Port To Port Around Mexico With Carnival
My seven-day Carnival Mexican adventure began at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal.
After spending the night at a Long Beach hotel, it was easy to reach the terminal utilising the hotel's courtesy shuttle, and it was only about 15 minutes away.
At the terminal, I noticed the original Queen Mary was also permanently docked there. It's now a tourist attraction offering ship tours as well as overnight accommodation.
Check-in for the cruise was seamless enough. Once the counters were open at 1pm, I was on board within 15 minutes.
I saw a lot of young singles, families and elderly couples, many of whom appeared to be regular cruisers. From hearing comments they all seemed to have the same common goal: have fun!
I was quite familiar with the layout of the ship, having inspected the Carnival Spirit once before, so after settling into my midship balcony cabin, I headed off to meet the rest of my group at the adults-only Serenity retreat at the aft of the ship to watch the sail away.
My first dinner was in the Bacchus dining room and the theme was all about the Roman god of food and wine but, as in keeping with the rest of the ship, the decor was minimalistic. It created a definite atmosphere and became a talking point throughout the cruise.
The menu in the dining room was always appealing and the quality and presentation was of a high standard. Service was excellent and our three waiters were always interested in what we were doing and were very attentive to our requests.
Our first port of call was Cabo San Lucas. I was really looking forward to this as I had heard so much about it from relatives that had been several times before. This was the only tender port on this itinerary, and the service only took about 15 minutes.
I decided to book a shore excursion on board (which I might add were very reasonably priced). I chose the "Lands End, Beach & Shopping" tour which had a duration of four hours. The first part involved a 45-minute catamaran trip along the coast to the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula and the amazing rock formations.
This was followed by a light lunch on the beach at a beach club, concluding with a shopping stop at a modern mall.
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Our next port was the city of Mazatlan and I booked another shore excursion – 'Colonial Villages of the Sierra Madre' – a full-day tour visiting some remote villages in the mountainous region on the outskirts of the city.
This is a good option for those wanting more of a cultural experience; a long day, but very interesting nonetheless.
Our final port of call was Puerto Vallarta. After Acapulco, this was one of the ports I recall from The Love Boat television series. By all reports and reviews, this was to be one of the prettiest ports, and I wasn't disappointed.
I decided to do my own thing this time and caught a local bus from the cruise terminal area for about 65 cents to the Malecon, which is a long beachside promenade leading to the old town.
With a clear blue sky and a comfortably warm temperature, it was an extremely pleasant stroll, with boutiques and cafes on one side and the beach on the other. This allowed me the opportunity to do some souvenir shopping, and of course partake in the obligatory two-for-one Coronas with nibbles.
After a refreshing swim, I headed back to the cruise terminal by bus.
Back on board and it was time for a quick, casual buffet dinner and to then plan out the night's activities. Hmm, what to do? Trivia at the Red Frog pub, a show at the theatre, chilling out to Latin music in the Lobby bar?
One of the must-dos is the comedy so I attended one of the adults-only shows earlier in the cruise and found myself going every night thereafter. They were fantastic, and such a great way to end each day.
To finish, we spent two days at sea which gave me the opportunity to just chill out by the pool, eat and drink.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable cruise. The quality of the food, the excellent service and with all the facilities and entertainment, I can see why Carnival is such a popular cruise line.
Written by: Santo Montalto, Cruising Expert at Cruiseabout Toorak, VIC
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