Located on the Yucatan peninsula where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea, the Mexican port of Progreso is a jumping-off point for tours to the Mayan archaeological sites of Chichen Itza (100 miles/160 km away), Uxmal (70 miles/115 km) and Dzibilchaltun (18 miles/30 km). Book a shore excursion or make your own way to the site of your choice by taxi or rental car (both found at the port).
If you’re looking for a more cosmopolitan day in port, head to the city of Mérida, the capital of Yucatan both politically and culturally, where you can soak up the colonial atmosphere by walking along the square, admiring the European-style architecture or stumbling upon a free concert.
How to Get to Mérida
You’ll dock at the Progreso pier, which at 5 miles (8 km) in length is one of the world’s longest. A shuttle takes passengers from ships to the base of the pier, where you can rent a car or grab a cab to make the 20-mile (35-km) drive.
One Day in Mérida
Begin at Plaza Grande, Mérida’s main square, which puts you in the center of the old town. Work your way around the square, picking up a souvenir or two and checking out the historic sights on all sides.
Don’t miss the House of Montejo (Casa de Montejo) built in 1549 and once home to the family of the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo, and Mérida’s cathedral (the Catedral de San Ildefonso), which was constructed during the last half of the 16th century on the site of a Mayan temple.
Take a breather with a cup of coffee or some lunch in the plaza, and then head north from the square along Calle Ciudad toward the Paseo Montejo, a tree-lined boulevard where you’ll find the Palacio Canton, a former palace that houses the Museo Regional de Antropología (Anthropology Museum). Step inside and be wowed by the exhibits that track the region’s history back to ancient times.
For more of Yucatan’s cultural past, jump in a cab and head to the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya (Great Museum of the Maya World), a recent addition (opened in 2012) to the city’s already-rich cultural offerings. Inside the modern exterior, explore the hundreds of pieces jewelry, ceramics and other Mayan artifacts.
The currency is the Mexican peso, although the US dollar is widely accepted in many tourist-frequented shops and restaurants. There is an Internet cafe at the terminal.