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Cruises to Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta (Photo:Diego Grandi/Shutterstock)
Puerto Vallarta (Photo:Diego Grandi/Shutterstock)

About Puerto Vallarta

Once a small fishing community, Puerto Vallarta has emerged as one of Mexico's most popular destinations. With cobblestoned streets that climb straight up to the jungle, the town was largely unknown to the rest of the world until Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor embarked on a love affair while filming "Night of the Iguana" in 1963.

Now, the colonial "old town" is a favorite of history buffs, photographers and bargain hunters, while areas such as Marina Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta attract beachgoers, boaters and those looking for all-inclusive resorts. The southern coastal areas of Mismaloya, Yelapa and Las Animas Quimixto are scenic wonders of coves and gullies, ideal for snorkeling; the latter two are reachable only by boat.

Because of its warm waters, the Bay of Banderas is a breeding ground for hundreds of humpback whales during the winter months (as well as expat Americans and Canadians). Pacific dolphins can be seen year-round, jumping alongside the bow wake of the many cruise ships that call in Puerto Vallarta. Many tour operators offer eco-tours and photo safaris to take advantage of the abundance of marine life in the region; jungle tours, horseback treks and visits to tequila factories are some of the other excursions offered.

But for those who choose to just wander around the city during a day in port, Puerto Vallarta offers a rich, rewarding experience. The downtown area is crowded with shops, restaurants and lots of traffic. The main street along the water, the malecon, has a seawall walkway that is flat and easily negotiable by wheelchair-bound visitors and those with difficulty walking and is notable for the many sculptures that line the path. The streets a few blocks off of the main throughway, though, are steep and cobblestoned; wear comfortable shoes.

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16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Miami

16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Falmouth, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Miami

16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Panama City
Visiting:
Panama Canal, Puntarenas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Panama City
Visiting:
Puerto Limon, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
San Diego, Cabo San Lucas ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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111 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
New Orleans
Visiting:
Cozumel, Grand Cayman ...
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Cruise Line:
Disney Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Cartagena, Colon ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Aruba, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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22 Night
Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
San Francisco, San Diego ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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Why go to Puerto Vallarta?

Pros:

This artsy Mexican port is full of vendors who are happy to haggle if you ask for a lower price

Cons:

Many shops sell similar items, and vendors can be pushy if you don't seem interested in their wares

Bottom Line:

Venture farther afield for local flavor; Yelapa is a favorite destination

Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port Facilities?

Ships dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, about 3 miles north of downtown. The terminal has ATMs, shops, a currency exchange and kiosks for tours.

There are several restaurants and bodegas near where the ships dock for those who want a final margarita before setting sail. You'll also find a small craft market to pick up those last-minute souvenirs. Hotels with bars and restaurants overlook the marina and the water, offering lovely spots to sit and watch the sunset (if your ship leaves after dark) or the sailboats coming back to the marina. Depending on which dock your ship uses, the Plaza Iguana Marina Resort, Flamingo Vallarta, or Vista Club Playa de Oro are all within reasonable walking distance.

For those who just can't get enough of U.S.-style shopping, there are both a Walmart and a Sam's Club directly across the main boulevard from the ship docking areas, about a 10-minute walk away. (Try Wal-Mart for Mexican snacks and drinks -- seriously.) Tequilas and Kahlua are definitely better priced there than in the duty-free liquor stores in town or near the ships.

Good to Know?

As you walk through the streets, some vendors may offer you free tequila tastings if you come inside. Be warned that unless it's an official liquor store, you might be subject to an annoying timeshare presentation in exchange for a few sips. Not worth it.

And it gets hot and humid in Puerto Vallarta, especially in the summer, so dress accordingly for your day in town.

Getting Around?

By Foot: The central areas of downtown Puerto Vallarta are a few miles away, so a taxi, bus or rideshare is recommended unless you are exploring close to the cruise terminal. There is a lot of traffic in this area, so if you're looking to walk around, we recommend finding a transfer closer to El Centro or the malecon, and strolling from there.

By Taxi: Taxis are plentiful and line up around the docks as passengers begin coming ashore. They are regulated, but have no meters, and the prices aren't posted. Negotiate before you get in; a trip to town in a taxi from the Marina Vallarta area should cost no more than 80 to 100 pesos (about $7) The yellow taxis, located outside of the port gates, are less expensive than those of the drivers walking around inside; the latter drive Federal Zone cabs, which cost more.

By Bus: Buses in Puerto Vallarta are great fun and very reasonably priced at 7.50 pesos (less than a dollar) for a trip. They can be found on the main road into the city (Avenue Francisco Medina Ascencio) and make several stops along the Hotel Zone before arriving in the center of Puerto Vallarta.

By Car: Rental cars are plentiful and quite reasonable, especially the ubiquitous VW Beetles. Be sure to check before you make a rental arrangement whether your insurance will cover you while driving in Mexico; many companies do not. An easy alternative is Uber -- the rideshare service is available throughout Puerto Vallarta.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The peso is the currency used in Mexico. Almost all shops, vendors and taxis take U.S. dollars, but that can raise the cost of your purchase. It's important to note that the symbol for pesos is the same as the symbol for dollars ($), so pay close attention to how items are priced. ATMs are available everywhere.

Language?

Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but almost everyone associated with the tourism industry in Puerto Vallarta speaks English.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera Destinations
  • 2015 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera & South America Destinations

Puerto Vallarta Cruise Reviews

Carnival Panorama
Maxine1
Sail Date: Feb 2020
We loved Puerto Vallarta and explored it on our own. Bus transportation to and from the marina is cheap, safe, and easy. The Malecon and beach bars are fun!... Read More
Norwegian Gem
BWCW3885
Sail Date: Jan 2020
we didn't want to go a shore in Puerto Vallarta. Ship no longer is in the center of town...now docks on the end of town by Walmart and didn't look too interesting... Read More
Carnival Panorama
suecali
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Very tropical, reminds me of Honolulu. We took the public bus to the Malecon. (50 cents per person) Dropped off by "the ladder", visited stores, tequila tasted, walked to beach (south). Viewed the church.... Read More
Coral Princess
luisl65
Sail Date: Oct 2019
We didn´t take an excursion in Puerto Vallarta as we have spent there lot of time before and we know the city and surroundings very well, but this por is beautiful and enjoyable anytime even if you have been here... Read More
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