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About MSN-Travelers

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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    Eastern Caribbean

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  1. Have been there a dozen or so times over the last two decades. The site expands and adds activities every year. Value vs. Price is a personal judgment and is often based on your expectations from the start. We stopped going when the price to resort vacationers (booked online with discount) went over $110 USD. This season the basic price went up to $139, $118 with online discount. Nobody can every understand how or why the cruise lines charge what they charge. For years, the ship was more expensive than direct booked. Then the ship was cheaper for a couple years. And now (at least for Carnival) the ship is more expensive than direct booked. To be honest . . . Caletas lost its allure as we became very familiar with the city and surrounding area. Ziplines and para-sailing were a whole lot more fun at 46 than it is at 66. Enjoy!
  2. If you are referring to Secrets Vallarta Bay - Purto Vallarta . . . It is, at most, a 10-15 taxi ride from the resort to the Marine Terminal. Depending on the size of your party, it may take longer to get into and out of the taxi than the actual travel time. You can take a Federal taxi/van from the port (cost per person in US Dollars) or a city taxi located just outside the port property (cost per taxi ride, in pesos or USD's, with up to 4 passengers). Know that your only choice coming back to the port is a city taxi. The taxis located on the port property can only take passengers away from the port. I don't know what the port taxis will charge per person to take you to the resort. A city taxi should be roughly 80 pesos. (We stay at the Sheraton and pay 80 pesos to get to the port. Secrets is roughly half way between the Sheraton & the port.) Enjoy!
  3. We have used Los Veranos Canopy Tours several times. https://canopytours-vallarta.com The ziplines are one part of the excursion experience. Ease of access to the excursion site and additional on-site activities can play an part part of your evaluation process. Trip Advisor has additional information/reviews on the various excursion operators in the Vallarta area. ENJOY!
  4. Resort vacationers have an advantage over cruisers. We enjoy the freedom to book direct with Vallarta Adventures or a variety of third party tour brokers. We are able to book a single excursion direct with VA and get a 15% discount. Book two excursions and get a third excursion free. You folks arriving on a ship are bound by the contract price the cruise industry has with VA. You and your kids will love it!
  5. A subjective answer about excursion "worth" is a tough one. Almost as difficult as asking if it is safe to get off the ship. The size and age diversity of your party will have a huge impact on your "price vs. value received" experience. We have been to Las Caletas about a dozen times over the last 2 decades. We have watched it evolve and expand over the years to offer activities that appeal to all age groups. Value for the money? If you want a beach day that includes national drinks, a tasty buffet meal, organized water activities, a variety of optional for-fee activities and no beach vendors in your face . . . then it might be worth the cost. If you have kids, then the value goes up. The ride to Las Caletas is informative and offers breakfast snacks. The return trip is all entertainment and open bar. The adult beverages are national drinks. Don't expect Heineken beer or chocolate martinis. My current cost, booking online, is $118 USD. We are in our 60's and only go if we happen to have guests with us. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to understand cruise ship pricing. Cruise ship pricing was much higher than direct booked pricing for many years. Then the cruise ships were charging less than direct booked pricing for a couple years. Now it appears that, at least for Carnival, they are charging more again. If you are going to evaluate "value" based solely on the price paid, then you will likely be disappointed. If you want a beach day that is vendor-free and has a variety of activities that you can participate in without having to worry about food or restrooms . . . then this is a great excursion. Enjoy!
  6. Millenium Massages, the original, was established in the Marina Vallarta complex and is still there. At some point in the past, they opened a satellite operation on the grounds of the Krystal Resort. The Krystal has been bought and sold a couple times over the last decade. During that time, Krystal built a new spa facility and the Millenium Massage operation moved off the beach and into the new spa. It is my understanding that the Millenium operation left the Krystal facility under unknown circumstances during one of the ownership changes. We haven't been to the Marina facility in quite a while. Enjoy!
  7. Metamorphosis Day Spa is on the south side of Vallarta in what is often referred to as Old Town or the Romantic Zone. The most significant landmark restaurant, near the spa, is Archie's Wok. Google maps will show its location. Taxi is quickest way there but city bus will get you within 5-6 blocks Enjoy!
  8. For Vallarta . . . We are big fans of Metamorfosis Day Spa in old town. http://www.metamorfosisdayspa.com/ Enjoy . . .
  9. Almighty188 - For Vallarta . . . We have vacationed in Vallarta the last 19 years. SEG is one of many third-party excursion brokers that service cruise ship ports. I don't have any personal experience with them. I looked at the excursions they offer in Vallarta and they appear to be rather unique. By that, I mean, they offer "excursions" that I can't figure out who the actual excursion operators are. The Sea Lion/Dolphin/Waterpark is located north of the airport, cruisers do go there on their own, but I have never seen it offered by a tour operator. The same holds true for the City Tour you are looking at. It is a unique offering that will take you to places most people have never heard of. Not a bad offering, just something you will likely get little feedback on from past cruisers. I can tell you that the Princes Cruise City tour is a windshield tour with multiple shopping opportunities. It has no value unless you want a general lay-of-the-land overview for a future land vacation. Casa Kimberly is not easy for tour vehicles to reach. I haven't seen it offered on any tour. In its current configuration, Casa Kimberly is a boutique hotel with a high-end restaurant and tequila bar. The only recognizable feature is the pink bridge that connected is to Casa Burton. Know that the taxi system in Vallarta is rather regimented. There are "city" taxis, "federal" taxis and Uber is trying to get established. The "Federal" taxis operate from the port (and airport) and have exclusive rights to pick up and take passengers FROM these federal properties. Nobody else is allowed to enter the port property and leave with passengers except port taxis and ship's excursion vehicles. Your SEG City Tour indicates the pickup point is a 5 to 20 minute walk from the port. Having said this, your tour will be allowed to RETURN you to back to the port. The greater city area is serviced by hundreds of city taxis as well as UBER. You are rarely more than 20 minutes away from the port from anywhere in the city. It is highly unlikely that any tour, offered by a third-party broker or booked directly with a tour operator, will return you to the port after the ship leaves. It is a stretch for anybody to "guarantee" a return to the ship on time. The "highway" south of the city, taking you to the Nogalito Eco Park, is a two-lane asphalt road that could be blocked if there was a significant traffic accident in just the right spot. As a side note . . . one thing to look for in a third-party excursion broker/excursion operator is a "no port, money back guarantee". This means that you will get your money back if the ship arrives too late for the excursion, changes the itinerary order or bypasses the port completely. Enjoy!
  10. Just want to piggyback on Ine's directions . . . A bus ride from the port to el Cento is a pretty straight ride. The route takes a hard left turn at "Parque Hildalgo", goes 1 block and takes a hard right to again head south. There is a bus stop after the left turn and this would be the place to get off if your goal is to walk the Malecon from the Rosita. Just backtrack to the corner where the turned, look left and you will see the Rosita ahead and on the right. The bus system is in transition from old "school bus" style to new style with automated (no change) coin boxes. The only certainty is the 10 peso per person rate. As of two weeks ago, about 95% of the drivers were still using the old traditional coin tray, even on the new buses. We only had two bus rides, in 28 days, that were using the automated coin box. The strong dollar, along with the new 10 peso rate, makes it very difficult for a driver to accept USD's. Pesos are highly recommended. Enjoy!
  11. Speaking for Puerto Vallarta . . . We have just returned from a month long land vacation in Vallarta (our 19th year). We stay at the Sheraton which is a 15 minute walk north of El Centro. We walk everywhere, at all hours, and use public transportation quite often. Safety: Renting an ATV or dune buggy and heading into the hills, on your own, is not recommended. Wandering the city on your own doesn't present a real danger. Your greatest hazard is the surface you walk on. Sidewalks are often cracked and uneven. Covers to utility service valves are occasionally missing. Curb heights can be quite high and street surfaces uneven (cobblestone). Cell phone "zombies" blindly plod along and create a moving hazard. Beyond this, Vallarta offers opportunities that never grow old and can be enjoyed on your own. Some must be booked through the ship due to contract obligation between the tour providers and the cruise industry. Virtually all excursions offered by Vallarta Adventures must be booked through the ship if you are a cruise ship passenger. I believe the popular pirate ship excursion is also a ship-booked activity. Beyond that, just about anything that you can think of can be booked or done on your own. I believe Splendor stays in Vallarta overnight and this will offer you opportunities that most cruisers can't experience. Vallarta is a foodies paradise but most of the city's good restaurants don't open until 6 PM. Enjoy!
  12. We have had a few more days riding the buses. At this point, all I can confirm is the new 10 peso rate is in effect. Many of the old buses are still in service with drivers being able to make change. All of the new buses have an RF card reader installed. I assume that is for a pre-paid bus pass. All of the new buses have at least 25% less seats and it seems like there is more leg room. Some of the new buses have air conditioning. At least one of the new buses did not have an exact change fare box. Driver was still working from a cash tray. I'm sure things will change over the next few month. It is my impression that there are less busses on the streets and they don't race each other to see who gets first cracking at the next group of riders anymore. Hope all will have a rewarding Thanksgiving (for the Yanks). We're headed to Casa Isabel for a sunset turkey dinner. Enjoy!!
  13. We arrived on the 10th. The bus fare is 10 pesos per person. There is still a mix of old and new buses. The old buses still operate with a cash change tray. The new buses are a 50-50 mix of a/c and non-a/c units. The new buses use an electronic fare box that counts the coinage as you put it in the box. There is a clear plexi-glass box attached for people that pay with a 20 peso note. This is an exact fare system with no change given as the driver has no cash. We did see a driver let a single rider, with a 20 peso note, sit behind him until another rider got on with 10 pesos in coinage. The note went in the box and the coins went to the rider as change. I can't tell if they take USD's on the new buses or what it would cost. The 18/19/20 to 1 fluctuations in the exchange rate make it hard to say if they would want $1 USD per person or be willing to let two people get on for 1 USD. ENJOY! 88 degrees, with lite breeze, and the non-a/c buses are comfortable with the roof hatches open and small slider windows open. The new buses have 1/4 less seats. There seems to be less buses on the streets than before.
  14. Since you have experience with both lines, I'm not sure what you want/need from us. Generally, Carnival would be better with 16 and under kids. Then, on the other hand, we are big fans of Princess and they have an adequate kids program. If kids are not a player, then cruise line amenities should help you decide. Enjoy!
  15. I am most familiar with Vallarta, Cabo to a lesser extent and know almost nothing about Mazatlan. Horseback riding on/at Stone Island (Mazatlan) has been a popular activity in the past. Whale watching and Dolphin interaction, along with beach time, are popular in Cabo. If available, Cabo would be my first choice for anything "Dolphin" due to proximity to the tender dock. Unfortunately, the cruise industry reserves the dolphin facility on "boat day" so it is almost impossible to book this on your own. Vallarta- (18 years) There are several companies that offer zip lines, both through the ship and independently booked. A few offer a ATV/zip line combination. Two companies offer food tours. We have used one of them several times. The Dolphin center at Vallarta is larger than Cabo but is about 45 minutes away from the port. As with Cabo, this vendor must be booked through the ship. There is second dolphin/water park facility but making your own ground transportation arrangements to this facility may add unwanted stress. We tend to book directly with the excursion operators. (extended land vacations) There is a third-party excursion broker that covers all three cities. Their websites list the activities available in each city. Search the net for "city name tours" (no spaces) where city name is the port you are at. As with all independently booked excursions . . . ground transportation to/from the excursion office or excursion site is your responsibility. We are not allowed to give excursion recommendations but we can answer questions you might have about any specific tour/excursions. One last disclaimer . . . some excursion operators are under contract with the cruise industry and are not allowed to sell direct to cruise passengers if the ship is selling the same excursion. Third party tour brokers may initially tell you that they can book a specific tour for you and then report back that they can't because the ship(s) have booked the facility. Trip Advisor is a great resource for excursions/activities available in a given city. If you see something that interests you, come back and ask specific questions.
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