The Azamara Quest docked at the Puerto Caldera, in Puntarenas
The Azamara Quest docked at the Puerto Caldera, in Puntarenas

A new type of tourism was launched in Costa Rica Wednesday, the very first time a cruise liner has departed its journey from a Costa Rican port.

Azamara Quest, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean, launched the Ruta Mesoamericana, a journey from the Puerto Caldera, in Puntarenas to different ports in Central America, Mexico and Los Angeles, in the United States.

Allan Flores, Costa Rica's Tourism Minister. Photo: La Republica
Allan Flores, Costa Rica’s Tourism Minister. Photo: La Republica

The route will allow travel agents, transport services and other companies, to take advantage of this type of tourism. It also represents more money for local Costa Rican suppliers, because the cruise liner has to buy all supplies for the sail, such as food and personal care products.

Azamara Quest says the route was possible thanks to the work of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (Instituto Costarricense de Turismo – ICT), as part of a strategy to attract cruise ship passengers like it does with the airlines.

On Wednesday, the first group – 700 passengers, mostly Americans – left port for a 14 night cruise that makes stops at: San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua; Acajutla in El Salvador; Puerto Quetzal en Guatemala;  Chiapas, Huatulco an Cabo Blanco, in Mexico; and ending in Los Ángeles, California. Travel operators such as Swiss Travel  and Cielo Azul had been marketing the packages since January 2013.

The success of this sold out cruise will now be used by the company to determine whether the service is profitable to offer more packages and with cruise liners with increased capacity.

Sources: La Republica, La Nacion