Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Cruise to Progreso, The Yucatan on Carnival Ecstasy

Chichen-Itza, on of the 7 Wonders of the World. Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, used w/ permission.

Originally scheduled for Cozumel, we ended up being re-routed to Progreso. While I could talk about the beauty of the ocean, and the great meals, and the best -- the very best -- of travel companions ... this is an EQ blog by The EQ Coach, so let's talk about EQ. Because a lot of things went awry on this cruise.

We were delayed many hours in boarding the ship because of the fog in Galveston, a port city that still looks like it was hit by a hurricane. When we were told we could finally board, we were told we would be given an ample credit on our Ship 'n' Sail card. How nice. Really.

And just as importantly, we thought we would scream if, as we finally rounded the gangplank, we were asked to pose for a photo with one of those costumed characters. Carnival knew better than that.

And then, a little secret we were keeping from our guest, my niece, a first-time cruiser, we thought we would REALLY scream if we had to muster immediately once aboard ship. They put that off till late the next morning. Very EQ smart. Kudos to Captain Candelero Donato. Che bello.
Cruise critic asks - are all the Carnival captains now Italian? (So who's left for Costa these days??) Well, their names ... Roberto Volpi, Gianpaolo Casula, Giorgio Pagano, Agostino Fazio, Marco Nogara, Salvatore Rassello, Vittorio Marchi, Giulio Basso. For photo of handsome Italian Captain Marco Nogara, see here.

And how charmingly Captain Donato told us that - well it was hard to undertand, you know, his accent, the Italian respeto, something about less than perfect weather, a change ... you know ... and 2 minutes later the sky broke open. Smile.

Now, Progreso is the home of one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen-Itza. Chichen Itza (emphasis on both last syllables) is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Mayan civilization. Typical of those v. wealthy Mexican families who own produce valleys, the ruins are an historical site, but the land under the ruins is privately-owned by the Barbachano family.

We spent a day at the Reef Yucatan near Progreso, an ecological area surrounded with pre-Columbian history, located on one of the few virgin beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, and less than one hour to the north of Merida's International Airport.

I was fascinated by the emotional intelligence of our guide, Luis Enrique, who's seen it all, I'm sure. On the nearly hour-long bus ride (and a full bus it was), it was his job to charm the potential miscreants into behaving, for what leverage did he have, he who did not want to have to clean up vomit, and deal with "the tears, you know," he said, shaking his head.

"We know you come to Mexico to get drunk," he said, "but when the puking starts, the fun ends."

Well, true.

Hale got braids, there were massages on the beach, riding horses, enjoying the pool, the open bar and the ample buffet.

On the way back, it was Luis Enrique's job to get us to fill out a feedback form, AND to get us to seek out the one when back on ship and fill that out as well. And what incentive was there to do this? None whatsoever, except his charm, of which he had a gracious plenty.

"But is okay if you do, is okay if you don't (friendly shrug and smile), because is your vacation, yes?"

He addressed other issues with grace, i.e.,

Luis Enrique: "Do you know what is included in your tour and what is not?"
Us: "No."
LE: "Ah, well, I see you trust Mexicans."
Us: laughter and good will

Having not been ordered so to do, I made the monumental effort (I'm not kidding!) of tracking down a form back on ship and mentioning him in particular. I hope Luis Enrique gets a raise!

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