(Michael Robinson Chavez…)
Violence in Mexico has led some major cruise lines to bypass Mazatlan. The one-time popular stop on the Mexican Riviera has been skipped by ships this week after a Feb. 22 shooting that left two dead in the parking lot of a hotel in the city's tourist area.
Norwegian Cruise Lines has canceled all stops in Mazatlan through April 30, choosing instead to give passengers an extra night in Cabo San Lucas. The cruise line announced the itinerary change as a news alert on its website.
Disney also has dropped the stop on its seven- and 10-night sailings through April, citing "the changing environment in Mazatlan."
Carnival this week canceled stops for the Splendor (which just returned to the seas Feb. 20 after extensive repairs to the ship that was stranded at sea last year after a fire) and Spirit. Carnival says in a statement that decisions about future stops haven't yet been made. Holland America and Princess also temporarily is avoiding the port of call. (Passengers who are booked on cruises to the Mexican Riviera should check with their cruise line or travel agent about changes in the itinerary.)
The Mazatlan Tourism Trust acknowledged the shooting, saying in part in a media release:
"Mazatlan tourism officials are extremely disappointed by the drastic reaction of Norwegian Cruise Lines, which canceled its calls for the remainder of the season in response to a shooting that took place on Feb. 22. This shooting involved two local men who were not tourists or cruise passengers. At no time were visitors involved or affected by this isolated incident, which should have no bearing on the cruise industry whatsoever.
"Mazatlan is widely regarded as one of the safest destinations in Mexico and has hosted nearly 1.5 million cruise passengers since 2008."
This isn't the first time this year that cruise ships have avoided Mazatlan because of violence. On Jan. 16, one man was killed and a Canadian tourist wounded in a shooting in an area of the city considered safe for tourists.
Mexico has been in the grip of violence in recent years as powerful drug cartels battle it out for their share of the drug trade. Tourism officials have been quick to say that popular spots like Mazatlan are safe for tourists.
The U.S. State Department, however, doesn't paint such a rosy picture. In a lengthy travel warning updated in September, the federal agency warned Americans about the level of violence in certain parts of Mexico. "[T]he city of Mazatlan has experienced a recent increase in violent crime, with more murders in the first quarter of 2010 than in all of 2009."
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