One of the most popular cruise destinations in the world is our neighbor to the south, Mexico. In recent years, though, an increase in crime has made some tourists reluctant to book a cruise to this vibrant and fascinating country.
The thing is, while certain parts of Mexico are quite dangerous to both natives and tourists alike, most major cruise ports are largely safe. That means it is very possible to enjoy an unforgettable Mexican vacation. The key is to use common sense, book the right cruise and pay attention to warnings and safety instructions.
Where You Go Makes a Difference
The vast majority of violence in Mexico is taking place along the U.S-Mexico border: a few thousand miles from the cruise ship ports. Violence and crime has also been an issue in the Mexican state of Jalisco, home to the Mexican Riviera and such popular destinations as Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. As a result, some cruise lines have adjusted itineraries to avoid docking in those areas. You’ll find cruises that include stops in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, but most likely will be unable to cruise to Mazatlan.
However, cruises to the Caribbean side of Mexico, known as that Mayan Riviera, are largely perfectly safe. With such ports as Cancun and Cozumel, dozens of ships visit this area every day. Most passengers do not experience any problems. Therefore, if you are especially concerned about crime and violence, booking a trip to the eastern side of Mexico may give you much more peace of mind.
Use Common Sense
In any foreign country, especially one with a somewhat notorious reputation of being dangerous, the best way to stay safe is that old standby: common sense. You wouldn’t walk down an unfamiliar street in the dark at home; why would you do it on vacation?
You can stay safe in Mexico by adhering to these safety precautions:
Stay with your group. Most crime happens when individuals are alone and often in remote or isolated areas. Explore the ports as part of a group; make sure you stick together and stay in the areas that are both well-traveled and well-lit.
Pay attention to what’s happening around you. One reason that people become victims of crime is that they fail to watch what’s taking place in their immediate proximity. Keep in mind that most of the violence in Mexico occurs between the drug cartels and law enforcement. If you sense that anything seems off, or notice an altercation, stay out of it and get back to your ship as soon as possible.
Leave the valuables at home. Walking around any port wearing valuable jewelry or watches, carrying designer bags and flashing lots of cash, is equivalent to putting a target on your back for thieves. If you absolutely must bring your treasured diamond earrings on your trip, leave them in your stateroom while you go to shore excursions. Carry only a limited amount of cash and use credit cards to make purchases instead. Only use ATM machines inside of malls or stores and only during the day hours.
Make copies of all of your important documents and leave them in a secure location in your stateroom. Having a photocopy of your credit card, driver’s license and passport makes it easier for you to replace those items in the unlikely event that they are stolen.
Heed the advice and warnings of your ship’s crew or tour guide. They have the most up-to-date information and insight into the crime in the area and will provide you with tips that will keep you safe.
The Bottom Line
If you pay any attention to the news pouring out of Mexico, you are probably concerned about the threat of violence, should you choose to book a Mexico cruise. And while your concern should increase your caution, there’s no reason to avoid the country altogether. Ninety-nine percent of travelers to Mexico experience a tranquil, relaxing vacation without incident: meaning that your chances of doing the same are excellent, provided you heed the warnings, use common sense and do your best to stay out of trouble.
More external resources related to Mexico here: Mexico Travel Resources