Our first (and definitely not last) family cruise was a Mexican Riviera cruise aboard Princess Cruises. We chose a 10 day cruise with 4 stops; Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. On our trip was myself, Brandon, the boys (Bo and Tyson), my parents and my grandmother. We all had so much fun! We got to see many different parts of Mexico and the cruise ship was perfect since sometimes we all wanted to do the same things and other times we were all headed in different directions!
In this post I am going to talk about shore excursions. So many options are offered for purchase on the ship, they are limited to availability so if you know you want to go this route I would suggest claiming your spot before your cruise even begins. I’m not sure about every cruise line, but on Princess you could view all shore excursions available at every port online and sign up for them. One thing to remember about choosing an excursion offered on the ship is that the cruise line has some sort of agreement with the company, on the bright side this means that safety and quality of the excursions has been verified. On the not-so-bright side you pay top dollar for every adventure! We only chose to do one shore excursion through the cruise line, which make no mistake was fantastic! They offer something for everyone whether you just want to find a good place to go shopping, go to a museum, sample authentic cuisine or you want something more thrilling like horseback rides, ATV adventures and speed boats.
In Puerto Vallarta me, my dad and Bo went on a Princess excursion with Vallarta Excursions that included snorkeling and a visit to the famous hidden beach at Las Islas Marietas. The boat was comfortable, the staff was attentive, entertaining and hilarious! We started off the day at a snorkel spot, you can bring your own gear or use theirs. The snorkel area did not disappoint, lots of colorful fish and coral to see while swimming around the beautiful rock formations. Next we went to the hidden beach…..well we SWAM to the hidden beach. Those that were brave enough got brought to the beginning of the tunnel that leads to the beach, of course we went and it was beautiful!! The swim is not easy, even with the lifejackets we had on, and depending on tide or weather could be quite dangerous. The tunnel is about 50 feet long I would guess, but you can’t get too close to the opening in the boat or it could get sucked in so you also have the added swim from the boat to even get to the tunnel. Once inside we swam, enjoyed the sunshine and explored all the little caves around the beach. Once we were back on the boat we were served lunch and drinks and headed back to the cruise ship, on the way back the captain even stopped so we could see a whale he spotted!
Brandon, my mom, Grandma and Tyson went on a Princess excursion of zip-lining! How fun!! This is something that I have always wanted to do and yet have never tried. I was so proud of everyone, I thought for sure at least 1 of them would have chickened out part way through, but they didn’t! I was even more impressed (and jealous) when I saw pictures and video of the adventure! They got to zipline multiple times through the jungle. They got to cross suspension bridges and cross platforms through the trees. So awesome!
In Manzanillo Brandon, Bo, my parents and myself went on a fishing charter that I scheduled before leaving Alaska. I did some research online and came across Double Trouble II. Captain Fredy and I emailed back and forth multiple times before our trip and he made sure everything was in order and we knew exactly what to do and where to go once we departed our ship, he told me they have served many cruise ship guests, this made me feel good! We took a taxi to the Las Hadas Marina and found his boat slip. The cost was $600 USD, this covered up to 6 fishermen on a 6 hour fishing trip. He provided licenses, tackle, bait, beer, soda and water. I was surprised no food was provided on a 6 hour trip, but quickly got over it, we just grabbed stuff from the cruise ship to snack on. The boat was clean and beautiful and the staff was knowledgeable and very friendly! We caught two wahoo while out on the water, which I had never seen before so that was cool! Bo got to reel in one and Brandon reeled in the other, we were hoping for a marlin, but we weren’t complaining! When it was time for us to head back to the cruise ship Captain Fredy said he could save us a cab ride if we didn’t mind walking a little ways and dropped us off as close as possible without getting himself in trouble…..or double trouble….(ha! See what I did there?!) 😉 This worked out great!!
Grandma and Tyson went and explored the city on foot while in Manzanillo. Tyson sometimes gets sea sick on smaller boats and didn’t want to go if he didn’t have to. Grandma didn’t want to go fishing so it ended up working out perfectly!
In Mazatlan we got off the boat and we walked and walked and walked along the beach. It was actually a ton of fun, searching for shells, watching the skates jumping through the air, going swimming, walking through the water and over the rocks, stopping at the beach bars and enjoying the free entertainment…. instead of street entertainers it’s beach entertainers, the boys got to feed some birds with one entertainer, and then he quickly looked towards Brandon and I to pull out a few dollars lol, this happens a lot! The only bad thing about our beach day was everyone had something to sell and they aren’t shy, they are persistent! On the way back to the cruise ship we hopped in some 3 wheeled open air mini truck taxis (no idea what they are called) which were zippy little things, the boys had a smile the entire drive! When we got back to the ship port we went through the street market that was there, this was no normal market, it was a party! There was a DJ playing music, lots of street vendors and boutiques and right smack dab in the middle was a bar! We got our drink on ( I drank a shot of tequila from one of the street vendors then the guy uncovered the bottle to show me I was drinking out of a bottle that had a snake in it….A SNAKE!). We went shopping. We sang and we danced, it was an awesome way to end our time in Mazatlan!
Cabo San Lucas
Oh Cabo……what I remember of Cabo (too many free drinks). Believe it or not while we were there we had other family and friends that were staying at a resort in Cabo. At the port in Cabo you didn’t walk straight off the boat and onto a boardwalk like we did at every other port, the water wasn’t deep enough. You had to get into one of the enclosed rescue boats that took you from the cruise ship to the docks, luckily it wasn’t a long ride, because it was horrible, the seats are uncomfortable, they are overcrowded and they are hot! The line to get on the boats….well just imagine thousands of people trying to get off the boat to begin their time on shore…..not fun and nothing quick about it! When you get to the docks you enter a harbor market, you could literally spend the entire time on shore without leaving this area. Tons of places to shop, the beautiful water, lots of places to walk around and sample food and drinks, it was quite an impressive marketplace. Our friends and family met us at the market, we walked around for a little while and then caught a shuttle to the resort. We spent the day lounging in the sun, in the pool playing volleyball, swimming and of course enjoying the free drinks from the swim-up bar, I can’t recall how many times we heard the question “double?” it’s still a joke we make when making eachother drinks at home.