Belize Trip Report

July 16th thru July 23rd, 2011

 

Nancy and David decided to visit Belize and the Blue Hole.  Rather than spend a week in the city with daily commutes out to the different diving sites (some can be a 3 hour boat ride), they decided to partake in an opportunity of spending a week on a live aboard.  Think of an all-inclusive 5 star hotel, only totally on the water!!

After a lot of research, we decided on the Sun Dancer II.  http://www.dancerfleet.com/belize-home.shtml

The Sun Dancer II is capable of accommodating 20 guests, with a crew of 10.  It is 138 feet long, 26 feet wide, and has 10 state rooms.  It has a state of the art diving equipment and deck.  The crew of 10 include a captain, cruise director, engineer, 2 dive instructors, 2 stewards and 3 staff which feed us.  Jerry and the kitchen staff fed us 3 huge glorious meals every day.  And this does not count the snacks in between meals.  The entire crew did a great job of keeping us safe, keeping us happy, and making sure our diving was second to none!!!

The weather during the week was fantastic.  The 2 times it did rain, they were passing rain showers which came at night.  The temperature was 85 degrees with a slight breeze throughout the whole week.

 

We flew out early Saturday morning, July 16th, to Dallas for a connection flight to Belize City.  From there, we were met at the airport by a Sun Dancer staff, who arranged transportation from the airport to the boat.  We arrived a couple of hours early and spent the time in the Radisson hotel (across from the dock).  Our luggage was transported onto the boat as we waited.  At 4:30 pm, we were gathered up by a staff member and escorted onto the boat.  Each guest was given a tour of their assigned room, explained how things worked in each room and at 6 pm were summoned to the dining room for our first meal on the boat.  It was exquisite.  Don't ask me what we ate.  I don't remember it all.  But each meal was different than any before and not your run of the mill meals.  Meals like etouffee, ribs, baked chicken, spaghetti, baked snapper, duck, hamburgers, and of course, all the side dishes and trimmings.  In addition, there were several celebrations for birthdays and anniversaries.  Our chef, Jerry, baked different delicious cakes for each one.  During the week us and the crew captured and killed several Lion fish.  Lion fish are indigenous to the area and cause lots of reef damage.  Lion fish have no known enemy.  Jerry, the cook, fried up the lion fish on Friday for us.  They were delicious.

Normally, the boat would have departed at 6 pm.  But 1 guest had a late arriving flight.  So the boat waited for them.  We finally did get started and steamed out in to the ocean after 8pm.  Most of the serious traveling took place at night while we slept.  Below is a map of our trip for the week.  The captain told me we will travel over 200 miles this week.

As quoted from the Sun Dancer site:

Sun Dancer II visits atolls that lie offshore beyond Belize's barrier reef. The most famous of the atolls is Lighthouse Reef, home of the Blue Hole and the magnificent nature preserve at Half Moon Caye (pronounced keys).  You can expect visibility to reach 120 feet or more at these spectacular sites. The walls and drop-offs are spectacular. The reef is virgin and pristine. The waters surrounding Belize are teeming with large and small fish, and some of the most spectacular sponge formations found anywhere. During the dives, a wide variety of marine life can be observed such as eagle rays, turtles, tarpon, sharks and the occasional wild dolphin. Among the reef's inhabitants are enormous schools of jack, large black groupers, green moray eels, octopus and midnight parrotfish.

The Blue Hole

Encounter with huge stalactites formed thousands of years ago. Measuring about 1,000 feet in diameter and more than 400 feet deep, you can dive among the stalactites at a depth of 110 to 130 feet. This is a very memorable dive.

Half Moon Caye Wall

Hawksbill turtles and Spotted Eagle Rays are regular sights and there are some of the most spectacular sponge formations found anywhere.

The Elbow

Located on Turneffe Islands Atoll is one of Belize's most exciting and fish filled dive experiences. Enormous schools of jacks are often sighted in the blue water.

 

Aquarium

Very large Black Groupers, Green Morays, Caribbean Octopus and Midnight Parrotfish are among the reef's inhabitants. Visibility in excess of 120' can be expected and annual water temperatures range from 78 to 84 F. A wide variety of marine life can be observed during the dives, such as eagle rays, manta rays, turtles, tarpon and the occasional wild dolphin.

 

Each day was filled with diving and eating.  There were 5 scheduled dives per day:  8 am, 10 am, 1:30 pm, 4:30 pm and a night dive.  Each guest was allowed to partake in as many or as little of the scheduled dives as they wanted.  Some guests did all 5 dives per day.  We did not.  There were also guests who did not dive.  They accompanied their spouse on the trip.  Some snorkeled while their spouse went diving.

Each state room had either a queen size bed or 2 twin beds.  Each room had it's own private bath room with a shower.  The state rooms were decorated very nice, large enough with out being ostentatious and without wasting space on the boat.  Basically, we only slept or showered in the room.

The diving deck, at the rear of the boat, was set up very nicely.  Each guest had an area where their diving gear was set up.  There was a small basket under the seat for their small or loose gear.  The crew was always at the ready to help you either in the water or when you came out of the water.  A hot water shower is available on the dive deck to rinse off both you and your gear from the salt water.  After your shower, a crew member presented you with a warm towel to dry off.  This is a very nice added benefit.

 

Below are 3 links to a video the captain took.  I was able to upload the video's onto YouTube.  I suggest you watch them in order.

When you click on the link below, it should open in a new window.

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_iLIfyaWCE

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20T3XpPuaUo

Part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMVycc-hD6o

 Under each video (on the left side) is a like or dislike button.  Please click your choice for each video.

On Wednesday the weather was good so the captain was able to navigate the boat into the Blue Hole so we could dive.  It was a short dive because we went so deep.  We dove down to 138 feet.  That's deep!  Click here for more information about the Belize Blue Hole.  After we dove the Blue Hole, the boat stopped at Half Moon Caye.  Here the Belize Audubon Society is set up for guest to have a walking tour of the small island.  Nancy & David passed on the free tour, but there are some pictures below.

Our camera died (for an unknown reason) on day 2.  But the cruise director took quite a few pictures (93 all told) and gave each guest a CD of the pictures.  These are his pictures.

Left click on any picture to view it in full size.  Click the BACK button to return

You may save any picture you wish by right clicking on the picture (once it is in it's full size) and choose "Save Picture As.."

Jaw fish
Fairy Basslet Blenny
David flying in the Blue Hole
Crab
Squid
Lee Nancy & David Paul Troy and Turtle Mike
Best friends Joe and Mike school of Damsel fish David & Nancy kissing on deck
Marie & Peter Jerry our great cook
Bill & Brenda
Capt Eddie
The Sundancer II The dive platform of the boat Troy
Marie Peter Bill Joe Mike Bill Michele
Karl The Sun Dancer II tied up at the dock Nancy, the great Div-O-Saurus This is a bar, 15 feet under the boat, for divers to hold on to while doing their safety stop.    

We hope you enjoyed this trip report as much as we did.

 

You may forward this trip report to whom ever you wish!!