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Cruises to Progreso

Progreso (Photo:Lewis Liu/Shutterstock)
Progreso (Photo:Lewis Liu/Shutterstock)

About Progreso

Located on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Progreso provides an entryway to some of the most well-known Mayan historical sites, including Chichen Itza (100 miles away) and Uxmal (71 miles). The region is also famed for its flamingos and there are more than 2,000 smaller and lesser-known Mayan sites here, too. Xcambo is only minutes away and a tour to Dzibilichaltun (16 miles away) includes a visit to a cenote (a watering hole) where you can swim.

Progreso is sometimes double-billed as a port with Merida -- a colonial city about an hour south -- but it is also very much a town in its own right. It began life in 1871 and has continued to grow over the decades, particularly after its 4-mile-long pier (the longest in the country) was installed in 1989.

It is not the bustling port that passengers will see throughout other parts of the Caribbean and Mexico, however. In fact, aside from the throngs of out-of-town vendors that converge when a cruise ship is in port once or twice a week, it can be pretty sleepy. And that's part of its charm. Progreso feels less touristy and more authentic than Cozumel, for example.

The city center of Progreso is about 5 miles long by 10 blocks and encompasses the malecon ocean promenade. The town also has its own mercado (market), which is where locals shop for fresh produce as well as snacks. You'll find pop-up food stalls in this market dishing up everything from tacos to burritos to enchiladas; for a cheap, authentic taste of Progreso, this is where to come.

And Progreso has a great, easy-to-reach beach -- a vast, clean, stretch of white sand on the Gulf of Mexico's so-called Costa Esmeralda. The town's more upmarket restaurants are on the long, beachfront malecon and some eateries spill over onto the sand itself. So, if you fancy lunch while dipping your toes in the ocean, this is the place to be.

The town has a still-active lighthouse called Faro de Puerto Progreso; although the inside isn't accessible, the lighthouse makes a very useful, visible landmark for keeping one's bearings.

A tour of Progreso won't take more than 45 minutes, so after that take your pick between shopping or la playa (the beach) -- or both.

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DAY 1: Galveston

5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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New Orleans
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Carnival Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Galveston

5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Galveston
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Cozumel, Progreso ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Galveston

5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

Leaving:
Mobile
Visiting:
Cozumel, Progreso ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

Leaving:
New Orleans
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Cozumel, Progreso ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

Leaving:
Galveston
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Progreso, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Galveston
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Progreso, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

Leaving:
Galveston
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Progreso, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

Leaving:
New Orleans
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Progreso, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Disney Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Galveston
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Cozumel, Progreso ...
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Carnival Cruise Line
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5 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Mobile
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Progreso, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Progreso

Leaving:
Cozumel
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Seybaplaya, Progreso ...
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Cruise Line:
Ponant
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11 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Fort Lauderdale
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Key West, Cozumel ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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11 Night
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Silversea Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Fort Lauderdale
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Key West, Costa Maya ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Fort Lauderdale
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Key West, Progreso ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Progreso

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Cozumel
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Ponant
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Why go to Progreso?

Pros:

Authentic Mexican port great for shopping, beach-lovers and cultural excursions.

Cons:

It's a 15-minute bus ride to the town proper where some cruisers complain of being hassled.

Bottom Line:

There are plenty of great value offerings for cruisers with varied interests.

Progreso Cruise Port Facilities?

Soon after disembarking your ship, there's a large, duty-free shopping area. Merchandise is attractively presented and decently priced and, contrary to expectation, we found several items to be cheaper and better quality here than in the town itself.

There are more shops beyond the duty-free area, as well as a pharmacy and several clean, free-to-use easily accessible restrooms. There's also a bar offering Wi-Fi, although you'll need to buy a drink to get the code for it. There is no ATM here -- that's in the town itself -- but there is an Information Desk next to the bus stop for the shuttles into town. Ask here for maps and information about tours.

Good to Know?

While cruisers should be mindful of their surroundings, Progreso is a relatively safe port.

Our experience was that while cruisers can be hassled to eat in restaurants or rent sun beds, we were pleasantly surprised to find that a firm "no, thank you" was all it seemed to take in order to be left in peace.

'Aut Progreso' is the name of the company that operates the free bus shuttles from the ship to the town of Progreso itself. They also offer an excellent range of well-priced guided group tours (in air-conditioned buses) from Progreso to all the main tourist sites, including Chichen Itza, Merida and Uxmal. (These cost a fraction of the price of a taxi and can be bought on the spot and paid for in U.S. dollars.)

Please be aware that the market where the free bus shuttle drops cruisers off is NOT the authentic town market, but a tourist replica. The real mercado is around the corner, housed in a slightly decaying, grandiose turquoise building.

Getting Around?

On foot:There's a 4-mile-long pier standing between the duty-free shopping area next to the ship and the port of Progreso itself, so getting around on foot isn't an option if you want to venture any further.

By bus: There are free and regular bus shuttles from the duty-free area next to the ship to downtown Progreso. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes and there are more restrooms as well as a tourist market at the bus terminal the other end. Inquire about additional guided group tours either before boarding the shuttle or at the other end.

By taxi: There's a taxi rank adjacent to the bus shuttle stop with drivers offering rates for private trips to wherever you want to go. While the price might be more than the per-person rate for a tour with bus company Aut Progreso, the taxi option might end up being cheaper (and easier) if you're traveling in a small group. And you can always try to barter.

By Uber: Uber is available in Progreso, and offers another good-value option for getting around.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Mexico's currency is the peso. The only ATM is at the bank in the town itself, about a 5-minute walk from where the free bus shuttle drops cruisers off (but most taxis, vendors and guides will happily accept U.S dollars).

Please bear in mind that if you pay in dollars, you might receive change back in pesos (rather than dollars) so ask first if this is a concern. Most major stores and restaurants accept credit cards, but cash is usually preferred, especially at pop-up locales. If in doubt, it's best to ask in advance so you know before your bill arrives.

Language?

You won't have a hard time if you speak English here, but it will be very much appreciated if you can throw in a Spanish greeting or a "Gracias" here and there.


Progreso Cruise Reviews

Carnival Fantasy
carnivalcosmo
Sail Date: Mar 2020
45 minute open bus tour of Progreso. Fun and Hector kept us entertained with lots of fun facts about this village.... Read More
Carnival Valor
jvbcruises
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Progreso is a small port with long walks- they do have a variety of shops near the dock but we found most items to be pricey. We did not go into town.... Read More
Carnival Dream
Jerrydiwebb
Sail Date: Sep 2019
Progreso was a much better port than we had anticipated.... Read More
Carnival Valor
Hols1001
Sail Date: May 2019
Can't rate the port because we were all too seasick to get off the ship. We were told the waters around Progreso are always rough. The water is a beautiful color though, we couldn't stop talking about it.... Read More
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