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February 17, 2005

Mexico

diamondprincess.jpg

MEXICO

Stunning white-sand beaches, lively art, exciting nightlife, exuberant energy, and wondrous architecture and archaeological structures such as the many Mayan ruins all contribute to Mexico's popularity with cruise vacationers. Open-air markets with hand-made crafts, jewelry and straw items abound in Mexico, as do excellent restaurants and festive bars.

A day visit to a Mexican port can be an opportunity to sunbathe and sip margaritas on one of Mexico's 440 beaches, explore some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots in the Pacific Ocean or Caribbean Sea, climb the steps of Chichen Itza; or go shopping for outstanding values on silver, gemstones and souvenir items.

Who Cruises There:

Acapulco - In the 16th century, Spanish explorers came across the Bay of Acapulco and were captivated by its naturally protected shores and beautiful surroundings. Today, Acapulco remains a stunning Mexican hideaway that caters to all the needs of the modern tourist.

Acapulco is by far the largest, most opulent of all the resort cities in Mexico. An endless variety of dining, entertainment, and sporting options are available in town, assuring that you will never run out of things to do while visiting. In addition, it is quite close to the resort cities of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo; two destinations providing a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of Acapulco.

Acapulco is the ideal location for either a relaxing or an exciting day under the sun. A typical day on the bay will find you spending the majority of your time outdoors. With an average temperature of 80 degrees, Acapulco enjoys some of the finest year-round weather in the world. While spending the day on a beautiful beach, you can either lie peacefully, soaking in the sun's rays, or instead enjoy the many adventurous water sports offered in Acapulco. Some of these water sports include scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and water skiing. In addition, you should not miss La Quebrada, where daring cliff divers take a 130 feet plunge into the ocean. Other sites you should see is the beautiful vegetated lagoon of Coyuca, the historical Fuerte de San Diego, built to protect Acapulco from dangerous pirates in 1616, or a glass bottom boat where you can view the submerged Virgin of Guadalupe on the ocean floor off Roqueta Island.

At the end of a tiring, sun-splashed day, head over to Pie de la Cuesta and watch the beautiful sunset. Once the sun is down, Acapulco turns into a city of the night. There are delicious cafes, shops, boutiques, and lively clubs throughout the charming streets of Acapulco.

Cabo San Lucas - At the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez, lies the tropical paradise known as Cabo San Lucas. Excellent weather, miles of magnificent public beaches with crystal clear water, and championship golf courses set the mood for a vacation that entices you to unwind and refresh.

Once sought after by migrating pirates for its safe harbors, the Los Cabos (The Capes) area, and Cabo San Lucas in particular, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. It has grown in recent decades to a city of over 25,000, with many of its residents drawn to its rugged and beautiful coastline, water-sports galore, and world-class golf resorts. Cabo is particularly famous among the sport fishing crowd because of its year round status as the Mecca of big game trophy fish.

No matter what the season, in Cabo San Lucas you can partake in the thrill of hooking a blue or black marlin, sailfish, dorado or tuna. There are also many great surfing opportunities in Cabo San Lucas. To add some underwater excitement to your stay in this beautiful city, go on a deep-sea diving adventure, where you can see spectacular gardens of black coral reefs, gorgeous sea turtles, and sand waterfalls.

The legendary spirited nightlife of Cabo San Lucas, as well as the wonderful fresh seafood served in its charming restaurants, also highlights this wonderful city. Shopping for creative Mexican arts and crafts, or spending the day out on a glittering white sand beach, are other ways that you can enjoy your peaceful stay here. It is no wonder that visitors return again and again!

Cancun - Cancun is a stunning Caribbean paradise with a dual history, one rich in ancient Mayan influences and Spanish imperialism, and the other a modern lesson on the growth of this slender island into a fascinating tourist Mecca.

In 1967, the government of Mexico began an exhaustive search to find a complete tourist destination on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. In Cancun, they discovered a site that had it all: unparalleled natural and cultural beauty highlighted in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the stunning white sand beaches, and the incredible off-shore reefs. Cancun enjoys 15 miles of beautiful powdery white sand beaches and an endless view of the Caribbean Sea. Its surrounding waters are ideal for aquatic sports including snorkeling, diving, and parasailing. Golfing is also readily accessible year round.

The surrounding areas are rich with Mayan influences, one of the most advanced ancient civilizations the world has ever witnessed. The Yucatan Peninsula, on which Cancun lies, is where the Mayan's had flourished for centuries prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. More than 1200 archeological sites, many completely restored, are within a few hours drive from Cancun. Popular guided day tours of the ruins of Tulum, Coba, and Chichen-Itza can be arranged upon your arrival.

Two distinct landmasses comprise the Cancun region. Ciudad Cancun is on the Yucatan mainland and features shopping and restaurants, as well as pharmacies, banks, travel agencies, and other general establishments. It is also the starting point for many quick trips to the surrounding ruins of the Yucatan. The second region, Isla Cancun, is the heart of the resort city. Isla Cancun is connected to the mainland via two bridges, and features opulent resorts, championship golf courses, deep-sea fishing, diving, amazing beaches, and so much more!

Once the sun sets, Cancun offers a large selection of entertainment that includes Mexican-style bars and sophisticated nightclubs, playing anything from salsa music to modern dance club mixes. Dining in one of Cancun's excellent gourmet restaurants that offer live dancing and music shows, or browsing through an exclusive Mexican shopping pavilion, are just two of the many things you can look forward to on your visit to this Mexican paradise.

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Cozumel - If you're looking for a beautiful Caribbean style vacation within Mexico, then look no further than Cozumel, Mexico. This lovely hideaway is Mexico's largest island, yet remains somewhat undiscovered by Mexico's 20 million annual visitors. Cozumel is located 12 miles offshore of the city of Playa del Carmen. Yet only 3 percent of its land has been developed, making it an ideal place to explore the region in its pristine and nearly unaltered state.

Cozumel's history is centered on its importance to the Mayan culture as one of three ceremonial centers in the region, and this link to the past can be further explored by paying a visit to one of 40 archeological sites still present on the island. When the Spanish took over the island in 1519, Cozumel became a pivotal trading center in salt and honey. The collapse of the Spanish Empire in the late 16th century ushered in nearly 300 years of obscurity to this Caribbean land, yet it has recently flourished as a popular cruise and travel destination; luring people from across the globe to bask in its wonderful weather, amazing diving locations, and friendly people.

Cozumel, although not nearly as developed as its northern neighbor Cancun, still contains all the resources necessary for the ultimate cruise destination. Shopping is prevalent, and duty-free stores, selling everything under the tropical sun, invite the seasoned bargain hunter. Cozumel has been consistently rated the best spot in the world for scuba diving and snorkeling. Restaurants on the island are world-class as well as affordable. Finally, its proximity to the popular excursions of Xel-Ha Lagoons, the Mayan ruins at Tulum, and Playa del Carmen solidify its position as one of the top cruise destinations in the Caribbean.

Ensenada - Glittering in the Pacific sun, Ensenada is a lovely hideaway on Mexico's Baja peninsula. Just sixty-five miles south of the U.S. border, this warm, inviting town is known for its bustling harbor community and agricultural center nestled in the mountains.

In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino discovered an undeveloped, seaside village and christened it Ensenada-Bahia de Todos Santos. Since then, it has blossomed into the thriving port of call that today is simply known as Ensenada. The coastal area is so thriving, in fact, that it is the second most visited Mexican port city. Ranchers first laid claim to the fertile farmland up and down the coastal area. Soon thereafter, the marina came to mature into what we now see as the ever-expanding Ensenada.

With its rich agricultural region to the east and thriving fishery to the west, Ensenada offers visitors a chance to see modern rural life in action. Flourishing vineyards, famous throughout Mexico and North America, attract thousands of wine aficionados throughout the seasons. Locals and tourists agree that anyone who comes to taste the bounties of the vine will find that Ensenada wines rival the famed vintages Southern France and Northern California.

Possibly its most alluring quality, Ensenada's locals keep visitors cheerful and comfortable while exploring the city's numerous treasures. The obliging residents have given this township an outstanding reputation, not only for its multitude of activities, but also for its attentive and gentle atmosphere.

Huatulco - Bahias de Huatulco is located on the gorgeous coast of Oaxaca in Mexico. This region is beautiful and bursting with activity, and the bays of Huatulco encompass over thirty tropical beaches. The entire community is, in essence, a beach, so you will never be far from the sparkling sea and the warm, shimmering sand. There are a couple of outstanding restaurants in the vicinity, and the shopping here is limited but still enjoyable. The Museo de Artesanias Oxaquenas is an extraordinary museum where you can watch artistic geniuses at work. Huatulco's popularity is increasing, but some tourists remain hesitant to visit because of the unfinished appearance of the area. It is not nearly as built up as Cancun or Mazatlan, but there is a certain allure that is unique to Huatulco. In fact, many seasoned travelers prefer the rustic look of Huatulco to the other more commercialized areas of Mexico.

The bays can be toured by boat, and while viewing the spectacular sunset, you may want to engage in some fishing, followed by dinner consisting of your fresh catch. If you would rather enjoy a meal at one of the local establishments, some excellent choices exist. The crystal clear waters of Huatulco are perfect for swimming, and a wide array of water sports is at your disposal. The coast of Oaxaca is largely uninhabited, and there are trails all around the bays of Huatulco that are ideal for exploration.

Manzanillo - The two bays of Manzanillo, the Bay of Manzanillo and the Bay of Santiago, are the standout attractions in this lovely region. The beaches here are marvelous, and there is an abundance of water sports and activities to keep you busy for hours in or out of the water. In the past few years, tourists have discovered the wonder of Manzanillo, and as a result, the economy and the state of life in Manzanillo have both improved dramatically. A great deal of building has been done, and the port here is now one of the biggest commercial centers in all of Mexico.

The word manzanillo translates to chamomile, and the acres of chamomile fields in Manzanillo are magnificent. Set against a backdrop of the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the flowerbeds, tropical brush and mountains, and golden-sand beaches are even further enhanced. Everywhere you walk, you will be amazed at the beauty and splendor of the region, and traveling around the bays by foot will open you up to how glorious this destination truly is. In 1995, a strong earthquake heavily damaged Manzanillo, and the years following were devoted to rebuilding and expansion. The Santiago Peninsula was completely modernized, and is now the most luxurious area of Manzanillo, filled with outstanding golf courses and fabulous eateries. The downtown area is centered on the vibrant harbor. It is certainly a different scene from the calm and tranquil Santiago Peninsula. The shopping and nightlife all around the city are superb. Sport fishing and sailing are both extremely popular here, and wonderful weather makes it the perfect place to enjoy a round of golf.

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Mazatlan - Exquisite Mazatlan, the "Pearl of the Pacific," is located 674 miles north west of Mexico City, and is truly a tourists dreamland. A city housing nearly 500,000 people, Mazatlan is the single largest port in between the Panama Canal and Los Angeles. Mazatlan is packed with a myriad of engaging features and activities that make it a fabulous place to visit.

The tremendous sportfishing, some of the best in the world, and the spacious, glorious beaches continue to be two of the most enticing features of Mazatlan. The golf scene is evolving and luring many tourists, as well. There aren't too many other places where you can tee off on a lush, sparsely populated course on a seventy-degree December morning. Mazatlan's elegant yacht harbor is becoming quite the destination for the rich and powerful. The best news of all is that the tremendous selection of accommodations and activities have not yet reached the masses, so the majority of resorts are less expensive in comparison to other Mexican destinations.

Old Mazatlán is known as the "Historic Zone" because of its culture and fantastic heritage. This region is an exciting place to do a little exploring. Recent restoration has truly enhanced the atmosphere of the area, and guided tours highlight the most fascinating aspects of Old Mazatlan. Sidewalk cafes and shopping make this a quite pleasurable experience.

Zona Dorada is the hustle and bustle of Mazatlan, and is fondly translated as "The Golden Zone". This is the location where you can find the majority of the tourist hotels, most of the upper echelon restaurants, and a tremendously active nightlife. The Golden Zone is any place north of Punta Sabalo, and this is where one of Mazatlan's most well known city attractions is located. This party haven is called Fiesta Land, and it is certainly "party central" of Mazatlan. Fortunately, almost all of the attractions, nightlife, hotels, and clubs are within walking distance of one another.

The first settlers of Mazatlan were the Totorames. Hunters, gatherers, and fisherman, the Totorames inhabited Mazatlan until 1531, when the Spaniards settled. During that time, the area was rich in gold and silver, and the settlers, pirates, and everyone else who passed through tried desperately to get their hands on some of the precious metal. In 1806, the city was incorporated, and then, in the 1830?s, a municipal government was established. It was at that time that Mazatlan started to emerge as an ever-growing seaport. Since then, the port has grown into one of the largest fishing fleets for shrimp and tuna in the world. Also a fabulous tourist resort, Mazatlan is opening first class hotels and premier restaurants all the time.

Playa del Carmen - Playa del Carmen truly defines how there is beauty in simplicity; a quaint town that has been on the brink of rediscovery with its newly built resorts and golf courses. Nothing can be better than being surrounded by the unique flair of local culture, while also having a more modern option as well. The enchantment of the native buildings, with all of the amenities from world-class resorts creates a perfect blend and an ideal cruise destination.

Playa del Carmen is a vacation that spoils your senses. The sapphire seaside invigorates and cleanses the imagination as the white sands dance with you amidst each perfect sunset. Stroll through picturesque streets uninhibited by cars and take part in a European atmosphere unique to this part of the Caribbean coastline. The opportunity to see it all by foot makes it very convenient for the visitor. There is no need to be constrained to a car, especially when there is so much to see and experience around every corner.

This small getaway is the perfect place to find those unique and unusual gifts one will treasure forever, providing welcoming reminders of an enjoyable vacation. So take pleasure in the plethora of shops and please your taste buds with the finest of restaurants. Allow this town to seduce your senses with its European flair. Situated right in the middle of the Caribbean coast, there is no excuse not to visit this fascinating land.

Puerto Vallarta - Puerto Vallarta is a land of gorgeous sandy beaches, majestic mountains, and small-town allure. Located in the heart of the Mexican Riviera, a beautiful stretch of coastline running from Mazatlan to Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta is second only to Cancun in its popularity with tourists.

The city of Puerto Vallarta traces its history back to the 1500's, when it was first visited by Spanish explorers. Later, migrating Mexicans and even pirates added their individuality to this unique city. Today Puerto Vallarta remains a place enriched with history and culture, welcoming all people to join in its beauty. Puerto Vallarta offers its visitors a wide range of lovely hotels, inns, resorts and restaurants, which are sure to fit any budget. Tours are offered year round to sites such as Los Arcos and Huichol Indian villages. Kids will find places to explore and learn about around every corner of this Mexican paradise. Puerto Vallarta is alive with the feeling of "old Mexico". It is not rare to see donkeys roaming the streets and artfully designed homes reminiscent of days long past.

While areas of Puerto Vallarta can make you feel as if you have entered early 20th century Mexico, only walking distance away, the same city offers the feeling of a modern world-class resort with all the amenities of home. The city's 26 miles of coastline offer some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with plenty of boardwalk on which to stroll or browse the wares of the street vendors, who always offer something unique as a reminder of this beautiful and historic city.

In recent years, Puerto Vallarta has also gained a reputation as being a prime area to take part in many adventurous "ecotourism" activities. Outfitters are springing up all over town, providing the necessary equipment and expertise to enjoy a day of mountain biking, sea kayaking, and deep-sea diving.

Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa - Just four miles separate Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, but the history and experiences of these two towns on Mexico's West Coast are far from alike. One is centuries old, while the other's entire history can be measured in decades. But both are sure to captivate your interest.

Zihuatanejo's name is derived from the Nahuatl dialect. It means "Place of Women," and is derived from Calzonzin, the ancient Taraskan King who would bring his many wives here for some relaxation and recreation.

In the 17th Century, Chinese ships carrying Oriental treasures would stop here on their way to New Spain, only to find they were unwelcome visitors, as pirates robbed them of their riches. Of course, visitors now are more than welcome to explore Zihuatanejo's small village charm and rustic setting.

For those seeking an all-inclusive tourist experience, Ixtapa is the place for you. In the 1970?s, Mexico's Federal Government sought a tourist-friendly site and found everything they needed just north of Zihuatanejo. White sand beaches and white rocky islands made for a pristine vista. They again chose a word from the Nahauatl dialect, naming their new nirvana Ixtapa, or "the white place."

Having two cities so close together geographically yet so different in character is advantageous for the traveler looking for a little of everything. Take a nature hike along Zihuatanejo's coastline and see parts of Mexico unchanged since pre-colonial times. Visit a mango or coconut plantation, or observe the tranquility of local fishing villages. Then, when you're tired of roughing it, allow yourself to be treated to every amenity you can fathom in Ixtapa. Play a round of golf at one of two world-class golf courses, and enjoy the breathtaking vistas afforded here.

Shopping and dining options are plentiful in both towns. But once you get here, you'll know that the main attraction of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa is the beautiful white-sand beaches. From Zihuatanejo's Playa La Ropa to Ixtapa's Playa Palmar, relaxation is the key word here. Let your cares fade away with the setting sun, and enjoy.

Information Taken From CLIA

Mexico Cruise Information

Posted by Denise at February 17, 2005 02:19 PM

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Cruise Opinions.org: Mexico
Opinions, Tips on Cruises by the Industry leader! Find out which cruise lines and which destinations are appropriate for you through reading the insight of the industry leaders!
Home Beginners Guide Cruise Destination Guides Cruise Ship Reviews General Tips on Cruises Hotel Reviews Press Releases

February 17, 2005

Mexico

diamondprincess.jpg

MEXICO

Stunning white-sand beaches, lively art, exciting nightlife, exuberant energy, and wondrous architecture and archaeological structures such as the many Mayan ruins all contribute to Mexico's popularity with cruise vacationers. Open-air markets with hand-made crafts, jewelry and straw items abound in Mexico, as do excellent restaurants and festive bars.

A day visit to a Mexican port can be an opportunity to sunbathe and sip margaritas on one of Mexico's 440 beaches, explore some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots in the Pacific Ocean or Caribbean Sea, climb the steps of Chichen Itza; or go shopping for outstanding values on silver, gemstones and souvenir items.

Who Cruises There:

Acapulco - In the 16th century, Spanish explorers came across the Bay of Acapulco and were captivated by its naturally protected shores and beautiful surroundings. Today, Acapulco remains a stunning Mexican hideaway that caters to all the needs of the modern tourist.

Acapulco is by far the largest, most opulent of all the resort cities in Mexico. An endless variety of dining, entertainment, and sporting options are available in town, assuring that you will never run out of things to do while visiting. In addition, it is quite close to the resort cities of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo; two destinations providing a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of Acapulco.

Acapulco is the ideal location for either a relaxing or an exciting day under the sun. A typical day on the bay will find you spending the majority of your time outdoors. With an average temperature of 80 degrees, Acapulco enjoys some of the finest year-round weather in the world. While spending the day on a beautiful beach, you can either lie peacefully, soaking in the sun's rays, or instead enjoy the many adventurous water sports offered in Acapulco. Some of these water sports include scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and water skiing. In addition, you should not miss La Quebrada, where daring cliff divers take a 130 feet plunge into the ocean. Other sites you should see is the beautiful vegetated lagoon of Coyuca, the historical Fuerte de San Diego, built to protect Acapulco from dangerous pirates in 1616, or a glass bottom boat where you can view the submerged Virgin of Guadalupe on the ocean floor off Roqueta Island.

At the end of a tiring, sun-splashed day, head over to Pie de la Cuesta and watch the beautiful sunset. Once the sun is down, Acapulco turns into a city of the night. There are delicious cafes, shops, boutiques, and lively clubs throughout the charming streets of Acapulco.

Cabo San Lucas - At the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez, lies the tropical paradise known as Cabo San Lucas. Excellent weather, miles of magnificent public beaches with crystal clear water, and championship golf courses set the mood for a vacation that entices you to unwind and refresh.

Once sought after by migrating pirates for its safe harbors, the Los Cabos (The Capes) area, and Cabo San Lucas in particular, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. It has grown in recent decades to a city of over 25,000, with many of its residents drawn to its rugged and beautiful coastline, water-sports galore, and world-class golf resorts. Cabo is particularly famous among the sport fishing crowd because of its year round status as the Mecca of big game trophy fish.

No matter what the season, in Cabo San Lucas you can partake in the thrill of hooking a blue or black marlin, sailfish, dorado or tuna. There are also many great surfing opportunities in Cabo San Lucas. To add some underwater excitement to your stay in this beautiful city, go on a deep-sea diving adventure, where you can see spectacular gardens of black coral reefs, gorgeous sea turtles, and sand waterfalls.

The legendary spirited nightlife of Cabo San Lucas, as well as the wonderful fresh seafood served in its charming restaurants, also highlights this wonderful city. Shopping for creative Mexican arts and crafts, or spending the day out on a glittering white sand beach, are other ways that you can enjoy your peaceful stay here. It is no wonder that visitors return again and again!

Cancun - Cancun is a stunning Caribbean paradise with a dual history, one rich in ancient Mayan influences and Spanish imperialism, and the other a modern lesson on the growth of this slender island into a fascinating tourist Mecca.

In 1967, the government of Mexico began an exhaustive search to find a complete tourist destination on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. In Cancun, they discovered a site that had it all: unparalleled natural and cultural beauty highlighted in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the stunning white sand beaches, and the incredible off-shore reefs. Cancun enjoys 15 miles of beautiful powdery white sand beaches and an endless view of the Caribbean Sea. Its surrounding waters are ideal for aquatic sports including snorkeling, diving, and parasailing. Golfing is also readily accessible year round.

The surrounding areas are rich with Mayan influences, one of the most advanced ancient civilizations the world has ever witnessed. The Yucatan Peninsula, on which Cancun lies, is where the Mayan's had flourished for centuries prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. More than 1200 archeological sites, many completely restored, are within a few hours drive from Cancun. Popular guided day tours of the ruins of Tulum, Coba, and Chichen-Itza can be arranged upon your arrival.

Two distinct landmasses comprise the Cancun region. Ciudad Cancun is on the Yucatan mainland and features shopping and restaurants, as well as pharmacies, banks, travel agencies, and other general establishments. It is also the starting point for many quick trips to the surrounding ruins of the Yucatan. The second region, Isla Cancun, is the heart of the resort city. Isla Cancun is connected to the mainland via two bridges, and features opulent resorts, championship golf courses, deep-sea fishing, diving, amazing beaches, and so much more!

Once the sun sets, Cancun offers a large selection of entertainment that includes Mexican-style bars and sophisticated nightclubs, playing anything from salsa music to modern dance club mixes. Dining in one of Cancun's excellent gourmet restaurants that offer live dancing and music shows, or browsing through an exclusive Mexican shopping pavilion, are just two of the many things you can look forward to on your visit to this Mexican paradise.

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Cozumel - If you're looking for a beautiful Caribbean style vacation within Mexico, then look no further than Cozumel, Mexico. This lovely hideaway is Mexico's largest island, yet remains somewhat undiscovered by Mexico's 20 million annual visitors. Cozumel is located 12 miles offshore of the city of Playa del Carmen. Yet only 3 percent of its land has been developed, making it an ideal place to explore the region in its pristine and nearly unaltered state.

Cozumel's history is centered on its importance to the Mayan culture as one of three ceremonial centers in the region, and this link to the past can be further explored by paying a visit to one of 40 archeological sites still present on the island. When the Spanish took over the island in 1519, Cozumel became a pivotal trading center in salt and honey. The collapse of the Spanish Empire in the late 16th century ushered in nearly 300 years of obscurity to this Caribbean land, yet it has recently flourished as a popular cruise and travel destination; luring people from across the globe to bask in its wonderful weather, amazing diving locations, and friendly people.

Cozumel, although not nearly as developed as its northern neighbor Cancun, still contains all the resources necessary for the ultimate cruise destination. Shopping is prevalent, and duty-free stores, selling everything under the tropical sun, invite the seasoned bargain hunter. Cozumel has been consistently rated the best spot in the world for scuba diving and snorkeling. Restaurants on the island are world-class as well as affordable. Finally, its proximity to the popular excursions of Xel-Ha Lagoons, the Mayan ruins at Tulum, and Playa del Carmen solidify its position as one of the top cruise destinations in the Caribbean.

Ensenada - Glittering in the Pacific sun, Ensenada is a lovely hideaway on Mexico's Baja peninsula. Just sixty-five miles south of the U.S. border, this warm, inviting town is known for its bustling harbor community and agricultural center nestled in the mountains.

In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino discovered an undeveloped, seaside village and christened it Ensenada-Bahia de Todos Santos. Since then, it has blossomed into the thriving port of call that today is simply known as Ensenada. The coastal area is so thriving, in fact, that it is the second most visited Mexican port city. Ranchers first laid claim to the fertile farmland up and down the coastal area. Soon thereafter, the marina came to mature into what we now see as the ever-expanding Ensenada.

With its rich agricultural region to the east and thriving fishery to the west, Ensenada offers visitors a chance to see modern rural life in action. Flourishing vineyards, famous throughout Mexico and North America, attract thousands of wine aficionados throughout the seasons. Locals and tourists agree that anyone who comes to taste the bounties of the vine will find that Ensenada wines rival the famed vintages Southern France and Northern California.

Possibly its most alluring quality, Ensenada's locals keep visitors cheerful and comfortable while exploring the city's numerous treasures. The obliging residents have given this township an outstanding reputation, not only for its multitude of activities, but also for its attentive and gentle atmosphere.

Huatulco - Bahias de Huatulco is located on the gorgeous coast of Oaxaca in Mexico. This region is beautiful and bursting with activity, and the bays of Huatulco encompass over thirty tropical beaches. The entire community is, in essence, a beach, so you will never be far from the sparkling sea and the warm, shimmering sand. There are a couple of outstanding restaurants in the vicinity, and the shopping here is limited but still enjoyable. The Museo de Artesanias Oxaquenas is an extraordinary museum where you can watch artistic geniuses at work. Huatulco's popularity is increasing, but some tourists remain hesitant to visit because of the unfinished appearance of the area. It is not nearly as built up as Cancun or Mazatlan, but there is a certain allure that is unique to Huatulco. In fact, many seasoned travelers prefer the rustic look of Huatulco to the other more commercialized areas of Mexico.

The bays can be toured by boat, and while viewing the spectacular sunset, you may want to engage in some fishing, followed by dinner consisting of your fresh catch. If you would rather enjoy a meal at one of the local establishments, some excellent choices exist. The crystal clear waters of Huatulco are perfect for swimming, and a wide array of water sports is at your disposal. The coast of Oaxaca is largely uninhabited, and there are trails all around the bays of Huatulco that are ideal for exploration.

Manzanillo - The two bays of Manzanillo, the Bay of Manzanillo and the Bay of Santiago, are the standout attractions in this lovely region. The beaches here are marvelous, and there is an abundance of water sports and activities to keep you busy for hours in or out of the water. In the past few years, tourists have discovered the wonder of Manzanillo, and as a result, the economy and the state of life in Manzanillo have both improved dramatically. A great deal of building has been done, and the port here is now one of the biggest commercial centers in all of Mexico.

The word manzanillo translates to chamomile, and the acres of chamomile fields in Manzanillo are magnificent. Set against a backdrop of the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the flowerbeds, tropical brush and mountains, and golden-sand beaches are even further enhanced. Everywhere you walk, you will be amazed at the beauty and splendor of the region, and traveling around the bays by foot will open you up to how glorious this destination truly is. In 1995, a strong earthquake heavily damaged Manzanillo, and the years following were devoted to rebuilding and expansion. The Santiago Peninsula was completely modernized, and is now the most luxurious area of Manzanillo, filled with outstanding golf courses and fabulous eateries. The downtown area is centered on the vibrant harbor. It is certainly a different scene from the calm and tranquil Santiago Peninsula. The shopping and nightlife all around the city are superb. Sport fishing and sailing are both extremely popular here, and wonderful weather makes it the perfect place to enjoy a round of golf.

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Mazatlan - Exquisite Mazatlan, the "Pearl of the Pacific," is located 674 miles north west of Mexico City, and is truly a tourists dreamland. A city housing nearly 500,000 people, Mazatlan is the single largest port in between the Panama Canal and Los Angeles. Mazatlan is packed with a myriad of engaging features and activities that make it a fabulous place to visit.

The tremendous sportfishing, some of the best in the world, and the spacious, glorious beaches continue to be two of the most enticing features of Mazatlan. The golf scene is evolving and luring many tourists, as well. There aren't too many other places where you can tee off on a lush, sparsely populated course on a seventy-degree December morning. Mazatlan's elegant yacht harbor is becoming quite the destination for the rich and powerful. The best news of all is that the tremendous selection of accommodations and activities have not yet reached the masses, so the majority of resorts are less expensive in comparison to other Mexican destinations.

Old Mazatlán is known as the "Historic Zone" because of its culture and fantastic heritage. This region is an exciting place to do a little exploring. Recent restoration has truly enhanced the atmosphere of the area, and guided tours highlight the most fascinating aspects of Old Mazatlan. Sidewalk cafes and shopping make this a quite pleasurable experience.

Zona Dorada is the hustle and bustle of Mazatlan, and is fondly translated as "The Golden Zone". This is the location where you can find the majority of the tourist hotels, most of the upper echelon restaurants, and a tremendously active nightlife. The Golden Zone is any place north of Punta Sabalo, and this is where one of Mazatlan's most well known city attractions is located. This party haven is called Fiesta Land, and it is certainly "party central" of Mazatlan. Fortunately, almost all of the attractions, nightlife, hotels, and clubs are within walking distance of one another.

The first settlers of Mazatlan were the Totorames. Hunters, gatherers, and fisherman, the Totorames inhabited Mazatlan until 1531, when the Spaniards settled. During that time, the area was rich in gold and silver, and the settlers, pirates, and everyone else who passed through tried desperately to get their hands on some of the precious metal. In 1806, the city was incorporated, and then, in the 1830?s, a municipal government was established. It was at that time that Mazatlan started to emerge as an ever-growing seaport. Since then, the port has grown into one of the largest fishing fleets for shrimp and tuna in the world. Also a fabulous tourist resort, Mazatlan is opening first class hotels and premier restaurants all the time.

Playa del Carmen - Playa del Carmen truly defines how there is beauty in simplicity; a quaint town that has been on the brink of rediscovery with its newly built resorts and golf courses. Nothing can be better than being surrounded by the unique flair of local culture, while also having a more modern option as well. The enchantment of the native buildings, with all of the amenities from world-class resorts creates a perfect blend and an ideal cruise destination.

Playa del Carmen is a vacation that spoils your senses. The sapphire seaside invigorates and cleanses the imagination as the white sands dance with you amidst each perfect sunset. Stroll through picturesque streets uninhibited by cars and take part in a European atmosphere unique to this part of the Caribbean coastline. The opportunity to see it all by foot makes it very convenient for the visitor. There is no need to be constrained to a car, especially when there is so much to see and experience around every corner.

This small getaway is the perfect place to find those unique and unusual gifts one will treasure forever, providing welcoming reminders of an enjoyable vacation. So take pleasure in the plethora of shops and please your taste buds with the finest of restaurants. Allow this town to seduce your senses with its European flair. Situated right in the middle of the Caribbean coast, there is no excuse not to visit this fascinating land.

Puerto Vallarta - Puerto Vallarta is a land of gorgeous sandy beaches, majestic mountains, and small-town allure. Located in the heart of the Mexican Riviera, a beautiful stretch of coastline running from Mazatlan to Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta is second only to Cancun in its popularity with tourists.

The city of Puerto Vallarta traces its history back to the 1500's, when it was first visited by Spanish explorers. Later, migrating Mexicans and even pirates added their individuality to this unique city. Today Puerto Vallarta remains a place enriched with history and culture, welcoming all people to join in its beauty. Puerto Vallarta offers its visitors a wide range of lovely hotels, inns, resorts and restaurants, which are sure to fit any budget. Tours are offered year round to sites such as Los Arcos and Huichol Indian villages. Kids will find places to explore and learn about around every corner of this Mexican paradise. Puerto Vallarta is alive with the feeling of "old Mexico". It is not rare to see donkeys roaming the streets and artfully designed homes reminiscent of days long past.

While areas of Puerto Vallarta can make you feel as if you have entered early 20th century Mexico, only walking distance away, the same city offers the feeling of a modern world-class resort with all the amenities of home. The city's 26 miles of coastline offer some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with plenty of boardwalk on which to stroll or browse the wares of the street vendors, who always offer something unique as a reminder of this beautiful and historic city.

In recent years, Puerto Vallarta has also gained a reputation as being a prime area to take part in many adventurous "ecotourism" activities. Outfitters are springing up all over town, providing the necessary equipment and expertise to enjoy a day of mountain biking, sea kayaking, and deep-sea diving.

Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa - Just four miles separate Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, but the history and experiences of these two towns on Mexico's West Coast are far from alike. One is centuries old, while the other's entire history can be measured in decades. But both are sure to captivate your interest.

Zihuatanejo's name is derived from the Nahuatl dialect. It means "Place of Women," and is derived from Calzonzin, the ancient Taraskan King who would bring his many wives here for some relaxation and recreation.

In the 17th Century, Chinese ships carrying Oriental treasures would stop here on their way to New Spain, only to find they were unwelcome visitors, as pirates robbed them of their riches. Of course, visitors now are more than welcome to explore Zihuatanejo's small village charm and rustic setting.

For those seeking an all-inclusive tourist experience, Ixtapa is the place for you. In the 1970?s, Mexico's Federal Government sought a tourist-friendly site and found everything they needed just north of Zihuatanejo. White sand beaches and white rocky islands made for a pristine vista. They again chose a word from the Nahauatl dialect, naming their new nirvana Ixtapa, or "the white place."

Having two cities so close together geographically yet so different in character is advantageous for the traveler looking for a little of everything. Take a nature hike along Zihuatanejo's coastline and see parts of Mexico unchanged since pre-colonial times. Visit a mango or coconut plantation, or observe the tranquility of local fishing villages. Then, when you're tired of roughing it, allow yourself to be treated to every amenity you can fathom in Ixtapa. Play a round of golf at one of two world-class golf courses, and enjoy the breathtaking vistas afforded here.

Shopping and dining options are plentiful in both towns. But once you get here, you'll know that the main attraction of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa is the beautiful white-sand beaches. From Zihuatanejo's Playa La Ropa to Ixtapa's Playa Palmar, relaxation is the key word here. Let your cares fade away with the setting sun, and enjoy.

Information Taken From CLIA

Mexico Cruise Information

Posted by Denise at February 17, 2005 02:19 PM

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