There's a reasonable chance that some of you who are reading this first got the cruise bug by watching the TV series The Love Boat in the late 1970s.
If that was a fun decade, the actors had more than their share of it on the Pacific Princess (a.k.a. The Love Boat) as it sailed the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles, with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and, yes, sometimes all the way south to Acapulco.
That original Pacific Princess was dismantled and scrapped last year in Turkey, but it holds a lot of memories for many early cruisers and TV viewers. The show played on Saturday nights on ABC and was paired with Fantasy Island.
For some reason, I thought the celebrity guests on the show were in the B category. But it appears not when you find people like Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Ginger Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, Debbie Reynolds, Tom Hanks and Don Ameche all made appearances.
Gavin MacLeod, the skipper, and Lauren Tewes, the cruise director, are probably pleased to know that the Mexican Riviera is making a comeback after five years of diminishing numbers, fuelled by reports of violence and a collapsing U.S. economy that arguably hit California harder than any other state.
Cruisecritic.com offered a few facts about the demise: "Puerto Vallarta went from having a banner year in 2008, when 180 ships arrived, to a mere 82 in 2013. Mazatlan suffered a significant financial hit when a string of violent incidents prompted cruise lines to pull out completely in 2011, losing all of the 520,000 passengers that had visited in 2010."
Carnival announced this summer it is going back with seven-day cruises in 2014-15 that include stops at Mazatlan. Princess has also put Mazatlan back into its Mexican Riviera schedule. The Riviera isn't just Mazatlan, of course, but it's an important cog in reviving the traditional Mexican Riviera seven-day cruise to those three ports.
A major holdout so far is Royal Caribbean.
With Galveston and Houston thriving as ports and the Mexican Riviera back on the radar of at least some cruise lines, people living in the western half of North America now have more choices of ports closer to home.
Carnival has designated Long Beach, Calif., the year-round home port of the Carnival Miracle. While there are several itineraries, the first that includes Mazatlan departs on Nov. 8. Princess won't have a yearround presence, but its Crown Princess and Grand Princess will be sailing the traditional seven-day cruises seasonally. Mexican Riviera cruises for Princess run from November to April, then again in the late fall of 2015 through the spring of 2016.
Norwegian's presence in Mexico will be mainly in fall and early winter.
It's clear the cruise lines believe in the recovering global economy and in anti-violence steps taken in Mexico, especially Mazatlan. If Carnival makes a success of its yearround presence, look for competitors to drop their anchors in Southern California yearround, too.
Phil's Pick of the Week I've selected two Mexican Riviera cruises for you to consider.
Carnival Miracle Departs: Jan. 10, 2015 Duration: 7 days return from Long Beach, Calif. Ports: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta Starting price: $519 See Carnival.com Crown Princess Departs: Nov. 15, 2015 Duration: 7 days return from Los Angeles Ports: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas Starting price: Balcony $878 SeePrincess.com