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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: I'm Back!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm Back!

I'm back from a five night cruise with my family on the Carnival Ship, Fantasy.  We left from New Orleans and traveled to two cities in Mexico, Progreso and Cozumel, and then back to New Orleans to complete the loop.  Never having been to New Orleans, I enjoyed the short visit immensely.  Katrina's destruction was visible everywhere, but so was the reconstruction.  The French Quarter was beautiful and historically interesting.  Street performers were everywhere, playing jazz and dancing.  Dozens of restaurants specialized in Cajun food but still managed to cater to different types of customers, families, young adults, etc.  One word of warning, if you are taking a taxi, ask the price before you get in.  The trip from the Marriott to the point of debarkation cost $20, and the trip back, $35. 

The Fantasy was a good ship, and the international staff treated us very well.  The evening meals were excellent, but better still were the goofy song and dance routines performed by the staff as they finished serving dessert.  The evening shows were also entertaining and often involved audience participation.  The staff went out of their way to treat my children well, and many knew them by name.  

Our first port of call was Progreso, Mexico, a city of about 50,000 with two main industries: tourism and fishing.  While acting the part of a tourist, I met a family that owned a small family business that hauled people on a "banana boat" a big banana shaped raft that was pulled by a speed boat.  The family members were friendly, and the ride was fun.  At different parts of the visit, I learned that many of the Mexican businessmen did not like competition from street vendors, many of them Guatemalan, and I presume, illegal.  The dislike did not stop a businessman from guiding my wife to a Guatemalan woman who sold purses that he did not stock.  Bravo! 

Our second port of call was Cozumel.  Our excursion to a zipline park was canceled because of thunder storms.  It seems the proprietors did not think their customers should ride a down metal cords when lightening was clearly visible.  The shops at the port facility were heavily visited and it seemed everyone spoke English, a small disappointment to me since I speak Spanish.  I talked with several workers in the shops, and was informed that many if not all shops are owned by or partner with the cruise line, an interesting type of horizontal integration.  It provides an additional profit opportunity for the cruise line and a more controlled environment for patrons concerned with drug cartel violence, crime, bad water, etc.  For those wishing to see a more traditional view of Mexico, all that was required was a short walk of one hundred yards to exit the facility and enter the Cozumel proper. 

The worst part of the trip was the 541.2 mile drive home.
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