In recent years, an abundance of caution caused cruise lines to nearly abandon Mazatlan, Mexico; concerned about the safety of passengers when they go ashore. Never mind that isolated acts of violence occurred far from where cruise passengers would visit; the bloody drug lord-fueled stories made headlines and raised disturbing questions about safety. Now with back in the good graces of cruise lines, ships are returning to Mazatlan in ever-increasing numbers, treating their guests to one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
In 2011, reports of crime in Mexico had taken its toll on tourism, causing everything from a US Department of State travel warning to major cruise lines canceling calls at Mexican ports. Still, Mazatlan insisted their destination was safe, encouraging visitors to come and many did for land vacations at a variety of seaside resorts. To find out first-hand, we visited Mazatlan back then, finding a safe, secure destination with a warm and friendly people, eager to receive visitors.
In a test of safety, we walked the streets of Mazatlan in 2011 on November 2nd during the Day of the Dead stroll and festivities. Held in Mazatlan’s old historic district, the centuries-old tradition, also called All Souls Day, honors those who have died with a walking procession through town in a Mardi Gras sort of way, celebrating life. In a Gadling article titled Mazatlan is safe, just ask the dead people, we began to uncover the simple truth about Mazatlan: It is as safe or safer than any other Caribbean destination.
Slowly, cautious cruise lines began returning to Mazatlan and last September, in No Longer Deadly, Mazatlan Returns To Cruise Itineraries, I reported good news: Cruise lines were coming back and the outlook for Mazatlan was increasingly positive.
Today, more ships are stopping in Mazatlan with even greater numbers scheduled for 2015. Currently scheduled as far into the future as 2016:
- Carnival Miracle will resume year-round weeklong itineraries with stops at Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and a full day at Mazatlan.
- Princess Cruises will celebrate its 50th Anniversary where it began, including an overnight stop in Puerto Vallarta and calls in Mazatlan and Manzanillo, La Paz and Loreto.
- Princess Cruises commitment to Mexico goes beyond that 50th anniversary sailing too. Ruby Princess and Grand Princess with both sail itineraries that include Mazatlan in 2015
- Holland America Line will send Veendam and Westerdam south to Mazatlan this year for an assortment of select sailings, ranging from 7- to 24-nights/
- Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Norwegian Star will do a series of Mexico-focused sailings this year and next with stops in Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.
- Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Jewel will sail to Mazatlan in 2015 and have already committed to sailing there in 2016 as well.
That’s good news to the friendly people who live and work in Mazatlan, truly a dream destination worthy of cruise ship calls at the new, modern Port of Mazatlan.
It has been a long, hard road for Mazatlan but business is good and life is better. Still, Mazatlan’s return to cruise line favor did not happen by accident.
“We didn’t just sit around hoping they would return,” Frank Cordova, secretary of tourism for the state of Sinaloa told me in 2011. “We made a lot of changes to upgrade security and to improve the visitor experience.”
It worked and Mazatlan is back!