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Elated  to Be Cruising the Mexican Riviera

 By Rita  Cook (ritacook@wwwiz.com)

 Whether  you're looking for a short weekend trip or a seven-day vacation, Carnival Cruise Lines offers the perfect  getaway. While many cruise ships only leave from foreign ports, Carnival's  Elation leaves from the Port of Los Angeles every Sunday, speeding you away to  the Mexican Riviera and ports of call such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo  San Lucas. Carnival Cruise Lines has a reputation for being not only laid back,  but
fun.

On days  that you're out to sea, you'll be busy attending singles parties, rum swizzle  parties and taking in the various nightclubs until the early morning hours.  Elation carries 2,052 passengers and it weighs 70,367 tons. With all the  activities aboard, there won't be time to wonder what you're going to do next. I  decided to start a walking program every evening on the walking track. There's  also a workout room and spa where I enjoyed a facial and had my hair done for  the Captain's dinner. There were three ports of call during the cruise–first  stop Puerto
Vallarta. Check out http://www.jwtravel.com/heartapv.htm  for ``Everything you
Wanted to Know About Puerto Vallarta."  Temperatures there usually hover between  78 and
86 degrees, however at night it can get cooler and there's a chilly  breeze during the winter months.

Don  Pedro Alvarado discovered Puerto Vallarta in 1541 and it remained a quiet  fishing village for centuries until 1950 when it was turned into a weekend  resort for the nearby city of Guadalajara.

The ship  offers excursions at each port of call and in Puerto Vallarta the Mismaloya City  Tour takes you down cobblestone streets with a stop at the famous Gringo Gulch.  The Countryside Adventure is a 3½-hour trip into the villages and countryside.  There's also plenty
of snorkeling, sunbathing and swimming. For an update on  city events and happenings visit
http://www.travelfacts.com/tfacts/htm/pv/pvdest.htm  or for a list of 50 things to do in Puerto Vallarta, go to http://www.jwtravel.com/pv50.htm and  find ideas such as a sunset cruise in the bay, deep sea fishing for blue marlin  and sailfish or a hot-air balloon ride complete with  champagne.

The next  port of call on the Mexican Rivera is Mazatlan, about 20 miles below the Tropic  of Cancer The town, located on a peninsula surrounded by cliffs and beaches, was  built in the 18th and 19th century. Many people visit the area to fish for  marlin, often as big as 750 pounds. For more details and a directory on  nightlife, dining and outdoor activities check out http://www.mexonline.com/mazatlan.htm.  The ship excursions include a Sierra Madre tour that takes about seven  hours.

The tour  takes you on a journey through old towns and fishing villages, many dating back  to the time of the Spanish Colonial era. There's also the city and shopping  tour, the sports fishing tour on a 35-foot fishing boat, Stone Island Tour, the  Old Mazatlan Walking Tour and the Las Moras Ranch Tour. The feel in Mazatlan is  casual and serene. The Las Moras Tour offers swimming and relaxing in the sun  and the Old Mazatlan Tour takes you on a trip through the history of the city.  At one point, we stopped along the cliffs and watched as young divers plunged  from 30 to 50 feet high rocks into the water below. The Golden Zone in Mazatlan  is the place to find the best shops and restaurants. For more general  information on the town and to check the weather and upcoming events visit http://www.maztravel.com/.

The last  port of call is Cabo San Lucas. Rock musician Sammy Hagar made Cabo famous with  his Cabo Wabo club. So while you're there it's a must see, but there's plenty  more to do there, too. Cabo was my favorite stop and the most unspoiled of the  ports. Cabo San Lucas is located at  the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea  of Cortez. The flora and fauna in the area is amazing, but there's also the  beautiful ``Los Arcos," incredible monoliths rising from the ocean floor  capturing the beauty and mystique of the town.

For  weather information and a travel guide check out http://www.go2cabos.com/.
The ship offers  several excursions in Cabo San Lucas including the Land's End Boat Tour and  Beach Club, a Coastal Highlights Tour that takes you on a trip through the  dramatic scenery of the desert and the rugged coastline. There's also  snorkeling, including an ecological snorkeling expedition. Finally, there are  two choices of whale watching, the Pirate Ship Historical
Whale watching Tour  and the Kaleidoscope Catamaran Whale Watching Tour. Every
year from December  through mid-April the humpbacks, greys and blue whales migrate from the Alaskan  waters to this area to mate and give birth. During our whale watching expedition  we saw humpbacks and greys as curious about us as we were about  them.

During  the days you're at sea, dinners are served at both 6 and 8:15 p.m. Normally, you  meet new people at your table and sit with them during every meal in the dining  room. The food is excellent, designed around a theme such as Mexican, Italian or  Chinese, to name a few. No matter how late you want to stay up at night, the  nightclubs are open and waiting. There's also a casino with tables and slot  machines and every evening there's a show in the main showroom.
Carnival  Cruise Lines now have about 15 ships and Carnival Victory will be added to the  fleet in August and five more ships scheduled to set sail in 2001 and 2002. No  matter what your budget is or where you want to sail, Carnival can definitely  take you there.

 

Rita  Cook is a freelance travel and entertainment writer, as well as the freelance  editorial director of ``Insider" magazine.  She lives in Los Angeles and her most recent project, besides traveling,  was producing a feature-length mockumentary called ``Marty &  Virginia."

  

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