Sail With Us From Mexico To Oregon To Alaska

The Carnival Miracle approaches Freeport in the Bahamas. Built in Finland for $375 million, the ship is 960 feet long, has 12 decks and can carry more than 2,100 passengers. Carnival Miracle has 16 bars and lounges, three restaurants, a 14,500-square-foot spa and four swimming pools. Photo by Andy Newman/CCL.

June is shaping up to be a very exciting month, indeed. We’ve got not one, not two, but three Live Voyage Reports lined up and ready to set sail on what I’m calling my Pacific Ocean Trifecta. And to kick things off, we’re heading south to one of my favorite cruise destinations: the Mexican Riviera.

Carnival Miracle – Classic Mexican Rivera – May 30 – June 6

I’m excited about this journey that begins on Saturday aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle on two fronts. Firstly, this is the first time since 2010 – back when I was making ponies talk as an Offline film Editor – that I’ve been to the Mexican Riviera.

Our Classic Mexican Riviera itinerary aboard Carnival Miracle. Our Live Voyage Report begins Saturday, May 30, 2015.

Our Classic Mexican Riviera itinerary aboard Carnival Miracle. Our Live Voyage Report begins Saturday, May 30, 2015.

I’m super-excited to go back to Mazatlan and take a ride on an open-air pulmonia (think souped-up golf cart) through the city to the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) for a cerveza on the beach, followed by a trip back through the Centro Historico, or Historic District. Ever since I first started coming here in 2006, I’ve loved these open-air vehicles that drive like mad through the city center – and that everyone else seems to be terrified of. They get their name from the word “pneumonia” – which local cabbies warned passengers they would get when these vehicles were first introduced in the 1960s.

One of the streets in Mazatlan's

One of the streets in Mazatlan’s “old town.” Photo © Aaron Saunders

Carnival Miracle will also call on the picturesque resort town of Cabo San Lucas. In the Mexican Riviera, think of this as your beach day: ships anchor out in the bay and tender passengers ashore, where plenty of duty-free shopping exists on the short 15-minute walk around the harbour to the public beach. You can also take a water taxi over to Lovers Beach, with its famous Los Arcos (The Arches) rock formation.
Puerto Vallarta remains a favorite stop of mine. Nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountains, Puerto Vallarta has always managed to strike that fragile balance between commercialism and authentic cultural experiences. Its malecon, or oceanfront promenade, is one of the most beautiful I’ve found anywhere in the world, and the entire historic town center is highly walkable. Sure, there’s a Wal-Mart across from the cruise pier, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a world of things to like here.

Sunset along Puerto Vallarta's Malecon.  Photo © Aaron Saunders

Sunset along Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon. Photo © Aaron Saunders

The other highlight for me is the Carnival Miracle herself. I’ve never been on one of Carnival’s Spirit Class ships yet, but numerous Carnival guests I have met have told me pointedly that they think these are some of the best Fun Ships the line has ever created.
What’s more, Carnival Miracle just emerged from drydock in March that added a number of Carnival’s FunShip 2.0 Enhancements. The refit gives the ship the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub that boasts Carnival’s very own brand of ale, ThirstyFrog; the Cherry-on-Top candy store; Carnival’s new Seuss-at-Sea themed program for kids based on the books of Dr. Seuss; Hasbro, The Game Show; and my very favorite Carnival feature: the Alchemy Bar, where mixologists whip up cocktails that rival those of the best land-based hotels. Bonus points for the backlit-menus, too!

Carnival Miracle now sports the Alchemy Bar, seen here in its incarnation aboard Carnival Freedom, after a multi-week drydock in March. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Carnival Miracle now sports the Alchemy Bar, seen here in its incarnation aboard Carnival Freedom, after a multi-week drydock in March. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

After the warmth of the Mexican Riviera, it’s off to a very different city – and a very different ship – to explore the history of the Pacific Northwest.

Un-Cruise Adventures S.S. Legacy – Columbia & Snake Rivers – June 6 – 13

It’s difficult to believe in this modern age that merely two hundred years ago, the Pacific Coast of North America was a dangerous place. Uncharted and littered with navigational hazards, the Pacific was as feared as the Drake Passage by the early explorers. Yet there were a handful of men like John Jacob Astor who, by the early 1800’s, could see the full potential of the Pacific Coast as a major trading outpost with Asia.
In 1810, John Jacob Astor sent a sailing bark called the Tonquin out from New York on a voyage around the horn of South America and up the Pacific Coast. She was bound for the Columbia River as part of the Astor Expedition to establish trade routes on the West Coast.

Visiting Canon Beach, Oregon during Oosterdam's call in Astoria in 2005. Photo © Aaron Saunders

Cannon Beach, Oregon, with Haystack Rock in the background. Photo © 2005 Aaron Saunders

The voyage was an absolute disaster. Her Captain, Johnathan Thorn, had unsuccessfully tried to dump the French-Canadian Voyageurs that made up a portion of the crew on South Georgia Island, and he condemned many more to death on March 11, 1811 by sending them out in small crafts to scout the entrance to the Columbia River at the dangerous Columbia Bar.
The ship eventually made it through, anchoring not far off modern-day Astoria, Oregon. And it’s here that we pick up our second voyage.

Join us in June as we sail aboard Un-Cruise Adventures' S.S. Legacy along the Columbia and Snake Rivers! Photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures.

Join us in June as we sail aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ S.S. Legacy along the Columbia and Snake Rivers! Photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures.

Departing June 6, 2015 aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ S.S. Legacy, our voyage will take us roundtrip from Portland, Oregon along the Columbia and Snake Rivers as part of Un-Cruise Adventures’ weeklong Legacy of Discovery itinerary.
Carrying just 88 guests, the S.S. Legacy is patterned after a classic turn-of-the-century steamship. While she features many of the same amenities as the rest of Un-Cruise Adventures’ blue-hulled luxury fleet, the focus onboard is more on historical exploration rather than hiking or kayaking expeditions.
That’s not to say that she’s boring; far from it. Days on the rivers are packed with touring, wine tastings, and even a jet-boat trip through Hell’s Canyon. In fact, this is the ideal way to see this unique part of the United States: Un-Cruise has developed an itinerary that is part ocean cruise, part river cruise, part expedition voyage.
The full voyage route:

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