Cruising the Western Caribbean

The year 2005 introduced me back to the wonders of world wide travel.  After several years of being on the road 75% of the time for work … jumping on a plane, train or boat for fun was a welcome break.  So having applied for my passport and making plans for two international trips that year … we headed out in late February 2005 for a Carnival Cruise out of Port Canaveral which was only 20 minutes from our house.

This was our first cruise so we had no expectations and just hoped to have a great time.  We did listen to the advice of friends that had been on cruises before and booked a room with a balcony.  GREAT TIP … and one that I will also recommend.

A cup of coffee in the morning, or a glass of wine in the afternoon, on the balcony became one of the highlights of our day.  Cruise Ships, like the Carnival Glory, are super big with tons of people and activities happening all the time.  The decks were always abuzz with something going on and at night the restaurants, theaters, clubs & casino are open with loud and sometimes raucous noise streaming out.  So our time in relative quiet on our balcony, enjoying the water & sunshine, were moments to be treasured.

We docked at four ports on our journey … the first being Key West, Florida.  It was a quick stop with the ship docking mid morning and then leaving in mid afternoon.  In lieu of a formal tour, we choose to just wander around the town to enjoy the sites.  We sipped wine & beer at a few of the local saloons and enjoyed a few hours of people watching.
Next up was Belize City, Belize.  In Belize we opted for a River Tubing adventure that sent us through Mayan caves and down a long stretch of winding river.  It was fabulous!!!  After a fairly strenuous climb up to where we got in the water, the remainder of the day was spent lazily drifting through caves and down a serpentine river bordered by gorgeous (and extremely tall) trees filled with all kinds of amazing birds.  On the way back to the boat we stopped for a late lunch of local fare that was delicious … probably because we were so hungry from the tubing adventure.  And then back to the docks for a little shopping on the pier before getting back on the boat.

Our next destination found us in Cozumel, Mexico … and just like in Key West, the time we spent at port was fairly short.  We got off the ship and thought we would just wander through the stores on the pier … but ended up getting a taxi to town for lunch.  It was lots of fun but was definitely designed for the tourist traffic.  If you want a more authentic experience make sure to go on a ship with a longer period in port and take one of the tours to the main land.

ChichenItzaCastleWe then headed to our last port of call before heading back stateside … Progreso, Mexico.  The port town is quite small but is close to the wonderful Colonial city of Merida.  We want to go back to Merida one day to explore  … but while on the cruise we opted to go to the other major attraction in the area, Chichen Itza.  We had heard that due to the damage being done to the ‘Castle’  by the shear number of tourists who climbed to the top, the government planned to stop allowing anyone to climb this ancient monument.  We were very glad we got our chance, because they did shut that activity down at the end of that year.  You can still visit Chichen Itza … you just can’t climb to the top of it’s famous pyramid.  This is definitely one tour I would recommend to any tourist in the area.  It’s a wonderful and grand example of the majestic buildings of the Mayan Culture and well worth the time and effort to explore.

Categories: Central America

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