(4:15 p.m. EDT) -- Citing safety and security concerns in Mexico, Princess Cruises has dropped calls in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta for the remainder 2011.
The cancellations impact three Sapphire Princess departures: November 19, December 10 and December 31. Instead of calling in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, the ship will spend a day in Ensenada and overnight in Cabo San Lucas. Here's a look at the old itinerary (left) and how it compares with the new one (right):
"As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority and based on the continued violence in these areas, we've made the decision to cancel our calls," said Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy. "Our security department continues to monitor the actions taking place in specific areas of Mexico," she added.
In recent months, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Disney Cruise Line and others have canceled visits to Mazatlan following a spate of violence tied to the escalating drug war, but Princess is the first line to nix calls in Puerto Vallarta. In May, a Canadian man living in Puerto Vallarta was stabbed to death and robbed in his home. Princess declined to say how the incident, or any other specific incident, informed the deployment changes.
For now, only the 2011 sailings are impacted. "The first scheduled calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan in 2012 are in February, and we haven't changed those sailings," said Candy.
The line won't be offering any compensation to impacted passengers because, as Candy explained, the voyages are outside of the cancellation penalty phase. Passengers who haven't made their final payment can cancel without penalty.
Cruise Critic readers have been opining about the changes on the message boards.
"Cabo and Ensenada as the only ports? You have got to be kidding me! Who is going to take this cruise? They better add in San Diego and maybe Santa Barbara or SFO to make these sailings work," wrote Kath00. A number of impacted readers booked on the cruise have either canceled or are considering canceling. "I am so bummed out about the change," wrote LoveThisCruisingThing. "I am going to decide whether to cancel or not when final payment is due. If it doesn't change, I will cancel."
"I am not that happy with the ports but the ship is more important than the ports," posted Lucy R., who's booked on the December 10 departure. "I am planning to stay positive and plan to have a great time."
--by Dan Askin, News Editor