Cruise Day 5: A Private Tour of Roatan

A picture of us in Roatan.

Up early, this time by design, we breakfasted at the buffet and were off the ship by 8:30.

If you visit the Roatan forums on the Cruise Critic message boards, you’ll see a number of threads recommending Victor Bodden tours, for a variety of activities. We mulled doing a pre-determined tour, but the price of doing an entirely private tour ($40 per person) was so reasonable, we decided to book our own driver for the day.

We met Victor himself right outside the port, and he brought us to meet our driver for the day, Angel. After a brief discussion of where we’d like to go, we were off.

The private tour was somewhat of a mixed bag. The positive: Angel drove us all around the island, showing us areas outside the main tourist spots. Our conversation was very interesting—giving us some insights on the lives of the people on the island that you rarely get in a group setting. We stopped at the highest point on the island for some cool pictures, and we met Angel’s sister, who sells souvenirs. I was able to buy my customary shot glass, and Kathleen purchased a necklace.

The negative: this tour was billed as you pick what you want to do and the driver will accommodate you. Having done some online research, we had a place in mind where we wanted to eat lunch, but Angel told us he’d never heard of the place. We asked him to bring us to a place with good seafood, so he brought us to a strange spot where people were zip lining, but which also had a restaurant. It seemed popular with the tour providers, as there were a lot of tour groups eating there when we arrived. The food was excellent—I had probably the best fried shrimp I’ve ever had, and Kathleen really enjoyed her stewed shrimp in coconut oil. But at the same time, we felt a bit as if we were being brought to the places where Angel had connections and wanted us to spend our money, rather than tailoring the tour to what we wanted, as was advertised.

Fried shrimp in Roatan.

One other weird note about lunch: I didn’t read anything online beforehand regarding what’s expected when a tour guide brings you to lunch. We weren’t sure if we were expected to buy Angel lunch, or whether he’d fend for himself. The other groups eating lunch near us seemed split; a few bought their guides lunch, and a number of guides just dropped their guests off and waited at the front of the restaurant. We’d planned on giving Angel a nice tip, which we thought would be appreciated more than one lunch, but he just kind of stood near us while we ate, as if he’d expected to have us buy his lunch. This was a bit uncomfortable, and I still don’t really know what’s most appropriate for that situation.

Us hanging out with monkeys in Roatan.
The highlight of our day in Roatan.

On the whole, we enjoyed our private Bodden tour and would do one again. Stopping at Victor’s Monkey Business was a lot of fun—everyone should have a monkey hang out on their shoulder at least once. But if I book another tour, I plan to be explicit about where I’d like to go at the outset (you can do this by email before you leave), rather than leave it up to the driver.

Paul with a monkey on his shoulder in Roatan.
Maybe too up close and personal?
Kathleen with a monkey in Roatan.
This time, the monkey spanked us!

We were back to the ship by about 1:00, so we again took advantage of an emptier ship and enjoyed some time in the pool and hot tubs. As had become our custom, we enjoyed drinks at Bimini during sail away.

Our afternoon fun came in the form of general trivia down in Gatsby’s. I guess we won music trivia too many times, because it never happened again on this cruise. We teamed up with a friendly couple sitting at our table and had a good showing, but we came in just short of first.

We walked up to deck 7 to try to make a reservation for Bamboo later that evening. Even though Bamboo is a complimentary restaurant, reservations are still required since seating there is so limited. Unfortunately, they were fully booked that night, and for the rest of the cruise. So if you want to eat at Bamboo on your Dawn cruise, make your reservations early.

We decided to worry about dinner later, and we headed to the theater to catch the early performance by the Second City comedy group. This show was a mixture of sketch comedy and improv, and it was absolutely fantastic. It was, by far, the funniest performance we’ve seen at sea.

Dinner still unresolved, we trekked up to deck 12 to see if Los Lobos had any reservations available. Unfortunately, they had a couple large groups coming in and were unable to seat us.

Rather than dine at O’Sheehan’s for the 37th time, we decided to change things up and order room service instead. We typically enjoy ordering room service at least once per cruise, which used to be a little more fun when it came without the $7.95 fee. Still, we tried a few different dishes which—while nothing exceptional—were still enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the steak with chimichurri.

Since we’d seen the early show, and since dinner was conveniently brought right to our cabin, we decided to just stay in and relax for the rest of the evening. We spent some time reading and just sitting on the balcony, enjoying the ocean, before hitting the sack.

Up next in cruise day 6: we revisit one of our favorite places in the world during our day in Cozumel.


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