Sea of Cortez is a stunning destination for those who love cruising. Known for its sparkling turquoise waters, impressive rock formations, and abundance of marine life, it’s no surprise that many cruise lines offer trips to this popular Mexican destination.
In this article, we will provide some insights into the best cruises to the Sea of Cortez, what to expect on these trips, and why they are worth considering for your next vacation. Whether you’re an experienced cruiser or looking for a unique adventure, there’s something for everyone on a Sea of Cortez cruise.
Cruises to Sea of Cortez Overview
Cruises to Sea of Cortez are an excellent way to experience Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and its stunning natural beauty. The area’s volcanic activity and earthquakes formed the peninsula, separated from mainland Mexico, creating the Sea of Cortez. This body of water is home to over 900 fish and 2,000 marine species, some exclusive to the region.
The Sea of Cortez is perfect for marine biology enthusiasts, and land creatures, including bighorn sheep and humpback whales, offer fantastic wildlife encounters. A Sea of Cortez Cruise is a Mexican dream vacation with breathtaking views and many activities.
Types of Cruises to the Sea of Cortez
Princess Cruises is the only mainstream cruise line with the most significant ships that stop in the southern Mexico region of Baja California Sur. Our Mexican Riviera cruises offer short itineraries, while the Ruby Princess and Star Princess offer longer 10-day “Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez” sailings. Experience the region’s beauty while enjoying casino games, dining options, and world-class entertainment.
Azamara is thrilled to offer an exclusive 12-night cruise experience aboard the luxurious Azamara Quest. Departing once a year from San Diego, guests will embark on a a dazzling journey through the stunning ports of Mazatlan, La Paz, Topolobampo, Guayamas, Loreto, and Cabo San Lucas. Unlike larger ships that can carry thousands of passengers, Azamara’s small-ship experience provides an intimate and personalized setting, accommodating up to 694 guests. While on board, guests can still indulge in cabaret shows, specialty restaurants, and casino games but can also expect immersive events such as the AzAmazing Evening, offering a unique taste of the local arts and culture.
Oceania Cruises, known for its unparalleled fine dining, presents an extraordinary 10-night itinerary through the magnificent Sea of Cortez on board the elegant Regatta. Setting sail from Los Angeles, guests will visit the exquisite ports of Topolobampo, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and San Diego. With a passenger capacity similar to the Azamara Quest, the Regatta provides an intimate and inviting atmosphere while offering plenty of gourmet dining and entertainment options.
Crystal cruises: Indulge in a tremendous two-week adventure aboard Crystal Serenity, the pinnacle of luxury and elegance sold exclusively by Crystal Cruises. Departing from Los Angeles, guests will enjoy seven exquisite ports of call in Baja, Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, La Paz, Topolobampo, and Guayamas, with overnight stays in Loreto and Cabo.
With a passenger capacity of just over a thousand, Crystal cruise ships offer an intimate and personalized experience, complete with complimentary drinks, gratuities, specialty dining venues such as the world-renowned Nobu’s sushi, complimentary laundry services, and an unmatched crew-to-passenger ratio.
Regent Seven Seas: The line offers another unparalleled all-inclusive experience with a single Baja sailing on board the luxurious Regent Seven Seas Navigator. Departing from Los Angeles, guests will embark on a ten-night journey of a lifetime, relishing complimentary meals, drinks, tips, and exclusive shore excursions.
With a limited passenger capacity of just 490, guests will enjoy a high-end journey to the magnificent ports of La Paz, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Manzanillo, and Puerto Vallarta, all while basking in the epitome of luxury and sophistication.
Discover the Sea of Cortez’s natural wonders with Lindblad Expeditions aboard National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion ships. Choose from eight-day itineraries showcasing the uninhabited islands off La Paz or three-night cruises focusing on wellness and fitness with a weekend away from Cabo’s bustling resorts. Enjoy swimming with the sea lions of Los Islotes and onboard naturalists, photographers, and expedition staff. Use of water sports equipment and beer/wine with meals is complimentary.
Un-Cruise Adventures offers an unforgettable week-long journey with Baja’s Bounty itinerary traversing remote islands off La Paz, like Espiritu Santo. Highlights include snorkeling with whale sharks or riding a mule through arroyos. Whale-hunting Baja itineraries typically run from Jan through Mar. Enjoy a complimentary massage, water sports equipment, and beer/wine with meals.
Cruises to Sea of Cortez Departure
Embark on a small Mexico ship cruise to the Sea of Cortez, departing from La Paz or San Jose del Cabo. Reach these destinations through Manuel Marquez de Leon International Airport (LAP) or Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) with flights connecting domestic and international airports, including those in the USA. Puerto Los Cabos is the primary gateway to the Sea of Cortez, just a 20-minute drive from the airport. Non-stop direct flights to San Jose del Cabo are available from many US cities.
Cruises to Sea or Cortez Tips
The Sea of Cortez is a destination with many adventures and natural wonders. Here are some highlights to look forward to:
Whale watching: From mid-January to April, witness the arrival of migratory whales, including the blue whale, the California gray whale, and the fin whale, around the Sea of Cortez’s numerous islands. Catch the blue whale in Loreto, and the California gray whale in Baja’s Magdalena Bay, best seen in February and March.
Beyond the whales: Enjoy other sea life sightings, including dolphins, sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and pelicans. Snorkelers will be amazed by manta rays, sea caves, reefs, and brightly colored tropical fish.
Sierra Giganta Mountains: The towering and volcanic Sierra Giganta Mountains provide an awe-inspiring backdrop of cliffs and coves. Explore the thriving desert with giant cacti and other plant life, and experience the landscape with hiking and mountain biking.
Baja’s towns and villages: Discover Baja’s port cities with their historical missions and colonial charm, including the off-the-beaten-track villages, such as San Jose del Cabo, where you’ll find the airport and the vibrant Plaza Mijares.
Todos Santos: Virtually equidistant from Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, Todos Santos offers an artistic and culinary oasis featuring art galleries, excellent restaurants, and the legendary Hotel California.
Wet landings: If you’re sailing on an expedition line, you’ll travel by Zodiac or inflatable boat to remote islands for hiking and exploring. Prepare for wet landings by packing sandals with soles or other water shoes that make the transition from wet to dry seamless.
Best time to cruise to the Sea of Cortez
Embark on a Sea of Cortez cruise anytime, depending on your interests. Here are some seasonal highlights to consider:
- December to April: Witness the migratory whales’ arrival, making this the best time for whale watching.
- January to April: High season for the Sea of Cortez holidays, with ideal weather conditions for exploring the region’s natural wonders.
- July to September: Experience the hottest temperatures and occasional rainfall. However, this is an excellent time for spotting elephant seals, iguanas, blue-footed boobies, turtles, and lizards.
- Autumn: Lower temperatures make autumn ideal for wildlife spotting, including the magnificent sea creatures, without the crowds. Plan and visit in October or November to beat the crowds.
Cruises to Sea of Cortez are an adventure that should be noticed. From whale watching to exploring the desert landscape and discovering the charming towns and villages of the region, there is something for every traveler.
With several luxury cruise lines offering small ship experiences, passengers can immerse themselves in the area’s unique culture and natural beauty. So, pack your bags and set sail on a journey of a lifetime to the magnificent Sea of Cortez.
Christian Petzold is a successful touristic entrepreneur, experiential traveller and round-the-world backpacker. He holds an academic degree in tourism management.
His touristic expertise has been covered in radio, newspaper and television.