12-20-06 

Progreso is a fairly new cruise port and the main reason cruise ships stop there is because the ruins of Chichen Itza are about an hour and a half away. Like most cruise ports, if you don’t venture away from the port it is mainly a bunch of cheap stuff for sale. Our shore excursion of kayaking through mangroves and swimming in a cenote had been cancelled due to lack of interest and when we asked at the shore excursion desk they said there was not really anywhere we could swim in a cenote (We found out later they just didn’t know what they were talking about.) So we opted to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast in the main restaurant – they made me a delicious asparagus and mushroom omlette and I developed over the week a great love for Crystal’s oatmeal.

After breakfast we took a complimentary bus into town – basically to the end of the 8 km pier – and went to take a look at the beach. The water was very murky and there was no place to put our stuff while we were swimming so we opted to go back to the ship. I did stop and buy some “pearls” for $8.00. I put it in quotation marks because I have no idea whether or not they are really pearls and, for the price, it seems likely they are not. But I love them all the same.

I went upstairs to the gym to workout and then did yoga on the balcony. That was perhaps one of the best times of the cruise for me. At one point I looked up and there were two black frigate birds flying above me – a passenger had pointed out to us earlier that you can recognize them by their forked tails – and it was a wonderful moment. Dinner was French themed, which did not appeal to either of us, so we managed to secure a second reservation at Silk Road, the Japanase restaurant where we had sushi and miso soup and rock prawns and I had the most tender delicious steak I have ever had. The waiter told me it was the same grade as kobe beef. Mary got to have sushi for the first time in her life. She hates seaweed and I asked our first night in Silk Road if they had anything without seaweed. The waiter said they could make it with soy paper instead of seaweed and she was very happy with that and pleased that she could join the sushi nation.

After dinner Mary attempted to go out on deck for her cruise tradition of standing at the front of the ship in the dark and singing along with her IRiver mp3 player, but it was too windy and scary. At 8:30 we went to the movie theater and saw Little Miss Sunshine which we both realy liked. I feel very bad that I was rude to the the poor guy who was standing in the theater handing out popcorn. He handed me one and I asked if it was buttered and he said yes so then I handed it back and said, “Oh, I don’t need that then,” and then walked away annoyed. The poor guy kept looking at me and clearly didn’t know what he should be doing and I felt very bad that I was taking out my annoyance on him. The last time I went to a movie it was on Holland America and they just had little bags of popcorn sitting there that you could go get throughout and even after the movie. On Crystal they made this poor guy stand there with the popcorn and then he left so you couldn’t get more if you wanted. It annoyed me that they made that poor guy stand there holding popcorn. It was also certainly inappropriate of me to take ou my annoyance on the poor guy. The movie experience is better on Holland America. It was either the screen or the projector on Crystal, but the whole picture was broken up into visible little squares. After a while I forgot about them but at first it took some getting used to.

The next day was a sea day and we had seminars to attend in the morning and afternoon. At the morning seminar we were supposed to discuss something in groups and some guy sitting in front of us said that he couldn’t leave his seat for some reason which I didn’t catch. Mary gave me a look and then wrote me a note that said, “‘I’m on quarantine’ and he’s HERE?!!” Once I caught what the jerk had said I couldn’t stop watching him. We both watched as he went and handled the juices and touched his face and touched just about every surface in the room. At the break we went back to our room and each took an Airborne. After the break he moved to the other side of the room (equal opportunity infection) and later in the afternoon we saw him in the hot tub. We were appalled. This was a travel agent, no less! The poor women who sat next to him in the morning were at our table that evening and they said he later told them he had just been released from quarantine which is not as bad, but he was still incredibly poorly behaved. Mary watched him go up to the refreshment area, pick up a tea bag and then put it back. It’s no wonder there is more Norwalk virus on the bigger ships. There are just larger numbers of people which basically increases the chances that some rude person is going to feel that is is more important for them to get their money’s worth on the cruise than to not infect their fellow passengers.

After our seminars we went to the Spanish class. At first we were the only two people there, and for that Juan Carlos gave us a bottle of Mexican Christmas beer that is in Mary’s suitcase and perhaps we will enjoy it on Christmas day. He told us about what he and his partner Cesar, did in Progreso. They signed up for a tour in town when they got off the ship. They were the only two people on the tour and for $40 got a six hour tour that included some ruins, the town of Merida, and swimming in a cenote. We were a bit jealous. A few other women showed up to the class and we all had to give speeches to the class in which we said our name and our marital status and how many pets we had. At the end he held a graduation ceremony for us where he had one of the Yamaha keyboards play pomp and circumstance and then he called out our name and had us come get our diplomas. The Spanish class was definitely one of the highlights of the cruise.

After Spanish I went upstairs to the art class to get my framed artwork. When I get a chance I will add a photo of it to this blog so you can see how talented I am. They had an open house of the ship between 1 and 6 so that people could see other categories of staterooms so we went to check out the penthouses and also the rooms without a verandah. At 5:30 we met George and Helen Litterst, the Yamaha teacher and his wife, in the bistro. Mary and I had met Helen at the Mozart tea a few days earlier and really enjoyed talking to her. She thought we would enjoy talking to George also and we had a nice chat.

We had our farewell dinner – we found we had really come to enjoy the group of people we were seated with – and then we went to the farewell show which we both found disappointing because they didn’t do a farewell to crew as they’ve done on every other cruise we’ve been on. They have the whole crew come out on stage and we get to applaud them. This show consisted of some fairly bad “ballet”, some opera singing and then a comedian who was pretty funny. He came out dressed as a Norwegian stewardess named Tuna who, among other things, talked about how she was being sexually harrassed by the ship’s captain. The other part of the show was the headline singer, Michel Bell, whom I had wanted to see a few night’s earlier. He was good, but a little too dramatic for both of our tastes.

Mary was very well-organized and packed. I was tired and basically just threw things into suitcases – thus the repack the next day in Ft. Lauderdale. We had the most movement of the entire cruise the last night and I was rocked to sleep like like a baby.