Christmas On A Cruise Ship - Aboard the Westerdam, Holland America Line

The Westerdam sitting off of the Mexican Coast during a Christmas cruise.

Many think that boarding a Christmas cruise takes them away from long held traditions and customs.  But on a recent Holland America Line cruise to Mexico, I discovered that isn't always the case.  Sure, cruising an ocean can't duplicate years of holiday memories, but it can create new ones and might be the start of a new tradition.

The Atrium of the Westerdam with Christmas decorations.

At Christmastime on a cruise ship you will definitely see some decorations.  On the Westerdam several of the public spaces were very festive and most of the ship had some kind of holiday adornments.  The central lobby of the ship, known as The Atrium, had a nice tree and poinsettias.  It was often surrounded by groups having photos taken by the ship's photographer.

Stairway leading to the Atrium of Westerdam decorated for Christmas.

The stairs between decks were decorated, as were the railings on the balconies on each level of the atrium.  Since The Atrium of the Westerdam was a central traffic area, it gave plenty of opportunities for viewing these ornaments. 

Decorations around the Lido Market buffet on deck 9.

Holiday flowers, plants, and small Christmas trees were located around the ship, like these in the Lido Restaurant/Buffet.  You can read more about the Westerdam HERE.

A gingerbread village.

On the Westerdam, a portion of one of the lounges was converted into a beautiful gingerbread town depicting landmarks from around the world.  The Holland American Line kitchen staff outdid themselves on this yummy display!

A gingerbread London Bridge with train and lighthouse.

During this Mexico cruise, departing Long Beach California, Christmas Eve was the first evening at sea.  It featured a Vigil Mass, Hanukkah Service, Midnight Mass, and Midnight Interdenominational Services.  In the lounges, the entertainers offered up holiday favorites.  The entertainment staff also spent the evening singing carols in various locations around the ship.  The crew of the Westerdam presented a Christmas Concert featuring traditional songs from their home countries.

Christmas morning in the Atrium of the HAL Westerdam.

December 25th was a day at sea as we headed toward Mexico's Cabo San Lucas.  It had snowed confetti overnight in The Atrium, and everyone was waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus.  The ship's Daily Navigator newsletter said we should expect the arrival of a special visitor that morning in the main theater, the Vista Lounge.

Entertainment staff entertains in the main Vista Lounge stage.

On Christmas Morning, the ship's entertainers took to the Vista Lounge stage and sang carols as passengers awaited the arrival of Santa.  The Captain then made a ship-wide announcement that something unusual was spotted in the water off the port side of the ship.  A boat crew was dispatched to investigate.  Sure enough, they returned with Santa Claus and a few of his helpers.  A video screen in the lounge showed Santa as he moved through the ship, being distracted at every turn.  First it was the buffet, then the casino, then the salon and spa.  His helpers would constantly remind him he had children waiting.  

Santa has arrived at The Main Stage on the Westerdam.

Santa found his way to the Vista Lounge stage and was greeted by shouts of glee from children of all ages.  He took to the stage as the ship's staff passed out cookies to the watching audience.

Santa has gifts for all the children.

A line of excited children quickly formed, and the jolly old man began passing out wrapped packages.  In traditional fashion, most of the kids were excited to meet Santa on Christmas, but others were a bit confused and shy.

Westerdam Atrium lobby after Christmas party.

It was a busy morning on the Westerdam, and someone had a lot of cleaning up to do in The Atrium.  Over the next few days the decorations slowly disappeared, and the ship took on the normal, everyday appearance.  A few other observations of this holiday cruise: As would be expected, lots of families were on-board, and the ship was full.  Wikipedia says the capacity is 1848 passengers; we had 2065.  I'm sure most of this was extra kids staying with parents.  At times the ship felt crowded, but you could almost always find a quiet spot to sit and read or have a drink. 

Mexico as seen from the promenade deck on the Holland America Westerdam.

Mexico is a beautiful country, and the Western coast is a great cruise destination.  During this seven day cruise, we visited Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.  We traveled 2169 NM with an average speed of appx. 16 knots.  You can listen to a podcast about this Christmas Cruise HERE.


(NOTE: Four months after this cruise, the Westerdam entered dry-dock for routine maintenance and some upgrades.  It was nice to see that Holland America Line is keeping this already beautiful ship in tip-top shape.)

Matlali Hotel & Resort, Tour / Review of Suite 330, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Matlai Hotel / Resort, Logo

Matlali is a unique modern hotel / resort overlooking Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta, in the Punta Mita area of Mexico.  This property is a combination of 42 beautifully appointed villas and suites surrounding a main building with a restaurant and pools. 

Entrance Road

A beautifully landscaped private road takes you into the Matlali resort complex.  The lush vegetation  separates the villas, keeping them isolated and private.  Security gate at entrance restricts access.

Exterior of Matlali Hotel / Resort

The modern hotel's suites are located in a large building located at the top of the valley looking out over the rest of the resort and Banderas Bay.  

Dining Living Room area of Suite 330, Matlali Hotel

Suite #330 is a two bedroom suite with lots of room for a family of three or four to relax.  It includes a large living/dining area, small kitchen with bar, two bathrooms, and a large balcony with plunge pool. 

Living Room Area of Matlali Hotel

The living room area is comfortable and well appointed.  It is a great spot to enjoy the view while staying inside with the air conditioning when the window wall is closed.

Living Room of Suite 330 of Matlali Hotel, Puerto Vallarta

The kitchen is small and efficient.  The staff will help you fill the full size refrigerator.  The management suggests you Do Not Drink the tap water.  Bottles of water are supplied in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Plunge Pool on Balcony at Matlali Hotel, PV Mexico

The plunge pool on the private terrace quickly became my favorite spot for letting the time pass by.  And the outside dining table was used much more than the table inside.  With the fast WiFi provided by the hotel, this spot became an office.

Sitting area on balcony of Suite 330 Matlali Hotel

A long nap is the best use for this quiet spot on the balcony.  Sometimes doing nothing can be hard work, and you need a rest!

Master Bedroom of Suite 330 Matlali Hotel

The large master bedroom has a very comfortable mattress with soft, smooth sheets.  Before I arrived the room had been sprayed with a sweet perfume, which was not to my liking.  Ladies may enjoy it.

Small balcony off of master bedroom

The master has a window wall that opens out to a small but usable balcony. 

Master bathroom area.

Large sliding doors in the master bedroom open to the bathroom area.  These large doors can be closed for visual privacy, but they don't quiet the noise that might be made.  As you can see, across the hall, a second small bathroom is provided. 

Guest room of suite 330 Matlali Hotel

Both TVs in the master bedroom and in the living room had good reception.  The desk was comfortable, but when I needed a desk, I used the table on the main terrace. 

Natural pool in the valley of resort

The Matlali has several pools.  This one is located deep inside a valley on the resort's property, a short walk from the villas and suites.  It blends effortlessly into the forested valley setting.  Of the pools provided, this was my favorite. 

Main pool area of Matlali Hotel / Resort

Just off the main building is this set of two pools surrounded by lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas. 

Pool side bar area.

Adjacent to one of the central pools is a small bar.  It was quiet during my visit, but it looked like the pools had plenty of space to handle a full hotel.

Gym area at the hotel.

The Matlali has a small but well equipped gym for guests who want to work up a sweat. 

Tennis & Basketball courts at Matlali

Feel like a little game of basketball or tennis?  The resort offers both. 

Path on the Matlali property

A beautiful walking path connects the various pools and sports courts on the property. 

Restaurant at the Matlali Hotel / Resort Puerto Vallarta

The hotel provided me with two meals, dinner and breakfast, in the restaurant at Matlali.  Enjoyed both of these meals.  Quality was excellent and service was very good.   

Restaurant & bar at beach that Matlali runs.

The hotel offers a shuttle that will take you down to the water and to Matlali's beach club.  This club is run by the same owners that operate the hotel, and must be taken advantage of.  

Hotel has great beach side services.

The club is just a 10 minute shuttle ride from the main resort.  The bar serves a delicious menu of tacos, local fresh catch of the day, and the required margaritas.  Now this is the way to spend your day!

Beach chairs at Matlali beach club.

Mexico's beaches are beautiful, and the waves here are minimal and great for swimming.  On the other side of the Bay is Puerto Vallarta.  Matlali is actually located in Punta de Mita, Nayarit, Mexico just a short drive north of PV.  If you are interested in the region, here is their website

Spa bungalows at Matlali hotel.

Matlali offers guests Makawe Spa with four treatment rooms, two of which can accommodate couples. 

Matlali offers a variety of spa services.

Spa services are based on local Indian cultures.  Signature treatment is the Hikuri Therapy.  During my stay I did not try the spa.

Evening view Puerto Vallarta from hotel.

For more information on this hotel and its services, visit their website

Balcony plunge pool after dark.

Ended my day here in the private plunge pool on my terrace.   The lights of Puerto Vallarta can be seen twinkling in the distance.

One of several villas on the property.

This is one of several luxurious private villas that are available.  Note: This property provided the writer one night's accommodations and two meals.

Matlali Hotel & Resort, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Matlali is a beautiful, modern resort just waiting for those who are looking for a relaxing getaway.  It is more of a condo/villa resort providing the services of a traditional hotel.  They take very good care of their guests.  The separate beach club is a great amenity and shouldn't be overlooked.

Celebrate Life at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral in Cancun Mexico

Now for any vacation to be truly enjoyable, you will have to make good lodging arrangements. You can’t do better than if you book at Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Hotel. It takes the vibrant elements that the city is known for and combines it with a chic style and attention to comfort. All of the modern provisions you require are provided here, plus more.

Fiesta Americana Grand Coral in Cancun Mexico
If you are all about celebrating life, why not fly in for an extended fiesta in Mexico? This South American country is famous for its lively character, warm people, and great food. Perhaps one of the best places you can visit there is the city of Cancun. It may have been a simple fisherman’s island in the past, but it has since developed into an ideal destination for tourists, as aside from being home to excellent diving spots, it also has a dynamic city life that can be considered a celebration in itself.

Grand Coral  pool
The Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Resort definitely pulls out all the stops when it comes to providing maximum comfort and luxury. There are several types of suites to choose from, each with their own distinct features. For instance, you can start with the Junior Suite Ocean View King, which has its own living room and is elegantly and tastefully designed.

A Junior Suite at the Grand Coral in Cancun.
However, if you wish to step things up and pamper yourself with a complete relaxation experience, you can go for the Junior Suite Spa King. Not only will you enjoy exclusive amenities, you will also have unlimited access to the hotel’s spa.

Grand Coral Master Suite
The Coral Suite, Governor Suite, and Presidential Suite are also fantastic choices, especially if you are planning a very special getaway. No matter which suite you choose, though, you are ensured of a restful sleep on luxurious mattresses fitted with the finest Egyptian cotton. All of the basic equipment are present, such as a phone, hair dryer, iron, and coffee machine. If you look more closely, though, you will appreciate how everything in the room is the best of its kind, from the kind of furniture to the lighting used.

Just as the suites are completely and luxuriously furnished, so do the dining choices leave nothing to be desired. If you want to have a casual snack or some coffee, you can choose between the Coral Café or Gem Spa Café. Each of these has its own distinct offerings to give more variety to the food and drink choices.

One of serveral of the dining rooms at the Grand Coral Resort.
There are also several restaurants that offer full service for lunch and dinner. You just have to decide on whether you prefer to have something Continental, French, Mexican, or a little of everything. You can also have a refreshing drink by the pool or by the beach. You are on vacation, after all!

Hydrotherapy / Spa Facilities at the resort.
Even if you do not take the spa suites, you can still enjoy complete relaxation by choosing from the many services offered at the hotel’s very own spa. Aside from the usual massage services, you can also benefit greatly from hydrotherapy and gem therapy. Wake up your tired skin with a facial, or release accumulated toxins in the steam room. If you are vacationing with your partner or with friends, you can choose to have your treatments together if you wish. Give yourselves the treat you deserve!

Ballroom for meetings or weddings.
With its wonderful location and well-appointed accommodations and amenities, the Fiesta Americana is certainly the ideal venue for the beach wedding you have been dreaming of. First of all, you have access to a beautiful private beach for a truly picturesque ceremony. Your guests will also enjoy the sumptuous feast during your reception.

More importantly, though, you need not get yourself stressed out about these things because you only have to discuss your wishes with the wedding planners from Tropical Wedding Experts to make sure that everything goes smoothly.  Visit resorts website.

Grand Coral offers meeting facilities.
On the other hand, if you would like to motivate your employees, whether you are having a seminar, a business meeting, or a team building activity, bringing them to Fiesta Americana is a great way of doing it. You can bring in as many as 1,700 people and may choose to use the Grand Ballroom, the indoor meeting area, or the Breakout Rooms, depending on your purposes. All of the necessary audio-visual equipment for your presentations can be provided and WiFi is readily available. If you need some help with organizing your events, Fiesta Americana’s team will be more than capable of providing it.

Ocean view of the resort and beach at Fiesta Americana Grand Coral, Cancun.
If you have children, you need not worry about them getting bored or feeling left out, despite all the fun the grown-ups are having. Fiesta Americana’s Fiesta Kids Clubs are there to come to the rescue. Various activities are in store, from water games to art sessions. There is simply no time for boredom!

Going on vacation is all about letting go of the drudgery of your daily routine and reviving both your body and spirit. What better place to do it in sunny Cancun than at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Resort? Photos provided by resort.