Cruise lines play it safe, skip Mexico port

In another blow to Mexico tourism and the already-weak West coast cruise business, three major cruise lines canceled calls in Mazatlan this week as concerns over crime continue.

Newly relocated Disney Wonder, bumped to the West coast when new Disney Dream took over in Florida was scheduled to visit Mazatlan on a series of seven-night sailings through April. Instead, that time will be spent in safer Cabo San Lucas.

Disney Cruise Line joins Holland America and Princess as cruise lines continue to skip the Mexican port after incidents of assault and robbery in the last few weeks. It seems passengers and crew of Holland America’s Oosterdam and Azamara Journey were involved.

Crime involving tourists is an ongoing problem in Mexico. Tourism officials have been accused of attempting to minimize the issue. The US Department of State has urged caution visiting Mexico issuing a Travel Warning in September of last year saying “It is imperative that U.S. citizens understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico.”

Ongoing crime has affected the cruise business. Earlier this month Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of at least 30 new crime victims in the popular port of Acapulco. Fifteen of which were beheaded reported the Los Angeles Times.

“We are struggling with our many ships to Mexico,” said Chris Chase, marketing director for the Port of Los Angeles. “It’s the economy and the news of drug wars down there.”

Flickr photo by chrisphoto

Holland America cruise line director to Alaska: stop driving us away

The very excellent USA Today Cruise Log reports on some stormy waters around Alaska.

In recent years, the state has been making the lives of cruise lines quite miserable. New taxes, fees and regulatory requirements are slowly turning ships away, and some lines have already resorted to moving their Alaska ships to new routes.

Obviously, when a state starts taking too much advantage of tourism dollars, they run the risk of scaring people away, but the Alaskan cruise industry has been expanding for years, and may have simply reached the point of overcapacity.

Holland America CEO Kruse had some stern words for Alaska – “we can, and we will pull ships out of the region”. Alaska has become one of the costliest cruise regions in the world, with new fees like a $46 per person “head tax” and taxes on shipboard casino earnings.

Alaskan cruise traffic is down 17% in 2010, and for a state that relies this heavily on tourism, this is going to have a huge impact.

Holland America bars young married couple from sailing, then reconsiders

There are two very happy people out there tonight: Austin and Kelly.

The two had booked their honeymoon cruise on Holland America Lines and were set to sail on a long Mediterranean cruise May 29, seven days after their wedding. But there was a problem: Kelly is only 20, and Austin is 25.

The couple fell victim to HAL’s rule that passengers under 21 must be accompanied by an adult older than 25. While a lot of other cruise lines make an exception for married couples, HAL does not. The cruise line initially contacted the couple and told them that they could not board the cruise. To add insult to injury, it also appeared that the couple was going to lose most of what they paid for the trip, since HAL was not going to wave cancellation fees in this case.

What happened? It appears Austin and Kelly managed to get the company to change its mind, given their marriage status. A plucky travel agent liaised with HAL, and the company has agreed to allow Austin and Kelly to sail.

The question is whether this reversal is a one time exception from HAL or a permanent change in the cruise line’s policy about allowing passengers under 21 sail if they are married, regardless of the age of their spouse.