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Easygoing San Diego embodies the Southern California surfer town fantasy, with its more than 300 days of sun, mild year-round temperatures and accessible, sporty pastimes and tourist attractions. Cruise to San Diego and hike the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to get a glimpse of whale migrations, go sailing in the bay and, of course, surf the famous swells of Del Mar, Oceanside and La Jolla (among many other superb spots). Cruise from San Diego and explore the sixth-largest city in the United States. Discover San Diego’s distinctive neighborhoods on a San Diego shore excursion. Visit Old Town, North Park, Point Loma and Coronado are all within a few miles of the port, while the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy are within walking distance.
And while there are lots of things to do for everyone on a San Diego Cruise—from visiting the country’s largest urban park to taking in the famous horse-racing season in Del Mar to riding the charming Old Town Trolley—definitely don’t pass up the chance to investigate San Diego’s quickly growing reputation as a culinary destination. Its inventive new restaurants and huge craft-brewing industry are something to be explored.
Unique compared to Acapulco, Cancún, Zihuatanejo and several other coastal resort towns in Mexico—many of which were created by the government as planned communities—Puerto Vallarta (“PV” to locals), on the Pacific Ocean, retains quite a bit of its colonial-era charm. Its town square, Plaza de Armas, and the gorgeous parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, topped with an ornate crown and overlooking the port, serve as the loveliest representations of bygone ages. While on your Puerto Vallarta cruise, we take you alongside these echoes of the past are more modern attractions, including an ambitious public art project along the seaside walkway (the malecón) and trendy restaurants such as La Leche, serving contemporary Mexican cuisine. Round these out with plenty of fun-in-the-sun outdoor activities on and along Banderas Bay (whale-watching! snorkeling! jet-skiing!), excursions that reveal the best of Puerto Vallarta’s flora and fauna, and a side trip to one of Mexico’s pueblos mágicos (magical towns, a designation conferred by the government to recognize smaller towns that possess historical and cultural value), and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant place to spend part of your cruise to Puerto Vallarta.
Everything you ever wanted in a seaside resort: warm sun, sandy beaches and nine beautiful bays rimmed in every shade of blue. Nearby: low-growth caducifolia jungles teeming with birdlife and the nesting grounds of endangered sea turtles. Sample shore excursions: Five Bays by Catamaran; Horseback Riding; Bird-watching Eco Tour; ATV Jungle Adventure.
The southernmost port on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Chiapas is named for the state in which it is located. It is relatively new, built in 1975, and is the primary hub from which the region’s agricultural goods, including coffee, are sent abroad. For travelers arriving by cruise ship, the town of Puerto Chiapas is a jumping-off point to explore surrounding areas, including Tapachula, the second-largest city in the state of Chiapas. In addition to visiting the coffee estates and banana and cacao plantations of the area, day trips include excursions to Maya sites such as Izapa. Although not as well known as some of the Maya sites of southern and eastern Mexico, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Chichén Itzá, Izapa is impressive nonetheless. In addition to its interesting location—it sits along a river and is aligned with a volcano (the sixth-tallest mountain in Mexico)—archaeologists have found numerous stelae and evidence that it was the largest Maya site in Chiapas. While in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the cuisine of Chiapas, which is influenced heavily by the Maya. One typical dish is tasajo, a thinly sliced beef steak marinated in a sauce made with achiote (also known as annatto) and chili.
In the cultured little country of Guatemala modern Maya still weave their stories on backstrap looms, and the great stone temples of Tikal stand in silent testament to ancient Mayan ingenuity. Sample shore excursions: Casa Santa Domingo & Antigua; Lake Atitlan & Highlands; Finca Coffee Plantation Tour; Tikal Expedition by Air.
As a travel destination, Nicaragua still remains below the radar for many Americans, despite a recent surge of media interest in this Central American country. One of the region’s most politically and socially stable nations, Nicaragua has been billed as the next great spot for eco-, cultural and culinary tourism. Adventurous guests keen to experience its charms are rewarded richly for their efforts. The country’s most visited cities are Managua (the capital), Granada and León; the latter sits near the Pacific Coast. Corinto is the nearest port town, just northwest of León and along the route to the Panama Canal Zone. It offers many of the charms of the larger cities, including their colonial-era architecture, as well as a number of cultural and ecological attractions in surrounding areas. Given the port’s proximity to León, it’s easy for cruise passengers to take a day trip to this beautiful city established by Spanish conquistadores in 1524. While there, be sure to sample the traditional dish called vigorón, a hearty plate heaped with pork, boiled yuca and cabbage salad. Though residents of Granada claim to have invented it, vigorón is popular around the entire country and is a true taste of Nicaragua.
One of the stops along the Panama Canal Zone route, Puerto Caldera on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast isn’t your ordinary port of call, positioned as it is within easy day-trip distance of the country’s multiple national parks. The town itself is small, but makes for an ideal base from which travelers can venture out to explore the variety of this Central American country’s outdoor attractions and activities. These include snapping photos of gushing waterfalls (and swimming at the base of one, if you bring your swimsuit!), sightseeing near active volcanoes, bird-watching in nature reserves and sanctuaries and horseback riding on Pacific beaches . . . and that’s just for starters. Visitors to Puerto Caldera and the surrounding region also enjoy shopping for handicrafts that local artists sell at their cooperatives, as well as sampling traditional Tico cuisine, especially gallo pinto—a combination of rice and beans eaten at any time of the day or night. Puerto Caldera is the perfect reminder that adventure often awaits just around the bend.
Located off the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia, the windswept Dutch island of Aruba feels like another world. When you take a cruise to Aruba, you can relax in the shade of a swaying Divi Divi tree on a pristine beach or explore untamed coastal cliffs in an exotic landscape filled with cacti. Just one day on an Aruba cruise can lead to a lifetime full of stories.
There is an abundance of things to see and do in the Ft. Lauderdale area: visit the newly redesigned Ft. Lauderdale Beach and cafes, stroll the historic Riverwalk, shop the luxurious stores on Las Olas Boulevard or adventure to the Everglades for an intriguing air boat excursion.
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