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Considering Progreso/Cozumel Cruise for Mayan Ruins


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Hi everyone! I'm relatively new here, though I own CCL stock and frequent the HAL board. Our Alaska cruise got rescheduled for next year, but I still have the itch to go somewhere sooner, so I was thinking a Carnival Cruise to the Yucatan out of New Orleans or Mobile to see the Mayan ruins. (My wife was an anthropology major and has always wanted to see Chichen Itza. My parents live in Mississippi so I'm thinking I'd time this to coincide with Thanksgiving there.)

 

The dilemma is that we'd also like to see Uxmal and Tulum. I expect we'll get back to Cozumel at some point since so many cruises go there, but Progreso might be a little more difficult, so I'd like to see Uxmal on this trip since you can't get there on a day trip from Cozumel. Here are the options as I see it:

 

1. Chichen Itza excursion from Progreso; Tulum excursion from Cozumel

PROs: Least expensive way to get a decent amount of time in Chichen Itza

CONs: May not ever get to see Uxmal

 

2. Uxmal excursion from Progreso; Chichen Itza excursion from Cozumel

PROs: See both Uxmal and Chichen Itza for about the same price as option 1

CONs: Less than an hour in Chichen Itza - hardly seems worth the long drive there

 

3. Uxmal excursion from Progreso; Chichen Itza by airplane from Cozumel

PROs: Decent amount of time in both Uxmal and Chichen Itza

CONs: Much more expensive; requires convincing my wife to get on a small airplane

 

I just wanted to get input on these options from those who have done them before. My wife isn't big on crowds which is why I was thinking we'd want to see Uxmal in addition to Chichen Itza. I'm concerned about having less than an hour in the latter after a 4 hour ferry and bus ride, which is why I'm leaning toward option 3, if I can get my wife onto a small airplane. (I'm a private pilot myself, and the airplane in the picture looks to be newer and bigger than what I flew, but I can barely get her to fly commercial, lol.)

 

Also, and I apologize in advance, but please don't bother commenting about the pandemic, as I'm well aware the trip can be canceled - if it does, we'll make other plans, but for now, it's too good a deal to pass up.

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I have not been to Chichen Itza but Uxmal was a highlight for us.  It was just amazing and one of the few where you can still climb some of the buildings. We have also been to Dzibilchaltun.  The ruins are not as extensive but they do have a cenote and you get to swim.  Also an amazing experience. I highly recommend either.

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1 hour ago, strickerj said:

Hi everyone! I'm relatively new here, though I own CCL stock and frequent the HAL board. Our Alaska cruise got rescheduled for next year, but I still have the itch to go somewhere sooner, so I was thinking a Carnival Cruise to the Yucatan out of New Orleans or Mobile to see the Mayan ruins. (My wife was an anthropology major and has always wanted to see Chichen Itza. My parents live in Mississippi so I'm thinking I'd time this to coincide with Thanksgiving there.)

 

The dilemma is that we'd also like to see Uxmal and Tulum. I expect we'll get back to Cozumel at some point since so many cruises go there, but Progreso might be a little more difficult, so I'd like to see Uxmal on this trip since you can't get there on a day trip from Cozumel. Here are the options as I see it:

 

1. Chichen Itza excursion from Progreso; Tulum excursion from Cozumel

PROs: Least expensive way to get a decent amount of time in Chichen Itza

CONs: May not ever get to see Uxmal

 

2. Uxmal excursion from Progreso; Chichen Itza excursion from Cozumel

PROs: See both Uxmal and Chichen Itza for about the same price as option 1

CONs: Less than an hour in Chichen Itza - hardly seems worth the long drive there

 

3. Uxmal excursion from Progreso; Chichen Itza by airplane from Cozumel

PROs: Decent amount of time in both Uxmal and Chichen Itza

CONs: Much more expensive; requires convincing my wife to get on a small airplane

 

I just wanted to get input on these options from those who have done them before. My wife isn't big on crowds which is why I was thinking we'd want to see Uxmal in addition to Chichen Itza. I'm concerned about having less than an hour in the latter after a 4 hour ferry and bus ride, which is why I'm leaning toward option 3, if I can get my wife onto a small airplane. (I'm a private pilot myself, and the airplane in the picture looks to be newer and bigger than what I flew, but I can barely get her to fly commercial, lol.)

 

Also, and I apologize in advance, but please don't bother commenting about the pandemic, as I'm well aware the trip can be canceled - if it does, we'll make other plans, but for now, it's too good a deal to pass up.

Did Chichen Itza many years ago. Be ready for a 2 hour ride there and back. Our ride took a little longer and our time there was cut a little short. Besides all that, It’s worth the trip just to see how an ancient civilization once lived. Highlight for me was climbing to the top of the perimid.

Edited by skrufy
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Are you looking at Carnival or private tours? Especially from Cozumel with ferry involved and distance I would really check out private tour operator folks because you need to ensure they get you back in time.....And also post on the Cozumel and Progreso ports of call boards to hopefully get some first hand recommendations.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/456-caribbean/

Edited by Host Carolyn
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5 minutes ago, Host Carolyn said:

Are you looking at Carnival or private tours? Especially from Cozumel with ferry involved and distance I would really check out private tour operator folks because you need to ensure they get you back in time.....And also post on the Cozumel and Progreso ports of call boards to hopefully get some first hand recommendations.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/456-caribbean/

Thanks! I was thinking of going with Carnival tours since the prices are lower than I expected, and with the tight schedules I figured there'd be lower risk of missing the ship. I've been perusing the port of call boards too but figured cross posting would be frowned upon. 🙂

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I have visited all of these locations, tho not on a cruise.  I used to live in the Yucatan.

 

Chichen Itza is the Carlsbad Caverns of Mayan ruins.  Once you have been there, all other ruins will not be as cool.  An exception is Tulum, which is simply a beautiful place.  The ruins are small but very nice and the area is simply beautiful.  I suggest you investigate why the windows in the temple on top of the cliff are different shapes.  Note that in Maya the accent is on the last syllable, so its Chi-CHEN Itz-A.  as an added bonus, you can tell if someone is a native Maya speaker as they pronounce the "N" as an "M."  Chi-CHEM.  Bread is pam, Cancun is Cancum etc.

 

Someone referenced Dzibilchaltun, just outside of Merida.  Merida is a VERY cool city, I hope to retire there.  Dzibilchaltun is small, but very nice, and bring your swimsuit so you can swim in the cenote.  Or just dangle your feet in the cold water while the fish nibble your toes.

 

I had the luck of living there when you could still climb the pyramid at Chichen.  I don't think they allow that anymore.

 

 

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We have done Uxmal twice out of Progresso. We used Autoprogresso for the tour which was much cheaper than Carnival. The first time we went we were in a small van which allowed us to get there much quicker than the tour bus.

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Definitely do Chichen Itza by plane if you can. We did that off of Celebrity Mercury in 1998 and it was fantastic. Yes it is expensive but you get so much more time on site. You will also arrive much earlier in the day when it is not crowded and still cooler. When the buses arrive, it will be crowded and hot. There will be tourists everywhere. Our plane only held about 10 people so when we arrived at Chichen Itza and got our tour guide, it was like having a private tour. This is a huge selling point for your wife who will be able to interact with the tour guide on a much more personal level. You just can't do that with a tour bus of 40 people or more.

 

Yes the plane is small, but that keeps the tour group small (we had 10 people). My wife hates flying also but I talked her into it. She also doesn't like heights but climbed El Castillo (pyramid) at Chichen Itza with me. When we got to the top, I walked around to take pictures while she kept her seat on the edge. No way she was going to walk around the top. We did the butt slide back down. That is how 95% of the people got back down then. There was a rope to hang onto. Some people (actually many) even used the rope for climbing up to the top. I have to admit, we were part of that group as well. But it was a lifetime experience that we will never forget.

 

Sadly, you can no longer climb El Castillo due to safety issues. But that was our main reason for going on that cruise back in 1998. At that point - Mexico was already in the process of shutting down access to El Castillo (the pyramid). But there is still a lot to see in Chichen Itza and you will get to see a whole lot more if you take the plane to get there.

 

Tulum is just pretty - that's really about it. Couple of ruins along a coastal bluff. Much better ways to spend your time in the Yucatan in my opinion.

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I would go to the ruins in Progresso. My reason is because Progresso is IMO a crappy port. Though they have a beautiful beach, the locals constantly pester you to buy cheap made in China goods. Drinking just one beer, we were approched 14 times. We went back to the boat. For this reason we went to the ruins the next time we were in Progresso so as not to be harrassed.

 

In Cozumel there is more to do and you won't be constantly harrassed.

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Many years ago we did the Tulum ruins.  We thought it was spectacular and did not require the long bus trip to Chichen Itza--but by all accounts it is not near as grand either.  Loved the experience.

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If you're still able to climb the ruins in Uxmal, I would recommend doing that one from Progreso because you never know when they may change the rules on that. Save Chichen Itza for a future trip. I would recommend checking out the autoprogreso pricing. They are the company that provides shuttles to and from the ship so I feel pretty confident about getting back on time with them and their prices may be lower. If you do Chichen Itza you may want to book through carnival and use the price match that was reported here: 

 

 

I am planning on doing Tulum from Cozumel later this year and would highly recommend booking a carnival excursion for that one since it is so long. No price matches reported on that one yet but it doesn't hurt to try. 

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1 hour ago, trummy said:

I would go to the ruins in Progresso. My reason is because Progresso is IMO a crappy port. Though they have a beautiful beach, the locals constantly pester you to buy cheap made in China goods. Drinking just one beer, we were approched 14 times. We went back to the boat. For this reason we went to the ruins the next time we were in Progresso so as not to be harrassed.

 

In Cozumel there is more to do and you won't be constantly harrassed.

Yeah, I’ve heard that about Progreso - we’d definitely do one of the Mayan tours from there, it’s just a question of which one. We’re not really beach people anyway.

 

3 minutes ago, Saint Greg said:

If you're still able to climb the ruins in Uxmal, I would recommend doing that one from Progreso because you never know when they may change the rules on that. Save Chichen Itza for a future trip. I would recommend checking out the autoprogreso pricing. They are the company that provides shuttles to and from the ship so I feel pretty confident about getting back on time with them and their prices may be lower. If you do Chichen Itza you may want to book through carnival and use the price match that was reported here: 

 

 

I am planning on doing Tulum from Cozumel later this year and would highly recommend booking a carnival excursion for that one since it is so long. No price matches reported on that one yet but it doesn't hurt to try. 

That’s what I’m thinking - I’d like to climb the pyramid at Uxmal while I still can.

 

It sounds like Uxmal from Progreso and Chichen Itza by plane from Cozumel is the winner if I can get my wife on board... if not, then Uxmal and Tulum for this trip? I assume the ferry/bus trip to Chichen Itza from Cozumel isn’t worth it as you get less than an hour there?

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If you really what to visit all the ruins, you may want to consider a week or two land based vacation. But Progreso is a great place to cruise for a short tour to see one of the ruins. We have done this several times. As for the flight from Cozumel, that is an option but I personally do not like to fly in small planes that I do not know the details about the pilot and plane. Lastly, we have sailed on the Fantasy several times and for some reason Tulum is not offer by Carnival on this ship. 

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1 hour ago, Purvis1231 said:

If you really what to visit all the ruins, you may want to consider a week or two land based vacation. But Progreso is a great place to cruise for a short tour to see one of the ruins. We have done this several times. As for the flight from Cozumel, that is an option but I personally do not like to fly in small planes that I do not know the details about the pilot and plane. Lastly, we have sailed on the Fantasy several times and for some reason Tulum is not offer by Carnival on this ship. 

You hit the nail on the head with that one Purvis! We did an AI in 1985 on the mainland directly across from Cozumel, in a place called Aventuras Acumal. About 60 mi, south of Cancun. We stayed right in the middle of the Zona Arqueológica(archaeological zone)   We rented a car, which turned out 4 or 5 days(we paid for overnight, but nobody said anything to us.)

 

We toured the entire eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula from Cancun(where we flew into) to 60 mi. south of Tulum, down hwy. 305 to Felipe Carillo Puerto. Fantastic journey. We stopped at Playa del Carmen, which then was a little fishing village. Outstanding places to eat for around $3.00/person. Xel Ha, is a swimmers paradise. You swim with the fishes. Our daughters thought that was fantastic. Then on to Tulum. Beautiful grounds. Incredible views of the ocean, and the most beautiful, secluded beaches I have ever seen. Tulum is actually spread out over several acres, with many structures, still in its native state, and all well preserved.

 

I wanted to go on to Coba, but the wife and 2 daughters were getting tired of the sun, so we drove back to Acumal. The next day I ventured back to Coba on my own, leaving wife and 2 daughters to fend for themselves at the resort. Lol. 

I went to Coba the next day. VERY much like chinchen itza, but not fully excavated, and explored. Climbed up to the top, and you could see Cozumel island very well. It's almost directly across from the channel that separates the island from the mainland.

 

Interestingly, when we were approaching Cozumel in the wee morning just before dawn, I was up and taking in the adventure. We were in a balcony on the starboard side and I could actually see the top of Coba peeking above the jungle canopy. Fascinating. 

 

If history and archaeology are of interest to you, and Mayan culture then a land vacay is what you need. There's simply not enough time to take in the ancient sites, and the culture.  

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On 5/28/2020 at 7:51 PM, nydney1 said:

We have done Uxmal twice out of Progresso. We used Autoprogresso for the tour which was much cheaper than Carnival. The first time we went we were in a small van which allowed us to get there much quicker than the tour bus.

Did you find Autoprogresso to be  a reliable tour operator and do they deliver what they promise?  I want to do the ruins but don't want to be in a big group with a Carnival excursion.  Thanks.

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Yes, There were great. We have used them twice to Uxmal.

 

The first time I booked ahead and we were were going to do Chichen Itza. We messed up at the meet time was at the bus and not outside the ship. (Note the Pier is 5 miles long). They let us join the Uxmal Tour with no issues. We went in a Custom Van.

 

The second time we booked right there on the pier after we got off the ship. We went in an Airport Shuttle style van.

 

Both times they were direct trips there, no stops at the roadside tourist traps. We got there about 20 minutes before the Carnival excursion (which is operated by AutoProgresso) so we beat the crowds.

 

The last time we were in Progresso we did the beach tour through Carnival (just as info)

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Thanks everyone! I considered a land vacation but with everything going on, the cruise turned out to be a much better value (both less expensive and easier to cancel if necessary since we'd be driving to the port from my parents' home). The alternative for this year would be not going, so I figured we'd get a glimpse of it now and go back by land if we want to see more.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all! I just wanted to follow up after discussing with the Mrs... she agreed that an hour at Chichen Itza wasn't worth it, so we'll book Uxmal from Progreso and Tulum from Cozumel, then return by land at some point for a full day at Chichen Itza. I figure that'll always be there but we don't know how much longer you'll be able to climb the pyramid at Uxmal.

 

We have gone ahead and booked the cruise - port side mid-ship balcony on Carnival Valor departing from New Orleans on 11/30, for only $272 pp. Thanks again for all the advice!

Edited by strickerj
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I booked a tour with Lawson's Yucatan Excursions from Progreso.   It was a private tour with just 2 of us and we were able to customize the tour.  We went to Dzibilchaltun on a nice air conditioned van, swam in the cenote (and got a fish pedicure lol), did a tour of Merida stopping at la michoacana , then had street tacos at a little place that had seriously the best tacos ever.   This tour company and the guide were both very professional & the 2 of us (females) felt very safe & comfortable.  I think you can also go to Uxmal with Lawson's.  

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The Yucatan is actually one of my favorite places. It is so culturally rich & unique. The ruins are amazing & the cenotes are breathtaking, but the people are the real treasure.  

 

In your research, check out Yucatancenote Eco-Adventures. It's a private tour company owned by a Canadian couple who fell in love with the area, followed their heart, moved and now run the most professional tour company I have ever encountered. My husband & I have used them 3xs. First 2 adventures were just us, and in February we had a group of 12. It's private & customizable. They have many combinations of ruins/cenotes/cultural lunch on their site.

 

Some adventures include a lunch with a host family in their home in the villages surrounding the cenotes. It does not get more authentic than a family welcoming you to their home to have a meal. I highly suggest this option. The family that hosted in February, after being told we hold a pig roast every year, cooked a pig in ground for our feast. The personal touches by this company are truly amazing. 

 

I want to acknowledge the company for what they have done during the pandemic as well. I have made "email" friends with the owners over the past few years, but keep in touch once or twice a week now. Even though the ships have stopped, Ruth & Chris planned ahead & have been able to continue paying their guides. They consider them family (7-8 guides) and have made sure they can provide for their families during this crisis. Also, each month they have been taking care packages to the families in the villages who host their guest, as well as participating in & distributing locally made masks for the villages. 

 

These are good people. They offer unique, personalized adventures.  They take care of their community. And..they have watched the business they have built over past 5+yrs fall into uncertainty. 

 

We have made friends w our guide Rene as well. We have sent him several "tips in advance" since March. There are no visitors so times are tough for these guys. Rene takes sharing his culture & heritage very seriously & you will not find a more knowledgeable or engaging guide at any port. If you consider one of their adventures, request Rene & tell him Amanda & John will see him soon!

 

Do some research on TripAdvisor on this company. Visit their website. Email Ruth & let her know what you are looking to experience. No doubt you will be as impressed as we have been. We just booked a 12 person adventure for Feb 2021. 

 

If you have any questions about our adventures, I will be happy to answer them. 

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I have visited the ruins at Tulum twice. It was very cool and you were allowed to climb. I recommend taking the carnival tour there. The tour takes all day and you will be some of the last people back on the ship. Be aware that the boat that goes from Cozumel to the mainland is nicknamed the vomit comet. For good reason. The Seas can be very choppy. The setting around Tulum, meaning the ocean, is very beautiful. Have a great trip

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Thanks everyone, and especially @amanda219 - I'll definitely look into them! @joeyancho, when were you last there? Everything I've read says you can no longer climb the pyramid at Tulum, unfortunately, but we're definitely going to Uxmal while you still can.

Edited by strickerj
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My choice would've been Chichen Itza from Progreso and Tulum from Cozumel. Tulum for its unique geographical location, and Chichen Itza because it's the archaeological site of all sites in the Yucatan peninsula. 

 

With that said, if you're planning multiple trips to this region, I would start with less impressive sites first and save the more impressive ones for a future trip. Reason being is because if you start with Chichen Itza, and then visit (for example) San Gervasio (in Cozumel), San Gervasio will look like a bunch of boulders randomly thrown on the ground. (For the record, we loved San Gervasio, even after visiting more impressive sites. Just an easy to navigate site in the island of Cozumel, and not too far from the cruise terminal). 

Edited by Tapi
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I have done Chichen Itza from Progresso. I found that to be better than needing to do the ferry from Cozumel to the mainland and then having to drive to get there. Going from Progresso cuts down the travel time. Go to Chichen Itza. You will not be disappointed. It is amazing because there is more there than just the pyramid itself.  

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