Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: this is a very nice port; however, having to tender puts a damper on the amount of time you have in port, in addition to the time in port being short in the first place. For this stop, I decided to give “paddle board surfing” a try. Caught a cab to Cabo Surf Hotel (the ride took about 20 minutes and cost $35 – one way). This hotel is simply lovely and is on the water. The surf shop on the beach gives the lesson; it was a little harder than expected but great fun + the hotel would be a great place just to hang out away from the tourist crowd.
Acapulco, Mexico: you dock right in town, but this is a busy port with venders everywhere. I chose to take a surfing lesson and arranged with Antonio Diaz (email@example.com). Antonio met me at the dock and away we went to a lovely beach with no vendors. The surfing lessons were great as Antonio is very patient, speaks excellent English and is willing to do what it takes to ensure you have a good time. At the beach, my group and I had a lovely lunch from a small cantina (cost $20) with drinks; Great day!
Huatulco, Mexico: this is a terrific port off the beaten path; however, the ship shortened our stop by 5hrs, so my original plan of canyon hiking went out the window. I was in contact with George Hurchalla for the canyon hiking (firstname.lastname@example.org); he is an expat and lives in the area. George made a quick change of plans due to the unexpected shortened port time, and the group went snorkeling in a national park; simply lovely. If you are planning a stop in Huatulo and want to do something different, contact George.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala: my first visit to Guatemala. The ship docks in a small area with not much around except for vendors selling excursions. I had arranged with “Go with Gus” tours. Our party was taken immediately to the Pacaya Volcano where we spent the next two hrs. climbing the volcano. It is not a technically difficult climb, but it is very steep and can be a little slippery. There are numerous individuals attempting to ask if you would rather ride a horse up the trail vs walking; also you can ‘buy’ a walking stick for $1 which you then can give back to the kids ‘selling’ them vs figuring what to do with it when you are finished with the climb. Once you reach the lower level of the summit, the view is lovely and you get a chance to see all the hardened lava. Following the volcano climb, I visited the city of Antigua which is very picturesque with no change of architecture being allowed for hundreds of years.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica: it was a fun time; do yourself a favor and go to the adventure park www.adventureparkcostarica.com; nothing more can be said except be ready for a FUN and very active day, and yes, ride the horse to the start of the zip lines.
Panama Canal crossing: best kept secret and amazing vantage is the back of the ship in the restaurant overlooking the stern (Summer Palace). There are three locks and at each lock there are chambers which lower or raise the ship; going through the lake is also pretty amazing.
Cartegena, Colombia: the ship’s last port. Through facebook, I lucked out and located Gerardo Nieto (email@example.com). Gerardo works in the movie industry and as a hobby and biking enthusiast he takes tourists on bike tours of the lovely island. Gerardo met us at the port (outside the main gates) and off we went. We were fortunate enough to get to visit Gerardo’s lovely home; we were also treated to a great local lunch at a local non-tourist cantina. Our biggest challenge was dodging all the traffic, but what a fun bike day all over the city and getting to see some really neat sights including unusual ones that other tourists don’t get to see.