Zaandam’s Mexican Riviera

During our recent 11-day cruise on Holland America’s Zaandam, our itinerary included six stops. It’s interesting to note that most towns in Mexico have four things in common; a zocala (main plaza), a church, a bullring and a mercado (central market). Additionally, the beach communities we visited had a malecon (boardwalk) which lined the harbor. Here is a brief overview of our ports.

The grande dame of Mexican resorts, Acapulco, still has a lot of cache. For our short visit, we hired a driver through the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office. Our guide took us to see the cliff divers at La Quebrada, the historic Ft. San Diego, the mercado and a rooftop view from the iconic Casa Blanca. The big surprise was the Diego Riviera mural on the outside walls of his patron’s home. We finished the day with an enjoyable meal at a local favorite on the beach, La Cabana de Caleta. Everything you need can be found at (request Manuel Barrera for your driver).

Acapulco Bay and the ms Zaandam


We tendered into Cabo San Lucas and spent several hours walking around the lively marina and through town. It’s a shopper’s paradise, featuring everything from vendors’ stalls to upscale malls. There are also a multitude of bars and restaurants. Exploring and wandering was lots of fun, the weather was perfect and we even bought a mini-domino set. The same store also carried $1 beers. How could we go wrong? Call 1-866 LOS CABOS or go to for information.

Los Arcos – Cabo San Lucas


Huatulco was a very pleasant surprise. There is a great beach right near the dock which led to a perfect afternoon of swimming and relaxing. Grab a table with an umbrella (free!), drink a beer and watch the parade of people passing by. We also strolled through town and stopped at the Arts & Crafts market. Although there is no Visitors Bureau, Google Huatulco for updates, etc.

Manzanillo’s harbor has the look and feel of a European port. Its mile-long malecon features a landmark sailfish sculpture by Jardin de Alvaro Obregon, paying homage to the city being the “sailfish capital of Mexico.” Shopping is nearby and one could feel the social aspect of the bustling mercado. Surprisingly, it is the largest commercial port in Mexico and is referred to as the #1 China Gate. The primavera trees are quite beautiful. Visit the “iguana trees.” For more, go to For tours and ground transportation, email (they’ve been around since 1986).

Walking Zihuatanejo’s picturesque malecon and wandering past the restaurants, bars and shops was our activity of choice since it was easily accessible from the pier. Check their website at

There is nothing more to report about Puerto Vallarta because we took a day-long tour with Vallarta Adventures to Las Caletas (see A Duck Landed On My Lap for the entire story). But, we highly recommend the excursion and can’t wait to return to Puerto Vallarta for further exploration. For city information logon to and for activities/tours go to And, of course, kudos to our transportation to the Mexican Riviera, the ms Zaandam. More about it and Holland America’s fleet can be found at or by calling 1-877-932-4259.

Safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian

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