The Ultimate Guide for a Mexican Riviera Cruise

The Mexican Riviera is comprised of a string of incredible port cities and beach resorts along the sun-drenched Pacific Coast of Mexico. This region and its top destinations boast unmatched elements that make cruises to the Mexican Riviera appealing to families, couples and fun-seeking friends alike. Beyond the beautiful beaches, the diverse landscapes range from rugged mountain peaks to cactus-strewn deserts. You’ll discover cultural and historic attractions from tequila factories to colonial-era churches to an abundance of marine life.

Mexican Riviera Itineraries

Carnival Panorama, Carnival’s newest cruise ship setting sail starting Dec 2019, offers you three itinerary options for taking a Mexican Riviera cruise. All will be departing from the convenient port of Long Beach (Los Angeles).

6-Day Cruise: If you’re looking to visit two of the Mexican Riviera’s most popular vacation spots — Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada — opt for this relaxing 6-day cruise option. This gives you two consecutive full days to explore the beauty and adventures in Cabo and then wrap up your vacation by spending the day in the breathtaking port of Ensenada, known as the “Cinderella of the Pacific.”

7-Day Cruise: If you’re looking to explore as much of the Mexican Riviera as possible, opt for the 7-day itinerary which takes you to the beautiful ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. At each port, you can explore the rich culture and history, stunning beaches and delicious authentic cuisine for a full day.

8-Day Cruise: If you’re looking for the longest cruise option that gives you equal parts relaxation and equal parts excitement, opt for this 8-day itinerary. You’ll get two full days in Cabo San Lucas, then a full day each in Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

ocean view of puerto vallarta during sunset

Packing Smart for Your Cruise

The Mexican Riviera’s weather is warm and sunny year round, with average temperatures ranging from the low 80s during the day to the high 60s in the evening hours. Be sure to pack the following:

  • Summer clothes
  • Multiple swimsuits
  • A light rain jacket and a sweater (for cooler evenings and air-conditioned venues)
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (reef-friendly)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Binoculars (optional)

Onboard the ship, dress code is generally informal, but you can expect one or two “cruise elegant” evenings in the dining room. Bring one elegant outfit, or stick to the casual scene in the Lido Restaurant. Also, remember to double-check the ship’s luggage requirements before you pack your suitcase.

woman packing shorts, shirts, sunglasses and straw hat for vacation

Have Fun and Go All Out Onboard

Carnvial’s Mexican Riviera cruises feature fun days at sea so that you can explore the entertainment and dining options. Pack your days with aquatic action at WaterWorks, Twister Waterslide™ and pools, while spending your evenings watching spectacular live shows. Take to the stage yourself at Lip Sync Battle: Carnival and channel your inner rock star or pop idol. Reach the finale and you’ll lip sync your heart out, complete with professional choreography, lighting and even backup dancers.

Perhaps lounging around at the Serenity Only Adult Retreat, then soaking in the Thalassotherapy pool at Cloud 9 Spa, followed by cocktails at Alchemy Bar and Piano Bar is more your speed?

Cruising with kids? Camps for all ages and Seuss at Sea activities offer character parades, story time and more!

carnival splendor sailing in the pacific ocean

Carnival Panorama has delicious dining options for every appetite, including pizza, old-fashioned barbecue and custom Mexican favorites at the burrito bar. Morning or night room service, Swirls soft-serve ice cream and more are always available.

Mexican Riviera Ports and Excursions

With so much to explore and experience in the Mexican Riviera, it might be difficult to decide what to do. But don’t fret — Carnival has got you covered with an amazing selection of exciting shore excursion itineraries. Book early and you’ll be set for an adventure as soon as the ship pulls into port.

Cabo San Lucas is a superb destination for outdoor adventures including sailing, ziplining, horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling and diving. Golfers can play 18 holes at the Cabo del Sol Desert Course, one of the top golf courses in Mexico.

If off-roading is more your speed, go on the Wild Canyon UTV Expedition, where you can drive through canyons and creeks, on the beach and across the longest hanging wooden bridge in the world. Another unique excursion is the Camel and Mexican Outback Adventure. Drive a 4×4 across unspoiled desert canyons to a secluded ranch on the Pacific coast, where you’ll explore cactus-lined river beds, go for a nature walk, participate in tequila-tasting and tortilla-making workshops, and then ride a camel on the beach.

sunrise at the arch of cabo san lucas in mexico

Mazatlán is the largest port on Mexico’s Pacific coast, known for its charming old town, top-notch museums and 10-mile seaside promenade. The city is a delightful place to explore, and you might like to venture to nearby Stone Island on the Nature Discovery and Turtle Sanctuary excursion.

Visit one of the most important sea turtle sanctuaries in Mexico and learn how marine biologists gather and incubate eggs, then release thousands of baby turtles into the wild. History buffs can explore three distinct and historic locales in the Sierra Madre foothills on the Colonial Villages of Sierra Madre excursion.

10-mile seaside promenade in mazatlan

Puerto Vallarta invites you to wander its narrow, cobblestone streets; stroll the sculpture-lined bay-front promenade and hit one of many great swimming beaches. Excursion options here include an extreme canopy tour, dolphin swim, trip to colonial San Sebastian and several snorkeling and sailing trips.

Support grassroots efforts to provide opportunities for local youth on the Give Back with Purpose Community TourThis excursion takes you to coastal Sayulita and the historic village of San Pancho. While there you’ll learn about the EntreAmigos (Among Friends) project, taste artisan chocolates and see a live cooking demonstration.

Budding wildlife photographers and nature lovers can choose the Exclusive Whale Photo Safari, which takes you in search of dolphin pods and humpback whales in the Bay of Banderas.

aerial view of los muertos pier in puerto vallarta

The Mexican Riviera is a top cruise destination for good reason… in fact, many good reasons! Glorious weather, enticing ports, fascinating history and culture and so much more await along Mexico’s beautiful Pacific coast.

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions and dining options may vary by ship and destination.