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22nd February, 2017


There is a ‘way in’to Belize, along narrow channels set amongst shoals and low mangrove covered islands. The pilot arrived shortly after 5am to guide us the 18 miles to the anchorage, following three great ‘icebergs’that must have had at least 10,000 passengers between them. ‘Big Momma’and ‘Amy’were allocated to act as tenders for us, as local regulations did not permit using our own boats.

The Saganauts had been warned that it might seem that, once they stepped ashore, there had been some kind of invasion and I did overhear more than one comment suggesting I was not joking (well, probably not as polite as that). Of course the tender terminal had everything that catered for the needs of the ‘bulk’cruise vessel guest, fridge magnets to suitcases and diamonds to locally produced wood carvings. Outside however it seemed that life had changed little over the years, far more traffic of course, but many of the old clapper board wooden houses seemed worse for wear.

We had some very good tours on offer, including excursions to Mayan ruins at Altun Ha and Lamani, plus ‘Bamboo River Rafting’in the rain forest. My morning was busy, however we took up a couple of spare seats on the ‘Airboat Adventure’that was scheduled for the afternoon.

Three 450 horse power very shallow draft vessels were lined up ready when we arrived at the Almond Hill Lagoon. After a quick briefing, they set off one after another in a great roar of noise as the massive air screw immediately behind the ‘Captain’pushed them along leaving a massive spray curtain in their wake. He showed us that this beast of a craft could take almost right angle turns at speed. We coasted into Indian Creek with the obvious intention of seeing wild life amid the mangroves and water lilies, the depth of water on occasion being as little as six inches.

Apparently there was a slight chance of seeing Manatees, turtles and wading birds, but I have a sneaking suspicion that as they were unlikely to be wearing ear defenders (as we were), it would be unlikely. We did actually see the odd wader and a hawk that passed over looking straight down at us, I swear, with a gleam in his eye. The airboat team were all very professional and amusing in a confident way, so it was great fun for everyone.

Bow and stern anchors were eventually retrieved as the sun was setting and we set off into the night bound for Havana. On board there is a feeling of quiet excitement and anticipation.

Captain Philip Rentell

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