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Sunday, November 30, 2008

THE CRUISE CONTINUES--HUALTULCO, MEXICO AND THE PACIFIC

At last we are in Mexico. It is our first time on the Pacific coast of the country, and we will visit three very different and interesting ports: Huatulco, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas.

Huatulco with its 18 miles of coastline forming nine beautiful bays of soft, white sand beaches is our first port of call. Today’s Huatulco is Acapulco twenty years ago, and it is ripe for development. That’s what is happening here as resorts open and Americans join Europeans in this quiet city of only 7000 year-round residents. Much of the area has been designated an ecological reserve, so Huatulco has a very different and less hassled feel from much of the Mexican Riviera.

As the ship pulls into port, the panorama is spectacular. We stand on our balcony, and as we shift our views, we’re greeted by high, forested mountains almost layered behind a colorful, picturesque village and sparkling white sandy beaches. Look in another direction, and we’re treated to a coastline sprinkled with intriguing rock formations. Recreational boats ply the seductive waters, and even as we try to photographically capture this elusive scene, we are anxious to leave the ship and experience what are eyes reveal.

Marty, Sue, Rob and I opt for a lazy day on the beach. That’s a must. While the Coral Princess has many options, it does not have beaches and ocean. We book a shore excursion to Las Brisas Resort. When it opened in 1987, it was the largest Club Med in the western hemisphere. Now operated by Las Brisas, it still has the facilities and activities for which Club Med is famous.

The problem is that this shore excursion is poorly managed. The hotel is very beautiful and luxurious, but we are dropped off at Las Brisas with no instructions from the tour operator (selected by Princess), and no one we ask seems to know how our excursion works or what facilities and activities are available to us. We basically have to find our way around and discover these amenities ourselves. That consumes time. However, this is the only excursion on the entire cruise that proved a disappointment. When we took our concerns back to Princess in the evening, we were given a refund for the day. So it’s difficult to hold too much of a grudge because we’re resourceful, did manage to have a decent day, and Princess attempted to make it right.

As I said, we four are resourceful, and in no time we found a beach, lugged some lounges together under a palm umbrella, and headed for the water which was lovely and calm. Our homing instincts led us to the nearest beachfront bar, and we kicked back, enjoyed the local beer, and relaxed a bit. We did not get to sail or snorkel—a BIG MINUS because the deep cove in which the hotel sits would have made sailing an absolute delight—and we did not get to sit down and enjoy the hotel’s cuisine; hence we missed the local specialties. As we discovered our way back to meet our coach, we spotted the catamarans just around a corner on another part of the cove. Rob and I just looked at each other. Still we had been warmed by the sun, cooled by the water, and spent the day with our friends. And our walk let us enjoy meeting iguanas on every possible rocky place. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

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