Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mexican Riviera cruise

Land's End Arch, Cabo San Lucas

Early this year, several major cruise lines have announced that they were dropping the Pacific coast city of Mazatlan from their Mexican Riviera cruise itinerary. This was to address security issues that have occured in the city where violence has escalated and tourists were mugged and robbed near the piers.

Our family once visited Mazatlan as one of the ports of call on a Mexican Riviera cruise. When I read about the suspension of cruises into this port, my first thoughts were the impact of the drop of tourism on this city. Although I was in Mazatlan for only a few hours and has only gleamed some of its sites, I've enjoyed my visit. From my experience, some shopping prices were more competitive. For instance, on a earlier cruise stop in the cobblestoned streets of  Puerto Vallarta, I came upon a sterling silver blue opal ring at a local jewelry store. I tried to bargain down the price but the shop owner did not budge. In Mazatlan in a shopping arcade by the shore, I came upon a jewelry store which had a similiar ring. Perhaps it was designed and crafted by the same manufacturer. I love the ring for its brilliant blue opal color and its unique design. So I tried on my bargaining powers and to my delight, the shop owner was willing to lower the price. Since the purchase, I've worn it several times and have received compliments on it.

Cabo San Lucas marina

Now, it looks like that Mazatlan has been dropped from cruise itineraries for the season. In its place, some cruise lines have added an extra day in other ports such as Cabo San Lucas. Cabo is a much larger port than Mazatlan and more popular with tourists. In Cabo, one of its famous sights is the Land's End Arch, a natural rock formation that has one leg perched on the tip of the Baja California penisula and its other leg almost perched into the ocean. It is here where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. The Sea of Cortez is abundant with sea life and Cabo is a mecca for fishing enthusiasts. (An acquaintance once caught an award worthy fish there). At Cabo, we took a glass bottom boat to sail towards the arch to have a closer look and took some beautiful pictures. The azure waters looked calm from ashore but it was rather choppy upon our approach. There was a beach near the arch formation. Day trippers usually take a boat out there and arrange for the boat to pick them up later. We were fortunate that we got on the boat upon arrival in Cabo. Soon after we returned ashore, there was a heavy down pour. My mind wondered to those beachers who were near the arch. Did they find shelter among those rocks ? The downpour was on for almost an hour.

Exquisite food creations

On the ship, I spent time in the whirlpool and read on the deck. As expected, the foods were sumptuous. I normally eat a small breakfast. However, caution has been thrown to the wind regarding such dietary concerns during cruising. On this trip, I had the chance to check out the behind the scenes of one part of the ship operation. It was a visit to the ship galley to find out how the foods were prepared and cooked for the thousands of passengers. One of the highlight of the cruise was the Midnight Buffet whereby beautiful arrays of sumptuous cuisines were laid out attesting to the creativity of the chefs who put together the colorful and delightful eye candies. The guests exclaimed in oohs and aahs at the exquisite displays, took a lot of pictures before proceeding to partake of the offerings.

Entertainment options abound on the ship. There were karaoke bars which we visited but we were too shy to participate. We saw the usual dance and singing shows. Such leisure activities were coupled with mundane activities such as doing laundry on the ship. I knew this could wait till we got home but I preferred to have this done whenever possible. I found that this facilitated my packing.

We were also cruising through several time zones on this trip. Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan are both one hour ahead of Long Beach, California where we first embarked on the ship. Puerto Vallarta is two hours ahead of Long Beach. When we disembarked from the ship onto these foreign destinations, we have to be mindful of our clocks and made sure we headed back to the ship on time when we were venturing on our own. We definitely didn't want to miss the boat ! That's why sometimes trip insurance is a necessity.

After cruising for 7 days through the sunny Mexican Riviera, it was time to disembark at Long Beach, California. Relaxed and tanned with slightly wider girths, we trodded down the gangway ready to reclaim our daily doldrums.

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