Cruises to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico capture the romance and history of the Mexican Riviera. Once an unknown silver processing port, Puerto Vallarta was first patronized by Hollywood stars, notably Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, in the 1960s. With that hint of stardom, tourism blossomed in this sleepy Mexican town, and Puerto Vallarta is now one of the Mexican Riviera's most popular cruise ship destinations.
Featured Cruises to Puerto Vallarta
Norwegian Cruise Line: Sports and Fitness
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) places a huge emphasis on sports and fitness. For the kids, they arrange basketball games, rounders and Frisbees. For the adults, they supply walking and jogging tracks and a 24-hour fitness center. Among other sports, the entire family can enjoy a game of ten pins at their bowling alley.
The following ships sail to Puerto Vallarta:
- With 16 dining options, 13 bars, and six night clubs, the Norwegian Jewel is NCL's highest rated ship on Cruise Critic. Like on all NCL cruise liners, you get complimentary dining options and room service. Departing from New Orleans and arriving back in Los Angeles, prices on this cruise begin around $1,000 for 15 days.
- The fact that the Norwegian Sun has two less dining options and three less bars than the Jewel is purely due to its size. Holding less than 2,000 people, this is a quieter, more family-friendly cruise ship. Departing from Miami and arriving back in Los Angeles, prices begin around $1,000 for 15 days.
Oceania: Mid-Sized Ships
On the big ships that hold upwards of 3,000 passengers, it is easy to feel as insignificant as a fish in the ocean. The rushed staff won't remember your face and, among so many passengers, it can be difficult to forge friendships. Oceania's ships are different. Holding only 684 passengers and staffed by 400 crew members, they provide fast and personable service.
Oceania's flagship, Regatta, has four restaurants and eight lounges filled with beautiful, neo-classical furnishings. Departing from San Francisco and arriving back in New York, prices on this cruise begin around $4,300 for 21 days.
Princess Cruises: Fine Cuisine
On the first day of your Princess Cruise, you will be invited to a buffet lunch or dinner. Every morning after that, you will wake up to the smell of warm, fresh bread at your ship's European Piazzas. In the afternoon, you can feast on canopies by the pool.. From the food to the wine, Princess offers a fine dining experience that rivals any major city.
The following ships sail to Puerto Vallarta:
- If you think that Princess's claim of serving the finest cuisine is an overstatement, think again. Along with its entire fleet, the Golden Princess has been inducted into the Cuisine des Rotisserie Gastronomic Society. With traditional, anytime, specialty, and casual dining options, it's easy to see why. Sailing round trip from Los Angeles, prices for this cruise begin around $1,100 for 10 days.
- With three dining rooms, four pools, a piazza, a theater, a club, and a casino, the Crown Princess has plenty of room to fit its 3,000 guests. There's also plenty for them to do right into the early hours of the morning. Departing from Fort Lauderdale and arriving back in Los Angeles, prices begin at just under $5,800 for 49 days.
Disney Cruises: Family and Kids
As a treat for the kids, Disney Cruises wins hands down. Disney characters greet kids throughout the ship, movie theaters play classic and contemporary Disney films, and the pools are named and designed after characters such as Goofy and Donald Duck. Kids will also enjoy Disney's youth clubs. At the Oceaneer Club, the kids can enjoy an area modeled after Captain Cook's ship that includes a dress up room, a computer lab, a dance floor, and multiple televisions. Best of all, it's open until the clock strikes midnight.
The Disney Wonder recreates the Disney magic the world has come to know and love. It has art nouveau decor, bronze statues of some of its most famous characters, and specially commissioned paintings and woodworks. Departing from Miami and arriving back in Los Angeles, prices begin around $3,000 for 15 nights.
Carnival Cruises: Party Cruise
Carnival cruises are just that, a carnival on a cruise boat. In between ports, you can listen to live music, including the mixes of their very own DJ IRIE. You can also play interactive games at the Ocean Plaza, watch comedy at the Punchliner, or see performances at the seaside theater.
The following ships sail to Puerto Vallarta:
- With a nine hole mini golf course, a water park, and a tropical resort-style pool, the Imagination resembles a theme park more than a ship. The action heats up even more at its range of clubs, bars and lounges. Departing from Miami and arriving back in Los Angles, prices for this cruise begin around $1,050 for 16 days
- The Miracle is a ship for music lovers. You can either kick off your shoes and listen to jazz at the jazz club, or keep them on to dance to the various beats at Dr. Frankenstein's Lab. Departing from Los Angeles, this cruise is priced around $460 for six days.
Arriving in Puerto Vallarta
Knowing that cruise ships bring an immeasurable amount of business to the area, Puerto Vallarta is well-equipped to handle even larger vessels. Ships dock at the Puerto Vallarta Marina, just a few miles north of the city's downtown shopping district. While it is possible to walk to downtown from the dock, taxis are plentiful. As with most cruise port areas, the immediate vicinity is filled with typical tourist boutiques and craft stalls, as well as ready access to beaches.
Necessary information about Puerto Vallarta:
- Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.
- The official currency is the peso, which is roughly equivalent to a $0.08. Vendors gladly accept U.S. currency.
- Vendors can be mildly aggressive, and many stores offer similar merchandise. Savvy shoppers would do well to bargain before agreeing on a final price.
Shore Tours in Puerto Vallarta
As with all tropical ports, cruises to Puerto Vallarta Mexico offer a variety of nautical shore excursions, including snorkeling, certified scuba diving, and different sailing tours. Other popular excursions include dolphin encounters and swims, horseback riding, and golfing. In recent years, eco-tourism has gained notoriety near Puerto Vallarta, and a variety of adventurous tours are available, including canopy excursions, mountain biking, and kayaking. For the culturally inclined, highlight tours are available, and many culminate in a mock-bullfight demonstration.
Many guests prefer to take a taxi to the center of town. Once there, Puerto Vallarta offers a wide range of attractions within walking distance, from public art displays to museums and celebrity remnants.
Puerto Vallarta's most popular attractions include:
- The Malecon: This seaside downtown promenade is exquisitely decorated with public art from one end to the other, from romantic scenes to wacky modern sculptures by renowned Mexican artists.
- Museo Rio Cuale: This tiny museum on nearby Isla Cuale (accessible by pedestrian bridges) offers visitors a rare glimpse of pre-Columbian figures and other artifacts from Mexico's ancient civilizations.
- Pink Bridge: Not an official attraction, this monument is a highlight for celebrity fans. Its delicate arch once connected Richard Burton's and Elizabeth Taylor's homes.
- Huichol Collection Museum Gallery: Located near the city's main square on the corner of calle Galeana and calle Morelos, this museum has an excellent collection of Huichol Indian art, including intricate beadwork on masks, wall hangings, and carved animal shapes. An on-site artist cab often be found working on pieces.
- La Casa del Tequila: Perfect for cruisers who like to imbibe, the highlight of this unique shop is a tasting room where samples of different tequilas are available.
- Beaches: Puerto Vallarta is well known for delightful beaches, but those located near the cruise terminal are overcrowded and less enjoyable. South of town, smoother, wider beaches are available for public use with access through various hotel lobbies, and many water sports and rentals are available.
- Shopping: No cruise would be complete without souvenirs, and shopping in Puerto Vallarta is a wild blend of tacky trinkets and authentic art. Dedicated shoppers can easily find silver jewelry, leather products, clothing, crafts, and much more.
A Few Tips
Of course, it's difficult traveling around a city you've never been to before. Here are a few helpful tips that will make your shore excursion go a little smoother.
- Since the main attractions in Puerto Vallarta are several miles from the cruise terminal, visitors need to be aware of taxi fees (generally less than $10) or be prepared to walk into town.
- To avoid heatstroke or sunstroke while strolling through the many shopping districts or relaxing on the beach, always wear appropriate sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
- Puerto Vallarta's many winding streets and hidden attractions can be quite confusing to new visitors, and cruise ship passengers are encouraged to bring along local maps (available on the ship) to avoid becoming lost.
A Trip to Remember
Once the hidden treasure of celebrities and Hollywood starlets, Puerto Vallarta is now a thriving cruise destination that offers everything from extensive shopping to eco-tourism. Due to the port's appeal, many cruise ships offer extended stays (nearly a full day) in Puerto Vallarta so passengers have enough time to fully experience the culture and ambience unique to this Mexican Riviera destination. It's a day that most passengers will not soon forget.