Break out of the winter doldrums and escape to the desert, sea and sun!

There is nothing better than a white Christmas and if you are a skier or snowshoe enthusiast like me, you love a month or so of the white stuff. However, by the end of January I am ready to escape and head south for days in the sun. It doesn’t get any better than combining time in the desert, with time in San Diego and a cruise along the Mexican Riviera.

Growing up in Southern California, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert were some of our favorite family haunts. In fact, hanging in my home today are water colours of Joshua trees and desert California poppies, my Mom’s favorite spring flower. Staying right downtown Palm Springs will offer you access to shops, restaurants and on the Thursday evening time to enjoy the Village Fest. This event is closed to all traffic and the street is filled with entertainment, music and food. Included is a one of my favourites, the Palm Springs Aerial Tram that rotates 360 degrees as it ascends Mount San Jacinto offering specular views of the valley below.

From the desert, we head to San Diego, California’s second largest and certainly one of the most beautiful sea side cities for a three night stay. A harbour cruise will provide a city perspective from the water as well as a view of the ship yards, Point Loma and the Naval Air Station. San Diego’s Safari Park is sure to be a highlight as you tour the grounds by tram for easy viewing of the animals.

San Diego is where we start the cruise portion of our tour. We board the Westerdam for a buffet lunch and have time to settle in and familiarize ourselves with the ship before a 4pm sailing. There will be plenty of activities on board to entertain you as you sail south along the Baja Peninsula.

Cabo San Lucas is our first port of call and the ship uses tenders to transport guests to shore. Book an excursion, or walk along the water front enjoying the shops and restaurants.

Mazatlán is a busy fishing port as well as a popular tourist destination. Port excursions are available and I hear the daring cliff divers are definitely worth seeing. Wandering through Old Mazatlán’s’ local markets and through the city’s cobblestone streets is a great way to spend your time here.

Puerto Vallarta is our last port before we begin our journey north. Being such a popular tourist destination there is a bazaar for shoppers located on the dock. The historic downtown area is about 3 km away and well worth the short journey to spend time exploring the city.

After leaving Puerto Vallarta, we have two days on board the Westerdam to enjoy all the onboard amenities before docking in San Diego for a flight north to Seattle and an overnight stay before heading home to BC by coach.

By the time you get home the days will be longer, the snow will be melting and spring will be just around the corner.

Written by: Joan Niemeier

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