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Journeys : Aug Sep 2010
The Mexican Riviera in winter is warm and sunny and our ship, Princess Cruiselines Sapphire Princess was full of happy people escaping the Norther n Hemisphere cold and ready to have some fun. Although the ship was fully booked, the many public areas and ample deck space made us feel like we were only a few guests. There were plenty of places for a quiet chat or to lose yourself, undisturbed in a good book. But if you wanted to be in a place pumping with people and fun you could join in the many group activities like water volleyball, dance lessons, trivia games and the always present shipboard jackpot bingo, just to name a few. Sapphire Princess boasts one of the best spas at sea for lazy days of pampering, a library, internet facilities, a night club and even a wedding chapel. There are plenty of bars and restaurants including a 24 hour buffet and excellent night spots to take you into the wee hours. The best thing about a seven-night Mexican Riviera cruise is the itinerary -- two days at sea, three days in port and one day at sea again. It's a perfect short break from Los Angeles to combine with a visit to any of Califor nia's delights such as Disneyland, San Diego, San Franciso and the city of stars itself, dow ntow n LA. Los Angeles is also a stop off point on your way back from New York -- or a visit can easily be combined with Las Vegas. We visited the ports of Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Each one has something different to offer. There are pristine beaches with plenty of water sports, historical walking tours and village trips, whale watching and shopping, shopping and more shopping. Jewellery is the best buy, with excellent local silver and superb gemstones including diamonds and the m agnificent Mexican red fire stone. The area has a rich, fascinating, bloody and turbulent history. Pick a century and something m ajor was happening in Mexico -- the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Spanish conquests and the Mexican Revolution, just to name a few. I always like to be surprised when travelling. We think we know things about places -- we usually have pre-conceived ideas. These are just a few of my delightful surprises in this part of Mexico: • A visit to the exquisite continually- operating baroque opera house at Mazatlan • Ama zing churches in the most unlikely places • The village of San Sebastion near Puerta Vallarta, which has only been accessible by road for the past four years • The cleanliness of the streets at Cabo San Lucas, one of the best party towns in Mexico • And of course, meeting some of the amazing Mexican people who generally live a poor life compared to us and are so very friendly and welcoming This trip has really opened my eyes to Mexico and given me a taste of the country -- I look for ward to spending some more time there one day. If you want a truly rela xing holiday, then cr uising is definitely the way to go. But to combine it with activities, history, culture, shopping and discovering a destination you may not know a lot about -- that's tr uly travelling. So do yourself a favour, consider a Mexican Riviera cruise and like I did, you'll lear n a bit of the local language and pick up some essential words -- like margarita, tequila, nachos, burritos ... Riviera revelling, Mexican style Christine Benbow Christine travelled to the Mexican Riviera as a guest of Princess Cr uiselines. She has worked in the travel industry for 24 years -- she loves cr uising and exploring new destinations. Christine's favourite places include Africa, Turkey, Canada -- and now Mexico. Contact her at R ACT Travelworld in Kingston on 6242 3201. Story and photos Christine Benbow 51 August / September 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010
Oct Nov 2010