Time to wave Mexico goodbye?

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With all eyes on the launch of Disney Dream last week, the arrival of sister ship Disney Wonder into its new home port of Los Angeles was a relatively low-key affair.
For the next few months until it begins a season of cruises to Alaska from Vancouver – a first for Disney – the ship will be operating seven-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera.
Strange timing, some think, because Disney’s return to the region – the Disney Magic enjoyed a sold-out season of cruises here in 2008 – comes just at a time when other cruise lines are moving their ships out. Growing violence among rival drug gangs and a hangover from last year’s swine flu epidemic have combined to make Mexico the last resort holidaymakers want to consider.
Earlier this month 14 decapitated bodies were found near a shopping mall in Acapulco and last week a visitor from Canada was shot in the knee when he was hit by a stray bullet in an incident in which a 25-year-old motorcyclist was shot dead.
This week’s Mexican Riviera cruise by Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas will be the last for the ship before it leaves LA for South America and then Europe. In May, NCL will pull Norwegian Star and move the ship to Tampa on Florida’s Gulf coast. From next year, Carnival Spirit will be sailing Australian waters rather than to Mexico.
Disney is reported to have tweaked the Wonder’s itinerary to avoid Mazatlan, and will instead visit Cabo San Lucas for two days in addition to a call in Puerto Vallarta.
But isn’t this an unfortunate case of the cruise line being in the wrong place at the wrong time? I put the question to Karl Holz, the company’s president, at a media breakfast on board the Dream on Friday morning.
He was resolutely positive, saying that the response to the Mexican cruise season “has been fantastic. We want to go back there.”
However, he did concede that passengers may choose to avoid the risks by remaining on the ship rather than joining excursions – or to use the Disney description, Port Adventures. “A lot of our guests don’t go ashore; they will stay on board,” he said.
I suspect he is anticipating the move to Alaska – the ship sails from LA to Vancouver on April 27 – with some relief.
The Mexican itinerary figures in Disney’s schedules again for January to April 2012 but it would come as no surprise if that was to change, or if those were to be the last dates the sailings were offered.
Beyond that? How about a Disney cruise to Hawaii where the Aulani resort, with 359 hotel rooms, 481 time-share units, a 15,000-ft spa and a water park being built on the island of Oahu is scheduled to open this August.

By | 2011-01-23T10:17:57+00:00 23 January 2011|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News|5 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Lynn Houghton 23 January 2011 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I don’t think there is a lot of violence in the Mexican Riviera. Certainly less than Los Angeles! Cruisers will be fine.

  2. Carolyn Spencer Brown 23 January 2011 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    I was just in San Diego, and talking to folks at the port there. They’ve just completed a new facility — just as ships are pulling out. And the problem for the Mexican Riviera, as I was told, is that the guys who run the ports there don’t seem to get it that the reason ships are leaving is because of the perception of crime (we certainly haven’t heard the horror stories in Mex Riv that we have in the Caribbean). The feeling was, until they start feeling the pinch of the wallet…they don’t care. I think the pinch may be making itself felt now….
    Editor in Chief
    Cruise Critic

  3. Mike 23 January 2011 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Puerto Vallarta and the Mexican Riviera don’t have any major cartel problems. The majority of the cartel violence has been concentrated in three of Mexico’s 31 states: Sinaloa, Michochan, and Nuevo Leon. Like you wrote, Acapulco is pretty bad right now, so it’s probably a good decision to skip over it. That being said, you wouldn’t be taking much risk visiting the areas Disney plans to visit.

  4. Paul Coffey 24 January 2011 at 4:31 am - Reply

    Surely your greatest risk would be travelling on a disney ship!
    Cruise ships are lame american ideas of travel and are best avoided for anyone who has a sense of self worth and curiosity about the world.

  5. Felicity 29 January 2011 at 4:01 am - Reply

    I was there for the day on a day excursion from a cruise….Cabos ocean is beautiful, the rock formations and “lover’s beach” is breathtaking….
    Felicity- Flights Mexico – Deals Vallarta

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