Good for you, Penny ~ We'll be doing our third trip down - it's just so easy and inexpensive from Arizona. Living so close to Mexico, it's not such a grand adventure, it's simply a getaway. I really can't do any recommendations - we just tend to walk around the ports to soak up some local flavor... I can't even comment on the snorkeling (knowing what a snorkler you are). Should be the start of whale season - so be on the look out. Weather should be nice, however could be cool on the first and last days at sea.
Penny, that's great! Welcome to the "Left Coast". I don't believe you've been on Sapphire Princess before (?)--I know you're going to love her as much as I do.
As susanmaz says, the Mexican Riviera is no "Grand Adventure"; but it is a very relaxing and pleasant getaway and it will be nice and warm in the three ports.
I know you've read that Mexico's West Coast waters are not as warm and clear as the Caribbean, and this is true--but they are still very pleasant; and Cabo San Lucas is your best bet for good snorkeling and all beach activities. Kayak tours get you great views of the famous Los Arcos rock formations.
If you want to really absorb some of the colorful Mexican culture there is a tour in Mazatlan that takes you into some of the villages in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. Or there is a walking tour of Old Mazatlan that gets you up-close to this charming old city. Or just stroll the Golden Zone, with its great shops and restaurants. And many just take the short water taxi ride to Stone Island for a very inexpensive day of beach fun and good food.
In Puerto Vallarta a day at one of the all-inclusive beach resorts is a good choice--there aren't any really good public beaches. Or just take the short cab ride to downtown and stroll around; the Cathedral, shops, restaurants and an artisans village by the river are all within easy walking distance. Or if you're more adventurous, there are zip lines, jungle canopy tours, ATV and bike tours and hiking. But even in December Puerto Vallarta is hot and humid.
So Penny, whatever you do I know you will have a great time. I'm really happy you are finally coming out our way.
Thank you Rick and Lynn. I love snorkeling, but not freezing. If the water is below 85 degrees, I'm too cold to enjoy it. I'm sure in December, that will be the case. We're doing the standard ports, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan. It'll be like doing the love boat, although the original one is no longer Princess.
I haven't sailed on the Sapphire and am SO excited! My goal is to sail on every Princess ship. I'd better get busy
I like trying other lines, but so miss Princess and Costa. I loved the Epic, but it just can't compare. I don't know why, it's just a feeling.
Penny, I can't promise you water at 85° but it won't be as cool as you might think--especially in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Cabo San Lucas, being right on the tip of Baja California, can catch some of the cool currents coming South from Alaska; but by the time it gets to the other ports it has mingled with the warm Northward currents and is pretty nice. And it will be warm and humid enough that the water will feel pretty darn good.
Sapphire Princess is enough like the other ships that you will feel right at home; but it also seems somehow more spacious. For one thing, the Promenade Deck is much wider; and the whole ship seems to have a more open and airy feel. I just love her.
Penny, not wishing to alarm you but please be aware that if you go swimming in Cabo San Lucas there are " rip tides " that can grab you suddenly and unexpectedly. I was warned about this from other passengers who had been before when I was on my Mexican cruise.
I remember being warned about " Love or Lovers Beach " and also another one called Divorce beach. Only one side of lovers beach is considered safe and I've forgotten which side it is.
Anyway, I'm sure you'll have a terrific time on the Sapphire Princess and enjoy the experience of Mexico.
Some of the all-inclusive resorts on the Pacific side of the peninsula tell you there is no ocean swimming allowed due to rip currents; but it is usually quite calm on the bay side. No snorkel boat skipper is going to put you in dangerous water.