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The Astoria departed Thursday on its maiden cruise. The Astoria departed Thursday on its maiden cruise.

Long-awaited Sea of Cortés cruise sets sail from Puerto Peñasco

500 passengers were aboard for the 11-day Sea of Cortés cruise

The first cruise ship to do an exclusive tour of the Sea of Cortés set sail from Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, on Thursday with 500 passengers aboard for its 11-day Treasures of the Sea of Cortés voyage.

UK-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages announced in September that its boutique cruise liner Astoria would be offering the cruises in December, but its first cruise was delayed until the new year.

The ship will visit the ports of Topolobampo, Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Santa Rosalía and Guaymas before returning to Puerto Peñasco.

The cruise was inaugurated with the blessing of Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich, Puerto Peñasco Mayor Ernesto Munro and Cruise and Maritime Voyages vice president John Dennis as a 200-person crew awaited the ship’s first passengers.

Pavlovich was pleased to welcome a new era of tourism in her state, as the passengers include people from England, Australia, the United States and Mexico.

“We’re putting Puerto Peñasco [also known as Rocky Point] on the international level,” she said, adding that the cruise is expected to bring in 190 million pesos (US $10.1 million) of revenue to her state alone.

The total revenue boost for all of the ports the ship will visit is expected to be around 380 million pesos (US $20.2 million).

Aside from the tour that left on Thursday, Cruise and Maritime Voyages has two others scheduled for this month, one that leaves on the 20th and another on the 31st. The first two have already sold out and the third is almost full.

The US $1,500 price tag includes all meals, afternoon tea and late-night snacks, cocktail parties, entertainment, activities, port taxes and more.

The Astoria is smaller than other cruise liners, allowing it to maneuver into ports that larger ships can’t enter. Its eight passenger decks and 277 cabins allow for 500 passengers, and it also boasts a spa, beauty salon, casino, gym, sauna, steam room, show lounge and nightclub.

Currently the world’s oldest cruise ship still sailing, it was built in 1944 and made its maiden voyage in 1948.

Originally called the Stockholm, the Astoria famously collided with the Andrea Doria transatlantic ocean liner in 1956. Although the Stockholm survived the collision, the Andrea Doria did not, and 46 people died when it sank.

The ship’s storied history also includes a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden in 2008 and its use as a pleasure cruise liner for leaders of East Germany’s communist government during the Cold War.

Tickets for the cruise can be booked via the Cruise and Maritime Voyages website.

Sources: El Universal (sp), AZ Central (en)

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