Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Carnival Triumph Cruise Day 3: April 16, 2012 (Part 1)

We woke up about 6:00 and were still at sea, pulling into Progresso.  Most ports you wake up already there, so it was fun to watch the process of them docking

We got showered and stuff and room service arrived at the requested time around 6:40. We had melons, cereal, and toast.  I think I prefer this to the Lido deck breakfast, even though I enjoyed the "fried diced" (potatoes).  I still get the same cereal, but I'm less likely to 'splurge' on things like pancakes (since they aren't available).

We then went out onto the balcony to wait for the announcement we could leave the ship (expected around 8:00, our tour met at 8:30).  Sitting out, and wandering around our room, we never heard the announcement, and Kevin eventually said “people are leaving the ship”, so we went down and left too.  Very weird.  I've never not heard an announcement to either NOT go down to deck 0 yet, or that we were cleared to leave the ship.  The same thing happened the next day though- so they must not make these announcements.
Our tour tickets said to bring a bottle of water, so we found a vendor selling some and bought two bottles for $4. The price wasn’t much cheaper than the giant bottle on the ship, but I didn’t want to carry a giant bottle. Then we got in line for the excursion. We went through Carnival to the Uxmal Ruins. I selected this because it was not much more expensive than AutoProgresso, and I heard you got more time there. I didn’t meet anyone who took AutoProgresso, so I don’t know. I wouldn’t warn anyone off of them though, because the online reviews are great, but we were very happy with the Carnival tour. It was only one busload, so it was not a crowded tour at all.

Of course, while we were boarding the bus they handed us a bottle of water. Grr! I knew that would happen. We also got our snack bag, and the vegetarian snack I requested the previous day at the shore excursion desk was not there. I told them it was not a problem, but they said they would provide me something at the ruins. I felt bad about this, but he said his company said he had to. (Plus there was another couple who had requested them, and I think they may have actually wanted them.)

The bus was fine- comfortable seats, with seat belts, and a toilet for “number one emergencies”- no one used it.  It was air conditioned, clean, and comfortable.  The seat rests had paper over them for sanitary reasons- and could be changed for each new person. They weren’t wrinkly when we got on, so I assume they actually were new.  Very nice touch, since the seats are cloth.

The bus ride was about 90 minutes, and very safe.  Except on the pier (where you can’t see the road to the side! Only water) there was no time I felt unsafe on the bus- our driver did a very good job, and the roads were smooth.  The tour guide, Carlos, gave us a some information about the area and a little bit about the Mayans, but he did a bit too long of a sales pitch on Mayan Calendars as the “best souvenir”, however, there was no pressure to buy- I think 5 people did.  (He said all the other typical souvenirs are not from Yucatan, the state).  He also told us a bit about Quintana roo, the state Cozumel is in.  He told us we picked the best excursion (of course!) because we were in the gulf and the beaches are not so good, and Cozumel is in the Caribbean and the beaches are great, so we should go to a beach tomorrow. Then, he told us we could take a siesta and he would wake us up as we got closer.
 This picture is of the MaSeCa plant.  Kevin uses this when he makes tamales :)  He also took a photo of a Walmart.  That made me laugh because when we got back the Walmart-Mexico bribery scandal had just broke.

At the ruins we switched guides to Patricio who knew more about the Mayan culture.  We had about an hour and a half of a guided tour of the ruins, and learned a lot about them, the symbolism, and how the Mayan people still exist- they just left their cities. 
Some pictures:
 The Pyramid of the Magician.  If you stand in front of it and clap, it chirps like a bird... 

 These are faces. I didn't take good notes about what things symbolize though.
 This picture is to illustrate how high the step height is.  Mayans weren't really tall- the process of restoration has added height, since we use mortar, and they did not.
Uxmal is said to be one of the most beautiful (in terms of ornate decoration) Mayan sites.
 A Mayan Ball court.  Much of what we know about the Mayan ball game (played to 1 point, using only the shoulders, elbows, and I think knees) comes from the Chichen Itza site, which has much larger ball courts.  There are drawings that show a team captain (unclear whether it was the winner or loser) being beheaded (unclear whether it was symbolic or literal!)
 Then, we had an hour and a half to roam on our own.  We climbed up the Grand Pyramid and got a wonderful view.  We counted and it had only 63 steps, but they were all double size, so it was quite the climb (for me- kids were just running up).  I took them 5 at a time, and was up quicker than I expected.  It was so windy, going down was a little scary.
 But it was worth the climb:

I was tired by this point so my husband walked up the stairs to the Palace of the Governor, but I did not.  It was absolutely beautiful, and all the carving was so intricate.  Uxmal is apparently considered the most beautiful of the Mayan Ruins, though Chichen Itza holds more significance as a religious center.
 On site, there is a fabulous restaurant.  It is aptly named, so that all languages can understand :)

It was not inexpensive, but items were reasonably priced for a meal out.

we had wonderful (but not too hot, despite frequent warnings) habenero salsa, some guacamole (too much lime for me) and panuchos- a traditional Yucatan dish.  I didn’t eat them, as I wasn’t that hungry, and had turned down meat earlier in the day (because I knew it would be ham, so I figured I should stick with the vegetarian identity).  My vegetarian snack also appeared, and we saved it for the bus- a cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce. If I hadn’t just eaten guacamole it would have been excellent, honestly.  We also got to go watch the woman who works for the restaurant make tortillas- corn tortillas are pressed by hand, which she was doing, while flour tortillas are rolled.

 Back on the bus, everyone ate their snack bags- ham and cheese sandwiches (although one called it “ham”), a banana, and some cookie type things. I actually did eat most of my vegetarian sandwich, my husband did not break into the ham and cheese, we shared a banana (really good fruit! Very flavorful- I think they are out of season right now, because ours have been bland in Iowa), and ate the cookies. It was a decent snack, but I think the tour would go just as well to say water provided, there will be an opportunity to purchase food. Most people bought local food.

The ride back home was mostly quiet, and we all chatted. The tour guides asked us all to tell our friends the Yucatan was safe, and to recommend the tour, which I do. They did mention they take tips (and share them, so no need to tip everyone), but there was no bullying or pressuring to tip them. We were not given comment cards to fill out.

We got back to the ship at about 2:30, and looked around the shops for just a moment and then boarded. We got cleaned up, and set to watch pier runners 3:30 was the all back on board time. Well that time came and there were TONS of people on the pier, no sense of urgency at all. Push back was supposed to be at 4:00, but there were still lots of people, no one running, that’s for sure. We had to go to progressive trivia by 4:30, so we never saw if the last people came running in.  

The past guest party was scheduled for 4:00 (I think), so we stopped by there first.  I was disappointed that the caprese-salad style crustini had mayonaise on them.  I didn't enjoy this party as much as on the Freedom because of that.  I tried a blue margarita, but it was too strong.  I switched to the fruit punch which I LOVE!!!  Kevin drank my blue drink, the amaretto sour pictured, and I think a third drink.  Not bad for about 15 minutes!

Progressive trivia was fun as always- we are so grateful we met such a great group of people.  We skipped sushi because we had Chef’s table planned.  That was hard to do, because the sushi has been so good this trip.  After progressive, we wandered over to sports trivia where there was finally a figure skating question! (I missed one because I didn’t hear the question fully- so mad about that! and the other I got)  Kevin won the round!  Woo!

He got a medal and a ship on a stick!  Woo!  (Bob told me I should get a medal too since we played together, but he'd have to "owe" me. I didn't ask for it later.)

Then we went back to the room to get dressed for Chef’s table.  We didn’t have to dress nicely, but they requested no t-shirts, no heels, and if possible closed toe shoes (two women did wear flip flops.)

I'll post about Chef's table in a seperate post. That is going to be fairly long.

1 comment:

GopherLass said...

This was an incredibly helpful post.

Before we booked the WBTA I nagged R.C. about doing a Western Caribbean cruise. But he's very anxious about Mexico.
The news we get here in Europe makes Mexico look extremely dangerous.

My last trip south of the border was in 1992 - so I don't have a sense for how things are now. How did it seem to you?

And how much do you typically tip guides there?