Guatemala has invested a lot in developing the local cruise market and we dock in Puerto Quetzal, the country’s newly-developed main Pacific port. Perhaps because we’re the last ship before the rainy season, the President and some 120 dignitaries and travel agents are visiting the ship for lunch. I flee for a self-guided tour of La Antigua, the old national capital.

I’ve been to Guatemala City twice before, once to have all my clothes stolen and the next time to quickly refuel in the bustling, rather threatening city to continue to ride my motorcycle north to Alaska. So I’m impressed that Radiance of the Seas passengers are being given the option of a return bus trip up to La Antigua where we can wander around at random before it’s time to return to the ship.

In the capital half would be robbed and the other half end up under a bus or taxi.

La Antigua is the antithesis of Guatemala City. It’s a quiet historic town with a central historic core of old homes and shops around the main square. Of course there are cathedrals to visit and markets to explore.

I have some great local coffee in an internet café on the square then walk some more. Towards the end of the afternoon, I end up in a monastery converted into a beautiful hotel and that seems the perfect location to have a local beer by the fountain and simply absorb the atmosphere. It’s the perfect conclusion to a wonderfully low-key visit.

Words: David McGonigal.