|by Michelle Baran||Cruises, Mexico and Central America, Puerto Vallarta, Emergencies, Safety and Security||3|
Following the news this week that Princess Cruises has canceled calls in Puerto Vallarta, the Mexican beach destination assured it remains safe for tourists.
"Puerto Vallarta is a leading cruise destination in Mexico and continues to offer a wide range of shore excursions and a safe experience for all cruise passengers visiting its port from around the world," the Puerto Vallarta tourism board said in a statement this week.
Princess Cruises canceled its calls in Puerto Vallarta on three Sapphire Princess sailings: Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Dec. 31. "Our security department continues to monitor the actions taking place in specific areas of Mexico. As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority and based on the continued violence in these areas, we've made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan," the cruise line said in a statement.
Those departures will instead include a two-day call in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico.
In April, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning that outlined areas throughout Mexico where there have been reports of crime and violence. For the state of Jalisco (Puerto Vallarta is located in Jalisco), the State Department said that official U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to the cities of Colotlan and Yahualica in Jalisco, "because of an increasingly volatile security situation."
It also stated that "border areas between Jalisco state and the states of Zacatecas and Michoacan, as well as in or near the cities of Tepic and Xalisco, Nayarit have been sites of violence and crime involving TCOs. You should exercise extreme caution when traveling in these areas." (TCOs stand for transnational criminal organizations.) However, there was no mention of Puerto Vallarta in the State Department's travel warning.
The Puerto Vallarta tourism board said in a statement that it was "sorry to learn of Princess Cruises' recent decision," but referred to a recent security assessment study conducted by security consulting firm Thomas Dale & Associates, which found that the number of negative events involving foreigners or non-foreigners in Puerto Vallarta is fractional compared to the millions of visitors that vacation in Puerto Vallarta annually.
The study also found that visitors to the destination feel safe and continue to visit Puerto Vallarta repeatedly.
The Puerto Vallarta tourism board said that despite Princess' decision it "looks forward to welcoming Princess Cruises and its passengers to Puerto Vallarta again in 2012."
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