Port Rating: Not Rated
We'd been to Puerto Vallarta in 1995 and it left little impact, I couldn't remember much about it, even though we'd done a Carnival excursion.
This time, however, we did an independent tour. When you get off the ship (harassed by photographers -- not just one, two, but three different 'poses'), there is a walkway between the ship and the city (a parking lot that leads to the city, actually).
I spoke to the official PV Tourism board desk and they said that the men in all white were sanctioned by them. I approached one of them (they also wear straw fedoras), Pedro Villasenor, and he told us that the tour was $25 for each person, in a van that holds 10 people. I asked how much it would be to be the only people on the tour and it was $35. It was TOTALLY worth it.
He was a great tour guide, low key, asked us often if we were interested and wanted to stop and accommodated my father's interest in finding a good Chili Relleno. He did stop at scenic locations that had little stands (as did the other white-clad men), but he never gave any kind of sales pitch (they're the best, cheaper, etc.). Very low key.
We stopped at the Rain Forrest eco stop. There's zip lining ($65) and a restaurant and tequilla tasting (which was very fun, and free, but to buy the bottles of tequila was a little pricey; the pomegranate and cream flavors were the best).
We stopped in downtown, ate lunch and shopped at Rudel's Boots (the salesperson, LuzElena was very nice and will bargain with you -- I got a gorgeous tooled and stamped leather handbag).
BIG TIP -- AVOID AT ALL COSTS the "Flea Market" that is directly across the cruise ship. There are all kinds of signs boasting it the best shopping, etc. It's horrible, all the shops sell the same stuff and they completely HARASS you, really really awful.
ANOTHER GOOD BIG TIP -- there is a public beach right next to the "flea market" and only a very short (about two block) walk from the ship. It's crowded and there are hawkers, but it's actually pretty and scenic.
I did get my hair braided (look for the women in all white, they sell and braid) and I bought two blouses I really like for $10/ea.
There's a lot more to do in PV than in Cabo. There is also a big mall across the street from the ship (most will want to take a cab there), but we didn't go in there.