Skip To Content
- Blog -

08 Oct. 2017; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Puerta Vallarta is located in a bay, far inland and not directly on the coast line of the Pacific Ocean. One of the pilots told me in the past that this was due to the river that flows through of what is now the town and resort. Or better said a city as PV has grown enormously since he 1950’s. Then it was a quiet laid back little town and was made famous by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor with their movie the Night of the Iguana. If that resulted in this enormous boom which started in the late 80’s I do not know but it is now very big compared to what it was.

Tender service in 1984 with the ms Noordam (III). As you can see the tender even had it’s own local pilot. Note how empty the background is.

When I came here for the first time in 1984 we could only find the entrance to the port, which is indeed the end of a small river, by trying to see three small apartment buildings against the glare on the rising sun over the mountains. There was no way of recognizing anything that remotely looked like a port as it was all low land and a swampy area where now a large cruise port is located. With only one dock, we had to anchor most of the time as we always had the Star Dancer alongside as she made 7 days trips from Los Angeles and we made 14 day trips. (Same pecking order as I described yesterday at Cabo) That lasted until finally the pilot convinced the captain that we could dock inside with two anchors and ropes from the stern to the shore. Style Mediterranee we call this in nautical jargon as it used to be standard in all the Mediterranean ports and often still is.

The view of the port from the approach channel in 1984. Note the two poles striped red and white. They are the leading lights old version. This is the green channel buoy and the tender is not in the center of the channel as the leading light masts are not in line. The tender hugged the green side to keep the rest of the fairway clear for other boats.

Now there are three docks for cruise ships and quite often they are full, especially midweek when the 7 days ships are in. All three berths full, and sometimes even one more at the anchorage. We did not have any issue, as there were only two of us. They were repairing the cruise terminal, berth no. 1 and it look liked that they were adding more shopping capacity. So we were directed to berth 3 as berth nbr. 2 was occupied by “The World”.

The World. It is about the size of the Veendam or Maasdam but has only 220 apartments instead of 670 cabins which is more standard for this size.

This is a real floating apartment building and for some time now completely owned by the owners of the apartments on board and that qualifies it to be a sort of floating country club as there is no real nautical word for it. Ocean Club??? As far as I understand the process, all the members vote on a proposed itinerary about two years before and the captain takes into account all the highlights of the Jet-Set in the various places in the world. I have seen the ship at Cannes film week, at various Grand Prix and at other locations where anybody who is “somebody” or thinks he or she is somebody, needs to be.  As the ship cannot be everywhere at the same time, there is a sort of voting system. I do not know if there was something special going on in PV or that it was just a regular call on the sailing schedule.  The apartment owners fly in and out whenever they want and as a result the ship is sometimes nearly empty when the location and time does not fit in with the owner’s schedules. In most ports it stays for at least 48 hrs. so there is more leisurely time to explore, meet friends and go out for dinner.

A view of the port from the same location near the beginning of the approach channel, now higher up. Where once the swamps were is now a shopping mall. Note the red and white striped poles. Those are the new leading lights, much higher otherwise you can not see the lights against the background light of the shops. The two masts are exactly in line which means the photographer is in the middle of the channel (and the ship under him hopefully as well)

Because The World was in port, it made it a bit tight for swinging inside and thus the Nieuw Amsterdam went stern in, or backed up as the landlubber would say. To sail in stern first, the ship is swung around just outside the port boundary, lined up on the leading lights and then goes in with about 1.5 to 2 knots stern way and slowly the stern is then moved over until the whole ship is aligned with the dock. In the old days, the officer aft would call out if the ship was in, and stayed in the leading lights and thus in the middle of the fairway, nowadays we have a camera at the stern and we can just look at the screen on the bridge and the nautical chart with GPS position (exact to a foot) does the rest. The Sea Captains from the old days would have been very jealous if they would have known how it is done nowadays; or maybe they would not………… as there is now email………………… and lots of it. Most of the day we had overcast skies which in a way was a blessing as there was no wind and a bright sun would have made it very warm.

We stayed here to until 17.30 hrs. being the all on board time and left when the last crew had returned from their shopping missions at Walmart. Our next port of call is now Huatalco de Santa Cruz but we first will have a sea day as it is more than 600 miles of sailing along the Mexican coast.

  • Roger Tollerud

    Captain A
    My wife and I cruise frequently to the Mexican Riviera on Carnival. We have not had the opportunity to try it on HAL. Perhaps one day we will. Would it be possible for you to overlay numbers on the photograph for the berths at Puerto Vallarta so I could be sure where numbers 1, 2 and 3 are.
    Thanks and regards,
    Roger T

  • Daniel Mellecke

    Hi Captain Albert:

    I have been reading your informative post for a year or so and am very thankful that you do provide so much information, thank you.

    We will be joining the Koningsdam on the 18th and am wondering if your schedule has changed and if you will continue as planned and join us on the 23/24th?


  • Captain Albert

    Thank you for reading my blog.

    as usual everything is up in the air, (including myself) until a plane gets me there. As things keep changing.
    At the moment I am still aiming for the Koningsdam, but there are two ships in between so wait and see
    but hopefully

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  • Kathy

    Just saw you will now be on the Westerdam for her crossing back to FLL.
    Hoping you are able to give your HAL history lecture this time.
    Looking forward to the Voyage.

  • Karl

    Beste kapitein Albert,

    Enig idee waarom de mail functionaliteit van de weblog het niet meer doet? Ik heb al een week geen dagelijkse mail gekregen. Hoop dat het te maken is want het is altijd een plezier om in de ochtend met het weblog te kunnen beginnen!

  • Frank Clancy

    Fondly remember sailing on several of the 14 night Mexico cruises from San Francisco on Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam in the early 80’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *