“We have reached the point of no turning back. The Home Port in Puerto Peñasco is a reality,” explained Javier Tapia Camou, Coordinator of the Sonoran Commission for the Promotion of Tourism (COFETUR), during an informative meeting held shortly after the project’s groundbreaking ceremony that took place mid-morning of Dec. 10th at the area known as the Reef in Sandy Beach.
Tapia, joined by Puerto Peñasco Mayor Gerardo Figueroa, engineering consultant Jesus Flores Sanchez, Gustavo Brown and Reyel Taylor of Sandy Beach Resorts, along with various city officials local business leaders, and the press gathered on the chilly, windswept sands located at the reef for the traditional “waving of the flag”, marking the launch of work on the first phase of the project. The first phase, explained Engineer Jesus Flores Sanchez, will consist principally of rock fill, or rather breakwater construction extending 1290 meters out, making this the longest fill on the Mexican Pacific side. A rock quarry, located 14 kilometers from the home port site, will provide three sizes of rock needed and a road through the Federal Zone will allow trucks to make their way to the construction site. He detailed the breakwater will consist of a 40 meter surrounding ring, while reaching an average depth of 20 meters. This is to help prevent having to dredge the area from which cruise ships will eventually depart. He added the rock going in exceeds minimum standards which, in addition to being part of the breakwater, will form artificial reefs and become part of the habitat.
At a press conference held later in the day, Sonora COFETUR Coordinator Javier Tapia Camou once again highlighted qualities that led to Puerto Peñasco’s selection as a Home Port spot. Among these is its strategic geographic location and proximity to U.S. states across the Southwest, 52 weeks of seaworthy waters, the launch of international flights to the area, as well as the natural wonders surrounding it, including the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site and thousands of islands throughout the Sea of Cortez. He detailed the project, expected to be open to ships by Summer of 2015, will have a 40 year lifespan and may be expanded upon in the future to accommodate more ships. To begin, ships will be fueled at the port in Guaymas, Sonora, which just this week once again began receiving cruise ships with the arrival of ms Statendam of Holland America.
As a Home Port, Puerto Peñasco will serve as a departure and arrival point for cruise ships rather than solely as a stopping point along cruise routes. This would make Puerto Peñasco the first Home Port in Mexico, and is anticipated to have a significant impact on the entire region with the eventual arrival/departure of 3 ships per week and 130,000 visitors annually. Tapia Camou believes initial cruise ships will carry 1200 passengers and crew, though this may reach up to 2400 passengers in the future. “It will be the responsibility of Puerto Peñasco,” he furthered, “to see that people come prior to cruises, and that they stay afterwards.”
Puerto Peñasco Mayor Gerardo Figueroa Zazueta thanked Coordinator Tapia for his ongoing support of the Home Port, and extended his gratitude to both Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for their interest in the project. In addition, the Mayor echoed points from business leaders in expressing the importance of ensuring that each new project goes to further improve the overall image and quality of the city. “While Peñasco may be a large ‘pueblo,’ it’s time to think about how we are going to transform it into a city that truly brings with it other types of benefits for all the residents of Puerto Peñasco,” noted Mayor Figueroa.