Q – My husband and I and our two children were looking forward to booking a cruise to the Mexican Riviera this year. But when we spoke to our agent, she told us that there just aren’t any cruises that would suit our needs and she suggested we look, instead, at the Western Caribbean. What is really going on here. I can’t believe that the economy is so bad that people can’t afford a one week cruise to Mexico.

A – If you look in any travel-related publication or web site, you will likely see significant advertising by the Mexico Tourism Board. As one of the industry’s largest single advertisers, they have the ability to influence public opinion and they are currently enmeshed in a verbal battle with some of the major cruise lines that have home-ported in Mexico in the past.

The view of the MTB seems to be that the cruise lines have pulled out of ports in Mexico as a result of Califronia’s recession. The cruise lines still offer a restricted number of cruises that call in Mexico but certain ports are being eliminated from current and projected itineraries. As Travel Weekly pointed out in their March 26th issue, the cruise lines clearly feel that they have pulled out of Mazatlan for security reasons, citing specific incidents in the port and current US State Department warnings.

The Tourism Board contention is that Mazatlan is being eliminated because it costs about $17,000 for a ship to use its docking facilities. When a ship uses Cabo San Lucas instead, there is no docking fee because passengers are tendered.

Disney, Carnival, Princess, and Holland America have all cancelled or curtailed port calls in Mazatlan. Last month, a shore excursion group in Puerto Vallarta on a Carnival Cruise Lines hiking excursion was robbed at gunpoint.

Given cruise line’s current view that Mazatlan poses too many risks, Mexican officials are trying to get the lines to consider calling at Guaymas, which is also located along the Sea of Cortez.

You can do a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. Your travel should have known that but we think her advice to consider the Western Caribbean has merit.