With a November to April season, the Sea of Cortes is attracting small and large ships.
Lindblad, UnCruise, Pacific Catalyst, Pacific Provider and other small-ship operators homeport in La Paz, according to Arturo Musi, general director of maritime and tourism coordination. Larger ships this season include the Azamara Quest, Crystal Serenity, Oosterdam, Eurodam, and the Pacific and Ruby Princess.
“We are expecting ship calls and passenger traffic to be up about 10 percent over last year,” said Musi. “We can accommodate ships carrying more than 3,000 passengers, such as the Ruby Princess, which docks in Pichlingue, and for the smaller ships, Loreto has become popular for overnights,” he added.
An overhaul of streets and sidewalks is underway in La Paz with the first stage to be completed in time for the season. Plans call for a renewal of the downtown area.
Smaller vessels sailing expedition cruises typically depart from La Paz and travel through the islands of the Sea of Cortes (Espiritu Santo, Cerralvo, San Jose, Coronados, etc.) and also call at Puerto Escondido or Loreto.
Another project on the Sea of Cortes is Puerto Penasco, a homeporting project, that Musi said was temporarily halted by a change in government, but is now back on the agenda.
“The idea is that Penasco will become a homeport,” he explained. “It is close to Phoenix and San Diego. The other ports that are expected to benefit are Guaymas, Topolobampo, La Paz, Loreto, Santa Rosalia, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.”
A spokesperson for the state of Sonora said the port project, budgeted at 1,487 million pesos, was 53 percent completed.
The port has been designed to accommodate ships up to 361 meters in length, with a 47-meter beam and draft up to 10 meters.
Citing Deloitte Consulting, the spokesperson said that demand projections called for 34 cruises per year based on a 1,200-passenger ship.
The official timeline calls for the new port to be operational by the 2019-2020 season.