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mulliganmaven

Need help choosing between cabo, Matzalan, or PV for excursions we want to do

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We just booked our first cruise ever for mid-December and i'm so excited! We've got a diverse group-- two 69yr olds, two in upper 40's, and 10 and 12 year old!  We will do different excursions based on activity level, meaning we don't have to go as a group,  but wanted recommendations on which port we should do the following types of activities:  horseback riding, zipline & ATV riding, swimming w dolphins, walk & or food tour.  We are traveling on Princess and they have a low price guarantee but some are already full.  obviously we want to save money where we can and are seasoned travelers but first time cruisers!  We can all walk well so if there's something we can do on our own w/o renting a cab, would like to.

Thanks in advance. I've read a TON on these boards & there are a lot of differing opinions for sure. Just trying to make the most of our stops taking cost and travel time into consideration. (hate having to sit in a van for a long ride unless it's necessary to the activity.)  

Edited by mulliganmaven
forgot to add timeline

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Done this cruise many times since we live in San Diego. In Cabo if you just want a beach day, you can walk around the harbor to the other side of the bay (making a right after exiting the pier). Its about a 30 minute walk (flat) and there are numerous beaches to choose from. Most will give you free loungers if you buy drinks/food. We like "The Office". There is a water taxi that can take you there and back also. It is just to the left of the dock as you exit the pier. We usually walk there and water taxi back. Also, on the pier there are a lot of vendors for snorkel, sightseeing, glass bottom boats, etc. 

Mazatlan-If you want a walking tour on your own, as you exit the pier, there is a painted path on the cement with local volunteers willing to hand you a free brochure to follow. Its a nice way to explore on your own for a couple hours and even stop for a beer or lunch. We have also booked a hotel room (El Cid) when we travelled with others. One hotel room by the beach gives you access to their pools, loungers, etc. Prefer hanging out at a pool in Mazatlan and then just walking the beach as we like. Having access to the room is nice to put your stuff and even shower if you want. 

PV-There is a beach very close to the pier. Also a Walmart within walking distance if you need stuff. At the beach you can do parasailing, etc. We usually go to the Marriott which is a short taxi ride. We get a day pass which is under $40pp and includes about $25 in foot credit. Their pool is beautiful. You can also sit at the beach within the resort. Food is good. After, you can walk to the harbor where there are tons of shops and restaurants. Its very pretty there. If the adults want a couples day pass, try Secrets. 

Hope this helps. 

 

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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. 

Edited by MSN-Travelers

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Hi,

We do this cruise every year.

Cabo is a tender port which means the large ship cannot dock there. You take small boats from the large ship to the shore. We find it easier to get off the ship there if on an excursion from the ship.

IF you don't mind waiting a bit you can take the tender to shore where you'll find an easy time walking to a beach for activities.

Mazatlan has several easy choices on your own.

When you get off the ship there is a people mover to take you to the door of the port.

From there you can walk the blue line(actual painted blue line on street) to the main square. There will be English speaking volunteers along the way  with maps and encouragement. In the main square there's a pretty church and interesting covered market.

IF you want a beach day there with some horseback riding too instead of walking the blue line turn left after you exit the port and ask the volunteers to point you to the water taxi to Stone Island. There On Stone Island you'll find little restaurants, water toy rentals and horseback riding.

You can Google to find out more about this.

Puerto Vallarta is our favorite city in this area. Not sure why you don't want  to use taxis??? It's about $8-10 to get to the boardwalk area.

Staying close to the port does not allow you to really enjoy this lovely city. We walk out of the port area and flag down a taxi to the malecon(boardwalk-mah-leh-cone)We enjoy walking along by the ocean , looking at the stores, restaurants, statues, local entertainers etc. IF you do this you will walk across a bridge over a river to a beach with water activities, restaurants/ etc.

IF you want to do a zip line this is the city for that. You can Google to find tours or you will probably also find tour vendors along the way.

 

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Another vote for doing Stone Island in Mazatlan on your own. No need for an organized excursion for this one.

 

In Cabo, we just hang out at Medano Beach, have lunch, drinks and generally enjoy the beautiful scenery.

 

Highly recommend the Las Caletas excursion in PV, one of the best we've experienced. We've done it 2-3 times because we enjoy it so much. This one also includes a full Mexican buffet lunch 😋 and an open bar all day. It's truly a gorgeous day in paradise!

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I use to go to Stone Island with Randi's Happy Horses.  Horseback riding through the groves of trees and along the beach.  It is now called Maria's Happy Horses as Randi died several years ago.  It was a great excursion.  They pick you up outside the port area and transport you to the boat to Stone Island and then you meet your horse.  After riding they take you to a restaurant where you can purchase food and beverages and play in the water if it's warm enough.

 

Candi

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1 hour ago, candigirl41 said:

I use to go to Stone Island with Randi's Happy Horses.  Horseback riding through the groves of trees and along the beach.  It is now called Maria's Happy Horses as Randi died several years ago.  It was a great excursion.  They pick you up outside the port area and transport you to the boat to Stone Island and then you meet your horse.  After riding they take you to a restaurant where you can purchase food and beverages and play in the water if it's warm enough.

 

Candi

 

But the key here is that you can do all of this on your own, at a fraction of the organized excursion cost. :classic_smile:

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we also have our family going on ncl star dec 21 so we have whale watching cabo , dolphin swim Puerto Vallarta, ziplines Mazatlan all booked on our own

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On 11/4/2018 at 2:59 PM, KroozNut said:

 

But the key here is that you can do all of this on your own, at a fraction of the organized excursion cost. :classic_smile:

How do you get your own horse on the ship?

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41 minutes ago, Dee_Jay said:

How do you get your own horse on the ship?

You use a sea horse and you tether it to the ship -- you keep it outside the ship in the water, not "on" the ship.

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1 hour ago, Dee_Jay said:

How do you get your own horse on the ship?

 

Lol...  Obviously you don't. You simply rent them right on the beach at Stone Island. :classic_rolleyes:

Edited by KroozNut

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I will agree with doing the beach in Cabo. There are snorkeling excursions but they all seem to go to the same spot.

In PV we have done the Las Caletas and it was beautiful and fun. We also did the best zip lining ever in PV.

 

PV is beautiful and tropical. Cabo is desert.

 

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