Santo Tomas, Guatemala
This small country is not only the birthplace of the Mayan culture but also the geographic center of the area they inhabited, which is why it is known as the Heart of the Mayan World. Guatemala was called "Iximulew", or Land of Corn, by the Maya, but its main agricultural export today is bananas. It enjoys a mild climate and a variety of ecosystems, including coastal plains, mountains, volcanoes, deserts, forests and jungles.
The Mayan culture still dominates and can be seen in the faces of the people living here, the exotic variety of handmade traditional costumes, and the words spoken on the streets. Although Spanish is the most common tongue, you will also hear Garifuna, and up to 23 different Mayan languages. Each ethnic group differs itself from the others by wearing hand-woven textiles with unique patterns and colours, and by speaking their own language. This medley of colourful traditions, costumes and food make Guatemala an interesting country to visit.
Inside the cruise terminal at Santo Tomas you will find a local market filled with all sorts of handmade crafts. Guatemala's hand-woven and hand-embroidered textiles are famous for their quality and unique designs and are perfect for souvenirs. The designs often have religious or magical meanings, and may identify a certain group or village. Also for sale will be crafts made from wood and stone. To obtain the best prices for your souvenirs, be sure to bargain - room to discount will be built into the price you are first quoted.
Going Ashore in Santo Tomas
The ship is scheduled to dock or anchor at Santo Tomas' main dock. Taxis are generally available at the pier.
There are limited shopping opportunities around Santo Tomas. At the pier vendors sell local crafts and souvenirs. The local currency is the quetzal. U.S. dollars are usually accepted in small denominations.
There are very few restaurants in the vicinity of Santo Tomas. In the larger cities there are plenty of fast food restaurants and local fare of seafood and typical rice and bean dishes. It is not recommended to eat from street vendors.
Quirigua National Park
Quiriqua was a Mayan city that once ruled the region. The archeological ruins found here include 12 tall monuments carved from single blocks of stone called stellae, enormous carved stones of mythological animal shapes called zoomorphs, carved calendars, temples, a palace, a ball court and a plaza.
Waterfalls of Escobas
The Caribbean coast of Guatemala is known for its lush natural beauty, including the stunning Escobas waterfall with exquisite flora and fauna surrounding.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board.