U.S. State Department Updates Travel Advisory System, Some States in Mexico Reclassified

January 12, 2018
Guerrero, Mexico

(11:45 a.m. EST) -- As a result of a new warning system put into place by the U.S. State Department, five of Mexico's 31 states are listed as "Do not travel" areas, including three with cruise ports: Sinaloa, Guerrero and Colima.

No cruise lines have announced port changes because of this most recent advisory.

On January 10, 2018, the U.S. State Department unveiled a new advisory system which makes travel recommendations by ranking locations on a scale of 1 to 4, with Level 1 being "Exercise normal precaution" to Level 4 meaning "Do not travel."

The State Department's overall advice for Mexico is Level 2: Exercise extreme caution. The country has suffered from increasing levels of violence associated with drug cartels and criminal organizations. Still, no U.S. citizens or cruise passengers have been targeted or directly affected by the violence.

"The states listed in the 'do not travel' warning is not new advice," said Kevin Brosnahan, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs in an interview with Cruise Critic. "With the new system, all existing information has been be converted to the new products, ensuring a consistent, worldwide standard for information. Note that all five states in the previous system included language about either 'prohibited travel' or 'defer non-essential travel.'

"This replaces our previous system of travel warnings and alerts," Brosnahan said.

Other Mexican states previously under travel advisories have also been reclassified using the new grading system. The level designation is the result of collected crime statistics and other information related to natural disasters, health, the current security situation and other events, according to Brosnahan.

The four travel advisory levels are: Level 1) Exercise normal precautions; Level 2) Exercise increased caution; Level 3) Reconsider travel; Level 4) Do not travel.

To see how the State Department ranked Mexican states containing popular cruise ports and how cruise lines have reacted to its findings, read Cruise Critic's roundup below. This roundup is an update of our August 2017 story on Mexico travel advisories.


Level 2: Exercise Extreme Caution

Ensenada (Baja California)

The advisory carves out the tourists areas of Ensenada, Rosarito and Tijuana, noting "there are no U.S. government restrictions" to these locales. Carnival, Disney, Celebrity and other lines call on Ensenada, with no changes made at this time.

Los Cabos and La Paz (Baja California Sur)

Lindblad-National Geographic and Un-Cruise sail expedition cruises from La Paz, with no changes made to their itineraries. Princess, Regent and Azamara also call there. Holland America, Regent, Oceania, Carnival and more lines call on Cabo San Lucas with no itinerary changes made.

Huatulco (Oaxaca)

From the advisory: U.S. government employees are encouraged to remain in tourist areas and are not permitted to use public transportation. Princess and Holland America currently call in Huatulco.

Cozumel and Playa del Carmen/Calica (Quintano Roo)

From the advisory: "The state experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents injuring or killing bystanders have occurred." Cozumel remains a popular port with multiple lines including Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean.


Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco)

From the advisory: While violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of the state, the following tourist areas have no restrictions for U.S. government employees: Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajera, Chapala and Ajijic. Many cruise lines -- including Carnival, Disney, Princess and Holland America -- call at Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Pensado (Sonora)

No ships currently call in Sonora, but a new cruise terminal is expected to be complete in 2019.


Level 4: Do Not Travel

Manzanillo (Colima)

From the advisory: "Violent crime and gang activity are widespread." Princess, Regent, Oceania, Azamara and Holland America all include this port on Mexican Riviera, South America, Central America, Panama and world cruises, with no changes at this time.

Acapulco and Ixtapa (Guerrero)

From the advisory: "Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco." Regent, Oceania and Norwegian include Acapulco on cruise itineraries, with no changes at this time. Crystal Cruises and Azamara each have an itinerary featuring Ixtapa, with no changes announced.

Mazatlan and Topopbampo (Sinoloa)

Carnival, Disney, Holland America and Princess Cruises all offer itineraries that call on Mazatlan with no changes announced at this time. Cruise lines like Princess, Azamara, Seabourn and Silversea offer cruises that call on the small cruise port of Topolobampo.

--By Natalie Pompilio, Cruise Critic contributor