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Islands, Reefs, Rainforests & Ancient Sites of Central America’s Caribbean Coast

Program Number: 20807RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/18/2013 - 1/26/2013;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Honduras/Guatemala/Belize
Price starting at: $3,990.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising
Meals: 23; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

On this small ship voyage, discover the unspoiled Caribbean coastline of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala. Explore the wonders of lush rain forests and their rich wildlife, walk amid the ruins of ancient Maya sites and snorkel in crystal-clear waters to discover the astonishing marine life of the coral reefs that surround these sun-splashed islands.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some uneven terrain and stairs without railings. Other activities include swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Mobility is essential, as small boats and tenders are sometimes used for disembarkation and re-embarkation.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

San Pedro Sula (Honduras), 1 night; aboard Yorktown, 7 nights.

Days 1-2:
Arrival San Pedro Sula (Honduras) / coach to Puerto Cortés / embark Yorktown:

Learn the story of Honduras and examine intriguing artifacts at the Museum of Anthropology and History. Visit the buzzing Guamilito Market, where coffee, vanilla, colorful textiles and woven baskets are among the goods for sale. Lodging: Comfortable hotel with outdoor pool.

Day 3: Punta Gorda (Belize):

Journey to the ruins of Lubaantun, a Mayan city that flourished until the 8th century. Excavations have reclaimed its temples and plazas from the jungle.

Day 4: La Ceiba (Honduras):

Enjoy an excursion to Pico Bonito National Park. Its rainforests and cloud forests are home to more than 275 species of birds as well as jaguars, tapirs, deer, puma, white-faced monkeys and spider monkeys.

Day 5: Roatán:

On this mountainous island, visit the Institute for Marine Sciences to learn about efforts to preserve the stunning undersea environment and meet the bottlenose dolphins housed there. Take a stroll in lush Carambola Botanical Gardens.

Day 6: Trujillo:

Explore this historic city’s Spanish colonial architecture including the 17th-century Santa Barbara Fortress. Visit the wildlife rehabilitation center at Campo del Mar Nature Park and swim or snorkel along the park’s beautiful white-sand beach.

Day 7: Cayos Cochinos:

Discover the beautiful islets of the Cayos Cochinos (“Hog Islands”) archipelago. Snorkel in warm, clear waters home to coral reefs teeming with colorful fish. This paradise is protected as part of a marine reserve.

Day 8: Santo Tomás de Castilla (Guatemala):

Venture to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Quiriguá, a Mayan city that was located at the junction of important trade routes. Examine carvings of mythical figures, animals and the great deeds of local rulers.

Day 9: Puerto Cortés (Honduras) / disembark / coach to San Pedro Sula for departure


Built and registered in America and staffed by American officers and crew, the Yorktown is the perfect vessel for exploring America’s great coastal waterways. With a draft of only nine feet, it can sail where larger vessels cannot go, and its American registry allows it to operate domestic itineraries unavailable to foreign-flag ships. Passengers enjoy an informal onboard atmosphere and tend to spend much of their time underway enjoying lectures and concerts in the lounge or reading and relaxing on the sun deck.

Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina
  Belize City, Belize 1 night
  Belize City, Belize
At Sea, Belize
7 nights
 Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Fort George Hotel, set on the beautiful coast of Belize in Central America, is an award-winning resort hotel that is convenient to the cultural and commercial attractions of Belize City.
  Contact info: 2 Marine Parade
Belize City,   Belize
phone: +5012233333
  Room amenities: Spacious rooms, cable TV, direct dial phone, coffee maker, ironing board and fully stocked mini bar. Portions of the hotel feature views of the Belize coast and handcrafted furniture made by Belizean craftsmen.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary Internet at business center for in-house guest, Gifts & souvenirs shop, Two swimming pools, Two restaurants, Café on property, Guest Services desk, Fitness room, Wireless internet in public areas.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call for additional info. Please contact your program provider, Holbrook Travel, for information regarding additional nights after your program.

Type: Cruise Ship
  Ship Information: At 257 feet long, 43 feet wide, with a draft of eight feet, the Yorktown is able to maneuver in secluded waterways and visit small ports that are inaccessible to larger vessels.
  Contact info: 132 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021 USA
phone: 186-645-9885 x3
  Room amenities: All cabins have air-conditioning and small, private bathrooms with continental-style showers.
  Facility amenities: Returning from excursions, guests enjoy complimentary refreshments, afternoon tea and all-day coffee in The Lounge, a gracious space for relaxation, surrounded by panoramic windows. Before or after dinner, cocktails are served to live music performed by the ship’s pianist. Other Yorktown features include: •Internet access (additional cost)* •Window-lined lounge with panoramic views •Dining room surrounded by windows •Swimming platform *Note: Before purchasing onboard internet service, please note that the andwidth is relatively narrow and speed is correspondingly slow. Participants will be able to send and receive email messages and check your email accounts without difficulty. However, it is not suitable for ‘surfing’ the web, downloading files of any significant size, or attempting to stream audio or video.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Morning and afternoon arrivals at the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina that night.
  End of Program:
Afternoon departures from the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize. You will be staying at Yorktown the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Belize City
  Nearest airport:  Belize City has both an international airport & a domestic airport.
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available for hire outside the arrivals hall of the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport. If you choose to hire a taxi to the hotel, please agree on the price beforehand since the taxis do not have meters. Authorized taxis can be identified by their green license plates.
  From End of Program
  Location:  At Sea
  Transportation from site: At the conclusion of the Road Scholar cruise, participants will be transferred to the international airport in Belize City to connect with return flights to the U.S.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals in Belize City, Belize.
(Friday, January 18)
 Arrive To: Arrivals in Belize City, Belize.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Before dinner, enjoy a program orientation at the hotel.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Exploring the Mayan Ruins at Lamanai/Embarkation on the Yorktown.
(Saturday, January 19)
 Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: After breakfast, transfer to the New River dock and embark on a scenic boat ride (approx. 31 miles) upstream to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. While navigating the calm waters of the New River, try to find and identify some of the many bird species found in the area, including: Black-collared Hawks, Northern Jacanas, Mangrove Swallows, Olive-throated Parakeets, American Pygmy Kingfishers, and Purple Gallinules, to name just a few. If lucky, we may even catch a glimpse of the rarely seen Jabiru Stork! Get close-up views of mangroves and virgin forests flanking the narrow waterway and try to spot the colorful orchids that grow along the river banks.

Disembark at Lamanai for a walking exploration of the more than 50 impressive structures found at the archaeological reserve.

This large Mayan ceremonial center is set in a tropical forest on the banks of the New River Lagoon in the north central region of Belize. Unlike most Mayan sites, the ruins found at Lamanai were built in layers; each generation adding on to the existing structures. Some of the site’s highlights include the Jaguar Temple, the High Temple, and the Mask Temple. A beautiful panoramic view of the lagoon and surrounding jungle can be seen from the top of the High Temple. It is believed that the ancient center was occupied during more than 3,200 years, and as recently as in the 18th century.
 Lunch: At the ruins.
 Afternoon: After lunch, continue exploring the archaeological complex at Lamanai.

Boat ride and bus transfer back to Belize City. Transfer to the port and embark on the ship.

Attend a welcome briefing and safety drill.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Enjoy ship's evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Half Moon Cay, Lighthouse Reef/Blue Hole.
(Sunday, January 20)

Note: Snorkel and fins will be provided, but snorkeling enthusiasts often bring their own gear to ensure a good fit.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Sail from Belize City in the morning to begin our passage through Belize's Great Barrier Reef. A vast coral formation extending more than 120 miles from the Yucatan to the coast of Guatemala, this reef is second in size to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The reef community constitutes the earth's oldest and most complex ecosystem, some two billion years old. Not visited by mega cruise liners and mass tourism, the area is a paradise for sailors, snorkelers, and nature lovers.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Disembark at Half Moon Cay, a national reserve and sanctuary for nesting red-footed boobies. Magnificent frigate birds, seabirds and turtles also inhabit the island.

You will also discover the remarkable undersea world of the Blue Hole, a natural phenomenon that is part of an underwater national park. Elliptical in shape the entire hole is surrounded by a 1,000-ft coral rim that rises to the lagoon's surface. Jacques Cousteau spent a month here exploring the stalagmitefilled caves along the walls of the Hole. A local diving boat will take you to the reef system surrounding this remarkable site. A protected area teeming with marine life, this is an excellent spot in which to snorkel.

Return to the ship in the late afternoon and set sail for Dangriga.
 Dinner: Captain's Welcome Reception and Dinner.
 Evening: Enjoy ship's evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Dangriga/Mayflower Bocawina National Park.
(Monday, January 21)

Note: Participants on the hike should wear good walking shoes or sneakers, long pants and a bathing suit underneath should you wish to swim. Sun screen and insect repellent are highly recommended.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Morning arrival into Dangriga, the center of Garifuna culture.

After breakfast, drive into town to explore Gumagarugu and meet with a family of drummers and drum makers. Continue to the Gulisi Garifuna Museum to learn more about Garifuna history, art and culture.

Transfer to the nearby Mayflower Bocawina National Park.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant en route.
 Afternoon: Arrive at the Mayflower Bocawina National Park, a lush forested area at the foothills of the Maya Mountains. Walking trails through the forest lead to waterfalls and Maya temples, including Mayflower, a Late Classic site. The forest is home to over 230 species of birds, howler monkeys, and other wildlife.

Late afternoon, return to the ship. The ship will set sail to Guatemala this evening.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Enjoy ship's evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Santo Tomas de Castilla/Quirigua/San Felipe Fortress.
(Tuesday, January 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Located at the head of the spacious Amatique Bay, Guatemala’s port town of Santo Tomas de Castilla is our gateway to Quiriguá and the San Felipe Fortress, two of the country’s most interesting sites. Drive in the morning to Quiriguan ancient Maya site, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Quirigua is famed for its intricately carved stelae sandstone columns, some of which are over 30 feet tall. Completed in the 8th century a.d., the carvings depict the deeds of local rulers, mythical figures, and animals, and contain Maya glyphs.
 Lunch: Transfer to Rio Dulce for lunch ashore.
 Afternoon: After lunch, drive to the waterside village of San Felipe for a visit to its fortress, which was built by the Spanish in the mid-17th century to protect their trade routes from British pirates. Set at the confluence of the Dulce River and Lake Izabal, the fortress offers splendid views of the lake and the surrounding forest.

Return to the ship in the late afternoon and set sail to Punta Gorda.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Enjoy ship's evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Punta Gorda/Lubaantun/Nim Li Punit/Snake Cayes, Belize.
(Wednesday, January 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board ship.
 Morning: Facing the tranquil waters of the Bahia de Amatique, the small port town of Punta Gorda was founded by the Garifuna, who emigrated here around 1830. Take an excursion to the Maya sites of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. Located on a high ridge, Lubaantun was a major Maya center that flourished around 700 A.D. The site includes five plazas flanked by buildings and ball courts. Nearby, Nim Li Punit was the ceremonial and religious center of the region, and it is known for its impressive stelae.

Return to Punta Gorda late morning to re-board Yorktown and set sail for Snake Cayes.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Arrive at Snake Cays and enjoy an afternoon of swimming and snorkeling activities.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Enjoy ship's evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Big Creek/Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary/Laughing Bird Caye.
(Thursday, January 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Disembark at Big Creek and drive to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, a dense tropical rain forest set against the peaks of the Maya Mountains. This protected sanctuary that is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including tapir, armadillo, anteater, jaguar, and over 290 species of birds.

Enjoy a guided hike on jungle trails in search of local wildlife and interesting flora.

Before returning to the ship, pay a visit to the Maya Center.
 Lunch: Lunch on board as the ship sails to Laughing Bird Caye.
 Afternoon: After lunch, disembark at Laughing Bird Caye, part of the Belize Great Barrier Reef Reserve System. Enjoy the afternoon swimming, snorkeling, and exploring the island.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Enjoy ship's evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: South Water Caye/Dock at Belize City/Captain's Farewell Reception & Dinner.
(Friday, January 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Set sail for South Water Caye, scheduled to arrive around lunch time.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: South Water Cay's waters constitute a veritable coral garden. Discover the magnificent coral formations and rich variety of tropical fish within these unexplored crystal-clear waters via memorable swimming and snorkeling.

Late in the afternoon, sail to Belize City, arriving in the evening.
 Dinner: Captain's Farewell Reception and Dinner.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Disembark in Belize City/Departure Flights to the U.S.
(Saturday, January 26)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Disembark in Belize City and transfer to the international airport to check-in for the return flights to the U.S.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Time Among the Maya, Travels in Belize, Guatemala, & Mexico

Author: Ronald Wright

Secrets in Stone: All About Maya Hieroglyphs

Author: Laurie Coulter

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer

Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.

Moon Handbooks - Belize

Author: Joshua Berman

A Neotropical Companion

Author: J.C. Kricher, Mark Plotkin

Description: From plants and animals to birds and bugs, it's all here in this wonderfully written overview of the ecology, habitats, plants and animals of Central and South America.

Birds of Mexico & Central America, Princeton Illustrated Checklists

Author: Ber Van Perlo

Description: An admirably compact, comprehensive guide featuring color plates.

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean

Author: Idaz Greenberg

Description: A convenient double-sided plastic card showing 75 reef fish of the Caribbean.

Guatemala and Belize: The Rough Guide

Author: Rough Guides

Description: This comprehensive guide to Guatemala and Belize, includes in-depth accounts of towns and villages, with background on history, culture, and archaeology.

Lost Cities of the Maya

Author: Claude Baudez, Sydney Picasso

Description: This lavish little pocket encyclopedia of archaeological discovery features hundreds of color photographs and illustrations, including Catherwood's original engravings.

Maya Art and Architecture

Author: Mary Ellen Miller

Description: An illustrated overview of the art and architecture of the Maya, making use of the latest discoveries at Tikal, Copan and Palenque to demonstrate the range of Maya artistic influence. With 200 illustrations, 50 in color, including site plans, maps, strikingly rendered reconstructions and color photographs of key temples and buildings.

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