Puerto Vallarta Feature

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Cruising to Puerto Vallarta

Expanded and updated in 2007, PV's cruise-ship terminal berths three full-size ships at a time and is midway between Marina Vallarta and the Northern Hotel Zone, a 15-minute drive (barring traffic) from Old Vallarta. In 2008 about 275 ships called, bringing some 589,000 passengers who spent the day zinging along zip lines, riding horses into the hills, playing in the surf, or, in winter, sightseeing for humpbacks in Vallarta's bay.

Companies with cruises to the Pacific Coast include Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Most depart from Los Angeles (Long Beach) or San Diego and head to Los Cabos or Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, and/or Acapulco; some trips originate in Vancouver or San Francisco.

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 trips out of Los Angeles hit Mazatlán, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta. Las Vegas–style shows and passenger participation are the norm. 888/227–6482www.carnival.com.

Holland America Line. The venerable Holland America Line leaves from and returns to San Diego. Its 11-day Mexican Riviera cruise calls at Puerto Vallarta as well as Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, Acapulco, and Huatulco. 877/932–4259www.hollandamerica.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. Six-day cruises are out of Los Angeles, with three nights at sea and full days in Los Cabos and PV. The seven-day trip adds a day in Mazatlán. 866/234–7350www.ncl.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. The 10-day Riviera Mexico cruise aboard the Sapphire Princess starts in Los Angeles and hits Los Cabos, PV, and Mazatlán. Ten-day trips out of San Francisco add Acapulco and Ixtapa but don't stop at Mazatlán. 800/774–6237www.princess.com.

Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean's seven-night cruises originate in Los Angeles and stop in Los Cabos, Mazatlán, and PV. Ten-night cruises from San Diego add a stop in Acapulco as well as Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, and 11-night cruises add the port of Manzanillo. Striving to appeal to a broad clientele, the line offers lots of activities and services as well as many shore excursions. 800/521–8611www.royalcaribbean.com.

Updated: 2014-06-02

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