Confessions of An Unconventional Cruiser

The Savvy Seafarer gets a manicure in Chiapas

The unconventional cruiser, aka: Savvy Seafarer, sails in a different style than most passengers—and does things her way.

A recent cruise on the maiden voyage of Marina was no exception to my rules. One, of which is to never pay shipboard spa prices when other options are available.

Marina docked in Puerto Chiapas

So when the 65,000-ton luxury liner docked in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, I went ashore looking for a place to get a manicure for less than the  $65 CanyonRanch Spa was charging. And ole, right there in the pyramid-designed terminal building,  I found two enterprising young women,  Idalia Arteaga and Pati Cordova,  offering  manicures and pedicures for $10 US each (the exchange rate is 12 pesos to the dollar.  

I immediately sat down and had my nails done. Throughout the day, a steady stream of passengers and crew stopped by the make appointments. The senoritas knew what they were doing.

The terminal was alive with the sounds of mariachis and dancers performing  for the passengers who strolled around  the shops  set up  in the terminal and/or  headed out to  the busses that would take them on shore excursions around this port city that was established in the  1880’s by German immigrants. The port was built in 1975 but only became a cruise ship stop in 2006.

Passengers who love to shop, and most do,  didn’t need to leave the building which offered chances to spend pesos, dollars or use plastic on souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, coffee and chocolate.

 We bought coffee–one of the area’s major products– from  Michael Ghahramani—who owns a plantation and roasts the beans (www.rainforest

It was a  hot, humid  day in the high 80s and we were grateful for the bottle of water the ship provides for us at the gangway  (free).

The  Panama Canal cruise—from Miami to LA and San Francisco—aboard the 1,250-passenger Marina moved along seamlessly.  Passenger comfort and satisfaction seem high, the crew continued to go out of their way to please, the food remained amazing and we were pretty happy shipboard campers. 

Arriving in Acapulco

However, the entertainment proved the weakest link and validated another of my rules to avoid shipboard shows at all costs. In all fairness some of the productions at sea aren’t bad, but when they are, they are very, very awful. Still it’s a matter of  our opinion, some pax find it  diverting, others  don’t.

Please check out my full reports about the entire 16-day cruise at

Learn more about Oceania Cruises at




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