Cruise ships to launch in December, even though port at Rocky Point isn’t ready

Construction began on the Puerto Peñasco cruise port in 2013, but the project has been stalled for years, and the port won’t be open when the first cruise embarks in December. (Photo by Angel Mendoza/Cronkite News)

PUERTO PEÑASCO, Mexico – Cruise ships will be launching from Rocky Point for the first time this winter, but a long-awaited cruise port in this beach town won’t be finished by the time they set sail.

Construction began in 2013 on a cruise port in Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, as it’s known to Arizona visitors. But the project has been stalled for years, and the port won’t be open when the first cruise embarks in December.

Héctor Platt Mazón, assistant coordinator for the Sonoran tourism commission, said cruise ships often visit towns without a port.

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“It doesn’t matter,” he said of the unfinished port. “It actually is less complicated than you can imagine.”

For the time being, smaller boats called tenders will shuttle cruise-goers and provisions to and from the 550-passenger Astoria cruise ship, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

Platt said Sonora is still invested in building the port in Rocky Point, but funding is an issue. He hopes the launch of cruises in the Sea of Cortez is a step toward securing federal support to complete the port.

“We’re optimistic with us pushing the umbrella for a few seasons, they can get state, local and federal officials to make the investment,” said John Dennis, vice president of Cruise and Maritime Voyages North and South America offices.

Although not having a home port for the Astoria isn’t ideal, Dennis said, it’s doable using the tenders.

Getting passengers to and from Arizona also will be key to the success of the cruise, called Treasures of the Sea of Cortez, he said.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages expects most passengers to come from Arizona and other western states, he said, and many likely will fly into Phoenix or Tucson. So the company is arranging ground transportation from Phoenix and Tucson to Rocky Point.

An image showing the location and size of the port in Puerto Peñasco. (Photo courtesy of Sonora Turismo)

“So our guests will not only cruise with us, but we’re going to ask them to leave the driving to us,” he said.

The cruise line also is organizing pre- and post-trip packages south and north of the border. It’s a chance, Dennis said, for cruise-goers to enjoy what Arizona has to offer.

This is the cruise’s first season, with six launch dates in December and January 2020. The 11-day cruise stops in Guaymas, Topolobampo and Mazatlán, followed by Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Bahia Loreto and Santa Rosalía.