Best Cruises to Mexico
A Wide Range of Exotic Cruise Options
Just like the Caribbean, Mexico has been a favorite cruise destination for decades. From the west coast and its Mexican Riviera sailings to the east coast and its Mayan Riviera ports called on during Western Caribbean itineraries, Mexico presents a wide range of exotic cruise options. Whether you’re looking for a brief 2-day introduction to the world of cruising or you wish to delve into exciting adventures in the Sea of Cortez, these Mexico cruise options hold plenty of seafaring fun.
Sampler Cruise: The 2- to 4-Day Option
Are you intrigued by cruise travel but don’t know exactly where to begin? Convenient 2- to 4-day sampler cruises to Mexico might be just the answer, especially if you live in or near California. From Los Angeles, Carnival Cruise Lines regularly deploys its “fun ships” -- so called by the line for their playful nature -- on shorter durations to the Baja California port of Ensenada, Mexico, with or without an additional stop at Catalina Island. Choose from the 2,056-passenger sister ships -- Carnival Imagination or Carnival Inspiration -- or the larger 2,124-person Carnival Miracle.
Mexican Riviera Round-Trips: 6 Days or More
The most common Mexico itinerary is to the Mexican Riviera, visiting the west coast of the country, with Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta being the most frequented ports on weeklong cruises. Other ports on the Pacific Ocean side include Acapulco, Ensenada, Huatulco, Manzanillo, Puerto Chiapas and Zihuatanejo – well-known as the town longed for in the film The Shawshank Redemption.
If you’ve already experienced a cruise as a quick weekend getaway and are ready for more, these full-circle trips of 6 days or longer are great for a complete vacation. Round-trips to the Mexican Riviera commence from the California homeports of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and they are operated primarily by Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.
Mexico’s East Coast via Western Caribbean
While not often dedicated exclusively to Mexico, plenty of western Caribbean sailings highlight the Mayan Riviera along Mexico’s east coast. The Mexican ports of Progresso, Costa Maya and Cozumel are all access points to the ancient Mayan civilization and its famous historical sites such as Chichen Itza, Tulum and San Gervasio.
At one time or another, all the mainstream cruise lines visit Mexico’s east coast from various departure ports in Florida, including Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral and Tampa. Servicing additional states off the Gulf of Mexico, Norwegian Cruise Line also leaves from Louisiana; Disney Cruise Line and Princess Cruises also leave from Texas; and Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International also leave from both Louisiana and Texas.
Angel of IndependenceWe enjoy sightseeing in some of Mexico’s biggest cities, including Tijuana, Puebla, Guadalajara, Ecatepec de Morelos. Don’t forget to stop by El Ángel de la Independencia (pictured) aka The Angel of Independence in Mexico City. The Angel was built to commemorate the centennial of the beginning of Mexico’s War of Independence, celebrated in 1810. 960 1280
Dia de los MuertosMexicans take their festivals and celebrations seriously, and Dia de los Muertos is no different. Day of the Dead, a national holiday, is a special time when families honor the deceased with parades, private alters, leaving gifts on graves and eating favorite foods and beverages of the dearly departed. Cinco de Mayo, Sombrero Festival and Under the Volcano are a few other Mexican celebrations. 960 1280
TulumExplore ancient ruins at Tulum, one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayan. It’s located along the east coast the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea. There are 3 major structures: El Castillo (pictured), the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. 960 1280
TamalesTamales can be traced back to the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations when they were used as portable food to support their armies, but also to feed hunters and travelers. According to taste, this tasty treat can be filled with meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, chilies and a variety of other ingredients. 960 1280
Mexican BeerWe enjoy sipping on a Corona, one of the best-selling beers in Mexico and one of the top-selling beers worldwide. Dos Equis, Modelo Especial, Estella, Noche Buena and Carta Blanca are a few other popular beers brewed in Mexico. And we can’t forget about a few of our favorite Mexican spirits like tequila, mescal and pulque. 960 1280
Why We Love Mexico 19 Photos
Cenote SagradoThe Cenote Sagrado, near the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, was once a site of sacrifice to the Mayan rain god Chac. In the early 1900s, archaeologist Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the famous cenote and found copper, gold bells, rings, masks, cups, figurines and embossed plaques. He also found evidence of human sacrifice. 960 1280
Mexico's Cenotes 12 Photos
Mexico Beach Weekend 11 Photos
Special Sailings to the Sea of Cortez
Also alluring are a handful of unique sailings to the Sea of Cortez onboard Holland America Line and Azamara Club Cruises (the upscale boutique line and corporate cousin to Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises), and now is the time to book them with just a singular 12-day cruise available per line.
Holland America’s Statendam will set sail for the region in December 2013 round-trip from San Diego, and the Azamara Quest will follow in January 2014 round-trip from Los Angeles. A highlight of these voyages will be access to the Copper Canyon, Mexico’s equivalent to the Grand Canyon, as well as overnight stays.
The Statendam will stop in Puerto Vallarta for 2 days, and the Azamara Quest will do the same in Loreto. Late-evening stays are similarly a signature of Azamara, and the Quest will stay until 11 p.m. in both Topolobampo and Cabo San Lucas, while Holland America will stay just as late in Topolobampo. Additional featured ports flanking the Sea of Cortez will be La Paz and Guaymas.
Passing Through: Luxury Lines and Repositioning
Luxury cruise lines like Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises make it to Mexico infrequently, while other mainstream lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Royal Caribbean International only get to Mexico’s west coast during repositioning -- between sailing regions -- or Panama Canal cruises. For more details on these cruises, as well as how to choose specific ships and dates for the other cruise operators mentioned above, it’s best to visit each line’s official website.
MORE: Travel's Best Cruises 2015