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Tom Ogg

Age: Various

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: Most were seasoned cruisers

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Sea Princess

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

About This Review

This review is the result of 76 travel professionals that sailed on the Sea Princess in 2 separate groups on October 20th and November 10th, 2001 and represents an attempt to answer many questions about Sea Princess and her Mexican Riviera itinerary.

This review is broken into 3 distinct areas; The Ship , a look at the Sea Princess, The Cruise , an overview look at the ports and cruise, FAQ about the Sea Princess.

Getting to the Ship

The Sea Princess is berthed at pier 92 in San Pedro, California and is an easy 90-minute drive from my ranch in San Diego. There is ample parking at the terminal but since September 11th, 2001 the farthest lot is used for long-term parking to avoid having any cars close to the ships. There is a shuttle that picks you up at your car and delivers you to the terminal entrance. Parking for the week is $70.00 and only cash is accepted, no credit cards or checks are allowed.

Those that pre registered by faxing in the passenger information form that was included with their documents were allowed to enter the pre registration line and were through the boarding process in ten minutes or less. Those not pre registered took about 30 minutes to conclude the boarding process so it would definitely be to your benefit to complete the pre registration form and fax it to Princess as this will save you a good amount of time.

About Security

I intended to make a big deal about the security that cruise lines have implemented since the events of September 11th, 2001 but was completely surprised at the effectiveness of the cruise lines in dealing with the increased security. While there are a good number of additional folks taking part in the boarding process and the additional security is obvious, one doesn’t get the feeling as if the cruise lines are at all concerned. I suspect that this is because of the tight security cruise ships have always enforced.

Surveillance, policing, profiling and enforcement have long been common on cruise ships long before 9/11. The additional elements of security have been assimilated into everyday life to a point where there is hardly any notice of the changes. However, rest assured that security is quite tight and just about every conceivable possibility for any kind of problem has been slammed shut.

I felt safer on the Sea Princess than I do at home.

The Second Cruise Reinforced the Need for Travel Insurance!

I escort 15 to 20 cruises a year and invariably someone gets hurt or sick once or twice a year. It is always a tragedy and always a financial strain. At the very least, one’s cruise is ruined and the experience lost to a more trying time. On the departure evening of the second cruise, one of our group members had chest pains that the ship’s doctor was afraid may have been a mild heart attack. The gentleman was held in the infirmary for almost 3 days until we arrived in Puerto Vallarta. Even though he felt fine, he was disembarked in Puerto Vallarta and transported to the hospital for treatment and the return to their home in the United States.

This couple had purchased a Travel Guard travel insurance program and the entire event was totally covered by their policy. Had they not had insurance it would have run into the thousands of dollars (potentially, tens of thousands of dollars) to get home safely. While this is a non-commercial web site and does not accept any advertising…a testimonial is indeed a word of confidence passed on. For what it is worth, the consensus on the ship and among the travel agents was that Travel Guard Insurance is the best choice a consumer can make as they pay off when they are needed without question and this is exactly what happened in this instance.

Please, please purchase travel insurance to cover these types of mishaps even if you believe it could never happen to you.

The Ship

The Sea Princess is a large ship at 77,499 gross tons, 857 feet long, 105.8 feet wide and carries 2,270 lucky guests. She is basically the same as her sister ships the Sun Princess and the Dawn Princess. Her funnel is distinctive and gives her a modern look that promises a unique quality and experience. She carries through on the promise and is indeed a wonderful ship for the Mexican Riviera itinerary that she cruises.

She offers ample cabin space with myriad venues for entertainment and relaxation. With two main showrooms (both offering different acts simultaneously), 10 bars, several pool and Jacuzzi areas, shopping and lots going on day and night one cannot easily get bored. Following is a breakdown of the ship.

The Cabins : Our groups both had outside mid category staterooms with an ocean view picture window. Our first sailing was on the Caribe Deck (9) and the second group was on the Dolphin Deck (8). The cabins were of generous size and well appointed with plenty of closet and drawer space. There was a “black out” curtain so that one could close the daylight out if one wanted darkness during the daytime. Next to the window was a large desktop that included a set of six drawers for storing clothing. There is only one 110v outlet at the desk and it also comes with a stool just the right height for using a notebook computer. There is a hair dryer to use as well adjoining the desk. Across the cabin is a refrigerator and televisions set with excellent programs (including many first run movies, CNN and others) in addition to the ship’s programming…shelves are also included for more storage. On one sailing my cabin had a queen-sized bed and on the other two singles, both configurations allowed for ample cabin space with plenty of space around the beds to navigate the cabin with ease.

The bedding was very comfortable and there was a nightstand with a drawer and shelves for more storage. The air conditioning offered excellent room control and was sensitive to minor changes when requested. Next to the door to the rest room was a shelf and the entire wall on one side of the cabin was made up of mirrors to give the room an expansive feel. There were three closets (one full length, one with two levels for suits and shirts and the other with shelving and storage baskets. There is also a personal safe in this closet as well.

The bathroom was typical of cruise ships offering a shower (with excellent temperature and water volume controls) toilet, sink with mirror and three shelves for storing toiletries. I always use a hanging toiletry bag and would suggest one be used for each person in the cabin to avoid clutter in the bathroom. All in all, the cabin was especially comfortable and met every one of my needs.

HINT: Be sure to bring a multi outlet extension cord as there is only one 110/60 outlet in the cabin and if you want to operate more than one appliance at a time it will be necessary.

A Tour of the Ship

Deck 16: Way up on top of the ship and forward is a large sunning area with the Splash Pool. While this area is forward and exposed to the wind on sea days there are excellent wind deflectors that make laying out by the Splash Pool very comfortable even when people on the deck below you are being blown around. It was never crowded and was always a nice quiet place to relax when the other pools are crowded. Just keep going forward from the Sun Deck and climb stairs whenever they are presented. It is worth the hike if you want some quiet time on days at sea.

Deck 15, The Sun Deck : Forward on Deck 15 is another excellent place to lie out in the sun. There are several areas blocked by wind deflectors where you can have some privacy and peace and quiet. There are more lounges the entire length of the Sun Deck with full sun exposure and few crowds.

Topsail’s Bar : This nice outside bar overlooks the entire pool area of the Sea Princess and is open when weather permits during the daytime. Nice place to simply watch the day go by.

Sports Court: Around the funnel of the Sea Princess is an excellent sports court that has a full size basketball half court.

Deck 14, Lido Deck: Yet another outside deck is forward on the Lido and along the sides overlooking the main pool.

Horizon Court: This is the main buffet on the Sea Princess and is open 24 hours a day for the entire cruise. The food is excellent and plentiful. Sushi is served on many days and was my favorite for lunch. Every morning saw fresh fruit, yogurt and lots of healthy choices along with traditional breakfast dishes as well. Lunch always found at least 2 different fresh vegetables, a vegetarian choice, a salad bar and several cold salads to boot. There was always a fish entrée choice as well. I didn’t eat dinner in the Horizon Court but I did notice that many on the cruise elected to dine there rather than any of the other restaurants.

Hours of operation for the Horizon Court are as follows:

Pastries and Beverages 4:00 am to 6:00 am Breakfast Buffet 6:00 am to 11:30 am Luncheon Buffet 11:30 am to 5:30 pm Dinner Buffet 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm Bistro 10:30 pm to 4:00 am

Riviera Grill and The Sterling Steak House: This venue serves two purposes. During the day (11:00 am to 5:00 pm) it serves hamburgers, hot dogs and the like for the pool crowd. At 6:30 pm until 9:30 pm it turns into the ship’s alternate restaurant the “Sterling Steak House.” This al fresco steak house is an excellent choice if you like your steaks big and juicy. The menu consists of steaks like filets, Porterhouse (24 oz.) and other choice cuts of beef. There is an $8.00 cover charge per person (in addition to the normal gratuities) and reservations are a must.

Seaview Bar: Here is yet another separate sunning area with its own bar, several Jacuzzis and a small pool. This is a great place to relax with a “drink of the day” and get some sun as well.

Deck 12, Riviera Deck:

The Riviera Pools and Bar : This is the main pool area on the Sea Princess. It offers an elaborate bar that serves the entire pool area. The pool area consists of a main pool (open to everyone) and an adult’s pool (finally a cruise line understands many adults want an adult atmosphere) there is also an adult’s only Jacuzzi by the adult’s pool and another Jacuzzi by the other pool. All in all, the pool area offers many excellent areas for sunning and does not have that “crowded” feeling one gets in the pool areas on many ships. Unique to Princess is the practice of issuing towels to your cabin for pool use. There are no towels poolside so you must remember to bring your beach/pool towel from your cabin. Fresh towels are made available daily in your cabin and are used for the pool and shore side.

Aft of the main pool area is the ice cream parlor where Hagen Das ice cream is offered for sale. Some folks felt the ice cream should have been included in the price of the cruise however; this seems to be the trend on all cruise lines.

On the starboard side just aft of the main pool is a wonderful little tyke’s recreation area that is completely enclosed. It offers a small pool and several interesting little areas that small children would find fascinating.

The Fun Zone, Links, Wired and The Business Center: Aft of the pool are a number of attractions of special interest to passengers. The Fun Zone is the kid’s video game room and offers a good number of games. The Links is the room offering s golf simulator where one can play golf in a surreal environment. The Business Center offers computers to access the Internet and while a nice feature, there are only 4 personal computers that are available limited hours (about 6 hours per day.) Princess charges $7.50 for 15 minutes, which is not expensive compared with most ships, but access is painfully slow and there are always people waiting to get a computer.

In my opinion Princess has missed a huge profit opportunity here as most other cruise lines have 24/7 access with a good number of computers and offer a flat rate…..let's see, 800 passengers paying $79 per week X 52 weeks…..that is over 3 million in lost revenue. If it were my ship, I would go purchase a few P.C.s.

Beauty Salon and Spa: Further aft is the Beauty Salon that offers full services to the Sea’s passengers. While I didn’t use the salon’s services, many of the ladies that did felt the surroundings and services were excellent. The Spa offers full Steiner services that most cruisers are familiar with and seemed to be consistent with other Steiner spas on cruise ships.

The Gym: This was a large disappointment to me. The gym offered a Universal machine with 5 stations (the kind you would find in most small hotel gyms) and a few dumbbells. There was an incline and horizontal weight bench…and that’s about it. The Universal machine was in need of attention and I decided not to work out for the entire cruise because of the nature of the equipment. There was also some cardio equipment as well.

The gym was so off-the-mark that I believe it would cost Princess revenue, as folks that like to maintain their workout would certainly select another ship with a more substantial gymnasium. I would urge Princess to use the Universal Machine as an extra anchor and replace it with Cybex machines. Specifically, a chest press, butterfly, lats rowing, biceps curl, triceps push down, leg curl, leg lift and an ab crunch machine at the minimum. This would represent a nominal investment and would certainly bring the gym up to minimum competitive standards.

Adjoining the gym was a large aerobic area that offered the classes that took place everyday. In the center of the gym/aerobic area accessed from both areas and also from deck 14 was a pool and two Jacuzzis. This level was a part of the pool/Jacuzzi complex surrounding the Seaview Bar and was an excellent place to relax.

Deck 11, 10 and 9, Aloha, Baja and Caribe Decks:

These three decks are all passenger cabins. On the first cruise our group was on the Caribe deck from forward to aft.

Deck 8, Dolphin Deck:

The Dolphin deck offers passenger cabins from mid ship aft and all the way forward. Our group on the second cruise was all located on this deck. The cabins offer LARGE picture windows.

The Casino: The Sea Princess offers a nice set up for the casino. It is located one deck above the main entertainment deck and is out of the way offering gamers privacy while they enjoy their sport. Most ship’s casinos are located directly in the pathway of traffic as it flows through the ship, I prefer this set up much better as those gambling get much more privacy and those not, are not constantly exposed to it. The casino had numerous slot machines and a good number of table games. There is also a large bar in the casino that also serves coffee in the morning (a hint for those on deck 8, aft.)

Lago’s Pizzeria: Here is a casual restaurant often overlooked because of its out-of-the-way location on deck 8. The Pizzeria offers pizza from 11 am in the morning until 4 pm in the afternoon and then adds Trattoria Service to its menu from 6:30 pm until 1:00 am. Everyone that ate at the Pizzeria gave it high marks and many folks took a majority of their evening meals there as well.

Deck, 7, Promenade Deck:

The Promenade deck is the main entertainment deck on the Sea Princess. It offers quiet deck chairs around its wrapping promenade on the outside and lots of things to do on the inside. Starting aft here are the venues.

Vista Lounge: This is one of two main entertainment venues on the Sea Princess. Generally, this lounge is used for smaller acts such as comedians, jugglers and the like. It offers a good number of seats with excellent views of the stage and a full bar with numerous attendants working the room.

Checkers Card Room and The Library: Quite a nice sized card room that is heavily used. This is also home for the future cruise consultant who has regular hours of operation. The Library offers quiet solitude with an ample amount of chairs and reading material.

The Photo Shop: The Sea Princess Photo Shop is quite large and well stocked. The ship’s photos are displayed every evening and the shop does a booming business. However, I had a very difficult time trying to arrange for group photos for our groups. The only time that they would allow us to gather for a photo was late in the evening. On the first group we were able to pull it off (but many did not make it) and on the second group I had to call the shot off as dinner tables were in various stages of completing either their dinner or dessert and it would have been invasive to try and take the shot.

I see this as a lost revenue opportunity for Princess as while it may take a bit longer to arrange a group photo than it does a portrait, they can sell so many more photos once the shot is taken. I have never had this kind of problem before on a ship and think the Sea Princess needs to review its group photo policies.

Rocky’s Disco: This is the Sea’s disco and it sees quite a bit of action in the late evening. We used Rocky’s as our seminar venue and it worked out quite well. Rocky’s is located off the main corridor that leads the entire length of the ship but is isolated from the flow of traffic and is a rather intimate area to meet.

Entre Nous: This is the Sea’s wine and champagne bar and the place where we met nightly for pre dinner cocktails. There is a bar with 6 or 8 stools and several small areas with chairs to enjoy. There is a solo entertainer playing soothing music each evening and it is an excellent place to relax either before or after dinner. Entre Nous offers some popular wines by the glass and also by the bottle.

Atrium Lounge and Bar: The Atrium Lounge features a piano bar and a good number of sitting places for folks to relax and enjoy the entertainment. There is also a complete bar with several stools and small tables to enjoy. I found the area a bit disruptive as the normal flow of passenger traffic goes right through he heart of the bar and between the entertainer and the audience.

Wheelhouse Bar: I really liked this bar. It is the Sea’s other main dance venue and also has a large number of sitting areas to enjoy. It is separated into two rooms, one with the bar and dance floor with open tables and the other with more intimate tables for those wanting to sit and talk rather than dance. There are two bands that trade off sets so that there is never a period without music. It is done very well and I give the Wheelhouse high marks as one of my favorite lounges on any ship.

Princess Theater: This is the main entertainment venue for the ship’s reviews and other large shows. It is quite an elaborate theater and offers excellent views of the ship’s main productions.

Deck 6, Emerald Deck

Sicilian Restaurant: This is the traditional dining restaurant that offers main and late seating (6:15 pm and 8:30 pm) dining. It is a lovely restaurant with excellent service. We had approximately that same tables on both cruises (114-120) and consistently enjoyed excellent service.

The Boutiques: The Sea Princess offers a number of shops offering great deals on liquor, perfume, and jewelry, Princess signature items and much more. They also have the proverbial “general store” that can fill whatever needs you have for the items you may have forgotten to pack.

Deck 5, Plaza Deck

Neapolitan Restaurant: This is the ship’s Personal Choice Restaurant where if you select Personal Choice Dining you may come when and with whom you wish for dinner. A group of us tried this restaurant one evening and found it to offer a high level of service and wonderful dining experience. The restaurant offers seating for 2 on up to 12 so it is a great choice if you want to experience intimate dining as a couple, 2 couples or any other combination that are traveling together.

The Atrium, Reception Desk, Tour Offi ce, Patisserie and Grand Plaza: This is the main floor of the Atrium and is quite stunning. Here you will find the purser’s office, tour desk, a great bar serving treats and the main center of the Atrium, the Grand Plaza. The infirmary is down one flight of stairs on deck 4.

The Cruise

Since these were two separate cruises almost back to back, I will not go into the day-to-day itineraries but simply go into the details of the cruise. The Sea Princess itinerary to the Mexican Riviera departs San Pedro at 5 pm followed by two days at sea before arriving in Puerto Vallarta at 8 am the third day out. Leaving at 6 pm in the evening she overnights to Mazatlan where she spends the next full day until 6 pm. From Mazatlan she makes her way for an early morning arrival in Cabo San Lucas (before 7:30 am) where she spends the morning and then departs for San Pedro promptly at 1:30 pm arriving back early in the morning after a day and one half at sea. All in all, it is a very relaxing itinerary with lots of time to enjoy the sunshine or the Sea’s onboard activities.

The Food: Everyone found the food on the Sea Princess excellent. For me, there were always healthy choices at every meal. I especially enjoyed the sushi bar that was set up in the Horizon Court during many lunches, the fresh vegetables every lunch and the papaya (along with other fruit) in the morning. I couldn’t have been happier. During the second formal night those that selected lobster were treated to an unlimited serving. After the initial two lobster tails the waiter came around with more and offered them to everyone that wanted them and kept coming back until everyone was completely satisfied. This is a treat not usually found on most ships since food costs have been the focus of the cruise lines.

Every meal offered a seafood selection as well as several meats but gone is the “pasta prepared at your table” course the Princess used to offer. However, no one missed it, as the servings were always large and prepared wonderfully. The service in the dining rooms is still the same high quality Princess is known for. Ditto for the Personal Choice and alternate Restaurants.

The Bars and Lounges: For the most part the service in the bars was excellent with the exception of a sour puss faced gentleman that worked in the pool bar during the day. I forgot his name (James, I think) but this guy was horrible. He would be washing glasses while you stood there waiting to order a drink and when he finally decided to pay attention to you, would treat everyone in a condescending manner. I watched as one lady ordered a glass of water…you would have thought she was committing a sin.

On the other hand, the staff at Entre Nous was as professional, friendly and accommodating as one could possibly imagine.

The Entertainment: Once again, everyone raved about the entertainment with only minor exceptions. The Princess Cruises production shows were fabulous! The level of energy in the singing and dancing was simply wonderful as was the choreography, stage props and costumes. Folks were missing dinner to see the same show twice,

Of special note were Bert and Howie on the first cruise. While I have seen Bert and Howie a number of times their act simply gets better and better with age. If you are fortunate enough to be on a cruise where they are performing, you will have the time of your life! Go Howie, Go Howie.

If you can’t find something to do in the evening that meets your taste on the Sea Princess, then probably don’t belong on a cruise ship. The entertainment venues and acts themselves are excellent.

The Days at Sea: With 3 ½ days at sea, much of the cruise is spent entertaining one’s self with the myriad of choices of activities made available in the Princess Patter (the Sea Princess’ daily newsletter.) Princess does an excellent job of offering several different choices of activities all day long so that one could never become bored. I choose to enjoy the sunshine we were blessed with and found peace and quiet by the splash pool that was never crowded. Even the main pool area never got that crowded and I was always able to find a lounge chair to reside in for a few hours.

During the second cruise some of the ladies in our group had purchased one of the “race horses” and invited me to join them in the “owners box” for champagne and pre race activities. It was quite fun and as luck would have it they won several hundred dollars.

There are numerous places on the Sea Princess to escape to if you want to spend the afternoon relaxing with a book and enjoying the fresh air as well. The Promenade deck offered many such places.

Laundry Facilities: In addition to excellent room service for dry cleaning and laundry, the Sea offers a coin operated Laundromat on each passenger deck floor. Note that the iron is free to use, as is the ironing board. This was a lifesaver for me.

The Ports: Puerto Vallarta resides in the depth of Banderas Bay, a huge bay that encompasses dozens of miles of somewhat protected coastline. There is much to do in Puerto Vallarta and with just one day in port it is hard to decide what to do. The Sea Princess docks in the heart of Puerto Vallarta and the main downtown shopping area is only a $2.00 ($22 peso) cab ride away. Downtown is excellent for shopping and dining (I like the shrimp at Hamburgers in Paradise and a libation at Café Without a Name.)

Princess offers many shore excursions from treks into the pine covered mountains behind Puerto Vallarta, to horseback riding in the jungle, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, beach trips and so on. If you have never been to Puerto Vallarta take a city tour and then have them drop you off downtown for some shopping and walk back to the ship along the beach (takes an hour or so.)

Here are my favorite things to do in Puerto Vallarta. For families; go to Los Veneros on Punta De Mita (about 30 minutes north of the ship) Here you have a great beach with few people on it, a beach club with 2 swimming pools, a little kids water park, a swim-up bar and restaurant. There are also shops selling local art and a tropical bird show if you are interested. It is a great day for families because everyone has something to do and it isn’t commercial or crowded. There is also an excellent right reef/point surf spot just north of Los Veneros.

For those that like quaint Mexican villages and fabulous beaches, take a cab to Sayulita (about 45 minutes north of the ship on the Pacific coast.) Here you will find quaint palapa restaurants serving fish, shrimp and other treats from the ocean, a sleepy little Mexican village that is extremely friendly, some shopping and a simply gorgeous palm tree lined cove that is the essence of tropical Mexico. It is to die for (I should also mention that Sayulita has excellent surf (both a quality right and river mouth left.)

The port in Mazatlan is alongside the main industrial area of the city. While the coast is only ½ mile or so away, you would think you are back in San Pedro. Mazatlan is a bustling port city in Mexico but also offers some interesting sites. Key things to do in Mazatlan are visiting the Golden Zone (a heavily commercialized tourist zone with lots of hotels, restaurants and shops), getting wild and crazy at Senior Frogs (a bar catering to tourists famous for its rowdiness) visiting the flea market downtown and enjoying the older section of downtown and its wonderful coastline with its cliff divers that perform for the never ending tourists arriving on tour buses.

Princess offers a number of city, shopping and sightseeing tours as well as a trek up into the Sierra Madre’s pine covered forests and culture. If you want to go sport fishing, Mazatlan is the place to do it. Be aware however, that bait, tips and other services are not included in the initial price. Bait fishing will produce better results and count on spending $2.00 per live bait. If you are lucky enough to catch a fish and want it released, be sure to make it known before you leave the dock as a condition of the trip.

My favorite thing to do in Mazatlan is to walk around the old section’s maze of streets to the flea market and then along the oceanfront walkway down to Cannon’s Point (crowded surf spot) and back. There is a local restaurant about 4 blocks north of the gate to the port that has some of the best shrimp I have ever eaten, however you had better know enough Spanish to get your order across or you will never know what you are served.

Cabo San Lucas is a wonderful little town right at land’s end on the Baja Peninsula. The Sea Princess anchors up right in the lee of “Los Arcos” or The Arches at land’s end and it is a wonderful site to behold. Everyone must tender into Cabo San Lucas and process is executed by using tender tickets that are obtained when you are ready to go ashore. Those on Princess shore excursions have priority over those that are not on shore excursions so Cabo is an excellent place to take a shore excursion if you have never been there before. HINT: the Sea Princess usually sends one or two tenders in first thing in the morning before the shore excursion people are ready to leave. If you want to go ashore early to maximize your short stay in Cabo, be ready to disembark when the first tender is launched (around 7:00 am or so)

Princess offers a myriad of shore excursions in Cabo San Lucas that include boat sightseeing around Land’s End, horseback riding on the beach, city sightseeing tours, sport fishing, diving and snorkeling, ecological tours and more. I would suggest taking the first sightseeing tour and then being dropped off downtown in Cabo for shopping and an early lunch. Also, The Giggling Marlin is another famous watering hole in Cabo and while it is too early for a libation, you can get a photo of yourself (or a loved one) hanging upside down on the Giggling Marlin fish display area.

My favorite thing to do in Cabo is to grab a taxi down to Costa Azul (a surfing beach with great surf) and either surf or just hang out at the beach. Costa Azul is about 15 miles east of Cabo (almost into San Jose Del Cabo) and is a very pretty beach with some restaurants and shops. If you haven’t been to Cabo before or don’t like the beach/surf crowd then visiting Cabo San Lucas would be the best choice.

Hints on Visiting Mexico: Mexico is a wonderful country full of loving, giving and friendly people. To open up their culture you must meet them half way. Please learn a few phrases and words in Spanish. Even if you mispronounce them terribly, if you follow it with a smile and another try at it, you will be rewarded with a new friendship and someone willing to speak the perfect English practically every Mexican speaks.

Have fun negotiating: Mexicans love to negotiate and it is a fun thing to do. You are under no obligation to purchase anything so have fun in the negotiation. Complement your opponent on their negotiating skills when it is all over whether you buy or not. If you are subject of an unwanted solicitation simply smile and say calmly “no, gracias amigo” and they will go away. If you shout at them or act irritated they will continue.

Use TelMex Prepaid Telephone Cards: Oh man, when you see a telephone offering service to the U.S. watch out! Some telephones can cost you US$50.00 simply for the connection, not to mention the time you speak. Even communication centers can be very expensive. Your best bet is to purchase prepaid telephone cards that operate in the TelMex phones. The come in different denominations and the best value is the 100 peso (about US$11.00) for 15 minutes or so. Once you have purchased the card simply insert it into the telephone and dial the country code (United States is 001) and then the area code and then the telephone number. It is that easy and you will save a fortune.

Get to Know Your Taxi Driver: If you negotiate a taxi to take you around for a few hours part of the charm of the experience is getting to know him or her. They will gladly share their life and family experiences and reward you with colorful stories. Once you have befriended your taxi driver you can have him take you to his favorite spots and you can bet it will a great experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a passport for this cruise?

I would suggest everyone obtain a passport but it is not necessary for this cruise. You can provide a certified copy of your birth certificate instead. The more Identification you have (such as a driver’s license) the better. You may have a difficult time reentering the U.S. without proper identification.

Is it safe to eat the food in Mexico?

Avoid drinking water, eating unpeeled fruit or vegetables, salads and any other food that may contain or been exposed to, unpurified water. Drink bottled water (or beer) and eat only foods cooked properly and you will have no problem whatsoever. Use common sense. I always keep my hepatitis A & B shots current and this is the best way to protect your self while traveling or even when you at home.

Do I need to be able tp speak Spanish

Practically everyone in the cities visited on this itinersry speak perfect English. However they appreciate your attempt at speaking Spanish and will enjoy your attempts rewarding them with open discussions in English. If nothing else, learn a few key phrases and words to use while in Mexico.

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