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Carnival Cruise line issues scam warning for this popular Mexico destination (and passengers from all cruise lines should take note)

Be careful what you buy

Cruise ship
Felipe Sanchez / Shutterstock / Shutterstock

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has recently taken to Facebook to warn cruise guests of a popular scam in Cozumel, Mexico. Guests on cruises in the Cozumel area have complained of watered-down vanilla purchased in the ports near the dock. 

What is “Vanilla Gate?”

Several guests on a recent Carnival cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, have been expressing concerns about Mexican vanilla that they purchased while the boat was docked. They claim that the vanilla has been watered down and is of lesser quality than traditional pure vanilla. 

We apparently have Vanilla Gate going on with reports that some shops in Cozumel are not selling pure Vanilla but watered-down versions of it,” Heald wrote. Many customers have been reaching out to Heald to do something about these inferior products or to close the stores altogether to improve their travel experience. Heald is making it clear, however, that he does not have that power.

“We do not own the shops in Cozumel, we don’t have any control over what they sell, and we cannot close them down.” Heald then urges guests to shop carefully and encourages anyone who has information on where to buy pure vanilla to leave a comment on the post.

People boarding cruise chipse.
Stephanie Klepacki / Unsplash

Is the vanilla really being watered down?

Although it is possible that the vanilla in Mexico is being tampered with, there is no evidence either way. Another possible explanation could be that the guests have purchased a different variety of vanilla that has a different flavor profile than they were expecting. Sometimes, vanilla is also manufactured in different ways that may lead to a unique taste that consumers are not used to.

Alternatively, guests may misunderstand labels or fail to read labels altogether. Some bottles labeled as vanilla contain sugar substitutes or small amounts of water.  

Many cruises dock in Cozumel, such as Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. No matter which cruise line you are on, you should be careful when shopping outside of the boat. One of the best travel tips when shopping in another country is to check labels carefully and ensure that the seal on the bottle is intact. It is also important to thoroughly inspect the bottle and look for any signs that it has been tampered with, such as suspicious punctures or cracks.

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