Take me back! Videos, menus and vlogs, oh my!
We had an amazing sailing on Star Princess’ 10 night Mexican Riviera and Sea of Cortes itinerary. We will share our daily vlogs, stateroom tour, and loads more videos toward the end of this review (plus some fun tips from officers, how we organize our stateroom).
Living in California, we chose this cruise because it allowed us to unwind beyond the standard 7 night trip to the MR, and experience the ports of Loreto and LaPaz, all without flying.While we’d been to La Paz before, we were hungry to explore more of the Sea of Cortes, and the brand new experience of Loreto. The ports we visited were San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, La Paz, and Loreto. This ship normally sails Hawaii 15 night itineraries, as well as Alaska, so this was a “one off”. My husband and I sail with our 8 year old son, and he loves to cruise.
We chose cabin A333, a balcony cabin on Aloha Deck and LOVED the convenience of being just one floor down the pool and Horizon Court buffet. Noise was never an issue, though you could hear the dragging of chairs on occasion during daytime hours. The balcony was fully covered, which was nice.
We departed on a Thursday from the port of San Pedro, and our first port stop (San Deigo) was the very next day. Embarkation was pretty smooth, though slow to board due to a special group ahead of us. I was sad to see that Princess no longer offers a lounge for Platinum guests, as this was our first platinum sailing. They do have a reserved seating area, but it quickly became crowded, and there was no water to drink, unless you bought it out of a vending machine. Kind of a bummer. We didn’t take a lot of still photos, but you can see our full embarkation experience in the first vlog. After boarding the ship, my husband set off to film the quiet areas of the ship that he could before the crowds hit. My son and I acquainted with our room, and headed to the Maitre’D station in the dining room to have our 5:30pm dining time moved. This was NO problem, since people were eagerly awaiting that early spot. The maitre D was lovely and moved us to a standing 7:15 table in the anytime dining room, which worked out wonderfully. Day 1 flew by and before we knew it, we were in San Diego!
Our stop in San Diego happened to be on Veteran’s Day, and we planned to visit the USS Midway museum. The sunrise approach into San Diego was quiet and beautiful. You can catch the time lapse in our vlog, later in this post.
We toured the midway for a few hours, enjoyed the Veteran’s Day celebration on the flight deck, had a greasy lunch onboard, then walked back to the ship to cool off in the pools (it was SO hot!). We caught a glimpse of the Veteran’s Day parade as we walked back to the ship, and it was wonderful to see Veterans out with their families enjoying the San Diego waterfront.
Once back onboard, we went to a moving Veteran's Day ceremony on the pool deck. The officers did SUCH an incredible job of honoring the occasion, and the onboard veterans.
After a sea day, awesome wine tasting, and some much needed rest, it was time for Cabo!
I remember thinking Cabo would feel like our first "real" port because in my mind San Diego was just another stop (and it is my hometown), but I was wrong! we loved our port stop in San Diego and visiting the USS Midway and *loved* the rest and relaxation the following sea day brought. But, we were really excited to be in Mexico and planned to do our usual routine in Cabo, which was to catch a water taxi to Medano beach and relax and swim in the waves until we were tired, then take the water taxi back and return to the ship by tender.
We had priority tendering to getoff the ship, so the process was pretty smooth.
It was a little bit of a rocky tendering process that day, which you can see in vlog. We went to our normal haunt on medano beach called Billygans, a beachfront casual restaurant and bar sandwiched between some of the more popular restaurants and bars like the office and mango deck.
Our next port following Cabo San Lucas was La Paz, a few hundred miles up the sea of Cortez (or maybe a little less). We were very excited to return to as we have been there many years before when our ship was diverted due to bad weather and a storm in the lower Mexican Riviera area. We had limited time to explore the area on our first cruise so we had vowed to make the most of it on this journey.
In researching our port activities we came across a company called red travel Mexico. They give us a really good deal on a private tour and we planned to go to Isla espiritu Santo, A UNESCO world heritage site however when we arrived in the morning and met the captain and hostess they told us that it was too windy and that we needed to change our plans. They suggested that we go swim with whale sharks, what!!! This was something my husband and I had discussed before I decided not to do because we were terrified but we went along with it and ended up having the time of our lives which you'll see more of in the vlog. The captain made a beautiful ceviche lunch and spoiled us on a pristine white beach with no other humans in sight. The bay is large and there are several beaches, some of which can be accessed by car or bus.
The whale shark experience was a little bit terrifying for me but I'm so glad that we did it. Our eight-year-old son did not get out of the boat because the water was way too Rocky and it would've been considerably dangerous for him. I also got stung by a few small jellyfish and I think I would've been traumatizing had it happened to him. The first image is a rather cloudy view of the whale shark which is pretty common in that area. There aren't many clear-water days, according to our guides in La Paz so-those are pretty normal conditions. The second photo shows the view of the aft of the ship as we returned on our boat that we chartered that day with red travel Mexico. The view was really dramatic and beautiful. Our boat was so cozy and well shaded and made the rocky conditions more bearable.
We had arranged a day trip to Isla Coronado with Loreto sea and land tours, who we found on TripAdvisor months before. After tendering ashore, the tour provider had set up shop right at the exit, super convenient. We upgraded for a very small fee to a private tour after getting a sideways look from some other travelers who didn't seem too thrilled to see our kid joining their boat. It was a snap decision, but a good one which we rarely would spend the extra $ to do. Our guide took a while to arrive, but once onboard, we sped across the calm bay to our next adventure. Our guide offered to stop at a private beach instead busy Coronado, and it was a little slice of paradise. He unwrapped machaca burritos and shared his hot sauce with me as we tried to communicate with my limited Spanish and his limited English. What came next was so unexpected and can be better enjoyed through the video/vlog. The captain spotted a pod of dolphins which we were able to follow and film! After, we made a quick stop at Isla Coronado, where many other boats had spent the afternoon, but our trip was cut short when a member of another panga with the same tour provider cut his foot - we needed to get him back to port and his boat had some sort of malfunction. Once He and his group joined ours, we quickly realized they dined right next to us in the mdr each night. They were a friendly, wonderful multi generation group with great senses of humor and a perfect example of the perfect dining room neighbors!
There were lots of hugs of gratitude after that experience and we loved seeing them each night and checking on the poor guys healing progress. Our son called all the ladies by name and on our last night, we knew we'd miss them!
Our Loreto day was likely my favorite of the cruise, and I'd love to visit by land one day.
Sea Day and Bridge Tour:
Following our wonderful day in Loreto, we had a sea day before we went to Puerto Vallarta, where we had a planned excursion.
Plans were mellow and loose as we needed some R&R after two sun filled port days. We were invited to a bridge tour for the first time in over 25 cruises and could not contain our excitement. Our son was well behaved and even got to wear the captains hat for photos.
Captain Stefano Rivera spent a lot of time explaining bridge operations to us, shipboard security, and just some generally interesting facts about the vessel and the reporting structure on board.
Finally, making our way down the coast, we visited Puerto Vallarta, which was beautiful and balmy as always. The zip line tour with Los Veranos was the day of family dreams, and while we almost MISSED the tour entirely, we would do it again in a heartbeat. The video says it all (tequila tasting, sliding into a river, and just acting like kids!). They even have a petting zoo, and a tasty restaurant.
I'll leave the rest to our videos, since I'm sure this is becoming quite a long review. I highly recommend this ship and itin and would say it's excellent for couples, families and older travelers who just want to relax. This is in NO way a party ship, and there was very little nightlife.
Here is a link to the menus: http://www.cruisetipstv.com/star-princess-menus-download/
The vlogs, cabin organization tips and officer interview:
Here are our food and ship videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCLybRxC0VFKfs-3X-WfWqNnjNig5JxBp
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Get to know the head waiter and maitre'D, as this is a long cruise and they can really make your experience special.