Holland America Line is introducing the new port of Santa Cruz Huatulco, Oaxaca, and scenic cruising through wildlife-abundant Bahia Magdalena, breeding grounds for migrating gray whales, on selected 2009 Mexico cruises. Bahia Magdalena highlights the seven-day Mexican Riviera itineraries, while Santa Cruz Huatulco is featured on the new 12-day Pacific Mexico cruises sailing roundtrip San Diego. These – and Holland America’s 9- and 10-day Sea of Cortez cruises – feature the adventurous shore excursion to Mexico’s famed Copper Canyon.
In 2009 the premium cruise line features sun-splashed itineraries ranging from seven to 15 days on the ms Ryndam and ms Oosterdam, most sailing roundtrip from the convenient homeport of San Diego.
Seven-day Mexican Riviera Sailings with Bahia Magdalena
In 2009 the Vista-class, 1,848-guest Oosterdam begins with seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises departing Saturdays January 3 through February 21, roundtrip from San Diego. Guests visit the popular ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, plus enjoy scenic cruising through Bahia Magdalena. Renowned for its gray whale watching, Bahia Magdalena is also home to dolphins, sea lions and an amazing array of birds including eagles, pelicans, herons and ibis.
Guests enjoy a full day in each port for exploration. Cabo San Lucas offers sport-fishing, sea kayaking, whale-watching and snorkeling/diving opportunities; Mazatlan is renowned for its golden beaches and cosmopolitan resort flavor; and Puerto Vallarta provides a mix of colonial charm, bustling markets and superb shopping. Guests also have two relaxing days at sea when they can pamper themselves at the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and enjoy many other shipboard amenities and activities.
In the fall, the 1,258-guest ms Ryndam sails the same itinerary departing Oct. 10 through Nov. 21. Cruise fares start at $599 per person, double occupancy; taxes and fuel supplement are additional.
Sea of Cortez Cruises, plus Copper Canyon
The Ryndam showcases the Sea of Cortez with 10-day winter/spring cruises departing Feb. 3 to Apr. 24 roundtrip from San Diego. The itineraries feature Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Topolobampo, Loreto, scenic cruising past the Sierra de la Giganta mountains, La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.
From Topolobampo, guests can opt for the full-day excursion to Mexico’s spectacular Copper Canyon, accessible only via the Chihuahua Pacifico railway which travels from sea level to 7,200 feet. In Loreto they can visit the Bahia de Loreto Marine Park for scuba diving, fishing and wildlife watching, go climbing and biking in the mountainous terrain of the Sierra la Giganta or absorb history at the two oldest Jesuit posts in the region: 1697 Nuestra Señora de Loreto Mission and 1699 San Javier Mission. Shore excursions from La Paz include snorkeling at Los Islotes, home to a sea lion colony. Cruise fares start at $999 per person, double occupancy.
The Ryndam also sails a nine-day Sea of Cortez itinerary in the fall with departures Oct. 24 and Nov. 28 roundtrip from San Diego. It offers all the above ports except La Paz.
In addition the Ryndam offers two Sea of Cortez cruises between San Diego and Vancouver, both of which call at the new port of Guaymas on the Sonoran coast. A 14-day cruise departs San Diego on Apr. 24, and a 15-day cruise departs Vancouver on Sept. 25. Both include variations of the 10-day itinerary ports of call plus Guaymas, known for its intriguing mix of golden beaches, fishing, scuba diving, golf, colonial buildings, the San Jose de Guaymas Mission and “El Sahuaral,” a giant cactus area.
In the fall, the Ryndam also sails a 12-day Pacific Mexico itinerary departing Nov. 2 and Dec. 7 roundtrip from San Diego. It visits Manzanillo, Acapulco, Santa Cruz Huatulco — a warm seaside resort also know for its bird-watching opportunities — Zihuatanejo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.