Cruise Ship Tips for Photographers

Cruise Ship

This coming Saturday, I'm boarding a Holland America liner as part of the staff for a Photoshop Fling Geek Cruise to the Mexican Riviera. We'll be visiting Cabo San Lucas, Mazaltlan, and Puerto Vallarta. The Geek Cruise concept is quite interesting. While we're at sea, we have a full conference with classes on Photoshop and digital photography. When we port, it's just like any other cruise. The tourists invade the destinations.

Here's the deal. This is my first cruise. And I'm wondering if those of you who have sailed before could share some tips for me, and for others who are considering cruises. I'll be packing a DSLR and a compact camera. I think I have a handle for photography while on the ship (although could use any suggestions you might have), but am really wondering about when we port in Mexico. How much equipment should I take? Any tips for getting great shots? Things like that.

Please post your sage words of advice in the comments area of this blog. It will help me next week, and countless others who are packing a camera on the big ship.

Oh, and BTW... I'll have an Internet connection while sailing, so I'll continue to post all week at sea.

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I don't have any spectacular advice other than to enjoy yourself and be careful not to overextend yourself with scheduled and unscheduled activities.

As far as photography goes, you probably already have decided this, but definitely bring graduated density and polarizing filters with you when you debark. I also wouldn't bring anything onshore that won't hang from your neck as loose items can very easily walk away. I think a DSLR is actually safer than a compact because you'll constantly be aware of it's bulkiness whereas a compact can easily be lifted like a pickpocket can lift your wallet.

Can't wait to see your shots and to hopefully learn secondhand your lessons from the cruise.


Good point about keeping my gear close to me on the mainland. And I'm definitely packing a polarizer... Thanks Tony

While on the cruise, can you talk to Adobe and ask what their plans are for updateing software for Intel based Macs? Why didn't they do a Photoshop elements 4 for Mac?

No brilliant advice, just two things: This time of year is better than when I traveled to Puerto Vallarta but the humidity was awful, especially the moisture content for electronic devices like cameras. My Video and Still cameras actually shut down each morning! Might consider plastic bags or something in which to place them overnight (assuming you get any sleep). Second, Puerto Vallarta is truer to "old Mexico" and so, for me, the people shots and dwelling/architecure shots were more authentic feeling. Bet you'll get some great ones. The sun sets over the bay so some nice beauty shots there. Lastly, brings pants with expandable waist lines. With all that Cruise Ship food, you'll need 'em! P.S. If you get the chance the Melia Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic hotel complete with its own gardens, huge pool and beautiful bay scenery.

I knew this was a good idea to ask for advice. Tom, I'm real big on Ziploc bags in cold weather (even did a post on it on this site), but I wouldn't have thought of them for the cruise. Excellent. Also, thanks for the location tips. I've also heard that the older part of Mazaltlan is pretty good too for pictures.

As for Adobe, Dave, a few thoughts. First, Lightroom will be ported pretty fast to Intel Macs because it's a Cocco app. Photoshop Elements 4 for the Mac is in the works, and I suspect we'll see a Universal Binary version when it's released. As for Photoshop CS3, I just don't know what's going to happen there.

Color, color everywhere! These Mexican cities just screem with color and unlimited photo opportunities. I agree with the other poster about the more authentic feel of Puerto Vallarta. If you are able to take an excursion inland out of the city proper you will see some small, older communities that are original, raw and untouched by the tourism of the city. The people are fabulous and welcoming and don't mind the picture taking. When in Mazatlan, be sure to visit the old town area. The French occupied this area during our Civil War and brought much influence to the architecture - it is reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans but with a Mexican flavor. The Mazatlan government forbids destruction of historical buildings so there are many abandoned, decaying homes throughout that make for great shots. Try to check on dress regulations beforehand if you are planning on shooting in any churches - some of them have dress codes for entering. I seem to remember not being able to wear shorts in one church. And of course, no matter what port you are in, be sure to sample the tequilla!

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That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

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