Is Mexico’s west coast, otherwise dubbed the Mexican Riviera, unsafe for cruise travelers?
Even before last week’s news that passengers on a Carnival Splendor-organized shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta were held up at gunpoint by masked assailants, the region’s battled with perceptions that some of its ports of call are unsafe for tourists to visit. But at what point does perception equal reality? Cruise Critic member Go Mexico takes a reasonable tone on the Mexican Riviera forum: “Each of us travels differently and not always with the same acceptance of risk. That’s why it’s important to ask questions, do some independent reading on the destinations.”
Perhaps, but I’d argue that when cruise lines greatly reduce the ports that they visit (e.g., Carnival and Holland America both offer cruises with stops at just two ports on a seven-night voyage from southern California — Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta), how compelling is the region to begin with? Add in the fact that the U.S. State Department has revised its existing travel warning for Mexico to include warnings about ports of call, and the questions multiply.
Some claim that the real problem is a false perception that the region is not safe.
“There’s so much bad publicity about cruise destinations perhaps because everything newsworthy is so instantly available,” writes Shirley Miller Lee on Cruise Critic’s Facebook page. “My comment: Be careful with your cameras, money, etc. Buy a good fanny pack. Take precautions as we’ve had to do traveling for many, many years.”
But do you really want to go on vacation in a danger zone?
“I did a tour north of Puerto Vallarta with Holland America last April,” writes Suze Moore on Facebook. “Since we were going inland a bit, they had two jeeps with soldiers and guns escorting us. Had I known it was that dangerous we never would have done it!”
“It’s just not worth the risk in my opinion,” writes JackieClay Holbrook on Facebook page. “Even though these incidences are few and far between, it’s enough to make me think twice. Why even take that chance?”
From where I sit, travel is what you make of it. Cruising in Egypt, an exotic locale where cruise line tour buses are regularly accompanied by local police, doesn’t faze me at all. On the other hand, if I just want to chill out, I’d prefer a place where armed guards are not necessary. But there’s more to it than that: Part of the joy of cruising for me are the ports I visit and the people I meet when I’m there — a seven-night voyage with two measly calls may be heaven to those who live for sea days, but I’ll take more stops and less uncertainty, please.
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Read other Sea-Mail columns on elevator etiquette, camera hogs, credit card horror stories, kids in hot tubs, the death of cruise traditions and bad balcony behavior.
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