Sorry, moving buses and my camera skills don't usually get along, this would be no exception).
They have a huge shopping center along the way. I remember seeing this before, so this must have been past the Carnival compound area.
I was more than happy to see the road we turn down. I remember this road well from the last time and had been looking for the sign once I knew we were getting close.
Just a few houses on this road leading to Frenchys.
We pulled in to Frency 44's and immediately noticed there were a lot of changes and upgrades. They had now built a horse barn as you enter, which wasn't there the last time we were here.
The mangroves as you walk down the deck to the outside restaurant of Frenchys.
Looking over at the beautiful island that awaits us.
Here comes our ride, just as I remembered.
When we checked in at the counter on the dock, I decided that I would do the snorkel tour. The hubby (with his ear problem) decided he would stay back with Sakari and just let me go. I knew that it was an extra $10 charge to be added to our price and I had prepared for that.
We purchased the $88 package which included our transportation of course, our boat ride over to the island, admission to the island, lunch, 2 drinks and use of the non-motorized sports like the canoes. For the extra $10, they take you out to the reef via a boat and give you the tour of it. I was excited. The last time I decided not to go to the reef and I had been kicking myself since then because there are so many questions regarding how good it is on here. This time, I wasn't going to pass it up.
Now since we are returning customers, Larissa (the owner), gives you a 10% discount for returning. When the employee at the desk added my charges up, he was $22 over the amount. I had to pull out my phone to double check because I wasn't sure how he was coming to that amount. (He was not giving me the 10% discount, which I discovered). When I informed him about the discount, he said "Oh, I didn't know about that, but if Larissa said you get a discount, then I'll give you the discount". I'm not sure if the employees are not aware of this or what, but no big deal.
He put the wrist bands on us and I didn't notice at the time, but my wristband matched everyone else in my party. Hmmm. I would later find out that he didn't even give me the wristband that included snorkeling that I paid for.
We got on the boat/barge and was excited to head over to the island.
The Ma'ams ready to head over with us.
Aren't we an excited bunch?
Back to my review and our arrival to the island-Little French Key.
It is a very short boat ride over to the island. (As seen in the pictures, you can see the island from Frenchys 44).
We are pulling up to LFK and what is this??? We are not going the same way. Hmmm. They have built a brand new dock and entrance on the side of the island facing Frenchys.
Before when you would arrive, you would enter at the lagoon area and get on and off at the dock that leads you to the 2 story platform and lagoon island. This dock is on the side where all of the animals are located. It was a beautiful new deck complete with their name on it and seating.
The gentleman that brought us over told us to come with him and he would be giving everyone a tour of the place. Well like always, we manage to fall behind (as we sometimes do in tours because we are busy exploring).
I could not believe my eyes! This place has changed SO MUCH since I was there. It was like walking onto a brand new island that I had never seen before. The amount of construction and new buildings were amazing.
These were the cages lined up from the last time we were there:
These are the cages now:
These birds were cracking me up. One was standing on the perch and the other had a hold of the wire fence and it would sling itself back, landing on the perch with it's head and then they would kiss. Hilarious. I didn't mean to interrupt their "moment" and they just looked at me and then went back to what they were doing.
These cages are HUGE! They are stories tall, tons of houses at the top, ladders, ponds and so on. Wow, what a change.
Look at all of the houses way up there for the birds. I guess it's so high up there that they can retreat when they feel threatened or bothered and we can't reach them. It must also feel like they are high up in the jungle in their tree top homes. How nice.
This guy was looking for a handout. Sakari gave him a leaf and he took off with it, put it down and came back for another.
The owners Kevah (moshe) and Larissa, have dedicated there island to this animal sanctuary and given these animals a good, safe place to stay.
I can not believe just how much this place has expanded sine we were there last.
This use to be their "yard"
Now it is filled with the animals and the huge cages. I joked with the owner about how he was running out of room because now, there is only a walkway between one of the large cages and his house as seen in the picture below.
These structures that they have built must serve a multi purpose since a lot of them had stairs to go up to the top with chairs or couches to sit on and enjoy the view.
Just a little history about LFK and the owners.
Kevah is from California. He visited Roatan and fell in love with it. He purchased a vacation home over at West End and met his wife Larissa. They later found the island we now know as Little French Key and decided to make that their home and a place to raise their children. (I'm jealous and wish they would adopt me)
They have been working on the island for many years and opened it up to the public, I believe, around 2011. It continues to be a work in progress as you can see when you are there by all of the workers on the island building and making improvements. I am very grateful that they have given others the opportunity to experience such a beautiful island by graciously allowing us to share their place with them...even if it's only a day.
The animals they have on the premises are all rescue animals they have obtained from different circumstances. They have a profound love for animals and as Kevah told me himself, especially his son Leo. It was his son that begged and begged to get the lion, which is one of the newest additions to the island, after seeing how abused he was and learning the story about his mistreated life in the circus. It took a lot of convincing on his sons part to get dad to get this poor lion which we now know as Lawrence the Lion. He was rescued in June of this year.
Lawrence had suffered from deformities such as a clef lip, an arched back and leg pains with arthritis due to the circus people de-clawing him as a cub. He was under fed (only being fed 2 chickens every other day). When he was rescued, Kevah went out and purchased him an entire cow!!! He devoured it. He now eats 30 pounds of meat a day which include a balanced diet of chicken, beef and vitamins. He had gained over 100 pounds after being at LFK in the first month and is looking quite healthy now.
Lawrence had surgery to help correct his cleft lip.
Lawrence had lived his entire life in a small circus cart enclosure as shown below:
They built him a huge enclosure to spend the rest of his life in. Plenty of room to roam. When they released him into his new enclosure, it was the first time that he had been out of his previous "box".
He was laying on his back and enjoying the shade when we were there. Ahh the life he has now.
What an amazing animal, king of the jungle, Little French Keys jungle now.
So, I just have to say...I have read negative comments here and there about how some of the animals are abused and they looked terrible and just really degrading the people and animals at LFK. Obviously you haven't taken the time to read up on the place and get the facts. These animals are being well taken care of and they come to the owners in terrible condition. If it wasn't for LFK, there's no telling what might end up happening to the animals. This is a place for them to come and get well and improve. So before posting negative things, please take the time to do some research and know the facts. Or better yet, while you are there at LFK, looking on in "disgust"...take the time to talk to the owners or even the workers there to find out about any particular animal and the "story" behind them and their journey to the island. You will be pleasantly surprised.
As we were walking along looking at the animals, along came some workers with a small donkey. It was the cutest thing ever.
Sakari just wasn't sure of it and was scared to touch it. I'm not sure what is going on with her lately, but she has become scared of dogs and several types of animals. She backs away and won't pet them, but yet she is such an animal lover. She hasn't had any bad experiences that I know of and the only time that I'm aware that she has been bitten by an animal was the monkey at Victor Boddens in Roatan back when she was 3. Since then, she has held and played with animals with no insidence. So, I'm not really sure about her "new" phobia with animals. Never the less, she managed to do a quick run around the back behind daddy, touch the donkeys back and run back again. She was so fast that I didn't even get a chance to get a picture.
At the very end of the animal trail, we seen a HUGE building being built. Now I had read that the jaguar at LFK didn't like the newest member, Lawrence, when he arrived. The cages were a little too close for the jaguar and caused some issues. So, they are building a new cage away from Lawrence so that they can live in peace.
It looks like he should be more than happy once he moves in to his new luxury condo facing the ocean. hehe
Keveh told me how he didn't want a traditional square boxed cage and he decided to go with the rounded look for the new enclosure. I have to admit, it was looking beautiful.
Here is Simba. He is currently being kept in the small trailor cage that Lawrence occupied all of this life until his new home is completed. While I'm sure he's not too happy about this, it's only for a short period of time and he does get to come out of the cage and play of course. We will see more of him later.
We continued walking over to the beach area. I will call this beach #1. It is the beach that I did not explore when I was here the last time and only noticed it after I had made it over to the lagoon area and seen people on the chairs over there. This time I knew that I didn't want to walk right by it.
They have chairs lined up along this beach area. I think they must have obtained some of these chairs from a cruise line. hehe
Directly in front of this area is a snorkeling spot, but mostly sea grass until you get a little ways out, which is obtainable of course. So, in order to get into the water/beach area, there's a side entrance that enters into the 2nd beach area. Plenty of room for everyone.
For those of you that are not sun worshipers, there's plenty of shade as well.
Little French Key is an eco friendly place. The following is copied from their website that explains what they do:
We are very Eco friendly…we get most of our electricity from a wind turbine with zero carbon footprint… we collect all the rainwater from the roofs for daily usage and irrigation….our sewage system is a Pirhana, bio-digested closed loop system with Zero discharge to the sea or the Island….and we recycle to the fullest extend possible…. to keep the balance of the Ecosystem around us, our Island is only a day activity resort with a very small footprint since no sewage system, desalination system and or lager generators are required.
Here is their wind turbine, from a different perspective of course:
This picture is from beach 1 and faces beach 2, which I will take you to now.
Beach #2. This beach is one of the beaches that we spent a little time at the last time we were there. It is located directly on the side of the main house and also has a bar directly under the house.
The bar was not open when we were there (or the last time we were there). I imagine it is only opened during the times that they have special events on the island when cruisers aren't in port. I'm always reading about special events they are hosting or diner specials on their fb page.
I had contacted the owners prior to leaving for our cruise to inquire about Internet service. I was informed that they now had Internet on the island (where last time they only had it at Frenchys). So we had brought our small laptop and ipad so that the hubby could catch up on his work and I could post beautiful pictures for the jealous kids back home that were anxiously awaiting to join us on our 2nd week of cruising.
The hubby sat down at the restaurant to get connected to the Internet and I proceeded to put my things down on the weird looking wire chairs before heading out to the water.
These chairs were here last time and while they are very interesting looking chairs, they are not comfortable of course. The last time we were here, they had several of them out in the water. They have now brought them all back in and put them on the beach.
As we were standing there, I spotted the owner, Kevah. He said hello and me, being the person that I am, decided to stop him and tell him what a beautiful place he has and thank him for allowing us to visit. Kevah is a very friendly person and so easy to talk to. I commented on how much things have changed since the last time I was there and the conversation just flowed from there into a pretty long time spent just standing around talking. I loved hearing his story about how he came here, met his wife, moved to the island and started his family. He told me how he decided the name of his son, his sons adventure on obtaining Lawrence the lion and about his family.
Kevah told me about his future plans and the buildings that were going up along with building plans for the future. They have a place over along the side of the island where the jaguar house is that was going to be for the horses and giving horseback rides (which they have been doing for awhile now). They will be building another bar over there and also an ice cream shop. We talked about his rescue animals and his love for them.
We also discussed how we had missed the jaguar last time we were here because they were building his other new cage. I was informed that he had passed away along with the shy pony that was on the island last time as well.
This is the pony that was there roaming free on the island the last time. He would not let you get anywhere near him at the time.
I was sadden to hear this and Kevah told me that they both became ill instantly one day and passed quickly. It was suddenly and unexpected and it troubled him so much that he ended up sending them off to have autopsies down to determine what had happened. It was determined that there was a chemical that was used to spray the grounds for the dreaded no-sea-ums and bugs that they had licked from the grass and killed them. He immediately stopped using that spray and found another type that will not harm them. It was a lesson learned, and a sad one, but at least there were not more animals affected.
Simba the jaguar they have now is still a baby. I wondered how they were able to still allow him to be out with the public and do swims because I know by now the other jaguar should have been pretty old.
I told Kevah I wanted to discuss the "Carnival issue" with him and get the story straight for those on cruise critic. I told him that I was a big reviewer over here and did thorough reviews with tons of pictures. I told him how, after coming to LFK, that I did a huge review on it with pictures and people started coming there (not knowing about it before). He was very gracious and immediately told several workers there that "we were to be taken care of all day." By no means did I expect that. His brother, Joel came by and he told him "anything Kim wants, take care of her and her family today." Joel was such a sweet man as well and we talked with him a lot that day as well.
He ask me what I wanted to do today...horseback riding, snorkeling, whatever I wanted to let him know. I told him thank you but it wasn't necessary. He told Joel to make sure that we had all the drinks we wanted for the rest of the day. It was an extremely nice gesture, but in the end, we did not ask for drinks (other than the 2 we received with our coupons) and paid for our drinks that day. After speaking to him, finding out the "back-stage" details of his life, his family, running the island and taking care of the animals, I was fine with paying just like any other person that visited the island. I was just thankful for being able to come here.
Meanwhile, my hubby is still trying to get on the Internet with no luck. Kevah went inside several times to try to reset the modem for him (talk about a nice thing to do). We tried both the laptop and the ipad with no luck. At one point he told my hubby that if he wanted, he was welcome to go upstairs to the house. As nice of a gesture that was, we did not want to invade their private home and declined saying that it would be ok and we would just wait until we were back on the ship or another port.
Again, Kevah offered to take us snorkeling out to the reef. I explained to him that I had already purchased the snorkeling package for myself, but for some reason I received the same wrist band as the hubby and Sakari. He said they were welcome to go as well. While I knew that the hubby would not be able to get in the water and snorkel, I said that maybe he could just go along for the boat ride out and watch us.
He then mentioned the horseback riding in the ocean. I finally agreed that this would be an experience that I would normally not do, so we would be happy to take a ride some time during our stay there. He told his brother to make sure we got to do it. I was more than thankful.
After awhile, Sakari and I decided to hit the water and do a little snorkeling from the beach area we were in.
Some of the many statues you will find all over the island. Sakari getting ready to snorkel.
We started by just snorkeling around the edge of the water by the rocks and statues.
I spotted some long spined pointed sea urchins on the rocks.
NOW...WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SHOW AND TELL YOU...KIDS, (AND ADULTS)...DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME, UM, I MEAN WHILE YOU ARE ON VACATION AND SNORKELING. Ok, I "normally" don't do stupid things and I usually don't touch anything I don't know what it is. I don't know what came over me and I guess I was feeling a little too adventurous this day. I was on a beautiful island, had just had a wonderful conversation with the owner and was feeling a little too at ease at the moment. So, forgive me everyone for what I'm about to show you and write about.
Sakari is motioning me over to an area by the rocks where she was at. She starts pointing under the water and showing me something. She states "a fuzzy caterpillar mommy". For some reason, I was thinking maybe some type of baby sea cucumber??? I know that LFK is loaded with sea urchins and we have held them before and I figured maybe this was a baby one.
Of course looking at the picture now instead of threw a pair of goggles, in water distorting your vision, along with moving water, and of course on the computer you can zoom in on the picture and get a really good look...you can tell it's not 1) a baby sea cucumber and 2) definitely not a "fuzzy caterpillar".
In fact it's called a Fire Bristle Worm. Fire as in your skin will be on fire when you are dumb enough to pick it up, hold it for awhile, and allow it to release it's spiky little thorn mechanisms into your skin that will burn like fire and then itch like h3ll making it feel like you have a 1000 splinters in your skin that you can't even see to remove. Yea, just know that I warned you.
Sakari will warn you as well.
At first it felt funny. Then about a good 15 minutes later came the pain. Sakari seems to have "sensitive skin", so any time a bug is on her, I swear she breaks out. After the "incident", she had not only the spiky thorns in her, but she also developed a raised rash along her wrist/forearm area. Yes, I know it hurt, I had the same thorns in me, but I'm pretty sure one of her fingers must have fell off during the process by the way she was crying. (Hanging head in shame and nominating myself as loser mother of the day award). It took awhile before she was able to recooperate and get on with the day as a normal exploring child again.
At one point she managed to see a hummingbird going from flower to flower in a bush by the house...how she seen it I will never understand. I mean spotting a very small and very fast creature such as a hummingbird is sometimes difficult with normal vision...but with blurred vision from all of the tears...she must have 20/10 vision.
Hummingbird in bushes...can you spot it with clear vision? Yea, neither can I, even with trying to zoom in, but it's there somewhere.
Meanwhile Sakari is recuperating and daddy is trying to understand what is going on while I'm shaking my head like I have no clue what just got a hold of us in the water :confused: and trying to avoid the subject of what just happened.
Then Kevah came back over, still trying to get the Internet to work for the hubby (which was so nice, but completely unnecessary to take time out of his day to work on it).
Then I struck up the conversation about Little French Key versus the Carnival Cruise Line debate on here.
OK...HERE IS THE FULL STORY...PAY ATTENTION, IT COMES STRAIGHT FROM THE OWNERS MOUTH. I'm here to set the story straight about this issue. There have been so many conflicting reports about the Carnival excursions being offered here, the owner saying the excursion is officially canceled and cruisers continuing to say 1) they are still going there and have been there and 2) they are still offering this excursion on Carnival...as far as into next years bookings.
NO, YOU DID NOT GO THERE AND NO, THEY ARE NOT STILL OFFERING IT...and I'll tell you why.
The owners tried for 2 years to get a contract with Carnival to offer their place as an excursion for the cruisers to generate some income to help with the expenses to take care of the island and the animals. Carnival always denied. Then like I said, LFK opened up for day passes back around 2011 and obviously Carnival seen what a beautiful retreat it could be=$$ generated by Carnival if they accepted. By then, they were no longer interested in doing a contract with them because they were doing just fine on their own. Their beautiful island was starting to get publicity (and we all know the publicity I have given it on here with the pictures). However, they thought about it and decided to give it a try on a temporary basis. They signed an 8 month contract with Carnival to accept the cruisers as a day pass excursion. After the contract was up, they decided to cancel.
When it came time for the cancellation of their contract, Carnival approached them to extend it. They declined, but at the begging of Carnival, they agreed to extend it for another 2 months and that was it. I believe it ended in October.
I had contacted Kevah on his fb page inquiring about this and was told the same thing (because people on here were asking about it and others were saying that they would not go if they were to be bombarded with a bunch of cruisers on an excursion). There were bad reports now flowing in saying that the place was too crowded, there was no place to sit, there were areas that were roped off and the cruisers on the excursion took up the entire area and it no longer made for a relaxing day. He assured me that the contract was canceled.
Of course reports kept flowing in that they were still booking with Carnival to LFK and there are reports that it's still being offered into next year.
HERE'S WHERE THE CARNIVAL CRUISERS ARE GOING....IT'S NOT LITTLE FRENCH KEY!!!
This is your beach Carnival cruisers...