REUSE YOUR KEURIG K-CUPS!!!
Most restaurants and bars will have a bottle of Xtabentun for locals to enjoy as an aperitif. Tree bark and water are the main ingredients, which is distilled until it has a licorice flavor. Cold beer is the drink of choice for walking around town or sitting on Progreso's Malecon Beach (they'll bring them to you from the restaurants).
Where You are Docked
Progreso Pier, which, at five miles straight out into the Gulf of Mexico, is touted as the longest pier in the world
On Foot: The pier operates a constant free shuttle right from the ships and into town. Once in town, Progreso's center is easily explored on foot.
Taxis are readily available at the pier or in town, though there's no real need for one unless going to Merida for independent exploration.
Renting a Car:
To get to more secluded beaches, Merida, or archaeological sites independently, Executive Rental (011-52-999-9203732) is right at the pier. They have cars and small 4-wheel drive options at $35-$55 per day.
Progreso is an up-and-coming port, with more ships calling each year. The small town features a nice beach, with jetski rentals and other watersports options growing each year. There's also a fairly extensive crafts market right where the shuttle bus lets off passengers, as well as other tourist shopping along the town's few streets. There are several nice restaurants along the beach road that also serve drinks at tables and chairs situated right on the beach.
Merida is a major attraction for many visitors. It's about a half-hour drive from Progreso by shore excursion bus, local bus, taxi, or rental car. Modeled after the city of the same name in Spain, Merida was christened in 1542. With fine examples of Spanish colonial architecture, there's a cathedral that was built in 1561, the Governor's Palace, and stunning buildings all along Montejos Boulevard. Shopping around the city square is also popular.
Chichen Itza is rightfully popular, though the famed Mayan archaelogical site is at least two hours one-way from Progreso. Once there, the site includes the Temple of Kukulkan, the Ceremonial Ball Court, the Well of Sacrifice, the Observatory, and much more. Many visitors choose to rent a car to provide exploration flexibility and to arrive when crowds aren't as large.
Uxmal is a bit closer to Progreso (and Merida), making for a more manageable tour of an archaeological site (90 minutes or so one-way). Highlights include the Pyramid of the Magician, the Palace of the Governor, and the House of the Turtles.
Less than an hour from Progreso, X'cambo is just starting to be included on shore excursions and this archaeological site is another ideal option for a shorter day of Mayan history. With a pyramid, burial sites, and sacrificial wells, the most unique thing about X'cambo is the lack of crowds (so far).
Though much less popular than Chichen Itza or Uxmal, the Mayan site of Dzibilchltun is just 15 minutes from Progreso. Dzibilchltun is actually the largest, and probably oldest, site discovered so far. It was an important ceremonial center in the Mayan world and is ideal for Progreso passengers who want to visit a Yucatan archaeological site without spending an entire day.
Snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of nearby 'cenotes' is a popular shore excursion offering.
Uaymitun is a wildlife and bird sanctuary that features lots of birds and pretty pink flamingos (typically numbering in the thousands). This is best explored by rental car, a 4x4 shore excursion (typically packaged with a visit to Xtampu), or by kayak (also a popular shore excursion offering).
La Ceiba Golf Course, just outside Merida, is the best choice for duffers.
Progreso's Malecon Beach is really the only game in town and it's a nice one with all the standard offerings: lounge chairs, umbrellas, banana boat rides, fishing excursions, volleyball, kayaks, changing rooms, showers, and tables and chairs situated right on the sand for drinks or food. For the more adventurous with a rental vehicle, the beaches get much quieter heading out of Progreso to the east (Chicxulub is particularly nice, though Uaymitun, San Benito, and San Bruno further east are also recommended).
Calle 19, which runs parallel with Malecon Beach, features several friendly open-air restaurants that specialize in seafood and other local cuisine. They're all generally open for breakfast, lunch, and cocktails when cruise ships are docked.
Le Saint Bonnet (Calle 19 and 78) is a popular choice with locals and tourists. Start with shrimp, octopus, or conch ceviche, and then try specialties like seafood soup, shark in tortillas, and lobster.
Further down the beach, Flamingos (Calle 19 and 72) has developed a following, thanks to a friendly staff that welcomes cruise ship passengers with cold drinks, a variety of ceviches, fresh seafood, and Yucatan specialties like lime soup, local poultry and pork, and fried bananas with rice.
For a drink or snack with the locals, try Sol y Mar (Calle 19 and 80).
Staying in Touch:
Lots of international phones are available right where the ships dock, as well as throughout Progreso.
For More Information:
Call 011-52-969-9350104 for the tourism office right in Progreso or 011-52-999-9303760 for the Yucatan secretary of tourism.
On the Web: www.mayayucatan.com
Notes from a cc member posting:
"No snorkling. Progreso is actually on the Gulf of Mexico so the water is not crystal clear like the Caribbean. There's a nice large beach with great food accross the Malecon. There are many options for this port. When we were in Progresso the last week of Oct. we went to the beach at the end of the pier. We set up at the beach which goes with Buddy's Bar & Restaurant. It is owned by a man from Amsterdam who took excellent care of us. There was 8 in our group, we had a great table & umbrella on the beach with a wonderful waiter named Armando. Armando was the best, anything we needed he would get for us. We had chips & salsa and Tequila shots and small Coronas on the house. Then we ordered buckets of regualr size Coronas. There was 4 adults and 4 kids in our group, there were beach chairs if you wanted to lay in the sun. The men parked the butts at the table and the other Mom & I visited some of the local vendors across the street. This beach is about 3 blocks from where the free bus drops you off. There's also flee market type stalls where you catch the bus. We walked to the beach and had a great relaxing day before catching the bus back to the pier. Oh I forgot you will get your usual groups of locals wanting to sell you their stuff, but they were all very nice about leaving you alone if you just tell them no thanks. Go to Buddy's you won't go wrong!"