Mexican Cruises - Tips from Our Personal Experience

by nightowl

Mexican Cruises are a fun and economical family vacation. Being First Time Cruisers, we chose the 7-night cruise out of Los Angeles.

Before I had kids, I used to think that cruise vacations are only for rich and retired people who need to air out their formal wardrobe and jewelry.

Being neither rich nor retired, I never even bothered to take a closer look at how this form of travel had evolved into a fun-filled, family oriented and downright economical alternative to other, more traditional forms of vacationing.

Leaving L.A. for Our First Mexican Cruise

Port of San Pedro aboard the Mariner of the Seas
Leaving L.A. for our Mexican Cruise
Leaving L.A. for our Mexican Cruise

Reasons for Going to Mexico on our Cruise Vacation

As opposed to a more "traditional" holiday

As an independent person with no parental responsibilities and budget restrictions, I chose my travel destinations on a whim. 

Couple years later, and well into parenthood of two active boys, I was faced with planning a vacation that would satisfy a number of criteria:

  • Sand, Sun and Sea had to be in it
  • Lots of child-friendly activities
  • Far, far away from home
  • Ok, not too far away, we only had about one week time
  • Some pampering for the momma would be nice
  • Our budget was somewhat limited

Finding a package deal that would fulfill all those criteria was a bit of a challenge, until I was finally ready to consider a cruise. Since we live in Southern California, the logical choice for us were the Mexican cruises.

Where to Book Mexican Cruises

Budget Tip: Shop around and book early for the best deal
Top 10 Deals, Up to 75% off Last-Minute, Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, Caribbean, Mexico, Europe! 110% Price Guarantee. select from 190 ships on 20 Cruise lines! Cruises
Features all major cruise lines and cruise destinations. Guides, tips and resources for first time cruisers as well.
Expedia features cruise vacations at top cruise destinations around the world. Cruise to the sunny Caribbean, Bahamas or Mexico or a more adventurous location such as Europe or Alaska.

Groupon Getaways
If your mind is not set on a specific destination or cruise line, you can sometimes snag fantastic deals on cruise travel at Groupon Getaways.

Off We Go to Mexico

Prepare the kids for the big adventure
The World's Most Peaceful Resorts

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

First Stop: Cabo San Lucas
Trading our ship for the beach
Trading our ship for the beach

Port of Call on Mexican Cruises from the West Coast

Embark in L.A., Long Beach or San Diego

Depending on the duration of the cruise, ports of call are usually along the Mexican Riviera and include a combination of

  • Ensenada (mostly on 2 to 5 day cruises)
  • Cabo San Lucas
    Pristine beaches abound in short distance
  • Mazatlan
    A bustling Mexican city, some sightseeing, good beaches are a bit harder to find
  • Puerto Vallarta
    Luxurious resorts, lush jungles, nice beaches and a rich heritage made this our favorite

Pictures of the Mexican Riviera Ports of Call

Highlights of our Cruise Stopovers
Arrival at Cabo San Lucas
Arrival at Cabo San...
Lover's Beach Cabo San Lucas
Lover's Beach Cabo ...
Fishing Harbor Cabo
Fishing Harbor Cabo
Shopping in Cabo San Lucas
Shopping in Cabo Sa...
Mazatlan Lighthouse, second highest in the world
Mazatlan Lighthouse...
View over Mazatlan from the ship
View over Mazatlan ...
Arrival in Puerto Vallarta
Arrival in Puerto V...
A day at the beach in Puerto Vallarta
A day at the beach ...

Planning the Shore Excursions

Budget Tip: Read ahead and explore on your own

The nature of cruising allows only for a few short hours in each new port of call. Our family was not in a position to take advantage of the organized shore excursions that were offered by our cruise line. In addition, we don't appreciate much being herded around in tour buses and would rather do our own thing anyway.

I found it imperative to read ahead of what to expect in each port of call. The information on board is naturally limited to the tours they want to sell, so you have to do a bit of homework to make the most of your trip.

Thanks to the guides I read we were confident enough to flag down a cab and explore the new places on our own. Unless you are the overly cautious type who wants the security of an organized tour you can save a lot of money on your family cruise vacation.

A Guide to the Ports of Call on the Mexican Riviera

Everything you need to know to get the most out of your shore excursions
Mexican Riviera Cruises for 1st Timers: Ports of Call, Ex...
Only $9.95

On Board Activities

Keeping busy on the high seas
Rock Climbing
Rock Climbing
Kid's Club
Kid's Club
Catching a Show
Catching a Show
Ice Skating
Ice Skating
Swimming & Tanning
Swimming & Ta...
Poolside Party
Poolside Party

Life Aboard A Cruise Ship

It's not as boring as I thought

Experienced cruisers might laugh at my preconception that life aboard the cruise ship would be dreadfully boring. Well, I guess it depends on the cruise line and ship amenities to some extend. Aside from the traditional pasttimes of shuffle board and lounging to cocktails and piano music we were keeping plenty busy with

  • Rock climbing, yep that's right. Up the chimney, no less...
  • Ice skating
  • Miniature Golf
  • The Beatles, live! In concert!

After the second day it became clear that vigorous physical activity was necessary to work up an appetite for the next meal. Food was surprisingly decent, decadently abundant, and last but not least, included in the price.

The Pros and Cons of Cruising

To cruise or not to cruise - and why?
Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
MBC on 10/14/2018

I''ve never done a cruise, but I have been to Mexico to Puerto Morales. I came home so refreshed. The ocean was warm and beautiful. There is something about the negative ions that is healing.

CountrySunshine on 02/26/2012

I've been on several cruises, and while they are extremely popular, they just aren't for me. I'd rather spend time exploring a destination than a ship!

nightbear on 06/08/2011

I'm a little nervous about sharks, and I've watched the Titanic about a million times... sigh.

nightowl on 06/01/2011

The stops at each port of call are not always long enough to really explore a place.

CruiseReady on 07/01/2015

We love cruising - and most cruise the Bahamas and the Caribbean itineraries, which are our choices from east coast departure ports. Hubby likes to stay on the ship and relax on port days, while I can hardly wait to dive into the beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

nightbear on 06/08/2011

I would love relaxing on the deck or at the pool and having no responsibilities. And I love the water.

nightowl on 06/01/2011

You get to see many different places that you might not otherwise be able to cover during one trip.

Summing up our Mexican Cruise Vacation

One and a half thumbs up

Mazatlan SunsetAll considering, cruises (to Mexico or elsewhere) are definitely a fun way to spend a family vacation. Despite my initial skepticism, we had a great time and especially the kids had a blast. Would I do it again? Perhaps in the future - I won't rule it out.

Quite honestly though, I'm more of an adventurous explorer. I don't much like organized activities and would rather take the time to get lost in new civilizations. Traveling with smaller kids however, this might not always be a sensible choice. Mexican cruises, especially for West Coast residents, take out much of the stress of having a great family vacation.

Updated: 09/28/2020, nightowl

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