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Published: June 20th 2017
large school of blue fish
Geo: 16.3302, -86.5194
Last night we sailed around Punta Oeste, the south-western most tip of the Isla de Roatan. Here we are in Roatan, Honduras, a place that has always sounded so exotic to me.
Because Jeff and I have never been here before we signed up with Princess to do a snorkeling tour; it leaves around 9:30 so we actually had to set an alarm to get up in time for a bite of breakfast before heading ashore. We packed our snorkeling gear and towels, etc. last night so we wouldn't have to mess with it this morning.
The tour meets at the end of the pier so we meet up with our group and are delighted to discover that a mother/son duo (Ann and Brian) we've interacted with several times are amongst them. Either I knew and forgot or never knew that today's tour includes free drinks (alcohol only after snorkeling) and lunch on board the catamaran. Soon we're off.
The water is choppy and rough...definitely not good for snorkeling; I'm also a little concerned because I'm seated across from Brian who, I see, is wearing a sea sickness patch and is looking a little green. The guide tells us
Colorful parrot fish
Colorful parrot fish
that because the water is so rough, we will sail around the western tip of island where it will be calm and smooth. This will make our boat ride longer than was originally planned and, as a result, we will be bussed back to the ship. As we bump and sway along, I hope he is correct about the calmer waters. At one point the crew brings up a young boy, probably around 10 years old, and has him take the wheel and "pilot" the ship. The look of complete delight and concentration on his face was wonderful. You just know that this is such a big deal for him. It was a very nice thing for them to do.
Wowee, zowee, here we are and the water is like glass - smooth and still. Yippee! As the crew passes out masks, fins and snorkels to the other passengers, Jeff and I gear up. Again, I am happy, as I watch people struggle to fit their fins or adjust their masks, that we carry our own equipment. It sometimes feels like a stupid decision and hassle, but I'm always happy about it when we are getting into the water.
The crew divides our group up into experienced and new snorkelers. Jeff and I decide to go with the inexperienced group because we think it will be a smaller group. But when we hear that guide say first he will instruct them on the use of the equipment, we quickly join the other, experienced, group
On this boat you can enter the water down the ladder off the front of the boat or step off the back of the boat, like a scuba entry, and drop 2-3 feet down into the sea. Jeff decides that he wants to walk off the back. I could not believe it! That is a little scary even for me and I've done it a lot. We watch as folks drop into the water one at a time. The second man into the water surfaces without his mask and snorkel; I quickly show Jeff the scuba method of holding the mask and regulator (snorkel, in our case) in place during a water entry. Suddenly it is our turn, and I'm totally kicking myself that I am entering AFTER Jeff instead of already being in the water when he drops. No worries! He does it, surfaces
calmly, blows out his snorkel and I follow. When I surfaced, he did tell me that he needed to just breathe and calm down a little. I simply cannot believe the progress he's made in the water this week.
We set off at the end of a (too) large group of snorkelers following our guide. Here we experience the exact reason that we like to do things on our own. There are too many people in our group and we're getting bumped and occasionally get a fin in the face from the unaware. We hang back and it is better.
One man stops and calls to the kayak guide (two of the guides are in kayaks, one accompanying each group, in case someone needs help or panics) that he is uncomfortable and would like to go back to the boat. The crewman was very good...speaking calmly and reassuringly to him; handed him a rope and towed him back to the boat.
The fish life and the coral are MAGNIFICENT!! This is some of the best snorkeling I've done. The water is calm and warm and the underwater scenery is beyond beautiful. We are in the water for
Sea fans in the coral
Sea fans in the ocean
an hour or more. The guide is wonderful and keeps telling us that there is no rush to get back to the boat. We float along and eventually make our way back on board to enjoy a nice lunch and rum punch or rum and cokes, or rum and rum!
Even though our boat ride to the site was longer than planned, I think we might also have snorkeled longer than planned to give the vans time to get around the island to come pick us up. We made our way to the transfer point, boarded the vans and headed back to the ship. At first I was disappointed to be going back in the van, but after a few minutes I thought it was a great idea because we also got to see some of the local life. It was a nice ride.
Back at the boat, we washed the salt off of our faces and hands, changed clothes, out of wet swimsuits into shorts and t-shirts, grabbed a quick snack at the buffet, and left the ship to go out and look around. The Emerald Princess was docked at Mahogany Bay. Mahogany Beach is a 10-acre private island
Bubbles - from scuba divers below us
with an 825 foot-long white-sand beach that you can either walk to (5-10 minutes) or pay to take a ski-lift style ride to. We decide not to go to the beach and instead embark on a short, pleasant and tree shaded nature walk. Very nice. We do a little souvenir shopping; Jeff gets his shot glass, and buys a very nice, locally made mahogany vase and I have a new t-shirt. Believe it or not, we could not find any decent postcards! So, those of you who get postcards from us you won't be receiving any from this trip!
Back on board, we get cleaned up for real and relax on our wonderful balcony. The ship leaves Roatan at 5:30 and at 5:45 we go down to the Explorer's Lounge to meet up with Ann and to attend an art history lecture. The lecture, "The Evolution of Art" was good and interesting. I wish I could remember more of it and might have to take a real art history course sometime because I enjoyed that 90 minutes so much.
We went to the restaurant to have dinner and shared a table with another couple, John and Patty (which freaked
New friends, Ann and Brian, meet Gumby and Po
New friends, Ann and Brian, meet Gumby and Pokey
me out because Jeff's youngest brother is named John and his wife is named Patty!) who are from Strasburg, Colorado (!), a woman, Shirley, who was traveling alone. Shirley is 82 years old and has been doing a lot of traveling since she retired as a psychiatric nurse in 1990. She was a WONDERFUL dinner companion and had an excellent sense of humor. I hope we will see her again.
We aren't interested in tonight's stage production and there isn't a movie under the stars so we go back to our cabin for drinks and to enjoy our balcony. Have I mentioned how wonderful our balcony is? Hahahaha!
Roatan has been great fun. We turn in early because we're going to have an early start in Belize in the morning.
Tot: 2.524s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 7; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0498s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
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