Mayan Mystique Cruise on the Oceania Riviera
12/13/14 to 12/23/14

Due to the length of the review, it is in four parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page. 

Page 1  - Embarkation and Ship

Page 2  - Ship Continued, Dining, Entertainment and Activities;  Ports of Call:  Key West, FL; Cozumel, Mexico

Page 3  -  Ports of Call:  Roatan, Honduras; Santo Thomas, Guatemala

Page 4 - Ports of Call:  Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman

 

Belize City, Belize
Belize was the port I was most excited about visiting, since a great private tour had been booked.  It included a visit to the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha and cave tubing.  I had booked the tour before Carol hurt her knee.  She was not happy that she was going to miss going on it.  We were going to share the tour with Bob and Linda.  I tried to find at least one other person to share the tour with us, so that I wouldn’t have to pay for an empty seat on the tour because Carol wasn’t joining us.  I hadn’t been successful in finding anyone before the cruise; but kept looking when on the ship. At our Cruise Critic get together, Bob introduced me to a couple who wanted to go on the tour.  I was thrilled.  Two days before the tour, the husband of the couple had some heart issues and had to cancel.  I was glad that it happened before rather than during the tour; but I was now back to trying to find a replacement.  While checking in for the Rio Dulce Canyon tour, Barbara told me that Alan and Dorienne were interested in the tour.  After discussing the tour details with Alan and Dorienne; they quickly decided that they wanted to go.  They had lucked out in joining the best tour of the cruise.

Belize is a very new country, having only been in existence since they became independent of the United Kingdom in 1981.  Prior to 1981 they were called British Honduras.  It is one of the few islands in the Caribbean that have English as the official language of the country.

Belize was one of two tender ports on this cruise.  When the ship stopped moving, I thought that something was wrong.  We were far away from land.  This was going to be a long tender ride.  Since this was the first time we have taken a tender on Oceania, we weren’t sure how they handled the process.  I knew that they had tender tickets; but was concerned that we might have to wait a long time before we could get on one.  Our group went to the Riviera Lounge just before 8:00 AM when the ship had anchored.  Tickets were being given out to passengers on Oceania excursions.  Rather than giving tender tickets to the first arriving independent passengers, we were told to sit in the seats in the middle rows of the theater.  Each row was filled up as people arrived, so that the earliest people were in the front rows.  They called for tour groups one and two to leave for the tender.  Shortly thereafter, two and a half rows were given number 1 tender tickets to go down to deck 4.  Since we were in the middle of row three, we were the last people to get tickets. We walked down to deck 4; but just missed getting on the first tender.  We were the first people to load onto the second tender.  Fortunately the port of Belize has their own tenders, so it was most enjoyable to be able to sit outside on the tender’s upper deck waiting for the other passengers to load, rather than inside one of the enclosed ship tenders.  You can see in the below photo how far away it was to the tender dock.

   

After about a fifteen minute tender ride we approached the dock area.  It looked very nice, especially after the previous day’s commercial port of Santo Tomas.  There were lots of shops including the normal jewelry stores found in most ports.  Our group of Bob, Linda, Alan and Dorienne planned on checking out the stores when we got back in the afternoon after the tour.  Since we would be in port until 8:00 PM, we assumed that we would have plenty of time.  We had thought that the tour would only be about 5 hours long.  A very bad assumption!

   

We walked through the shop area to meet our guide.  I had booked a tour with Jose from Jose Tours Belize (www.josetoursbelize.com).  I had communicated a lot with him before the cruise about the tour, since I wanted a combination tour that he didn’t offer on his website.  Normally he combines the Altun Ha excursion or cave tubing excursions with other attractions closer to each of the main sites, rather than with each other.  I was glad we had been able to get the two most popular attractions into one excursion.  When I spotted the sign with my name, the sign holder was not Jose, but a young man named David from Taiwan.  His family moved to Belize when he was eight, 20 years earlier.  I was a bit concerned that we didn’t have Jose as our guide, since his company is the only one that I have ever booked with that had a 100% rating on TripAdvisor.  David assured me that he would give us a great time and that Jose had provided us with his best man.  It turned out that he certainly had.  I think David was probably a better guide than Jose himself for this particular tour.   We couldn’t have been happier with him.

We loaded into the van and headed to our first destination, Altun Ha.  The ruins had been discovered in 1963 and were believed to have been built beginning around 100 AD.  We knew that these ruins weren’t supposed to be as good as some of the others that were in Central America; but how often do we get to visit any Mayan ruins?  Altun Ha is only about 30 miles from Belize City.  When David said it would take about an hour to get there, I assumed that he had been mistaken.  Driving through town, the area looked pretty nice compared to some of our previous ports.  But there were also buildings that were in need of major TLC.

   

The traffic was pretty congested in Belize City.  This small obelisk was in the center of a round-a-bout.

When we got to the turn off for Altun Ha from the main road, I saw why the trip was going to take longer than I expected.  It looked like we had a 14 mile ride on a dirt road.  Unfortunately, it got a lot worse than a dirt road.

The dirt road was the best part of the drive, since most of it was on old narrow asphalt roads that had major pot holes in them.  The photo below is actually one of the better sections.  I couldn’t even take photos of the road most of the time since we were either swerving to avoid the largest pot holes or being bounced around while going slowly through the pot holes.  We couldn’t believe that the country of Belize would allow one of their major tourist attractions to have such terrible road access.

   

A few miles into the ride David pulled over to where another van was pulled over on the side of the road.  I got to meet Jose, who had his schedule messed up due to a customer’s illness the previous day.  I was glad I was able to meet him; but by then was quite content with David as our guide.

We had a very large van; but since there wasn’t a sound system in the van, it wasn’t easy to hear from the back seats the information that David was providing.  Especially with the loud road noise.  Jose needs to upgrade the vans so all passengers can hear the guide’s information.

We finally got to Altun Ha after about an hour and fifteen minute drive.  We were very happy to be able to get off the roads and out of the van.  We walked up a little path with some buildings and local craft shops.

   

David took us into a pavilion where another tour guide with Jose’s company had just started to tell his group about Altun Ha, so we listened in.  Before he finished, a tour bus from the ship arrived.  I was worried about there being lots of people in the ruins that would make it difficult to get photos.  David told us that with the Riviera being the only ship in port that crowds would not be an issue.  He was right.

We came up to a dirt mound that had steps going up to the top.  It obviously had a lot of work to do on it before it would be totally uncovered.

   

Continuing on the path we came to a large area with several nice structures.  As David had told us, the ship tour group was not an issue in observing the ruins.

   

He told us about the different structures.  When he was finished I walked around to the other side of the largest one for a different perspective. 

   

I thought that this was all there was to see at the site, when David motioned to us to continue walking.  We came around another corner on the path and could see the largest structure in the park, the Temple of the Sun God.  Now that was an impressive temple.

We walked over to some of the other temple structures close by before going to the main temple.  These were most interesting and rather pretty with the vivid green growth covering areas of the back side of the structures.

   

In this part of the park, I could almost imagine what it was like to live in Altun Ha.  It felt more like an ancient city with the narrow paths and building foundations.

   

   

David had told us to look for the sculpture of a god’s face while walking in the paths.  Sure enough it was there.  If he hadn’t mentioned it, I don’t know that I would have even realized it was the image of a face.

   

We then walked over to the Temple of the Sun.  He told us about it and then said that we were going to climb to the top.  A slight drizzle had started, which would make the climb a bit more challenging.  With it being 54 feet tall or over five stories high, I was concerned that Bob might have problems since he had some serious knee issues.  He figured that he could do it.  The steps were very steep and walking on steps cut from stones can be slippery and rather dangerous to walk on.  We were comforted in that there was a wooden handrail to hold on to; which made a big difference.  We were doing fine until we noticed the final steps didn’t have handrails; but there were low rock walls.  We were shocked that as we were going up to that section, a very old woman was coming down.  She was using two canes and said that she couldn’t go to the top without the handrails.  We couldn’t believe that she would even attempt to climb any of the steps in her condition.  In the below photo, you can see what the steps look likeon the right side of the temple and from above.  Bob struggled, but he made it to the top.

   

At the top of the temple we could look down into both areas we had been walking around.  It was a nice view.  The top itself was wide open with no railing to keep you from falling off the edge, so most people stayed close to the center.

   

As I had learned from climbing to the top of Chichen Itza many years ago, going down is scarier than going up.  Especially since the wood railing wasn’t very stable and the rain was making the rocks slipperier.  We were most happy when we got back to ground level and headed back to the van.  Unfortunately, we would have to go back down the miserable 14 mile road to the main highway.  It did seem to go quicker.  Probably because we had gotten used to the lousy road by then.

I understood why Jose normally doesn’t put Altun Ha and the cave tubing on the same tour.  It would take about an hour and 45 minutes to get to the tubing site.  Most of the main roads getting there were fine; but there wasn’t a lot to see; since the terrain was relatively flat.  I did get a kick out of the below tapir crossing sign.  Not a sign that is needed in the USA.

   

Along the way, David stopped the van in front of a tree that had an unusual growth on it.  It was a parasitic type of cactus that will cover the tree.  I’ve never seen anything like that before.

   

Once we got off the main road, the road to the tubing location was even worse than the one to Altun Ha.  There were so many pot holes, that they couldn’t be avoided.  David had to find the smallest pot holes.  We would have to almost stop to go through them.  I couldn’t believe that two of the most popular tourist attractions in Belize had such horrible roads.  Belize spends a lot of money advertising for people to move there.  I think it would be wise for them to fix the roads, so that the first impression visitors get is more positive.

When we finally got to where the cave tubing was to begin, we were thrilled to see a large nice looking facility.  Especially since that is where we were going to have lunch and it was already 12:45 PM. 

Jose and his other group were also there.  He joined us at our table.  The restaurant had a very nice buffet, where we could pick out what we wanted from many items.  All of them were very good.  Surprisingly good! 

   

After lunch, it was time to walk to the river.  We knew that it would be a long walk.  We had read that it was about a mile and took about 30 minutes.   It was supposed to be a pretty easy walk and mostly flat.  We were supposed to have the newer type of tubes that are smaller than the traditional ones; and they have a back on them to make them more comfortable for tubing.  For some reason, the person that normally provides Jose with the newer type tubes wasn’t working that day.  The ones we were getting were larger and not as easy to carry.  We were not pleased about that.  David offered to carry our tubes for us; but he was a little guy and there was no way he could carry all of them.  He did start off carrying the girl’s tubes; but Linda decided to carry hers.  Later Dorienne carried hers too, even though the tube looked bigger than she was.  They weren’t heavy, just bulky.  As we expected the path was rather nice and flat.  We did have to walk down some steps to get to the river.  This was the same river that we would float down through the cave.  But we had to get up river and on the other side of the cave to do that.

   

The road continued to be pretty easy to walk on, but it did get narrower as we got further into the jungle.  David would stop frequently for us to rest and for him to point out different kinds of trees.  Some of the trees had large vines that David said were the type that Tarzan could use to fly through the trees.  We didn’t try them out.

   

Pretty soon we came to where we had to go over the cave.  This area was by no means flat.  There were lots of steps and in some areas it was tight getting the tubes through the narrow walls.

   

   

We were walking along the river and saw several people floating down the river.  I was surprised that many of the people we saw that had the tubes with backs weren’t using them for backs at all, just arm rests. 

With our frequent stops and educational talks the 30 minute walk took 50 minutes.  It seemed like it would never end and we were all tired.  We were so glad to finally get to the river.  This section of the river was really pretty. 

There was a lovely pool where after the long walk some people like to swim before beginning their float through the cave.

The cave opening wasn’t far away.  We couldn’t believe how clear the water was.  The water looked much shallower than it was, since the rocks looked so close.  They weren’t that close.  It got deep very quickly.

   

David took photos of our group with our tubes and lights strapped to our heads; as well as after we got into our tubes.

   

The whole area was just so pretty and we were the only ones there.

We were ready to start the adventure.  David told us that parts of cave were shallow and that he could walk in them to help guide us through the cave.  Other parts were 15 feet deep.  He told us that when we got to some shallower areas that had rocks sticking up, he would yell out “butts up” so we wouldn’t hit bottom or be hurt by the rocks.

I didn’t bring my SLR camera on this part of the excursion; and had been apprehensive about even bringing my iPhone, since I was concerned about it getting dropped in the water.  I had carried it in a heavy duty baggy; but it turned out that there was never an issue.  I probably could have brought my SLR.  The large tubes worked out great.  Only our butts got wet, since the large tubes kept us mostly out of the water.

David had tied our five tubes together so that we couldn’t separate from the group in the cave and so that he could maneuver all of us together.  As we floated toward the cave opening we didn’t know what to expect.  It did look like a large mouth ready to swallow us up.

As we entered it, we could see that this was going to be an awesome time.  There were lots of formations in the cave and it was quite beautiful inside.

   

   

The view from inside the cave to the outside was really nice. 

   

I have included a couple of videos of our ride into the cave.  It is much better than the still photos at helping you to understand the experience.

 

 

It didn’t take long for all of us to agree that that it was well worth the walk to be able to be in the cave.  It was so relaxing and enjoyable.  We certainly didn’t need the backs on the tubes.  It actually made it easier to turn our heads around to see things by not having the backs in the way.  Plus the tubes gave us plenty of back support.

As we got away from the entrance, the cave was totally dark other than the small illumination from the dim lights mounted on our heads.  They were very weak and didn’t provide enough light for photos.  David on the other hand had a very powerful light and was able to show us different formations while pointing at them with his light.  He would shine his light onto the top of the cave and we could see different colors like the red in this photo.  Unfortunately the photos don’t show the sparkling crystals that were on some of the formations and walls in the cave.  They were just beautiful.

   

   

About 15 minutes into the ride we came to some waterfalls.  We could hear the rushing water as we approached them.  When David shined his light on them, I was able to get a photo.

I took a couple of videos of the waterfalls to show what the experience was like and to remember the sounds.   The videos actually are better at showing what it was like to be in the dark cave and depending on the lights to be able to see anything around us.

 

 

Close to the waterfalls was an opening to outside.  David said that a photo of it had been in National Geographic Magazine in 1996.  It was quite beautiful; but taking a photo of it with an iPhone didn’t work out that well.

We could tell that we were getting near to the end of the ride when we saw a lighted opening.   It wasn’t long till we went through it.  After 35 relaxing and exciting minutes in the cave we exited it. 

   

Below are a couple videos of David pulling us out of the cave.  He really worked hard in there.  Being a guide for a cave tubing ride is not relaxing like it was for us.

 

 

We thought the ride was over; but we still had a fifteen minute ride to get to where we entered the river.  It was a nice ride with lots to look at. 

   

It was surprising that there was no one in the cave while we were in there; but when we came out a family was in their tubes further down the river.  We also saw other people walking the path along the river where we had looked down at other tubers while we walked to the cave.  We asked David if it ever gets crowded in the caves.  He said that a lot of people can go through it at one time; but that they have to be in groups no larger than eight at a time.  Too many people in the cave would certainly take away from the peace and serenity we had experienced.

When we got back to where we entered the river, we were all talking about how great it had been.  I sure wish that Carol could have gone, since she had really been looking forward to it.  The facility had individual showers/changing rooms to put on dry clothes.  By the time everyone was ready to get back in the van it was 4:45 PM.  We couldn’t believe that the tour had lasted so long.  It would be even longer, since the ride back to the ship’s tender took an hour and 15 minutes.  Plus with sunset being at 5:22 PM, much of the ride was in the dark.   It did take longer than it normally would because the traffic on a Friday night in Belize City was gridlock.  David had to turn down lots of streets to try to find a road that was moving.  By the time we got to the tender it was 6:00 PM.  We had been on tour for 9 hours.  We were sure glad that the last tender was at 7:30 PM.  Most people had already gotten back on the ship before night time.  There were just a few people on the tender with us.  I was sure that Carol was wondering about what had happened to me, since I expected to be back to the ship around 3:00 PM at the latest.  When I did get back on the ship, I found that she had indeed been worried.  She had gotten a call from the ship’s security officer wanting to know if I was on the ship.  That didn’t make her feel real comfortable.  I guess they were trying to verify how many people were really still off the ship.

It had been a great touring day.  We had seen and done so much.  If we go back to Belize, I will certainly take Carol on a cave tubing adventure so that she can experience it and I can do it again.

 

Costa Maya, Mexico
We had not been to Costa Maya before.  From the ship, it appeared that there was a large shopping area near the pier.

I was looking forward to having just a four hour tour after the very full one I had the previous day.  A large group from our Cruise Critic roll call had booked a company called the Native Choice (www.thenativechoice.com) for a visit to the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben.  These were supposed to be very nice and relatively close to Costa Maya, just a 50 minute ride.

The instructions for getting to the Native Choice office where the tour was to begin said that it was just four blocks from the port.  That sounded pretty close.  When I got off the Riviera I had to first walk through the very large and modern shopping area.  It was very nice looking.

It was so large, I wasn’t sure how to get out of the shopping area to get to the street.  When I finally found the exit I had to use the map that I had copied from the Native Choice website to my phone to see where I needed to get to.  I was very glad that I had copied it, since there weren’t any street signs and it was not easy to know which way to go.  I could see a pyramid looking building way in the distance that was on the map, so I felt confident I was going the right way.

When I got to the pyramid, I turned left and started to look to see if I could see the office.  I passed some other people from the ship who were also looking for the office.  They were worried that they took a wrong turn.  I told them that they were going the right way and I thought that we were going to the place way up the road where all the vehicles were parked.  It was probably about a half mile in total to get to the office.  I wouldn’t have minded if I had realized how far it was before I started the walk.  It was a good thing that I always try to arrive early.  It had taken about 15 minutes to get there.

The Native Choice used very large comfortable clean vans for their tours.  But they really needed to have a sound system in that large a van so everyone could easily hear the guide.

   

Our tour guide was Ivan Cohuo.  He was a very pleasant guy and a wealth of knowledge.  He told us fascinating stories about how the Chacchoben ruins had been discovered in 1942 by the Cohuo family who were farming the area.  Ivan’s dad had been the one who actually first found the ruins we were going to visit.  The ruins were Ivan’s playground when he was a child.  We had hit the jackpot in getting the most knowledgeable tour guide for the area.

As we drove toward the ruins, I was relieved to see and feel that the roads were in very good shape.  I really appreciated that Mexico took care of the roads that tourists travel on.  A major product of the area was pineapples.  There were stands everywhere along the roads.

When we arrived at the ruins ticketing and shopping area, there were a lot of people there to take a tour.  The facility itself was very nice with large restroom facilities.

We walked down an inviting path toward the ruins. 

We came upon the first temple.  It was a beauty!  It had been very well restored. 

   

   

I walked around to other sides of the temple to see what it looked like.  I was intrigued with the rounded corners.  The green mold added a nice touch to the ruins.

While walking to a different area Ivan spotted a monkey in a tree.  He said they were everywhere.  They aren’t easy to capture in a photo without a telephoto lens; but I tried with the lens I had.

We came to a large staircase.  It was in very good shape, but the stairs were quite high.  We were able to climb over a section of it near a wall where the steps weren’t as high and we could use the wall for support.

   

We then came to an area with two temples.  We first focused on the closest one, which was the largest temple of the three in the Chacchoben complex.  It was quite a temple!  It had a large altar area in the front of it.

   

I also walked around to the back of it to see what was there.  Occasionally the sun would come out and shine on the back side of the temple.  I wish that it could have been the right time of day to shine on the front.

   

Across from the main temple was another smaller temple.  It had a large canopy covering the back side of the temple. 

The steps looked much steeper when standing right in front of them.

   

Ivan told us that the covering was there to protect an area of the original red paint that at one time covered the entire temple.  So I walked around to the back to get a better look.  Sure enough there was some red paint; but not a lot of it.

   

I had to be careful when taking the above photo, since the ground dropped off close to the back of the temple.  Looking more closely, the temple was actually much taller than the part we were looking at.  Ivan told us that there were no hills or mountains in the area, so we were actually walking above ruins that had yet to be uncovered.

Although Ivan’s father had discovered the ruins in 1942, no one really paid attention to them until 30 years later when an American archeologist came there, mapped them out and reported them to the Mexican government.  It wasn’t until 1994 that restoration of the ruins began on the structures that were used by the Mayans in 700 AD.  It wasn’t opened to the public until 2002.  Ivan showed us some family photos that were taken during the restoration period.  They were fascinating.

   

On our way back to the van, Ivan explained that only about one percent of the structures in the Mayan village had been uncovered.  As we walked, we realized that every mound we saw was probably a structure waiting to be uncovered.  It was interesting to see how the trees had intertwined with the bricks of the former buildings.

   

   

   

Ivan pointed out a vine that surrounds a tree and eventually kills it.  There were still some of the decaying remains in the middle of these vines.

We came to the back side of the first temple we had seen.  It also had a protected area.  Apparently there was a large painted area found in a room in the temple.  Unfortunately some vandals had put graffiti on it, so it was covered up with stones so that no more damage could be done.  Ivan said we could climb up to the room if we wanted to, so several of us did.  There really wasn’t anything to be seen in the opening.  Just an opening.

   

He asked us if we wondered why the steps were so high when the Mayans were so short.  He told us that originally there were smaller steps added between the large steps so that the priests could climb to the top easier.

On the ride back to the ship, Ivan told more stories.  He was a great guide.  We also appreciated that we were dropped off at the ship rather than having to walk all the way back from the office.  I got a nice shot of the pyramid I previously mentioned as where we had to turn to get to the office.  I am also showing how far the pyramid was from the outside of the port area.

   

Now that I had time to walk around the shopping area, I could see what was there.  There was a large pool between Carlos’n Charlie’s and Señor Frogs.  Both very nice bars.  Some of the production cast dancers were laying around the pool in their bikinis maintaining their tans. 

   

   

I was about to go back to the ship, when I noticed some activity near a different pool area.  It was a Dolphin Discovery pool where people could swim with dolphins.  It was quite a large pool area.  I took some photos of the dolphins including the below photo where one of them jumped out of the water.  I really felt sorry for the dolphins with them swimming in a pool right next to the ocean; while on the other side of a wall was their freedom.

I walked back through the shopping area and took some more photos of it.  Costa Maya had invested a lot of money in the port and beach area.  I understood why it was becoming so popular.

   

   

Like most of the ports they had a long dock.  But they also had a free shuttle from the ship to the shopping area for those that wanted to wait for it to pick them up.

   

It had been a very enjoyable and relaxing day.  I still couldn’t believe that we were visiting Mexico and the temperature only reached the upper 70’s. 

George Town, Grand Cayman
Georgetown was our other tender port.  We were able to anchor much closer to the dock there than we had in Belize.  It is a very flat island.

   

We had been to Grand Cayman several times before and I had been on Stingray City excursions a couple times.  But when in Grand Cayman the best thing to do is water activities.  Plus there isn’t much else to do there other than shop; and we were going to be there on a Sunday when most shops were closed.  When I saw an excursion with Captain Marvin’s (www.captainmarvins.com) that went to Stingray City and two other snorkel spots, it sounded like a winner.  The main concern with this particular excursion was that it started at 1:00 PM.  Normally this would be perfect had we been at a dock; but since George Town was a tender port, we could have delays that would make us miss the excursion.  One thing we had going for us was that quite a few people from our Cruise Critic roll call had booked this excursion and the Riviera was the only ship in port.  We assumed they would wait for us if there was a delay.  As it worked out, there weren’t many passengers going on Oceania excursions, so we were able to get on the first tender.  We were glad that it was a short tender ride, since we were using the ships lifeboats as tenders.

I had a map to Captain Marvin’s; but since it was so close to where we exited the port area, it really wasn’t needed.  The small office was easy to find.

We loaded on to the van for the short ride to their boat, the Captain Jimmy.  There were only going to be 21 of us on a boat that is designed for 45 passengers.  Our driver told us that Captain Marvin himself had died the day before we arrived.  He was 98 years old.  His family had taken over the business many years before.  Out of curiosity, I looked up his obituary and found the following:  “He is survived by his 15 children, 33 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren, and he also lived to see one great-great grandchild”.  That is quite a family.

The Captain Jimmy was indeed a good size boat and nicely arranged.  The bottom area was well protected from the sun and the top had comfortable seating.

   

Our guide for the day was Delroy.  He was quite a character.  He did an outstanding job for us

After a smooth thirty minute ride, we arrived at Stingray City.  The water color was so gorgeous and inviting.  There were plenty of other boats there when we arrived.

Looking the other way, the water was even prettier as it got deeper.  It was easy to see why so many people had chosen to just take a beach day rather than going on an excursion.

We could see all the stingrays swimming in the water that were waiting to be fed by the visitors.  The big black spots on the sand were a giveaway.

The back of the boat was designed to be able to get out of and back on the boat quite easily.  After everyone got into the water, Delroy introduced us to a stingray named Becky.  She was very friendly and allowed Delroy to pose her with each of the guests.  She really got a workout and I am sure a lot of squid from Delroy.  The photographer on the boat took shots of several poses.  I normally don't purchase tour company photos, since I take enough photos myself and others will take photos of me if I want them.  However, since I didn't have a camera to use in the water, the tour photos were much more attractive.  However, the $45 price for them was rather steep.  I was able to get the price reduced to $30, since I was by myself.  Had Carol been with me, they might have been worth the higher price.  Plus these were rather unusual photos that I knew Carol would want to see.

   

The kissing one and the bottom shot of Becky were a bit strange; but everyone did them.

   

Becky also gave us back rubs.  With her soft underside, it really felt good.

We were given squid to feed to any of the stingrays that we felt were worthy of a treat.  Everyone seemed to have a good time there.

After Stingray City we went to two other very nice snorkel spots close by.  Since the reefs were in very shallow water, the colors were just gorgeous with the full sunlight reaching them.  Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera to take photos with.  Delroy pointed out fish to everyone and did underwater antics like blowing rings of air bubbles from his mouth.  While snorkeling, he picked up a couple of conch shells.  When we got back on board, he hammered a hole in each of them and pulled out the conch.  It was a strange looking creature.  Delroy told us that the white meat is what we would want to eat.  He cut off small pieces for anyone who wanted to try some fresh conch.  It was quite good.

   

After the three hour excursion ended, I walked back through the shopping area to the tender dock.  It was surprising to see that most of the stores were actually closed while a ship was in port.  A tender was waiting to take us to the ship for our last boarding of the cruise.

Carol told me that she had gone into town by herself during the day.  She had no problem getting on or off of the tender with her scooter.  The crew members were extremely helpful.  There were several small vendors set up in the port area selling the usual stuff.  The only two major stores out on the main street that were open on Sunday were Diamonds International and their sister store Tanzanite International.  So, Carol was forced to look at jewelry all day, imagine that!  All kidding aside, she did fine a very nice bracelet which she told me I was giving her for Christmas.

That evening we had a nice sunset before we left port on our way home.

   

The last day of the cruise was a sea day.  The weather was just gorgeous and most people took advantage of it by hanging out at the pool.  I even went out to rest on a lounger and soon fell asleep.  It had been a most enjoyable and relaxing cruise.

Disembarkation
With the Riviera being a small ship, disembarking was pretty easy.  Since we weren’t in a rush to catch a plane, we chose a 9:00 AM disembarkation time.  When our number was called we easily left the ship, picked up our bags and left the terminal after going through customs.  Since we parked at offsite parking, we would need to get a cab to take us there.  Because we had the scooter, we would need an SUV or van taxi.  We got into what appeared to be a taxi stand line.  As we moved closer, we noticed that there was another line further up ahead.  We stayed in the line we were in; but noticed that some people were getting out of our line.  When we finally got closer to the front of the line, we realized that we were in the line for people with wheel chairs and walkers; which since Carol was on her scooter, we had lucked out in getting in the correct line.  Since it was around 10:00 AM by the time we picked up our car, rush hour was over and the drive home was very easy.

Recap
With this being our second cruise with Oceania, we knew that we had now found our new favorite cruise line and favorite ship.  We just loved the Riviera and even booked another cruise on her for 2016.   We also enjoyed the ports more than we expected, especially since we had very mild temperatures.  But the best part of the cruise was the new friends we met.  We were able to share fun excursions and meals with many of them.  2014 was almost over and we looked forward to what 2015 would bring.

 

    

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