We flew into Orange County Airport, which worked out very well- nice airport, and a 40 minute drive to the port, much less traffic than from LAX. We booked a private shuttle with Prime Time Shuttle and had very good experiences both to and from the port.
This was a spring break trip for the family, usually we do not cruise with kids. If you were not on spring break, you would have hated this trip, the boat was PACKED with families. I had one worker from the Kid's Club tell me they had 700 registered kids on board this week, from the three kids clubs. WOW. Made for a very crowded pool.
Embarkation was very smooth and quick. Many hosts to direct you to one of the many open windows for check in, and got you right on the ship.
Cabin was fine. Bed was very sloped in the middle, breaking down, but overall pillows and bed were comfortable. Location was central, but it's a long walk from the dining room! Cabin was quiet with no noise from public areas. Cabin steward was very good, and most friendly in the halls. Wish for pool towels to be put in cabins. Frequently requested wine glasses in our room- was told that they were often not available. When they were available, our steward was good at getting them for us.
We booked our own excursion, through Estigo Tours. It was an ATV ride through town, into the jungle and through a fishing village. They were very well organized and communication was very good. I would recommend. They offer many different tours. The port is well set up, you can walk through the port which has a small market, and get to the main street and easily pick up a taxi to take you wherever you want to go. Taxis were abundant and wanting business! Puerta Vallarta is a nice city with many things to do. We enjoyed our day here and would not hesitate to go back.
The port in Mazatlan is very far away from any of the shops or activities they promote. Please be aware that to get to the "Golden Zone" (the shopping area) is about a 20 minute taxi ride. We did not see much to do right off the ship. I had booked our own whale watching excursion (Onca Excursions- highly recommend, and yes! We saw whales! and dolphins, and sea turtles, and manta rays...). We were picked up at the port and driven through town along the coast. It is a large city, very metropolitan, but it is definitely not a port to walk around in.
This was a very fun port. You must tender, but the tenders drop you off right in the center of town- a fun market and shopping area with many restaurants and bars. The problem here was not enough time! The last tender "leaves" at 1:00 (we were in line at 12:45, and finally boarded our tender about 1:50), so you are scrambling to do anything. We enjoyed our walk and morning in Cabo Wabo, and then a great Mexican lunch along the water before tendering back to the ship. Would go back, but for longer next time! Husband is a huge Van Halen fan, so Cabo Wabo was on his bucket list. A fun place, great tequila, would be better at night with music, but very fun.