12/22/2013 -- 12/29/2013
The Mexican Riviera, referring collectively to about twenty cities and lagoons lying on the western coast of Mexico, has become popular among tourists. The Mexican government aggressively promoted the building of resorts along the Pacific coast during the 1970's, dubbing the stretch between Puerto Vallarta down to Manzanillo the "Costa de Oro," or "Gold Coast." But the entire coast, known as the Mexican Riviera in the U.S. cruise industry, is famous for pristine beaches set against stunning cliffs, coves and verdant jungle landscape, charming beach towns, and endless water sports and recreation.
It is our first time trying a cruise vacation. We booked the Norwegian Cruise Line 7-day Mexican Riviera embarking from Los Angeles, with ports of call in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Because of the ideal warm winter weather, the easy transport to LA, the perfect itinerary to cover Christmas holiday, and four other good family friends' help, we finally convinced Woanyu to jump on board for this cruise. We began our long drive to LA before 6:30AM. It was a smooth drive so we got to the port of LA right before noon. With our early arrival and priority check-in, we were onboard much earlier than our friends, though there was already a good-sized line when we got there.
Cabo San Lucas (aka "Cabo"), a city at the southern tip of the Baja
California peninsula, has been rated as one of Mexico's top 5 tourist
destinations. The beaches, surfing, and sport fish opportunities in
Cabo San Lucas have attracted a great number of Mexican natives and
foreigners to spend their vacations in large-scale tourist developments
We arrived in Cabo with nice coastal views of Cabo's signature landmark El Arco ("The Arch"), a rock formation at the tip of "Land's End," at around noon. Since it is a small port, we anchored off shore and took a tender shuttle to land.
After the Camel ride, we were served with an authentic Mexican cuisine with free shots of three different kinds of tequila.
Afterwards, we visited a tequila factory and got more free tequila to drink. This time even Linus took a few shots to feel the burn of alcohol.
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican balneario resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. The American director John Huston filmed his 1963 film The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta. During the filming, the US media gave extensive coverage to Elizabeth Taylor's extramarital affair with Richard Burton. The subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map for US tourists.
It was quite a challenge trying to figure out what we could do for two full days at sea. We actually spent most of our time in our room watching TV and movies. Our penthouse suite was quite comfortable and the balcony was really a nice place for fresh air and ocean view. My daily routine was something like this: taking sunrise pictures, going to gym, going back to room to wait until 9AM to wake up Linus and Iris, having a late breakfast, taking a short walk, feeling bored, coming back to room to watch TV or read Nook, having a late lunch, taking another short walk (shopping), feeling bored again, coming back to room to take a nap and watch more movies (or reading on my Nook), checking out sunset, going to see an evening show (magic show, comedy show, etc.), having a late dinner, coming back to room and feeling bored and tired, and finally going to bed (did I forget to take a shower?) ....
On the last day, we tried the specialty restaurant "Moderno" for dinner. It is an authentic Brazilian with steakhouse slow-roasted meats including beef, pork, lamb and chicken – all served and carved tableside. Since we already have had too much meat in the past few days, it turned out grilled pineapples were our favorite.
We arrived in the Port of LA at around 7AM. I could not sleep much since I found there was another cruise ship sailing beside us (at ~ 2AM). It was a serene feeling to see a ghost-like ship in the almost total darkness. We entered the port just before sunrise, and I sat on the balcony to enjoy the twilight dawn and cool air.
It is a 6+ hours drive with some occasional traffic on Highway 5.
It's time for Linus to share some driving load and
he drove the 2nd half (~ 3 hours) of trip back to the Bay Area.
Cruise vacation is a new experience for us. Although the shore excursions were interesting and exciting, there was not enough time to fully explore each port of call. If you're someone (like me) who cannot sit still for a day, does not enjoy delicate cuisine (or all-you-can-eat buffet), does not like shopping/party/gambling, and always tries to find new things to explore (and take new pictures), then you may get bored quickly onboard. If you like a slow pace and relaxed luxurious vacation, then it would be a good choice for you.
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