2019 REEFS AND RUINS
ANCIENT CULTURES AND MODERN DELIGHTS
Discover the majestic remnants of ancient Mayan civilizations, and then reflect on your history lesson as you bask in the sun on some of the most enchanting beaches in the Caribbean.
* Unwind on the beach at Big French Key, a lush private island off the Honduran coast at Roatan
* Soar 130 feet above the crystalline waters of Harvest Caye on an enthralling zip line
* Marvel at the restored Mayan pyramids of Chacchoben, just a short drive from Costa Maya
* See exotic birds, crocodiles, sea turtles and even Mayan ruins at the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park in Cozumel
Day 1, Sat, Jan 26 – Miami (5PM)
It’s that round trip flight to Miami. It should be that same morning flight to Miami arriving in time to make it to the ship.
Fly to Miami, meet the Oceania representative at the airport, and head towards the terminal and transferred to the ship but unfortunately it is on that **** RIVERIA again. My “Cell / stable / kennel / stateroom, a Ca-Deluxe outside stateroom, is #7070, deck 7, mid-ships, port side. The 242-square-foot Deluxe outside staterooms have a nice large view window and include a refrigerated mini-bar, spacious closet and a very cramped marble toilet with a full-size bathtub / shower. There is even a desk. No veranda but a good view and no outside snoopers. It is a LOT nicer than the C1 and C2 cabins I was on for the latter 3 cruises last year.
The Destination Services desk will also be open as soon as embarkation begins to take shore excursion reservations and answer any questions you may have. We have the mandatory fire drill at 5, and eventually we will depart at 5PM or so. Then it is time for another visit to the feeding trough at 6:30. As usual with Oceania, all meals in the Terrace Café are buffet.
Day 2, Sun, Jan 27 – Key West (8AM – 5PM)
Visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which houses an impressive collection of flowering plants, cascading waterfalls and 50 different species of butterflies from around the world. Continue to the aquarium, Key West's oldest attraction, dating back to 1935 and home to hundreds of different species of local sea life.
(EYW-009) Key West Walking Tour – 1 hour
Explore the historic beauty of one of Florida's most popular destinations during this scenic and informative walking tour in Key West. Formerly one of the richest cities per capita in America, Key West is immortalized by a storied past that has been shaped by wreckers, spongers, cigar makers and the U.S. Navy. This thriving center of art, culture and entertainment has also been the home, or second home, of presidents, movie stars and writers.
Depart the pier for a guided and narrated walking tour of Key West. During a stroll through its enchanting streets and lanes, you will discover the island's rich maritime history, wonderful architecture and relaxed lifestyle. Tropical foliage will shade the walkways as you make your way through the heart of Key West. During your tour, a refreshment stop will be made for a bottle of water and an opportunity to sample the island's famous conch fritters.
Your tour concludes with a climb to the top of the 65-foot tower at the Shipwreck Historium, which offers wonderful views and photo opportunities of the entire island. Following your tour, you will return to the pier.
Please note: This walking tour involves 1.25 miles of walking over mostly flat surfaces, and includes a number of stairs at the Shipwreck Historium.
After the tour visit 2 or 3 of the “special” sites on my own including that Shipwreck Historium.
Day 3, Mon, Jan 28 – Cruzzzing the Caribbean #1 of 2
Day 4, Tue, Jan 29 – Roatan, Honduras (8AM – 6PM)
Luxuriate on the magnificent beaches, snorkel or dive and explore the superb shallow reefs, or discover the island's other natural wonders on a horseback ride on the beach and through a tropical forest past spectacular volcanic rocks.
(ROA-002) Gumbalimba Preservation Park – 4 hours
Nature lovers will enjoy this delightful half-day tour that has you witnessing the raw beauty of the Caribbean at Roatan's finest preservation park - Gumbalimba Park.
Boarding your transportation at the pier, it's a 45-minute picturesque drive to the park where you will have the opportunity to explore unspoiled trails where flowers and butterflies give way to the shade of the tropical forest canopy. Arriving at the park, you will have a comfort break before joining your guide for a 90-minute guided tour. Enjoy the marvelous environment all around you as you make the crossing over Gumbalimba Pond via a scenic rope bridge. Delight to the tranquil sounds of the garden waterfall and befriend the brilliant winged citizens of the Bird Sanctuary, where friendly parrots and macaws bring the colors of the Caribbean alive. One of the other outstanding exhibitions at the Park is the Monkey Refugio, where spider, white face, and howler monkeys are eager and willing for you to hold and play with them.
During your tour, trace the steps of the real Pirates of the Caribbean inside Coxen's Cave, where you'll encounter the infamous Captain John Coxen, his stolen treasure and colorful sculpted murals depicting Honduran history. Following your guided tour, you will have an opportunity to roam through the Botanical Garden at your leisure and learn more about the exotic plants that are indigenous to the region. Others may wish to take a dip in the pool or wade in the turquoise waters. A poolside café is available for those who would like to enjoy a snack or some refreshment. Then you will be transferred back to the pier.
Please note: There is moderate walking on this tour over natural terrain and some uneven and cobblestone surfaces. Light-weight clothing, flat, comfortable walking shoes; sun caps, sunglasses and sunscreen are suggested.
Day 5, Wed, Jan 30 – Santo Tomas, Guatemala (8AM – 6PM)
Visit fascinating Quiriguá and its stunning Mayan stele. Take a boat ride along the Rio Dulce to Lake Izabal past riverside Mayan villages, lush tropical vegetation and Fort San Felipe. Or take a short flight to Flores for an unforgettable visit to incredible, mysterious Tikal, its soaring ancient temples rising from the jungle floor.
(STC-005) Quirigua Archaeological National Park – 5 hours
Guatemala's stunning natural beauty is yours to discover during this scenic half-day journey to Quiriguá National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Depart the pier for the 1 ½ hour drive to Quiriguá National Park, located on the plains of the Motagua River. The longest river in the country, the Motagua was used by the Maya and served as one of their most important waterways. En route, a brief stop will be made to learn about Guatemala's banana industry, and take in scenic views and photographs of your surroundings.
Quiriguá was established in a fertile valley at the edge of the Motagua River between 250 and 550 AD. Once a magnificent Mayan city, Quiriguá is now an impressive archaeological site of the early Classic Period, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stela E, the tallest stelae in the Mayan world, is found at this site. Upon arrival at the Quiriguá National Park, you will take a 1.5-mile guided walking tour through the park. Along the way, you will take in spectacular views of the picturesque flora and fauna.
Following your visit, you will re-board your coach for the return 1 ½ hour drive to the pier.
Please note: The drive between the pier and Quirigua is approximately 1 ½ hours in each direction. This tour involves a 1.5-mile walk over bumpy and uneven ground. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and comfortable walking shoes, and bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and sunglasses from the ship.
Day 6, Thu, Jan 31 – Harvest Caye, Belize (7AM – 5PM)
Featuring an enchanting range of environments such as tropical rainforests, marshes and coral reefs, Harvest Caye offers both relaxation and adventure amid lush landscapes. This 75-acre paradise invites you to explore it’s incredibly biodiverse surroundings, witnessing exotic wildlife or perhaps discovering the world’s second largest coral reef. Soar 130 feet above the crystalline waters of Harvest Caye on an enthralling zip line. Gain insight into the region’s Mayan and Garifuna roots, discover traditional arts and traditions at the local artisans’ village or simply soak up the abundant Belizean sunshine and relax.
(HAR-022) Mango Creek & Independence Village Life – 2 ½ hours
Board your awaiting air-conditioned bus at Malacate Landing after a short tender ride from Harvest Caye. Within a couple of minutes of departing from Malacate Landing, you are entering the twin villages of Mango Creek and Independence. Your entertaining bus guide will point out the sights of Mango Creek and Independence and give you a detailed history of how the villages got their start. You will pass churches and schools, then a ride down to "Water Side", the local water taxi landing on Mango Creek. Then it's back through the village of Mango Creek and the other side of the street......Independence. All the while your guide will be showing you points of interest and describing Belizean village life, then and now.
Your bus will now head to the commercial port of Big Creek, only two miles away, Big Creek Port is the only natural deep water port in all of Belize. Here is where all the bananas are loaded onto ships and transported to Europe, crude oil is stored and shipped from this port as well and also bulk sugar has just begun to be exported from the Big Creek port.
It's off to Savannah Forest Station, a short 4 miles from Big Creek where on the way you will pass the Savannah Airstrip where the local airlines land with passengers and cargo and is home to the agricultural planes that service the banana industry.
Upon arrival to the Mango Creek / Independence Village Market, you will disembark your bus and be greeted by the melodious sounds of local musicians. At this venue, you will have a chance of observe the hand crafting of a large wooden dory as it’s carved from a solid hardwood log by a skilled dory builder. There will be other artisan’s present working on their crafts. During these activities you can also explore the craft market where you will find tasty snacks and drinks and purchase an authentic Belizean made souvenir.
Before you know it, it's time to re-board your bus and head back to the pier at Malacate and the tender back to Harvest Caye. It's been a fun and educational tour of rural Belizean village life.
Note: Participants must be at least 3 years of age, weigh no more than 300 lbs. and able to walk unassisted. No pre-existing heart conditions. Wear comfortable clothing, comfortable shoes, cap or hat, sunglasses, camera, cash (no credit card machines) for purchase of drinks, snacks and souvenirs.
(HAR-021) Mayan Culture & Medicine Trail – 4 ½ hours
Come join us for an educational tour of an authentic Mayan Cultural experience and watch a renowned Mayan Shaman conjure medicine from jungle plants. Board your air-conditioned bus for an approximate 45 minute ride to an authentic Mayan village, located at the entrance to the famous Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve. This quaint Mayan village is home to a very gifted Mayan Shaman, Aurora Garcia Saqui. Artist, herbalist and traditional healer, she is a direct descendant of the world renowned Mayan Healer, Don Elijio Panti. Don Elijio bequeathed to Aurora much of his knowledge while she served as his apprentice for many years.
Begin your traditional medicine journey, with a guided walk along a canopied jungle path used by the Maya to gather their medicinal plants and herbs. Along this tropical rainforest path, you will encounter many of the same plants Aurora uses in the traditional herbal remedies that she utilizes in her healing clinic. As you slowly walk along the trail, your knowledgeable Mayan guide will point out and explain many of these unique medicinal plants and trees.
You will have a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the making of a Mayan herbal remedy by Aurora, she will explain the herb and its medicinal properties as she prepares and grinds it with a hand mill. You will also see a "smudge house", various bark and leaves used in curing many different illnesses, traditional dance costume and much more. You will also have an opportunity to sample the renowned Mayan Cocoa drink.
Authentic colorful handmade Mayan craft items will be available for sale.
This unique tour affords you a glimpse into the secret life of the Mayan. You will return home with a greater appreciation for where many medicinal cures originated.
Note: Participants must be at least 12 years of age, weigh no more than 300 lbs. and able to walk unassisted on a gravel trail. No pre-existing heart conditions. Guests should wear comfortable clothing and comfortable walking shoes, long sleeve shirts and long pants recommended during rainy season (June – Nov). Bring camera, cash for souvenirs (no credit card machines) and a poncho during rainy season.
Day 7, Fri, Feb 1 – Costa Maya, Mexico (8AM – 7PM)
The cruise port of Costa Maya in Mexico's developing Costa Maya region is surrounded by dense jungle and turquoise waters and blessed with radiant sunshine. No wonder the ancient Maya lived nearby, building ceremonial centers like Chacchoben, where you can climb among the ruins, many of which are still being excavated. Look for raucous toucans in the trees.
(CMA-005) Kohunlich Mayan Ruins – 6 ½ hours, LUNCH
This tour allows you a more extensive look at the magnificent, multileveled, famous Mayan ruin best known for its Temple of the Masks.
Begin your excursion at the pier and travel with your guide to the Kohunlich ruins. Along the way, you will learn about the site and the history of this fascinating area. Upon arrival, you will embark on a guided exploration through this breathtaking site that is named after the majestic cahoon palm tree that grows fronds up to 40-ft. tall. The park-like setting includes a sunken palace, acropolis, ball court and courtyards but the main attraction is the masks!
Take the opportunity to climb the pyramid-like temple to get a great view of the unique 10-ft. high sculpted masks of the Sun God "Kinich Ahau" that run up each side of the stairways. Built before 500 A.D., these marvelous masks still retain some of their original colored stucco. Kohunlich's broad range of architecture, natural beauty and expansive, uncrowned seclusion set it apart from the more widely toured sites.
After a visit of approximately 2 ½ hours, rejoin your coach and make your way to the Lagoon Club for a tasty lunch of regional favorites before returning to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes a considerable amount of walking over uneven and rough surfaces. Care should be taken as the surfaces can be slippery. Flat, comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes; sun caps; sunglasses; sunscreen and insect repellant are suggested. There is a government tax of $5-8 USD on the use of video cameras at the site.
Day 8, Sat, Feb 2 – Cozumel, Mexico (8AM – 5PM)
Enjoy a day exploring the jungle with an ATV, strolling a vast beach and visiting an ancient Mayan temple.
(COZ-007) Island Tour & Folklore – 5 hours (REPEAT)
Discover Cozumel's colorful past and charming present on this delightful half-day tour.
Your guide will greet you on the pier and then you will board your coach for a scenic drive around the island of Cozumel, one of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations and its largest inhabited island. As you make your way around the island, your guide will provide you with an informative narration of the island's history and point out places of interest.
Your first stop is the newly opened The Mayan Cacao Company. Discover the secrets of the Chocolate in a sensory experience where you’ll learn the origins of the Cacao, the manufacturing process, demonstration how the Chocolate is produced and finalize with a delicious tasting. During your visit to the Mayan Cacao Company you will see a traditional Mayan house with thatched-roof, botanical gardens, cooking techniques as well as learn about the myths, stories and beliefs of the Mayan World.
Your next stop is the oldest settlement on the island, El Cedral. During your stop you will learn about the ancient history of the Mayan culture that first inhibited this tiny village and how in later years, this was the site of the first Catholic service held in Mexico. Afterwards, head to “Kun-Che” where you will be treated to a sampling of traditional folkloric dances, performed by professional artists in full costume.
Continuing on, you will make your way around the southern tip of the island to the eastside, enjoying picturesque views of pristine, untamed beaches while on your way to El Mirador. A stop at this popular natural limestone formation allows you an opportunity to stretch your legs and take photos of the striking coastline and rock formations before heading back to the ship.
Please note: This tour includes minimal walking over mostly even surfaces; however, there are uneven limestone surfaces at El Mirado which can be slippery. Light weight clothing, comfortable, flat walking shoes, sun caps, sunglasses and sunscreen are suggested.
Day 9, Sun, Feb 3 – Cruzzzing the Straits of Florida #2 of 2
Day 10, Mon, Feb 4 – Great Stirrup Cay, BAHamas (8AM – 6PM) (tender)
NO, it’s not repeat boredom in Nassau, it’s NEW. There might even be something to see and do. At this 250-acre paradise in the Berry Islands chain, you can relax in a private beachfront cabana or hike along a trail to the old lighthouse.
No excursions are currently listed.
Day 11, Tue, Feb 5 – Miami (8AM)
Sadly, it’s over and back to reality.
Key West: (EYW-009) Key West Walking Tour – 1 hour
Roatan: (ROA-002) Gumbalimba Preservation Park – 4 hours
Santo Tomas: (STC-005) Quirigua Archaeological National Park – 5 hours
Harvest Caye: (HAR-022) Mango Creek & Independence Village Life – 2 ½ hours
Costa Maya: (CMA-005) Kohunlich Mayan Ruins – 6 ½ hours, LUNCH
Cozumel: (COZ-007) Island Tour & Folklore – 5 hours (REPEAT)
Great Stirrup Cay: no information
THAT ****! CATTLE BARGE: RIVIERA
Riviera was designed to be distinctive and special in so many ways. Ideally proportioned, Riviera still embraces the same warmth and charm of renowned Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena. While the level of personalized service remains the same, Riviera offers even more choices. Riviera offers guests multiple dining venues, of which six are open-seating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge. Supposedly spacious accommodations in every category. However, for the “Queen of the Fleet” the internet service is exceptionally lousy / virtually non-existent. I won’t take this cattle barge again!!!
Terrace Café (Deck 12) -- Informal and carefree, the Terrace Café Buffet is wonderfully inviting any time of day to enjoy sumptuous breakfast selections. Come lunch, the expansive menu of international-inspired dishes changes entirely, complemented by flavorful roasted and rotisserie meats and the magic of the pizzeria’s oven. Evenings, the impeccably clad wait staff shines, and the cuisine takes on a more sophisticated flair. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Waves Grill (Deck 12) -- Sometimes, the ultimate luxury is casual dining on all-American favorites, a style laid-back Waves Grill epitomizes. Located in a spacious, shaded area steps from the swimming pool, Waves Grill offers an extensive and mouthwatering luncheon menu. Watch the chefs grill gourmet burgers, tangy barbecue to order in the open galley, accompanying them with side dishes like garden-fresh salads and crispy, hand-cut truffle fries dusted with grated aged parmesan. Open briefly for breakfast 6:30 – 8, then pen for lunch and afternoon dining only ~11AM – 4PM.
C-DELUXE OUTSIDE: Mine is #7070, deck 7, portside, approx. mid-ships. Our 242-square-foot Staterooms are the largest at sea. Each stateroom also includes a plush seating area, refrigerated mini-bar, spacious closet and a very cramped marble and granite-clad bathroom with a bathtub/shower (which takes up way too much room). There is even a desk. No veranda but a good view.
Deluxe Outside Stateroom Amenities
* Refrigerated mini-bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water replenished daily
* Full-size bathtub
* Flat-screen television with live satellite news and programming
* Wireless extremely poor internet, seldom accessible
* Length: 784.95 feet
* Beam: 105.646 feet
* Stabilizers: Yes
* Cruising Speed: 20 knots
* Guest Decks: 11
* Total Decks: 16
* Electric Power or Voltage: 110, 220 AC
* Guest Capacity: 1,250 (Double Occupancy)
* Staff Size: 800
Deck 5: Concierge, Destination Services, Lounge
Deck 7: Cabin
Deck 12: Terrace Cafe, Waves Grill
OCEANIA (and others?) CRUISES:
Cruise 1 – 2016 Western Caribbean – Caribbean Charisma --- REGATTA, 684 cattle
Cruise 2 – 2016 Eastern Caribbean – Heart of the Caribbean --- RIVIERA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 3 - 2018 APR Seaside Sojourn --- MARINA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 4 – 2018 JUN LAX - Miami – East Meets West --- INSIGNIA, 684 cattle
Cruise 5 - 2018 OCT Cuba (8 days) --- SIRENA, 684 cattle
Cruise 6 - 2018 NOV Amazon (26 days) --- SIRENA, 684 cattle
Cruise 7 - 2019 JAN Reefs and Ruins (11 days) --- RIVIERA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 8 - 2020 to be determined
Cruise 9 - 2021 to be determined
Cruise X – 2020/21 Rode Skalur / HAL --- Zuiderdam, 2000+ cattle