Puerto Peñasco, Mexico - After being on hold for nearly two years, Sonora officials announced Friday that Mexico's federal government has set aside more than $13 million in its 2018 budget to finish the first phase of the cruise ship home port in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, with completion scheduled for 2020.
Construction on the home port, which will consist of a one-kilometer jetty, terminal buildings and a pedestrian walkway at Sandy Beach, began in December 2013 and was about 50% completed in 2015, but several obstacles, including accusations of mismanaged funds and federal government reporting requirements not being met, caused delays.
Officials of the Mexican beach resort town, better known north of the border as "Rocky Point", said they would not have secured the federal funding without help from Arizona.
At a commission meeting earlier this year in Scottsdale, the governors of Sonora and Arizona signed a memorandum of understanding to promote and lobby for completion of the cruise-ship port. That show of unity helped as Sonora officials pressed the Mexican government to take action.
"It ... had a great deal of influence that Gov. (Doug) Ducey and I signed that agreement to say we're all in agreement about getting this project done," Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich said.
The state's tourism office said the $13 million secured for 2018 will be enough to finish building the dock. Officials will continue pressing Mexico's federal government to allocate additional funding to finish the final two phases at an estimated cost of $80.5 million.
Meanwhile, Sonora tourism officials have finalized the route that cruise ships would take along the Gulf of California, using Puerto Peñasco as their home base.
The route would include up to eight cities in three Mexican states:
• Puerto Peñasco, Sonora
• Guaymas, Sonora
• Topolobampo, Sinaloa
• Mazatlan, Sinaloa
• Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
• La Paz, Baja California Sur
• Loreto, Baja California Sur
• Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur
Hector Platt Mazon, the state tourism director, said they based the route on existing infrastructure in cities that could accommodate large cruise ships in their ports.
"Obviously, this route can grow," he said. "We're not ruling out that new ports could be built to create new, different routes and new experiences for cruise tourists."
In the past few months, the state also secured a letter of intent from U.K.-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages. They operate several cruise liners around the globe, including the Caribbean. The letter is not a binding contract, but rather an expression of interest in the home port.
"The cruise line said they would be ready to get their boats on the water by the end of 2019, which would be great for us," Platt Mazon said.
Elected and businesses leaders expect the project will generate millions of dollars in economic activity on both sides of the border.Source: azcentral.com.