Small, upscale cruise ships will depart Miami starting in January 2019 under the Victory Cruise Lines banner, said Saúl Ancona Salazar, state secretary of tourism development.
“The Great Mayan Experience” was introduced by its chairman, Bruce Nierenberg, who for years struggled to re-start ferry service between Progreso and Tampa.
This will be the first time all three peninsular states will be offered together for a cruise, said Ancona Salazar.
Between 200 and 400 passengers will pay between US$5,000 and $8,000 for the voyage, according to the cruise line’s website. The cruise projects a variety of trips every 18 days from the port of Miami, and emphasizes overnight land tours.
“The Dominican Republic has beautiful beaches, but it does not have Chichén Itzá,” said Nierenberg, highlighting the advantages of the Yucatán Peninsula over other destinations in the Caribbean and Central America.
The 10-night itinerary stops first in Key West, Fla, before heading to Puerto Morelos, then overnight in Valladolid and Chichén Itzá, and then to Izamal and Progreso, where they will meet the ship cruise. For three days and two nights, tourists will see Mérida, Mayapán and Sotuta de Peón, one of the last working haciendas in the region. Finally, the ship will leave for Seybaplaya, in Campeche. Then they will return by air to the United States.
“We are the first company to combine all-inclusive cruises with stays on land, something that allows the cruise to get closer to the local community and the Mayan culture,” said Nierenberg.
Retired baby boomers who enjoy world travel are his target market.
“Not only are we the first cruise line to feature all three states of the Yucatán Peninsula, we are pioneering the marriage of all-inclusive cruising with integrated land stays to get our guests closer to the people and unique Mayan culture,” said Nierenberg. “We’ve designed this trip in consultation with officials from each state’s government, ensuring access to unique sites and exclusive once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The unprecedented access is a direct result of the governors’ and tourism boards’ efforts, and we are grateful for their cooperation and warm welcome.”
Ancona Salazar acknowledged that the new route opens the possibility of yet more cruises to the state.
According to state tourism department data, cruise-ship tourism is up 25 percent in Yucatán.
Of the 40,000 cruise ship tourists who arrived in January, half spent the night in the state.
Victory also sails on the Great Lakes, the French Canadian Maritimes and St. Lawrence Seaway, New England and Cuba.
Source: La Jornada Maya, Press release