Ten bucks says you'll get a bunch of posts telling you to avoid BELIZE and ROATAN BEACH, HONDURAS. Just wanted to jump in and say how much I loved those places.
Here's what I had to say about Progreso, Mexico in August of 2005:
Several alternatives went through my mind as I took the bus from Progreso to Merida: was this some sort of joke? Is CCL in dire straits financially? Do they think we are stupid?
I remember reading that this was the World’s Longest Pier or something along those lines. Aren’t piers supposed to be elevated, or at least pier-like? This is a man made peninsula from Hell, with concrete trucks rumbling by at breakneck speeds, and in the distance, piles and piles of broken concrete, rusty ships, third world industrial things… and this was before the ride from the ship to the end of the pier. Never has the word “shuttle” meant so little.
The little shopping area in Progreso is where you should pick up your trinkets, jump back on the “shuttle” (imagine Tom Sawyer’s school bus preserved in acid and then carted on a rusty barge to Botswana, used there for a century, and then hauled here), and kick it back to the Lido Deck. Do not, repeat, do not go to Merida. It looks up to being Tijuana. I know there are aficionados of Merida, and you would do well to read their reviews. I am calling it the way I saw it, and I saw nothing redeeming about the place but the cathedral.
I don't think I'd use the word "horrible" for any of them. "Disappointing" would be my word for Progreso/Merida. I concur with Carla's assessment of that place. When your ship docks several miles from the shoreline, you might get the suspicion that things won't be good. If I ever go there again it will be considered a sea day for me.
Belize isn't a bad place, it just doesn't interest me. The people are very nice and they are trying very hard to go from third world to second world status.
I also like Roatan. It is perhaps poorer than Belize but again, the people are great and the beaches are well worth going to. When we were last there we hired a cab for the day and then a kid from the local high school was "assigned" to us as a guide and interpreter because the cabbie didn't speak English. It was a fun, rustic day that harkened back to travel in the old days with dusty roads, goats in the road, etc., and not in a tour bus with complimentary bottled water. I still fondly recall the school boy - Alberto. His big dream was to visit NYC and go to college.
Our tour guide in Roatan was Maria and the driver spoke english no problem. Maria had spent a few years in the USA but loved her homeland so she returned and became a tour guide on port days.
she was very knowledgable of the world.
We did like Roatan & Belize, we only saw a small area of each but liked what we saw.
Some of Caribbean islands are much better than others.
Alexandr Pushkin, Carnival-Holiday, HAL-(old)Westerdam, Orient lines-Marco Polo, Royal Olympic-Olympic, NCL-Dream, Dawn-Princess, ACCL-Grande Caribe, Oceania-Insignia (3), Regatta(4) Marina (1) St Lawrence Cruise Lines-Canadian Empress
I've never seen a "horrible" port, there are some that I wasn't impressed with. Caracas and Isla Margarita come to mind with the ports I don't care to go back to, but they weren't horrible. I enjoy ports that are rustic (as Dave puts it). I would rather not see high-rises, hotels up the ying-yang, and bumper to bumper traffic, but that's my preference. You can read multiple reviews on the same port and not get two that agree. You'll never know if you like a port or not, until you visit it personally. Best wishes!
If you like ports that are well-scrubbed, consider a short cruise on the Disney Cruise Line that calls at Castaway Cay, their private island, preceded by 4 days in Disney World. Otherwise, I concur with the above posters.
The nice thing about cruising is that you get to "sample" many different ports without having to commit to staying there for several days. Spend a little time in each one, remembering that many of these are much poorer countries than ours, and they depend on our visits for their livelihood - often there is no other industry besides tourism. You may find yourselves pleasantly surprised at what you find there! If a port is less than enjoyable for you, head back to your ship for lunch and spend the afternoon onboard.
Though I have my favorite ports, I have some that I really don't like, Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Phillipsburg, St. Martin are two of my least favorite, but that's a personal opinion, some people like them alot. I've been to both these ports several times and maybe I'm just getting spoiled and tired of them. Some of the posters on here are real cruisaholic's (I only have a slight problem, usually 1 or 2 cruises a year at best), some cruise 3 or more times a year, so they get a bit pickier than most. Even my least favorite ports aren't horrible, haven't seen a Caribbean port that was horrible, so don't worry, be happy mon.
Originally posted by fivepoints:
Also, I have read the Caribbean coral reefs are being destroyed by cruise ship waste. Does anyone know if this is true?
No cruise ship is allowed to discharge anything within 12 miles from land so the answer would be no. There were some incidents and even a huge fine for Carnival a while ago but those are exceptions.
Ports I would avoid are Jamaica (because of the constant hassle from vendors), Freeport (NOTHING to do there) and Belize. But in those ports there are some really nice excursions to do so it's still worth it.