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Months of coordinated efforts and protocol precede arrival of first cruise line through Sea of Cortez

With the highly anticipated arrival of the Astoria cruise ship on the horizon, a recent meeting addressed topics related to migration procedures for passengers, boarding, ship authorizations, transfers, and hotels, among other details in preparation for the influx of cruise-goers for the December 7th departure into the Sea of Cortez.

COFETUR (Sonora Tourism Promotion Commission) deputy coordinator Héctor Platt emphasized the need for commitment and coordination among migration, customs, and maritime agencies in facilitating and speeding up entry at the border and other arrival points along the cruise ship’s route.

John Dennis, Operations Director for Cruise and Maritime Voyages, encouraged the readiness of representatives in initiating necessary procedures for the launch of the first “Astoria” cruise.

“This is a coordinated effort. We are going to work with the navy, the state of Arizona, and with the people of Puerto Peñasco,” detailed Dennis, “We must develop a naval plan for ports, and work with hotels and tour operators in Puerto Peñasco.”

Héctor Vázquez del Mercado, President of the Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCV), expressed appreciation for the willingness of migration and naval authorities in being present, calling on them to strengthen coordination for entry procedures so the Sea of Cortez cruise may begin in the best way possible.

Those present at the coordinated meeting included Juan de los Santos Quintero, Terencio Gutiérrez on behalf of the local administration, FONATUR representative Martin Martínez, representatives from the Sonoyta customs office, Port Captain Luis Castro Galan, Julio Cesar Navarro Contreras from the National Migration Institute, Puerto Peñasco OCV Director and Secretary Lizette Ibarra and Oscar Palacio Soto, among other representatives.

A meeting was also held with hotel directors, rental and tour operators.  COFETUR deputy coordinator Héctor Platt, Cruise and Maritime Voyages Operations Director John Dennis, and Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Lizette called on hoteliers to close ranks and put their trust in the arrival of the cruise that will transverse the Sea of Cortez.

“It’s important hoteliers feel support and security, that there is a close relationship with the ship; this is not something improvised but rather two years of effort in working with tremendous passion on what is now a reality,” explained the COFETUR representative.

John Dennis of Cruise and Maritime Voyages explained arrival and passenger transfer procedures through what will serve as the terminal, the Puerto Peñasco Convention Center, inviting hoteliers to work with the cruise company in offering their services. The goal is for the Sea of Cortez cruise season to welcome 3,000 cruise-goers, particularly from the United States. Hotel representative Oscar Palacio Soto emphasized the importance of joining the project, which will begin operations this December and benefit the hotel and service sectors during the generally slower Winter season.

The meeting offered an opportunity to address concerns as to housing options and transfers for cruise-goers, with the proposal of arriving in Puerto Peñasco at least two nights prior to cruise departure. Furthermore, the Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau made the commitment to develop a directory of lodging options at area hotels and condominium complexes, as well as of transportation services and tour operators.

Héctor Platt of COFETUR invited all present to take part in this new journey, which will certainly bring with it the need to readdress flights to the area, representing a before and after in the history of the Sea of Cortez.