Sunday, June 5, 2011

South of the border down Mexico way, via the mighty Missisip

Our Saturday morning embarkation on to the Carnival Triumph was long, hot and boring, (sort of like the line for Space Mountain or airport security). We got our 'past guest' room keys and headed to the Lido deck for lunch overlooking the Mississippi.

One of the cruise highlights for me was the five hour meander down the big river to the Gulf of Mexico. After visiting the great city of New Orleans for the previous two days, seeing it from the river was a new and exciting perspective. All around the nation's commerce was heading up and down the river. As I got ready for dinner, the show continued through my ocean view cabin, the rivers twisting and touring route at eye level.

Our first full day on the ship was a 'fun day at sea'. We headed up early to the Lido deck and after breakfast outside by the pool, we grabbed a couple prime location deck chairs (something to remember traveling folks, when it comes to deck chairs definitely it is early bird catches the worm). Soaking up the sun on a chair next to mine was the lovely Maria from Annapolis MD. We had a wonderful conversation and found we had many of the same interests. This was Maria's first cruise and while there we many things she liked about the ship there were others she didn't. I admitted I was on this Carnival cruise as a travel agent, I wanted to check out Carnival so I could better describe it to my customers. However, if I was booking a cruise for a client like my self or my husband, I would steer us towards another cruise line, one that catered more to my (ugh I hate when I say this) age group. The bulk of my fellow Triumph passengers appeared to be under 30 years old, many with small children who were enjoying Carnival's multi-level programs for kids from infant to 17 years old. Additionally the Triumph seemed to attract guests from Louisiana, Alabama and Texas as it would be an easy drive to the New Orleans port. The final group included recent high school graduates and college students as well.

Days two and three were spent at Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. From the first port of Progresso, we headed 2.5 hours into the Mexican interior to the sacred Mayan ruins of Chi- chen Itza. Dedicated to the Mayan god of the sun, the site features a large pyramid as well as a ball court where the different Mayan peoples met to participate in games not unlike the Greek Olympic games. The following day in Cozumel, we visited the Mayan ruins at San Gervasio, dedicated to the Mayan goddess of the moon, Ix Chel. After our visit to the site, we finished the day at Playa Azul, a private beach club where we enjoyed the crystal clear warm aqua Caribbean Sea.

Our final day on the ship was another 'fun day' at sea. Early in the day we met up with the amazing Maria and her super fun husband Ray. We all compared our experiences in Progresso and Cozumel. Maria and Ray opted for beach days at each port. They gave Progresso a mixed review but enjoyed their first time snorkeling and the beach in Cozumel. When it got too hot to sit out any longer, everyone headed back to their cabins with promises to stay in touch. (One of the unsung benefits of cruising, the new friends you will make!)

Like embarkation, disembarkation was long and boring. Unfortunately anytime you leave the US you have to go through immigration and customs. Keep in mind fellow travelers, it will continue to be difficult and then impossible to travel outside the US without a passport. I noticed passengers who were providing their birth certificates were not getting through immigration as quickly as those of us with our passports.