A Mexican Cruise in Three Parts, Part 2: To Puerto Vallarta

300-square-foot LED poolside screen playing Grease on our first day at sea

300-square-foot LED poolside screen playing Grease on our first day at sea

This is the second part in Laura Pedrick’s three-part series on- and off-board the reimagined Ruby Princess. Check out part 1 here and part 3 here.

I’ll be honest: I’m a newbie when it comes to cruises so my first two days at sea were all about orienting myself on the ship. Aft, midship, forward—I had no idea where I was, but that was okay. Aimlessly wandering deck to deck was a mazy-fun way of exploring. My one personal rule for the trip, however: Never, NEVER, use the elevator.

Exploring the decks on that first morning at sea

Exploring the decks on that first morning at sea

To counterbalance the inevitable wave of calories I would be consuming, this simple rule was an attempt minimize the damage.

Sunbathers lounge near one of four pools on the Ruby Princess

Sunbathers lounge near one of four pools on the Ruby Princess

Climbing the stairs, all 19 stories of them (my cabin was on level 11; the Lido deck with 24-hour buffet was on level 15; main dining rooms and pubs were on levels 6, 7 and 8; and the most important stop on the entire ship was the International Cafe, a 24-hour coffee giveaway on level 6) would keep things in check.

You cover up—when you realize it's possible to get too much sun yet you refuse to come inside

You cover up—when you realize it’s possible to get too much sun yet you refuse to come inside

Every morning I turned on the TV cruise channel to hear Cruise Director Billy Highgate give a synopsis of the day’s highlights. The first day’s standout for me was “mask-making” in the Adagio bar, where I met a few ladies working hard decorating masks for a party planned for the evening when we arrive in Puerto Vallarta.

Ladies making masks to be worn at a Puerto Vallarta arrival party

Ladies making masks to be worn at a Puerto Vallarta arrival party

The fitness center was packed and standing-room-only for a presentation on weight loss and supplements.

Guests listen to a presentation about nutrition and weight loss in the fitness center

Guests listen to a presentation about nutrition and weight loss in the fitness center

I then sought out all the outdoor activities: lively games of basketball and ping-pong, brisk walks along the one-eighth-of-a-mile track, and of course rigorous lounging around any of the four available pools and the hearty sipping of cocktails. Pure sailing bliss.

Throughout the cruise lively games of basketball took place at Center Court on level 19

Throughout the cruise lively games of basketball took place at Center Court on level 19

Early morning walkers doing laps around the ship

Early morning walkers doing laps around the ship

Over the course of two days at sea, my busy schedule included a glorious ginger-and-lime massage at the Lotus Spa

Gwendolyn readies the room for my 75-minute ginger-and-lime massage at the Lotus Spa

Gwendolyn readies the room for my 75-minute ginger-and-lime massage at the Lotus Spa

…a personal tour of the bridge with Captain Craig Street…

Captain Craig Street on the tour

Captain Craig Street on the tour

…karaoke and a magic show in the Explorers Lounge

Karaoke almost always brought in a full-house in the evenings

Karaoke almost always brought in a full-house in the evenings

…ultimate peace and quiet in the adults-only Sanctuary

The Sanctuary ($20) provides light meals, beverages, and massages as well as a quiet place to retreat

The Sanctuary ($20) provides light meals, beverages, and massages as well as a quiet place to retreat

…and line dancing in the Piazza…

Line dancing in the Piazza

Line dancing in the Piazza.

…all topped off with a ribeye steak at the Crown Grill (menu).

Captain Craig Street, left, and Ship Motel General Manager Guenther Kopf stop by our table

Captain Craig Street, left, and Ship Motel General Manager Guenther Kopf stop by our table

Zip-lining in Puerto Vallarta
Being on east coast time meant that my body woke me up at the break of dawn and as we approached the shores of Puerto Vallarta.

After two days of open ocean, seeing the shores of Puerto Vallarta at day's first light was very exciting

After two days of open ocean, seeing the shores of Puerto Vallarta at day’s first light was very exciting

This was going to be a day that I faced my fears! That’s right: I signed up for the “Extreme Zip Line” excursion with Vallarta Adventures!

I closed my eyes for that first run

I closed my eyes for that first run

Not for the faint of heart but also not limited to crazies, it’s doable, folks, and it’s a lot of fun. A 30-minute speedboat ride took us to Boca de Tomatlan, a secluded beach at the edge of the jungle on the southern shores of Banderas Bay (Spanish: Bahía de Banderas).

Town of Boca de Tomatlan

Town of Boca de Tomatlan

We traversed up the mountain in trucks, and then hearty mules lugged us to even steeper terrain where the ultimate adventure began.

Our group for the zip-line adventure

Our group for the zip-line adventure

With stunning views of the Sierra Madre mountain range, we zip-lined over tree tops and through dense rainforest, rappelled down a waterfall, and launched down vertical slide chutes.

Our group got bolder as the day went on

Our group got bolder as the day went on

Reward for completing the course

Reward for completing the course

For me, a person with an acute fear of heights, this was definitely a bucket list check-off.

Leaving Boca de Tomatlan and heading back to the ship

Leaving Boca de Tomatlan and heading back to the ship

Back on the ship
At the end of the day, returning passengers brought with them stories about their unique adventures in Puerto Vallarta, the telling of which could be heard throughout the ship, in the lounges, in the dining rooms.

Tourists returning to the ship at the end of the day

Tourists returning to the ship at the end of the day

Nighttime entertainment was offered throughout the ship: a magic/cabaret show in the Princess Theater, acrobatics and comedy show in the Piazza, more karaoke and trivia in the Explorers Lounge, music and dancing at Club Fusion, and more. There was something for everyone.

Magic show invites members of the audience to participate (or was that old guy in on it?)

Magic show invites members of the audience to participate (or was that old guy in on it?)

Next stop: Mazatán, one of the original Princess stops made famous by The Love Boat.

Laura Pedrick’s Ruby Princess series continues here.

Laura Pedrick

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About the Author

Laura Pedrick

Laura is a photojournalist who for most of her career has been assigned to cover New Jersey for The New York Times. Stories have included the Statehouse, political campaigns, and a wide range of hard news and features for all sections of the paper, including the Travel section. More recently she has focused on clients in the healthcare industry and education. She lives in Titusville, NJ, with her daughter and sometimes assistant, Lana. And oh yeah, has known Johnny Jet (dare she say it) since he was in diapers and is excited to be working for him as one of his latest contributors!

1 Comment on "A Mexican Cruise in Three Parts, Part 2: To Puerto Vallarta"

  1. Looks exciting. Is the ziplining part of the cruise package?

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