Norwegian Cruise Line Review: Escape to the Mexican Riviera

WAVEJourney Cruises the Mexican Riviera on Norwegian Star

WAVEJourney Cruises the Mexican Riviera on Norwegian Star

Jill and I sailed the Mexican Riviera onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star for eight days in the middle of November. This was our second cruise in 2006 on the Star, our first being a few months previously, to Alaska. The itinerary: Depart from The Port of Los Angeles, spend two days at sea before arriving in Acapulco, Mexico; then take in the beaches, scenery, sights and shopping at Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas before sailing back to LA.

After our Alaska cruise we were hooked on cruising. We find it to be great value for money, interesting itineraries, so much to do that there’s lots of activities to keep everyone busy and happy, and a stress-free way to travel.

Norwegian Star in Zihuatanejo

Norwegian Star in Zihuatanejo

The Norwegian Star is 90,000 tons and one of the largest cruise ships sailing the seas. She carries almost 3000 passengers when filled to the gills and both times we’ve sailed on her she’s been sold out. With many restaurants, buffets and bars, there’s no excuse to be hungry or thirsty while on board. We tried the French restaurant twice, Le Bistro, and loved the cuisine and service. The lobster-and-scallop martini was delicious, the goat-cheese tart ensured we’d return another evening, the duck confit exquisite, and the chocolate mousse and creme brulee were a fine finish to a wonderful meal. Although there is a small fee for the specialty restaurants ($12-$20), next time we take an NCL cruise we’ll be making reservations for dinner only in the specialty restaurants, skipping the main dining rooms.

Our first port of call on the Mexican cruise was Acapulco, arriving on an overcast but very hot and humid day. It was touch and go the day before as to whether or not we’d be able to dock in Acapulco as Hurricane Sergio was also heading there. Luckily, Sergio lingered 235 miles south and was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm and the only sign that a hurricane had been en-route was some choppy seas with windy conditions.

Acapulco Cliff Divers

Acapulco Cliff Divers

Upon arriving in Acapulco and disembarking from the ship, all passengers were bombarded by taxi drivers and tour guides. When the cruise ships arrive in any port, prices go up and there’s no bartering to be done. Other passengers paid $20 for a five minute taxi ride to where the cliff divers are. We were able to join up with five other people and get a four-hour tour in a Suburban taxi for $25 each. Not inexpensive, but the best deal to be had at the time. Our driver, Victor, was very knowledgeable as he showed us the highlights of Acapulco. The highlight for us, and one we highly recommend, was going to see the cliff divers.

Next the Star anchored in the harbor off Zihuatanejo, and we were able to experience our first tender to shore. We wandered around the markets in Zihua and explored the town before finding a local bus to take us on the twenty-minute bus ride to Ixtapa. A cab ride would have cost $50 return for the seven mile trip, but the local bus only cost 60 cents each way. It was much more interesting to ride the bus and see the locals going about their lives. We spent time walking the beach in Ixtapa, watching other passengers and Mexican families on vacation play in the surf and catching small turtles that were trying to get to the water.

Puerto Vallarta Beach

Puerto Vallarta Beach

Puerto Vallarta was our third stop and had the usual taxi cabs lined up at the dock to charge exorbitant prices to travel only a few miles ($25 for three miles into the main area). Again, we walked a couple of blocks and jumped on the local bus that took us right into town for 45 cents each. Lots of shops, markets, tour guides, restaurants and bars, all trying to persuade the tourists into their business. We didn’t book any excursions for our ports of call, but some passengers that we spoke with who had booked excursions from the cruise line felt that they would have been better off making their own plans when they arrived in port. They felt the ship’s excursions were very expensive and not as interesting as they had hoped.

Mexico Riviera Cruise

Mexico Riviera Cruise

Our last port of call was Cabo San Lucas and probably the one which we liked the most. The ocean here was cleaner, the sand whiter and the beaches more inviting. Luckily the hurricane season this year didn’t do much damage, and so it was business as usual.

We had one more sea day on the way back up to Los Angeles. Whales and dolphins could be spotted frequently alongside the ship and we were able to enjoy the pool and decks for most of the day until we encountered dense fog. We love sea days as they are so relaxing. We would get up early and head up to the Oasis Pool Deck for a breakfast of freshly made waffles and omelets, take a long walk on the top deck, take a class or lecture, have lunch in either the Versailles Main Dining Room or Market Cafe, take another walk around the ship, enjoy a cooking or wine tasting class, sit by the pool and read or nap. After dressing for dinner we would attend the evening theater performance, walk around the lower outside deck, listen to music or a comedy show in the Spinnaker Lounge, go to bed.

This was a great vacation, and one we’d do again. If we decided to do the same itinerary, we’d either stay on-board the ship while she’s in port or just go to the beach. We’re not sure where or when our next NCL cruise will be, but we’re enjoying the anticipation.

If you go:
Norwegian Cruise Line

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