San Miguel de Cozumel is a major cruise port and city on Cozumel Island. Cozumel is part of Mexico's Quintana Roo state, located on Yucatan Peninsula's northeastern part. This is the most visited cruise port of call on roundtrip voyages from the USA to Western Caribbean. This Mexican port city destination attracts international tourists (mostly from the USA) with its tropical weather, snorkeling, diving and sea fishing opportunities, shopping and sightseeing. The island has population of around 100,000, most of whom (around 78,000) live in San Miguel de Cozumel. In Quintana Roo is also Costa Maya (Mexico's second-largest cruise port).
Port Calica is located approx 5 mi / 8 km south of Playa del Carmen. Currently, there is a small pier serving mainly ferries to / from Cozumel (approx 12 mi / 20 km away). There are two ferry companies running the Calica (Playa del Carmen)-Cozumel ferries. Tickets cost ~USD 15 pp (roundtrip). Depending on weather, the crossing Cozumel-Calica is 30-45 min.
Cozumel is opposite Playa del Carmen and is the main cruise port to Cancun - one of Mexico's most visited tourist destinations. Cancun is best known for the Mayan archaeological sites El Rey, El Meco, Coba, Muyil, Xcaret, Kohunlich, Kinichna, Dzibanche, Oxtankah, Tulum, Chacchoben, Chichen Itza. Cancun is approx 60 mi (100 km) from Cozumel (~2,5 hours drive distance) and is served by an International Airport linking via regularly scheduled flights to Canada, USA, Central and South America, Europe.
Cozumel Island offers some of the world's best underwater tour activities, with its main tourist attractions being the offshore coral reefs and numerous diving shops and tour operators. The main diving areas are located on the island's western side. Its east side is relatively undeveloped but has amazing beaches with beach restaurants every few miles. The most popular among tourists beaches are Playa Palancar and Playa Azul.
Chankanaab National Park is approx 5,5 mi (9 km) south of San Miguel. The park is opened daily (between 7 am - 5 pm) and as amenities offers a lagoon, beach, restaurant, full-service bar, changing rooms, several walking trails. There you can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, SeaTREK helmet diving, swimming with dolphins. Another major attraction is the Cozumel Pearl Farm. This is an active farm surrounded by a mangrove lagoon and accessible only by boat.
The local economy depends heavily on tourism. The island's tropical climate determines rainy season from June through November, and dry season from December through May. The wet season is also characterized by hurricanes.
Cozumel cruise port
A single cruise vessel in Cozumel (with passenger capacity up to 3000 and crew up to 500) generates on average spending USD 313,740 (passengers) and USD 31,740 (crew), plus nearly USD 29,000 in port fees. This results in total contribution to the local economy of USD 374,480 - and this is per cruise ship.
The following statistical data was provided by the Cozumel port authority.
In 2006 the cruise port received 2,028 million passengers, out of all the 5,551 million that visited Mexico that year. In 2007, this number jumped to 2,45 million (23% increase), while Mexico saw a 10% growth (to 6+ million).
In 2009, the average per-passenger spending in Cozumel was USD 105 (17% increase over 2008) directly benefiting various local industries through purchases (goods and services), including tours (shore excursions), drinks and food, retail shopping, ground transportation services.
In 2014, the cruising industry generated in Cozumel USD 565,4 million in cruise spending (crews, passengers and shipping companies combined), 15990 local jobs, USD 93,5 million in wages (produced through cruise ship tourism).
In 2014, the cruise port handled over 3,3 million passengers. In 2017, this number reached 3,6 million, ranking Cozumel the world's leading cruise ship tourism destination. In October 2015, the port hosted the second "FCCA Cruise Conference and Trade Show" (Oct 5-9).
In December 2020, Quintana Roo media reported that a new (USD 10 pp) tourist tax on foreigners goes into effect since April 1, 2021. Details on how it will be collected or will it be applied also to cruise ship tourists were not revealed.
In early-February 2021 was proposed that following the impact of the Coronavirus crisis, Cozumel could be also used as homeport (departure port) for roundtrips to Caribbean island destinations - including Cuba. The idea is well backed up by the cheap flights from the USA and Port Cozumel's lower dockage fees, in comparison to the American ports' fees.
Cozumel cruise terminal
San Miguel de Cozumel cruise port has three different piers for docking. They all are located on the west side of the island. If in your cruise itinerary to Cozumel is added “Fundeo”, that means the cruise ship will anchor in the harbor and passengers will be transported to and from the shore (Punta Langosta pier) via the ship's tender boats.
Punta Langosta Pier Cruise Terminal
Punta Langosta pier is located right downtown San Miguel. You can walk on your own or join guided walking tour in the city. There is also a taxi rank in front the pier. Taxis are relatively inexpensive. If you want to rent a car, the closest offices are 5 blocks from the cruise ship pier.
Largest vessels (including Royal Caribbean and NCL ships) dock at International Pier. This is Cozumel's oldest pier, located at ~5 min taxi ride from San Miguel. After disembarkation, passengers walk through a shopping plaza with various shops, restaurants, bars. This is a shopping area exclusively for cruise tourists. All the venues here open only during cruise ship calls. Prices here tend to be higher than in the city.
The pier is approx 1,5 mi / 2,5 km from downtown San Miguel (to the south). The distance is easily walkable (~30 min), and most pleasant as it is along the waterfront promenade. There is also a taxi rank in front of the cruise ship pier. Taxi ride is ~10 min. If the lines of disembarking passengers waiting for taxis are long, you can exit the pier, walk toward El Cid La Ceiba Hotel and catch a taxi on the street there.
Carnival's Puerta Maya Cruise Terminal
The third Cozumel cruise ship pier was built by Carnival Corporation and serves exclusively its brand companies' vessels. Puerta Maya is located 0,5 mi (0,8 km) south of The International Pier. The terminal (aka “Little Cozumel”) has the most modern and diverse facilities.
- In October 2015, Carnival Corporation inaugurated the opening of a parallel berth (3rd) to the Puerta Maya cruise pier. Carnival Freedom was the first ever ship to dock there. Since then, Puerta Maya pier has capacity of 4 vessels that can be berthed there simultaneously.
- Cozumel's 3rd (new) cruise berth cost USD 20 million. Its opening followed by just 2 days the inauguration of Carnival's new and exclusive Dominican Republic cruise port Amber Cove (USD 85 million construction project).
- In 2015, Carnival Corporation cruise ships brought to Cozumel over 1,7 million tourists.
The list of facilities at the Puerta Maya cruise ship terminal (retail shops, restaurants, bars, services) includes:
- Food and drinks are offered at Tres Amigos, Fat Tuesday, Cafe Punta del Cielo, and Pancho's Backyard.
- Retail priced shopping is offered at Dufry, Ron Jon, Miro, Eriks, Hammock Island, The T-Shirt Place, Rogers Boots, Pirana Joe, Boutique Sr Frogs, Mare Blue, Tan Tan, Veari, La Vikina, Dufry Tequileria, Lupita, and Viva Mexico.
- Jewelry and designer watches are offered at Diamond International, Who Knew, Touch O Gold, Regal Silver, Indigo, Plateria D'Alberto, Joyeria Ruby's, Milano, Joyeria Montero, Silver Emporium, Red, Fiesta Maya, Caribbean Pirates, Miro, Le Best, Reef, Del Sol, Rogers Boots, Mayan Flea Market, and Los Cinco Soles.
- Cruise passenger services are offered at Costa Dental, and Drugs & Deli.
- All car rental offices in Puerta Maya are in building 19 - Avis, Alamo, specialty cars and executive cars.
- The terminal also has a Shorex Booth (shore excursions / tours booking and information), phones, restrooms, First Aid Assistance, and Coral Reef Exhibit gallery.
Car rentals are offered by all major companies, with their offices located near the cruise piers. The San Miguel town itself is easily walkable. Its main attractions are the numerous shops and eateries. Most tourist shops are around the town's main plaza.
Port Cozumel also has a Ferry Pier located to the north of Punta Langosta. It serves the regularly scheduled ferry service between San Miguel de Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.
New cruise terminal on Cozumel Island?
In October 2018 was conducted a study for building a new (4th) cruise terminal on Cozumel Island to cope with the constantly increasing passenger shipping traffic. According to Quintana Roo state's statistics, in 2018 the island was visited by over 3,1 million cruise ship tourists (passengers and crew).
The study analyzed the possible environmental impact for the island (transportation, waste and provision services) and its marine area. The new facility could be constructed and operated by Disney Cruise Line.
Previously, the plan for a 4th berth was rejected in June 2016 by local residents following public consultation. The site for the new terminal was in front of Marina Banco Playa (Puerto de Abrigo, island's northern coast).
Cozumel tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Castillo Real: this a Mayan site located near the northern tip of the island. You can see a temple, lookout tower and a pyramid base. There are also possibilities for snorkeling.
- Cozumel Park: Discover Mexico with interactive exhibits. Interesting place for lunch is Mercadito Corona. You will taste authentic cuisine surrounded by local music.
- El Cedral: the village is located near the center of the island. It was the first discovered Mayan site in 1518 by the Spanish explorers.
- Chankanaab Lagoon: amazing place for swimming and snorkeling among rainbow colored fishes.
- Museo de Cozumel: discover the history of the island. The museum also houses library, gift shop, book store and a restaurant.
- Plaza Del Sol: the main square of San Miguel.
- Punta Celarin: the lighthouse is located at the island’s southern end and has breathtaking views.
- San Gervasio Ruins: the most visited ruins.
Beaches: Cozumel offers amazing beaches. Among the most popular are Playa San Francisco and Playa Corona.
Nachi Cocom Beach is an all-inclusive beach resort (unlimited beverages) with day pass entrance. Deals are inclusive of unlimited beverages and food, free Wi-Fi internet, outdoor Jacuzzi and swimming pool. This private beach property is sized approx 185 m2 (1980 ft2). The list of amenities also includes swim-up bar, beach bar, public restrooms, outdoor showers (fresh water), beach hammocks, palapas umbrellas, English speaking staff, lounge chairs.
Other popular beaches are Paradise Beach, Playa Palancar, Playa Mia. Cozumel features several great resorts / eco-parks, often included in cruise lines' shore excursion offerings. The most popular among cruise tourists parks are Chankanaab, Xcaret, Punta Sur.
Carnival Cruise Lines Cozumel tours and excursions
Next are listed all Carnival cruise shore excursions in Cozumel with prices in USD. Know that the following information is only indicative and prices are subject to change by the company.
Famous Tourist Attractions in Cozumel
- Cozumel Dinner Cruise $65
- Atlantis mini-submarine (up to 100 ft) $120 (80)
- 1-Person Mini-Sub (underwater scooter, 2 hr) $75
- Luxury Boat Charter (55' Yachts, 4hr) $900 (1-15 pass, $50 for additional)
- Dolphin Encounter $100 (60)
- Dolphin Swim $130 (80)
- Royal Dolphin Swim (Chankanaab Park), with beach and snorkeling $190 (100)
- "Discover Mexico" and "Chankanaab" Parks $40 (30)
- Island Guided Tour (4hr) - $220 (1-4 passengers), $290 (5-8), $360 (9-14)
- Cozumel Highlights (4hr) - $30 (25)
- Cozumel Bird-watching $50 (30, 20)
DIVING Excursions (Scuba Diving Packages)
- Beginners) $57
- (Certified) $65
- (Discover, 3hr, Paradise Reef) $57
- 2-Tank $70
- Open Water (Certification) $280
- Open Water (Advanced) $175
- Refresher Course $50
SNORKELING Tours and Packages
- 3 Reef Snorkeling by Boat $70 (35)
- 2 Reef Snorkeling by Boat $60 (35)
- Jeep-Snorkel $100 (60)
- Glass-Bottom-Snorkel $35 (20)
- Palancar Snorkel $50 (35)
- Chankanaab shallow reef $30 (15)
- Snorkel with Sea Turtles $150
- with 36' Catamaran Sailing $500 (1-10 pass, 3hr)
- Segway-Snorkel $60
- Snuba $60
- Jungle-Snorkel $80
- Mini-Jeep-Snorkel $90
- Tulum - Yal-Ku $220 (1-4 pass)
- Dive with Dolphins $150
- Deep Sea Fishing Charters (4hr) $350 (1-4 pass, all skill levels)
- ATV-Beach$110 (80)
- ATV-Jungle (2hr) $65 pp ($58 2-pers, $32 6-12yo)
- ATV-Speedboat $125
- Off-Road Buggy Jade Cavern $160 (1-2 persons)
- Dune Buggy (Punta Sur) $190
- Jungle Buggy $90
- Mayan Ruins (MR) at Chichen Itza $125 (60)
- Jeep $75 ($65)
- Island Buggy Tour (WV) $75 (50)
- Local Cuisine Cook-Tasting $90 (45)
- Para-sailing (up to 600ft) $50 (PP 10min), $100 (2 pass, 15min)
- Jungle Horseback Riding with MR $100 (40)
- Whale-Shark $175
- Coba MR $105
- Tulum MR (ferry to Playa Del Carmen) $240 (1-4 pass)
- Punta Sur Beach Ride $80 (70)
- Rio Lagartos Reserve and Ek Balam MR $100
BEACH Packages, Luxury GOLFING Trips
- "Carretera Costera Sur" Resort All Inclusive $95 (60)
- "Cozumel Golf & Country Club" (18 holes) $165 (135)
- Horsebac-Beach$100 (50)
- Cozumel Beach Club $50 (35, 17, limited to 100 guests per day)
- Beach Club (2hr) $30 (15)
- Family Resort All Inclusive $50 (35, 25)
- Adults Only All Inclusive Resort $50
- Aura Grand Bay Luxury Resort $80
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