Mazatlan - Maria's Happy Horses
We were onboard the Emerald Princess last week and went horseback riding with Maria's Happy Horses on Stone Island. Sophie, who's French and is fluent in English and Spanish, picked us up at the tourist pier's entrance. We paid $35 each. Everything was arranged online via the company's website and email. Another family group and us took a taxi, ferry and taxi with Sophie to the beach restaurant from where we mounted our horses for a fun ride near the beach. Riders of all abilities were encouraged to ride as fast or as leisurely as they wished. A free drink was included and there was time to order lunch, if you wanted (can pay in pesos or dollars). We dipped our toes in the water but did not swim as it was very windy and a bit too cool for us. The horses looked very well: happy as advertised. Sophie took us back to the tourist pier's entrance, from which one takes the shuttle to the ship. You can certainly arranged this tour on your own, but because we were traveling with kids, going with Sophie made it seamless. We were very happy with Maria's Happy Horses!
Puerto Vallarta - El Tuito
We had OCB from Princess so took the El Tuito ship excursion. It was a fun day and we would recommend this tour. We visited a garden (not the PV Botanical Garden because, we were told, the owners don't want the big tour vehicles take several parking spaces as these are limited) with a variety of local plants; saw petroglyphs; had lunch at a beatiful hacienda (tables were inside a running river under a canopy of trees, very picturesque, and the food was delicious -- yes, there were towels to dry off feet after lunch, as there was tequila); visited a woodcarving studio and the town of El Tuito (a typical mountain town); had pastries (from a very busy roadside bakery), beer and water on the ride back; and took a fast boat from Tomatlan to the ship's pier in Puerto Vallarta. Thus, lots of different things to do, a great guide, and met great fellow passengers. There were a dozen passengers on our tour vehicle (safari-style, big wheels, off road Mercedes Benz -- with seatbelts). After a beach day in Cabo and riding horses in Mazatlan, we wanted to go inland and this tour was an excellent choice to do that.