Treasures of the Sea of Cortez 11-day Cruise

astoriacruiseship2.jpg

On January 9, the first cruise on Cruise and Maritime Voyage's Astoria Ship operated by a U.K-based cruise line, departed from the Mexican city officially called Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point, for its first 11-day tour of the Sea of Cortez. Puerto Penasco is located in the northwest of the state of Sonora in the area of the great desert of Altar. This new route that departs from Puerto Penasco is referred to as the "Treasures of the Sea of Cortez Cruise." The departure port is very convenient for Arizonans looking for convenient access to cruising, and the cruise promotes Puerto Penasco with additional tourism along with the port destinations.

The cruise line operating this new route had to cancel the departure that was scheduled for December 7, 2019, because they encountered an unforeseen and extended dry-docking requirement. Between sailing seasons, cruise lines sometimes dry-dock their ships for maintenance, refurbishing, and upgrades before repositioning them to new routes.

The Astoria has a colorful history. It was built in 1944, it made its maiden voyage in 1948 and is currently the oldest cruise ship sailing. It survived the collision that sunk the Andrea Doria in 1956 and was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden in 2008.

Voyage aboard the boutique-style Astoria offers a truly distinctive cruise experience with her handsome profile, traditional walk-around promenade deck and high standard of service. Astoria is a classic, she is a beautifully upgraded designed ocean-going cruise ship. She features all the benefits of cruise ship travel within an intimate and very friendly ambiance.

The Astoria has eight passenger decks and 277 cabins, It's most recent renovation was in 2013. The refurbished, 550-passenger Astoria ship is a bit smaller than other cruise liners, therefore it can maneuver into ports bigger ships cannot dock at. "Treasures of the Sea of Cortez Cruise" visits seven ports. The ports are Topolobampo, Mazatlan, beautiful Cabo San Lucas for a full 9-hour day and La Paz for a full 11-hour day. The last stops are Loreto, Santa Rosalia, and Guaymas. These destinations allow you to explore the natural splendors and wildlife of the Baja California Peninsula and Mexico’s mainland coast that border the sparkling waters of the Sea of Cortez. The Gulf of California is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. From exotic islands to world-renowned vacation destinations you discover truly breathtaking nature infused with authentically rich Mexican culture and amazing experiences that you will cherish. Awe-inspiring views make the cruise around the Sea of Cortez an exciting option for a very special vacation that showcases many of Mexico’s splendidly popular as well as off-the-beaten-path gem destinations.

The Sea of Cortez is a unique destination that has been described as a “living aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau and has served as an inspiration to many including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author John Steinbeck. With its many islands designated as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites, it is home to an impressive array of marine mammals, more than 900 species of fish and a lavish array of birds. Diverse land creatures provide even more fantastic wildlife encounters.

The ship has a casino, spa, beauty salon and fitness center with a sauna and steam room. She also features a night club and show lounge. Entertainment on the ship includes cabarets and performances by the ship's violinist and pianist. There is also a Captain’s Cocktail Party and onboard guest speakers along with activities such as arts and crafts.

Cabins are very well appointed. Cabin options range from single interior cabins to ocean-view suites. Some of the ocean-view cabins have whirlpool tubs. The on-board currency is the U.S. dollar. The power outlets are European, so a converter is needed to plug in your phone and other devices.

To join this adventure it is approximately $1,600 USD per person and rises based on what stateroom you choose. Fees and services included in the price are port taxes, luggage transfer from port to the cabin, all meals, afternoon tea, and late-night snacks. There is self-service tea, and coffee from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. You may request bus transportation from Phoenix or Tucson for an extra charge.

If you are a resident of Los Cabos and wish to experience this journey, you may transport by bus from La Paz to Puerto Penasco but it takes approximately 33 hours. The cost ranges from approximately $130.00 USD to $200.00 USD each way. Airlines that fly out of Cabo to Puerto Penasco are Viva Aerobus, Volaris, and Aeromexico. Obviously, the cost is more, starting at approximately $450.00 USD round trip but you can book a flight that arrives in as little as five hours each way.

You will need a Visa to sail on the cruise. Puerto Penasco is part of the "free zone" in Mexico that does not require a Visa. However, because the cruise travels outside of that zone, you will need a Visa. To obtain a Visa fill out the Mexican immigration form at www.inmgob.mx and have it stamped as you cross the border. Cruise and Maritime Voyages estimates it will cost approximately $38.00 USD for a Visa for the length of the cruise.

There will be two more sailing departures in the month of January and more will be scheduled throughout the year. To book the "Treasures of the Sea of Cortez Cruise", you may do so online at us.cruiseandmaritime.com or call 855-206-4897 on weekdays. Their hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.