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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

Live Voyage Review: Silver Spirit, Panama Canal 2013 – Part 5

Huatulco, Mexico

Our first taste for ancient Mexican ruins on this cruise came at the pristine port of Hautulco. Although once slated to be developed into a mega resort destination like Cancun, the Mexican government has since decided to preserve the ecological integrity of the area by limiting the number of hotels built here. The result is a clean coastal city with beautiful beaches and nearly year-round sun.

Hautulco, Mexico

Water Taxis

The cruise ship pier is nestled tightly in a compact cove protected by ragged rocks that emerge ominously from the surrounding sea. The cove ends at a small marina filled with water taxis and flanked by courtyard hotels. We boarded our bus to head out to the 2010-opened eco-archaeological site of Copalita, equal parts ancient historical site and ecological preserve, situated where the local river meets the ocean.

Where the Copalita River Meets the Pacific Ocean

Serpent Temple

The site is still under extensive excavation, and as such, only three main Aztec structures are publicly accessible at this time. As it is, those three can only be admired from a distance with pathways offset from the ruins, which makes the area feel less like an exploratory zone and more like an outdoor museum.

Stairs at Serpent Temple

The Ball Field

The first is the Serpent Temple, so-called because of the many serpent-shaped stones discovered nearby. The three-terraced structure is not very large and lacks any architectural interest beyond a set of stairs on one side that would have led to a thatched tent atop the mound. Interestingly, all the ruins at Copalita appear to have a recessed moat around them. This is because the archaeologists had to dig down to uncover the original bases while maintaining the current soil level for the sake of the surrounding foliage.

At the End of the Ball Court

The Main Temple

As is common at ancient Mexican sites, this one features a ball field, albeit a small one. There is no evidence of sacrificial games being played here nor any indication as to the particular parameters of the games. The field is skirted by sloped grandstands and steps implying the past presence of spectators. Now, however, trees are rooted where onlookers once sat.

More of the Main Temple

A Candelabra Cactus Grows from the Temple’s Edge

Farther in, you encounter the main temple. Even from a distance and hidden in part by trees, the scale of this structure is considerably larger than the first two. Just recently, a tomb was found here of a prominent figure buried with kingly paraphernalia and surrounded by other skeletal remains. Also, a most unusual looking candelabra cactus tree grows straight up here from the temple’s edge.

The Swamp at Copalita

Ominous Trees

In fact, the dense jungle and swamp make for a very mysterious environment. Gnarly trees twist in fanciful configurations, and as far as the fauna in concerned, thankfully, the areas crocodile population has been relocated. Lastly, filling in any information gaps is a museum that highlights some of the artifacts found in and around the site.

Artifacts from the Museum

Additional Artifacts

Copaita is interesting but not overwhelmingly so. Naturalists may think otherwise. Perhaps as more is made available to the public’s free exploration, the archaeological appeal will improve. Huatulco itself on the other hand is quite a pleasing port.

Silver Spirit at the Beach

The Jagged Rocks Outside of the Cove

Silver Spirit Entertainment

Entertainment on Silversea follows a different format than most other cruise lines, and I rather like it. The approach is decidedly more classical and less vaudevillian. There are production shows, but rather than comedians and magicians, the fare also features solo violinists and guitarists.

The Show Lounge

One show spotlit two of the six onboard vocalists in a charming medley of love songs. I was initially disappointed that canned music replaces the talents of a live band onboard, especially since some of the backing tracks are little better than those saved for karaoke. However, I was easily able to put those gripes aside upon first hearing the singers perform. They are most excellent and nailed duets like “A Whole New World” as well as solo numbers like “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Music of the Night” while the other performer occasionally played live piano.

Love Song Performances

I personally missed the violinist for his only show onboard before disembarking, but my mother was very impressed with his talent. Just last night, I caught the classical guitarist who played a perfect set ranging from flamenco to folk in style. The crowd pleasing songs included “Shadow of Your Smile” and “Danny Boy” among many other traditional guitar compositions.

“I Dreamed a Dream”

What surprises us most is just how sparsely attended these performances have been. They are surely worthy of packed houses, but we have yet to see an audience that surpassed half capacity. We wonder if the late night scheduling of the shows is a factor and whether or not including a pre-dinner show would bolster the numbers. We can’t wait to see how Silversea puts a “twist” on their opera performance this evening.

Classical Guitar



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