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  #1 (permalink)  
Old August 10th, 2007, 08:01 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: California
Posts: 7
Default Mexican Riviera Cruise/First Time Cruisers Advice Needed

Hi Everyone,

My husband and I are taking our first cruise. We are in our early/mid 40s and this will be the first of "our kids are away in college now" vacations. We've been reading the boards for a few months now and have been soaking up everyone's advice. We have it narrowed down to Princess or Carnival to the Mexican Riviera as our first cruise. We plan on getting a balcony room. Here are the ships we can choose from:

Golden Dawn Princess, 7 days, sailing Oct/Nov from LA.
Dawn Princess, 7 days, sailing Oct/Nov from San Diego.

Carnival Pride, 7 days, sailing Oct/Nov from LA.
Carnival Spirit, 8 days, sailing Oct/Nov from San Diego.

We welcome everyone's advice and experiences. Thanks so much!

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old August 11th, 2007, 12:35 PM
colorcrazie's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Tampa Bay area
Posts: 2,705

Hi Renae,
We used to live in LA and did the Mexican Riviera many times. We prefer Carnival and I would choose whichever sailed from closest to your home. We've sailed from both cities and not enough difference to matter. Love the Pride.
I assume you are talking about a 7 day, going to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. My one piece of advice is to do your tours through the ship. Mexico is a lot of fun, but maintenance on their vehicles is hit and miss. If you go off on your own, the cruise ship doesn't wait for you if you are late getting back to the pier. If you buy the ships tour, they do. Mexico is usually very friendly, but it is a poor country and the police are not exactly above reproach. So, don't put your safety in locals' hands. That said, I love the people. Most are hard working with a great sense of humor. I was walking through a section of vendors at the pier in Mazatlan once. The vendors are aggressive, but a smile and no thanks usually is enough. But that one time, a vendor called out "How about a t-shirt for the grandchildren?". I turned around and in a mock angry voice said "What, you think I look old enough to have grandchildren? (Which I do)". Then, I started laughing, along with every vendor in sight. He tried to give me a child's t-shirt to apologize. I finally had to take one, just to let him feel better.
Also, do bargain when you shop. If a store has A/C, they probably won't, but you can still try. They expect it and, as long as it is done with a positive attitude, no hard feelings ensue. I've seen people bargain by putting down the merchandise...tacky and not effective. I always say I think their stuff is nice, even when I don't, but that I have already spent too much money, which is usually true.
Okay, that was all probably much more than you wanted, but feel free to ask more questions if you have them. We have probably done every tour and some not on the list.
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Old August 11th, 2007, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 230

The Carnival Spirit is a beautiful ship, and embarking in San Diego is very easy.

You may also want to consider HAL's Oosterdam for a more refined, adult experience.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the ships you've narrowed it down to.

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  #4 (permalink)  
Old August 11th, 2007, 07:09 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: California
Posts: 7

Thanks Shelby and Marty for your advice! I was learning towards Princess (because of the reviews) but they are waitlist only for early October when we really want to go. Carnival does have balcony cabins avail mid-ship in early October and I found their website VERY user friendly. We would definately like to pick our cabin. I was thinking of booking with them this weekend. But, after your recommendation, Shelby, we looked at the HAL reviews and believe HAL's Oosterdam is perfect for us. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for the January 5th cruise. I think I am going to call HAL to make sure we get what we want, since I am a beginner at this.

I welcome any other tips/advice!
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old August 13th, 2007, 12:46 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 29

We are on the Oosterdam in December and from what I can tell the ship is not full yet.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old August 29th, 2007, 10:24 PM
cheezz's Avatar
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Cruise Maniac
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 153
Default Hi Renae... I just did this recently out of Los Angeles --

see my blog, hits, pictures at:

Will be happy to answer any questions!
Norwegian Sea, Cozumel/Roatan/Belize, Apr 2004

RCCL Splendour of the Seas, Western Caribbean (Cozumel/Costa Maya), May 2007

Princess Diamond, Mexican Riviera (Puerto Vallarta/Mazatlan/Cabo San Lucas), Sep 2006

Carnival Paradise, Catalina Island/Ensenada BC, Jun 2011

Caribbean Princess, Cozumel/Roatan/Belize, Jan 2014
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old August 30th, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: London (but really Los Angeles)
Posts: 1,233
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The Spirit is a beautiful lady. If you have been
on the Pride, they are sister ships, so you
shouldn't have any problems getting around. The
ports of calls I would like to share, if I may
what we do, we never take any ship's excursions
but just do our own thing, and neither of us
speaks a word in Spanish but that has never
kept us back. And you and your Mrs sound like
younger guys, so go out there and try this:

Acapulco: Go see the cliff divers. It is an easy
(yes all uphill) walk from the ship to the Cliff
Divers. As you exit the cruiseship terminal,
make a left and just follow the road by the
shore to Old Town Acapulco. Walk thru the plaza
by the bandstand and stop and visit the
cathedral. There's a funny story behind that
cathedral, it was supposed to be a movie
theater, they ran out of funds as they were
building it and they ended up converting it into
a church!!! but true. Continue uphill on the
side road just left of the cathedral and in
about 10 minutes, you are in La Quebrada, that's
where the cliff divers are. They have a show
around 1pm, you pay like 35 pesos each (around
$3.50) and that also incudes a free soda or a
bottle of water or a beer, your choice) From the
ship it may take you all of 10-15 minutes to
walk UP to the divers, walking down it's much

You MUST take one of the local buses ($1 fare
each) to the far end of town across the bay.
Look out for the buses that have WALMART as the
destination, yes that's right, there's a Walmart
by those fancy high rises, nearly at the far end
of the bay. Stop by Walmart and walk on the
END OF ACAPULCO BAY now!. If you are bold, walk
back to the ship on the beach, we have done it a
few times, it is a loooooooooooooooooong, tiring
walk, it takes you like 3 hours to walk back, in
between stopping for a dip in the ocean and
maybe walking the main street for some window
shopping for your Mrs.

If you have a laptop, I always carry mine with
me on cruises and always seem to find a local
wifi hotpsot to connect for free , by those
residential highrises in downtown, I always seem
to connect, another spot is by that big white
building about 1/4 mile to the right from the
ship, it is marked in huge black letters
HARBORMASTER. But the connection there is not
always as reliable, sometimes I connect,
sometimes I dont.

One last thing, the vendors, hawkers, taxi
drivers by the ship are notoriously persistent
in Acapulco. But they mean NO harm and are only
trying to earn a living, albeit a lousy way to
make a living. Just say NO and keep going, just
don't make eye contact. Despite what you will
hear about Acapulco, we have ALWAYS FELT safe
there and never ever felt threatened.

Manzanillo: What a delightful town this is, it's
a late player in the tourism game, Manzanillo's
to fame is the famous Las Hadas Resort, across
the bay from where the ship berths, which is an
area. You guys remember the Bo Derek movie "10"
That's where it was shot, at the Las Hadas
Resort and who
can ever forget Bo Derek running on the beach, I
think that
scene should be in the AFI's top 100. And and
the sight of
Bo Derek and Dudley Moore playing in bed to the
tune of
Maurice Ravel's BOLERO !!!!!
You must go visit the Las Hadas Resort, here's
how to get
there: you can either pay like $60-$70 each and
take the
ship's sponsored excursion. That gives you the
luxury of
an aircondtioned tourist coach ride, a buffet
style meal and
I believe, 2 alchoholic drinks per person.
Make it an adventure/thrill ride there and back
and it will only
set you back $1 per person, return bus fare.
Here's how:
Exit the fenced off port area, across the
railway track to the
other side of the street. bang across the
street, you will see
a bus stop. Take the bus from there and tell the
driver in whatever
language you want that you want to go to LAS
HADAS, Just like
asking for Coca Cola anywhere in the world,
they'll know what you
are talking about. The fare in Manzanillo is 2.5
Pesos or so (25 cents)
each ride. The bus will stop you just across the
road that leads to the
Peninsula where Las Hadas is located. You now
have 2 more options:
Take another bus which will drop you right by
the entrance to the
resort or WALK to Las Hadas, it is a bit of a
walk, maybe 30-40 minutes
but well worth it. Fantastic homes in the area
built to compliment the
Moorish architecture of the Las Hadas Resort and
oh boy, the view of
the bay is just fantastic and once again, just
like in Acapulco you can
see the ship in the far distance across the bay.
Once you are at Las Hadas,
be prepared to be awed by the beauty of the
resort. You can walk straight
to the beach, all beaches in Mexico are public
with public right of way. You
can also use the resort's facility by purchasing
like a day pass, I seem to
remember it was like 250 Pesos ($25 or so) and
that gives you a bufftet and I believe it was 4
drinks of your choice per person, my wife seems
remember it was 2, but Captain still says it was
Make your way back to the ship same way. What we
usually tell them just to make sure we get on
the right bus is BARCO???? that's Spanish for
ship, they'll understand you. It is absolutely
safe to walk the streets, Mexicans by their
nature are a friendly lot. A pleasant thing in
Manzanillo by the way is that you do NOT get
hounded by ANY vendors.

Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa: Every time we have been
there, it's always been a short stop. Zihuat, as
the locals call the town, is a tender port. When
we go there we like to take the bus over the
Ixtapa, it is the modern resort town, just north
of the city, about 4 miles away. From the tender
pier, walk the main street about 5 short blocks,
by the corner there is a bus stop next to the
hardware store. Take the bus marked
IXTAPA/Marina. The fare is about 70 Pesos
(70cents each) Ixtapa is a very modern resort
town, very laid back....Let's see how long it
stays that way! Get off the bus at any of the
beach stops, by the fancy hotels. We usually
stop by the NH Krystal. The beach there is
absoluetly gorgeous, the waves are not that bad
and again, there is public access to the beach.
Or you can "blend in" and use the Resort's fancy
pool and facilities. We have unashamedly done
that numerous times, we just buy like a couple
of drinks to make up for our "sin". NOW YOU
flight, there are like 4 different operators on
the beach, We have always haggled with them and
they have always let us have the ride/flight for
$20 each. I usually tip the
guys $5 between my wife and myself. Catch the
bus back to Zihuatanejo from right outside any
of the hotels lining up the beach.

Happy Cruising

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