As American tourists, the most basic thing we cling to in our travels is safety. Of course, we want to have fun, adventure and memories galore, but safety is at the helm of our plan. Safety beyond traveler’s gut or bringing an illness or injury home. Recently, we have seen numerous reports coming out of popular destinations in Mexico citing tainted alcohol, kidnappings, robberies, rapes, homicides and more. For these reasons, the U.S. State Department has recently issued a Mexico Travel Warning alerting American citizens to the risks involved in travel to areas like Cancun and Playa del Carmen (Qunitana Roo).
“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas. U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico issued December 8, 2016,” as per the U.S. State Department web site official statement.
The Mexico Travel Warning was issued as an update to the one from December 2016. It is significant because the previous warning was only regarding poor or no cellular/Internet service, which would be even more troublesome now in light of recent happenings.
According to Bloomberg: “The expanded travel advisory hits at the heart of a tourism industry that brings in $20 billion a year for Mexico. The state of Quintana Roo, where the resorts of Tulum and Cozumel are also located, gets 10 million tourists a year, a third of the national total. The warnings come as homicides in Mexico are set to rise to their highest since at least the turn of the century. Quintana Roo alone has seen 169 murders this year.”
Mexico Travel Warning – Will You Be Safe?
Will you be safe traveling to these specific areas of Mexico? I wish I could offer you some kind of guarantee. I can say this…it’s not the worst of warnings where Americans are asked to defer all non-essential travel to the area. Nonetheless, I tend to heed the advice of the U.S. State Department when they issue a warning. If you must go, below is a list of precautions to help.
- Tainted alcohol – With all-inclusive resorts offering unlimited alcohol, I can totally believe this would happen. The best advice on tainted alcohol comes from my fellow travel journalist Johnny Jet and his post on Beware Tainted Alcohol so take a moment to read his tips.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave the resort grounds. Don’t go anywhere alone (even to the restroom). Forgot your beach towel in the room? Take someone with you to retrieve it.
- Don’t be flashy. Any precious jewels or expensive, irreplaceable pieces should be left at home. Keep jewelry to a minimum and utilize the room safe.
- Exchange your currency at home before you leave or go inside a bank in Mexico. ATMs are plentiful and seem to be everywhere in Mexico, but they are known to have skimmers attached, so avoid using them.
- Pay for things in the smallest currency you have and be CLEAR about repeating the price back to them by saying pesos or US Dollars. Something might sound cheap, but if they don’t respond with either pesos or US Dollars, you could end up scammed by switching currencies.
- ALWAYS be as polite as possible to Mexican officials. You are not going to do yourself any favors by talking back to or down to any Mexican official.
- Be aware that regardless of the time of day, women should never walk alone at all. I know all about “I am woman, hear me roar?” I am queen of the self-sufficient woman. I am also looking to remain unharmed and safely return to my family. Please do the same.
This list is brought to you with as much thoughtfulness as I can possibly put into a post. It is not meant to scare you, but to help protect you. It is also not inclusive of all the information you’ll likely need. Make sure your passport is up-to-date and ask your travel agent any questions ahead of time. Frommer’s also has a good article on Staying Safe in Mexico that is worth reading as well.
Are Cruise Line Itineraries Affected by this Mexico Travel Warning?
It’s a fair question to consider if cruises who stop in this area of Mexico will re-route those itineraries. I spoke with Jennifer De La Cruz, VP Corporate and Employee Communications with Carnival Cruise Line and she referred me to the official statement from the cruise line on this topic.
“As with every region where we operate, we are closely monitoring the security environment in Mexico in tandem with our corporate global maritime intelligence group and local authorities. The safety of our guests and crew is of paramount priority – and if and when any adjustments are deemed necessary, we react quickly. At this time, all Carnival itineraries visiting Mexico are scheduled to operate as normal. The vast majority of the reported violence has been concentrated among rival gangs. As with any travel abroad, tourists are advised to stay in main tourist areas, not carry expensive jewelry or excessive amounts of cash and to be aware of their surroundings.”
So, at this time they will not alter itineraries, but the Fun Ships will be monitoring this closely and you can bet if they see the need, they’ll not waste any time in making necessary changes to ports of call.
Looking for an alternative to vacationing in Mexico? Have you considered cruising? You’ll see fabulous ports of call, have plenty of food and entertainment.