Day 1 Puerto Morelos | Embark
North of the Mexican Riviera Maya that runs along the Yucatán Peninsula, Puerto Morelos is a charming fishing village with an authentic atmosphere, its white sandy beaches scattered with thatched huts and colorful boats. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea shelter a marine park that protects part of the Mesoamerican reef, considered the second-biggest barrier reef in the world. A few kilometers south, discover the Maya site of Tulum. Overlooking idyllic beaches of white sand fringed with palm trees, it is the only Maya site erected on the Caribbean Sea coast.
Day 2 At Sea
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Day 3 Seybaplaya
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Seybaplaya is a small commercial port located in the western part of the Yucatán Peninsula, 30 km south of the state capital, Campeche. The wild coastline is carved out by clear rocks that plunge into the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico; the road that connects this small port to the port of Campeche crosses the virtually uninhabited expanses of vegetation of this sparsely populated state. This stop off the beaten path will let you discover the charms of this former colonial fortified town with pastel-colored, partially pedestrianized, little streets.
Day 4 Dos Bocas
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During your voyage to Mexico to discover Maya sites, your stop in Dos Bocas will open the doors of the ancient city of Palenque, one of the country’s most beautiful sites. The highlight of your cruise, this ancient Maya city is famous for its magnificent sculpted bas-reliefs. It is located on the road leading to the Chiapas mountains, which are covered by tropical jungle.
Choose from the following excursions:
CACAO PLANTATION & CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Welcome to the heart of the cocoa bean region, where the bean originated and began its journey to popularity all over the world. Chocolate was the sacred drink of the Maya, and an important currency for trade. Its growth in this region made the surrounding cities invaluable and powerful. When the Spaniards arrived, they quickly saw cocoa’s potential and took the seeds over to Africa to find a different way to process the beans. In this way, they discovered a way to manufacture the chocolate that we know today. From the pier, board your coach for the 45-minute drive to the historical plantation. On arrival, you will be greeted by the manager for a tour of the grounds. This is a working cocoa hacienda. Walk through the plantation and see the different varieties of cocoa trees, see the cocoa beans and follow the process from harvest to the production of chocolate. See how the cocoa beans were traditionally ground, roasted and processed, but also discover the modern methods.
Learn about some of the old customs of the region and listen to live music and entertainment while enjoying refreshments. You will have the opportunity to purchase chocolate bars.
COMALCALCO ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
From the pier, board your coach for the 30-minute drive to the archaeological site of Comalcalco. This site is the only known Mayan site where the buildings are made out of bricks. These bricks are unique and pose a great mystery to historians and Mayan culture enthusiasts since many of them have drawings on them. These figures range from simple to very sophisticated patterns. Despite their time-consuming artwork, these bricks weren’t made to be displayed since the patterned sections were cemented together and used for the construction of the site. Only after these bricks fell apart one by one from the buildings were archaeologists able to see the work that went into decorating them. You will also learn how the burials differed at this site from those of other Mayan towns, since here the remains were placed inside big clay pots. Walk among the artifacts and learn all about the history of the site at the Comalcalco Museum. Then, walk through the actual site to see the pyramid and other main buildings where some of the front decorations still remain. After your site visit, you will have the opportunity to sample the typical drink of the region, pozol, a drink made of cocoa beans and corn. You will also have the opportunity to buy some of the local products and handicrafts that this region has to offer.
HIKE PALENQUE, MUSEUM & WATERFALL
From the pier, board your air-conditioned coaster for the three-hour drive to Palenque. The scenic drive will take you through wetlands, forested areas, large farm and grazing lands. Located in the lush tropical jungle of Chiapas, on the edge of the San Juan foothills, the ancient city of Palenque provides a spectacular backdrop to the extraordinary achievements of Mayan architecture and is considered by many to be Mexico’s most beautiful site. This Mayan City came into existence around 100 BCE and grew steadily from 200 to 900 CE when it was believed to be one of the most important cities of its day because of its immense agricultural production and trade. Palenque has been the subject of much study and even more speculation as archaeologists continue working to uncover the mysteries of the enigmatic Mayan story. You will see Palenque’s most famous temples, palaces, tombs and extraordinary artwork as you journey through this long-lost world that somehow never ceases to amaze its visitors. See the Temple of the Inscriptions with the tomb of the Red Queen, the main square buildings with its complex corridors and underpasses and the Temple of the Sun to name a few. Continue downhill through the forest and the still-to-be-excavated archaeological area, following a dirt trail with many steps until reaching a waterfall. Stop to take a few pictures. The waterfall will be more or less impressive depending on the rainfall from the previous days. However, the purpose of this off-the-beaten-track trail is to realize the extent of the site of Palenque and the number of ruins still to be uncovered. Your downhill hike will end at the museum. At the on-site museum, see the replica tomb of Pakal and other impressive artifacts from the archaeological zone. After lunch at a local restaurant, re-board your coaster for the drive back to the pier.
Day 5-6 Progreso
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
On the Yucatan Peninsula, the charming seaside town of Progreso will delight visitors seeking authenticity. In addition to its magnificent sandy beaches and pleasant seafront promenade, the town offers ideal access to the former Mayan cities of Chichen Itza and Uxmal. UNESCO World Heritage sites, they allow visitors to be truly immersed in Pre-Columbian Mexico, discovering one of the world’s most mysterious civilizations. In the surroundings, be sure to visit Mérida, capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. Called “the White City” due to the color of the limestone used to build its dwellings, this old colonial city, built on the ruins of a Mayan site, offers a mix of tradition and modernity, colonial architecture and Mayan heritage.
Choose from the following excursions:
From the pier, board your air-conditioned coach for the 2-hour journey into the heart of the Mayan world. You will visit Mexico’s most famous archaeological site, Chichen Itza. Named for the large cenotes (natural wells fed by underground rivers) on the site that provided the otherwise dry landscape with life-giving water, Chichen Itza is an iconic example of the elaborate Mayan architecture. An important city in the Mayan region between 600 AD and about 900 AD, Chichen Itza reflects different periods of architecture as well as different regional influences. Follow your guide and see the most famous structures including the pyramid shaped “el Castillo” that was built in accordance with the Mayan calendar and with their extensive knowledge of astronomy. You will also visit the temple of the warriors with hundreds of carved columns depicting different warriors, the great ball court where the reward for winning was being sacrificed to the gods, the mural of skulls depicting the winners of the ball-game, the sacred cenote where human and material sacrifices may have been made to the gods, and the Caracol observatory where the art and science of astronomy were nearly perfected. Discover why Chichen Itza has held its place in the imaginations of visitors for hundreds of years, helping to answer questions about the life of the ancient Mayans, and how it has confounded historians for centuries with its seemingly endless mysteries. You will walk through the spectacular ruins led by your guide, who will share with you facts about the buildings and their significance in the larger Mayan way of life and the legacy of their ingenious culture. Lunch will be served at the Mayaland Hotel, which has a private entrance directly off the archaeological site. Located on over one thousand acres of landscaped grounds, enjoy your Mexican style lunch with the tranquility offered by this exceptional location. After lunch, it will be time to re-board your coach for the 2-hour drive back to Progreso and your ship.
MERIDA, MAYA MUSEUM & HACIENDA
From the pier, board your air-conditioned coach for the one-hour transfer to Merida. On arrival, you will visit the Museo del Mundo Maya, a world-class museum celebrating Maya culture. It houses a permanent collection of more than 1100 remarkably well-preserved artifacts, including a reclining chac-mool sculpture from Chichén Itzá and a magnificent underworld figure unearthed at Ek' Balam. Inaugurated in 2012, the contemporary building was designed in the form of a ceiba, a sacred tree believed by the Maya to connect the living with the underworld and the heavens above. Next, re-board your coach for the short drive to the downtown area. The City of Merida is the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, which has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage. The city’s focal point is Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the fortress-like Merida Cathedral and the white limestone Iglesia de la Tercera Orden. Both colonial-era churches were built using relics from ancient Mayan temples. The Casa de Montejo, a 16th-century mansion, is a landmark of colonial plateresque architecture. During your guided walking tour, you will visit San Idelfonso Cathedral, one of the first churches built in las Americas by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Continue with La Casa de Montejo, which is today a museum. It was originally built in the 17th century by Francisco Montejo, one of the conquerors of the Yucatan peninsula. In the Governor's Palace, built in 1892, see the Fernando Pacheco mural paintings depicting the history of Yucatan. Finally stroll along Merida's central park, mixing and mingling with all the locals as they go about their daily lives and businesses.A one-and-a-half-hour drive will bring you to a working henequen hacienda. Sotuta de Peon is the only henequen (sisal) hacienda still showing the way this fiber (known as “the green gold” for a long time) was produced. After walking the Hacienda grounds and learning about this unique fiber and its history, you will enjoy lunch at the hacienda before heading for the one-and-a-half-hour transfer back to the ship.
UXMAL, HACIENDA & MERIDA
After disembarking, board your coach for a 2-hour panoramic drive to Uxmal, the ancient Mayan city notably known for the Pyramid of the Magician. During your guided visit, you will learn about the unique architectural style of this site, as well as the history and legends that surround it. Entwined snakes and, in many cases, two headed snakes and masks of the rain god decorate its walls. The buildings take advantage of the terrain, using the landscape for greater overall volume and to cast more imposing shadows, thanks to additional height. Such buildings include the Pyramid of the Magician, with five levels, and the Governor's Palace, which covers an area of more than 1,200 square meters. You will visit the Pyramid of the Magician, the Nunnery, the Temple of Guacamayas, the House of the Turtles, and the Governor’s Palace. After the visit, re-board your coach for a 30-minute drive to Hacienda Ochil, once a thriving Mexican hacienda specialized in the production of sisal. While enjoying a Mexican lunch, learn about the history of this once very successful trade of what was called at the time “The Green Gold”. Next, a 1 ¾-hour drive will lead you to Merida for a panoramic narrated tour of the city. Photo stop will be made at the Monument to Fatherland, a carved monument sculpted by Romulo Pena (Monumento a la Patria). See also the famous avenue Paseo de Montejo. This wide avenue was modeled after the Champs Elysees and is lined with the mansions of the city’s old aristocracy. Drive around Merida Central Park, and see the San Idelfonso Cathedral, one of the first religious buildings built by the Spaniards in the Americas in the 16th century. At the end of the panoramic tour, you will return to the pier and your ship (1-hour drive).
Day 7-8 Puerto Morelos | Disembark
- 2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
North of the Mexican Riviera Maya that runs along the Yucatán Peninsula, Puerto Morelos is a charming fishing village with an authentic atmosphere, its white sandy beaches scattered with thatched huts and colorful boats. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea shelter a marine park that protects part of the Mesoamerican reef, considered the second-biggest barrier reef in the world. A few kilometers south, you’ll be able to discover the Maya site of Tulum. Overlooking idyllic beaches of white sand fringed with palm trees, it is the only Maya site erected on the Caribbean Sea coast.
Choose from the following excursions:
CHAAK TUN CAVES
Explore the cool waters of an ancient Mayan cavern during an amazing and unique underground snorkeling experience. Board your coach for a 50-minute ride to the historic "Chaac Tun" cenote, a sacred site of the ancient Maya. This natural wonder was created by the filtration of water through the limestone terrain, which produced stunning stalactites, columns and formations over the course of thousands of years. Follow your guide towards a fresh water underground river, where you’ll have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the underground caverns and take a refreshing swim. Everything you need to safely enjoy this unusual ecosystem is provided, including snorkel gear, water shoes, a helmet, a life vest, torch and wetsuit. In order to preserve the ecological integrity of the area, sunscreen is not permitted until after the swimming portion of the tour.
GREAT MAYA REEF SNORKEL
Experience snorkeling on the Mesoamerican Reef System, also known as the Great Maya Reef, a marine region that stretches over 1,000 km. This reef system is the largest in the northern hemisphere and is home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk and more than 500 species of fish. From the pier, you will board your coach for the 30-minute drive to the beach, where the snorkel boat base is located. Then a local boat will take you to the first reef. You will have two snorkeling sessions, accompanied by a local guide, and visit two reefs, which are only about 5 meters deep, with temperate waters and very good visibility. After this underwater adventure, board your coach again for the return drive to the pier and your ship.