As part of our recent cruise on the Ruby Princess ship to the Mexican Riviera, we visited three western areas in Mexico--Puerto Vallarta--click here to see that blog post--and Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Puerto Vallarta, but I believe each subsequent area we visited won our heart over even more.
Mazatlan has the nickname "Pearl of the Pacific" for good reason. It is a shoreline town lined by a seaside promenade, miles of beaches and picturesque islands and blue lagoons. Old Mazatlan, called the Centro Historico (Historic Center), is full of beautiful turn of the century buildings, cafes, markets, churches and shady plazas.
(All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge if clicked on)
The Ruby Princess Cruise Ship was able to enter the port and allow for a quick and easy disembarkation close to a market area where we were able to join our optional bus tour excursion group that we had prearranged. Our tour guide was very personable and spoke English perfectly.
Our tour guide was very proud to show us one of the major resources of the Mazatlan, the Shrimp Market area. The local Shrimp Fleet is the largest in Mexico, as well as the commercial fishing fleet. The Pacific shrimp that are harvested are known for their jumbo size and delicious, sweet taste.
We were next able to get off the bus and visit the giant indoor Central Market, called the Mercado Pino Suarez. What an amazing place! There are aisles filled with fresh seafood, chickens, beef, pork, fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, cheeses, and other food staples. There are also numerous stalls that sell tourist items such as hats, t-shirts and souvenirs. Stairs lead to a balcony where small restaurants can be found that serve local cuisine.
Near the market is the beautiful Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
We went inside to see the beautiful interior. Our guide told us two interesting facts about the basilica. The very large chandelier that hangs from the ceiling above the altar is filled with thousands of lights and is only lit during very special occasions due to the expense of the electricity needed to light it. It can also be lit if a church member pays to have lighted for a wedding, etc. Our guide told us he paid to have it lit to celebrate a special anniversary mass said for his parents. He also told us to notice the Jewish Star of David that is part of the stained glass windows. His explanation was that at some point in time the basilica needed money for construction, and a Jewish donor gave a large donation. The windows contain the Star of David symbol as gratitude for the gift.
The Malecon (boardwalk) of Mazatlan is one of the longest in the world, at 13 miles (21 KM) long.
Along the shoreline one can see picturesque cliffs, beaches, monuments, gazebos, buildings and hotels.
(Click on photo collage to enlarge)
Our tour also included a stop to watch a brave young cliff diver. Holding our breath we watched him climb a tower, pose and then dive off into the rocky water below. It was a relief to see him surface and swim to shore. He works for tips, and a collection was taken up from the watching tourists. What a way to make a living!
My favorite part of Mazatlan was the historic Old Mazatlan--the Centro Historico. Here many old buildings have been restored, or are in the process of being restored into stores, restaurants, cafes, and residences.
The beautiful tropical weather allowed for a relaxing outdoor stroll of the area to enjoy the music and street performers and beautiful gardens that were filled with flowers.
Our tour bus drove by the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas--the El Faro Lighthouse. It is located at the peak of Cerro del Creston, at the southern end of the peninsular city of Mazatlan, Mexico. It is also one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world.
We stopped at a silver shop where we were given the opportunity to shop and then at the end of the tour we were returned to the market outside the port. The shops were open and the plaza was filled again with music and dancing. As we sailed away on the Ruby Princess from Mazatlan we enjoyed our final view of this pretty seaside city.
The last stop in Mexico on our cruise was Cabo San Lucas (Cape Saint Luke). It is a city located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.
Here, the harbor was too narrow for our cruise ship to enter, so we had to tender ashore on smaller ships. Our visit to Cabo San Lucas was the shortest on the cruise, as it was to last until sail away at 4:00 PM that day. We left the ship early to join an excursion we had pre-planned to cruise the shoreline.
Cabo San Lucas has been rated as one of Mexico's top five tourist destinations. It is known for its beaches, stunningly beautiful shoreline, resort hotels and timeshares along the coast between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, scuba diving locations and marine life.
We boarded our excursion ship and sailed along the Baja coastline, admiring the sapphire waters of the Sea of Cortez and the large weathered cliffs.
We passed the Playa Del Amor (Lover's Beach). Here you can see the Pacific Ocean on the other side of the Baja. Swimming on the Pacific side can be very rough due to the tides, so most tourists will swim on the Bahia de Cabo San Lucas side.
Here, the Pacific Ocean meets the Gulf of California--the Sea of Cortez.
I was thrilled to see and photograph it!
I also found the mountainous cliffs fascinating to see. I imagined all the storms this area has seen over the millennia that have worn them down to jagged peaks.....
...and deep caves.
We sailed around to the opposite Pacific side of El Archo....
...and where we saw resort hotels on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula.
An amusing sight we saw on our way back to the harbor was a fishing boat that had a seal hitchhiking a ride on its back.
The seal was obviously hoping someone on board would toss him a fish from the day's catch!
We really enjoyed our visit to Cabo San Lucas and all its surrounding beauty! We were fortunate that our room's balcony on the Ruby Princess faced the shoreline as we sailed away, so that we could relax on our lounge chairs and admire all we saw pass by. Two days at sea and we were back in Los Angeles.
One of the fun activities we participated in on the sail back to Los Angeles was a cooking presentation by the executive chef of the Ruby Princess and the head Maitre D.' It was followed by a walking tour of the ship's kitchens where we learned how food is prepared for the thousands of passengers and crew.
Back to port where disembarkation was smoothly and expeditiously handled. We arranged for an excursion bus to bring us to the airport and by the evening we were back in Denver. All in all it was a wonderful cruise! We enjoyed our first visit to Mexico and our first sail on a Princess ship and we look forward to our next cruise some time in the future. It definitely was fun way to travel and sight-see.
To see more of this series check out these posts:
The Ruby Princess Cruise Ship
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
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