Category Cruises & Ports of Call
Now Bermuda’s main port, historic King’s Wharf in the West End is the only one of the country’s three ports with the facilities to handle today’s megaships (such as Royal Caribbean’s 3,114-passenger Voyager-class vessels). It’s located in the extreme northwest of Bermuda on Ireland Island in Sandys Parish, one of Bermuda’s six main islands. The wharf is part of the historic Royal Naval Dockyard fortress complex, built by the British in the early 1800s as protection from potential attacks by America.
COMING ASHORE Ships tie up at docks within walking distance of the Bermuda Maritime Museum (see below). At press time, a new pier was scheduled to open at King’s Wharf in late 2009, enabling two or three megaships to dock there at one time.
GETTING AROUND You can walk to the main attraction here, the Royal Naval Dockyard military fortress and its Maritime Museum (see below), or if you’re beach – bound or heading for a day of golf, taxis line up at the docks and a ferry terminal nearby. (See section 1, “Attractions Around Bermuda,” above.)
Just steps from the ships is the Royal Naval Dockyard, a sprawling, 6-acre 19th-century fortress constructed with convict labor. It was used by the British Navy until 1951 as a strategic dockyard. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction whose centerpiece is the Bermuda Maritime Museum (& 441/234-1418; www. bmm. bm), the most important and extensive museum on the island. Exhibits are housed in six large halls within the complex, and the displays all relate to Bermuda’s long connection with the sea, from Spanish exploration to 20th-century ocean liners. You can have a look at maps, ship models, and such artifacts as gold bars, pottery, jewelry, and silver coins recovered from 16th – and 17th-century shipwrecks such as the Sea Venture. Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm (last admission at 4pm); admission is $10 adults, $5 kids. The Royal Naval Dockyard complex also includes restaurants, shops, an art gallery, and a crafts market. Nearby is a marina where you can sign up for parasailing or rent a boat.
Big surprise—the Big Island is the largest island in the Hawaiian chain (4,028 sq. miles—about the size of Connecticut), the youngest (800,000 years), and the least populated (with 30 people per sq. mile). It has an unmatched diversity of terrain and climate: fiery volcanoes and sparkling waterfalls, black-lava deserts and snowcapped mountain peaks, tropical rainforests and alpine meadows, a glacial lake, and miles of golden, black, and green (!) sand beaches. A 50-mile drive will take you from snowy winter to sultry summer, passing through spring or fall along the way. The island looks like the inside of a barbecue pit on one side, and a lush jungle on the other. In a word, it’s bizarre, and takes some people aback because it doesn’t fit the tropical stereotype.
Five volcanoes—one still erupting—have created this island, which is growing bigger every day. At its heart is snowcapped Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the ocean floor), complete with its own glacial lake. Mauna Kea’s nearest neighbor is Mauna Loa (“Long Mountain”), creator of one-sixth of the island; it’s the largest volcano on earth, rising 30,000 feet out of the ocean floor (of course, you can see only the 13,677 ft. that are above sea level). Erupting Kilauea makes the Big Island bigger every day—and, if you’re lucky and your timing is good, you can stand just a few feet away and watch it do its work. In just a week, the Kilauea volcano can produce enough lava to fill the Houston Astrodome.
COMING ASHORE Up to two cruise ships can pull alongside the docks at the Port of Hilo, which is not much more than an industrial port, so don’t plan on walking into town. An organized shore excursion is your best bet here.
GETTING AROUND In the unlikely event there are no taxis waiting at the pier, you can call Ace-1 (& 808/935-8303). Note that because the island is so big, taxi rides can be quite expensive. Taxis are metered and start at $3; the first mile costs $5.60 and each subsequent Vs mile is 304.
BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS
If the weather’s good, you can’t go wrong with a scenic helicopter tour over Kilauea volcano; there is also a variety of golf excursions offered on the Big Island. Otherwise, here are some of our favorite options.
Kilauea Volcano ($52 adults, $31 children, 43/4 hr.): Volcanoes National Park is, by far, Hawaii’s premier tourist destination and well worth a visit. On your excursion, you’ll get a look at the still-active Kilauea (5,000 ft.), walk the extinct Thurston Lava Tube, and check out the exhibits at the National Volcano Observatory. There’s no need to worry about dramatic eruptions; for the most part, Hawaii’s volcanoes are quite tame.
Kilauea Lava Viewing Hike ($119 adults, $109 children, 6 hr.): Drive 51 miles, climb 4,000 feet up Kilauea, and then descend to sea level to watch lava flowing into the sea. The land here is some of the newest on earth, formed by the cooling lava sometimes only hours before you arrive. It’s often so hot that it’ll melt the soles of your sneakers if you don’t keep moving. This is one hike that’s only for the really fit, requiring a 2- to 6-mile trek on rough surfaces. Many folks who start out don’t make it and have to head back to the van without seeing what they came to see.
Waipi’o Valley Waterfall, Hike & Swim ($126, 7 hr.): There is no better way to appreciate the natural beauty of this sacred “Valley of the Kings” than by hiking all the way through it to the spectacular waterfall.
ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA
To enjoy the beauty of a formal Japanese garden, head down Banyan Drive to Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, right near Coconut Island. This picturesque 30-acre park has many bonsai trees, as well as carp ponds, pagodas, and an arched bridge. To truly understand the power and fury of the Pacific Ocean, visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, 130 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/935-0926; www. tsunami. org). Be sure to speak with the volunteers on hand, many of whom have lived through the “walls of water” that hit Hilo in 1946 and 1960.
To learn more about Hawaii’s marine ecosystems, visit the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, 308 Kamehameha Ave., Ste. 109, in the South Hata Building (& 808/ 933-8195; www. hawaiireef. noaa. gov). This education facility opened in 2003 and is run by the National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Exhibits include a 2,500-gallon saltwater aquarium, a number of photographs and murals, and several interactive research stations. Admission is free; open Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 4pm.
At the start of Banyan Drive (about 2 miles from the cruise dock) is Reeds Bay Park, a small beach popular with locals. While there are no lifeguards or facilities here, the shallow water is well protected from waves and jagged rocks, making it ideal for swimming.
Near the other end of Banyan Drive is Moku Ola, or Coconut Island. Accessible by a walking bridge, this serene destination is also popular with locals who want to stroll the shady perimeter, bathe in the rocky pools, or swim off the small grassy beaches.
About 3 miles from the pier on Kalanianaole Avenue is Leleiwi Beach Park. Not a traditional white-sand beach, this one has black-lava rocks that form small tide pools, ideal for snorkeling. Keep an eye out for endangered sea turtles that are attracted to this spot. There are lifeguards here, and facilities include showers, restrooms, and a small marine police station.
The best shopping in Hilo can be found along Kamehameha Avenue in the heart of downtown. Stop by Sig Zane Designs, 122 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/935-7077; www. sigzane. com), for the best in Hawaiian wear; Basically Books, 160 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/961-0144; www. basicallybooks. com), a sanctuary for lovers of books, maps, and Hawaii-themed gift items; and Dragon Mama, 266 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/934-9081; www. dragonmama. com), for unique comforters, cushions, futons, meditation pillows, hemp yarns and shirts, antique kimonos and obi, tatami mats sold by the panel, and all manner of comforts in the elegantly spare Japanese esthetic.
COMING ASHORE Two cruise ships anchor offshore here; a 10-minute tender ride takes passengers to the sleepy pier in Kailua-Kona. There’s plenty to do within steps of this modest pier, including beach-hopping, shopping, and more. Taxis line up at the dock to whisk you away, but with so much going on at the pier, there is little reason to leave.
GETTING AROUND As at the other ports in Hawaii, taxis await the arrival of cruise ship passengers, in this case lining up in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel. If you need to call for one, try AAA-1 TAXI (& 808/325-3818); keep in mind, though, that because the island is so big, long-distance trips can be very pricey. Only two car-rental agencies send vans to pick up passengers at the pier. To book a car, contact (& 800/GO-ALAMO [462-5266]; www. alamo. com) or Enterprise (& 800/ 736-8222; www. enterprise. com) and someone will pick you up at the pier. To cruise the waterfront and around town, rent a bike for $20 a day at Hawaiian Pedals (& 808/329-2294), in the Kona Inn Shopping Village about half a mile down on Alii Drive.
BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS
Catamaran Sail & Snorkel ($89 adults, $69 children, 4 hr.): Head out on a catamaran to Pawai Bay and enjoy a morning of cruising, music, snacking, and snorkeling. The bay is loaded with multicolored fish, rays, and lava-encrusted coral reefs. In winter, there’s a great chance you’ll see whales or spinner dolphins breaching and cavorting.
Big Island Helicopter Spectacular ($429, 422 hr.): There is no better way to see the Big Island’s beauty and volcanic fury than from a helicopter. On this journey, you soar over the tropical valleys and waterfalls of the Kohala Mountains, the rainforest of the Hamakua Coast, and the spectacular lava flows of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE
There is plenty to see and do right near the pier. Just head down the seawall and enjoy the breathtaking ocean view on one side, and the endless stream of shops and galleries along the opposite side of the street. Be sure to stop in at Hulihee Palace, 75-5718 Alii Dr. (& 808/329-1877; www. huliheepalace. org), a two-story New England-style palace. Built in 1838 as a summer residence for Hawaii’s royalty, it was, at the time, the largest and most elegant home on the island. Today, it’s a well-run and well-preserved museum. Admission is $6. Across the street is Mokuaikaua Church (& 808/ 329-1589), the oldest Christian church in Hawaii (free admission; daily).
ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA
St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, on Hwy. 19 (® 808/328-2227), is more commonly known as the Painted Church because of the colorful murals and frescoes that cover its walls and ceilings. It was painted by Father John Velge, the church’s first priest, in an attempt to enlighten and educate his congregation, who were predominantly illiterate. Admission is free.
Ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs can be seen near the Kings’ Shops at the Waikoloa Beach Resort, just off Waikoloa Beach Drive about 30 miles north on Hwy. 19 (& 808/886-8811). Free tours meet at the food court in the Kings’ Shops Sundays at 10:30am (you must register in advance). You can also tour the ancient markings on your own at any time. Follow the signs to the petroglyphs; then take the small path that leads to a craggy trail through a lava field once used by Hawaiian travelers.
Nonguests are welcome to visit Hilton Waikoloa Village, 425 Waikoloa Beach Dr. (& 808/886-1234; www. hiltonwaikoloavillage. com), and enjoy its spectacularly landscaped grounds and walkways that meander past enormous statues, dramatic waterfalls, sweeping coastal vistas, and $7 million worth of artwork. If you like Atlantis on Paradise Island in The Bahamas, you’ll love this resort. Enjoy any of the nine restaurants, all reached via air-conditioned tram or open-air mahogany boats that run from one end of the property to the other. For a steep $80, families can use the pools and man-made beach as well (call first to make sure of availability on the day you’re in port).
At the Kailua-Kona pier, you’re practically standing on the beach at the King Kame – hameha Hotel. Because all beaches are public in Hawaii, this small and sweet waterfront resort is yours to enjoy. For a fee, you can rent watersports gear, a lounge chair, or an umbrella. For those who prefer to swim without all the trappings, there is a miniscule scrap of beach just on the other side of the parking lot. Here, the calm water makes for great paddling, swimming laps, or just floating your cares away.
The best beach for snorkeling (especially for beginners) is Kahaluu Beach Park, about 5 miles down Alii Drive from the pier. The salt-and-pepper-colored beach is convenient to restrooms, a snack truck, and sheltered picnic tables. Although shallow, the water can become rough in the winter.
Beautiful Hapuna Beach State Park, past the Hilton Waikoloa Village and Mauna Lani Resort, is about 35 miles up the Kohala Coast from the pier. Follow the highway signs and turn left toward the ocean off Hwy. 19. You’ll be greeted by a large white – sand beach. The area is serene and well maintained, and has a food pavilion, restrooms, and showers.
There is ample shopping on Alii Drive, which starts at the Kailua Pier and extends southward along a nearly endless strip of small shopping galleries with similar names and equally similar wares. Kailua Village Artists Gallery, a co-op of four dozen island artists and a few guest artists, displays watercolors, paintings, prints, hand-blown and blasted glass, and photography at two locations close to the pier: at King Kame – hameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, 75-5660 Palani Rd. (& 808/329-6653), and at 78-6740 Alii Dr. (& 808/324-7060). Books, pottery, and an attractive assortment of greeting cards are among the lower-priced items. Other places to browse close to the pier are Eclectic Craftsman in the Kona Marketplace, 75-5729 Alii Dr. (& 808/334-0562), for beautifully carved wood. Farther down, inside Waterfront Row, marvel at the marine-life sculptures made from wood, stone, and metal at Wyland Gallery, 75-5770 Alii Dr. (& 808/334-0037)
Hamilton was once known as the “Show Window of the British Empire.” It has been the capital of Bermuda since 1815, when it replaced St. George’s. Today, it’s the economic hub of the island.
COMING ASHORE Only medium and small ships (such as Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator) dock in Hamilton. Ships tie up at piers smack-dab in the middle of town. The terminal funnels guests into the main shopping drag on Front Street.
GETTING AROUND You can walk to all of the shops and department stores in town, or take a walking tour for a more historic perspective. Walking-tour maps are available in the terminal. If you’re beach-bound or heading for a day of golf or some other attraction, there are taxis lined up outside the terminal. For old-timey town tours, horse-drawn carriages wait outside the terminal.
A walking tour is a great option. Pick up a map in the cruise terminal and you’re on your leisurely way to visiting sights that range from a 200-year-old post office to exhibits in the Bermuda Historical Society Museum. If a relaxing lunch on the waterfront sounds appealing, stroll on over to the waterside Poinciana Terrace at the Waterloo House, on Pitts Bay Road (& 441/295-4480; www. waterloohouse. com), an elegant property within walking distance of the ship docks. Lunch is served on the outdoor patio overlooking the colorful and idyllic harbor, and many snazzy-looking businesspeople dine here (so dress the part, which means T-shirts and flip-flops will look out of place). If it’s on the menu, the fish chowder, laced with rum and sherry peppers, is a local favorite and a great choice. Lunch costs around $30.
Consider a visit to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (& 441/
292- 7219; www. buei. org); it’s adjacent to the Hamilton docks near the roundabout on East Broadway. There are two floors of interactive exhibits about the ocean, plus the highlight: a capsule that simulates a 3,600m (11,800-ft.) dive below the ocean’s surface (it accommodates 21 people at a time). Open 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday (last admission is 3pm); admission is $11 for adults and $5.50 for kids 7 to 16.
Back in the year 1614, the first successful American colony, at Jamestown, Virginia, was only 7 years old, and exploration of North America had just begun. No one yet knew just how vast the continent was, but Europe’s great powers had already begun fighting for its bounty. To the north, the lands known as “Northern Virginia” caught the imagination of Jamestown founder John Smith, who mounted an expedition along the coasts of what are now Massachusetts and Maine. Returning to England with stories of the region’s natural wealth, he argued strongly for its colonization and renamed it “New England,” a name that King James I made official in 1620. A few years later, James’s son, Charles I, sent a party of Scots to colonize the land even farther north, in what are now the Canadian Maritimes. And so it came to pass that, just as England has Scotland on its northern border, New England’s nearest neighbor is beautiful Nova Scotia—the “New Scotland.”
The legacies left by the English, Scottish, French, and other settlers who immigrated to these parts have lent ports along the New England/Canada coast their unique character, whether it’s the Puritan ethics of stubborn independence and thriftiness that define many New Englanders, or the French culture and language that thrive in the Providence of Quebec. On a cruise in this region, you’ll see lots of historical sites, from Boston’s Paul Revere House to Quebec City’s 17th-century Notre-Dame des Victoires Church to the Halifax Maritime
Museum’s Titanic exhibit. But you’ll also get a dose of the region’s inimitable character: fishing boats piled with netting, Victorian mansions built by wealthy ship owners, lighthouses atop windswept bluffs, and the cold, hard beauty of the north Atlantic sea.
The classic time to cruise here is in autumn, when a brilliant sea of fall foliage blankets the region. You can also cruise these waters in the spring and summer, aboard either big 3,000-passenger megaships or smaller vessels carrying less than a tenth that load. Depending on the size of the ship and the length of the cruise, itineraries may include passing through Nantucket Sound, around Cape Cod, or into the Bay of Fundy or Gulf of St. Lawrence. Some ships traverse the St. Lawrence Seaway or the smaller Saguenay River.
HOME PORTS FOR THIS REGION New York, Boston, and Montreal are the main hubs for these cruises, joined occasionally by Quebec City.
LANGUAGE & CURRENCY English and dollars. Virtually all businesses in Canadian ports such as Halifax and Saint John accept U. S. dollars, though if you’re spending time pre – or post-cruise in Montreal or Quebec, you’ll want to pick up some Canadian dollars, which at press time we valued at C$1 = US83^ (US$1 = C$1.20). Exchange rates fluctuate, however, so prices may not be exactly the same when you arrive in port. Prices in this chapter are in U. S. dollars, unless noted.
SHOPPING TIPS You don’t go on a New England/Canada cruise for the shopping, though there are a few choice spots. Of course, New York, Boston, and Montreal, being major cities, have lots of shopping opportunities.
Quaint and historic, St. George’s was the second English town established in the New World, after Jamestown in Virginia. King’s Square, also called Market Square or the King’s Parade, is the center of life here. But because most ships are too big to dock here, this charming little town is visited only by those taking a tour or willing to using a bus, ferry, or taxi to reach it (which does help keep the number of visitors down).
COMING ASHORE Cruise ships tie up at the edge of the small town. For 2009, only one smallish ship was scheduled for regular calls to St. George’s.
GETTING AROUND You can walk to a handful of historic attractions (see below), or if you’re beach-bound or heading for a day of golf or some other attraction, you’ll be able to find a taxi at the dock.
A great option is grabbing a free walking-tour map from the tourism office in King’s Square, just steps from your ship. Sights on the tour include Ordnance Island, a tiny piece of land that juts into the harbor just in front of the dock, where a replica of Deliverance—the vessel that carried the shipwrecked Sea Venture passengers on to Virginia—stands. Don’t miss a quick stop at St. Peter’s Church, on Duke of York Street, believed to be the oldest Anglican place of worship in the Western Hemisphere; some headstones in the cemetery date back 300 years, and the present church was built in 1713. The oldest stone building in Bermuda, the Old State House, built about 1620, sits at the top of King Street and was once the home of the Bermuda Parliament. At the intersection of Featherbed Alley and Duke of Kent Street, St. George’s Historical Society Museum houses a collection of Bermudian historic artifacts and cedar furniture.
A mile or so from King’s Square in St. George’s (many walk it, some hop in taxis), overlooking the beach where the shipwrecked crew of the Sea Venture came ashore in 1609, is Fort St. Catherine, which you’ll want to see. Completed in 1614, and reconstructed several times after, it was named for the patron saint of wheelwrights and carpenters. The fortress houses a museum, with several worthwhile exhibits. Admission costs $5 for adults and $2 for kids.
Almost straight across the Sea of Cortez from Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan—“The Land of the Deer” in the old Nahuatl language—dates from the beginning of the 19th century, when German immigrants developed it as a shipping port. After a lull of about 160 years, it gained new fame as a sport-fishing capital, then as a destination for American college kids on spring break. Today, families and mature vacationers are flocking here as well, taking advantage of the low prices and 10-plus miles of beaches. For cruise travelers, the points of interest form a huge barbell shape, with the historic downtown area at the south end (near where your ship docks), the tourist-oriented Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) about 4 miles to the north, and the long, uninteresting curve of Avenida del Mar in between.
COMING ASHORE Ships dock on the south side of town along a navigational channel, in the midst of substantial commercial shipping. Debarking passengers must take a short tram from the ship to the welcome terminal, where they run a veritable gauntlet of gift and craft shops before popping out into air again on the far side. GETTING AROUND The port is about a 15- or 20-minute walk from the center of the old downtown, but you can also take a taxi. In fact, we challenge you not to— there are so many of them on hand at the pier that you might find yourself sitting in one without ever having intended to. In addition to the green-and-white, fixed-rate taxis, you’ll also see hundreds of open-sided pulmonia cars, which look like a cross between a jeep and a golf cart. Apparently the name (which literally means “pneumonia”) stems from an old belief that riding in an open-air car can make you sick. Fares between the port (or Old Mazatlan) and the Zona Dorada average $5 to $8 for either kind of taxi.
In addition to the tours listed here, cruise lines offer a lot of “mix-and-match” Mazatlan bus tours, taking in highlights of downtown and almost always heading through the Golden Zone for shopping.
Old Mazatlan Walking Tour ($34, 4 hr.): Start at the shore-side Cerro de Neveria, where divers plunge off a cliff into the sea. Then amble through Old Mazatlan’s narrow, shady streets, visiting the Teatro Angela Peralta (see “On Your Own: Within Walking Distance,” below), stopping at a cafe for refreshments, and then heading to the main plaza and the cathedral. It’s not a bad way to get oriented, and you can continue walking on your own around the old market, and then (if you like) grab a taxi out to the Golden Zone.
Sierra Madre Tour ($79, 71/’2 hr.): Travel by bus into the foothills of the Sierra Madre to the town of Concordia, founded in 1550 and famed for its furniture, handmade pottery, and baroque church. Continue to Copala, a former gold-mining town founded in 1565, where you can wander the narrow, cobbled streets and see the old colonial houses and 16th-century stone church. The tour includes a traditional Mexican lunch and a shopping stop in the Zona Dorada.
Pacifico Brewery Tour ($59, 2Z hr.): Founded in 1900, Pacifico brews one of Mexico’s most popular beers. Tour the brewery, have a taste or three, and take in the incredible view of Mazatlan from the rooftop bar/hospitality room.
Though most people will probably take a taxi the short distance to downtown, we’re going to consider it “walking distance” both for argument’s sake (we walked it easily) and to distinguish it from the more distant Golden Zone.
Downtown Mazatlan is centered around the palm-shaded Plaza Principal, also called Plaza Revolucion and filled with vendors, pigeons, shoeshine men under Pacifico beer umbrellas, and old gentlemen sitting in the shade. A Victorian-style wrought-iron bandstand sits at its center and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception hovers over one end. Built in the 1800s, the cathedral has twin, yellow-tiled steeples, while its interior has a vaulted ceiling and more than a dozen chandeliers. It’s worth a quick peek. One block behind the cathedral is the covered Mercado Municipal (aka Mercado Pino Suarez, or just “the municipal market”). Taking up the whole city block between Juarez and Serdan, it has its share of tourist shops, but is more a place for locals, with stands selling fresh produce, meat, clothing, herbal remedies, and religious mementos. It’s a vibrant slice of life, as are all the streets around it.
Backtrack along Juarez a few blocks to reach Mazatlan’s historic district, a 20- square-block area centered around the pretty little Plazuela Machado, which boasts a few sidewalk restaurants and sometimes hosts local cultural events. It’s bordered by Frias, Constitucion, Carnaval, and Sixto Osuna. On one corner of the square stands the Italian-style Teatro Angela Peralta (& 669/982-4447; www. culturamazatlan. com/tapl. php), built between 1869 and 1881. A center of Mazatlan arts and culture for its first 40 years, the theater fell into disrepair following the Mexican revolution of 1910 and began a period of decay that lasted until the late 1980s, when a group of concerned citizens spearheaded its renewal. Today, the 841-seat theater is a national historic monument and regularly hosts folkloric ballets, contemporary dance, symphony concerts, opera, and jazz performances. Its sumptuous, jewel-box-like interior, with three levels of dark, woody balconies, has been restored to its 19th-century glory. It costs $1 to tour the building.
The blocks around the theater and Plazuela abound with beautiful old buildings and colorful town houses trimmed with wrought iron and carved stone. Many buildings were restored as part of a downtown beautification program, which aimed to turn the neighborhood into the center of Mazatlan’s artistic community. Half a block to the right of the theater’s entrance is the Nidart Galena (see “Shopping,” below). Check out the town houses on Libertad between Dominguez and Carnaval and the two lavish mansions on Ocampo at Dominguez and at Carnaval. For a rest stop, try the Cafe Panfico (decorated with historic pictures of Mazatlan) or one of the other cafes on the Plazuela. Those with an interest in Mexican history can walk a couple of blocks down Sixto Osuna to Venustiano Carranza, where you’ll find the small Museo Arqueo- logico de Mazatlan, Sixto Osuna 76 (& 669/981-1455), which displays both preHispanic artifacts and contemporary art. Admission is free; closed Monday.
If you feel like taking a good, tiring walk, head west down Constitucion toward the ocean; then turn left and walk along the oceanside walkway on Paseo Clausen. Passing the beach at Olas Altas (the original Mazatlan beach strip), you’ll see signs for Cerro del Vig^a (Lookout Hill). Follow these up the steep hill at the edge of town, bending around the school and then hugging the coast. Below, accessible via several sets of stairs, is Playa del Centenario, a lovely stretch of pounding surf with views of the offshore Sea Lion rocks, the El Faro lighthouse (the second-highest in the world, after Gibraltar), and Deer and Wolf islands, just off the Zona Dorada. Frigate birds and pelicans soar overhead, and down below are sea-carved arches and patches of bright-green vegetation. You’d be pounded to death on the rocks if you tried to swim here, but it’s a romantic picnic spot. At the point of the lookout, a stair-path leads out to a viewing platform that resembles the prow of a ship and lets onto some wonderful vistas. From here, continue along the coast road right around and back to the cruise docks.
Four miles from downtown, the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) begins where Avenida del Mar intersects Avenida Rafael Buelna and becomes Avenida Camaron Sabalo,
Mazatlan probably affords the best golf value in Mexico, with two notable courses open to the public.
• The 27-hole course at the El Cid resorts, just east of the Zona Dorada (& 669/913-3333; www. elcid. com), has 9 holes designed by Lee Trevino as well as 18 designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It’s open to the public, though preference is given to hotel guests, and tee times book up quickly. Greens fees are $75 for 18 holes, plus $17 for the caddy.
• The Estrella del Mar Golf Club, across the channel from downtown, on Isla de la Piedra (& 669/982-3300; www. estrelladelmar. com), is an 18- hole, 7,004-yard course, also designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Greens fees, including cart, run $75 to $110 depending on the season.
which leads north through the tourist zone. While shops, restaurants, and bars are much more abundant here than downtown, it’s very, very, very touristy, and worth the drive only if you’re in a beach-party mood.
Much as we’re not nuts about the Golden Zone, it is the better spot for beaches. At the beginning of the zone, you’ll find Playa Gaviotas and several other beaches backed by resort hotels. Remember that all beaches in Mexico are public property, so all of these are accessible to visitors. Farther north, Playa Sabalo is perhaps the best beach in Mazatlan. The next point jutting into the water is Punta Sabalo, beyond which you’ll find a bridge over a channel that flows in and out of a lagoon. Beyond the marina, more beaches stretch all the way to Los Cerritos.
In the downtown area, Playa Olas Altas (at the western edge of town) is a thin strip of curving beach backed by several low-key sidewalk bars. It’s the closest beach to the docks, but lacks any amenities or any kind of “scene.” Around a rocky promontory north of Olas Altas is Playa Norte, which offers several miles of good sand beach with numerous palapa bars, but busy Avenida del Mar is right there behind you, taking something away from the experience.
La Zona Dorada is the biggest area for shopping, with hundreds of shops and stalls selling the usual items for this part of Mexico: jewelry, shell-covered art, T-shirts, and lots of other touristy souvenirs, with a smattering of folk art mixed in, most of dubious quality. Downtown is more oriented toward locals, but is much more authentic. Check the historic district around the Teatro Angela Peralta for small galleries and shops, among them the wonderful Nidart Galena, av. Libertad 45 at Carnaval (& 669/981-0002; www. nidart. com), an exhibition space selling works created by local artists on-site, as well as works from around Mexico. This is quality stuff, including clay and leather sculptures and masks, paintings, woodwork, jewelry, and other items, priced much lower than you’d expect.
Bar Harbor is situated on the mid-Maine coast, overlooking Frenchman’s Bay from its perch on the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island—its name an anglicization of Isles des Monts-Deserts (“bare mountains”), the name French explorer Samuel de Champlain gave the island in 1604. In its 19th-century heyday, Bar Harbor was one of the premier resort areas on the East Coast, attracting Astors, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and other wealthy families looking for rustic summer getaways. Today it’s a humbler place, with no shortage of T-shirt shops and ice-cream parlors, but is no less popular with tourists.
Bar Harbor’s biggest pull is its proximity to the lush Acadia National Park, which got its start in 1901 when millionaire George B. Dorr formed a preservation group and began buying up land, eventually turning over thousands of acres to the federal government. The park today covers most of the 12-by-16-mile island and a few neighboring islands, totaling some 35,000 acres of lake-dotted fir and spruce forests and surrounded by offshore waters that are great for whale-watching. Winding amid its acreage is a 57-mile network of carriage roads created by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as well as 120 miles of hiking trails—all of them motor-free, open for walking and bicycling only.
COMING ASHORE While small ships less than 200 feet long can pull alongside the Town Pier, most ships must anchor offshore and send guests to the Harbor Place pier via tenders. The ride to the pier takes only about 10 minutes. The two piers are next to each other in the downtown waterfront area.
GETTING AROUND Once in town, you can walk along the waterfront and to many shops, restaurants, and a few attractions (highlighted below in “On Your Own: Within Walking Distance”), but to see Acadia, your best bet is signing up for one of your ship’s shore excursions or renting a bicycle from a local dealer. Try Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop, 141 Cottage St. (& 207/288-3886; www. barharborbike. com), or Acadia Bike, 48 Cottage St. (& 800/526-8615; www. acadiabike. com). Rates are $15 for a half-day, $21 for a full day. If you want a taxi and there aren’t any waiting, try At Your Service Taxi Cab Co. (& 207/288-9222; www. atyourservicetaxi. com), which also offers guided tours of the park.
Best of the Park and the Town ($64, 4 hr.): Traverse the 27-mile Park Loop Road of Acadia National Park via bus, taking in spectacular coastal, mountain, and forest scenery. Tours include visits to Turrets Mansion overlooking Frenchman Bay, the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and Thunder Hole, where the right tidal conditions can send flumes of ocean spray high into the air.
A Walk in the Park ($44, 3 hr.): A naturalist guide leads a 2-mile hike along Acadia’s trails and provides insight into the park’s ecosystem, geology, natural history, and legends. The tour also includes a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain for a 360-degree view of Mount Desert Island.
Acadia Carriage Ride ($79, 3 hr.): Fifteen-person horse-drawn carriages provide a chance to experience John D. Rockefeller’s carriage paths in the way he expected you to. Approximately 1 hour is spent in the carriage itself. The tour also includes a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain for the view.
Biking in Acadia ($49, 2% hr.): Jump on a 24-speed mountain bike and follow the guide through the park’s hard-packed gravel carriage trails that crisscross some of the most scenic areas of the park. The guide makes stops to discuss the island’s history and lore.
Frenchman Bay Kayak Adventure ($59, 2V2 hr.): This scenic paddle passes ocean – front mansions not visible from the road and provides great views of Cadillac Mountain. You also have opportunities to spot harbor seals, porpoises, and seabirds such as the storm petrel, shearwater, and northern gannet.
Whale-Watching ($56, 3/2 hr.): This excursion allows visitors to view the humpbacks, finbacks, minkes, and dolphins that gather in the waters off the island between April and October.
If for some reason you’re allergic to beautiful forests and want to stay in town, you can check out the great views of the area from the foot of Main Street at grassy Agamont Park, which overlooks the town pier and Frenchman Bay. From here, set off past the Bar Harbor Inn on the Shore Path, a wide, winding trail that follows the shoreline for about half a mile along a public right of way. The pathway has views of many elegant summer homes (some converted to inns) and of The Porcupines, a cluster of spruce-studded islands just offshore. So named because they look like a group of porcupines migrating southward, the islands’ distinctive shape—gently sloped facing north, with abrupt cliffs facing south—is the result of ancient pressure from a southward-moving glacier.
For a glimpse of the area’s past life, stroll on over to the Abbe Museum, 26 Mount Desert St. (& 207/288-3519; www. abbemuseum. org), a sprawling 17,000-square – foot gallery housing a top-rate collection of Native American artifacts. Admission is $6. Around the corner is the Bar Harbor Historical Society, 33 Ledgelawn Ave. (& 207/288-0000; www. barharborhistorical. org), set in a handsome former convent dating to 1918. Its collection encompasses exhibits on old-time Mount Desert Island hotels and estates, photos of most of the 200 estate homes burned during the great fire of 1947, and a collection of milk bottles from the more than 40 dairy farms that were once active on the island. Admission is free; closed Sunday.
Somewhere during your stay, try some fresh Maine lobster—served boiled, baked, broiled, in rolls, and any other number of ways—at one of the many restaurants along the waterfront area. The fresh lobster bisque served at many of the local restaurants will warm you up nicely on cool autumn days.
You don’t want to come to Bar Harbor without getting a taste of the most famous attraction: Acadia National Park (www. nps. gov/acad). Sign up for a guided hike or drive along the 27-mile Park Loop Road, which wends around 1,530-foot-high Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast. If you luck out and there’s no fog, expect awesome views of natural sights like Thunder Hole, where ocean surf dramatically crashes against granite cliffs. Perhaps the best way to really experience nature here is bicycling a stretch of the 55-mile car-free carriage trails that wind through the park (rent a bike in town or sign up for one of your ship’s biking excursions). Horse – drawn carriage rides are another popular way to tour. No matter what your transport, there’s a great chance you’ll spot some wildlife, from beavers, foxes, eagles, hawks, and peregrine falcons to the occasional moose.
SHOPPING You don’t come here for the shopping (unless lobster potholders are your thing), though a handful of interesting shops on Main Street sell locally made and/or inspired handicrafts and gifts. At Island Artisans, 99 Main St. (& 207/288- 4214; www. islandartisans. com), you can browse for local handicrafts such as tiles, sweet-grass baskets, pottery, jewelry, and soaps. Down the street is the Bar Harbor Hemporium, 116 Main St. (& 207/288-3014; www. barharborhemp. com), an interesting store dedicated to promoting clothing, paper, and other products made from hemp, an environmentally friendly, fibrous plant that’s usually known for other reasons entirely.