Cruising the Sea of Cortez will be another draw to Puerto Penasco, Mexico where construction on a massive port to accommodate cruise ships is set to begin next year.
“The home port will be similar to those in Miami or San Diego,” said Epifanio Salido Pavlovich, director of the Office of Tourism in the Mexican state of Sonora. He said Holland America — which last week made its inaugural sailing to the new Port of Guaymas — has agreed to sail four- to seven-day cruises originating and ending at a home port in Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point, with two to five stops along the route.
Salido said the port will be ready to receive its first ship in about three years.
When the port project is finished within about five years, as many at 200 cruises a year could be offered from the Puerto Penasco cruise ship terminal, Salido said. He said officials plan to approach other major cruise lines to complement the service offered by Holland America. The project is being funded by Mexican government and private investors.
Initially, the state of Sonora is spending about $15 million to jump-start the project, said Jesus Fontes, planning director for the state tourism agency. He said the total cost has not been calculated, since the design has yet to be developed. The cruise-port plan comes as other transportation improvements are under way.
The new Puerto Penasco airport is expected to open in the spring, and the highway to San Luis Rio Colorado later in 2009, Salido said. Improvements also are being made to the Lukeville Port of Entry, the re-entry point into the United States from the main road to Puerto Penasco.
Construction of a private hospital, catering to U.S. baby boomers, is also under consideration.
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(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)