The Mexican Riviera port of Mazatlan is again welcoming cruise ships. It's a turnaround for the destination, which three years ago fell victim to a public relations disaster following a spate of robberies and one highly publicized shooting. Even though the shooting did not involve any tourists, the incident scared off every single cruise line that had previously included the port in its West Coast itineraries. Since then, passenger safety concerns have been substantially alleviated.
Tourism officials have invested some $2.8 million in security cameras throughout the city, new lighting at the port, and better coordination of police forces. Another $3 million was also invested in a “tourism corridor” – a cobblestone promenade – between the port and city center. Holland America Line was the first cruise operator to return to the port earlier this month, when the 1,350-passenger Veendam left San Diego on a seven-day Mexican Riviera Holiday cruise that also calls at Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
The cruise line has two more Mexican Riviera voyages planned this year, Dec. 21 and 28, with fares starting at $1,179 and $1,349 per person, respectively. It will continue to serve the port on departures March 9, 16, and 23 in 2014. (Bargain hunters take note: Holland America's March cruises are priced at $899 per person on its web site this week.)
Other ships returning to Mazatlan include Norwegian Cruise Line's 2,240-passenger Norwegian Star. Based in Los Angeles, the ship will call at the destination on cruises departing December 22 and 29, and March 2, 9, and 16. Upmarket line Azamara Club Cruises is including Mazatlan on its 12-night cruise aboard the 694-passenger Azamara Quest, sailing December 29 from Los Angeles.
Back in 2011, all of the lines that pulled out of Mazatlan did so with regret, with each one saying it would return to the port when safety concerns were adequately addressed. Mazatlan had traditionally been a hugely popular port, made famous at least in part by the hit TV show “The Love Boat,” which chronicled events aboard the Pacific Princess cruise ship that sailed Mexico's Pacific coast.