Cruising Is Big Business In Cabo

Even without a deep water pier

Cabo has hosted about 15 cruises this December, which meant many dollars for API, the port administration. This year saw a total of 147 arrivals, totaling 303,781 passengers. How cruises work is a very complicated business, so I’ll break it down for y’all.

I would like to first make a note on how interesting cruise ships really are. Did you know, a ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her, there is usually a gang of men about, it takes a lot of paint to keep her pretty, it is not the initial expense that breaks you but the upkeep, she can be all decked out, it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly, and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.

OK, enough with the jokes.

cruise.JPGIt’s a growing trend that instead of moving into a home, retired people have found a delightful alternative—they become permanent or semi-permanent residents on cruise ships. The cost is comparable, but in many ways, the amenities are superior. Linens are changed daily, the food is sumptuous and plentiful, there are a bunch of activities, 24/7 medical care is readily available, casinos, and of course, there are constant visits to wonderful locations. There are drawbacks, such as a lack of permanent friendship and proximity to family, but at least you can mope around while enjoying a cocktail on deck. No, we don’t get those type of cruisers here, because almost all our ships originate in L.A. and take a week to go to Matzalan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, then zoom up the coast back to L.A. It’s just an endless circle.

One of the downsides for our cruise travelers is there's no cruise pier in Cabo, so all ships must anchor and tender passengers to the port. That means extra time getting to and from the ship. Even odder is the fact that some ships only stop here for half-day visits, which means that actual on-land time can be extremely limited (although excursion providers usually time their tours to meet the needs of cruisers). However, other ships spend two days in Cabo, allowing passengers to stay out until 9 p.m. before the ship maneuvers offshore to open casinos.

The average cruise ships that come to Cabo hold from 700 to 3,841 passengers, which API charges a little under two dollars a head to come ashore. The total earnings are about $61,408 from passengers directly. The tendering and taxes charged per passenger are about $135 more, give or take depending on the cruise line.

Let’s say the ship anchors in Cabo’s bay. The cost is on average $65 per person, much of that absorbed by the cost of the cruise, but some is assessed to the people as “port fees.”

Fun fact: ships can drop sewage freely if they are five miles away from shore, although most modern ships don’t. Eeew. How would you like to be a fish that gets that dumped on you?