Families interested in a taste of Mexican culture, beach time, and not having to worry about packing and unpacking, should try this cruise.
(Editor’s Note: For the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Golden Princess will not be sailing to Mexico. Instead, the ship’s tropical itineraries will highlight Hawaii. The following members of the Princess fleet will be traveling to the Mexico Riviera instead: Coral, Island, Sapphire, Sea and Star. Visit Princess Cruises or call 800-PRINCESS for more details).
When the cooler months approach, cruise ships sailing north to Alaska turn and head south. Some of these ships relocate to California to cruise the sunny Mexican Riviera, as is the case of Princess Cruises’ elegant Golden Princess.
Every Saturday, from the end of September to the end of April, the Golden Princess offers a roundtrip, seven-day cruise from Los Angeles. There are two full days at sea where you can partake of the many activities before arriving in your first port of Puerto Vallarta. The next day finds you in MazatlÃ¡n, and the following day you stop in Cabo San Lucas, the luxurious vacation Mecca for many of Hollywood’s stars.
Activities for the Whole Family
The Golden Princess accommodates 2,600 passengers with over 700 balcony staterooms and boasts of an entire deck of mini-suites — perfect when bringing the family. On board there are plenty of places to spend your time. For the energetic there are four pools (most with adjoining hot tubs), the Lotus Spa with its gym and fitness center, a nine-hole putting course, jogging track, shuffleboard, digital golf simulators and more.
The ship also offers a library, an Internet CafÃ©, lots of duty free shopping (often with better prices than on land), a card room and even a Wedding Chapel where the ship’s Captain performs ceremonies. This chapel is also used for religious services.
Activities on the ship range from arts-n-crafts, cocktail and food demonstrations, art auctions, trivia contests, movies, Bingo, bridge, Spanish lessons, tournaments, and a passenger talent show called Princess Idol, where talented adults and children alike can show off their vocal prowess.
Kids of all ages are accommodated under the watch of well-trained staff in two venues: the Fun Zone for youth and Remix for the teens. There’s also a video arcade, a teen hot tub and splash pool.
Not to be missed is the hilarious Culinary Cooking Show on the last full sea day. The show stars Italian Maitre D’ Mario Propato, Executive Chef Paolo Merio and a cast of characters from the galley and dining rooms that rival a Roberto Benigni comedy film.
In the evenings you can be entertained at the Princess Theater and Vista Show Lounge, check out the Atlantis Casino, or saddle up to the bar at one of four lounges. Night owls can disco the night away and stargaze at the same time at Skywalkers Nightclub, located way up on Sky Deck 18. Babysitting on the ship can be arranged.
The Golden Princess offers traditional dining at a set time in the Caneletto dining room, or anytime dining in either Bernini’s or Donatello’s. Specialty dining is available at Sterling Steakhouse, at the Desert Rose and Sabatini’s, an Italian restaurant offering a feast guaranteed to show around your waistline the next day. There are plenty of casual dining spots, too, including the 24-hour Horizon Court, and room service is offered night and day. The services in the dining rooms and throughout the ship are impeccable. Warning: Coming home and fending for yourself will cause fatigue.
Visiting the Mexican Riviera
There is much to do at the ports of call. Explore on your own, or select one of the many excursions ranging from beach activities and horseback riding, to folkloric shows and sightseeing, offered by the ship.
Puerto Vallarta was a sleepy fishing village that woke up when John Huston chose it in the 1960s to film the “Night of the Iguana” starring Richard Burton, who at the time had actress Liz Taylor on his arm. Now the city boasts a thriving downtown district, an amphitheatre and Bahia de Banderas — translated, the Bay of Flags — reportedly the seventh largest bay on earth.
MazatlÃ¡n means the Place of Deer. It is located on a peninsula at the foot of the Sierra Madres and offers visitors beautiful beaches and great shopping, especially for silver jewelry. A city tour includes a stop at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Basilica with its 28 windows, each with a Star of David representing the Jewish calendar — unheard of in a Catholic Church. According to tour guide German Pike, the windows honor the Sephardic Jews from Spain and Northern Africa living in the MazatlÃ¡n community, who Father Jose Trinidad Hernandez Davila called upon to help fund the building of the church.
Cabo San Lucas is situated on the very southern tip of the Baja. El Arco is a naturally-hewn rock formation – a great way to see it is on a boat tour. Other offerings include whale watching and swimming with the dolphins. Save time before the early departure at 2pm to explore the port’s shops and large market area where bargains are to be had for those good at wheeling and dealing.
Princess Cruises can arrange add-on days in Los Angeles before or after your cruise. For those traveling from colder climates it is highly recommended you leave at least a day prior, to avoid inclement weather delays. And of course Los Angeles offers many attractions for families.
Activities in and around the Los Angeles area include checking out the rich and famous on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, taking a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard or going to Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A., where you take the world-famous studio tour.
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