If you've been thinking about taking a Mexican Riviera cruise this winter, you'd better put your bid in soon to get your preferred cabin, sailing date and favorite ship, because it looks like a seller's season.
The number of scheduled sailings have dropped this year, due in part to last year's weak bookings in the wake of the September earthquake in Mexico, while demands for North American cruises, obvious during this summer's sold-out Alaska season, have soared.
Ships from last year that are not returning to Mexico's west coast include Princess' Island Princess, repositioned to Sydney for South Pacific cruises; Sitmar's Fairsky, which will be sailing from Fort Lauderdale on eastern and western Caribbean itineraries; Paquet's Rhapsody, sold to Regency Cruises to be refitted as the Regent Star and enter Caribbean service in April, 1987, and Holland America's Noordam, which will be based in Fort Lauderdale for eastern Caribbean sailings this winter. (This marks the first time since its arrival that the Noordam has left the Pacific.)
Resume Mexico Sailings
In the meantime, Princess' Pacific Princess and Sitmar's Fairsea will resume Mexico sailings when they return from Alaska this fall. The Pacific Princess, one of "The Love Boat" family that pioneered Mexican Riviera cruises, has set seven- and 11-day sailings departing alternately from Los Angeles and San Diego to and from Acapulco. Fares range from $1,232 to $4,147 per person, double occupancy, including air fare for those booking outside cabins. Ports of call include Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, with Cabo San Lucas scheduled on some itineraries.
Sitmar has pulled out all the stops to promote the Fairwind's Mexico season, with ultimate discount combinations that bring prices down to bargain-basement levels--from $895 to $2,200 per person double occupancy--for a nine-day round-trip cruise to Acapulco. Good from Sept. 26 through Dec. 7, the rates apply to Los Angeles-boarding passengers who do not require air fare.
To date, two ships new to the market have announced Mexico cruises for the fall. Epirotiki's World Renaissance, which begins a series of nine- and 11-day sailings between Los Angeles and Acapulco on Oct. 17, promises visits not only to popular resort ports (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo and Cabo San Lucas) but also to Salina Cruz, south of Acapulco and port for the matriarchal community of Tehuantepec; San Blas, north of Puerto Vallarta, a quaint and sleepy fishing village; Bahia Magdelena off Baja's Pacific coast, and Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortes. Prices will range from $1,100 to $3,100, including air fare.
First Two Sailings
The very luxurious Sea Goddess I has scheduled her first two sailings to Mexico's west coast in September, an eight-night cruise from Los Angeles to Acapulco, departing Sept. 19 and calling at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo, and a seven-night return cruise from Acapulco on Sept. 27. Fares are $3,600 to $4,100 per person, double occupancy, for the all-suites accommodations with complimentary spirits, wines, champagnes and Beluga caviar throughout the cruise.
Exploration's little 158-passenger North Star has come up with some fresh ideas for Mexico's west-coast cruisers, including a jungle river safari from the village of San Blas and a cruise into the Sea of Cortes, both included in their six-night program out of San Diego; rates begin at $995 per person, double occupancy, including air fare to and from Los Angeles.
Western's Azure Seas and the Stardancer, both now marketed under the "Supercruise" banner, continue to offer moderately priced three-, four- and seven-day sailings. The Azure Seas has just announced special per person double-occupancy rates of $267 to $507 for three days, $317 to $527 for four days, effective Sept. 8 through Dec. 19.
Stardancer, which starts its Mexican Riviera season on Oct. 10, is marketing seven-day Mexico cruises for $745 to $1,795 for Los Angeles-departing passengers through Dec. 12. For $10 per linear foot, your family car or RV can sail along with you one-way to or from Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta, with the driver and his passengers paying as little as $425 per person, double occupancy, for their one-way cruise. Stardancer also anchors at Cabo San Lucas and carries sightseers in by tender.
On-Deck Fun, Games
Carnival's Tropicale offers round-trip seven-day cruises priced from $775 to $1,795 for Los Angeles-area passengers not needing air fare, with calls at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. As one of Carnival's "Fun Ships," the Tropicale promotes on-deck fun and games, plenty of casino action and a flashy late-night disco.
A Mexican Riviera cruise offers a quick overview of Mexico's coastal resorts, as well as an easy introduction to traveling in a foreign country without having to venture too far away from your familiar shipboard home. In each port, you'll be able to choose between guided shore excursions or explorations on your own.
Shopping is inexpensive, especially for souvenir items, and you can count on warm dry sunny weather from Ensenada all the way down to Acapulco.