Los Cabos Feature

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Cruising to Los Cabos

Cruise lines with itineraries to Los Cabos and Baja California include Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Lindblad Expeditions, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, and Silversea. Most depart from Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York, San Juan, Vancouver, and even Southampton, England, or Bridgetown, Barbados. Most cruises to Baja dock at Cabo San Lucas, with a few calling at Ensenada, La Paz, and Loreto.

Terrific shopping, dining, beaches, and shore excursions and the unforgettable view of Los Arcos upon approach make Cabo San Lucas a crowd-pleaser among cruise ports. Ships need to drop anchor and tender passengers to the marina, about a 10-minute trip. Ensenada is a favorite stop on shorter Baja cruises. Its modern Cruise Port Village terminal berths two full-size ships at a time. La Paz, on the Sea of Cortez, wins rave reviews as being the most "authentically Mexican" of Baja's cruise destinations. A few large ships dock at its port of Pichilingue, about 16 km (10 miles) north of town. Smaller boats can berth at La Paz itself. It's back to the need for tenders at the port of Loreto, north of Pichilingue.

Carnival. Carnival is known for its large-volume cruises and template approach to its ships, two factors that probably help keep fares accessible. Boats in its Mexican fleet have more than 1,000 staterooms; the newest ship, Splendor, was inaugurated in 2008. Seven-night Mexican Riviera trips out of Los Angeles or San Diego hit Cabo San Lucas and, occasionally, La Paz, among other Pacific ports in Mexico. Carnival wrote the book on Baja-only cruises, with three- or four-day itineraries out of Los Angeles or San Diego to Ensenada. Las Vegas–style shows and passenger participation is the norm. 888/227–6482 www.carnival.com.

Celebrity. Spacious accommodations and the guest-lectured Enrichment Series are hallmarks of Celebrity cruises. Its Millennium, Infinity, and Century ply the Panama Canal east- and westbound on 13- to 17-day itineraries, hitting Cabo San Lucas along the way, with an extensive choice of departure ports (Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, San Juan, or Seattle). 800/647–2251 www.celebritycruises.com.

Crystal. Crystal is known for combining large ships with grandeur, opulence, and impeccable service. Its Crystal Symphony calls at Cabo San Lucas on a variety of itineraries from New York (18 days) and Los Angeles (10 days). 800/722–0021 www.crystalcruises.com.

Cunard. It's an infrequent, but festive, occasion when Cunard's luxury liner Queen Victoria calls at Cabo San Lucas on select 16-day Panama Canal itineraries that begin in Los Angeles and end in Fort Lauderdale. The port also features in a 40-day cruise from Los Angeles to Southampton. A return 40-day itinerary that begins in England calls at Ensenada before arrival in Los Angeles. 800/728–6273 www.cunard.com.

Holland America. The venerable Holland America line leaves from and returns to San Diego or Fort Lauderdale. Panama Canal cruises spanning 14-, 17-, 20-, 28- and 29-day itineraries on the MS Statendam include stops in Cabo San Lucas, while a 21-day Hawaii-Mexico on the Veendam calls at Cabo San Lucas and other Mexican ports. 877/932–4259 www.hollandamerica.com.

Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad's smaller Sea Lion and Sea Bird take you where the other guys can't go, for an active, nature-themed Baja cruise experience. Eight- to 15-day excursions embark in La Paz and nose around the islands of the Sea of Cortez. Its kayaks and Zodiacs launch from the ship to provide you with unparalleled opportunity to watch whales, dolphins, and seabirds. 800/EXPEDITION www.expeditions.com.

Norwegian Cruise Lines. Its tagline is "whatever floats your boat," and Norwegian is known for its relatively freewheeling style and variety of activities and excursions. Seven-day cruises on the Star depart from San Francisco or Los Angeles, with full days in Cabo San Lucas, and Panama Canal cruises on the Jewel, Sun, and Pearl from 14 to 17 days all call on Cabo San Lucas. 866/234–7350 www.ncl.com.

Oceania. "Intimate" and "cozy" are terms that get bandied about to describe the ships of Oceania, a relative newcomer to the cruise scene. Before arrival at Cabo San Lucas or any port, you can attend a lecture to acquaint you with its history, culture, and tradition. The Regatta stops here on a 16-day cruise out of Miami. 800/531–5619 www.oceaniacruises.com.

Princess Cruises. Not so great for small children but good at keeping tweens, teens, and adults occupied, Princess strives to offer luxury at an affordable price. Its cruises may cost a little more than others, but you also get more for the money: large rooms, varied menus, and personalized service. Seven- to 11-day Mexican Riviera cruises aboard the Sapphire Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess, or Star Princess start in Los Angeles or San Francisco and hit Los Cabos and other Pacific ports. Shorter three- or four-day trips out of Los Angeles call at Ensenada. 800/774–6237 www.princess.com.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises. RSSC's luxury liner the Navigator offers trips that originate in Miami and San Francisco and call at Cabo San Lucas on select Panama Canal and transpacific itineraries. Some stop here for a half day; others stay in port longer, making RSSC a rare cruise company that lets you sample Los Cabos' evening diversions. 877/505–5370 www.rssc.com.

Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean's 14-night Panama Canal cruises on Vision of the Seas or Legend of the Seas originate in Fort Lauderdale and San Diego and call at Cabo San Lucas, among other Mexican Pacific ports. Striving to appeal to a broad clientele, the line offers lots of activities and services as well as many shore excursions. 866/562–7625 www.royalcaribbean.com.

Seabourn. Think megayachts with sophisticated, personalized service when you hear the name "Seabourn." The line's newest ships, Odyssey (2009) and Sojourn (2010), call at Cabo San Lucas after departing from Fort Lauderdale on a 18-day Panama Canal itinerary. 866/755–5619 www.seabourn.com.

Silversea. Loads of activities, including guest lectures, are the hallmark of a cruise aboard Silversea's luxury liners. Its Silver Spirit and Silver Whisper call at Cabo San Lucas on 15- to 17-day itineraries from Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale. 877/276–6816 www.silversea.com.

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