Jim, I can answer a couple of your questions. First, there are 2 formal nights per week, even with Freestyle cruising. The difference is, there is no pressure to dress up, or not to dress up. Everyone can do as they please. Remember, though, that Freestyle doesn't mean that jeans, shorts and bathing suits are ok in the dining rooms for dinner - slacks, polo shirts, sundresses,etc. are in order here.
And Belize is no more dangerous than NYC or a lot of other places in the world. Just basic street smarts are in order, as they would be anywhere. You'll probably enjoy this port more on a shore excursion than going around on your own, though. Belize has great snorkeling & diving along the coast, and jungle inland - great places to explore!
NCL has only one "optional" formal night on a seven day cruise. And "optional" means optional.
You don't have to dress to the nines to dine at any restaurant. Usually 25% to 50% do.
But casual, shorts, t-shirts, is never cool at dinner, but okay at breakfast and lunch. If you wish to very dress casual at dinner, the cafeteria/buffet and 24 hour food courts is the place for you, not the main restaurants.
Jeans cause problems, as on most NCL ships they aren't officially allowed for dinner, except for ships departing from Houston. Since the Dream will be departing from Houston, jeans are okay.
And many NCL ships, not all, allow jeans for dinner anyways, but not faded, torn, or otherwise tatty.
As for safety in Belize, avoid water activities.
Many enjoy the cave tubing excursions, but lifejackets aren't supplied with the tubes. Stick to boats, and ask for a lifejacket. Everyone concerned about safety on water should be wearing lifejackets.
I recommend two Mayan ruin tours in Belize. The New River boat ride tour to Lamani, and any of the Altun Ha tours for those on a smaller budget. With Altun Ha, you can go directly to and from by bus, or be combined with other choices, cave tubing or a boat ride through the jungle back to the pier on the Belize River.
While Lamani is more impressive than Altun Ha, and usually includes a lunch, you can only get there by boat. There will not be time for doing other activities on your day in Belize. With the Altun Ha tours, you'll have time to do other activities, if you wish.
Soda cards come at different prices. Adults are charged $5.75 per day, and you must pay for th eentire cruise. So, on a seven day cruise, you're paying over $40 per card. Children less than 12 soda cards cost much less, $16 per child per seven day cruise. And teens have a passport package, costing $34.50, which includes 20 non alcoholic drinks including smoothies, an afternoon dance party with unlimited non alcoholic drinks, and an Farewell Frat Party on the last night of the cruise.
Thanks Karen and Ron! Always good to have info before you go so that you know what to expect. I was asking about the formal nights because the wife wanted to know if she needed to pack for them or not. She likes dressing up and getting pictures at the formals, so she was afraid she miss that.
Ron, it seems you misunderstood me on safety in Belize. I was worried about getting kidnapped or that sort of thing. I have been hearing that they warn you night to stray from the city.
Should not be doing anything in Belize that is not an excursion, so I'm not too worried... just curious.
I have heard the cave tubing is fun, but the combo tubing jungle tour sounds like a good deal.
================================================== ========== Carnival Cruise Lines:
Fantasy 90, Celebration 95, Victory 05, Conquest 05, Spirit 6/06, Freedom 6/08, Holiday 7/08, Victory 6/09, Valor 9/09, Dream 6/10, Splendor 8/10,Conquest 8/11,Magic 11/11,Triumph 4/12,Spirit 7/12,Freedom 11/12, Triumph 2/13 - The fire cruise, Magic 1/14, Freedom x 2 6/14
NCL Dream October 2006, RCCL Mariner OTS June 2007, Celebrity Silhouette 2013
We did the same basic itinerary twice on the old NCL Sea. Out of the ports, Belize is our favorite!
We've done both the Altun Ha and Lamanai tours and enjoyed both of them. As far as danger goes, both the excursions we booked were through NCL. We met our bus right in the "tourist village" area where the shopping center is, and never felt unsafe. Both times our tour guides were excellent, full of good information, and very proud of their country.
I don't think I'd want to wander around in Belize City particularly, but as long as you stick with your excursion and stay within the shopping area you should be fine.