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LHR-FRA-EWR-BZE in J plus a boat

LHR-FRA-EWR-BZE in J plus a boat

Old Feb 9, 10, 7:46 am
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LHR-FRA-EWR-BZE in J plus a boat

This is my first trip report so play nicely! I had a knee operation in November and felt desperately in need of a holiday somewhere warm. Main focus was somewhere where my husband could do good diving and with some nice snorkelling for me. We had about 100k DC miles so decided to use those. Initially we looked at Thailand but couldn't decide where to go - it all looked a bit built up. "Unfortunatley" we have been a bit spoilt on some of our diving holidays so my husband is very picky! After looking at some dive brochures we decided on Turneffe Island Resort in Belize - we had looked at it before but had been unsure as to how to get there easily but this time it was easy. From a diving perspective there was the lure of the Blue Hole and they also mentioned great snorkelling trips.

After a few hours on ANA we came up with a routing via FRA/EWR, unfortunatley no direct flights to EWR were available in J so Frankfurt it was. This decision was almost our undoing! Other routings to BZE are available via Houston or Charlotte but we decided on EWR so we could see some friends and extend the trip slightly.

Thursday 28th Jan LHR-FRA-EWR (sort of) on LH

We were booked on the 08:55 to FRA arriving with plenty of time for our connection at 13:05 to EWR. Arriving at the airport we were greeted with lots of signs detailing cancellations including our flight due to snow in FRA. We were booked onto the next one but this left us with quite a tight connection. The agents were very relaxed saying there would be no issue but I had a baaad feeling. Sure enough we then had a further 40 min delay meaning about 15 mins to get to the next flight. The staff at the gate were again very relaxed but asked if we would mind going to JFK instead, just in case. Arriving in FRA we were told to go to the gate as they were holding the plane but to be honest this seemed a bit unlikely. After a mad dash through the airport including a very intensive bag search we arrived panting at the deserted gate. Another long walk back to customer services resulted in 2 new boarding passes for the next JFK flight at 1700hrs. Handlily the lounge was above the gate so we had a few glasses of wine and relaxed after a very stressful morning.

Flight to JFK was fine, food OK but I found the seats to be a bit uncomfortable compared to BA or MH (my only other long haul J class experiences). Service was good with copious amounts of wine offered.

Arrival at JFK was a little more stressful than needed as the immigration officer got mine and my husbands passports/finger prints mixed up and ended up with me spending 30 mins in the "special" room. To be fair they were incredibly friendly about it but I was a bot anxious as I realised on the way there that I had forgotten to send my last visa wavier form in following a previous trip where it hadn't been taken.

We were staying with friends in the EWR area and they came to JFK to get us so it was off to freezing cold Elizabeth for the next 2 nights.

Saturday 30th Jan - EWR - BZE on CO

We were greeted by a very busy EWR early on Saturday morning. Security was slow but we soon found the lounge to wait for our flight. Priority boarding was in place and we were offered a drink as soon as we were in our seats. Service was very good with a meal served quickly and lots of wine (actually too much for that time of day!) Seats were comfy and the 5 hrs to BZE passed quickly with some great views of the Mexican coastline on the way down. Arriving into BZE our bags were first off (priority tags worked well for the whole trip) and we were soon in the minibus to the Princess Marina to catch the boat to Turneffe Island.

30th Jan - 6th Feb

A 1.5 hr boat trip got us to Turneffe a remote island in the Turneffe atol. It has over 60 dive sites many only 10-15 mins away by boat so was a perfect choice. The island holds around 40 people with about 40 staff and 3 island dogs but whilst we were there there were only 20 or so guests. Rooms are in cabanas with local wood and are nicely furnished. Meals are taken family style and were generally very good - most of us bought the island cook book to take home. Our days were mostly spent in the water - they have 3 dives per day for the divers plus fishing trips. Dive groups were around 4-6 people. They also had 2 guided snorkelling trips each day out to the reef although you could snorkel from the beach. The mangement team is based around 2 couples (English/South African and Australian) and they really ran the place well . The guests were all American/Canadian apart from us and one german man. The week included a day long trip to the Blue Hole and the brid sanctuary on Half Moon Cay which was great. I also spent the day on the mainland visiting the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha, an hour from BZE City.

To be continued .......
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Old Feb 9, 10, 12:34 pm
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Nice start to te report. Thanks.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 12:48 pm
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Great TR so far. I misread that you had bought the island cook to take home. I guess you'll have to live with just the book.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 12:56 pm
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Nice start. Thanks.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 1:23 pm
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Am I correct thatthe Blue Hole takes hours to get to? Is it worth it for people like me who don't dive?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 7:45 pm
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Great trip report!
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Old Feb 11, 10, 6:54 am
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Before part 2 a quick answer to the Blue Hole question. It took about an hour from our island but I believe its around 2.5 from Ambergris or Caulker Cays. One advantage of staying on the Turneffe atol is that the dive sites are really close so divers return to the island between dives meaning us diving widows aren't completely abandoned. The Blue Hole trip is slightly different in that its an all day event. First dive/snorkel is at the Blue Hole itself. Its not very impressive from the boat although you can see its very deep and dark. We snorkelled round part of the edge whilst the divers went into the Hole to see the stalictites (that prove it was once a cave) and hopefully the sharks. Apparently it was very spooky down there and an impressive dive. My husband was prepared to be disappointed but actually rated it as one of the best dives. (He is PADI instructor level so is pretty experienced). Next stop was Half Moon Cay where the snorkellers were dropped off and the divers went to their next site. The snorkel here was amazing and we saw stingrays, eagle rays and a big nurse shark (swimming away from us!). Our guide was very good and finding interesting things to look at - huge lobsters and an octopus lair sadly with no octopus. After the snorkel we had a lovely picnic lunch. Half Moon Cay is home to a big red footed booby population together with lots of frigate birds and iguanas. There is a raised platform at tree top level to see the nesting birds which was really interesting.

The final dive/snorkel was also good. From a dive presepective it was described as very architectural with lots of rock formations, trenches etc.

We got back "home" at about 4:30 (we left at 07:30) so it was a good days trip.

I also did a trip to the ruins at Altun Ha together with some other island guests. We had a fantastic guide who really brought the Mayan civilisation to life - in fact he was so good I did the same visit again with my husband on the way home. During this visit we had some time to do some souvenir shopping in Belize City - there were a couple of cruise ships in and there is an area that is dedicated to tourists with all the shops offering cruise deals.

The same "cruisers" were at the ruins but it was relatively quiet - apparently they often have 5 ships in on the same day which I imagine would make it frantically busy.

Part 2 the journey home will start soon but if you want to see where we were the link is www.turnefferesort.com
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Old Feb 11, 10, 7:43 am
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Nice TR so far!
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Old Feb 12, 10, 5:56 am
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Part 2 - coming home

At the end of a great week it was time to head back to New Jersey for a night and then home.

We left Turneffe at about 8:30 and with the island time difference arrived back in Belize City at 0900 hrs. The island runs on GMT - 5 rather than standard Belizian time of GMT -6. The send off was nice with all the staff coming to the dock to wave goodbye. Divers got a chart showing all their dives with times, depths and sightings, very handy for those not prompt with their log book entries. We had a few hours to our flight so we did the Altun Ha trip again (although I admit I sat in the sun with a book!). We used the same guide and he gave a great tour. We know loads about Belize now as our New Jersey friends found out! Off to the airport at 13:00 for our 15:00 flight. Its the same plane/crew as come down in the morning so has 3 fliight crew. Felt very sorry for the cabin staff as they only had an hour on the ground before a 4 hr flight back to EWR. Interestingly both our bags were overweight despite them having less in (we had left loads of books) can only think it was the slightly damp diving gear. We were asked to take stuff out as handluggage to get them down to 23kg which was a bit of a pain but no big deal.

Service was fine again although food choice was limited to a cheese platter. Lots more wine offered and drunk and in no time at all we were in EWR.

New Jersey was freezing especially for us in shorts and sandles! But we were quickly in our friend's car and off to Elizabeth.

Sadly not much time left of our holiday so it was off to Cheesecake Factory for brunch before setting off to get to JFK by 2pm.

Prior to leaving for the airport we checked in online and discovered that the seat choices for the flight home had been changed. We had been in 1 A&C on the JFK-FRA flight but had been moved to 12E and 13E - middle seats and not even together. OUr seats for the FRA-LHR flight had also been changed to opposite sides of the plane. According to the seat map there were only 2 seats together left on the JFK flight so we took those 26J/K. I was a bit disappointed as had been really looking forward to 1 A/C (sad I know). The flight looked really busy with only a few seats left.

I queried what had happened at check in and was told that we had selected those seats so what was the issue. I explained that no actually they were not our original seats but no explanation was given.

Imagine our surprise on boading to find an almost empty plane with loads of spare seats in Business - although there were people sitting in 1 A&C. I have a disability and would not have been able to exit from the middle seat I had been allocated so was very pleased not to have that one. Our row didn't have a window so we moved back to the last row in Business which felt a bit brighter. Econ looked pretty empty with lots of people having empty seats next to them . Service was OK but very very slow with gaps of 20-30 mins between courses/drinks. By the time dinner was served we were about 3hrs into a 6hr 50 flight so not much time left for sleep. Lights came back on and breakfast served 1hr 30 out so we only managed 2 hrs sleep in all.

A couple of quiet hours in the lounge and then onto our flight to LHR. Only thing I really remember was the incredibly long bus ride to the plane which seemed almost to be on another airfield! Landed on time and out with our bags quickly. Home within an hour of landing which is great!

All in all a fantastic holiday and only the seat shifters at the end spoilt it very slightly. Not sure what/why that happened but in the end it was fine.

Next trip is BA first/club to SA for my "big" birthday in September - can't wait!
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Old Feb 16, 10, 12:44 pm
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the final verdict

I forgot to add some last comments. Essentially I mainly fly BA but have also flown MH business a number of times and now LH. So which did I think was the best?

Lounges:

The BA and LH lounges are better than the MH LHR one (although to be fair I haven't been in the Term 4 one yet). The MH Golden lounge in KUL is really really nice though. Food in the FRA lounge was very limited especially as we had an extra few hours there and there was no complimentary wifi. However I will sit on the fence here and call this a draw!

Food & Service:

Definitely MH for food- the satay is always good and they have a good mix of western and asian food. The Malaysian breakfast is especially nice. Food on BA J seems to have gone downhill a bit recently and I am always irritated by them offering wine on the menu that isn't loaded. LH food was good but perhaps overly fussy (lots of little cubes of jelly things!). Service on LH seemed very good although a bit slow on the way home. Service on BA can be hit and miss so in this category I would say MH, LH followed by BA.

Seats:

BA a clear winner for the flat bed followed by MH and then LH. LH seat just didn't seem that comfy to me.

Other:

Priority bags worked all the way through on LH and they were really helpful when things went wrong. MH's obsession with cold towels is also fantastic! BA crew can be amazing when they choose to be - a crew member in first last year who poured endless whisky for my husband springs to mind!

Overall winner has to be BA as I seem to be able to collect miles and more importantly 241s. (First class travel seems to be much closer on BA with a 241! ). Would I choose another airline if I was able to easily collect their miles/pay for flights in J? Probably not but hopefully I will get to try some other airlines soon (I fly a bit for work but sadly in y or W).
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