The Central American nation of Belize is brimming with natural beauty, both in its lush rainforests and diverse oceans rich with marine life. A Belize cruise offers endless opportunities for adventure and an abundance of ecological treasures to explore.
Go deep into the jungle to spot tropical birds and exotic wildlife. Explore ancient Mayan ruins, venture into natural caves, and discover artifacts used by ancient civilizations. Plunge into the famous Blue Hole, a spectacular diving spot located inside the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world.
Explore the enchanting country of Belize on a luxury Western Caribbean cruise with Celebrity Cruises.
Spanning over 180 miles, the Belize Barrier Reef is a pristine reef system that includes over 300 islands and three atolls. There’s plenty to discover at this magnificent underwater paradise, which boasts over 100 species of coral and more than 500 species of fish. Once you dive into its crystal-clear waters and find yourself surrounded by endless hues of tropical colors, you’ll understand why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the top attractions to see on a Belize cruise.
Discover the ruins of Xunatunich, a Mayan archeological site that dates back to 1000 B.C. Located on a hill overlooking the Mopan River, Xunatunich is made up of 25 Mayan temples and palaces. At the center, you’ll find the site’s largest structure, El Castillo, which stands 130 feet high and has carved stucco friezes on its exterior. Hike to the top for incredible 360-degree views of its verdant surroundings.
One of Belize’s most popular diving and snorkeling sites is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a three-square-mile marine haven found off the shore of Ambergris Caye. Hol Chan means “little channel” in Mayan, and it’s the perfect description of this coral-lined underwater alley home to hundreds of species of fish, including seahorses, parrotfish, and moray eels. One of the main attractions at Hol Chan Marine Reserve is Shark Ray Alley, a shallow area where large numbers of southern stingrays and nurse sharks frequently gather.
Famous underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau once called Belize’s Blue Hole Natural Monument one of the world’s best diving sites. Grab your scuba gear and discover this 407-foot deep underwater sinkhole that lies inside the Lighthouse Reef. Make your way down the azure waters and see hundreds of stalactites, stalagmites, and exotic fish in this one-of-a-kind natural wonder.
From the mangrove forests by the shore to the crowded streets of Belize City, Belize’s rich avian life is found everywhere. Sign up for a birding tour and see how many of the 500 bird species that live in Belize you can spot along the way.
Journey into an extensive network of limestone caves while lounging on an inner tube or paddling on a kayak through the Caves Branch River. Venture deep into one of these ancient Mayan ceremonial sites and discover historical artifacts, pottery, eyeless fish species, and a subterranean lagoon.
Belize’s multi-ethnic culture is front and center in its diverse cuisine, which includes an array of Caribbean, Mexican, Spanish, African, and Mayan influences. Savor fresh seafood specialties, like conch fritters and grilled lobster, one of the country’s leading exports. You’ll also find almost every dish in Belize is served with their signature rice and red beans. Make sure to try other dishes including stewed chicken, wrapped tamales, and Chimole soup.
For centuries, Belize was an important Mayan urban center and part of a crucial trading route between Mexico and Guatemala. After the Mayans were driven out of their land by the Spanish Conquest, the British usurped the country in the mid-17th century and named it British Honduras. The country’s name was officially changed to Belize in 1973, and it remained a British colony until 1981 when it finally achieved its independence.
On cruises that go to Belize, you’ll dock in the Belize City port, which is a few miles away from the shore. A small boat will tender you to the city, dropping you off near Tourism Village, an area full of shops, restaurants, and bars.
There are several national landmarks within walking distance of the Belize City cruise port. When you book a shore excursion, transportation to and from the port is included. If you want to explore the city on your own, hail a certified taxi, which can be identified by its green license plate.
In Tourism Village, where your Belize cruise ship docks, you’ll find duty-free shops, along with chocolate and artisanal jewelry for sale. Pick up locally made souvenirs at the Belize Handicraft Market Place which is a short walk from Tourism Village.
The local currency is the Belize dollar, although the United States dollar is accepted in most major shops and restaurants. There’s usually a 10% service charge added to your dining bill. Tipping isn’t common in Belize, but if you experienced excellent service, feel free to leave a little something extra.
Pristine Belize sets aside a fifth of its area as nature preserves, and the human history dates back 4,000 years. Today, gregarious Belizeans include mestizo, Creole, Maya, Garinagu, Mennonite, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Belize City pivots around its beloved Swing Bridge. When boats need to navigate Haulover Creek, several strong-armed Belizeans crank open the relic. North of Swing Bridge, the Museum of Belize, once a prison, displays amazing ceramics, jade, and Maya artifacts. To the south, visit stately Government House, a museum with Victorian artifacts
On local tours, you can see manatees lumbering, crocodiles sunning, black howler monkeys screeching, and colorful parrots swooping. West of Belize City, the Belize Zoo is home to powerful jaguars, jabiru storks, and howler monkeys. The huge Belize Barrier Reef offers spectacular diving, snorkeling, and fishing. You can take a boat to Ambergris Caye or Rendezvous Caye. At Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the famous Blue Hole plunges 400 feet deep.
You can also explore the history of the Mayan ruins on your cruise to Belize. At Altun Ha, climb the 60-foot Temple of the Sun God, look down onto the plaza, and imagine the ceremonies that took place there 3,000 years ago. You can also visit Xunantunich, near Guatemala, or take a river safari to remote Lamanai.
Shop here for jade, which makes beautiful jewelry and gifts. Distinctive arts and crafts also include watercolors, oils, prints, baskets, turquoise jewelry, mahogany sculptures, and black slate carvings. Chefs fuse traditional dishes with papaya, mango, and other Caribbean fruits to create new flavors and aromas. Seafood caught this morning becomes the ceviche served tonight, and the local version incorporates lobster, shrimp, or conch, with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices. Popular local “stew chicken” gets spiked with habanero peppers.