Mexico Cruise Guide

mexico cruise destinations mayan ruins cruises
Mayan Ruins - by Chadd Lin / Thinkstock

Why go?

America’s sunny southern neighbor seems to have all the fun, with powder-soft beaches, savory fish tacos, and endless tequila sundowns. In Mexico, it feels like every day is a festival that ends in starry skies with a mariachi band romantically crooning in the distance.

Cruise ships carry travelers to two different coasts, the Pacific side and the Caribbean. Itineraries through the Panama Canal unite the two. As you explore the country, you’ll notice that every port reveals a place that blends history, adventure, food, and beaches.

And oh those beaches: Mexico’s strands are things of legend. To really explore them, you’ll need to get wet, since the natural charms beneath the warm waters should not be missed. Don a snorkel mask or scuba gear to visit the iridescent fish and rainbow colors of Mexico’s coral reefs. Adrenaline junkies can swim with whale sharks while mellower travelers commune with dolphins.

It would be a mistake to only hug Mexico’s palapa-strewn coast, however. Venture inland on an excursion to cobblestoned colonial Spanish cities with bustling craft markets and stylish boutiques, or spend a day among the ruins dedicated to Mayan gods.

Mexico offers a rich palate of colors in which to paint memories. Regardless if you choose a trek to jungle-shrouded temples, a seaside massage, or a simple kickback with a fresh lime margarita, Mexico will make a national sport out of spicing up your vacation. 

When to go

Mexico’s cruise season runs year-round. Winters are balmy; summer temperatures can reach past the 90s. The high season is also the driest season: That’s December through April, when the beaches are most crowded and prices peak. June and July are the hottest months of the year.

Those who don’t object to a mid-afternoon rain shower or sticky nights will find steep discounts and fewer crowds during the rainy season, May through October. September is the rainiest month on the Caribbean side and the heart of hurricane season. While hurricanes are rare, cruisers inclined to seasickness might prefer to visit in other months.

Multigenerational families are plentiful on cruises during school holidays, including Christmas and spring break, and prices can skyrocket because of the demand. In addition, some single and senior travelers might feel overwhelmed by the crowds during these weeks.

For nature lovers, the annual gray whale migration up and down Baja California is a treat. The world’s largest mammals travel south from Alaska in the winter to Mexico's Pacific coast, where they'll accompany your ship on a journey along the peninsula. The season lasts from January through March, when they birth and nurse their calves.

Routes

The Pacific:

Mexico’s Riviera rivals the Mediterranean for its blend of striking beaches, chic shopping, and spirited partying. The western coast also offers world-class views of large sea animals, sport fish, and sea lions along the stark and beautiful Baja peninsula.

Good for: Travelers craving variety will enjoy the mix of desert and beach.

Downside: While the protected bays of Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco shelter swimmers from open ocean rollers, some Pacific-facing beaches get more swell in summer months than little children or nervous swimmers would find comfortable.

The Caribbean:

The calm, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico create placid beaches and underwater worlds rich with color. Cruises to Mexico’s Western Caribbean ports often make stops in several countries, such as the Cayman Islands, Belize, or Jamaica, a boon for travelers who enjoy diversity. The Gulf Coast was the center of Mexico’s ancient civilizations, which left behind temples, pyramids, and palaces that you can still see today.

Good for: Snorkelers and scuba divers can’t get enough of the candy-colored fish in Mexico’s Caribbean waters.

Downside: You may have to travel away from the port to view the best sights. But cruisers who don’t take advantage of on-shore excursions will miss out on highlights such as Mayan pyramids that bring out your inner Indiana Jones.

Panama Canal:

The Panama Canal is an engineering wonder, providing passage between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It can only be experienced by ship; most canal itineraries make a stop in at least one Mexican port.

Good for: The canal offers a long, slow at-sea day with a rare glimpse of the world’s most exciting shortcut.

Downside: Small children might not understand what all the waiting and fuss is about when passing through the canal. 

Cruise Lines That Sail Mexico

Latest Cruise Deals

Drop Price Description Line Departure  
21%
$749
$949
3 days ago

7 Night Mexican Riviera Holiday (San Diego Roundtrip)

Oosterdam

Oceanview Cabin

Holland America Line
December 20, 2017 View Deal via Avoya Travel
19%
$849
$1049
3 days ago

7 Night Mexican Riviera Holiday (San Diego Roundtrip)

Oosterdam

Balcony Cabin

Holland America Line
December 20, 2017 View Deal via Avoya Travel
18%
$699
$849
3 days ago

7 Night Mexican Riviera Holiday (San Diego Roundtrip)

Oosterdam

Inside Cabin

Holland America Line
December 20, 2017 View Deal via Avoya Travel
17%
$499
$599
3 days ago

7 Night Mexican Riviera (San Diego Roundtrip)

Eurodam

Inside Cabin

Holland America Line
October 21, 2018 View Deal via Avoya Travel
17%
$999
$1199
3 days ago

7 Night Mexican Riviera (San Diego Roundtrip)

Nieuw Amsterdam

Balcony Cabin

Holland America Line
April 14, 2019 View Deal via Avoya Travel

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Ports




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