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I'm wondering if there's a prevailing opinion on this board about the current status of Mexico as a vacation destination. 

 

Years ago I spent a delightful week in San Miguel de Allende. DW & I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Dreams all-inclusive resort in Huatulco. We have cruised the Mexican Riviera and had a great time in all the ports of call. I know that among third world countries Mexico ranks in the very top tier. But now we hear about the horrendous fate of that LDS family in the State of Sonora (nowhere near a cruise port, obviously!) that were either targeted as Americans or caught in the crossfire between rival drug cartels. We're about to return to Huatulco as part of our upcoming PC transit cruise, as well as other ports along the Mexican Pacific coast, and what should our attitude be? Guarded optimism? Carefree, as long as we stay close by the ship? Carefree, as long as we venture out only under the protection of a HAL-booked excursion? What about independent operators (like Shore Excursion Group)? Should it be out of the question to engage ad hoc tour guides from the portside taxi stands?

 

DW has expressed apprehension about Mexico in the past. I've told her that her concerns (in the case of Huatulco, for instance) were like fearing to visit the Grand Canyon because of muggings in Central Park. Now, I'm not so confident.

 

I'd appreciate hearing the viewpoints of the denizens of the CC HAL forum.

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Differing places have different security issues. We were in Cabo in March for a week...we have also been in Puerto Vallarta for a week, no problems or sign of problems. Conversely, the cruise lines avoid certain areas for security concerns. 

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I have a family member who works in Homeland Security.  He tells us not to get off the boat anywhere in Mexico.  I only disobey if I am on a cruise ship excursion. 

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We have had one week AI stays in Cancun and P. Vallarta each year.  Never an issue.  Last October/Nov we did an independent two week trip on our own.   Turned out to be one of our favorites.  Puerto Morales and Playa del Carmen areas.  Took the local buses to Isla Majeures, etc.    We know people who live in P. Vallarta for six months each year and have done so for years.

 

We are considering a month of independent travel up the Mexican Pacific Coast this winter and then to Panama/Costa Rica.  We would by pass Acapulco.    We have done Mexican cruises and would not hesitate to get off the ship.  We are careful as to where we go.  No different that some other countries we visit. 

 

 

Edited by iancal

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While many people love the ride down to Mexico and back (warm weather, quick getaway from San Diego), the problems in Mexico have been the same for a very long time. The cruise lines pulled out at one point because of the real threat of violence in the tourist areas.  That included Acapulco, which used to be the gem of the Pacific Riviera.

 

Without the cruise ships,  business in those ports suffered, as did the port of San Diego, where HAL MR and PC cruises leave from.  But the cruise lines and the Mexican local governments successfully worked together to bring back the ships.  Acapulco has also become a stop again.  

 

However  HAL tours are no guarantee of security. If anything, they  signal to everyone that a bus load of Americans

are traveling through, and present an easy and containable  target.  

 

Many years ago I was on a horseback riding tour , as part of a Princess shore excursion on a Mexican Riviera cruise.  We were bused to a rural area, for a trail ride in the country.  For our entire ride (a few hours) we were accompanied by a mounted military soldier, armed with a large machine gun type weapon.  That was the last shore excursion I ever took in Mexico. 

 

It's no secret that many MR passengers don't get off the ship in ports,  unless to go to Walmart across the street from the PV pier 🙂.   

 

 

 

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We stay in Puerto Vallarta each winter and with us thousands (!) of canadians and americans. Many come back each winter.  We shop localy, often take a public bus, but also have a car and we visit many of the surrounding places.  We never had any problems.

Use common sense. Leave valuables on board, donot drink too much and go where the tourists go. 

Cruiselines take you to the safe areas in Mexico so donot worry too much. 

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We just returned from a Mexican Riviera cruise on Eurodam in October.

 

We took a ship excursion to a resort on Cabo for a few hours (it was actually pretty close to the port) and felt perfectly safe as it was a private resort.

 

In Puerto Vallarta, we opted to take a taxi to the Malecon because it is a highly visible and popular tourist area, spent a few hours and then returned to the port by taxi as well.  There were what I assume are military police patrolling the area armed with what appeared to be semi-automatic rifles on their shoulders.  We never felt threatened.

 

Both of these areas are under a 'level 2' warning which is to exercise caution - something we do wherever we are, outside the US or not.  Crime is everywhere and you need to be aware of your surroundings and not place yourself in a situation where there could be problems.  Staying in very public places with lots of people is part of that.

 

Now in Mazatlan, we stayed on the ship.  There is a Level 4 travel warning there and US government employees have certain travel restrictions there.  As such, we felt the smartest move for us was to just enjoy a relaxing day on the ship.  

 

It really comes down to your personal comfort level.

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I feel so fortunate to have so many wonderful "Mexico memories."  For years we drove down for delightful dinners and overnight stays in Rosarita Beach; we pulled a boat all the way down to Bahia de los Angeles to fish; we stayed at a gorgeous resort hotel in Ixtapa; we've taken countless Mexican Riviera cruises and had cruise stops to Mexico en route to Panama Canal and to South America.  

 

We will keep and treasure those memories.  Now we stay on the ship and enjoy the cruise.  The juice isn't worth the squeeze anymore.

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1 hour ago, iancal said:

We have had one week AI stays in Cancun and P. Vallarta each year. 

 

I've been told that Cancun is just like Miami, . . except they speak Spanish in Miami. :-) 

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The only time we have been  in Cancun was at the airport.  We did take the local bus from Playa to Cancun, then a taxi to the pier to catch the ferry to Isla Majeures.  And returned the same way.   What we saw of Cancun turned us off.  Yes, in some ways it reminded us of Miami but we have no interest in Miami either.  We went for dinner and walked around Puerto Morales at night without any concern.

 

Last Oct/Nov some areas, especially Puerto Morales, were having issues with sargassum.  The beach was cleaned each day.  It is my understanding that it is much worse now.  We would think twice about going there without doing some research and having a look on google earth.  The sargassum stinks.   Might be fine at a AI beside the pool.  Besides, Huatulco is on our bucket list..never been south of Acapulco. 

 

If you or DW is nervous why bother?  There are lots of other places to travel.  

Edited by iancal

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Two out of three of our week long visits I got really Sick and needed IV meds.  We saw way too much drug dealing just outside our resort in Cabo.  Our good friend’s brother, a long term condo owner in PV was brutally murdered.   Why bother?  I am safer on the ship or in Hawaii!  

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1 hour ago, Boatdrill said:

While many people love the ride down to Mexico and back (warm weather, quick getaway from San Diego), the problems in Mexico have been the same for a very long time. The cruise lines pulled out at one point because of the real threat of violence in the tourist areas.  That included Acapulco, which used to be the gem of the Pacific Riviera.

 

Without the cruise ships,  business in those ports suffered, as did the port of San Diego, where HAL MR and PC cruises leave from.  But the cruise lines and the Mexican local governments successfully worked together to bring back the ships.  Acapulco has also become a stop again.  

 

However  HAL tours are no guarantee of security. If anything, they  signal to everyone that a bus load of Americans

are traveling through, and present an easy and containable  target.  

 

Many years ago I was on a horseback riding tour , as part of a Princess shore excursion on a Mexican Riviera cruise.  We were bused to a rural area, for a trail ride in the country.  For our entire ride (a few hours) we were accompanied by a mounted military soldier, armed with a large machine gun type weapon.  That was the last shore excursion I ever took in Mexico. 

 

It's no secret that many MR passengers don't get off the ship in ports,  unless to go to Walmart across the street from the PV pier 🙂.   

 

 

We had a port stop in La Romana, DR a few years ago. We walked through the port shopping area, which was very nice--decent locally made items, not just junk and/or [gemstones] International. Since we hadn't booked a tour, we decided to take the little tram (fake train) into the city center. As we were underway, I noticed that two policemen on a motorcycle were next to us crossing a bridge. At first, I was just amused, two big guys on something like a Vespa. Then, after the bridge, they stayed next to us and remained next to us all the way to the stop in town. I had thought about a brief wander in town, but if we needed a police escort on the tram, we didn't want to get off the tram. So we just enjoyed the scenery on the ride back to the port.

 

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We haven't left the ship in many years when docked in Mexico, we refuse to spend a dime in that corrupt and dangerous country.

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9 minutes ago, MISTER 67 said:

We haven't left the ship in many years when docked in Mexico, we refuse to spend a dime in that corrupt and dangerous country.

 

Well said, MISTER 67!

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Just a little correction to the OP's comment regarding the murder of the dual US/Mexican citizens last week:

They were not LDS.  "LDS" is someone who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormon Church.  That is the "mainstream" church, centered in Utah, with Brigham Young University and all.  The Mexican communes are part of the breakaway Fundamentalist Mormons who left the Church when polygamy was outlawed.  They are Mormon in name only, kind of like Fundamentalist Christians are Christians in name only, believing in strict interpretation of the original religious foundations, eschewing "modernization."   Some of the residents of the FLDS communities in Texas and Utah have fled to the Mexican commune lately when their leader, Warren Jessop, was sent to prison for pediophilia by marrying under age girls.  The states basically shut down the Orders running the communities.  I was down in Southern Utah last week and I still ran into some easily-recognizable FLDS women when shopping (the "prairie" dresses and the "higher the hair, closer to God" hairdos).  Mitt Romney's father, George, was born in one of those communes.  

 

I don't fear travel in Mexico. I just do my due diligence and research.  I'm not going to travel solo around Sinaloa, just like I wouldn't travel around certain parts of the US known for drug issues or gang wars.  But, I'm not going to cower...  You have to do what you are comfortable with when you cruise.  I've been other places around the World where my transportation was escorted.  

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I did a Mexican Riviera cruise on the Oosterdam as a solo last year.  Took ship shorex; no problems whatsoever.  Very nice cruise. 

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Our last trip to Mexico was in Dec 2018 on the Eurodam.  If we could (but we can't) we would go again this year.  Fortunately for us, we did the more "private operator, off the beaten path" stuff years ago, long before this latest horror. 

 

Last year we mostly went to town squares, ate some food, wandered some shops, walked on some (well populated) beaches.  PV we went to the malecon via public transit.  Mazatlan we took the water taxi to Stone Island (on our own, not as part of a shorex), Cabo we stayed in the port area because all we wanted to do was use wifi. 

 

If we were able to go this year, we would do similar, except in PV we would likely do  a food tour through a private operator. 

 

Just stay aware.  Like anyplace you travel, stay aware.

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We have a son who works for Homeland security.  We are meeting him, his wife and two small children for a week in Puerto Vallarta.  Obviously if he thought it wasn’t safe he never would have suggested the trip.  He’s privy to a lot more inside information about Mexico than we are.  We are savvy travelers, are careful when we are out and about, don’t flaunt jewelry and I wear a cross body purse.  Staying on a ship in port anywhere would not be an option for us.  The reason we travel is to see things.  I know what the inside of a ship looks like.  

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Frankly, common precautions such as not flaunting jewelry aren't really all that relevant to what is going on in Mexico.  

But I'm glad there are people still willing to take their tourist dollars to Mexico.  On the whole, I love the Mexican people -- many large and warm hearts there.

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10 hours ago, MISTER 67 said:

We haven't left the ship in many years when docked in Mexico, we refuse to spend a dime in that corrupt and dangerous country.

It always amuses and baffles me when people complain about "corruption" and "danger" in other countries. The main difference between "them" and "us" is that we have gone to the trouble of legalizing corruption. Would you consider it "corrupt" when you get a ticket for $1,000 for driving in the car pool lane and the only evidence that they have is a picture of your license plate. They don't bother providing you with the picture of the front windshield  showing three people in the car. Do you cross the street or roll up your window when passing a homeless person on the street who is in the throes of a psychotic break? Would you stop going for walks because "those" people are dangerous? After spending a day at Disneyland with your family, do you feel robbed?

 

I've lived and worked in the poorest sections of Los Angeles and Mexico City. Quite frankly, I don't walk around Mexico wondering if the government is going to grab me off the streets, throw me in jail, or kick me out the the country. All people and places deserve to be treated with respect and caution. Otherwise, we would all stay home and give up on traveling anywhere.

 

Now, I will get off my high horse and address the real problem. Cruise lines are a for profit business. They are not going to sail anywhere if they can't make money, and they can't make money if the ship isn't full. Problems like the recent tragedies in Sonora feed the perception that Mexico is more unsafe than other places in the world or the USA. The more things that feed that perception, the less likely that people will book a Mexico vacation. The real question for this forum is: Do the recent events in Mexico make you (my fellow travelers) look elsewhere when choosing a vacation?

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Everyone has a different opinion, different experiences, and comments.

 

Bottom line is this is a decision that only you can make.   It is very simple.  If you are not comfortable going to Mexico then simply go someone else.  It is not really much of a puzzle.

 

I hope that you have a wonderful and safe vacation where ever you decide to go.

 

Our approach to travel is that we dress down and stay aware of our surroundings.  Our travel clothes are non descript.   I have a clearly inexpensive watch that I travel with.  The wallet I keep in my pocket has no credit cards and never much more that the equiv. of $20. in cash.   We regularly see people on our travels flashing cash and cards in stores or wearing expensive jewelry.   Outside the stores we see people  paying more attention to taking a photo of the fountain than keeping track of who is behind them or who has their hands in their backpack or their pocket.  Heck, in Rio the kids will pull a an inexpensive $100 gold chain off you neck or wrist as they pass you by.   We do our best to remove all of that from our persons. 

Edited by iancal

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21 hours ago, Tudy said:

I have a family member who works in Homeland Security.  He tells us not to get off the boat anywhere in Mexico.  I only disobey if I am on a cruise ship excursion. 

I agree with this.  Why take chances?  Ship's excursions can still get hit, but less likely than other excursions or on your own.

 

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23 hours ago, Petronillus said:

I'm wondering if there's a prevailing opinion on this board about the current status of Mexico as a vacation destination. 

Years ago I spent a delightful week in San Miguel de Allende

Speaking of San Miguel, The Toronto Star reprinted a LA Times piece about it.  I have attached a PDF copy.

San Miguel has been popular with Canadian artists who find inspiration there. It's from a photographer's point of view but I thought you find it interesting.  Let me know if the PDF worked.

 

As for Mexico, I always get off the ship, whether it is the East of West side and have never felt unsafe. I just take the usual precautions and if I want to venture out from the tourist areas, I usually book a HAL or an independent excursion with other ship passengers.  Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta always felt safe to me.  

Mexico (both sides) is a popular destination for Canadians who tend to book all-inclusives resorts.  Of course, Cancun has now become a year-long spring break. The tourists who get into trouble tend to be the ones who venture away from the resorts looking for cheap booze, drugs or women.  

 

San Miguel de Allende.pdf

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Thank you for the article on San Miguel de Allende.  I spent the summer of 1963 doing graduate work at Instituto Allende, the art school there.  Many fond memories.  Then I married a sailor and followed him around the world.

Safety in Mexico is indeed a serious situation, especially now.

Barbara

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