A Quick Guide for Cruise Professionals and Tourists:
Things to Do and Places to See
Veracruz is A Good Port in a Storm
Text and Photos by John Todd, Jr.

If you are coming to Veracruz for the first time, hereīs a Quick Guide to get Prepared When you Come Ashore.

Get Ready for the Unexpected!

The Arrival of the Zuiderdam Dwarfs the Tallest Building in Veracruz!
Photo Courtesy of VerVeracruz Magazine, May 2011 Issue

Photo Courtesy of VerVeracruz Magazine, May 2011 Issue

For the Cruise Ship Organizer
Please spend 15 minutes to read this. It is more complete than most of the tourist brochures about Veracruz, and it doesnīt take that long.

Shore Excursions in Veracruz are a lot better with an experienced tour guide. Itīs one of the oldest and most interesting cities in America.

1. Veracruz is Historic. You need to know about the History of Veracruz.

2. The typical Shore Excursions in the past have been 6-7 hour trips to the pyramids at Cempoala and Antigua.

3. Short and Long City tours: The short tour is the fort of San Juan de Ulua, the Zocalo, and a drive along the long beach front to Boca del Rio.
The Long City Tour is the same as the above but includes the Aquarium, which is really nice.

4. Tours south to Alvarado and Tlacotalpan are good, too.

5. Ride with us on the Shore Excursions! Veracruz is new to the Cruise People and we want to show off our city.

6. Let us know what kind of Shore Excursions you are looking for. There is a lot to see and do in Veracruz.

If you need any additional information, send me an email:

For the Tourist
First, Veracruz has the charm of New Orleans, and is a safe city. Take the normal precautions and be friendly to the people. They are really nice. Many are shy, and you may be the first American they have seen up close.

The Best Place for Liquid Refreshments and the "atmosphere" of Veracruz is the Zocalo, or main plaza, about 3 blocks from where your ship is tied up. Itīs the atmosphere that Carlos and Charlies tries to imitate. Just look for the cupola of the church.

1. If you want to see a little of the downtown area on your own, print up my self programmed Walking Tour of Downtown Veracruz. This will take about 3 hours.

2. Shore Excursions. Things to do Ashore. Rather than try to do Veracruz on your own try to take a shore excursion and really get to know Veracruz fast. There is a lot to do.

3. Taxis are cheap and donīt cost more than about $5 dollars one way to most parts of Veracruz. By the hour, they are expensive.

4. Money Exchange ATMīs (Cajero Automatico, in Spanish) are the best way to change your money. You will find people who accept dollars at about $10 pesos/1 US Dollar. Downtown there are a couple of money exchange places and at the banks about a block from the Zocalo. Just ask around.

Last: Veracruz is a tropical coastal Mexican town, where we are accustomed to take life easy. Itīs great for exploring and getting to know the people.

P.S. The sun in Veracruz can be brutal! Hereīs my own Sunburn Remedy.

An Unexpected Cruise Ship Arrives
Here in Veracruz we watch the weather. Especially cold fronts and hurricanes. Hurricane Stan which came in south of Veracruz was the first hurricane to come within 50 miles of Veracruz since 1926. They usually go in north around Tuxpan or Poza Rica. Here in Veracruz we got a lot of rain, and many of the low areas were flooded.

When thereīs bad weather in the Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz is a secondary port of call for the big cruise ships that have their routes to Yucatan, Progreso, Cancun, and Cozumel.

Another Cruise Ship! Welcome to Veracruz !
How it Works
Since I have a lot of spare time, and am the only American who does tour guide work, sometimes I get called in to lend a hand with tour guide work which is something I really love.

It is a time to be with other Americans, and speak English again. And, to show them the best of the town where I live.

Sometimes I guess I get a little carried away when a cruise ship arrives. It must be the festive atmosphere of the music that does it.

Many people in Veracruz take time out to join the party.
Martin Sandoval and the Dancers
Tuning Up
The Refreshment Tent
As One of the Tour Guides
As the only American tour guide in town, itīs not all that hard to drop things on a moments notice, especially when itīs to do something you enjoy.

To tell people about the history and some of my fun exploration projects This is one of my favorite pastimes.

When you get to the docks, things are already in motion. Police are directing traffic and the barricades are being set up. And the cruise ship is just off in the distance.

It would be here in about 30 minutes.
Moral Support Section
Glorias and Raspados Stands
Getting Ready
To Be with Friends Again
For the last couple of years, I had been doing tour guide work. Maybe once a month.

In the process, I have gotten to know most of the people in the travel business, and it was good to see old friends again.

The last time we had gotten together like this was last New Yearīs Eve when the last cruise ship came.

What I like is to walk among the people on the Malecón in the festive atmosphere of music and the dances of Veracruz.
The Ship Dwarfs the People
The Ship Arrives
Those of us on shore stand in awe, as the huge ship is deftly maneuvered to the dock.

Almost like a dainty hippopotamus.

When things are ready people start to come ashore.

Tickets for the shore excursions have been sold aboard the ship and the right number of tour buses have been ordered.

This is one of the most difficult parts of the short notice shore excursions.
Your Name on a Grain of Rice
Sometimes the tour buses have to be brought from as far away as Mexico City.

My group was great. People from Houston and Galveston, where I used to live.

When we were at the fort of San Juan de Ulua or visiting the old church on the Zocalo, I donīt know how many times they remarked.

"Why, I never knew that!"
A Picture with a Real Spanish Cannon
San Juan de Ulua
The Spanish fort of San Juan de Ulua is fun.

For 300 years, it was the focal point of all the pirates in the Caribbean because the fort was the take off point for the largest transfer of gold and silver in the history of mankind.

Not to mention all the battles with the French and US forces that occupied Veracruz at one time or another.

It also used to be an old dungeon, and itīs fun walking through the dark, dank torture rooms.

If you come here, be sure to get a tour guide, otherwise it will look like a pile of rocks.
Cozy "Refreshment" Stands on the Zocalo
The Historic Zocalo
"Chilaquiles con Queso"
At the End of the Day
At the end of tour we exchange information so we can stay in touch.

Most of the passengers go off to the Zocalo for some "refreshments" and relax in small groups.Soon it will be time for the ship to sail into the night.

I relax with some friends over some authentic "chilaquiles con queso".

I hope one day, you will get a chance to catch a cruise ship to Veracruz. I think youīll really enjoy it.
Shrimp is Everywhere
So is Good Seafood

Jarocho Dancers Greeting the Cruise Ship

La Bruja
The Music of Veracruz
Here are some .mpg music clips of the Music of Veracruz. Here see a lot of these dances when you arrive. (It takes awhile to download them.)

The sound of the harp and "jarana" of Veracruz is the background and the white "vestidos"and gold coined necklaces of the "jarochas" are like the delicate butterflies in Spring. The music is of the green tropical jungles, and dark wide rivers, and palm trees swaying in the Gulf breeze.
La Bruja
La Bruja


Jaraneros at Cempoala



The Balloons of Farewell from the People of Veracruz!

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