Tips for a Cruise that visits Mexico

Our last three cruises all included ports in Mexico, a place that we love visiting. We have visited Mexico arriving by cruise ship, plane and bicycle. We learned much from these experiences, and we are offering some tips for making your visit to Mexico a memorable one.

We recall our first visit to Mexico and all the horror stories that we heard. We were warned of the dangers of traveling there; the food, the water and of course, the banditos. Many people who warned us had never even traveled to Mexico, so their tips were simply based on hearsay. Nevertheless, we proceeded into Mexico cautiously. If you take common sense precautions as you should whenever you travel, you will have an enjoyable trip.
restaurant in ensenada
A restaurant in Ensenada.

A few tips for visiting Mexico

  • Learn a few words of Spanish – please(por favor), thank-you(gracias), hello (hola), how much (cuánto), where (dónde), I’m sorry (lo siento), excuse me (perdóneme), I don’t understand (no entiendo)
  • Eating yogurt daily before a trip helps prepare your system for foods it isn’t used to. We enjoy trying local dishes and wouldn’t go to Mexico and not eat the food. But, you should do what you feel comfortable doing.
  • Don’t drink the tap water. Always drink bottled water.
  • Don’t flush paper down the toilet. Use the wastebasket next to the toilet.
  • Bargain on prices, but don’t rip off vendors. Remember that the typical daily wage is similar to the minimum hourly wage in the US. Some things really are cheaper than K-Mart.
  • Don’t panic when you see that lunch will cost you $150. That is pesos, not dollars. The sign for pesos and dollars looks the same.
  • Be aware that sidewalks are often in disrepair. Pay attention to potholes and broken pavement.
  • You must ask for the check at restaurants – la cuenta (quaint-ah) por favor, when you eat out.
    It’s considered rude to bring it to you as may be customary at your local eatery.
  • Don’t wear bathing suits or beachwear when not at the beach.
  • Ask the price of cab fare before entering.
  • Be sure to have some pesos for using local buses.>
  • Many towns have tourist police who can answer your questions and help with directions.
  • If you plan on visiting a church, dress appropriately. Shorts and bare shoulders are not allowed.
  • Visit the mercado where the locals shop.
  • fish market in ensenada

    A fish market in Ensenada

  • Greet shopkeepers when you enter
  • Different regions of Mexico have their own special arts and crafts, food and beverage.
  • Be careful what you purchase – animal skins, fruit, plants are not permitted to be taken into the US and Canada. Don’t purchase anything that looks like a weapon. Even plastic pirate swords will be confiscated by the ship. Shops will take great care to wrap your breakables and may even ship them home for you.
  • Ladies, don’t even think about going into the local cantina with the swinging doors.
  • When you change money, get small bills. Many smaller establishment refuse to accept the $500(pesos) bill.
  • Decide before you leave the ship whether you will give money to the panhandlers. Don’t be surprised to see mothers or grandmothers with babes and young children begging on the street. Mexico does not have the same social welfare services that other countries have.
  • You will have ample opportunity to buy a lifetime supply of Chiclets from very young children.
  • kids selling chiclets
    Kids selling Chiclets

    What are your Mexico cruise travel tips?

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    7 Comments on "Tips for a Cruise that visits Mexico"

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    […] at Cruise Bug Chatter, I was offered tips for a successful trip to Mexico, whether by land or by sea. Some were the usual […]


    I’d also recommend keeping your mouth physically closed (most tourists have wide-open jaws making them targets for theft or rip-offs), bring a temporary credit card (or an unactivated one is even better with the activation sticker peeled off), and not leaving fancy or expensive items in your hotel room.


    […] at Cruise Bug Chatter, I was offered tips for a successful trip to Mexico, whether by land or by sea. Some were the usual […]

    Pauline H

    I loved your tips but I did one of the ‘not to dos’ and that is go into a cantina (Im a woman) and I was alone. I was not in any danger and had a wonderful marguerita with the authentic feel of the cantina to go with it. One of my best memories of Mexico actually.


    Strategic Marine

    If you are a tourist and have time, try to visit the more authentic areas, not just the tourist spots, you might find this a more enjoyable experience.

    Kids in Vegas

    I always worry about two things: food and bathrooms. I always carry my own tissue and hand sanitizer just in case.