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The Astoria will make its first cruise out of Puerto Peñasco on December 7. The Astoria will make its first cruise out of Puerto Peñasco on December 7.

500-passenger cruise ship to offer Gulf of California voyages

11-day trips will stop at eight ports on the Baja peninsula and the mainland

Visitors to the Gulf of California will have a new, luxurious way of exploring this megadiverse region of Mexico later this year.

The 500-passenger boutique cruise ship Astoria, operated by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, will begin offering cruises in the area this December.

Six different voyages will begin and end in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, sailing to eight ports on both the Baja California peninsula and the Mexican mainland on 11-day cruises highlighting the natural and cultural sights and experiences that the region has to offer.

Home to almost a third of the planet’s marine mammal species, over 900 fish species — including great white and whale sharks — and over 170 species of sea birds, the Gulf of California is one of the richest and biodiverse bodies of water in the world.

It is so rich in marine life that Jacques Cousteau called it a “living aquarium,” and its natural beauty and cultural heritage inspired John Steinbeck to write the books The Log from the Sea of Cortez and The Pearl.

The British cruise company says the Astoria provides an intimate cruise experience, with a traditional walk-around promenade deck and classic profile. The maiden voyage takes place December 7.

The travel industry has been hoping for several years to see more cruise opportunities in the Gulf of California through the construction of a home port in Puerto Peñasco. But that project, now several years old, has been stalled by lack of funding.

Passengers will board the Astoria via tenders rather than the dock that is part of the home port plan.

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