The January 5-15 Princess sailing to the Mexican Riviera aboard the Sapphire was overall a great cruise. Entertainment was full of variety and very funny at times. Our favorite was Steve Moris. He was part of the Beach Boys for a while and now is doing his own thing. Aside from great music he was also very funny. He only performed 2 times and that was a shame. Our other favorites were the juggler and the magician. We also wished they had more performances.
Food in the dining room was always top class and very tasty. Service was probably the best we ever had. Neither my husband or I could find anything wrong with any of the dining rooms as far as food. The only thing I wished is that they told us somehow that each anytime dining has a special like the Santa Fe dining room special is fajitas and they were truly, hands down, the best I ever had. the Horizon buffet court was a different story. Breakfast and lunch was always the same. The same eggs, bacon and sausage and some cold fish they never thawed properly so it tasted like rubber. Lunch was the usual sandwiches, curry meats, rice, guacamole and salsa with chips. They called that a Mexican lunch! We stuck to pizza and the burger bar which would grill the best chicken. Often we would eat lunch in the dining room and their variety was better.
We cruised with Princess many times before but not as of 2006 so we forgot how small the rooms are and how tiny their showers are. Compared to other cruise lines the showers are glass and larger so you don’t have to step out of the shower in case you dropped your soap. The room did not have a couch area which we also missed since other cruise lines, again, have that in all balcony categories and up. The other bummer was that we did not get any towel animals but we managed to survive no problem 🙂 The room was always clean and our steward Francisco was nice and friendly. We were on Baja deck mid ship and for some reason our area was very loud and people tended to slam their doors early in the morning which was annoying but there’s always a few mindless people on a cruise….
The Sapphire was overall a nice ship with friendly staff. Navigating our way around the ship was a little annoying because the 6th floor did not go straight through so you had to go down to deck 7 and then walk to one end and either take the stairs or elevator down one floor. Personally, I like the ships that have continuous decks so you can walk from one end to another without problems.
Pool areas were nice. We spent most of our pool time in the spa pool because it wasn’t very deep and the water temperature was perfect all the time. There was the usual indoor pool and one outside but they were always crowded. We did manage to find another pool, a deep one, on deck 12 in the very front of the ship but I still preferred the spa one with soothing music and 2 attached jacuzzi.
Lastly, before I go into each port… try a chocolate banana drink. It comes with alcohol and virgin if you like. The best you’ll ever have! 🙂
ACAPULCO: 1st Stop
We had 3 sea days in a row before arriving 4 hours late to Acapulco due to a rally which was loud, scary and dangerous. This was our 4th time here so we didn’t care much about this port. I’ve always found it dirty, scary and not at all as described in any tour. But this is just my opinion. We did not go ashore but we did go to the terminal to shop for Oaxaca art. I collect wooden carved animals in that style type of art and the best store happens to be in the terminal. After making my purchase I asked the store owner what he thought about the rally and he rolled his eyes and told me that I better stay on the ship because these type of rally can turn ugly. My experience with Acapulco has been not as great as the other ports due to the poverty levels, children selling you Chiclets and following you around as well as adults grabbing me by the arm so that I would follow them into a store. Things like that scare me. We usually stay on the ship when here but with the rally I was wondering if we should have avoided Acapulco and gone to another nearby port. On the other hand, a few people we met on the ship told us that the tours were nice and safe so I guess their tour experience was much better than our previous ones.
ZIHUATANEJO: 2nd Stop
Last time I was in Zihuatanejo was in 2005 on the same 10 day cruise. This place changed a lot and is hardly recognizable. This used to be a sleepy village with great stores, prices, few bars and lots of little beautiful scenery. Well the stores are more expensive to the point where it’s ridiculous and they stopped bargaining. Every few feet we were offered a beer for a dollar and all the natural scenery was hidden by a large fort like building with lots of military. I couldn’t believe how many military men with machine guns where all over the place. We walked around ourselves into the center and all over the little streets. We used to walk it all in less than 2 hours but not this time. The city boomed and there was much to explore. The few people we met along the way were all nice and guided us towards quiet streets with few shops but lots to explore. unfortunately all of our ports carry the same things so there wasn’t much to buy. We are magnet collectors so once we found one we liked we stopped for a beer and watched how animal control (I hope) caught a crocodile and took him away. I hope the poor croc didn’t end up as dinner and boots… overall the day was very nice. a bit on the warmer side than the other ports. The beaches here are clean and full of seashells but the best part for me was watching the fishermen and the pelicans fish and eating mahi mahi tacos that were freshly caught and grilled.
PUERTO VALLARTA: 3rd Stop
My favorite port! Since we’ve been to Mexico a few times before we decided that we would just venture into downtown ourselves and walk around. We had no plans and that was the best plan. Near the dock as we exited we found white vans that would take a group of 10 people to Diamonds International in downtown for $3 a person each way. This is a better deal than taking a taxi. We did not go into the store and no one made us feel guilty about it. we walked at first towards the church steps and into a few tiny shops but traffic is crazy and the streets are small and narrow so after a while of not seeing anything we liked we ventured towards the boardwalk by the beach and walked to Starbucks. YES, Starbucks. Along the way we stopped and admired beaded art in just about every shop and I bought a few silver earrings (stamped 925) from a couple of the stores we know are true. Towards the center we stopped at the intersection where Senor Frogs is located and watched the Papantla fliers perform as well as a few guys dressed as Aztec gods taking photos for a price. The day was perfect weather, not cold, not hot, not humid, just perfect. When we arrived to Starbucks we ordered our usual drinks and they were just as good as in the States. My husband paid with his American bought Starbucks card but the charge comes up in pesos. We sat outside and watched people for a while. Even used their clean bathroom before making our way across the street and onto the boardwalk where we shot photos of the statues, beach, pelicans fishing and the city views. We also ventured into another square towards where we were dropped off and saw a beautiful church and plaza but there were people inside praying to we stayed outside. The walk back to Diamonds International was easy and we promptly were driven back to the ship without any issues. Once inside the ship again we noticed that there was a Walmart right in front of us so if you need anything they offer free shuttles there. just fyi.
MAZATLAN: 4th Stop
Mazatlan, in my opinion of course, is turning out to be just like Acapulco. Since we’ve been there plenty of times and have done all the tours available we opted for a trolley tour which costs $25 per person and you sign up inside the shopping area where you’re first dropped off. Each person gets a free T-shirt too. The trolley tour was nice and lasted about 3 and half hours. Seats are not comfortable and very small if you’re a tall person. my 6 foot 2 husband and I sat on the outside portion of the trolley and it was ok. First we were driven to a hillside where the houses were amazing, beautiful, large and original construction. We could see all the way down to the port and it made for awesome photos. We spent about 20 minutes there which was enough time to see everything. 2nd stop was downtown at a park and church. This was the heart of downtown and quite scary. We walked to the church which was beautiful but when I was taking photos outside we were approached by a couple of young guys asking us to buy pills. When we declined the man tried to take my camera so he could take a photo of the 2 of us. My husband being tall and buff told him to go away and the guys did. Inside the market I was trying to look at the food displays which reminded me of the Spanish Bocaria in Barcelona and again we were harassed by an older man grabbing my arm so that I would go inside his store. At that point we went back to the trolley. We were in Downtown for an hour which was way too long. Also, as an fyi, there is a Senor Frogs where the trolley stopped and the bathrooms are free and clean there. Our last stop was the golden zone at a none other than Diamonds International… because there just aren’t many of them… they did offer us free margaritas, bathrooms again and a comfortable place to sit while you shopped for generic jewelry. We ventured towards the left and into a plaza with a very expensive restaurant but little shops all around it. People were nice and friendly here and no one grabbed me thankfully. We got lucky in one store where the lady spoke no English and was having bad luck that day with sales. My husband speaks a bit of Spanish and managed to communicate with the lady. She offered us everything in the store at 50% off. It was 2pm by that time so we was desperate. We ended up buying beautiful, intricate masks, wind chimes, art, jewelry and other souvenirs for $5 bucks each. With all that stuff we managed to get back to the trolley but on the way found a museum type of store that sold ceramics and near it a restaurant that looked like a Mayan temple. We explored for a few minutes and chit-chatted with the owner so that overall experience was nice. We made it back to the port with enough time to shop at the craft market there which again was over-priced and pushy. Weather was perfect again and overall the day was a good one.
CABO SAN LUCAS: 5th Stop
We booked a tour to go whale watching and the second we boarded the boat with 90 other people we started having fun. The scenery cruise to the open ocean area where the whales are is amazing. Los Arcos is so beautiful and maybe next time we will just go there for the beach. We saw a lot of whales but finally stumbled upon a mama whale with her baby. The baby was curious so he would stick his head out and look at us while the mama whale rubbed herself on the boat and sprayed us all with water. I’ve seen plenty of whales in Alaska but here they were so close you really get to see how huge they are. The moment was short but so beautiful and memorable. Cabo is the best place to see whales so make sure you try and do that. We opted for a larger boat that can hold up to 150 people since the Zodiac ones are a bit scary for me. Our boat was large enough that no one was on top of each other and there were 3 areas for viewings and chairs everywhere. On the way back to the port we stopped again at the craft market but prices here seemed to be the highest. we had luck at the major large store which offered really good tequila for $5 a small bottle with a sombrero hat. The weather here was great which I never experienced before. It was actually a bit chilly too. Overall it was a good day.