Caribbean

Beaches of Belize

This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.

In any of my three Caribbean cruises in partnership with Princess, I have never seen water as blue as the waters of Belize. At 6:49 a.m., Caribbean Princess dropped anchor about an hour outside of Belize City, and for whatever depth we were at I could not believe how the shimmering turquoise water glowed. It was easy to see that we were in for a treat of a day as soon as I looked over the railing of our balcony, morning coffee in hand.

Beaches of Belize | truelane

Michele and I had been back and forth deciding on a shore excursion to take, and I can’t recommend the Princess crew members at the excursion desk enough. On any Princess cruise, there are so many shore excursion options available that it can sometimes be overwhelming to pick just one, especially on a Caribbean cruise itinerary (although depending on the times, you could potentially do two in one day). The excursion team knows just about every detail about every excursion, such as how much walking or driving will be involved, which ones are higher- or lower-activity, which ones include lunch and which might be best suited for all the ages in your party. The desk is located right in the piazza, so it’s easy to swing by on your way to or from dinner the night before. However, I do recommend booking as early as possible, because excursions can sell out! But even then, we had a list a mile long of our top choices nailed down, so you’re bound to end up on a remarkable adventure no matter what.

We decided on Snorkeling Wonders of the Barrier Reef, and since I couldn’t tell how near or far we were from Belize City, I wasn’t sure what to expect—but we didn’t go anywhere near the mainland. Instead, we took a ferry boat about an hour out from where Caribbean Princess dropped anchor and arrived at an absolute treat—a tiny private island in the middle of nowhere! We could see land off in the distance but we could also walk the entire circumference of the island in three minutes. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime day. The sands were white, the water was translucent, and the beach chairs were ready and waiting for us. It absolutely doesn’t get more picturesque.

Belize hosts the second-largest coral reef in the world behind Australia, and because of this, our excursion was quite popular. Thinking ahead, the crew divided us into two groups so the snorkeling wouldn’t get too crowded, which was a smart and thoughtful detail. Michele and I got to relax on Rendezvous Caye for the first half of the day before the second round of snorkelers paddled out to the reef.

Beaches of Belize | truelane
Beaches of Belize | truelane
Beaches of Belize | truelane
Beaches of Belize | truelane
Beaches of Belize | truelane

It’s funny to think of relaxing as any kind of “activity,” but there were truly a lot of options on the island to do so—including in-water hammocks. Swaying along with the waves in that little pocket of fabric remains at the top of my list of memories from the trip. I could have stayed there from sunrise to sundown—but not without sustenance! You can buy drinks and easy meals like hamburgers and hot dogs at the island food stand, but make sure to bring cash.

How to cap off the perfect day? Dinner and a show back onboard your home at sea. We had a thoroughly entertaining experience at the Princess Theater featuring the entertainment crew. They are truly Broadway-quality performers and performed a ton of popular songs with spectacular costumes, lights, and dancing. It’s not to be missed, and if you stop by the Skywalkers Nightclub later in the evening there’s a pretty fair chance you’ll run into them and get to tell them how much you loved it in person. Between dancing to Backstreet Boys and Stevie Wonder, of course.

Beaches of Belize | truelane
Beaches of Belize | truelane


Photography by
Michele Equitz




Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises

This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.

I recently had the extraordinary opportunity to visit Roatán, Honduras in partnership with Princess Cruises—a place I’d never heard of, but was immediately excited to go once I found out our Caribbean cruise itinerary. Even before we docked, I knew I was going to love it. We passed through a rainstorm just a few miles out, and it was so cool to be sailing in what felt like the middle of nowhere in the middle of a shower. Once it was in view, the island was overflowing with lush and diverse vegetation that I didn’t find in any other port on our cruise. It was an absolutely incredible dock to pull into, especially from our starboard-side balcony room.

Some of my favorite cruising memories are the most routine, and as always, our day got started early with in-room breakfast. Although there’s a ton of amazing restaurants onboard Caribbean Princess (Sabatini’s, Planks, and Crown Grill to name a few), there’s nothing like enjoying croissants and coffee in bed or on your balcony as you cruise the Caribbean. Getting breakfast in bed is as simple as filling out the menu card and hanging it on your doorknob the night before. I like to add fresh fruit and yogurt to my order, and it’s the perfect amount of food to get the blood flowing before setting out on the day’s adventure.

Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane

Of course, some days are more adventurous than others—in Roatan, we elected to take a beach day excursion and were simply picked up from the port by a motorcoach and dropped off at a beach. And with Princess, it gets even easier than that. When you book a beach day excursion through Princess, more often than not your lunch and drinks are included; believe me when I say they’re delicious. Local chefs know how to cook local fare better than anyone, and all of the seafood is usually caught in the same water you’re looking at as you enjoy your meal.

After a drive up the island, Big French Key was just a five-minute boat ride away and a treat of a beach resort. It was charming without being campy, had plenty of space and chairs, a beautiful lagoon and not to mention ocean views for days. It even boasted a quick nature walk through the trees, feeling a little like you’re on safari. There was even a smattering of thatched umbrella tables out in the lagoon, which we were able to take advantage of since the OceanMedallion is waterproof! Is there anything more relaxing than sipping on a cold drink in the hot sun, cool water surrounding you and a light breeze wafting through the island air? I’ll let these photos answer that for you.

Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane
Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane

Speaking of drinks, don’t forget to order the official drink of Roatan while you’re on the island—the Monkey Lala. While you might feel ridiculous saying the name to a bartender, you’ll feel even sillier if you leave the island without trying one! Still, if you miss your chance, ask Roldan at Good Spirits destination-inspired bar back on board to concoct one for you. They’re almost better than the original!

Port Day in Roatán, Honduras with Princess Cruises | truelane

Photography by Michele Equitz

iPhone shots by me




Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises

This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.

Whether I’m cruising the Baltic or the Caribbean, somehow I always end up getting off the cruise ship and onto another watercraft. It’s a natural excursion to take when you’re cruising, because you’re constantly surrounded by water in every form—channels, sounds, rivers, bays, seas, and oceans. On the recent Caribbean cruise that Princess Cruises hosted me on, we had a full day planned to make the most of our time in the Cayman Islands, and first on our itinerary was—of course—a boat ride.

Grand Cayman was our first port on the itinerary, so it was our first time getting on and off the ship using our OceanMedallion wearable devices. Unsurprisingly, it was incredibly simple and took no more than five seconds to tap the device and have the crewmember identify me when my photo popped up on their screen. I wrote a detailed post about how many ways the OceanMedallion has changed the way I cruise, so head there for more details. In the meantime, read on about our “Stingray Encounter, Reef, Snorkel, Beach, & Lunch” excursion at Grand Cayman!

iphone+snorkel+grand+cayman+princess+cruises+truelane+chelsea+lane+travel+blog5.JPG

I had no reservations about any part of this excursion until we arrived at Stingray Sandbar, and I actually saw the little critters swimming around completely wild. Ironically, my favorite part about this excursion—the fact that the stingrays are not in captivity—was also the most nerve-wracking. Still, I jumped right in the water, reminding myself that this wouldn’t be a tourist attraction if it wasn’t totally safe. The key is to not to freak out if they swim close to you—remain completely still, because they’re just checking to see if you are food (you’re not). I didn’t mind the smaller, one-to-two-feet-in-diameter stingrays, but the large four-to-five-feet-wide ones did skeeve me out a little. But that was just me—everyone in our tour group was touching, holding, and kissing them!

It was a very unique chance to embrace the Princess motto, #ComeBackNew, by facing my fears and letting myself enjoy such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I now have a stingray encounter story to tell for years to come!

Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane

 After all that adrenaline, we luckily got some chill time afterwards. I always try to choose excursions with Princess that include a beach break just to make sure I get some time to myself. Included with our tour, we had a delicious fish and chips lunch at Rum Point Beach. Not included with our tour, we got our first sunburns of the trip there too—oops. We also learned a little too late that Grand Cayman is the home of the mudslide, a dangerously good chocolatey, boozy drink (which happens to be just about my favorite on a tropical getaway), but we made do with a couple of cold beers in the hot sun. It was priceless to have that time to fully immerse ourselves in island life.

Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane

We had one more jaunt out on the boat after resting up—snorkeling at one of the beautiful coral reefs that surround the Caribbean islands. This time, we saw a stingray about twenty feet away minding his own business, and I loved watching him float on by keeping us both in a more relaxed state. Our guide also showed us a gigantic lobster, and we saw tons of purple and green coral, brightly colored fish, conchs, and beautiful anemones! Snorkeling has also been an activity I’ve had to work hard to not be afraid of over the years, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s such a spectacular way to experience new parts of the world. Grand Cayman is definitely one of my favorite ports I’ve ever visited with Princess, making it an easy highlight of the trip. What a perfect way to kick off a weeklong Caribbean cruise vacation.

Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane
Stingray Encounter & Snorkel in Grand Cayman with Princess Cruises | truelane

I can’t forget to say thanks to our tour guides for the day, Solomon and Ralph. They kept everyone safe and having a great time every stop of the way. Michele and I were giddy buzzing about in those crystalline turquoise waves.

The best part? After a quick and easy tap of our Medallions to get back on board, we had a steak dinner (or exquisite seafood for me) waiting for us at Crown Grill. What can I say? Days on Caribbean Princess are what dreams are made of.

Photography by Michele Equitz, iPhone shots by me