Mexico Invites Cruise Lines to Sail from Cozumel
Tired of waiting for the U.S. to allow cruise lines to once again sail in Caribbean waters? The Mexican island of Cozumel is reaching out to Europe-based cruise lines and promoting itself as a home port.
The tourism-dependent island with a population of 100,000 is located 12 miles off the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula near Playa del Carmen.
It’s a popular stop on Caribbean itineraries, and authorities say they can’t wait any longer as the date for a restart of cruises from South Florida and other US ports continues to be pushed back.
Cruise ships based in Mexico can offer Caribbean itineraries without ever having to enter US waters. Other potential route ideas include cruises from Progreso, Yucatán, and Havana, Cuba.
One of the cruise lines Cozumel is targeting is MSC, the Switzerland-based line, which is currently successfully running cruises in the Mediterranean. MSC was the first major line to sail with full COVID-19 protocols as early as mid-August 2020.
No sailings are scheduled until at least May from the U.S., and there are fears those could end up being postponed too, as cruise lines await instructions on next steps towards a restart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Oct. 30, 2020, the CDC issued a ‘Conditional Sailing Order’ for cruise ships based in the U.S.
But a closer look at the requirements revealed strict protocols for pre-boarding testing of passengers and crew, onboard investments in medical equipment and capabilities, reduced capacity, shorter trip durations and no personal shore excursions.
Cruise lines will have to conduct test sailings and be re-certified—ship by ship. More than three months after the CDC order was issued, cruise ship lines are still waiting for technical instructions on how test sailings will be conducted.
American Tourists Still Flocking to Cancun
According to ASUR, the airport group which runs the Cancun International Airport, an estimated 13,000 American passengers are arriving daily.
On Feb. 8 a total of 100 flights arrived carrying over 15,000 international passengers. Of that number, 87 flights were from the United States. It’s estimated that Americans now make up more than 90 percent of international arrivals to Cancun due to the new restrictions on Canadian and European travelers.
Cancun was the first destination to reopen for tourism in June, the first destination to receive the WTTC Safe Travels Stamp, and the first destination to react to the new testing requirements for US travelers.
While hotel occupancy in Cancun dropped to around 30 percent in January, thousands of American travelers are still headed south to the beach destination. Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, and other hotspots on the Riviera Maya have seen occupancy drop to around 20 percent in January.
The Governor of Quintana Roo announced in late January that the northern area of the state including Cancun and Playa Del Carmen will have an increased epidemiological warning level to the orange light level. Under the orange light, hotels must not exceed 50 percent capacity and beaches are limited to 30 percent capacity.
Along with new capacity orders, municipal and state police have stepped up patrols to enforce COVID-19 prevention measures including social distancing and the mandatory use of masks.
Current Travel Deals in Mexico
Travelers eyeing a winter escape to Cancun will find plenty of amazing deals including significant savings being offered by Playa Hotels and Resorts and the Palladium Hotel Group.
Playa’s 2021 Kickoff Sale features rates slashed by as much as 70 percent in addition to hundreds of dollars in resort perks and free 24-hour cancellation. Palladium is offering savings of up to 50 percent as well as US$1,500 resort credit on select stays at Grand Palladium Hotels and Resorts and adults-only TRS Hotels.
Delta Extends Middle Seat Blocking
Delta is continuing its industry-leading commitment to provide more space on board as the only US airline to block middle seats and limit capacity on all flights departing through Apr. 30, 2021, ensuring customers can confidently plan and book their spring travel.
Solo Only River Cruises
Aboard Riviera River Cruises, a 36-year-old European river cruise line, every cabin is sold as single occupancy. All staterooms and suites are with no single supplement. Prices for an eight-day cruise start at US$2,699.
Departures are dedicated entirely to solo travelers. Explore Europe’s waterways on some of Europe’s newest river ships. Luxurious cabins, fine dining, five-star service and tours included.
Deal of the Week
Bahamas Hot Deals on MSC Cruises
With up to US$400 spending credit. Kids 17 and under sail free on select sailings when sailing as third or fourth guests. Special rates applicable to bookings made through Mar. 31, 2021 on all cruises departing through Apr. 30, 2022.
Four-nights The Bahamas
MSC Divina from Port Canaveral
Ports visited: Nassau and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Featured sailings: June 6, June 20, July 4
Starting from US$219 per person
Seven-nights Eastern Caribbean
MSC Meraviglia from Miami
Ports visited: San Juan, Charlotte Amalie, Nassau, and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Featured sailings: Aug. 21, Sep. 4, Sep. 18
Starting from US$299 per person
Seven-nights Western Caribbean
MSC Seashore from Miami
Ports visited: Ocho Rios, George Town, Cozumel, and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Featured sailings: Dec. 4, 2021; Jan. 15 and Jan. 29, 2022
Starting from US$519 per person
Judy Newell, an international travel consultant since 1971, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She custom designs journeys that are tailored to suit your interests, physical abilities and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel. Cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email email@example.com.
Sources: Cruise Radio, Travel Off Path, Delta Air Lines, Riviera River Cruises, Travel Pulse, MSC Cruises