Mazatlan, one of several Mexican Riviera cruise ports that gained fame from exposure on television's original "Love Boat" series in the 1970s and 1980s, isn't getting that much love from cruise lines these days. One major line cancelled port calls there this week. Another has pulled out for the entire West Coast winter season.
The situation turned sour in January, when Mazatlan was the site of several minor crime incidents. After that, Disney Cruise Line canceled all upcoming port calls. But other lines were satisfied by the responses of the port, city and Mexican government in meetings to address the need for enhanced security. So, many ships continued to call at Mazatlan in February.
Just last week, Gerry Cahill, Carnival's president and CEO, told reporters onboard Carnival Splendor in Long Beach that he thought Mexican ports that the line visited were "safe" for cruisers. But on Sunday, the line apparently had a change of heart -- at least for calls slated for this week --after two men were shot in their car outside a hotel in Mazatlan.
While the men were not tourists, the line issued this statement on Sunday night: "Because of a serious incident that occurred on Feb. 22 in Mazatlan, as a precaution and in the interest of guest safety, Carnival Cruise Lines is canceling the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Spirit’s next scheduled calls in Mazatlan."
So the Carnival Splendor will replace this week's port call at Mazatlan with back-to-back port days in Cabo San Lucas on March 1 and March 2. The ship will then call at Puerto Vallarta on March 3. Carnival Spirit’s March 2 call in Mazatlan also has been canceled. Due to that cancellation as well as weather issues, Carnival Spirit will now call at Cabo San Lucas today as well as on March 2.
Carnival said will continue to monitor the security situation in Mazatlan. "Until we are able to obtain all of the facts and fully assess the situation, no further decision has been made regarding future calls," the line's statement said.
In stronger action, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced late last week that it would cancel all port calls by Norwegian Star through the end of its West Coast sailing season -- through the ship's April 30 departure. NCL said in a statement that the ship instead will make two back-to-back calls at Cabo San Lucas on its Mexican Riviera itineraries.
However, not everyone is yet making changes. When contacted on Monday, a Holland America Line spokesperson said there is no change in the line's schedule, stating "our itineraries remain as published."
But what about the cruise line that originated those "Love Boat" cruises? Princess Cruises, which has always had Mazatlan as a staple in its Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries, says it hasn't yet made a decision. It has a bit more time to evaluate given its schedule.
A spokeswoman told Travel Agent today that the line's next call to Mazatlan is March 16 and that the line will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any new developments or itinerary changes.