Zaandam’s Mexican Riviera

This guest post is the 3rd of a three part series from Howard Hian, aboard the ms Zaandam of the Holland America Line

You can read Part One Here:

You can read Part Two Here:

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

During our recent 11-day cruise on Holland America’s Zaandam, our itinerary included six stops. It’s interesting to note that most towns in Mexico have four things in common; a zocala (main plaza), a church, a bullring and a mercado (central market). Additionally, the beach communities we visited had a malecon (boardwalk) which lined the harbor. Here is a brief overview of our ports.

The grande dame of Mexican resorts, Acapulco, still has a lot of cache. For our short visit, we hired a driver through the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office. Our guide took us to see the cliff divers at La Quebrada, the historic Ft. San Diego, the mercado and a rooftop view from the iconic Casa Blanca. The big surprise was the Diego Riviera mural on the outside walls of his patron’s home. We finished the day with an enjoyable meal at a local favorite on the beach, La Cabana de Caleta. Everything you need can be found at: Visit Acapulco (request Manuel Barrera for your driver).

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

We tendered into Cabo San Lucas and spent several hours walking around the lively marina and through town. It’s a shopper’s paradise, featuring everything from vendors’ stalls to upscale malls. There are also a multitude of bars and restaurants. Exploring and wandering was lots of fun, the weather was perfect and we even bought a mini-domino set. The same store also carried $1 beers. How could we go wrong? Call 1-866 LOS CABOS or go to: Visit Los Cabos for information.

Huatulco was a very pleasant surprise. There is a great beach right near the dock which led to a perfect afternoon of swimming and relaxing. Grab a table with an umbrella (free!), drink a beer

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

and watch the parade of people passing by. We also strolled through town and stopped at the Arts & Crafts market. Although there is no Visitors Bureau, Google Huatulco for updates, etc.

Manzanillo’s harbor has the look and feel of a European port. Its mile-long malecon features a landmark sailfish sculpture by Jardin de Alvaro Obregon, paying homage to the city being the “sailfish capital of Mexico.” Shopping is nearby and one could feel the social aspect of the bustling mercado. Surprisingly, it is the largest commercial port in Mexico and is referred to as the #1 China Gate. The primavera trees are quite beautiful. Visit the “iguana trees.” For more, go to: Vive Manzanillo. For tours and ground transportation, email: (they’ve been around since 1986).

Walking Zihuatanejo’s picturesque malecon and wandering past the restaurants, bars and shops was our activity of choice since it was easily accessible from the pier. Check their website at: Visit Iz

photo courtesy of Howard Hian

There is nothing more to report about Puerto Vallarta because we took a day-long tour with Vallarta Adventures to Las Caletas (see A Duck Landed On My Lap for the entire story). But, we highly recommend the excursion and can’t wait to return to Puerto Vallarta for further exploration. For city information logon to: Visit Puerto Vallarta and for activities/tours go to: Vallarta Adventures

Travel Wrap Up

photos courtesy of Howard Hian

Three essential items from Magellan’s, traveled with us: a rolling carry-on, a jewelry pocket for valuables and a keychain tote that took up no space and was a perfect beach companion. Sun protection is crucial and the top rated hats from Outdoor Research not only did the job but looked good.

And, of course, kudos to our transportation to the Mexican Riviera, the ms Zaandam, and Holland America.

Safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.  His prize winning story, Houseboating with My Pirate Pals, was in the Intergenerational Travel category.  In 2010 he also received a second place award in the Cancun International writers competition for his feature, Quintessential Quintana Roo.