Mexican Coastal Cruise

 

This is Katherine Satrom for Travel Explorations.

Don’t have much time to get away? Consider a five day cruise out of Galveston, Texas. Carnival Cruise Line offers one on the recently renovated ship, the Triumph. The very pleasant itinerary includes two relaxing at-sea days and two ports.

At-sea days are delightful, offering time to enjoy the pool area, participate in a variety of ship’s activities, or treat yourself to the luxury of a spa service. Earlier this month, I had a group on board and, during the at-sea days, we had the opportunity to hear historical presentations by Clay Jenkinson.

The port of Progreso is in the state of Yucatan. Nearby is Merida, a city of a million residents, and the state’s capital. The city has heavy French and British influences and, to a lesser extent, Dutch influences. The city was founded by a Spanish Conquistador in 1542. It was built on the site of a Mayan city, which had been a center of Mayan culture and activity for centuries. Merida is considered to be the oldest continually occupied city in the Americas. Much of the elaborate architecture of the colonial area still stands, and Merida has one of the largest historic districts in the Americas. More outstanding residences date from 1900 when many millionaires lived in the city. Take some time to explore this historic city and perhaps enjoy the varied shopping offered there.

The port of Progreso is a gateway to Mayan civilization. The most famous site is a couple hours from Progreso: Chichen Itza (chee’ chin eet’ sah). This is the location of the famous pyramid.

The undulating design on the pyramid’s corners portrays a serpent, which was a Mayan symbol of fertility. The other major symbol of the ruins is the jaguar. The pyramid is actually a huge calendar! There are 365 steps. Mayans lived in this area from 600 to 1250 AD. Their current calendar ends December 22, 2012, and a new one will begin. I purchased a modern printed calendar with Mayan information and the rest of December is definitely included! I found the Mayan history and culture fascinating.

The civilization was highly developed in terms of astronomy. The Chichen Itza site includes handball courts, and the rubber for the ball must have come from 1000 miles away, historians say.

The other port on this itinerary is Cozumel, an island of white sand and impressive landscapes in the Mexican Caribbean. It’s located just off the coast of Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya. Cozumel is known for its water sports including the opportunity to sail, fish, surf, dive, and kayak . You can golf, or just enjoy the beautiful beaches. The pier offers a variety of shopping if you don’t want to stray too far from the ship. Great food and toasty temperatures also make Cozumel a favorite tourist destination.

Because this cruise operates roundtrip from Galveston, consider spending some time before or after your cruise in this charming port city. Galveston Island is a great resort destination with attractive accommodations, entertainment and shopping and 32 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. The city has a charming historic section and delicious seafood is readily available.

Other cruise companies utilize Galveston, but mainly for seven-day cruises, including Royal Caribbean and Princess.

Sail away along the Mexican coast for a lovely, relaxing and historic vacation!

 



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