Cool Travel Zone

You Don’t Cruise, you Lose!

By Erick Laseca

While millions of tourists flock to Mexico every year by land and air, the country has also become the world’s top cruise destination, with cruises becoming more popular and lifestyle specific every year.

According to recent statistics released by Mexico’s Tourism Secretariat (Sectur), some 6.5 million passengers arrived to Mexico’s ports in 2005. The most popular port is by far on the island of Cozumel, located just south of Cancun in the Mexican Caribbean. According to Mexico’s Communications and Transportation Secretariat, 754 ships arrived to Cozumel in the first ten months of 2006, carrying some 1.5 million passengers. The second most popular port is Costa Maya on the Mexican Caribbean, which received 263 ships, carrying more than 500,000 in the first ten months of 2006.

Mexico boasts two dozen port cities. Apart from Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan are the most popular ports along the Pacific coast, while Costa Maya in Quintana Roo State and Puerto Progreso in Yucatan State are the most popular on the Caribbean side. In addition to being bustling metropolises in their own right, offering the best in shopping, cultural activities and cuisine to the traveler, most ports are also located just a stone’s throw from the country’s leading archaeological treasures and other attractions. Part of the popularity of cruises can also be attributed to the traveling public’s desire to experience more destinations in one vacation, with most cruises offering stops in at least three or four different destinations.

According to Sectur, in the past two decades the number of cruise ships stopping in Mexican ports has increased dramatically, with most major cruise lines now serving the Gulf, Central Pacific and Caribbean, having incorporated these popular destinations into their itineraries. In 2005, the Mexican government invested more than US $7 million in the development of the Port of Chiapas, Mexico’s newest cruise destination. The port welcomed its first passenger vessel in February 2006.

As the number of cruise passengers increases, the demand for a variety of services and themes have also increased, what the cruise industry often refers to as lifestyle cruises.

Below are just some samples of new cruise offerings:

  • Sun salutations
    The Radisson Seven Seas hosts several lifestyle cruises, among them a yoga cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Cozumel, featuring Michael Lechonczak and Robin Whitney Levine, a New York City-based husband and wife yoga team, who will bring the art and science of yoga to guests of the luxurious 700-guest Seven Seas Mariner. Their daily onboard program will offer a variety of options for men and women, yoga beginners and experts of all ages. Classes on meditation and aromatherapy will round out the mix.
  • Food & wine
    The Radisson Seven Seas also offers a special Food & Wine spotlight cruise on the Mariner in March. The cruise, which sails from Los Angeles and stops in Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco and Huatulco in Oaxaca, features a Cordon Bleu cooking school and Sonoma Valley wines. Max McCalman, chef formageur from New York’s Picholine Restaurant will provide expert tips, instruction and 24/7 wine tasting.
  • Mickey on board
    Disney Cruise Line is also increasing its presence to Mexico, offering a variety of cruises to Mexico including calls to Cozumel on the Caribbean side, as well as calls to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific side. Disney offers special programs for children, teens and as well as adults, offering something for the entire family. The Disney Magic ship to Mexico’s western ports has been enhanced by a 24-by14 foot jumbo LED screen for poolside movies and an expanded fitness and spa center for adults.
  • Low carbs and smart kids
    Carnival’s Fun Ships will make more than 1,100 calls to Mexican ports in 2005, with Mexico being by far the most popular destination for Carnival. Carnival has also diversified its offerings by adding low carb meals to its menus and expanding its kids programs to focus on art, music, science, reading and physical fitness.
  • Gay travel
    Atlantis (www.atlantisevents.com) is one of the largest gay travel tour operators offering cruise packages to Mexico. The Mexican Riviera cruise is one of the most popular, offering five Mexican destinations in eight days on the new Radiance of the Seas ship. Rated by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice as one of the best ships in the world, Radiance of the Seas offers among its many amenities a rock-climbing wall, two pools and an African-themed solarium complete with 17-foot high stone elephants and waterfalls. In Mexico, the ship will visit Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
  • Clothing optional
    For au naturel travelers, Bare Necessities offers a variety of clothing-optional cruises. And nudetravel.com also offers clothing optional packages including information on nudist resorts in Mexico.
  • Blind cruises
    Damar Travel at 800-999-6101 offers cruises for the blind to Mexico.Below are some of the many cruise lines that dock in Mexican ports as part of their regular routes:
  • Carnival Cruise Lines,
  • Crystal Cruises,
  • Disney Cruises,
  • Holland America Line,
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines,
  • Princess,
  • Royal Caribbean International,
  • Celebrity Cruises,
  • Radisson Seven Seas Cruises,
  • P&O Cruises

About the Mexico Tourism Board
The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

–About–

By Erick Laseca – Erick Laseca works for Burson-Marsteller as public relations liaison for the Mexico Tourism Board in Chicago. – Erick Laseca, Mexico Tourism Board, 312-228-0517, erick.laseca@bm.com, http://www.visiitmexicopress.com

Source: Cool Travel ZoneYour Source For Great Vacation, Travel and Cruise Articles!

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