Cruising Mexico

 

Los Cabos
Los Cabos is known for its beaches and world-class scuba-diving sites.

 

A look at a Pacific Coastal trio: Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco and Huatulco.

The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza
The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan is a major attraction for those who get off ships at Progreso, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.

Many luxury travelers have “been there, done that” on weeklong cruises to ports south of the border. Today, though, these upscale cruisers may find themselves headed once again to Mexico’s Pacific Coastal ports on a Panama Canal itinerary or even a longer voyage. Here is a snapshot look at what’s of interest to luxury cruisers at a trio of Pacific ports.
 
Laid-back Baja

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, the southern Baja California region known as Los Cabos boasts white sand beaches and opulent hotels. Clients at Cabo San Lucas on a port call can soak up the scenery on a beach break or go whale watching, sport fishing or scuba diving. Tip: To spot migrating whales from shore, head for the upscale hotels and designated look-out points along Corridor Highway.

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Cloud calls at Cabo San Lucas on a 16-day voyage from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale on April 9 next year. Top Excursion: The Sea Kayaking Eco Adventure, which includes kayaking to view Los Arcos, Cabo’s dramatic rock formation. Then, guests continue to Lovers’ Beach, accessible only by water, where they swim, snorkel, sunbathe or explore the beach.

marine life and sea birds
Loreto and its environs offer cruisers up-close views of marine life and sea birds.

Note: This year, Cabo San Lucas constructed a new $40 million Cultural Pavilion of the Republic, created to celebrate Mexico’s Bicentennial. Located along the marina area, the Arts and Biodiversity Pavilion was the first of six buildings in the cultural complex to open. Ultimately, the site will boast theaters, shopping centers, cinemas, a museum, library and restaurants. Expect traditional Mexican concerts, dances, art exhibits and events. 

It’s fun to go walking along the Cabo San Lucas waterfront, buy handcrafted souvenirs from friendly hawkers and stop at a sidewalk café or bar. Hint: Along the marina at Plaza Bonita Mall, Ole, Ole serves tapas, salads and Barcelona-style sandwiches. Shopping Note: Those into high fashion should head for the marina’s center and look for Luxury Avenue Los Cabos. Created by 150 designers, this upscale shopping mall opened in 2008.

What’s new for 2011? Hermes will open a new store within the mall, which already is home to such brands as Cartier, CH Carolina Herrera, Chopard, Coach, Fendi, Montblanc, Paul & Shark, TOUS, Tiffany & Co. and Swarovski.

Cliff Divers
Cliff Divers take the plunge at La Quebrada in Acapulco.

Classic Playground

Situated on a deep, semicircular bay, Acapulco has long been a vacation playground for Americans. That continues in 2011 as The Yachts of Seabourn will call at Acapulco on its 37-day Grand American Odyssey voyage of Seabourn Odyssey, which departs from Civitavecchia (Rome) for Los Angeles on November 29, 2011.

On its 18-night Sea to Shining Sea voyage from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will field an Art & History of Acapulco shore tour for its guests interested in enrichment on April 25, 2011. The tour visits the Chapel of Peace (note: photogs will want to snap a shot of Acapulco Bay from this vantage point) and then the hilltop home of Pal Kepenyes led by the renowned sculptor and his wife. That’s followed by stops at the Acapulco Historical Museum and a handicraft market, with everything from local pottery to handcrafted jewelry.

But for many boomers, the thought of Elvis Presley gyrating and singing in traditional Mexican attire in Fun in Acapulco still entices. Cruisers can explore some sites featured in the 1963 film. Regent’s guests may opt for the Acapulco Highlights and Cliff Divers shore trip, which provides an orientation drive through the city’s hotel and residential areas, a photo stop at a scenic viewpoint near Las Brisas Hotel and views of Acapulco Diamond, a new development.

Acapulco
Both seabourn and regent will make calls in Acapulco next year.

Then the tour heads—as did Elvis in the movie—to La Quebrada, where, since 1934, visitors have “oohed” and “aahed” at the intrepid cliff divers who leap from rocks as high as 145 feet into a small crevasse of ocean. After the performance, the divers often join visitors for photos.

Looking for a more refined option? Cruise guests may purchase a day pass at The Fairmont Acapulco Princess or The Fairmont Pierre Marques, for access to each hotel’s beach and facilities. Golfers can straighten their swings out at The Fairmont Acapulco Princess’ recently opened Ochoa Golf Academy, while spa enthusiasts can head to the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa. Note: For a casual alfresco lunch, we recommend The Fairmont Acapulco Princess’ Chula Vista, which serves Mexican dishes adjacent to the Azteca salt-water lagoon.

Outdoor Adventure

Along Mexico’s lower Pacific coast, the Bays of Huatulco area encompasses nine pristine bays, 36 beaches, isolated coves and rugged scenery. Note: More than 40,000 acres are set aside as an ecological preserve.

Several of Crystal Cruises’ voyages will call at Huatulco in 2011, including Crystal Symphony’s March 17 Tale of Two Seas voyage from Miami to Los Angeles. Looking farther out, Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria will call at Huatulco on a Panama Canal Explorer cruise departing January 30, 2012, from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale.

Tip: Advise active clients that a day-long port call at Huatulco is a superb opportunity to enjoy snorkeling, diving, river rafting, rappelling, bird-watching or golf. Crystal offers a two-and-a-half-hour Scenic River Float Adventure—a rafting trip along the Copalita River. Guests travel for about 30 minutes in an all-terrain vehicle to the put-in spot. After a safety briefing, they board their raft for an hour-long float. Later, they toast their journey with a glass of mezcal, a classic Mexican spirit.