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Old February 29th, 2012, 11:04 PM
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Default Newbie Cruiser 9 Day Mexican Riviera

We are going as a couple to celebrate 7 years together. This is our first cruise, and first time in another country. We set sail March 30, 2012 from San Diego. We'll drive to the port the day before and plan to spend the night at the Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside. The “Snooze & Cruise” package offers overnight accommodations, up to 10 days of complimentary parking and complimentary transportation to and from the airport and the Cruise Ship Terminal.

This trip will visit the following ports(in order): Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas(2days), & Ensenada.

Since that robbing of the 22 people who were on a mountain hike excursion outside of the heavy tourist area by one mexican with a gun, the SO refuses to do any excursions. All he wants to do is visit the little shops and wander the tourist area.

We'll possibly participate in excursions in the tourist area only, and with the ship. (I'm afraid of being left behind!)

He plans to bring "Mr.Mace in their face, just incase." We plan to get travel insurance but havn't purchased any yet. We're also planning to get expediated pass ports incase we need to be flown to the USA for emergencies. (I'm paranoid that something will go wrong.)

Please advise on other things we can do to enjoy ourselves but not get robbed. Don't suggest that we not go, due to our heavy work/school schedule, we haven't had a decent vacation in the last 3 years.

How much money should I bring for souvenirs? (ofcourse I won't carry lots of case or jewlery on me into port)

I've heard that sometimes the ships anchor away from the coast and you have to ride a little boat to shore, what is this called and how do I ensure I'll be one of the first groups to leave?

Any advice for a newbie is much appreciated!

Last edited by appleseeds; February 29th, 2012 at 11:13 PM.
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Old March 1st, 2012, 04:22 PM
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We are (again) for a long winterstay in Puerto vallarta and I can tell you it is safe there. That robbery took place in the mountains outside the city and could have happened in almost any place in the world.
Also realise nobody was hurt!
You can easily take a cab into Old Town, have a drink and meal at one of the beachrestaurants, walk The Malecon with many statues etc. will enjoy this too. If you book one of the city or other tours I am sure you will enjoy that. You will find nice shops near the port, but why stay there.
Thousands of people are staying here in hotels and condos, (apart from more coming by ship) all having a great time. Crime unfortunately is worldwide.

Bring Pesos, or take them from an ATM. You can bring US$, most shops will accept them but often against a poor exchange rate.
in Cabo the ship cannot dock, tenders will be used. If you book a tour booked on board they will tell you what time you need to take the tender or where the tour will meet/start.
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Old March 1st, 2012, 05:50 PM
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Welcome to CruiseMates!

Don't be afraid to get out in the tourist areas and to get in the water.

You can look at excursions with private vendors, just do a little homework before your go.

In Cabo the ship will drop anchor in the harbor and you will tender (take little boats) ashore. The ship does pull out at night to open the casino and shops so it's not quite like having an overnight stay in port.
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Old March 1st, 2012, 06:33 PM
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Where do I get pesos from and how do i get the best rate? I was planning on using US dollars but carrying a limited amount of pesos on me sounds better.

The SO is afraid of getting ill from local food, we plan to call room service the day before and order sandwiches to pack.

How and were do you go to get a voucher to leave the ship to Cabo? I don't want to be last....
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by appleseeds View Post
Where do I get pesos from and how do i get the best rate? I was planning on using US dollars but carrying a limited amount of pesos on me sounds better.

The SO is afraid of getting ill from local food, we plan to call room service the day before and order sandwiches to pack.

How and were do you go to get a voucher to leave the ship to Cabo? I don't want to be last....
You guys are going all the way to Mexico and not tryng the local food? I think you will be missing out but thats just me.I dont understand why your SO thinks they will get sick theres a whole lot of people who eat there and are just fine.Relax have fun your on vaction dont worry so much about every little thing! Oh buy the way My wife and I have been to Ensenada dont get your hopes up for that stop in my opion not a lot to do there.
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Where do I get pesos from and how do i get the best rate? I was planning on using US dollars but carrying a limited amount of pesos on me sounds better.
Pesos are not necessary in the tourisic areas. Most vendors gladly accept USD. If you really want pesos the best bet is to go to an ATM, be sure your bank will allow the charge. We use a credit card that does currency conversion at no charge.
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The SO is afraid of getting ill from local food, we plan to call room service the day before and order sandwiches to pack.
I have had some really delicious food in Mexico. Remember you will be in cities with huge tourism industries, not some remote village getting its water from some dirty well. Order sodas or booze if you want.
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How and were do you go to get a voucher to leave the ship to Cabo? I don't want to be last....
I'm not sure if this will be necessary. They will begin disembarking excursions before other passengers. After that I think it was somewhat of a free for all (not crazy those)
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Old March 4th, 2012, 07:58 PM
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besides the cruise site, where do you recommend i go to book excursions?
do you recommend a wetsuit when snorkeling this time of year?

I've convinced the SO that we are doing excursions.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 08:06 AM
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No, you will not need a wetsuit to snorkel, water temps should be nice and warm.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 08:22 AM
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We just got off of the Spirit last Friday. It spent two days in Cabo and while the weather was nice, the water was 58. My grown daughter and niece took the snorkeling tour and the only people that stayed in the water had wet suits.

My niece stayed in for less than ten minutes and my daughter didn't even go in because they ran out of rental suits. They still had a great time due to the fun onboard the snorkel boat.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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Thanks Don,
Had no idea the water temp there was so darn right cold..
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Old March 5th, 2012, 11:51 AM
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thanks, i researched first and figuired i needed one but thought i'd ask just to be sure. we're acutally scuba diving so i'm expecting it to be colder. guess i'll buy my own since they ran out of rental suits.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 05:48 PM
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Welcome Appleseeds...

I am so happy to see a new cruiser and one going to Mexico.

I really urge you NOT to let paranoia get the best of you. A few things you may or may not know.

English will be widely understood almost every place you go. By the same token there is no need to take money for souvenirs because you can get local currency from any ATM if/when you need it.

Most shops will take credit cards (even your bank debit/credit card) and in a nice shop I would not hesitate to use a credit card. For one thing, you still get consumer protection if for some reason your purchase goes bad (fake gold, or something).

I would rather see you taking ship offered shore excursions rather than see you walking around alone in shopping areas -especially in Puerto Vallarta. Just because that one tour was robbed do not think it had anything to do with it being a ship-offered tour.

The fact the banditos targeted a ship tour shows how brazen and frankly stupid they were - but I would still be far more wary of being on my own or with a "local guide" you do not know.

Yes, I realize most local guides are very reputable - but ship tours are still safer in the long run - especially if something bad happens you will have a local contact - but please do not worry about that unlikely event.

I think you will be perfectly safe. Surely the best and safest shopping will be in Cabo - plan to do most of your shopping there.

In Puerto Vallarta you can enjoy the beach very close to the ship, and they are all Hotel-controlled, so no banditos there. You can swim, parasail, eat at the hotels, etc. The water is warmer in PV than Cabo or especially Ensenada. A wet suit will still help, though. I have been swimming without in both PV and Cabo, but a wetsuit will make it more tolerable.

Mexico is not a great place for snorkeling (like the Caribbean) but is a good place for the beach, with real waves (not ripples like you get in the Caribbean). Once again, banana boats, parasailing, water-skiing are offered on the beach in PV.

Cabo is great for shopping and GOLF (if you do that) with many competition-style courses. Horseback riding is another option.

Ensenada is a typical Mexican town - seedy, cheap souvenirs, tangy Mexican food and cheap beer. Enjoy it for what it is and be sure to see "Hussongs Cantina" a well-known local bar.

I have not been to Manzanillo in many years - sorry no advice.

Keep in mind the ship will be a big part of your vacation - not just the ports of call. Enjoy the ship and consider spending some money on special food and drink onboard rather than tours. You will enjoy the ship just as much as the destinations - probably more.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:05 PM
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thank you Paul for the thorough info! We're on the fence if we should do scuba or not....mostly due to the cost of purchasing my own wetsuit or arriving to the excursion only to find that they're all rented out....since we are first timers, we've decided only to book through the ship as an insurance measure against being stranded behind. and thank you for reminding me about the special food and drinks onboard.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 08:02 PM
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I don't know where you plan to do scuba - but personally I would not buy one unless you can find a cheap one on eBay. Size is not critical as long as you can get it on.

Seriously, my wife had one custom made and she had a panic attack on her second outing and never went in the water with it. She says it is worth a couple hundred dollars, but because it is such a specific size she says she can't just sell it.

You can wear a too large wetsuit easily (I have done it) - so if you buy one don't overpay for for specially made one. But the water in PV or Cabo is seriously not so cold that you can't stand it. I went on a snorkel dive in Cabo once and only one person out of 10 of us had a wetsuit. The rest of us went "commando."
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Old March 5th, 2012, 08:53 PM
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i've changed my scuba site to puerto vallarta, carnival webiste says they provide wetsuits, and this excursion is 6.5 hours long instead of the 3.5 in Cabo. this is my our first time so we don't know what to expect but i'm sure we'll have fun
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Old March 6th, 2012, 10:30 AM
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Good choice - more time to play around, warmer water, and it gives you a safe tour in P.V.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 08:08 PM
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DonD, we must have been on the same cruise out of San Diego. The weather in Cabo was awesome but very windy coming home.

We have done the Mexico cruise about 6 times and also have a time share in Mazatlan and have been going there for 20 years and never had a problem.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 11:30 PM
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I've got a question about onboard credit, my invoice says this

Promotional Onboard Credit: $200 Refundable
Onboard Credit: $150

Does this mean the $150 is non-refundable? and if so, from which account they draw from first?
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Old March 8th, 2012, 12:03 AM
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I've also read that you can convert these credits to real cash by going through the casino on the ship. What am I supposed to say to do this? I've read there is a 3% cash withdrawl advance fee, does Carnival view the cash withdrawl from the casino as purchase?? I've also read that I can get them as chips to avoid the fees, then cash the chips out, is this right? I was planning on using th cash to physically tip my steward ect..as i am old school and prefer this method rather than the auto tipping.

thanks!

Last edited by appleseeds; March 8th, 2012 at 12:13 AM.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 12:29 AM
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How did you book your cruise? These questions could be made much clearer by a travel agent if you used one.
I'm not sure you can get travel insurance if you have already paid for your cruise. Also do you have time to get expedited passports? Did someone advise you on any of these things?
You need to call either your travel agent or whoever you booked through.
Good luck.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 03:37 AM
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Not sure at all about the credits he is talking about, but you can purchase insurance anytime before your cruise.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Our passports are expediated, the TA hasn't returned my call yet....I know I can buy travel insurance anytime, just really wanted to know who people usually go through....
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Old March 8th, 2012, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by appleseeds View Post
I've also read that you can convert these credits to real cash by going through the casino on the ship. What am I supposed to say to do this? I've read there is a 3% cash withdrawl advance fee, does Carnival view the cash withdrawl from the casino as purchase?? I've also read that I can get them as chips to avoid the fees, then cash the chips out, is this right? I was planning on using th cash to physically tip my steward ect..as i am old school and prefer this method rather than the auto tipping.

thanks!
I will be getting off the ship as you are getting on! I will try to keep her in good shape.

When you go into the casino, just put your S&S card into a slot machine (usually at the top) and then will need to set a pin # up. If you need help, ask one of the casino attendants. Once that is taken care of, there is an option to transfer $ from your S&S to the slot machine. Once you do that, (there is a player bank portion for this on your S&S card different from your regular S&S purchases, etc.) it will be transferred to the slot machine. Then hit the transfer to player bank and then go to the casino cage and give them your card and ask to to cash out your player bank. Then you will enter your pin # and viola you have cash!!

I do this the last night so I don't have cash the check they give me for not spending all my $.

Have a great cruise!
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Old March 10th, 2012, 01:20 AM
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I will be getting off the ship as you are getting on! I will try to keep her in good shape.

When you go into the casino, just put your S&S card into a slot machine (usually at the top) and then will need to set a pin # up. If you need help, ask one of the casino attendants. Once that is taken care of, there is an option to transfer $ from your S&S to the slot machine. Once you do that, (there is a player bank portion for this on your S&S card different from your regular S&S purchases, etc.) it will be transferred to the slot machine. Then hit the transfer to player bank and then go to the casino cage and give them your card and ask to to cash out your player bank. Then you will enter your pin # and viola you have cash!!

I do this the last night so I don't have cash the check they give me for not spending all my $.

Have a great cruise!

Thank you so much for clear directions! I really appreciate it.
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Old March 12th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by appleseeds View Post
Thank you so much for clear directions! I really appreciate it.

No problem!! There is no fee in doing this. There used to be, but they tood it off a few years ago.

Have a great cruise!!
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Old March 29th, 2012, 05:07 AM
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If cost is not a factor then I might answer "Crystal offers the best cruises in the world." Certainly, I would say that more than most, a greater percentage of people I meet who have sailed on Crystal rave about it rather than criticize it. But Crystal is also is not as "cost-inclusive" as many other luxury cruise lines, so it is probably the most expensive major cruise line in the world.

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