Puerto Magico opened in December of 2019 and remained open only for 3 months, and then sadly the coming of cruise ships was suspended and they had to stop the opening of shops because of the pandemic. But, now it is starting to fill up, return to its initiating activeness before Covid-19 and the pandemic hit and is springing to life. Carnival Panorama, the first cruise ship to return to Puerto Vallarta at 9:00 am today, Tuesday, August 24, 2021, marks this. It departed Saturday from Long Beach, California, has been at sea for two days, and made its first stop here at PV.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic Puerto Magico, PV’s cruise ship terminal, had to shut down their ports and even postpone the opening of shops, so no cruises were coming to Vallarta, which highly decreased the number of tourists here, but this morning Carnival Panorama was the first cruise ship carrying passengers to stop at Puerto Vallarta since the pandemic. With the arrival of Carnival Panorama at 70% capacity, almost 3,000 tourists were brought in, as well over a thousand cruise staff members, 1,450, all of them having to walk through the now very alive Puerto Magico. And, what tourist wouldn’t want to buy an artisanal craft, or a small souvenir, or even just a cold ice cream or drink on a hot day. I’ve heard from friends in the cruise industry that the average tourist coming off a ship in PV spends around $140USD, and crew spend around $120USD, so that’s a potential of $566,784USD injected into our economy in just one day, plus fuel and food costs.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Puerto Magico hosted the Magic Market, but at that time other than the business owners participating in the market there were only a couple of shops open, and it was very sad to me to see all the empty rooms boarded up. But now, there are plans to make the top floor purely restaurants, maybe even with a food court, and around 85% of the bottom floor is full. And good news for Vallarta shoppers as well, the port is completely free and open to the public, so long as you follow certain measures against Covid-19 such as at all times wearing a mask, maintaining a safe distance, and using hand sanitizer. In most ports, whether they be cruise or air, the shops are all behind security, so you can’t get to them. But, here, the ingenious building plan puts security behind everything, at the back of the building, so anyone can come shop, eat, hang out, and have a great time.
All of the shops are beautiful and have their own style, and it’s fun to at least stop by and look, even if you’re not buying anything. I went to most of, if not all of the Magic Markets, and the Puerto Magico then vs. now is completely different; the place is full of life and movement.
The first shop I noticed was SoChill, a little 1950’s style ice cream and coffee place right at the entrance that my dad ran up to like a little kid, pointing out all the old-looking furniture and searching for the model and make, obsessed with how it looked. Some other shops I saw were an accessory and clothing shop called Mitla’s Sauze, a leather shop called Paint & Leather, Cacao Magico, Diamonds International, Money Exchange, a Pharmacy PV where we got a bottle of water, and lots of souvenir shops where you can find all those great little trinkets and artisanal crafts including Casa Mexicana. I was overwhelmed with all the shops and stores that I’d never seen there before, so I don’t remember the name of all of them, but there was store after store of either already set up shops or shops being set up and decorated.
It’s truly amazing to see how much it’s grown, as well as it’s very exciting to see the first cruise ship in over a year and a half to stop here in Vallarta this morning. But what’s even more exciting is that there are plans to have festivals with performers and music, and if they’re even half as fun and magnificent as the Magic Markets then my family and me will be going a lot.