You want to take a family cruise, but Florida and the Caribbean seem so been-there, done-that. So why not consider a Mexican Riviera cruise? Begin and end your cruise in San Diego, one of America’s most attractive cities and a great family destination.
The pre- and post-cruise options from the Southern California city are some of the best anywhere, particularly for families because of theme parks like LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Zoo, or, for more contemplative pursuits, Balboa Park features beautiful gardens, fascinating museums and gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
And, as a cruise destination, the Mexican Riviera is a fun immersion into Mexican cuisine and culture, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, swimming, shopping and sunbathing.
Just For Kids
The major lines that run regular cuises out of San Diego all have comprehensive programs for kids of all ages. The Mexican ports on these itineraries offer a full range of activities and excursions for any age group and interests. Kids may particularly enjoy opportunities to interact with marine life, in San Diego itself (think SeaWorld) or at ports along the Mexican coast, where excursions such as “Swim with the Dophins” are offered (in Puerto Vallarta).
The snorkel tour from Cabo San Lucas takes you out to beautiful Santa Maria Bay, where you will swim in tropical waters with abundant sea life. This is appropriate for children who are strong swimmers. Mazatlan offers Salsa & Salsa excursions, where adults can learn to make a little salsa and then dance a little salsa.
From Puerto Vallarta, the Outdoor Experience excursion ranks among the favorite trips and is certain to get everyone’s blood flowing. Highlights include some extended zip-line rides, a speedboat trip across Banderas Bay to a secluded beach, plenty of bouncety-bounce in an open-air truck as you head to the base camp in the Sierra Madre, a ride straight uphill on mules and, after crossing some wobbly bridges, rappelling 100 feet into an ice-cold waterfall. Although perhaps too rugged for the smallest children, what an adventure!
On Your Own
A day at the beach in Puerto Vallarta always works: gentle waves, warm sand and hot sun, with parasailing and banana-boat rides always an option. You might even see some turtles hatching.
When To Go
Cruise lines are transitioning ships through Southern California year-round, so most of the major cruise lines offer cruises from San Diego at some point during the year. But Carnival offers 4- and 5-day quickies as well as seven-day cruises year-round. Holland America Line offers seven-day and longer cruises fall through spring.
Find a secluded beach in Cabo, seek out a quiet restaurant in Mazatlan or grab a taxi and do your own walking tour of Puerto Vallarta. These ports are large destinations that offer plenty to explore and enjoy on your own if that’s your preference.
Gotta Do It!
The Bay of Banderas, off Puerto Vallarta, offers snorkeling and dolphin encounters year-round. Humpback whales are regularly sighted in the bay from December through March.
Try dining ashore in Mazatlan. At Mi Casa, for instance, you can enjoy delicious and authentic treats such as tacos with shredded pork. And while in San Diego, the Old Town district offers countless excellent restaurants of all styles.
San Diego may well be the gem in the star-studded itinerary along the Mexican Riviera. Convenient (the airport is minutes away from the cruise terminals) and family friendly, with theme parks, zoos and beautiful beaches, San Diego is a destination in its own right. Add a cruise South of the Border, and it’s a match made in paradise.
You can find a lot more to do by taking a look at San Diego local news.