NCL Sun Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, Cozumel 1/5


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2003 Date: 3/18/2003

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Email: greg@cruisingreview.com

TEL: 608-238-6001

Sunrise and Arrival at Coxen Hole, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Map of Roatan

Normally spending most of the evening at the disco would preclude an early morning sunrise, however since I got to bed early the night before, I decided to try and get some sunrise shots. Up at 5:45 am, I went on deck (there were actually about five people up with the same idea). I would not be let down. The sunrise over the hot steamy Caribbean was amazing. It rivaled some of the best sunsets that I have seen. The burning red Sun slowly appeared from the distant eastern horizon. Since it was very hazy outside, I know it would be an incredible sunrise, and it lasted a good 15 minutes before burning through the tropical haze. We tied up to the large concrete pier at Coxen Hole as scheduled at 8:00 am. Anywhere from one to three cruise ships visit Roatan per week, so it's a big event on the small island where tourism is now the biggest industry. It was hot, humid and the Sun was relentless, just what you'd expect in a tropical island. I waited to get off the ship until around 10am, after the rush. I think people were anxious to depart the ship after missing the stop in Grand Cayman Island.

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Sometimes the Best Adventures, are the Spontaneous Ones

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I had some idea of what I wanted to do for the day, but no real plan. I did not schedule any tours, since I had been to Roatan before, and there's not much here except for a few resorts. After walking past the multitudes of taxi cab drivers and tour operators, I notice a small wooden boat with an outboard driven by a local. When he got closer I asked him if he would take me around the ship for a photo shoot. We agreed on a price for the photos and then to take me to West End (about 14 km away). So we started off around the ship, taking various photos which I always like to do at some point during a cruise. Since he didn't have much gas, we went around to the fishing village looking for some spare gas, to no avail. After heading west, we again passed by the ship and then noticed a small flotilla passing us.

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The President Of Honduras

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The fist boat to pass by was a small luxury yacht, followed by a chase boat, and the a go-fast boat full of military guys with machine guns. My boat driver said it was the President of Honduras visiting for the day (I had seen his private jet fly in earlier). I motioned to get closer and he headed for the luxury yacht, when in range, I waved to the President, sitting on the fore deck of the yacht and immediately took photos. What a great surprise !

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Sailing in Roatan

My boat driver then stopped by a sailboat which was readying for departure and we asked to borrow some gas, just enough to get us to the West End. After the gave us all they had (about a pint) in their spare tank, the two gentlemen from Poland invited us aboard, and take out boat in tow. We hopped on board and tied off our tender to the stern and relaxed while we started to motor. The wind was off our bow so we couldn't sail, and the breeze was quite light. After about 1.5 hours, we unfurled the large Genoa jib and sailed a bit on one tack as we neared the West End and as the breeze picked up a bit. As we rounded the point, the water appeared to be shallow, but in reality, it was about 40-50 feet deep-- it was so clear that it only looked shallow. To be sure, the first mate donned a mask and goggles and performed a live "sonar" patrol. Fascinating to watch as we were going about 8 knots, he jumped to their Zodiac (rubber inflatable), then jumped off the back of the Zodiac while hanging on to the stern. It was like a Jacques Cousteau diving sled as he held his head underwater hanging on. He did this as we passed over sever coral formations, to make sure we were well clear of any underwater obstructions. When we reappeared as asked him what he saw, and he replied, "Oh, a few Barracuda, some Yellow Fin Tuna, and a steep drop-off which goes into infinity."

Tabyana Beach

After we rounded the point, they slowed the sailboat down under motor power only, and we departed, thanking them for the interesting ride. My driver then took our small boat to the Tabyana Beach and dropped me off at the resort pier. The water color here is second only to Belize and Tahiti in the myriad of beautiful colors. About 100 hues of green and blue are dispersed amongst the coral which gives way to the sugar sand on the bottom as we approach the beach. Tabyana beach is a very tropical beach setting, with Coconut Palms and plenty of areas of shade from the intense tropical Sun.

Drive through Roatan

After working my way up the beach to the resort facilities, I inquired about a taxi to return to Coxen Hole and I was promptly and quite rudely asked to vacate the premises as soon as possible since I didn't have a "paid" wristband. I explained to them that I was merely being dropped off from the water and was taking a Taxi, but the angry resort staff wanted me to leave right away. Oh well... I guess there are better places to go when in Roatan ! Surely, there are more "welcoming" resorts. After walking up the road for about 20 minutes, a taxi finally stopped and asked if I needed a ride. I got a good deal, since the taxis mostly take people to the West End at that time of day, so I came back for $10. Along the way, we stopped for some panoramic views of the island. Hurricane Mitch hit Roatan in 1997 or 98, and decimated the nearby island of Guanaja (complete stripping the island of all flora and fauna). This was the last major hurricane, which killed thousands on the mainland in Honduras from the extreme amounts of rain associated with the hurricane that caused flooding, mudslides and took out most of the infrastructure of the country.

Best Resorts of Roatan

There are a number of great resorts in Roatan, but the two I heard mentioned the most were the Mayan Princess and Fantasy Island. I have heard other people also mention Anthony's Key Resort. The taxi driver specifically mentioned Mayan and Fantasy. I inquired about any "Eco" resorts, and he did not know of any. There is a solar powered resort in Ambergris Key in Belize which has one of the largest solar arrays in Central America.

Spa Treatment

Arriving back at the ship around 1:30pm, I had a nice lunch at the Outdoor Cafe and enjoyed the seemingly empty ship. After lunch, I scheduled a massage in the Mandarin Spa for 3:00pm. My spa host for the afternoon was Mirjana from Slovenia. I was a bit timid about scheduling a massage, since my experience with a spa on Norwegian Cruise Lines on the s/s Norway was anything but relaxing. I was pleasantly surprised however, and in the end after an hour with Mirjana turned out to be one of the best massages I've ever had. First starting out with hot steamed gloves, then moving to hot oil, it was a spa session to remember. I can only recommend it while on the NCL Sun.

Evening at Observation Lounge and Ginza

My evening started out with martini's with Lauren and Danielle at the Observation Lounge, followed by a sushi dinner at Ginza. I loved the Tepanyaki dinner I had there the first night, and since sushi is a favorite of mine, I made reservations there again for the evening.

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