Rediscovering one of my favorite cruise lines and destinations

Join me as I sail aboard Holland America Line’s Westerdam from San Diego to the Mexican Riviera. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line

Well, it’s that time: the last voyage of 2016 here on From the Deck Chair. And it’s a good one, too: a trip aboard Holland America Line’s 1,916-passenger Westerdam to the Mexican Riviera from San Diego.
Our full itinerary, both here and onboard:

Westerdam – Mexican Riviera

Saturday, December 3, 2016 San Diego, California Embark Westerdam 1600
Sunday, December 4 At Sea
Monday, December 5 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 1100 1900
Tuesday, December 6 Mazatlan, Mexico 0800 1800
Wednesday, December 7 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 0800 1700
Thursday, December 8 At Sea
Friday, December 9 At Sea
Saturday, December 10 San Diego, California 0700 Disembark

Westerdam’s arrival in San Diego this winter is a big deal, as it marks the first time in several years that Holland America has committed to a reasonably-large winter season of Mexican Riviera cruises, with weeklong departures right up until February 2017.
It’s also the first time that the line has based a Vista Class ship like Westerdam out of San Diego in several winters. She’s doing what I like to call the “classic” Mexican Riviera run: a weeklong voyage with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta.  It’s a run that nearly died out six years ago, after a spate of well-publicised (but vastly overblown) violence that drove cruise lines and tourists away.

Our itinerary calls on Cabo San Lucas...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our itinerary calls on Cabo San Lucas…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...Mazatlan...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…Mazatlan…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...and Puerto Vallarta. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…and Puerto Vallarta. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

If anything, though, capacity in the Mexican Riviera used to be oversaturated. Back in 2005, ships had to anchor off Puerto Vallarta and tender guests ashoer if the city’s lone, solitary berth was occupied – which it nearly always was. So, the city built another berth, and on certain days when three ships were in port, that third one always had to sit out at anchor. Mazatlan didn’t quite have the same difficulties, but it wasn’t uncommon for three ships to be in port at any given time.
That boom ended abruptly when violence flared, and cruise lines began cutting their losses and moving ships to more profitable locations.
But the classic Mexican Riviera is on its way back – and that’s great for West Coast cruisers who now have a close, viable winter cruise option aboard Holland America’s classic “dam ships” once again.
Holland America has always done a great job in the region, with longer-than-average port times and excursions that take guests off-the-

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