Just got back from the Christmas present my folks gave me, my wife my brother and themselves… a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the Carnival ship Elation to the Port of calls of Galveston, Progresso, Cozumel, and Belize. The weather was perfect, our cabin was small and on the interior, but it was good for what we used if for… sleeping. The first day on the ship was spent exploring after starting out in the hot tub with our friends David & Julie who moved their cruise schedule up to coincide with ours. We hit the Cole Porter Lounge in the back of the ship for Karaoke at least three times. The Ships cruise director started his career as a comedian which makes for some very funny monologues. Our head waiter in the Imagination Dining room was Robert, he is from the Philippines. Most everyone at our table seemed to recognize him but we couldn’t put a finger on it until Wednesday when we determined he look a lot like Jet Lee.
Our first port of call was Progreso in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, after taking a bus ride down the worlds longest pier (6 miles) to the mainland we continued on to the Chichen Itza Ruins which contains one of the largest Mayan ruins, the central feature of Chichen Itza is “the Castle” which is a 70ft tall pyramid that you can climb, its 91 steps are steep and while going up isn’t a problem, going down is a whole different matter. While up on top I took some fantastic photos of the ball court, the Temple of the Warriors & the Group of 1000 columns and some other ruins that were not visible from ground level. Unfortunately, the heat got to Kim and she fell ill that night, she was better by the following morning.
Our second port of call was Cozumel, an island just off of the Yucatan peninsula, we didn’t partake in any of the excursions that Carnival offered up, instead we took a $15.00(US) Cab ride to a place called the paradise beach club where we did a bit of laying on the beach & snorkeling but the water was too choppy, and it was mostly overcast. (I did see what appeared to be a stripped bass). After we got our fill there we took a shopping trip through town, Kim picked up some silver and we got some items for the house (a large metal lizard you can hang on the wall, for instance)
Our last port of call was Belize, formerly British Honduras, our guide said that Belize is the only country to change their name and not tell anyone. We boarded tenders which took us from the Elation which was 5 rough miles from shore. The first part of our excursion took us out into the Caribbean Sea to the mouth of the River Wallace, where we were lucky to catch glimpses of Manatees, we then shot up the river, we saw several groupings of howler monkeys, iguanas (natives call them “bamboo chicken”), crocodiles, and approximately 10 miles up river, we run into two bottlenose dolphins feeding. Eventually we make our way to the resting place where we could have eaten or bought trinkets. It was in the upper 90s and it felt much hotter than that sitting out in that boat when it wasn’t moving, so I wanted to buy some (bottled) water. The little café did not have any available, so against my better judgment I ordered a Coke. Coke tastes different (much better) in Mexico & Central America because it is still made with real sugar, the Coke in the states is not the original formula they had before they introduced “new” Coke, it is now made with corn syrup as its sweetener. The second part of our tour took us into the Altun Ha Ruins, which before it was discovered they were using it as a rock quarry, so some of the structures could not be saved. This is where the famous 5 pound jade head was discovered. Though it wasn’t as big as Chichen Itza the structures seemed to be in better overall condition.
The last two days of the cruise were spend on board, eating, lazing around, and watching some really good entertainment. I even worked up the nerve to do some karaoke and eat some (cooked) sushi, twice no less!