Cruise arrivals to Mazatlan are on the up-swing, with the Mexican port showcasing its third consecutive year of growth in 2016, up from 35 to 93 ships. This is still somewhat down from the peak of the business, which saw nearly 200 ships in 2010.

Julio Birrueta, director of tourism for the Mazatlán Tourism Board, told Cruise Industry News a multi-faceted strategy has played a key role bringing ships back.

First, the destination reinforced security measures with more surveillance and technology to keep passengers safe.

In addition, the historic district and downtown area was refurbished, along with an updated path for passengers to walk there.

“We selected a path for passengers to walk downtown and not get lost,” said Birrueta. “We painted a blue line for people to follow, and that was reinforced by customer service. We have a group of volunteers – Americans and Canadians that live here – that provide maps and information.”

Birrueta hopes to continue building the cruise business back to a minimum of 150 to 200 calls a year.

“That is the goal we have,” he said. “We are close to half of it. We have new ships confirmed for 2017; we are going in the right direction and I see no difficulty reaching that.”

And there is a bigger plan with the idea of potential homeporting in Mazatlan.

“We have an international airport and the fees at the airport are accommodating,” Birrueta explained, adding that Mazatlan is “right in the middle” of a potential itinerary going north into the Sea of Cortez, or heading south. “We are working with the Mexican authorities to continue pushing this," he noted.