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Old 06-29-2008, 11:40 PM   #1
lmele
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Mexico June 22-29: Seven Observations

We just got back and had a very good time, good excursions, good weather, loved the WALL-E premier and Pixar animator talk. I thought I'd post some of our observations specific to the Mexican trip, as many other aspects of the cruise are similar to other Disney cruise itineraries.

#1 - SEA DAYS ARE A LITTLE CHILLY: We had warm days in all ports of call as well as in LA, but the sea days had air temperatures in the low 70's with overcast and/or wind. The temperature and overcast conditions are typical California coast conditions and aren't really a problem, as the main deck has all that plexiglass around it and the pools are heated, but the wind on the last sea day was outrageous. It was hard to walk on deck at times and not comfortable on deck chairs in the open. They had blankets in a cart at the adult pool and there were deck chairs in sheltered spots that were fine. Definitely bring a windbreaker.

#2 - BIG WAVES AT CABO: Because Cabo San Lucas is at the tip of the Baja peninsula, you can visit beaches facing east toward the Gulf or west towards the Pacific. The west-facing Pacific beaches have occasional monster waves. My husband and a couple of other men who were on the kayak trip had to pull out two young women beachgoers who had been pulled out and thrashed by the waves three times and couldn't stand up to get themselves out. They were not a part of an organized group and probably did not get the warning my husband and daughter got to stay off the wet sand which marks where big waves are hitting once in a while. Pay attention to the surf when you pick a beach at Cabo.

#3 - PARADISE BEACH TIPS IN PUERTO VALLARTA: This was a very popular trip, with eight buses and over 300 people from the ship participating. Therefore, there was an advantage in arriving at the meeting place in the bar 15 minutes before the designated time as they began to take groups to the bus as soon as they had enough for a busload. We got on the first bus and therefore were the first to arrive at Paradise Beach, so we had our choice of palapa spots. Quiet spots are furthest from the pool where an activity leader uses a microphone. This trip was roughly equivalent to a day at Castaway Cay. Bus trip is about 30 minutes. The resort is very nice, the beach is wide and the waves are gentle. The pools are clean and there is a pool slide through a crocodile mouth. There are ocean rentals available. The buffet was quite civilized, with cloth napkins and tablecloths. Great day.

#4 - VIEWS WHILE IN PORT: In all three ports of call, the port (left) side is docked facing out to sea, while the starboard (right) side looks toward the shore. In Cabo, the views are great from just about anywhere on the ship. In Mazatlan, the starboard side is up against the loading dock with views of hills an water in the distance. In Puerto Vallarta, the starboard side is along a boulevard that has a WalMart and Sam's Club. Once you get over that jarring site, look beyond the development to the mountains, which are quite nice. If you have a starboard room and were planning to spend the day on your verandah while in Mazatlan or PV, you might plan to find a more pleasant spot elsewhere on the decks.

#5 - SEA LIFE SEEN FROM SHIP: If you're patient, you might see some sea life from the ship. On our first day at sea, as we went down the Baja peninsula, there was a bonanza of sightings. There were whales, a large pod of dolphins, an school of enormous squid, and many flying fish. Flying fish look like enormous dragonflies emerging from under the forward end of the ship. Then they sail just above the water for as much as 50 yards before plopping themselves back in the water. Your kids will love them because they're quite bizarre. There are also large sea birds, like pelicans and frigate birds (which have a dark v-shaped tail). It seemed like the area around the tip of Baja had the most to see, so keep an eye out.

#6 - LOTS OF CALIFORNIANS ON BOARD - Both our regular server and our Palo server confirmed that 1700 of the 2700 passengers were from California, with many more from western states. Prior Mexician sailings this year did not have quite this many west coast folks, and it's not clear of all sailings will be like that, could be a fluke. As we are from the Los Angeles area, we suspected this was the case, as there was a definite West Coast vibe to the crowd. On the plus side, West Coast folks seem more easy going and ready to enjoy themselves. Also, many of us were within an hour's drive to the port, adding the relaxation factor. On the down side, West Coast folks don't get as hyped about deck parties and such. They're enjoying them, but just not whooping and hollering. It's more like "Dude. cool." Also, the Disney thing is viewed more as a birthright than as something special, so they're a tough crowd to wow, as Disney Imagineers can tell you.

#7 - PORT OF LOS ANGELES: Comparisons to Port Canaveral are pointless. These are two very different ports. Port Canaveral is primarily a cruise port, while the cruise industry is but a footnote to the Port of Los Angeles. The combination of the Port of Los Angeles and the adjacent Port of Long Beach (just over the green Vincent Thomas bridge you see from the ship) creates the nation's largest port, accounting for 43% of all the nation's import/export traffic. So, it's industrial in feel, but not completely unfriendly. Security is a bit tighter and our local Longshoremen's union is quite strong, so there are a few more hoops to jump through when you disembark. But we found the process fairly painless...just do what the Disney folks tell you to do for debarkation day. And here's a Disney movie tidbit...As you exit the harbor's channel and head into open water, look starboard to the waters off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Some scenes from Pirates At World's End were filmed off the shore there, causing quite a local stir. At the time, you could see the pirate boats and film crews from shore and they actually docked them in a local marina in Redondo Beach at night. One night, Johnny Depp came ashore and ate in a restaurant, and the locals went ga-ga, as we are not the Hollywood part of LA county. So, look starboard to see "World's End".

Well, I hope this helps someone plan their cruise.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:05 AM   #2
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Thanks so much for posting! All great observations. All I can say about #6 though is look out Cali folks - we plan on whooping it up at the deck parties! The Magic IS something special - other cruiselines have their plusses - but none of them are Disney.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:27 AM   #3
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Thanks for the great observations and especially the tip regarding Paradise Beach in PV!
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:13 PM   #4
TrojanJulez
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Thank you for all of the wonderful information!

I had a question about #3 - the Paradise Beach Resort in Puerto Vallarta. I thought that the description said that kayaks were included... when you say that ocean rentals are available, does this include kayaks? If so, do you recall the cost? I'm trying to figure out if we need to bring extra money with us...

Also, how were their changing facilities/locker rooms/bathrooms/etc?

Thanks again for all of the tips! We will definitely arrive early for this excursion. I'm glad that you guys had fun!
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:29 PM   #5
lmele
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They did not direct us to the "free" kayaks, but we saw kayakers coming out of the channel that is just to the right of the palapas in this picture (click for larger picture):



The kayaks were not right there for you, and I cannot say if they were actually free. The kayaks paddled beyond the buoys marking the swimming area, which you can see is far out as it is not even visible in the picture. The water is shallow for quite a ways out.

The pool is in the center of the hotel, near the thatched roof area on the beach where you get ocean rentals like banana floats, boogie boards and jet skis. Don't know the prices.

They directed us to the restrooms, no changing rooms, in the center of the hotel, which was quite nice.

Sorry I couldn't fully answer you question about the kayaks, as we did not pursue them. Have fun ! It's a nice place.
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:34 PM   #6
TrojanJulez
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Thank you for the info and the photo! It looks beautiful! Where were you taking that photo from? I wonder if I am thinking of the wrong excursion... This is the place with the "Mayan temple", caves, and exotic animals, right?
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrojanJulez View Post
Thank you for the info and the photo! It looks beautiful! Where were you taking that photo from? I wonder if I am thinking of the wrong excursion... This is the place with the "Mayan temple", caves, and exotic animals, right?
You are thinking of Las Calitas Hideaway. We just returned last Sunday from our cruise. We has an amazing time. Yes the kayaks are free. One thing is that the boat trip out to the place is VERY rocky. I had the patch on, and I still almost got seasick. The trip back was fine. I would take something before you get on that boat even if you are wearing the patch. We had a great time . It is very hot though. At least on our day 7/3. There is no Mayan temple. My husband and I looked everywhere for it. They do have cool birds, monkeys, and a sea lion comes out. We had a great lunch. It was just my husband and I, and we were very happy. I do think that some of the children were a little tired by Thursday. I did notice a little change in the parents and children by day 4. I think the kids were a little Done. I never heard any crying or tempers until day 4 But it was not any bother to us. We had an amazing romantic time
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