Belize City (Belize)
Cruise Port Guide and Review (2020)

Panoramic photo of Belize City cruise port
Panoramic photo of Belize City cruise port
Panoramic photo of Belize City cruise port

Overview: see, do and must-know
for cruise travelers to Belize City port

By: | Date:

The cruise port of Belize City (in the country of Belize) has a good number of world-class attractions like the Mayan archeological sites of Xunantunich, Altun Ha, or Lamanai. And there are also lots of wildlife adventures to enjoy both in the ocean and on the lush tropical forest. All these attractions are located between 33 miles (53 km) and 78 miles (126 km) from the cruise terminal.

However, cruise travelers will not find much to see or do near the port besides exploring the cruise terminal known as Fort Street Tourism Village. Belize City, the country's largest urban center has a few interesting landmarks and is just around the corner from the cruise terminal but is not particularly appealing to explore on your own.

Coronavirus advise for cruises to Belize City port

For updated coronavirus (Covid-19) information and travel advice to Belize and the cruise port in Belize City visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Belize. For more Traveler's Health advice to Belize see the CDC Website.

Contents

  1. Where is Belize City port
  2. Anchoring and tender
  3. Shuttle bus
  4. To see and do in Belize
  5. Top highlights of Belize
  6. What's within walking distance
  7. How to explore Belize City port
  8. Shore excursions (Shorex)
  9. Discover on your own
  10. Sightseeing
  11. How to get around
  12. Local cuisine, drinks, and lunch
  13. Shops and shopping
  14. Must-know: tourist info, language, currency, wi-fi and more
  15. Safety, emergencies, and basics

Overview

The cruise port of Belize City on Fort Street Tourism Village possesses an appealing atmosphere, the area is clean and well maintained. However, Belize City itself is known for not being particularly safe.

The local population typically tends to be friendly, polite, and speak English very well. For those cruising with families, there is a lot do. Cruise passengers with disabilities or with walking difficulties may find it a bit challenging to wander around in on your own.

Where is Belize and the cruise port

Although Belmopan is the country's capital, Belize City is the largest city with a population of around 110,000. Belize City is located in the eponymous district, on the East coast of the country bathed by the Caribbean Sea. The cruise port is 191.67 nautical miles (354.97 km) south of Cozumel cruise port, 118.25 nautical miles (219 km) northwest of Roatan and 407.21 nautical miles (754.15 km) west of Grand Cayman.

Anchoring and tender boats in Belize City port

Cruise ships do not dock in Belize City port. Because the Caribbean Sea waters are too shallow by the port, cruise ships anchor around 2 miles from the coast and large boats operated by local authorities transfer passengers to the Fort Street Tourism Village. The tender operation typically takes around 20 minutes. The cruise terminal is a secluded (and safe) area just a stone’s throw away from the historic center of Belize City. Cruise travelers will find in the terminal building all basic services and modern amenities, many typical shops found all over the Caribbean and a few restaurants.

Belize City cruise port map

Shuttle bus in Belize

Due to the proximity of the cruise terminal to Belize City and because there isn't much to see downtown, the port does not operate a shuttle bus.

Things to see and do in Belize City cruise port

The port of Belize City is a stunning port for cruise travelers interested in Mayan archeologic sites, for those who appreciate breathtaking scenic sights, magnificent natural wonders, wildlife parks, zoos, or bird watching. There are lots of attractive options for cruise visitors looking forward to relaxing on a secluded beach and genuinely enjoy watersports.

Belize offers great outdoor activities both onland and in the Ocean some of which are ideal for those cruising with families including thrilling pursuits for the most adventurous. In the Belize City cruise port, you can also savor local flavors and cuisine and shop for duty-free jewelry and watches. Once again, it must be emphasized that Belize City is far from ideal for cruise passengers that enjoy exploring cruise ports on your own and/or on foot.

Top highlights, sights and attractions

Here are the top things to see and do in the port of Belize City for cruise travelers selected by type of specific activity.

Archeology and cultural:
Mayan ruins and Belize City

  1. Altun Ha Mayan Temple
  2. Distance from cruise port: 32.9 miles (53 km).

  3. Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
  4. Distance from cruise port: 77.8 miles (125 km).

  5. Lamanai Mayan Ruins
  6. Distance from cruise port: 78.1 miles (126 km).

  7. Belize City
  8. Distance from cruise port: within walking distance but better on a sightseeing tour.

Wildlife encounters

    Cruise travelers should be aware that most of the following sites can only be visited on shore excursions either booked onboard or with online tour services.

  1. Belize Zoo
  2. Distance from cruise port: 29.8 miles (48 km).

  3. Little Guana Caye Bird Sanctuary
  4. Distance from cruise port: 41 miles (66 km) by ferry.

  5. Community Baboon Sanctuary
  6. Distance from cruise port: 27.2 miles (43.8 km) in Bermuda Landing village.

  7. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
  8. Distance from cruise port: 49.3 miles (101 km).

  9. Manatee Watching
  10. Distance from cruise port: 23 miles (37 km) around 45 minutes by water taxi.

On land outdoors activities
and thrilling pursuits

    Cave tubing and cave kayaking are two active pursuits that are unique to Belize. But you can also experience thrilling adventures such as horseback riding, riverboat and airboat tours, hiking, trekking, biking, buggy, and jeep tours. And, of course, ziplining. There are a few great places to enjoy these activities, although most can only be experienced on a shore excursion. The following are some of the best close to the cruise terminal:

  1. Bacab Eco Park
  2. Distance from cruise port: 15.7 miles (25.3 km).

  3. Crystal Caves - Blue Hole National Park
  4. Distance from cruise port: 62.1 miles (100 km).

  5. Nohoch Che'en Caves Branch
  6. Distance from cruise port: 43.4 miles (69.8 km).

  7. Jaguar Paw
  8. Distance from cruise port: 50.2 miles (80.7 km).

Mesoamerica Reef
Ocean adventures and activities

    The Mesoamerican Reef is the second largest on the planet and a stunning place for cruise travelers to snorkel, scuba dive, or fishing. You may also have guided encounters with sharks, rays, and sea turtles. For those that enjoy secluded beaches, Belize is a stunning cruise destination.

  1. Ambergris Caye and San Pedro
  2. Distance from cruise port: 28.18 nautical miles (52.18 km).

  3. Caye Caulker
  4. Distance from cruise port: 17.8 miles nautical (32.97 km).

  5. Beaches and Islands
  6. Bannister Island, Starfish Island, Goff's Caye Island

  7. Great Blue Hole
  8. This natural wonder is too far from the Belize City cruise port and can only be seen on a helicopter tour.

What's within walking distance and nearby

As mentioned at the beginning of this port review, Belize City is not particularly appealing to explore on your own. In reality, many cruise travelers feel intimidated when walking around the city. This said, if you do not have such a legitimate concern, keep in mind that the tender boats dock at the Fort Street Tourism Village, which is right by Belize City downtown. However, two of the most interesting landmarks in Belize City are on distinct sides of the river and not so close to the exit gates of the cruise terminal.

  1. Museum of Belize
  2. Distance from cruise port: 0.9 mile (1.7 km) north bank of the river.

  3. St John Cathedral
  4. Distance from cruise port:  (1.8 km) south bank, across the Swing Bridge.

How to explore Belize for cruise travelers

Unless you earnestly wish to explore a couple of historic landmarks in Belize City on foot, almost all highlights and principal attractions in the cruise port require traveling between 15 and 80 miles. Therefore, the best way for cruise travelers to explore, discover, and enjoy Belize is with Shore Excursions. The only exceptions are Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, which can be reached by water taxi. More about this in the following paragraphs.

Shore excursions (shorex)

All cruise lines offer anything between 10 and 30 shore excursions to all notable highlights of Belize. There are also many delightful excursions offered by reputable private online services. The following offer shore excursions in Belize:

  1. Viator
  2. Shore Trips
  3. Shore Excursions Group
  4. Shore Excursioneer
  5. Cruising Excursions
  6. Tours by Locals

Explore on your own

Very few sites, attractions, and highlights can be adequately explored on your own in Belize for the simple fact that public transportation is far from good. There are a few car rentals available but once you drive to sites, it is not easy to explore these without guides. More about car rentals in the following paragraphs. The only good and advisable service for cruise travelers is the San Pedro Water Taxi, which runs regular ferries between Belize City and Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.

These modern water taxis depart from a pier which is less than a 10-minute walk from the cruise terminal. In 2020, the return ticket to San Pedro (on Ambergris Caye) costs $30.00 and to Caye Calker US$50.00. For updated schedule, tickets and online booking see: Belize Water Taxi

Sightseeing in Belize City cruise port

Cruise travelers that enjoy sightseeing will find a couple of interesting services touring Belize City with stops in the most notable landmarks such as the Museum of Belize, the Liberty Hall, the Baron Bliss Lighthouse, or the St. John's Anglican Cathedral. These sightseeing services can be booked as a shore excursion.

How to get around and transportation
in Belize City cruise port

As mentioned already, public transportation in Belize is far from acceptable. Renting a car is really the only option to travel around the country. The following car rentals can be booked online and are within walking distance of the cruise terminal.

  1. Hertz
  2. Alamo
  3. National
  4. Cars Belize

Local cuisine and drinks, quick bites
and lunch in Belize City port

Cruise passengers that take pleasure in tasting local delicacies will be glad to discover in the Belize City port quite a few pleasant places to savor lunch, a light meal, a refreshing drink, a delicious snack, or even an ice-cream.

Cruisers may like to try regional specialties like Chicken Stew served with rice and beans and fried plantains; Bile Up (eggs, fish, cassava, plantains, yams, and sweet potatoes, boiled on a tomato sauce); Hudut (fish soup cooked on coconut milk); conch fritters, fried maize or tortillas. In a country with a fertile tropical forest, fresh fruit is a must: passion fruit, starfruit, jackfruit, dragon fruit, guava, papaya, mango, and pineapples are out of this world.

Generally speaking, eating and drinking in Belize City cruise port is relatively affordable. Like most countries in the Caribbean, Belize also has some signature drinks like Belikin Beer, One Barrel Rum, used to mix with cranberry juice to get Cranbarrel, Caribbean Coconut, and Caribbean Gold Rum.

In the historical center of Belize City, within walking distance there are a few places like the Smoky Mermaid and the elegant restaurants and grills of the Radisson Fort George Hotel (St. George's, Stonegrill, Baymen's Tavern and Le Petit Café).

If you do not wish to venture outside the cruise terminal, there is a good number of restaurants, grills, and bars at the Fort Street Tourism Village where you can taste great food and drinks from Belize. The Wet Lizard is arguably the most famous but there are many others. Check Bars in Belize to learn more.

In the Fort Street Tourist Village cruise terminal you will find the following restaurants, bars and coffee shops in alphabetic order:

  1. Wet Lizard
  2. Better Belize It Bar
  3. The Grill
  4. Rock Bar
  5. The Green Turtle
  6. Caribbean Café
  7. Belize Daiquiri
  8. Coconut Bar
  9. Bearded Clam

Gifts, souvenirs,
best shops and shopping

Cruise travelers looking for souvenirs from Belize and local gifts will find the best shops at the Fort Street Tourism Village. In fact, there isn't much of interest to buy outside the gated cruise terminal compound unless you travel to San Pedro where there is a larger and more diverse number of shops in Ambergris Caye.

What to buy

The Fort Street Tourism Village cruise terminal boasts around 30 shops selling souvenirs, tobacco, liquors, perfumes, Rum cake, regional chocolate, Caribbean clothing, exotic local crafts, and a few well-known brands like Del Sol or the ubiquitous Diamonds International. The Jungle Gift Shop is a large store impossible to miss where cruisers find great collections of souvenirs, hats and caps, t-shirts and sweatshirts, swimwear, toys, and clothing for kids, men, and women.

The following shops, ordered alphabetically, are amongst the better known and well-rated by frequent cruisers to Belize:

  1. Cariloha
  2. Del Sol
  3. Diamonds International
  4. Duty-free (liquor, tobacco and perfume)
  5. Harley Davidson
  6. Moho Chocolate Factory and Gift shop
  7. Piarana Joe
  8. Tanzanite International

Must-know: tourist info,
language, money, and basics

  • Tourist information
  • The Belize Tourism Board office is located in Belize City across the Swing Bridge on Regent Street, around 0.9 miles (1.4 km) southwest of the cruise port.

  • Language
  • English is the official language of Belize. The country only became independent of the United Kingdom in 1981, when it was known as British Honduras. Creole, an english based dialect, is spoken by 44.6% of the population. Spanish is spoken by 56.6% and Maya by 10.5%.

  • Currency
  • The Belize dollar is the official currency of Belize and is pegged at BZ$2 = US$1 according to the Central Bank of Belize. However, US dollars are widely accepted in Belize but be aware that you may receive change in the local currency, which is worthless outside the country.

  • ATMs
  • There are ATMs in the Fort Street Tourism Village cruise terminal. There are also ATMs in Belize City but you need to look for the ones with the Plus or Cirrus logos. These following banks in Belize City have ATMs: Belize Bank (21 Regent Street and in the Radisson), First Caribbean Bank (21 Albert Street), Scotiabank (4 Albert Street), and Atlantic Bank (Freetown Road).

  • Exchange bureau
  • You will not find an Exchange Bureau in the terminal or in Belize City.

  • Credit and debit cards
  • Credit and Debit Cards - Visa, MasterCard, and American Express - are widely accepted in most shops and restaurants in the Fort Street Tourism Village cruise terminal and also in some touristic related services.

  • Tipping and haggling customs
  • Tipping is not expected in restaurants, cafes, or bars but it is appropriate to tip around 10%. Taxi drivers do not expect tips. Tour guides expect a tip of around 10%.
    Haggling is not expected in shops with fixed prices (like the ones selling liquor, tobacco, and perfumes). In fact, it is considered rude to haggle if you venture outside the cruise terminal. However, on duty-free shops selling jewelry and watches like Diamonds International haggling is a must.

Keep in touch: phones, wi-fi and Post Office

  • Wi-fi and internet
  • In the Fort Street Tourism Village cruise terminal there is an internet cafe - Click & Sip - and restaurants/bars like the Wet Lizard or the Bearded Clam offer patrons free wi-fi. T-Mobile offers unlimited data at up to 2G speeds at no extra cost.

  • Phones
  • Belize country code: 501. To call the US or Canada dial 001 prior to the number. To call other countries dial 00 + country code + area code + local number. T-Mobile offers calls at 25 cents/min. and text at no cost. Other US phone providers may work but is advisable to check with your provider to avoid roaming charges.

  • Post Office
  • The main Post Office in Belize City is located on 150 North Front Street, around 0.4 mile (600 meters) northwest of the Fort Street Tourism Village cruise terminal. Check the Belize Postal Service website for more information.

Safety, health matters and emergencies

  • Safety and US Travel Advisory
  • For comprehensive and updated information about traveling to Belize see the U.S. Department of State website page updated advisory.

  • Pharmacies
  • There is a pharmacy conveniently located in the Fort Street Tourism Village cruise terminal. In Belize City, you will also find two pharmacies less than 1/2 mile (800 meters) from the port: Popular Pharmacy, on 150 North Front Street and Family Health Pharmacy, on Queen Street.

  • Hospital
  • There are three private hospitals in Belize City, around 2 miles (3.2 km) from the cruise terminal providing, open 24/7 and with well rated health services: Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (phone: +501 223 1548), Belize Medical Associates (phone: +501 223-0302), and Belize Healthcare Partners (phone: +501 223 7870 )

  • U.S. Embassy
  • There is a U.S. Embassy in Belize on Floral Park Road, Belmopan, around 45.1 miles (72.5 km) from Belize City. Emergency services are provided during normal duty hours - Monday to Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Phone from Belize (501) 822-4011. After-hours emergency number: 610-5030.U.S. Embassy

Belize City basic info at a glance

 Entry Requirements:Passport is NOT required for U.S. citizens cruising with a valid photo ID such as a driver's license. Non-U. S. visitors are required to have a valid passport.
 Emergencies Phone:911
Driving:Driving is on the right. An International Driving Permit is advisable.
Electricity:Standard American 120 V current with 60 Hz frequency. Most places have 3 prong outlets but in older venues you may find 2 pin ones.
Drinking:Legal drinking age is 18 years.
Smoking:Smoking is prohibited in restaurants and public buildings. Bars may allow smoking outdoors.

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