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Down Mexico Way

Published: Mar/Apr 2002

The Mexican Riviera is calling. From the nonstop beat of Acapulco to the solitude of the rugged Sea of Cortez, the Mexican Riviera offers unique cruise experiences found no other place on earth.

One of each

Shopping on the Mexican Riviera is a bonanza. Shoppers find a diverse array of bargains in modern malls, outdoor markets and every kind of shop in between.

Because Mexico is a leading silver producer, metalwork is a long-standing national tradition. Jewelry is exquisitely made and priced to sell, as are cutlery, flatware, and metal sculptures. When shopping for sterling, look for the "925" stamp indicating 92.5 percent pure silver.

Onyx is another major Mexican export, and this stone, which comes in several colors, is used to make jewelry, small sculptures and decorative items. Much of the high-quality jewelry is handmade by Mexican artisans from several regions.

Sportswear, T-shirts, and beachwear are also good buys in these port cities, and the selection is vast. Famous-maker labels of resort and sportswear are well-represented in the stores. In addition, several chain eateries sell their own lines of clothing. Native clothing and accessories, including embroidered cotton dresses, colorful cotton shirts, woven bags and sashes make great wearable souvenirs. Hand-tooled leather goods are meticulously crafted and usually priced right.

Mexican handicrafts are among the most sought-after souvenirs, and shoppers will be able to choose from a range of works by artisans from nearly every part of the country. In addition to the familiar hand-woven blankets, there is other wonderful merchandise, including items made from such brass, wood, and seashells. Also, be sure to check out the displays of pottery for sale. The art of making pottery is a significant part of Mexico’s vibrant cultural heritage.

So much to see, so little time

With only one day or less to spend in each port, it’s important to organize sightseeing time. Thinking ahead can ensure that you see everything you want to see and get back to the ship on time.

Shore excursions are an excellent way to tour a port city. Some tours hit all the local highlights, while others focus on one activity or on one or two places. Tour guides often take participants to out-of-the-way sites, and transportation is usually comfortable and reliable. In addition, some excursions include lunch and a shopping stop.

If seeing a city from a bus or shopping all day is not appealing, then get out and see Mexico from another viewpoint. Shore excursions allow participants to sea kayak, horseback ride, mountain bike, snorkel, or golf. And don’t forget that Mexico is one of the deep-sea fishing capitals of the world. Full- and half-day excursions are available so anglers can hook your own marlin, swordfish, or dorado.

In addition to the shore excursions offered by the cruise line, there are several other ways to take in the sights. In many port cities, a walking tour of the downtown area allows you to see the attractions and do some shopping. Taxi drivers can also serve as tour guides. Arrange a city tour or beach transfer for a set price. Remember, a tip is appropriate, especially if the driver has been a good guide.

Start planning

Now is the time to book a fall Mexican Riviera cruise. Many AAA preferred cruise partners sail along the Mexican Riviera, including Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Cruise West. These cruises range from three to 10 nights, and offer a variety of itineraries and cruise styles.

Sail aboard an intimate ship like Cruise West’s Spirit of ‘98, which carries only 98 guests, or be one of the first guests to sail Princess Cruises’ new Star Princess, the largest and most amenity-filled vessel ever to sail on the West Coast. To help you pick just the right Mexican cruise, see your AAA Travel agent and ask what exclusive member benefits and savings may be available.

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