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Cruises, Chocolates and Cerveza: A Culinary Experience in Mexico

For foodies looking to taste and drink their way through this fascinating and friendly part of the world!

Cruises along Mexico’s Pacific Coast offer plenty of exciting enrichment opportunities. Known as the Mexican Riviera, this region is rich in history and culture, from the Sierra Madre mountains that tower high above Puerto Vallarta to the vibrant history of salsa (the food) and salsa (the dance) in Mazatlán and elsewhere.

Food, in all its many forms, is an important part of life in Mexico. From chocolates to beer to tequila, food is how Mexicans socialize. Few activities in daily life are conducted without some form of food being involved. As travellers, food is one of the first things that people from different places and cultures can bond over. And even if your Mexican Spanish is rusty, a simple Cerveza, por favor (A beer, please) goes a long way.

While you can conduct your own independent explorations in port, here are a few of our favorite organized shore excursion activities along the Mexican Riviera that let you indulge in the best flavors that the region has to offer:


An often-overlooked port of call, Ensenada is a popular addition to three-and-four-night Baja cruises out of Los Angeles. Once considered a whistle-stop port, modern Ensenada continues to expand its offerings for passengers arriving by cruise ship. You’ll find no shortage of pub crawls and even a visit to some local wineries here, but the real gem are Ensenada’s craft breweries.

Craft beer is a recent addition to Mexico (see Mazatlán, below, for some age-old Mexican brews), and Carnival Cruise Line makes a point to combine a visit to several craft breweries with some locally-made wood-fired pizza and one of the best taco shops in the city.

The highlight of Carnival’s “Ensenada Top Breweries, Famous Tacos & Pizza” excursion: a visit to the small town of San Antonio de las Minas, home to the Brewery and Restaurant El Chivo Grunon and Ochentos. Hidden high up on a hill, this brewery takes the cake for its stone-walled tasting room complete with cool vinyl tunes, leatherback-couches and friendly vibe.

Cabo San Lucas

Pretty as it is, Cabo San Lucas is about as North American as ports of call come. That’s why it’s a good idea to get out of the city and head to the small former mission town of Todos Santos.

Holland America Line offers a unique excursion to Todos Santos created in partnership with Food & Wine magazine. Guests are given free time to wander around the old Jesuit mission, explore the small local shops that line the quaint streets, and finally, to lunch at the famous Hotel California. Legend says that this hotel inspired The Eagles to write their iconic 1969 song of the same name. It’s possible – but who knows? After a few of the hotel’s famous margaritas, you might also find that you’re living it up at the Hotel California. 


Nearly every cruise line calling on Mazatlán offers the popular “Salsa et Salsa” tour. Combining the Mexican love of dance with the authentic spices and flavors of salsa (the food).

A five-hour excursion, it whisks guests to the main tourist zone (Zona Dorada, or ‘The Golden Zone’) for the chance to learn how to make seven different Mexican salsas. Instructors also teach participants how to make a couple of margaritas, too. After all, cooking is a thirsty business!

After the cooking lesson and some adult libations, it’s time to dance the salsa!  Instructors teach guests how to dance the salsa in four easy steps, while snacks and liquid courage are available for guests to enjoy. Muy Bueno!

For a bit of independent foodie heaven, take a stroll through Mazatlán’s Old Town (Centro Historico) for authentic street chips and tacos, and pop into the Pacifico Brewery, which has been making its authentically-Mexican cerveza right near the port since 1899.

Puerto Vallarta

You can’t visit Mexico without sampling tequila. Even if you think you don’t like tequila, these tours will disabuse you of that notion as you discover what good tequila really looks and tastes like.

Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and others offer excursions to the Mexican countryside, out of the city of Puerto Vallarta, where the Hacienda Dona Engracia resides. One of the best tequila producers in the Jalisco region (already noted for its high-quality tequila), guides at the Hacienda will walk guests through the process to transform the Blue Agave Cactus into the tequila that Mexico is known for.

A tour of the distillery is provided, along with the chance to sample several different types of tequila. Longer tours include a lunch enjoyed on the Hacienda’s picturesque grounds, and of course tequila is available by the bottle to take home.

Not a fan of tequila? Try an older tequila, which has a consistency more akin to brandy or scotch. Aged tequilas are typically amber or golden in color. Reposado tequilas are aged less than one year. Anjeo is aged for one to three years. And Extra Anjeo is aged no less than three years.

After this excursion, you may be a little wobbly. But there is still time for a stroll along Puerto Vallarta’s picturesque Malecon, the seaside street walk that runs the length of the central town.

Mexico: A Foodie’s Paradise

There is plenty to love about Mexico, and the Mexican Riviera doesn’t disappoint foodies looking to taste – and drink -their way through this fascinating and friendly part of the world.

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