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junglejane

Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisory for Colima/Manzanillo

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DH and I are booked on the October 4 Royal Princess 10 day Baja Peninsula and Sea of Cortez. We've done Mexican Riviera cruises 6-7 times over the past 10 years, usually doing the Puerto Vallarta, Cabo & Mazatlan itinerary. So we're used to warnings in the past about Mazatlan but have always felt safe staying in the main tourist zone or Stone Island. We've usually done private tours or DIY stuff in Mazatlan with no issues. One reason we picked this itinerary is that it offers ports we haven't been to before including Loreto and Manzanillo. We've already booked the Princess shore excursion to Colonial Colima with Lunch.


Yesterday DH pointed out to me that the US State Department has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory of "Do Not Travel" for the State of Colima. "Violent crime and gang activity are widespread." https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/mexico-travel-advisory.html.

Any feedback about safety in Colima/Manzanillo? On the one hand, we are going on an official Princess excursion. On the other hand, It's a 6+ hour excursion in an area where the State Dept. says "Do Not Travel."  Thoughts?
 

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We’ve done the Mexican Riviera cruises too, including Loreto and Manzanillo (3x).  

 

For us in Manzanillo there is always a visible big police presence in the port/shopping areas. We felt relatively safe in the port area. Typically we usually  sample the local foods and that was it for us, then back to the ship.  Not much in Manzanillo in my opinion, plus it can be hot as heck too. 

 

I follow the State Department travel advisories too.  When I see “ Do Not Travel”... I don’t travel. Unfortunately Mexico has a huge cartel war going on and it can get nasty. I’d err on the safe side and stay close to the ship rather than end up on the news as a victim.

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We’re adopting a wait and see attitude for now but are worrying that maybe leaving the main Manzanillo port area to go on the Colima excursion is risky. 

 

“Rival cartels have been battling for control of Manzanillo’s port, a primary point of entry for drugs from South and Central America as well as for precursor chemicals coming from Asia that are used to manufacture synthetic drugs.” https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-mexico-states-warning-20180111-htmlstory.html

 

“The bad luck for law-abiding citizens of Colima, however, was suddenly finding the main highway on the methamphetaminetrade route plowing right through their state. The drug cartels established Manzanillo, a busy commercial port handling 2.5 million containers a year, and the smaller Lázaro Cárdenas port to the south as the prime destinations for the meth precursor chemicals shipped mostly from China.
From these two ports, the chemicals — benzyl chloride, ephedrine, hydriodic acid, methylamine and more — get shipped up Highway 54 to Guadalajara and its environs, where a network of meth labs convert them to supply a burgeoning demand from Texas to California. At the same time, two major cartels, the Sinaloa cartel and the New Generation, are vying for huge profits from the meth trade. With Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán out of the picture now, there are contending groups angling for control of the Sinaloa cartel. The Jalisco New Generation cartel has tried to fill the vacuum, but the Sinaloa cartel is believed to be working to splinter its new rival. The result? More violence all around.”

 https://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-tiny-but-deadly-epicenter-of-mexicos-new-wave-of-violence/90680

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The warning from the USA govt mentions that travel on a specific toll road from Guadalajara to Colima is OK.  It implies that once you are in Colima it is also OK so it doesn't tell them they cannot go there.

They also say that staying in the port area and tourist area of Manzanillo is ok for gov't workers.

I would certainly wait and see as the town of Colima has some interesting things to see.

IF the USA says absolutely don't go there then I doubt if the ship will run excursions there.

We have friends with a house in Colima and they visit periodically.  They have not said anything about being more worried about their own safety. OF course that doesn't mean it is "safe".

 

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We were in Manzanillo last February aboard the Grand Princess. I had arranged a scuba diving trip with a local dive shop. We caught a cab at the port and it was about a 20 minute ride to the shop. We had a great time scuba diving in an area north of Manzanillo. The dive shop owner is an American. After diving we took a cab back to the port. No problems whatsoever.

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The Governments of Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, China, and Mexico have issued travel warnings for their citizens considering travel to many parts of the USA.

Are you planning to lock the doors, turn off the lights, and hie under your bed?

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10 hours ago, BruceMuzz said:

The Governments of Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, China, and Mexico have issued travel warnings for their citizens considering travel to many parts of the USA.

Are you planning to lock the doors, turn off the lights, and hie under your bed?

This is not a helpful response @BruceMuzz. First it's mocking my question. Second it implies that all travel warnings are political and should be laughed at. The US State Dept has 4 levels of advisories. I have no idea how the systems in other countries work. But a Level 4 DO NOT TRAVEL advisory is obviously more serious than 2 (exercise extra caution) and 3 (reconsider travel). Also I provided some of the background reasons for the Level 4 warning, specifically the warring cartels fighting over the transportation of meth ingredients from the port to the interior, presumably on the very roads that the Princess bus excursion will take from Manzanillo to Colima, which is about 60 miles away. My question is asked in good faith and deserves to be answered in good faith. Reassuring answers based on relevant facts and personal experience are welcome (such as from @@riffatsea and @DanielBoone).

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On ‎7‎/‎29‎/‎2019 at 9:45 AM, junglejane said:

This is not a helpful response @BruceMuzz. First it's mocking my question. Second it implies that all travel warnings are political and should be laughed at. The US State Dept has 4 levels of advisories. I have no idea how the systems in other countries work. But a Level 4 DO NOT TRAVEL advisory is obviously more serious than 2 (exercise extra caution) and 3 (reconsider travel). Also I provided some of the background reasons for the Level 4 warning, specifically the warring cartels fighting over the transportation of meth ingredients from the port to the interior, presumably on the very roads that the Princess bus excursion will take from Manzanillo to Colima, which is about 60 miles away. My question is asked in good faith and deserves to be answered in good faith. Reassuring answers based on relevant facts and personal experience are welcome (such as from @@riffatsea and @DanielBoone).

First, nicely done calling out some smart a** buffoon who finds it necessary to put down someone because they have a legitimate question that they don't approve of or think is silly. Disregard moronic comments such as this along with "I'd be more worried about travel to Chicago or Miami" etc.

 

Secondly, you have already received some good advice and I will provide mine based on 4 decades of travel in almost every Latin American country. Many of these trips were business related and involved extended visits to some of the more dangerous places such as Columbia in the 1980's, the interior of Mexico as well as Brazil and Venezuela. For 20 years of my career I was responsible for border security for a major Mexican multi-national corporation.

 

Being a victim of crime at home or abroad is often extremely random; it truly can happen anywhere. Statistically the odds are against it but of course tell that to someone who becomes a victim - it is not very comforting. And it is always prudent to be mindful of travel warnings. 

 

But in your situation however, I would not be overly concerned about a ship sponsored excursion such as you describe. First, I believe cruise companies perform decent and timely due diligence with regard to what is going on in the area, as well as the vendors selected for these excursions. If the worry is too much for you to handle, maybe you should consider another options but chances are extremely good that you will be fine. Whatever you decide, have a great time!

 

 

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It appears that the cartel wars mostly involve competing gangs killing each other.  I've seen US police dismiss such crimes as "no humans involved."  Tourists are not the targets, and the violence does not take place where the tourists tend to be. 

 

Until the violence spills over and there is collateral damage to tourists, I would not worry. Especially if I am looking at a ship's excursion.  Now, if you are looking into a private tour of dive bars, adult venues and criminal haunts, that would be a different story!

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I was in Mazatlán last yr in June. We had no problems , while we went to the Malacon and walked the blue line to some local shops, we had no problems. In most foreign countries, dress like they do. Do not waive your money around. Do not brag you are American. Be respectful and polite to all you should be fine. Also, Leave your expensive Jewelry at home, wear simple stuff. You should be fine. The other way of looking at this if the cartel disrupts the tourist Area, they are hurting themselves and the people . The Cruise lines will stop coming and that means big bucks. 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I've been to Mazatlan many times but this thread is about Manzanillo and Colima. Here's a recent (7-27-19) update on Manzanillo:

Quote

The mayor of Manzanillo, Colima, survived an attempt on her life on Friday but two of her bodyguards were left wounded. Griselda Martínez was riding in a vehicle in an outlying neighborhood of the city when armed men intercepted them and opened fire. According to local media sources, some of the bullets intended for the mayor struck a city bus that was traveling along the same route. 

Colima Governor José Ignacio Peralta said the mayor survived the attack unharmed and had been transferred to the city’s naval base for her protection.

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/national-guard-to-protect-manzanillo-mayor/. Note that the report says that bullets intended for the mayor struck a city bus that was traveling along the same route.

 

Edited by junglejane

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If things are bad at your time of sailing..the cruise line won't stop there.

They will go some place else if they can get a port or you get an extra

day at sea.

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Just spoke again with my friend whose 2nd home is in Colima. He said that he and his family have not had any problems and that the fighting is between the drug cartels.

There is always a danger from collateral damage but for those of us that live in the USA we also have danger here . It is even more scary here where you can never tell where danger might appear!!

Who expects to be killed while shopping in Walmart???

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On 8/19/2019 at 4:42 PM, Belle said:

If things are bad at your time of sailing..the cruise line won't stop there. They will go some place else if they can get a port or you get an extra day at sea.

 

A very good point.

 

We were in Manzanillo in March and had a wonderful time.

 

Living close to the U.S. - Mexico border and being a frequent visitor into Mexico I am used to the ebb and flow of cartel violence. There was a time 7 or 8 years I'd have told someone to skip Tijuana, not now. I feel the same way about Manzanillo. I'd be conscious of my surrounding, but not overly concerned. I just wouldn't hang out with local judges, politicians or senior police officials, who seem to be favorite targets.

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On 8/19/2019 at 4:42 PM, Belle said:

If things are bad at your time of sailing..the cruise line won't stop there.

They will go some place else if they can get a port or you get an extra

day at sea.

I see this comment a lot but at the same time we (on CC) always admonish people to read what the Passenger Contract says. And among other things it says this:

  Quote
Carrier visits a large number of ports in numerous countries around the world. At any given moment there are likely to be "trouble spots" in the world in terms of war, terrorism, crime, Act of God, civil commotions, labor trouble, and/or other potential sources of harm. Local conditions and infrastructure may also create hazards to Guests while off the ship. Accordingly, it may be necessary to change, cancel or terminate the scheduled cruise or any activities related to the cruise, including without limitation shore excursions and port visits. Although Carrier endeavors to provide reasonable protection for Your comfort and safety onboard its ships, motorcoaches, dayboats and/or railcars owned or operated by us, Carrier cannot guarantee freedom from all risks associated with war, terrorism, crime or other potential sources of harm. Carrier reminds all Guests that they must ultimately assume responsibility for their actions while ashore. The United States Department of State and other similar government agencies regularly issue advisories and warnings to travelers giving details of local conditions in specified cities and countries according to such agency's perception of risks to travelers. Carrier strongly recommends that Guests and their travel agents obtain and consider such information when making travel decisions. 

Bottom line, I believe that Princess won't knowingly put its passengers in harm's way, but they also aren't guaranteeing your safety and they specifically say pay attention to State Dept. advisories. It all comes down to the level of risk you're willing to tolerate. As for @scottca075 saying don't hang out with locals who are political targets, note that the gunmen who attacked the mayor of Colima also hit a bus that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We haven't cancelled our Colima excursion but we're keeping an eye on the news and will decide as we approach the deadline to cancel and get a refund on the excursion.

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Posted (edited)

Canada and USA have issued travel warnings for their citizens visiting Mexico.

 

Austria, Australia, Bahamas, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela have all issued travel warnings to their citizens who want to visit the USA.

Some of these warnings are low-level; some are very high level. The most dangerous areas identified are Florida and Arizona.

Amnesty International has issued their first and only travel warning to anyone who wants to visit the USA.

 

Will these warnings stop me from visiting Mexico? No. But I will stay away from the US Border areas.

Will these warnings stop me from visiting the USA? No. But I will pass on Florida and Arizona.

Edited by Donald

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4 hours ago, Donald said:

The most dangerous areas identified are Florida and Arizona.

 

The travel advisory for FL might have to do with a Cat 4 hurricane coming on shore....

 

As to Amnesty International.....  don't get me started.

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Hi Jane!  Ron and I decided to cancel our Princess excursion to the ruins.  As of now, the category 4 warning by the State Dept specifically affects us, since Ron is a Federal employee.  I was (and still am) very interested in the tour - but will err on the side of safety.  By the way - we love Mexico and have been to many ports and have traveled on our own road trips.  In fact, we had a very interesting encounter with cartel guerillas just outside of Acapulco. 

Sharon

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On 8/30/2019 at 10:51 PM, SharB said:

Hi Jane!  Ron and I decided to cancel our Princess excursion to the ruins.  As of now, the category 4 warning by the State Dept specifically affects us, since Ron is a Federal employee.  I was (and still am) very interested in the tour - but will err on the side of safety.  By the way - we love Mexico and have been to many ports and have traveled on our own road trips.  In fact, we had a very interesting encounter with cartel guerillas just outside of Acapulco. 

Sharon

 

A big mistake in our humble opinion. Take your excursion, and enjoy all that the ruins have to offer, it is an awesome experience!

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The pier that the cruise ships tie up at in Manzanillo is far from the shipping container piers.

Last time I was in Manzanillo a Mexican Navy ship came in at about the same time and tied up at the other side of the pier.  A Mexican Marine contingent was dispatched from the ship to guard that section of the port. This was December of 2016.

There was a heavy presence of Mexican Federal Police driving around the main streets of Manzanillo in pick up trucks.

What impressed me was that it was about 95F and 90% humidity and the Mexican Marines had full kit on and did not flinch a muscle while they stood guard.

 

Edited by brisalta

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Thanks @brisalta. That's a genuinely helpful response. A big part of what has troubled me is the granular detail of the cartels fighting over the transportation of meth chemicals on the same route that the Princess tour bus will take from Manzanillo to Colima. That's why it's not that reassuring to have someone say just stick to the tourist areas and all will be well. But it is at least good to know that the cruise ships tie up far from the container area and that there's a heavy police presence.

 

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