Cruise Holidays - Attheta Travel

I am proud to be certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) as an Elite Cruise Counselor. The Cruise Counselor Certification Program is CLIA's most comprehensive training which requires agents to successfully complete a number of compulsory training courses and exams, attend cruise conferences, and conduct ship inspections. Anita Thompson, Attheta Travel

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cruise Report February 2016: Azamara Quest in the Sea of Cortez - Conclusion


Part 2

If you missed part 1, go to this link for the first half of our report:  
blog.attheta.com/2017/03/cruise-report-february-2016-azamara.html

After two days at sea, we arrived at our first port, Mazatlán.  This was not a new port for us to explore: we have visited this city before.  A great place to spend spring break, but not a destination for older travelers.   We didn’t want to shop or see the folkloric shows so we went to the beach -- we booked a tour with Azamara.  The tour took us to a clean hotel on the beach that served a nice buffet.  We enjoyed our time sitting on the beach, in the shade, reading, and watching the world go by.  I walked out into the water, but it was too cool to swim.  After a few hours, we took an “open roof” taxi back to the ship.  It was a relaxing day and that’s what vacations are for.

Beach in Mazalan
Taxi back to the Celebrity Quest
The next day, our ship docked outside of La Paz.  We were too far from the city center to walk into town.  We took an Azamara tour to Todos Santos, the home of the Hotel California in the Eagles’ song.  When we drove thru Las Paz, I was impressed with the city and the beach.  Looks like a great place to spend the winter.  Next time in Baja California, I plan to explore La Paz. 

It was a ninety-minute drive to Todos Santos from La Paz thru a desert landscape – very much like southern Arizona.  Todos Santos is an artist colony on the Pacific side of Baja California.  We enjoyed our tour of the town, but the major point of interest was the Hotel California.  We had a pleasant lunch in the hotel restaurant and wandered thru the gift shop.  Of course, the women bought t-shirts. After looking at a map, I found that Todos Santos is halfway between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.  Todos Santos is a difficult village to reach, I guess that is why there are lots of artists and expats living there.
Hotel California

Jeri & Anita in Hotel California

Our next port of call was Topolobampo, our gateway to the train to Copper Canyon.  Originally, we were going to take the long tour to Copper Canyon, but changed our minds.  About a month before our cruise, the US State Department issued a travel warning for the Copper Canyon area and that was a deal breaker.   We decided to take the Azamara shuttle into a nearby town, Los Mochis.  We walked around the area and thru a shopping mall – not much to see: not a tourist area. We went back to the ship and enjoyed a port day without any crowds.

The next day, we talked to several people who took the 14-hour tour to Copper Canyon and everyone seemed to enjoy the trip. The canyon is larger than the Grand Canyon.  I guess we missed out on a nice train ride and the view of Copper Canyon -- the site stays on our bucket list, but moved farther down the list. 

Our next stop was Guaymas in Sonora.  While living in New Mexico, I heard lots of comments about this Mexican fishing village – many friends came south of the border to fish in these waters.  We didn’t fish, but we went to a pearl farm, and I have the photos to prove it.  We managed to keep our wives out of the pearl farm gift shop and kept lots of money in our wallets.  We toured the city with a guide, but the guide was careful not to let us leave the group.  After seeing a few old buildings and plazas, we wanted to return to the ship, but the guide told us we couldn’t leave the group even when we could see the ship one mile away.  Safety concerns?

 
Pearl Farm Demonstration

Pearl Farm

Azamara Quest at Dock in Guymans
Next morning, we were docked at Loreto, back on the Baja California side of the sea, midway up the peninsula.  Loreto is a small seaside village that caters to many US and Canadian expats, or snowbirds.  We didn’t take a tour, just walked thru the town, had a beer, and shopped.  Yes, Anita found a magnet.  Loreto looks like a great place to spend the winter.  We enjoyed our time in Loreto.
We were scheduled to stay over-night in Loreto, but due to expected bad weather, the Captain changed our cruise schedule.  Our original plan was to leave the next day for Cabo and spend that evening in the bay at Cabo San Lucas.  On Friday, we were to go to an “Amazing Evening” event outside of town in the desert.  With the new schedule, the ship left Loreto in the evening (Wednesday) and we arrived in Cabo a day early (on Thursday) for the rescheduled evening event (a day earlier than originally planned).   We arrived in Cabo without any issues, but since we were tendered, we stayed on the ship until our Thursday evening event.

Tree Lined Shopping Street in Loreto

Anita, Jeri, & Geri

Sunset in the Sea of Cortez

Azamara took most of the passengers – all that wanted to go – to a celebration of the dead.  The evening show was held in a canyon, a thirty-minute bus ride from the harbor.  The show was very well done and we enjoyed the performance by local musicians and dancers.   We enjoyed good weather and returned to the ship about 10PM.

Celebration of the Dead 

The next morning, still in the harbor at Cabo, the rain came.  We had a tour planned, but decided to skip the tour – no fun in the rain.  However, we did take the tender into Cabo and have lunch at a small cantina near the harbor.  We didn’t stay in town very long, went back to the ship and waited for the ship to pull anchor and begin the two-day cruise back to San Diego.  We did see several whales and lots of dolphins during our time in the Sea of Cortez.  Most of our sightings were between Loreto and Cabo.
Last Tender out of Cabo

While returning to San Diego, the first day at sea was rough.  Many passengers suffered with sea-sickness.  I was wearing my prescription patch for nausea and wearing sea bands: I didn’t have any problems.   In addition, I continued to take Ginger tablets along with the other motion-sickness preventatives.  The second day at sea was not nearly as rough, but we still had high seas and a lot of motion.  Not the quiet days at sea that I had hoped for when we left San Diego.

We love the Azamara Quest.  Our favorite venue is the sunset bar at the rear of the ship.  Almost every night, we ate dinner at the outdoor lounge at the sunset bar. The buffet was just inside the door and we made friends with the bartender at the back of the ship.  We hope to see him on our next cruise on the Azamara Quest.  One complaint: the internet on the ship is not what I expected.  I was told Azamara had upgraded their internet service, but it’s still slow compared to Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ships.  Fortunately, we purchased an unlimited internet package and we could take the time to download/upload our email messages.  It was slow…  Good news: we were able to use WiFi calling with our mobile vendor while in port and at sea.  The WiFi calling allowed us to call, and receive calls, without any international roaming charges.  Still, the WiFi was slow… Enough said.

On the last day, we arrived in San Diego about 6AM. After thirteen nights aboard the ship, we were ready to go home.  After our boarding experience, I had some concerns with debarkation, but those concerns were unfounded.  We got off, cleared customs, and found a taxi to take us to the airport within thirty minutes.

My thoughts of this cruise itinerary?  I am glad we did the Sea of Cortez, but I will not recommend it for most of our clients -- it is not a traditional cruise.  However, we wanted the port experiences in the Sea of Cortez so we could advise our clients about the ports and the sea.  If you go to the Sea of Cortez, cruise on a small ship.  The ports and the towns along the Sea of Cortez can’t handle a large ship. 

Azamara is our favorite cruise line.  We have sailed on Azamara eight times and are scheduled to sail on Azamara twice before the end of the year.  We love Azamara!  Our next Azamara cruise is to Cuba.

If you have any questions about the Sea of Cortez or Azamara Club Cruises, contact Anita, your Cruise Holidays agent.

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