Grupo TMM is seeing its Mexican cruise business trending up nicely. For 2018, the logistics and transportation company, which also offers port agency services in all Mexican ports, is expecting to handle 1,152 cruise ship calls, up from 955 last year and 871 the previous year, according to Bernardo Varela, director of operations for ports and terminals.
“We are general agents for Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands in all Mexican ports,” Varela said, “in addition to Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, and The World, as well as Carnival Cruise Line in Progreso.”
TMM also operates three Mexican ports, Tuxpan, Tampaico and Acapulco.
Varela is hoping that more cruise lines will return to Acapulco, following Norwegian which returned two years ago. “We have not had any security issues with passengers or crew,” he said, “and hopefully other lines will notice this and decide to come back as well.”
When Pullmantur and Ocean Star homeported in Acapulco, TMM was also their shipping agent, and Varela said the ships would be sailing at a 95 percent load factor. Cruise & Maritime Voyages is currently planning to homeport in Acapulco, and Varela is convinced there is a market.
“One advantage for passengers sailing from here is that they do not need a visa,” he said. “I am sure there are many people in Mexico who would like to take a cruise, but do not want the hassle of getting a visa and traveling all the way to Florida to get on a ship. Acapulco is only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Mexico City. (The population in the metropolitan area is about 21 million.)
“This has been a seasonal market,” he continued, “but I think an operator can find a formula to make this year-round, for instance, by offering three- and four-day cruises in the off-season. Itinerary options can go north or south to Guatemala and Costa Rica.”