When planning your cruise, it’s important to also consider various types of port excursions based on weather, cost and time. On our recent cruise port stop we visited Progreso Mexico. While we initially considered ATV or swimming in the cenotes, I was apprehensive due to the weather. The weather in early February could go either way so we decided to take the free port shuttle bus into Progreso and “wing it”.
My family & I boarded the Auto Progreso free bus shuttle at port and after a 10-15 minute drive into town we arrived at the Progreso Bus Terminal. Although this is a heavy tourist stop, it is also used (locals take a different bus with various routes around town) as a bus transit stop for locals. Cruise passengers were offered several tours options including a city bus tour around Progreso with an English speaking travel guide for $9.00.
I know a port city tour for $9 is almost unheard of, but a large portion of our shuttle bus opted for that tour or other tours offered by Auto Progreso. We had about 20 minutes to shop at the bus terminal (they had vendors on site) before our tour stated. The tour itself last about 45 minutes and our tour guide was funny and very friendly! You know the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Yes, Progreso is very poor but it’s a beautiful city in it’s own right.
We saw the beach, fisherman bringing in their catch and locals heading to the market in preparation for Carnaval celebration that evening. The streets may seem empty from my photos but there was no school and many businesses were closed by locals due to the Carnaval holiday.
I love the colors and the composition I viewed from the tour bus. Can you believe all of the photos I took were were taken with my IPhone! Once our tour was complete we returned back to the bus terminal and walked to town on our own. We didn’t stray too far and made sure we were no more than 20 minutes away by foot just in case we lost track of time.
Staying within the safety parameters of the bus terminal is crucial! Our table mates in the Carnival Cruise dining room said they paid $80 for a taxi ride into Mérida and were so far in town that neither their taxi cab driver OR the businesses they visited spoke any English. The businesses they visited also didn’t understand the exchange rate and wanted Pesos vs American dollars. Then they couldn’t find their taxi cab driver! They finally found their driver but had to shop and eat at the port due to the lack of communication.
Fortunately for my family I speak Spanish so communication was not a problem but we also stayed local to the bus terminal so we currency wasn’t an issue.
I never shop at port! In fact, we look usually shop in the outskirts of port for a better rate. A few blocks from the bus terminal in Progreso we several local street vendors nearby. We bought a coconut for $2, 4 asada tacos for $4 and 2 paletas, 1 gelato and a frozen mango con chili for $4. For a total of $10 we each had a taco, a frozen treat and shared a coconut drink vs spending $5 for ONE gelato at the bus terminal.
Bargain right?!?! For $46 we went on a city bus tour, had tacos and frozen treats PLUS had a true local port city experience! Instead of spending our “extra” money on a pricey cruise ship excursion, we were able to purchase souvenirs from local Mexican street vendors and purchased and help boost their struggling economy.
I can feel good about that!
Have you been to Progreso? What were your thoughts about the area?
To read more about previous cruise experiences type in Cruise in my the search bar of our website.