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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 10-25-2005, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 27
Hello Elwinnie!
Sorry it took me so long to respond. The first week back was an absolute bear....won't even go into that and last week we were detoxing and trying to catch up on the routine of our daily lives.

The cruise was.....welll...uh....great. I say it like that because there were a lot of snaffus but my husband and I had a wonderful time. One of the best vacations of our lives but it was a result of our attitude and what we made out of it, and not the result of a perfect shipboard experience. We are the type of people that enjoy relaxing, so you give us a pool and some sunshine and we are happy, we also tend to make the best of situations and therefore, while we were having a great time, we were listening to lots of complaining going on from other passengers.

I'm going to put a larger review on the main site for everyone's consumption but to answer your immediate questions, we were affected by Hurricane Otis. Basically, our captain sailed around the hurricane, which brought us into Acapulco at 7 pm instead of the scheduled 11 am. We were expected to leave at 12:30 am that evening (which would have given us 3 hours in port after disembarkation and curfew) but the captain decided to allow us to spend the night and not leave until 12:30 pm the next day. This then, caused us to miss the entire port of Zihujuataneo. Personally, I would have prefered to leave Acapulco on time and then still make our next port. Of course, port charges from Zihujataneo were not refunded but I really was not concerned about that (many others complained, however).

What did bother me is that we missed the cliff diving in Acapulco. My husband and I did not feel comfortable leaving the ship at night, when there was a night diving show. Besides, this was also the night of the huge outdoor party night on the ship (which was obviously rather poorly attended). We finally got off the ship the next morning (after awful disembarkation procedures - totally unorganized and it was extremely hot on the ship because the doors were open on the atrium level) and actually walked to La Quebrada. After getting off the ship (and passing the typical rash of barking taxi drivers) we turned left on the main street. Then we followed the signs to La Quebrada turning right at the second light and up some very steep and curvy back streets. It took abotu 20 minutes to walk and we were a bit out of breath when arrived. We loved the walk because it gave us a flavor of the true culture (and some needed exercise). However, there are other tourists who wouldn't have enjoyed it. It is a fairly dirty and poor area. Once we arrived at La Quebrada, it was breathtaking. However, we learned that we would miss the first cliff-diving show at noon, and our ship was leaving at 12:30. I was extremely disappointed that no one for the ship called ahead to make arrangements for a special show for us. There were about 100 people from our ship there who were disappointed. The lady who managed the divers stated that she would run a special show for $250 but I couldn't get other passengers to chip in with me.

So, instead, from La Quebrada, we passed all the taxis waiting there and came to the last taxi driver waiting patiently and asked him for a one hour drive around the island. He charged us $15. It was a WONDERFUL tour! He literally took us all over the entire island and extended the trip for an extra hour for free. First stop was Hotel Los Flamingos where John Wayne stayed and the guy that played Tarzan. The hotel was older but extremely charming. It was a really breathtaking view from this hotel and I would recommend a visit. We then drove through the wealthier sections as we stopped at Paradise (which is the major party strip). Our crew was so excited that we were staying overnight in Acapulco because that meant they were allowed off of the ship. This is the area that they all partied at the night before. I was actually a bit concerned about the crew's quality of service the next day thinking they'd all be hung over, but it wasn't a problem at all. Let me also interject here that our cruise was the Star's very first trip on this itinerary in the Mexican Riviera. Therefore, from my perspective, they deserved a bit of leeway in getting things organized. The ship and crew had been in Alaska for the previous 4 years, and this particular crew had been in Alaska for 4 straight months. They were extremely happy to be going to a warm climate and therefore, all their spirits were unusually high throughout the entire trip.

Anyway, I digress.....Our taxi driver in Acapulco then drove us past the swanky night clubs, Palladium and Senor Frogs, and stopped by another scenic overlook. This area is called the Diamond Zone. Up in the hills he drove us to Capilla de la Paz, a contemporary chapel with a 130 foot cross that overlooks Acapulco 1200 feet above sea level. It is a beautiful spiritual retreat with gorgeous gardens and waterfalls. It was also in a very exclusive residential area with wealthy homes called Las Brisas. Las Brisas Hotel is also in this area and I would HIGHLY suggest you spend the day here if you can. The view was absolutely gorgeous and the visit was extremely spiritual. Overall, I thought that the old part of Acapulco was very dirty and that the main attraction of Acapulco is the night life. I wouldn't return but if I did, I would stay at the Las Brisas Hotel.

The next day we arrived in Puerto Vallarta several hours late. We were disappointed because we had booked to swim with the dolphins and that was to be the highlight of our vacation. Therefore, very disappointing. By the way, a local Canadian woman told us that it is more economical to book the dolphin excursion online with the company that does it….Puerto Vallarta Adventures. Apparently, it is much cheaper and they will pick you up at the ship. Due to our late arrival we also didn’t have time to go to the beach that Tom recommended, Punta Mita, which we were told was between 45 minutes and an hour and a half drive. We later found that 45 minutes was more accurate. So, we took a taxi to a small cove south of town called Playa de Mismaloya. This was a 30 minute trip deep into the mountains and woods. While driving there, we were concerned that we would not find a taxi back but not to worry, there is a taxi stand at the beach there. *Note – we were charged 250 Pesos to get there and once there met a Canadian woman who now lives there and was outraged that we were scammed. This trip should cost 100 pesos, and NO MORE than $150. Anyway, it was a small beach south of town with a lot of locals as well as tourists. Right there, you could rent jet skiis, go parasailing, rent snorkeling equipment, etc. However, I wouldn't imagine the snorkeling is any good. Granted, it was a stormy day with dark clouds, but the water was gray. Quite annoying were all of the vendors who consistently bombarded us with requests to purchase their goods. We actually had to be extremely firm with one woman explaining that we came there to relax. We sat down at one of the palapas that lets you sit for free in their chairs. We ordered Coronas and tacos and had a very enjoyable time. However, next time I visit Puerto Vallarta I will go to a hotel called Dreams (used to be El Camino). It is just south of town near Playa de Mismaloya and was absolutely gorgeous! They have a private beach that is not bombarded with vendors. I actually thought that Puerto Vallarta was INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL! Much more so than Acapulco. It reminded me a bit of the lush vegetation that I experienced in St Lucia. It is a mountainous island with lush greenery and beautiful rock formations out in the water.

However, NOTHING compared to our visit to Cabo San Lucas. I will DEFINITELY return to Cabo. You tender in and once you get out of the ship you are faced with these amazing rock formations. You are tendered into the marina and this is where we took a snorkeling excursion. We went on the Eco Snorkel which was supposed to go to Pelican Rock and Chileano Bay, however instead of Pelican Rock we went to Santa Maria Cove and I am so glad we did! Pelican rock is right at the marina and is very busy with tourists in boats coming by to take photos of the pelicans, sea lions, and rock formations. However, Santa maria Cove was very private. It was the best excursion I have ever been on a cruise. We met Juan with Cabo Expeditions at the pier (if you can find this excursion privately I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND it). We boarded a Zodiak (blow up speed boat with no seats, you just sit on the side and hang on!) and first visited lover's beach, the arch, pelican rock, the sea lions and the rock formations - it was incredible! Then we zipped off at high speeds jumping waves along the way. Juan was an extremely skilled driver and I felt completely safe. I thought ahead to pack a bag of dog food and divided it into small baggies for our fellow passengers. There were about 12 of us. I learned this on another cruise. Juan passed out our gear and off we went! I've never seen so many beautiful fish swarm my mask. The dog food really worked and everyone was so grateful that we brought the dogfood. We even had other groups swimming near us to take advantage of all the action. Juan even jumped in with us and scowered the ocean floor for interesting marine life to share with us. He even found a blow fish, a balloon fish and a starfish! He brought them to the surface to let us all see and touch them. It was a truly memorable experience. We tipped Juan an extra $20 because he really made the trip that much more amazing!

Once back at the marina we hired a glass bottom boat for $3 to take us over to the Office. No one knew what Zippers was and I was disappointed. I found out later that we should have had the water taxi take us to Zippers, which is 18 miles down the coast. I didn't realize it was so far away. We had one beer at the Office and realized immediately that this was not the place for us. It was just so busy and definately the party place. Now, we like a good party but were much more interested in some relaxation. We walked down the beach for about 20 minutes away from the marina and came upon this small restaurant called Tabasco's. It was clean and quaint and we were so happy! We had a truly amazing lunch and they let us sit in their chairs on the beach for free here. Then, right on the beach there, were some guys with a few jet skiis that several in our group took out for 1/2 an hour. After 2 hours of sunbathing we hopped on a water taxi back to the marina and did some shopping there. The shops there at the marina were really great.

So, that is our experience with the ports of call on our trip. I hope it was helpful. I'm sorry, we are not big shoppers so I can't comment much on that. We are also not typical tourists, we like to go out on our own and visit places through experiencing the authentic culture. Hope you have a great time!

  #12 (permalink)  
Old 10-25-2005, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 27
Hi Ellen,
Cabo San Lucas is probably the port that I would say is the safest to go alone. It is the wealthiest of the islands we visited and everyone was kind and not pushy. You could also probably go alone in Puerto Vallarta but would not recommend it in Acapulco. By the way, I forgot to mention that we passed a very quaint "park-like" street with shopping vendors enclosed by a tree canopy in Puerto Vallarta that I thought would be fun to visit. If you get off the ship and turn left and to to the main road you would turn right and it was about a mile away. Good luck!
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