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Island Princess 1st Visit Puerto Vallarta 1975

In the early 1970 work started on El Salado wharf (where the current cruise terminal is located), making Puerto Vallarta the first harbour town in Jalisco, one of the 32 states that make up Mexico.


Prior to 1973 hotels in Puerto Vallarta tended to be modest, mid-priced establishments. Only two large sized luxury hotels existed (the Real and the Posada Vallarta). Around this time when Puerto Vallarta started to develop Princess Cruises was taken over by P&O and Mexican cruises were that main destination for the winter months. Princess were looking for alternative ports to Acapulco, Mazatlán and Manzanilla. Early in 1975 Island Princess made its first visit to Puerto Vallarta. At this time there was little to entertain the cruise ship passengers and entertainment consisted mainly of water sports and beach activities. There were only a couple of decent hotels and few local restaurants.


After this Puerto Vallarta experienced rapid growth in global-brand luxury hotels and international resorts. An economic downturn in Mexico caused tourists to flock to Puerto Vallarta. In 1982, the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for US tourists. Consequently, the mid-1980s saw a marked and rapid rise in the tourist volume. This uptick fuelled additional development, for example the Marina which was started in 1986.




Island Princess in Puerto Vallara

in 1975







Puerto Vallarta in 2019


With growth comes problems. During the early 1980s Puerto Vallarta experienced a marked increase in problems related to poverty. While the devaluation of the peso brought record numbers of tourists to the area, it also stifled investment and thus construction. So, while more and more workers were arriving in Puerto Vallarta to try to cash in on the booming tourist trade, less and less was being done to accommodate them with housing and related infrastructure.


So, during the mid-1980s Puerto Vallarta experienced a rapid expansion of impromptu communities poorly served by even basic public services. This very low standard of living levelled out Puerto Vallarta's resort boom. In the late 1980s Puerto Vallarta government worked to alleviate the situation by developing housing and infrastructure. However, the legacy of the 1980s boom remains even today where the outlying areas of Puerto Vallarta suffer from poor provision of basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads).


In 2018 work started on Puerto Magico a new Cruise Ship terminal area featuring retail shops with new boarding and waiting areas. The first terminal was due to be fully complete by December 2019 but guess we will have to wait and see when cruising takes off again.


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