What do cruise ships do when, because of weather, the season in Alaska has ended, but the season in Mexico has not yet begun? The cruise lines can’t just have a ship sitting in the water and not generating income.
The answer is a coastal cruise. On Holland America these consist of 1- to 5-day-long cruises that leave Vancouver and sail to San Diego or sail around Puget Sound for three or five days, roundtrip from Vancouver. There’s even a 1-day cruise from Vancouver to Seattle. If you have never sailed before, these short coastal cruises are a great way to see what cruising is all about. But the airfare to Vancouver can be expensive, and there’s no indication that air prices will not continue to rise in the future.
I think Princess Cruises has a good solution with their two 7-day coastal cruises that are roundtrip from Los Angeles. Airfare to LAX is not cost prohibitive; or you can drive. The dates for this fall’s coastal cruises are Sept. 24 and Oct. 11. You can think of them as wine cruises, since winery tours are available in every port of call: Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico. Unfortunately, because of the Jones Act, foreign flagged ships sailing to and from an American city must make a port of call in a foreign country, hence Mexico or Canada. Therefore passports are required. If the threat of violence in Mexico scares you, then just stay on the ship that day (we’ve done that frequently on Mexican Riviera cruises, since they are the least expensive cruise, and we just go to relax and enjoy the ship, not for the destination). Prices for these coastal cruises are just slightly higher than the 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises.
And, you guessed it, we have group space reserved on both dates, that gives you a reduced cabin rate and on board credit. Now I realize that a great portion of Payson’s residents moved here from California and therefore a cruise that visits mainly California ports may not be a big draw. But even if wineries are not your thing, there’s still plenty to see in each of the ports of call. And this cruise is a great way to visit several California cities without having to drive, since you wake up every day in a different port after sailing overnight. Ahhh, there’s nothing like the motion of the ocean to rock you to sleep.
In addition to several winery tours, the shore excursions available for Santa Barbara include whale watching for grays, blues, or humpbacks, a city tour by trolley, or a tour of the Danish town of Solvang.
San Francisco offers numerous shore excursions: winery tours in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, a visit to Alcatraz, free time to explore Muir Woods and the Coastal Redwoods, Sausalito and Fisherman’s Wharf, and a city tour that includes the Golden Gate Bridge with numerous photo opportunities.
San Diego - you could spend a week here. In addition to the zoo, there’s Sea World, Wild Animal Park, a city tour that includes Old Town, Coronado Island, and La Jolla, a harbor cruise, the Maritime Museum, a visit to the 100-year-old Bernardo vineyard and Balboa Park, the jewel in San Diego’s crown. Here you will see not only horticulture and Spanish architecture, but have your choice of 13 museums to visit, offering displays of art, model trains, dinosaur fossils, mummies, folk art, photography, sports memorabilia, rare aircraft, vintage automobiles, science and space exhibits and an IMAX theater. Travel to Balboa Park includes a trolley tour of the Gaslamp District and Seaport Village.
Ensenada, Mexico shore excursions include a city tour and drive along the Baja countryside to Punta Banda and its famous blowhole, and two different winery tours, combined with a city tour.
Of course, you can easily step off the ship and schedule an independent tour or shopping excursion. In these California ports of call there’s no language barrier, no foreign money, and no threat of drug cartel violence. With growing global unrest and hatred of Americans, you’ve got to admit that cruises to U.S. cities, whether in Alaska, Hawaii, or California, are becoming more appealing.
Visit Cruise Port Travel for cruises, land tours, or independent vacations any where in the world. We are located in Payson on Driftwood Dr. You can also book airfare or hotels on our Web site, www.travelpayson.com. Check under specials for groups offering special savings and under the Blog Spot to read archived Rim Review travel articles. Please help the Payson economy by supporting local businesses over than those in the Valley. We do.