Sunday, July 4, 2004

2004 Graduation 7 nt. Cruise to the Western Caribbean with Angie on Carnival Elation: Progresso; Belize; Cozumel

July 4, 2004:
This was another mother/daughter trip. The excuse for this trip was celebration of her graduation from K-state the month before.
We got an early start to the day. Our flight to Houston left at 6:30 am, so we were at the airport about 5:45. We arrived in Houston about 8:30 where we retrieved our luggage, then waited until 10:45 for our shuttle to Port Galveston to catch our cruise ship, Carnival's Elation.  One thing we discovered from this cruise---when you cruise out of Texas, 90%+ of the passengers are down home Texans!  Lots of ye-haws and cowboy hats!  Nothing wrong with that, just found it interesting and amusing.
I picked this particular cruise for a couple of reasons. I always heard about the great barrier reef by Belize and wanted to snorkel there. The other reason was because I found a travel agent selling that cruise on Ebay for $450@ + $150 onboard credit.
After waiting through the lines to get through check-in and security, we finally made it on board and went to explore the ship a bit.

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Here is the Lido deck pool close to where the Lido buffet is. So we went to the buffet and had lunch. The buffet featured Italian food that day. Not ecceptionally good, but edible:eggplant rice casserole; sage chicken; some fish dish; bread; salad bar; desserts, beverage bar; and a pizza bar.

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After lunch we explored a bit more.

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Finally making it back to our room. We were in an inside cabin in the very front of the ship. We did feel considerable rocking, but since neither of us had any motion sickness, the rocking was actually rather soothing. It was also quite cold in the room and took us awhile to find the air conditioner controls--which were on the ceiling.

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For a small space, I did like the way the beds were arranged. One day we didn't even leave the room until about 3pm---stayed in bed and watched movies on tv all afternoon. One afternoon we did have some maintenance workers in the room for an hour or so. Apparently a couple cabins down the hall had lost their electricity and they were going through our ceiling to fix it.

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Throughout the trip, we enjoyed wandering around checking out what was going on around the ship. We especially enjoyed the art auctions. They were more like art classes in that they talked extensively about the artists and artworks. I believe we went to 3 of the auctions. Angie even won 2 lithographs and purchased 2 more. Of all the cruises I've been on as of 2012, these auctions were the most interesting.

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We also gave a little money to the slot machines.

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The Vegas type shows on board each night were really quite good---best shows of any of the cruises I've been on as of 2012.

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There were lots of costume and background changes.

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They must get a lot of grads on board because they even did a salute to them.

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We usually enjoyed the shows with a drink in hand.

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Our cruise left on Sun., but our first port wasn't until Tues. I'm not sure this town, Progresso, is going to make it as a cruise ship port. There really isn't much here. That didn't bother us any, though, for we had an all day excursion to Chichen Itza booked. We arranged for a wake up call at 7am and had room service for breakfast shortly after that. Since our excursion was to leave at 8 am, room service for breakfast came in handy.

This was what we saw of Progresso from our buss window on our way out of town.

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Our ride to Chichen Itza was about 2 hours each way. We had about 1 1/2 hour guided tour through Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization and is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Yucatán state, present-day Mexico. The ruins are divided into two groups. One group belongs to the classic Maya Period and was built between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D., at which time the city became a prominent ceremonial center. The other group corresponds to the Maya-Toltec Period, from the later part of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century A.D. This area includes the Sacred Well and most of the outstanding ruins: porches, galleries, colonnades and carvings depicting serpents, birds and Mexican gods. The Toltec influenced the Itza in more ways than just architecture. They also imposed their religion on the Itza, which meant human sacrifice on a large scale. As the political base of Chichen-Itza expanded, the city added even more spectacular buildings: the Observatory, Kukulcan's Pyramid, the Temple of the Warriors, The Ball Court, and The Group of the Thousand Columns.

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The best known structure on the site is Kukulcan's Pyramid, a square-based, stepped pyramid that is approximately 75 feet tall. This pyramid was built for astronomical purposes and during the vernal equinox (March 20) and the autumnal equinox (September 21) at about 3 P.M.. the sunlight bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid's main stairway, causing seven isosceles triangles forming the body of a 37 yard long serpent that creeps downwards until it joins the huge serpent's head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway.  It also makes an interesting hat in pictures!


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the Great Ball Court is the largest ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. It measures 166 by 68 meters (545 by 232 feet). The walls are 12 meters high, and in the center, high up on each of the long walls, are rings carved with intertwining serpents. Each end has a raised "temple" area. A whisper from one end can be heard clearly at the other end 500 feet away and through the length and width of the court. To this day the aquostic principles here have not been explained.

Legends say that the the winning captain here would present his head to the losing capitan, who then decapitates him. The Mayans believed this to be the ultimate honor---the winning captian would get a direct ticket to heaven instead of going through the 13 steps that the Mayan's believed they had to go through in order to reach heaven..

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At one end of the Great Ball Court is the North Temple, popularly called the Temple of the Bearded Man.

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We even saw a rather interesting grounds keeper.

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The Mexican government excavated a tunnel from the base of the north staircase of the Temple of Kukulkan, up the earlier pyramid’s stairway to a hidden temple, and opened it to tourists.
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The Temple of the Warriors complex consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns representing warriors. Today the columns are exposed, but when the city was inhabited these columns supported an extensive roof system. The square structure at the southern end of the Temple of Warriors complex is theorized to have been used as a marketplace, although archaeologists today believe that its purpose was more for ceremony than sales.

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Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the second-most visited of Mexico's archaeological sites. In 2007, Chichen Itza's El Castillo was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Over the past several years, INAH, which manages the site, has been closing monuments to public access. While visitors can walk around them, they can no longer climb them or go inside their chambers. The most recent was here, which was closed after a San Diego, Calif., woman fell to her death in 2006. Since we were there in 2004, we did go up and down the pyramid. It is EXTREMELY steep. I can see how someone could fall to their death! There was a section with a rope where lots of people sat and scooted down while holding onto the rope, but we also saw kids running down the steps.  Definately not something to attempt in flip flops!

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After wandering around the ruins for about 3 hours, we boarded our bus and had a sack lunch of a sub sandwiches and Bimbos (2 cake doughnuts), and bag of chips on our way back to Progresso. Back in Progresso, we hurried to the ship since it was scheduled to leave 1/2 hour after we got back. This was pretty much the part of Progresso right by the port.

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Wed. July 7:

Again we were up early for our excursion. This one for a jeep/snorkel tour in Cozumel. When it came time to get our jeeps and head out, Angie and i were left driverless, so one of the guides (Pony), became our driver. That was really neat having our personal guide.

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Our excursion took us about 30 minutes away to beautiful Chankanaab National Park.Dcp_0082-chankanaab

The roads we travelled weren't always paved, but it was fun riding in the jeeps.

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We continued on about 17 miles from Cozumel to Punta Sur. Entrance to the reserve also includes the historic lighthouse, where you can climb up, a small maritime museum and then onto the beach.

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Here in the reserve is a swampy area where you can even go see salt water crocodiles.

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Here's a view of the lighthouse and ocean from a lookout by the swamp.

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On the ocean side of Punta Sur, we had time to snorkel and enjoy the beach. The snorkeling was a bit disappointing, but the beach was beautiful. We snorkeled in a group--they really kept an eye on everyone. They even had a boat ride along side which did have to take a couple people back to shore. We did see lots of purple fan coral.

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The real highlight for Angie was that Pony let her drive back and actually taught her to drive a stick shift. Again, our guides were really great.

Back at the port we were docked next to the Disney Magic. Walking along side of them really gives you a better idea of just how big these ships really are!

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Back on board the ship, we watched a Julia Roberts movie (Mona Lisa Smiles). Then we went on deck to watch as we left Cozumel.

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Then it was on to dinner---tenderloin with goose liver on it (which I didn't eat), grilled veggies and apple pie for dinner. Soon after dinner we went to the Makado room to wait for the talent show. Our dinner mate, Nicole, was the star of the talent show.  She was spectacular!  Her winnings were a bottle of champagne which she brought to dinner the next night and shared with us all.
After all the entertainment, we went up to the Lido deck to check out the midnight mexican buffet.

Thursday, July 8th:

This was my much anticipated stop in Belize. It looked like we might be totally washed out, but we did manage to tender off onto our snorkel excursion to Goff Island.

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Goff Island is a tiny island off of Belize. The snorkeling off this little island was really good. The water was crystal clear and there were lots of fish and coral. We had a ball snorkeling there.

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We even wandered around the little island a bit. Then the rain moved in and we had to board our tender and head back to the ship.

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Back on board the ship, it was time to rest up and enjoy the warm breezes.

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Then on to dinner. We had a great time with our dinner mates----at least these 2 ladies. The other 4 single ladies at our table were rather strange as was the one single guy (who was also there as a graduation trip with his parents). The parents were pretty neat, though. And our servers, Carlos shown here, were really great.

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It wasn't until the end of the trip that we discovered the piano bar. Too bad we didn't find it earlier, this guy, Damian, was fantastic. Thought he couldn't be beat, but may have to say I think he was topped on my Holland America cruise this past Oct. But we thoroughly enjoyed spending an hour or 2 there the last couple nights.

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The last day was spent lounging around the ship. Watched another movie in our room (Paycheck). Ate a Greek lunch in the Lido buffet. Went to another art auction. Sent some email home for the first time this trip.

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It was another formal night. Dinner was good---prime rib and baked alaska. The dinner entertainment was doing the macarina---which we were all encourage to join in on, and we did. The 10pm show was the Elation dancers and they put on a really hilarious skit. Late night was the adult comedy. Then we were off to Duke's piano bar again.Img_9997-angie by wall art

And that's it for another great mother/daughter trip.

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