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.
Ports of Call
The largest of Mexico's islands, measuring 28 miles long and 10 miles wide, Cozumel is surrounded by more than 20 reef formations, making its waters superb for snorkeling and scuba diving. Many ships that call at Cozumel also make a quick stop at Playa del Carmen to drop of guests who want to take excursions to the ancient ruins of Tulum, the only Mayan city overlooking the ocean, and to the coral lagoon of Xel-ha.
The Underwater World -
Snorkeling and scuba diving are among the top activities in Cozumel. Vibrant tropical fish, coral formations and other marine life flourish in the transparent waters. Beginner and advanced scuba excursions are available as well as many variations of snorkeling. Cruise visitors who want to witness marine life without getting wet can explore the sea in an Atlantis submarine or glass bottom boat excursion.
Mayan Ruins -
Shore excursions from Playa del Carmen explore the Mayan history at Tulum, where beautiful views complement the ancient temples and tombs, and the large pyramids at Coba Ruins. A trip to Chichen Itza includes the famous Ball Court, Temple of the Warriors and pyramid of Kukulcan.
Sand & Land -
Among the main attractions of Cozumel are the area's wonderful beaches, including the popular Playa del Sol Beach Club, which is easily accessible by taxi. Visitors also can explore Cozumel on horseback, attend a Mexican Fiesta Folklore show, or take a Jeep safari adventure during a visit to this popular resort playground.
Puerto Vallarta -
Cobblestone streets, a vibrant artistic community, classic beach resorts, bustling markets and a cosmopolitan atmosphere characterize this famous Mexican coastal vacation spot. The most popular activities for cruise visitors include kayaking, golfing, fishing, whale watching and horseback riding.
Go Sporting -
Water sports such as diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing are all available in Puerto Vallarta. Some lines also offer golf excursions to the nearby course at Marina Vallarta. Those who want to explore the countryside can see rustic towns, fruit plantations and mountainous terrain with an off-road bicycle adventure or a horseback ride. Wildlife lovers can venture into the Bay of Banderas on a catamaran to search for whales.
Tequila, Town & Beach -
A tour of the area around Puerto Vallarta offers cruise vacationers a first-hand look at the plantations and pueblitos and culture of the region - and, of course, a visit to one of the area's tequila factories for a guided tour and first-hand look at how the potent liquor is processed, including a sample. If just hanging out sounds appealing, a day at a local beach resort or at the hideaway of Las Caletas for tanning, swimming and playing volleyball is always an option.
Another adventure in Puerto Vallarta includes a trip to a Mexican-style bullfight and rodeo to witness the feats of riders and skilled matadors facing el toro.
One of Mexico's oldest tourist resorts and home to one of the most popular carnivals in the world, this city is considered to be the most important port on the country's Pacific coast. A trip to the world's highest lighthouse, a day of world-class sportfishing, sunbathing on exotic beaches, and handicraft shopping are only a few of the activities that cruise vacationers can enjoy during a visit to Mazatlan.
Home to annual sailfish and marlin fishing tournaments, Mazatlan is famous for its game-filled salty waters. Expert anglers take guests on their charter fishing boats out to the deep waters for the chance to catch some of the largest marlin around. Swordfish, tuna and Dorado also may be a catch of the day.
Sierra Madre & Beyond -
This majestic mountain range separates the coastal region of Mexico from its interior. A trip through the foothills of these mineral rich and rugged mountains takes visitors along the highway linking Mazatlan and Durango, to absorb awe-inspiring scenery and explore craft industries and villages such as Concordia and Copala.
Sightseeing & Shopping -
Walking and bus tours take visitors through the highlights of Mazatlan. The world's highest lighthouse, the city's imposing cathedral, El Cid Resort, and a folkloric show featuring the famous Papantla Fliers at Aztec Theater in the Golden Zone are only a few of the attractions. Excursions also provide quality time to shop for silver items and other handicrafts at the Indian market and many other stores in the area.